“Is this water going to be refreshing or bad for me”?

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Many of the posts I write about have to do with perspective.  I believe its because of the perspective we have on things that cause us to act like we do.  One of my favorite things are M&M’s.   When I see a bowl of M&M’s, I know  that as soon as I scoop up my first handful, a smile will come to my taste buds and I will feel happier.  That’s weird to say that, huh? (although I’m sure you can probably relate).

However, like eating one potato chip (I don’t think its possible), one handful of M&M’s is nearly impossible for me to do.

I think one scoop will satisfy, but it won’t. So, I take another one, and another.  Pretty soon, my happy feelings turn into a kind of yucky feeling.

I think life is like that.  We all face so many choices throughout our days and its the wisdom of our perspective that makes all the difference between having a deep feeling of contentment, or “need for more attitude that leads to yuckiness”.

Recently, I was reminded of this “perspective in our choices” kind of issue after reading  Brad Bigney’s excellent book, “Gospel Treason”.  Here are a few notes from it that I took:

-God doesn’t just give you satisfaction. Rather than merely giving you water, He establishes IN  YOU a fountain of living water
its as though we’re in a boat surrounded by what looks like refreshing , thirst-quenching water, but its full of salt. Everything outside of God in Christ is saltwater, and it only leaves you thirstier  than you were before.
-enjoy the stuff of this world, but don’t live for them.. They cannot sustain you. You were made for something bigger, better, fuller.   You were made for an appetite for God, and nothing else will satisfy. .   
-1 Tim. 6:17c (ESV) , says “God richly provides us with everything to enjoy. “
-So, if you have them (the material stuff in this world), enjoy them. Thank God for them. Just don’t get lost in the gift and forget the Giver . Only God Himself can satisfy.
-Idolatry is a threat to your soul.
Although there is so much around you that would seem to bring you an immediate sense of enjoyment, take the time my friend to evaluate the bigger picture.   Are you, in actuality believing that some  thing or person will bring you a lasting satisfaction and fulfillment, when only a personal relationship with the living and loving God can do that?    As good as this “obvious choice” looks, will my yielding to it be good for me, or something harmful?
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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

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?

 

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