To you who are goal-oriented, are you missing the value of “intersections” ?

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With the Summer season fast approaching, many people, including myself, anxiously look to going on an enjoyable road trip for vacation.  I love driving and getting to new destinations and experiencing  different parts of the  country with loved ones.
Upon reflection, I’m realizing that my life, in general,  has followed this same pattern.  I get a goal in mind (like the vacation location)  and because I’m very focused on meeting my  goals, I live with a very intentional mindset, keeping my blinders on to things that could be a distraction and disrupting me from accomplishing what I want to get done.  It’s like I’m on a highway and wanting to get my destination as quickly as possible, and wanting to avoid all needless exits and tourist attractions along the way.
However, as so happens, God decided I needed a new perspective and He led me to His Word.
In the Gospel of Luke, chapter 7:11-17 , it says the following:
“Soon afterward Jesus went with his disciples to the village of Nain, and a large crowd followed him. A funeral procession was coming out as he approached the village gate. The young man who had died was a widow’s only son, and a large crowd from the village was with her. When the Lord saw her, his heart overflowed with compassion. “Don’t cry!” he said. Then he walked over to the coffin and touched it, and the bearers stopped. “Young man,” he said, “I tell you, get up.” Then the dead boy sat up and began to talk! And Jesus gave him back to his mother.  Great fear swept the crowd, and they praised God, saying, “A mighty prophet has risen among us,” and “God has visited his people today.” And the news about Jesus spread throughout Judea and the surrounding countryside. (NLT).
Do you see what is happening?  Jesus is leading a large crowd down one road and they intersect with a funeral procession.  At this intersection, Jesus saw the grieving widow,  the bier carrying the dead boy,  and the grieving people and “His heart was moved with compassion”.  Exercising His divine power, Jesus touched the coffin and the boy came back to life.  To state the obvious, the crowd was filled with amazement and fear, and praised God  for His power and compassion.
Here’s the application the Lord wanted me to see, and maybe there’s a lesson in this for you as well.
Sure, life has some “destinations” for us to head toward, some dreams to pursue.  Goals can be good things.  However, the real sweet spots of life are in the unexpected “intersections” we come to.  “Intersections” are the encounters we have with people and circumstances where we have the opportunity to live out the lessons God has shown us. For example, we have an opportunity to show kindness to someone because we understand God’s kindness to us.  We can show mercy to others because God has been merciful to us.  We can ask for God’s power to be revealed to someone in our prayers for them because we know that by faith, all things are possible with our Creator. 
When you are driving your car and come to an intersection, what do you do?  You slow down and look both ways to make sure it’s safe to go through. You are much more attentive to all that’s  happening around you then when you are when you are alone on a rural highway where there is such little activity occurring.
So, think of “intersections” with people and circumstances as new adventures to be used by God in doing the right thing, in the right way, for the right reason>>>>for His glory.  These unexpected occurrences to you are not meant to be annoyances as much as opportunities.
During an “intersection” moment with someone, could you:
* pass along a word of encouragement?
* hold your tongue from saying something that would only further the tension at the moment?
* accepting someone as having significance though the world may ridicule them?
* could you offer to pray for someone who has shared a concern with you?
* could you stop pursuing your goal for the moment (a highway mindset) and get off the exit and take the necessary time (and maybe the sacrifice of giving them money) to help someone in need?
I hope this all makes sense because this insight has kind of rocked my world.    Pursue your God-given destinations, but along the way, understand that you will have  “God-appointed “intersections”” , which are moments  to stop living for you, and start interacting in the life of someone else.
Friends, enjoy your Summer vacation, but even more,  this year, enjoy the “intersections” along the way!

Hey, can you help me move a piano?

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Years before the digital revolution where lightweight, portable electronic keyboards are now common, many of us have had large, and very heavy pianos in our house.

There was no way they could be moved by one individual, so the plea was made to family and friends for help.

I thought about this “getting help from friends” request  because I’ve run into several people lately that have been going through some very difficult, heavy times and when I’ve talked further with them about their experiences, they’ve commented back to me that they are not really close to anyone.  In the midst of being emotionally overwhelmed, they are having to make sense of a very difficult situation on their own.   I feel for them.  Not surprising to me is that each of the people I’ve talked to have been men.  Quite typically, as guys, we just have this “isolate ourselves from others” mentality.  It’s really not a good thing

Guys, that kind of mindset might work in the short-term, actually for years.  However, eventually, there will come a time of crisis where the load is just too heavy to handle on our own.  I’m mentioning this now  in hopes that if you are reading this post and  have no one else in your life that you can be utterly transparent with, I want to strongly encourage you to take a step of faith and try to connect with some other person, of the same gender and have someone to walk through life with you.

