Where do I go from here?

Look at me!

Here I am, standing alone in the dark.

How did I get here?

What went wrong?

My whole life…Poof!

When we met I was young. We dated…fell in love. We had a real commitment. We were both in it for the long haul. We didn’t see eye to eye on everything but that’s okay. We weren’t perfect but who is? The important thing was that we loved each other. At times over the last few years that love and our marriage were tested. Every marriage is. Some days we didn’t like each other at all – but we knew that if we didn’t give up, we’d make it through. So, why am I now standing here alone? Past my prime, no longer as pretty as I once was. Who’s going to want me now? How did it come to this?

I have been praying for someone for some time but don’t know much in the way of details. All I know was that they have been on my heart a lot. They’ve recently been divorced. While thinking about them one day, I saw this scene in my mind.

They were standing there in the dark. The landscape was totally undefined – just dark. When they looked behind them, they could see their footprints leading up to where they stood. The path was visible where they had walked. The path lead up to their feet, but that’s where it stopped. Behind them were plans, purposes, intentions and all the things they were working toward.

They couldn’t see any path in front of them. They couldn’t see anything. It was like there was nothing there. There was no vision for the future. The only thing that could be perceived in front of them was a faint line of the horizon much like it would look at the very last light of sunset. The horizon appeared to be completely flat. No hills, no mountains, no trees, just a flat, empty horizon.

I began to think of how long they had been married. I couldn’t help but put myself in their shoes. Maybe you’ve been in their shoes too. Decades of hard work with the confidence that it would last. All the compromises about money. All the times when you gave up your way and in some cases, your right. All to make it work. To make it last. But it didn’t.

Being alone was thrust on them and now they stand there staring at an empty horizon. What will the future hold?

As I think about this now, Jeremiah 29:11 comes to mind.  I know the plans that I have for you, declares the LORD. They are plans for peace and not disaster, plans to give you a future filled with hope (God’s Word Translation).

The truth is that God is not done with them. He’s not done with me or you. If we are still drawing breath, there’s still hope. His message to us is clear. God loves us and He doesn’t want us to suffer this kind of torment. He calls it treacherous (Mal 2:14}. The suffering that comes from betrayal does not come from Him. It’s not His will and it’s not His fault.

He also says in Jeremiah that He loves us with an everlasting love (Jer 31:3). He really does love you and wants to help you. The Bible says in Proverbs 18:24 that there is a friend that sticks closer than a brother. He is that friend.

As I share this, I am confronted with a very stout truth. I’m not qualified to talk about this. Not really. While my parents divorced when I was a boy, I have not personally been divorced, and while the Lord helps me see certain things, I have never known the pain that comes from this kind of betrayal. I don’t have credibility in this area.

So I look to you my dear readers. Many of you have faced this and lived to tell.  There are those who will read this that have made it through. By the grace and mercy of God, you’ve gotten up off the floor day after day and moved forward.

YOU have the qualified voice. You know things I don’t know. You can give insight that I can’t. If you will, you can draw from your experience to help those who are suffering now.

I ask you for your help. What am I not seeing? How would you help this person? How would you advise me and others who want to help?

Please help us by sharing in the comments.  I look forward to your advice and guidance.

I love you guys.

Your buddy,

Art

What Are You Looking At?

If you’re like me, you’ve got dreams.  You’ve got stuff that you’re passionate about and goals you’re hungry to reach.  But it’s so easy to get caught up in the details of life that, before we know it, we’ve lost focus.  This is a constant battle for me.  The many “Urgent” things start to crowd out the few really important things.

The reasons for this are pretty straight forward.  – You’re sitting, minding your own business, focusing on something specific that’s important to you, but little do you know you’re being watched!  You look up, almost feeling the gaze of something predatory lurking just out of sight. You shake it off as nothing, double down on your focus and just when you’re making good headway – it pounces!  Someone else’s agenda!  Aaarrgghh!

The sad truth is that if you don’t have plans for your time, someone else does.  And their plans are almost never for your benefit.
#1 – You lose focus on what’s important to you when you allow other people’s agendas to steal your time.

Maybe you’re one of those chronic people pleasers.  You love people and see things you can do to help them.  You commit to do more and more because you want to make them happy.  It’s not necessarily that they are asking, you’re just offering.  You find yourself severely over committed and you just have too much on your plate.
#2 – You can’t get your important stuff done, because you’re too busy and over extended in the service of your fellow man.

