Are you living like you are really looking to W.I.N.?

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The other day I took a test. It was one of those personality tests  you take when you go on a job interview (although I’m not currently  looking for a job).  One of the questions was “when you do an activity, do you always seek to win?”  I said yes.  (probably not a surprise for those who know me).

However, this post is not really about being #1 when you play a game, its more about a mindset.    When I’m talking about “winning”, I’m actually talking about an acronym, W.I.N.—what’s important now?.

I didn’t come up with it, but read it back a few months ago from some coach, and it has stayed with me, ever since.  In fact, I have it on my phone as a daily reminder to help me strive to be all there in each and every moment.  The idea is when I am doing something, I need to intentionally put aside all those other things that are screaming for my attention. I need to discipline my mind to not dwelling on the past, or worrying about the future, but living in the moment (though with a foundation based on an eternal mindset).  As the Bible says, “wisdom is in the presence of the one who has understanding”.

I believe that sheer excellence is not possible when multi-tasking key activities. I need to try doing better at being all there, one activity at a time.

At work, if I am going to give my employer my best, then I need to limit my mind from wandering with thoughts about my personal life.  I need to concentrate at the job at hand.

I know I can do much better at being all there when I’m in a conversation with someone.  I can listen better and pay more attention to what the other person is saying (and not saying) and how they are saying things.  I can also do better at trying to communicate more clearly.

Let me give you another example, driving.  Seriously, how hard is actually driving a car?  Not so much, right?  Then why are there so many accidents?  It’s because people (myself included) do not do consistently well at asking the question, “what’s important now?” and following through with it.

When you or I are driving, we should be focused on our car, the driving conditions, drivers around us, etc.  We should try not to be distracted by being on our phone, putting on our make up, reading the paper (that was the reason for one of my previous accidents), petting the dog on our lap, etc.  Yet, over and over, you and I (I know I do) fail to ask, “What’s Important Now?” and live by it.

I drive about 40 minutes each way to and from work–80 minutes a day.  Well, yesterday, I wasn’t far from home when I heard the sound of an incoming text message. For some reason, I thought it was my wife asking if I would get pizza on the way home.  To me, pizza is a high priority 🙂

So, what did I do, I picked up my phone, which was on the passenger seat to see who the text was from.  When I looked up, only 1-2 seconds later (this is out of 80 minutes a day of driving), I realized I was in a bad situation, the car in front of me was stopped.  AHHHHH!

Fortunately, I am still experiencing the consequences of a gift from my kids (driving a Lamborghini), so I slammed on the brake and swerved to avoid hitting anyone.  I was very fortunate.  Thank you God and your angels!   

“Wisdom is in the presence of the one who has understanding”.

This post was meant mostly to myself as a reminder and hopefully, there are one or two of you out there who will also benefit from it.

Be in the moment. This holiday weekend, in each and every activity you do, be all there.  Ask yourself and carry out your answers to “What’s Important Now?”

Enjoy each and every conversation you are in with someone.

Enjoy seeing and feeling all that is around you when you go for a walk.

Enjoy the indescribable gift it is to have a personal relationship with God.

Enjoy the blessing it is to have a house to live in, food on your table, clothes on your back.

Enjoy the blessing of living in this country and for those who served and gave their lives so that we can live in freedom.

Enjoy this Memorial Day weekend!

 

 

A successful team…

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“A successful team is many voices with a single heart.”    John Maxwell

Whether it’s at work, at church, or even in our family, we are a part of some kind of team.

With that in mind, and believing that we all want to be a part of something greater than just ourselves:

 

How accurately does the quote mentioned above describer our team experience?

Are the teams you are involved with “successful”?  In what ways could your team be more successful?

Are all the voices of your team members being heard?  In what ways can you encourage more engagement from those often involved?

Have you ever been told…

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Has anyone ever said to you, “relax, you are over-thinking this?”

When someone says that to you, or even, if you heard that being said, the issue is that someone is making something more complicated than it ought to be.  With over-thinking comes more stress and less enjoyment, and less of a quality performance.    Earlier today, I felt like I was being told by God you are making this faith thing with me more complicated than you ought.  It was that “Power of a Whisper” idea that Bill Hybels of Willow Creek has written about.