Over this past year, I’ve mentioned to you often in posts that I’ve created an app that is meant to not only help you identify your own personal goals,  but also in this app, there is a very cool feature.  It’s a dashboard that allows you to text or e-mail  a friend in a snapshot kind of way how you are doing in all the areas of your responsibilities.

I have used this Dashboard so often with others and found it to be incredibly helpful.   And when I see a “red” area in a friend’s text, we deal with it.   That’s what friends do for each other, right!

If you have been doing life alone, or you understand that a close friend of yours has been doing the “isolate” thing, let me encourage you to try this app.  Do it with a friend.

For less than a Starbucks special coffee, I truly believe you will not regret the cost of using this resource to help you and a friend share in the heavy lifting of life.

To check out the app:

You can visit  either the App Store (for IPhones)     https://appsto.re/us/ejC7fb.I

Google Play Store- https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.FoundationsLifeCoach.Foundations&hl=en ;
www.foundationslifecoach.com

 

 

Do you have “tourists” going to your church? (Are you one of them?)

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Recently, I wrote a post encouraging people to read one of my favorite books, “Gospel Treason” by Brad Bigney.

In that book, there is a very thought-provoking passage in there from Elyse Fitzpatrick describing how going to church for many people is like a European vacation that she went on:

“A number of years ago, my husband and I had the wonderful opportunity to vacation in Europe. In about three an a half weeks we visited thirteen different nations. When we’d enter a country, we’d get our passports stamped, exchange currencies, learn a few key phrases, and then off we’d go to visit the natives. We’d walk through outdoor markets , peruse museums, sample the cuisine. We’d exchange a few niceties with the locals, sit on the steps of cathedrals, watch the life of the town go by, take a picture or two, and purchase a little something to remind us of our time there, and then we were off. We had a wonderful vacation. Our hearts weren’t changed in any significant ways by our little visits, but then they weren’t meant to be. We were tourists. It seems to me that what I’ve just described is very close to many people’s understanding of the congregational life of the local church. On any given Sunday or better yet, Saturday night, many tourists can be found in church. They pop in for forty-five minutes or an hour, sing a chorus or two, exchange niceties with the locals: “Hi! How are you?” “Fine!” “How are you ?” “Fine! Nice Fellowshipping. With you!” They sample some of the local cuisine, they might purchase a book or CD to remind them of their visit, and then they race to their cars to get to their favorite restaurant before the rush or home before the game. For many people, church is simply a place to go to once a week . It’s about being a tourist, and our land is filled with tourist-friendly churches. Pop in, pop out, do your religious thing, catch ya later!”

I’d like to ask you to be honest. Does that in any way describe you?
I’m not saying that going to church makes you a Christian, any more than your going to a football game makes you a football player.

But one thing your church attendance does is reveal something about your attitude and beliefs about the importance (and understanding) of your relationship with God (and your own spiritual health).

If you are not a regular church attendee, please be careful:
Proverbs 18:1 says a that “a man who isolates himself seeks his own desire”
Hebrews 10:25 says “not to forsake the assembling of ourselves together, as is the habit of some, but come together and look for ways to stir one another. Up to love and good deeds.”

Let me encourage you this week to get to church and while there, ask yourself whether you are a tourist, or a local (one of the native peoples) ?
After asking yourself that question, try two more: would God be pleased with my answer to that last question.

Lastly, in what specific ways, can I get more involved at my local church?

I am certain, these guys were not talking about…

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Its hard to believe, another Summer is nearly over. Time just seems to move along so quickly.