Maybe you’re like me.  If I were a dog, I would be a sight hound.  Some dogs track by scent and some by sight.  I track movement.  I am a visual learner.  This doesn’t work in my favor when I’m trying to focus though.  Pop-up distractions are everywhere.  I may start off a Saturday morning with a pretty specific schedule of things I want to get done.  The next thing I know, I drove past a store that reminded me of something I wanted to get, or investigate, and pop-up by pop-up, my schedule gets blown.
#3 – You can’t get your important stuff done because of you yield to pop-up distractions.

Michael Hyatt often quotes his wife Gail Hyatt concerning purpose.  She says “People lose their way when they lose their why”.

The Why is super important with it comes to having the discipline to stay on track.  Our why is directly coupled with our vision.   2 Corinthians 3:18 in the Bible tells us that we are changed by what we see.  You may have heard the phrase If you can see it, you can be it.  This is true.   It’s also true that if you can’t see, you can’t become.  We see from both 2 Corinthians 3:18, and Romans 12:1-2 that what we see changes us.  Romans says that if we’re not intentional about renewing our mind with God’s word, we will default to being conformed to this world.

The word Conform here comes from the root meaning Union, and from an alternate word meaning A figure.  A figure is something you see.  United with what we see.  Changed by the image that strikes the eye – that’s what it means to conform.  When we renew our minds intentionally, we replace that figure with a new vision painted by God’s Word.  Keith Moore says it this way – We become what we behold.  This vision gives us guidance.

“People lose their way when they lose their why.”  – Gail Hyatt

The Bible says that Where there is no vision, the people perish. – Pro 29:18.
The literal version of that verse says that where there is no vision, the people are unrestrained.  when I think of unrestrained, I think of a horse’s bridle.  A trained horse can do remarkable things when it’s bridled.  The restraint of the bridle keeps the horse focused and it’s energy moving in a specific way.

When I was a little boy, we had a Shetland pony.  At night when it began to get dark, my job was to get a halter and go bring her in from the pasture.  It seemed like every night, as I would draw close to her, she would trot away from me about 20 yards and start grazing again.  This would happen over and over.  I eventually learned that once I got close, I would run up and jump “shot cowboy” style across her back, working the halter on from there. Once the halter was on, I could lead her and keep her on track.  After a few nights of that, as soon as I got that halter on her, she immediately started walking toward the house.  She eventually became so trained to it, that all I needed to do was get on her back and she would start in from the pasture.  The halter eventually became a trigger for her that it was time to do something else.

Like the halter, or the bridle, vision provides guidelines.

Vision gives us purpose

In Genesis, God invited Abram to look up into the night sky. Gen 15:5 – And He (Jehovah) brought him (Abram) outside and said, Look now toward the heavens and count the stars, if you are able to count them. And He said to him, So shall your seed be. (15:6) And he believed in Jehovah. And He counted it to him for righteousness.

God had just told an old man that the child coming from his own body would be his heir.  When Abram asked how these things would be, God used the sky to give Abram vision. Can you imagine how compelling that was for Abram?  God later used the sand in the desert to bolster Abraham’s faith, reminding him of the promise of the covenant – so shall your seed be.

This changed the way Abram thought.  It gave him faith to become what God had called him to become.  Vision gave him purpose.

Vision gives us priorities

It keeps us reminded of what really matters.  All of us get the same number of hours per week, and there are a lot of things we could be spending our time on. The truth is that for every thing you say yes to, you are automatically saying no to something else.  Our Vision helps us weigh out opportunity cost of saying yes to the wrong thing.  It helps us make decisions in line with our priorities, and by doing that, helps us alleviate the regret that comes from making a bad choice and wasting our time. Vision gives us priorities.

Vision gives us passion

It becomes clear that one of our most important things we can do is to find ways to keep what’s important in the front of our mind.   There are several ways we can do this.

