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!
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Getting rest will help

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Although it’s probably not a pleasant thought, consider the last time you really didn’t feel well.  With all your aches, pains, and chills, my guess is that you just wanted to lay down. You probably had little energy and your mind seemed to also want to go into “sleep mode”.

In a similar way, think about a time where you were over-worked.  Maybe you were out of town on business, visiting client after client; doing presentations, having meetings, traveling and all that goes with it. Maybe you are putting in long hours at your day job and than it seems like every night you are at different meetings and functions at church and you just find yourself exhausted.

In either of these scenarios, the issue is that bodily, mentally, emotionally, you can get fatigued.  Now with those pictures in your mind, here is one more thought. Think about a friend who wants to do some kind of business deal with you at a time when you are either sick or tired.   How in tune are you to that conversation?  Not much, right!

It might not be a business deal, it might be a spouse who just wants to talk and you really don’t feel like it.  My point in laying out all these situations is to convey the importance of rest.

To live a well-balanced life, make “getting rest” a priority.

 

Why take your temperature?

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Why does a person take their temperature? Primarily it is to confirm the suspicion that they are sick.

In a similar way, I would like to encourage each of us, when we have the suspicion that something is not right with us and we are displaying actions that are uncharacteristic, (getting impatient and angry with others, eating too much, laying around too much, overstressed, etc.) we take to heart these “symptoms” and do a quick read on our situation.

What I am describing is the important life management step of EVALUATION. To evaluate, we intentionally set aside some time to review all the areas of responsibility in our life, and the circumstances we find ourselves in, to see how things are going.

If we evaluate regularly, we will avoid having the major crisis times which cause us to display the uncharacteristic behaviors I mentioned above.

So, the important statement to make is not “yeah, I’ll do that when I have the time”, but rather, its “yeah, I see that taking the time for some evaluation is important, and I’m going to make the time”.

The importance of “gaining the higher ground”

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“No person can make a good estimate of distant lands from the floor of a valley. A person must get to a vantage point, a viewpoint from which one can see the full breadth of the valley and gain a view of the valleys that lie beyond it”.

taken from “Living the life you were meant to live” Tom Paterson (pg. 29)

Taking occasional pauses from the hectic pace of life allows us to gain the higher ground and get a proper perspective on what’s going on in our life and if we need to make any changes.

“If you can anticipate the future, then…”

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I believe it was Paul Allaire, former chairman of Xerox who said, “if you can anticipate the future, you can also help shape it”.

That sounds wise. To make it practical, you need to take the time to think about the future. In the midst of these busy days, that is easier said than done.

However, it will be well worth it if you can discipline yourself to make a regular time in your schedule to evaluate what’s going on in your life and adjust your plans accordingly.

A leader to you, as a leader, …

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For seven years, George Shultz had one of the most important and consuming jobs in government, serving as Secretary of State under President Ronald Reagan. In the midst of the whirlwind of incoming information and outgoing decisions, he purposefully paused for undisturbed intellectual labor: “its easy to get totally dominated by the events- something is always happening.
So I would try – at least twice a week during the day when I was still fresh (not at the end of the day) to take three-quarters of an hour off. I said, “if the President calls or my wife calls, put it through, but no other calls.” And I make a pact wth myself not to look at the stuff in my inbox, and I go over and sit in a comfortable chair with a pad and paper, take a deep breath and say, “What am I doing here? What am I trying to achieve? What are the main problems?” So you try to get yourself out of all the detals of day-to-day stuff and try to look a little more broadly from your own perspective.
this passage is taken from “View from the Top” (pgs.62-63) by D. Michael Lindsay