One of the highlights from these past few months was a men’s gathering in the beautiful woods of Michigan.  I believe about 1500 men descended on the campground for the weekend.  This church sponsored event was called “Palooza” and it was an incredible time.
I’ve thought about that gathering a lot over these past few months,  and one of the most frequent thoughts that comes to my mind is that the focus of our corporate times was not in comparing our accommodations. When we met in a large group, our discussion did not tend to be about the size of our tent, or RV, or the fanciness of our grill back at the campsite.  In other words, the focus of our weekend was not about our stuff.  We were there to enjoy meaningful fellowship with other guys, and to benefit in many different ways from time spent over the weekend worshiping the living and loving God and to be challenged, and encouraged by passionate messages inspired by God’s Word–the Bible.
Both on Saturday night watching a special fireworks display, and Sunday morning, as we gathered one last time for a time of worship and hearing a Bible-related message, I would look around and see the expressions of men, young and old who were impacted by their experience that weekend.  It was truly a special time.
So, what’s the point in all this?
I believe living our lives should be similar to the weekend I just described.  Because we are all unique and our preferences, and circumstances vary so much, we will all live with different stuff. Some people will be able to enjoy very nice, and expensive things—good for them.   Other people, who don’t have as much money or just choose to live in a more simple kind of way, will find contentment with very modest resources–good for them.
I’m not sure of all the reasons why our culture focuses so much on “STUFF’,  rather than on the much greater experiences of enjoying deep relationships with others and seeking frequent worship of God. Just to clarify this last point, “frequent worship of God”,  I don’t mean being at church a lot every time the doors open,  though regular attendance at church is important.  What I’m referring to is keeping Him top of mind throughout the day, so that you understand He is the One responsible for  your life.  He is the Creator of if and the Sustainer of it.
Rather than being freaked out by acknowledging that our lives, including our thoughts and intentions are always transparent before Him, we should take great satisfaction in knowing that He cares so much for us and loves us so much.
At this Summer’s Palooza, I met a man who actually came to the event with no housing plans at all. Understanding that, I invited him to join us on our site, and if need be, and I was ready to share my pop up tent with him.  As things turned out, he was able to get sleeping accommodations in a mini-cabin.   Would I have been a little uncomfortable sharing a kind of cramped 2 man tent–yep.   But, that feeling would have been totally compensated by knowing that I helped a person in need.
Today, as you do life, let me encourage you to examine your own life and to pursue the things that are of highest importance.  Enjoy all the things that you have, but take some time to ask yourself if you are distracted in any way from really experiencing this precious thing called life because of your focus on STUFF?  Again, it’s not a question of how quality is your stuff, or how much you have (or don’t have), but rather if you are spending more time thinking about it, than on the deeper things of relationships with others and with God.  Seek to live your life without any regrets!

Was this man “sleep-walking” through life?

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Picture this story:

A middle-aged man, driving in his luxury car, pulls around the corner of the street where he lives.  He looks at the houses of his neighbors and thinks to himself that at some time he should probably get to know them.  Actually, he thinks to himself that in some ways it’s surprising that after 20 years in this neighborhood, he would have by now.

Down the driveway he goes admiring his beautiful landscaping and thinks to himself that he has hired a quality service to handle this tedious work.  As he gets out of his car and make the long walk to his really large house, which he never seems to tire of gawking at, he finds himself huffing and puffing a bit more than usual.  He also notices his chest puffing out as he congratulates himself pridefully, for all the efforts he has put in: the long hours worked and the many, many business trips he has taken.

As he walks in the house, the one thing that seems the most noticeable is the silence.  His wife and two children are nowhere to be seen. “Quietness”, he thinks, “is in some ways nice, but in other ways, it’s so depressing”.

 

So, what is the point to this story?  Its this perspective about success.

After reading through this story would you say this man is successful?   Some would, actually many would. Why would we say that? It’s because he drives a luxurious house, owns a large house, and uses a landscaping service.

Outwardly, this man has some very nice things. Let me be the first to say that there is nothing wrong with owning and enjoying nice things. God has given us those things to enjoy.

My point is to question this man’s perspective on their importance and what he was willing to sacrifice to get them. It’s that perspective of success that I so desperately want to keep wrestling with for myself and I would encourage you to battle along with me.

Why? Too often, we can see someone on tv that has all the wealthy merit badges of life: the nice cars, the trophy wife, the big house, etc. and something can stir in my heart: jealousy and envy. I know I have those feelings. Too quickly, I find myself trying to justify why I’m still okay with my pauper existence compared to this wealthy person I’ve just been watching and hearing about.

The issue of jealousy and envy is my own problem no one else’s. I’m needing to deal with that on a regular basis. But the focus of this post is not really about my challenges with envy, or pride, or a critique on enjoying and striving for nice things.

It’s about striving for success in one area. Whether it’s an over-emphasis on being successful at work, or at your church, or with your family, or with your personal health, my plea with you this morning is to be careful about over-emphasizing one area of your life so much that without realizing it, you inadvertently are neglecting other areas of your life.

Life is difficult. It’s really hard. You don’t need to be reminded of that, but you may need to be reminded that there are seven areas of responsibility in your life. How are you doing in each of them?  When is the last time you took the time to evaluate how you’re doing? 

I would like to encourage you this weekend to take just a few minutes and review these seven areas of responsibility in your life and ask two questions: “How am I doing in each specific area?”   and “In what ways can I do just a little bit better?”

Oh, one last thing—you might be wondering why do this personal inventory?  The simple reason is that your life impacts others in every one of these seven areas. Do you know that?

Like a person who is a sleepwalker, taking actual steps, but not even recognizing where they are going, some times, I can be living my life (and maybe you do too) where I’m doing life in certain, dazed kind of way, not even recognizing those areas of responsibility that I am tuned out of, totally neglecting….and that will cause regrets, painful ones.  I want to help you avoid those.