  • One way I do this is my Vision Wall.  I have a cork-board in my home office that has things on it that I need to be continually reminded about.  I have pictures of ministers and charities that we pray for, and often support. The main thing is to have pictures, or some visual representation of your goals.  These need to be compelling.  They need to have some pull on you, so when you see them, they have a motivating affect on you.
  • I have a written out prayer on my bathroom mirror for my children.  I mumble through it while I’m brushing my teeth.  I also have Psalm 112, and 1 Corinthians 13:45-8 (Amp) on my mirror to read to myself while I’m getting ready in the morning.
  • I also keep a folder called Vision Images on my computer desktop.  This folder has images that I’ve gleaned from social media of all my brothers, sisters, nieces, nephews and various relatives and friends.  It’s sole purpose is to bring them to mind so I can pray for them.

By keeping vision before our eyes, it gives us the passion we need to move forward.  I once heard it said that there is no such thing as a lazy person, there are just people who have not been properly motivated.  I don’t know if that’s true, but I do know that when my vision is in my face, and compelling, I don’t have to drag myself out of bed in the morning, I wake up with my engine revving, anticipating the day.

Dig deep this week.  When it comes to your vision, where do you stand?  Does your vision motivate you?  Are you passionate about where you’re heading?  I encourage you to press the pause button on your life for a minute and reconnect with your WHY.

If this helps you at all, please share.  Also, if you’re not already getting these posts in your email, consider subscribing.

I appreciate you.

Art

 

Proverbs for Men

When I think of Pride, one of the first things I think of is “Pride goes before a fall”.  It’s a phrase I’ve heard most of my life.  This phrase is actually a shortening of a scripture found in Proverbs.

Pro 16:18  Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall. (MKJV)

I’ve started a video series that I’m calling Proverbs for Men.  I’ve also made a weird contraction out of it, and refer to it as ProForM.  All of the videos will be short.  If a topic needs a longer run time, I will break it into smaller short videos.  I want each one to be less than 5 minutes.

I will continue to write posts but also wanted to add these as supplemental content.

Everybody can benefit from the book of Proverbs.  It’s the book of wisdom, written by the wisest man who ever lived, Solomon.  While everyone can benefit from Proverbs, it’s first use was specifically to instruct sons.  It deals with some substantial topics. Topics like, what to do about the strange woman, or the forward woman, and how to think properly about relationships.

I am looking forward to digging in to it all with you.  So, without further ado – here’s the first of many.

 

I hope this video has helped you.  If so, please consider sharing.

Thank you – You guys mean a lot to me.

Art

Move Forward With Confidence! Here’s How.

We know that Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God. (Rom 10:17).  When Jesus said we would know the Truth, and the Truth would make us free, the implication of the verse is that it’s the TRUTH YOU KNOW that makes you free.

About a week ago, while I was having stuff done to my house, there was something that I wanted done, and I was pretty sure it was supposed to be done, but it kept getting passed over by the contractors.  I watched day after day as they worked around the area I was looking at, but day after day, they didn’t do anything.  I started getting anxious.  I even went and found the quote, just to look and see if it had been overlooked in the pricing.  Nope!  It was there!  So why do they keep working around it?  I began to create a  picture in my head of a big confrontation with the contractor in my front yard – out there in front of God and everybody.

It suddenly hit me.  This is not faith.  This is fear!  Fear is perverted faith, and I know better than this.  God gives me favor with people.  Then I thought….wait a minute, where is that in the Bible?  I couldn’t think of a specific scripture that promised that God has given me favor with everybody.  But what does the Bible say?

I remembered Rom 8:28  And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. Then right on the heels of that,  Rom 8:31 & 32  What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us? He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?

To me, knowing where that truth was located was very important.  Many times we get ideas about what God is like or how He will act, but without actually having a scripture to back that up, you can’t really have faith.

Why?  Because as soon as your good thoughts about God get challenged, and they will be challenged, you will realize that what you believe about God is not based on a firm foundation.  Faith must be based on a firm foundation.  In order for something to be scriptural, we have to actually have scripture.

I began to think about it.  He will cause this to work out for my good.  He loves me.  He’s working in this situation on my behalf.  I made the shift on the inside.  I prayed about it, basing my prayer and my faith on the scriptures that the Holy Spirit brought to my memory.  I was now in a place of confidence.  I had faith that God was involved, and that it was going to be alright.  The next day, I had a passing conversation with the contractor, who all on his own, pointed out the part I had been wondering about and indicated that he wasn’t finished, and that it would all be done. Thank God!