The impressions that came to me were almost like bullet points:

*Keep in mind, your faith in Me is about relationship, not religious-activity checklists, or do’s and don’t’s, etc.

*Keep in mind that I am the God of all grace.  In 1 Peter 5:10a, the Bible says that He is “the God of all grace”.  Other verses mentioning that He is a God of grace would be Ps. 116:5, 2 Cor. 9:14, Nehemiah 9:31 and so many more verses could be listed–okay, I  see that–He is a God of grace.

*Keep in mind that I am a God of mercy, for instance, as in Luke 1:78, Romans 9:18, Daniel 9:9, Ps. 59:17, and again, so many more verses could be listed.

So, what’s a simple explanation of the difference between His being a God of grace, and a God of mercy.

I’ve heard many explanations about these two words over the years, but the NON – over-thinking, simple explanation was this:

When you come to God in a needy, humble, dependent kind of way, He is the God of all grace.  He is there to help.  He loves to come to the aid of those who are “poor in spirit”. He loves to make Himself and the wisdom of His ways clear to those who can recognize they don’t have it all figured out.  Sometimes He will help in ways we don’t or can’t understand at the moment, but He will be there to help.  Why? Because He loves you and I.

However, when you come to God after you’ve tried doing things your way, He will give you mercy. Why? Because again, He loves you and I.  He understands that we are prone to being selfish, and independent, and prideful and that every once in a while (or more), we slip up.  He anticipated that and sent His Son to cover your sins and mine and to extend forgiveness to us.  We just need to ask. Thank God for Good Friday and Easter Sunday!

Well, that listening session with Him made me see things in a simplified kind of way.  It’s all about relationship with Him. That’s the bottom line.  I need to:

  • put no confidence in the flesh
  • be way of thinking of myself more highly than I ought
  • realize that apart from Him, I can do nothing
  • and whether I realize all this right up front and call out to Him for His grace (His help and power), or I realize it all after I’ve first tried doing it my way (which never ends well) and then come to Him after I’ve blown it (first for forgiveness, and then for His grace), either way, in relationship, I need to keep things simple, and be as one dependent on Him all the time, inseparable if you will–kind of like a branch abiding in the vine. (ref. John 15).

Wise words from YODA

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I won’t embarrass or frustrate any one I personally know on this one, but there are some individuals, I can see their faces now that if they say they will do something, I know it will be done. I can just count on them. Their word is gold.

Unfortunately, I also know some others that if they tell me they will do something, I have a great uncertainty it will get done (if ever). These individuals are so frustrating because they are so unfaithful. It drives me crazy.

“Do, or do not.  There is no “try”.    a quote from Yoda to Luke Skywalker.

I love these words from the fictional character, YODA (he is fictional, right?) because they speak of resolve and commitment.  It’s an “all-in” mindset that if I say I will do something, it will get done.

How well does this describe you?

Does your word matter?

Maybe it’s because I’m a goal-oriented person, but I love this saying from Yoda because it conveys to me the idea of vision and priorities.  It challenges me to set my mind on accomplishing something to experience some desired result.

But it takes it one step further.  What Yoda’s quote suggests to me is even something more than just wanting to see a completed goal because any one can wish for good things to happen in their life.  Can’t you?  If you were to take just a few minutes to look at all the things going on in your life, can’t you just imagine improvements or desirable things to make your life better?

Of course you can.  I can too.  But what Yoda’s quote says to me is that besides seeing a vision of good things, it conveys to me the issue of setting priorities and being intentional.  It means moving beyond vision and mere talking about accomplishing some desired result one day (just “trying” in a “whatever” kind of attitude”) to the idea of commitment –I’m going to make adjustments in my life to make this happen.  I love that resolve.

So, my friend, are you willing right now to listen to the advice of a little, green person and stop saying “I’ll try….” to “I will …” ?

Are you willing to start getting very purposeful about accomplishing the things that are most dear to your heart?

“Do, or do not.  There is no “try”.

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As a further help to you in striving for excellence and being intentional about meeting your goals in life,  please check out my Foundations Life Management app (and do it with a friend):

(If you have downloaded the app and are using it, I would so appreciate you telling a friend (s) about it.)