As a way to further help you strive for excellence in all areas of your life so that you live a life without regrets, I’d like to encourage you to consider the content of this post, but also to consider downloading the Foundations Life Management app in I-Tunes, (Android calls it Foundations Life Coach) that has the red, yellow, green dashboard like above.   For the price of a cup of coffee (and more significant and lasting positive consequences) from it, I believe you will be pleased that you took this minimal risk:


You can visit  either the App Store (for IPhones)     https://appsto.re/us/ejC7fb.I

Google Play Store- https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.FoundationsLifeCoach.Foundations&hl=en ;
www.foundationslifecoach.com

Is there a way of hope in my terrible circumstances?

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Are you going through a tough time and tired of going through it alone?

Are you desperate for some guidance to help you find hope in your present difficult circumstances?

Are you open to receiving encouragement and support from others?

If so, I would like to invite you to join us this Fall for a life-changing 13 week ministry called HOPE GROUP.

We’ll meet Wednesdays from 6:30-8:30 p.m., starting September 13th, at Harvest Bible Chapel on Randall Road in Elgin.

Let me encourage you to take a step of faith to finding hope. THINGS CAN CHANGE!

For more information, about Harvest Bible Chapel’s Hope Group ministry at their Elgin campus, please check out the link!

http://www.harvestbiblechapel.org/event/summerhopegroupselgin/    (as an fyi,  our Fall registration link is not up quite yet, but will be shortly—bookmark this link).

Harvest Bible Chapel- Love without condition …Forgive without limit >>>>>>>This is what we do!

Look closely…. do you see a stop sign?

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Check out this picture—do you see a STOP  sign?

Well, let me come back to that in just a minute.  This post is meant for “born again” Christians. You know who you are.

It is meant for those people who one day recognized that they were distant from God and that God, in His graciousness and mercy made a way for us to be reconciled with Him through Jesus Christ as He gave His life as a substitute for us.  Approximately 2000 years ago, Jesus took upon Himself the punishment that we deserved because of our selfishness, and rebelliousness towards God and in the Great Exchange offered us forgiveness and peace with God, as our relationship with Him was restored.   I hope you never get tired of hearing this gospel message.

Backing up just a minute as a way of explanation —before a person is saved, a person finds them self alienated from God.  They are led by their own selfish desires. In addition to their bondage to their fleshly instincts, an unsaved person comes under the slavery to the evil influences of the Devil and his demonic cohorts, as well as slavery to this world system that seeks independence from Almighty God. Habits of sinful behaviors and selfish motives and attitudes become ingrained.  Without doubt, the word “darkness” characterizes so well the life, and future potential of an unsaved person.

But, one day, as a believer in Jesus Christ can testify to, God brings in light.  Through no doing of our own, a saved person recognizes that they are alienated from God due to their sinful, selfish, and rebellious ways and they repent.  They change their ways and in humility they seek out a relationship with God.

With the assistance of the Holy Spirit of God now living in the person, an awareness of the power and wisdom of the Living Word (the Bible), and the support and training of the church community, a new believer grows in their understanding of the faith.

One of the key principles of our faith that every believer needs to understand is that the mandatory bondage to sinful habits of your former life are gone.  The Bible says, “we are new creations in Christ”.

The Bible says in Romans 6:6 (nasb) that “knowing this, that our old self was crucified with Him, in order that our body of sin might be done away (or another version says, “rendered powerless) with so that we would no longer be slaves to sin.”

In other words, as the New Testament speaks of so often, “it is for freedom that Christ has set you free”.

HANG IN THERE WITH ME —THIS IS GOOD STUFF!

Let’s go back now to the picture of the STOP sign. For probably 30 years, I have been driving down this street and I’ve come to a STOP sign.  Its been right outside a big hospital.  But the hospital has been taken down with the exception of just a few doctors’ offices and the city recently decided to remove the STOP sign.

What I found interesting is that over the past week or so, I have stopped numerous times at that intersection, but the truth is there is no STOP sign there.  In other words, although I am free to just keep on driving, a habit has been formed in my mind and every time I go that intersection, these habits  of the mind tell my will how to behave.

Can you follow the spiritual application that this STOP sign illustration is to our spiritual walks?

When I get tempted to take a second look at a pretty woman (an old, frequent habit), I don’t have to because I now free in Christ. The power of that old habit has been broken. I am a new creation in Christ.

When I get tempted to  get angry at a person who I feel didn’t respect me for some reason, (an old, frequent habit), I don’t have to because I now free in Christ. The power of that old habit has been broken. I am a new creation in Christ.

When I get tempted to covet the nice things that a friend might have that I can’t afford, (an old, frequent habit), I don’t have to because I now free in Christ. The power of that old habit has been broken. I am a new creation in Christ.

Just writing these words is exciting for me and I hope they are for you, as well.   If you are a Christian, the new you is not the old you.

God’s best for you is that you not only believe that, but that you act like it.

Why stop along the road of life when you are free to just keep on driving?