You can visit either the App Store (for IPhones) Foundations Life Management app for IPhone devices

https://appsto.re/us/ejC7fb.I

or go to the Google Play Store- https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.FoundationsLifeCoach.Foundations&hl=en

 

Beware of answered prayer (and the “rush”)

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Well, that’s an interesting headline, right?

Many Christians, probably most, have had the common experience of finding themselves in a difficult situation and then they do what is wise: they turn to the Lord.  Because He is so faithful, so merciful, and so gracious, we pray to Him and then, not surprisingly, we often find an immediate answer to our prayer.  God is so good we think.

At some point, another similar crisis experience happens.  As it does, we are quicker to respond to Him  (our last “victory” has spawned this glimmer of confidence)  to obey the verse that says, “cast all your anxieties on Him because He cares about you”  (1 peter 5:7).    Again, we find ourselves being able to give witness to the Bible truth that says “call on me in the day of trouble and I will deliver you” (Psalm 50:15).

Ever so slowly, many of us will begin connecting the dots.  When I have troubles (and we all do)>>>>I can pray to God >>>> He will answer my prayers.  I said earlier, “slowly” because most of us will turn to God only when the situation has gotten beyond our control.  We acknowledge first, to ourselves, and then to God that we can’t handle a particular situation and we need His help.   The reality though is that most of us, I have to believe,  live our lives, when they are not in crisis mode, as though we don’t need God.  Honestly, I think most of us feel pretty capable that we can handle the routine of life and we know how to get by.

Today, I have two very powerful insights to share with you (at least they are kind of rocking my world):

The first is the reality that I have to be careful of listening to lies.   The Bible says very clearly, “the heart is deceitful above all things, desperately wicked, who can understand it” (Jeremiah 17:9).  The Bible also says, “…not to think more highly of himself than he ought to think” (Romans 12:3) or not to put any confidence in the flesh (Philippians 3:3). Our pride is a dangerous, very dangerous trap.

In other words, to have a belief that you only need to, or should go to God when you can’t handle things is setting yourself up for massive failure.  You can’t trust yourself.  The Bible clearly says a person who does is building on a foundation of a heart that is totally unstable. We need God all the time.  We are to act like a beggar, totally needy on God’s provision for our lives—in crisis times and in routine times.

The second reality is meant for an “on the edge” kind of person. You know who you are. You are the type of person consumed by ……  Maybe its work. You keep pushing yourself (and others) to do more and more, produce more and more and you get to a point where you are crying out to God to help sustain you as you go through this hectic season…. and He does.

But, as you take a moment to catch your breath, you recognize the rush of pushing yourself so much and the way God helped you through it that it leads you to begin to crave the next “over the top busy time” where you can again look to God to help you do more than you know you are capable of doing.

Now mind you, I’m not talking of just lay people, you know, people at secular jobs who seek this spiritual experience of God helping them survive and thrive during insanely busy times.  I’m also referring to church workers who push their ministry involvements in the same way.  Inwardly, they crave the rush, the flow of pushing themselves to the brink and looking for God to do something, only God could do.

As an example of this, please read, Luke 10: 17-20.  The disciples were sent out by Jesus to minister and they came back with reports that even the demons were subject to them.  Understandably, the disciples were focused on the new ministry power they had in Jesus’ name. However, Jesus tells them to reset their thinking. He says, father than focusing on the ministry results and experiences, rather rest and rejoice in the fact that your names are written in the Book of Life.  Rejoice in your relationship with the Father.

Let me be very careful to make a few more comments on this last train of thought. I totally get it that we are to live by faith. I totally understand we are to be busy about ministry and looking for God to intervene and show Himself strong in bringing healing, deliverance, and freedom in to people’s lives and circumstances.  I am totally in agreement with looking to Him to move in these kinds of ways.

The caution I am encouraging us to be on the look out for is when our focus is not really on God, but on the rush.  In such a subtle, deceptive way, that rush kind of feeling can become an idol that we pursue, sadly to say, more so than God.

In a similar kind of way, giving gifts at Christmas is a good thing, but when we value more the gifts we receive,  rather than the giver of those gifts, there is a problem.

Prayer is obviously a good thing.  Having the experience of answer prayer, personally, or in ministry or at work is precious.

But, never lose sight on our need to be dependent on Him all the time, 24/7,  and in our reliance on Him to pursue the enjoyment and the awesome opportunity of relationship with a living and loving God.  Praying is a part of that relationship.  However, so is praising Him, just talking to Him, listening to Him, studying with Him, singing to Him, and just meditating on His presence with us and the awesome power and mystery of the Gospel.  We have the privilege of  knowing, and walking through life in a personal relationship with God—-that alone should be the rush we seek.

If you are having big struggles and challenges, then maybe you need to…

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As I look back at my life, (I’m 56 years young today), I understand that I didn’t start thinking maturely, until my mid-late 20’s.  I was very foolish, immature, and self-centered for many, many years.

As I gave my life to Jesus Christ in my young twenty’s, and began desperately seeking His wisdom and life to embed my life, changes began happening. Although I still did (and often still do) things I wish I didn’t, I began to exercise better thinking and habits. Transformation was happening.

Since the early 90’s, I have been involved in a lot of mentoring kind of relationships.  I have listened to a lot of people talking about their difficulties  in their lives.  My heart has broken many times over the stories I heard from people as they shared the struggles they were having in their lives.

It’s interesting to me that as a follower of Jesus Christ, I know I have a tendency (as do so many others that I have come in contact with) to ask God to immediately fix my problems, or better my circumstances RIGHT NOW!

I say, “interesting” because it’s always a balance kind of thing.  My thinking is partially right-on because I am looking to a living and loving God to help me with my problems. That’s a good thing.  This Holy, Sovereign, and Creator God has the power to alter circumstances and He has love in His heart to help me when often, I am the one responsible for my own difficulties.

But balance is required in my thinking (and maybe in yours as well) because often God in His wisdom does not do some kind of “supernatural deliverance” from my hard circumstances, but rather gently, offers empathy (that He understands my feelings), encouragement and hope (that together, we will get through this), and strength to be steadfast and persevere  as I get back upright on my feet in time.

And this is key, in this “resetting of my focus”, He also offers guidance, a road map if you will from the Bible to order my steps and decision-making.  This road map for success and help in my current crisis is typically not glamorous, or dramatic  (as I sometimes want a living God to demonstrate), but nonetheless is sure and is solid truth, BUT…. this guidance does require my obedience.

I can say, I know a lot of Bible verses, but unless I submit myself to obeying these truths, I can’t expect any real results and neither should you.

I leave you with three key Bible verses and a Bible story to further clarify what I’m trying to convey to all of us who need help in navigating the challenges and struggles of life:

Psalm 119:105 – “Your Word is a lamp to my feet, and a light to my path”  (NASB)

Proverbs 3:5-6  (ESV)- “trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not lean not on your own understanding.  In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.”

2 Timothy 3:16-17 (NASB)- “All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.”

2 Kings 5:1-14  – it’s the story of a man named Naaman. Please read the story yourself, but here is the summary.  Naaman was a soldier who was also a leper.  A little Jewish girl who was taken as a prisoner saw the need of Naaman and said that he should go to a prophet in Israel and be healed.

Naaman lit up with hope. He listened to the girl and went to Israel, expecting a healing ceremony, if you will.  He was looking for something glitzy to happen in healing him.  The prophet Elisha did hear of his leprosy and his desire to be healed, but rather than any show of healing, simply gave Naaman instructions to dunk himself in the Jordan River seven times and he would be healed.

Naaman, at first objected, because his thought of cured supernaturally was fixed on someone waving their hand over him, reciting something, you know some kind of spectacle. . But that was not the way the prophet instructed him.  Naaman was simply expected to obey and exercise faith.  At first, reluctantly, but later with humility and expectancy, he obeyed and he in fact, did  experience a miracle.

It was not that the Jordan River held miraculous power, but rather that the supernatural did play out in his obedience spoken through God’s word, in this case through the lips of a prophet.

So, in conclusion, my friends, the living, loving, and God of miracles still exists-TODAY.    If you find yourself camped out in the midst of overwhelming challenges and struggles in your life, rather than looking for a microwave kind of quick resolution of your problems and circumstances,  come to this Sovereign God as did Naaman; in obedience, with humility, and expectancy.  Take one “dunk” of faith at a time. Miracles still happen, but maybe not as you might expect, not as quickly, or dramatically as you might think.  But they still do happen.

Blessings.