Faith calls for the manifestation of itself.  It’s where we learn from God’s own example that we are to call those things that be not, as though they were (Rom 4:17).  We see from Job’s example that Fear also has a voice (Job 3:25).   It calls for the manifestation of itself too, because it’s perverted faith. Fear is having confidence in the circumstance and it’s ability to hurt you.

How do you move forward in your life?  When you navigate through your day, how do you know that the choices you make are the right ones?  Do you often see potential issues before they happen and successfully avoid them, or do you often find yourself knee deep in drama and wonder how you got there?

Recently I was having a conversation with someone at work.  They pointed out that they thought I was well suited for my work.  They commented that I am so confident in what I and my team do, that I am not easily pushed around.

The truth is that I do my job like I live my life.  I live by standards. A standard is defined as “an idea or thing used as a measure, norm, or model in comparative evaluations”.  One way to look at standards is that they are the rule by which everything else is measured.  They are the ideal.  It’s helpful if these are also unchanging.

In Metrology (The Science of Measurement), Primary standards are the highest order of standard.  They were at one time based on artifacts.  Items that were assigned final authority concerning a set measurement.  The problem with this is that artifacts are objects that are subject to change.  In recent years, science has been working to move the standards from artifact basis to a basis of fundamental physical constants.  That way, if anything happened to the standard bar for a meter, we could still measure a true meter.

A Standard is true.  It’s always the right answer.  When I’m at work, I operate according to the standards set forth by our executives regarding production speeds, processes and costs.  To me, these standards are like the company constitution.  When I operate in accordance with them, I am always in a defensible position.  I can have confidence that I operated according to the will of the executives.

The same is true with my life.  I can live in confidence to the extent that I am living according to the standard of God’s Word.  It is my final authority above all else.

In recent years, the world has become more vocal in its resistance to all things Christian.  It seems to have become popular to make fun of Christians for believing that the Bible is the truth.  There are even people who grew up in church that now take verbal “cheap shots” at Christians for believing what the Bible says. The Bible is the truth though, and it is the standard by which all things will be measured in the end.

It’s important not only to know about the standard but to actually know it.  Jesus said in John 8:31 & 32  If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free. It’s important to know God loves you, but it’s more important to know specifically where the promise is that tells you that God loves you.

When it comes to knowing what to do, it’s so important to know what the standards are, and to submit yourself to them.  Only then can you stand firm when the world is telling you something different.

Today, you can move forward with confidence.  The very next step you take can be the first step toward the things you so desperately need.  What it takes…what it always takes, is a commitment.  Without a solid decision on your part, you will still be pushed around.  You must be as committed to the truth as the truth is to you.

I want to remind you of the choice Joshua required Israel to make in Joshua 24:15.  “Choose you this day whom you will serve”, and then he adds “but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord”.

The choice is yours.

Your buddy Art.

For more info about your standing with God, Click Here.

 

 

 

A short update from Art.

Hello to you!  I want to take a minute and just have a conversation with you, my beloved reader.  I really value our connection and I don’t take it lightly.  Because of that, I think I need to give you an update as to why my posting schedule has been a little erratic.  It’s basically comes down to me needing to take some time, and focus on getting some stuff done.  

Before Christmas I started on an ambitious woodworking project that I’m right in the middle of now.  

Here’s what I’m modeling after,

www.woodsmithplans.com

 

and here’s where my version is today.

Instead of tools, my version is going to be a cosmetics and make-up brush chest with a mirror in the lid.  🙂

We’ve also decided to replace the windows and siding on our house.  The windows were done last week, and we’re right in the middle of the siding part.  We needed this badly.  This house had been foreclosed on, and we purchased it from a bank.  When we took possession of it, there were no doors on, or in the house.  No light fixtures, vanity, water heater or air conditioning.  They had all been stripped by the previous owner.  All of the windows had been caulked closed and only one of them had a screen.    

After spending several intensive months on it, we’ve got a pretty good house. Except for the siding and windows.  But that’s all about to be fixed!  Yaay!

A couple of weeks ago, my uncle R.G. and his lovely wife, Marie came through and visited with us for a short weekend.  I was really blessed by it.  We broke bread together and stayed up kind of late just remembering funny stuff from the past.  We can’t get together for too long before we start encouraging one another in the Lord. I’m so glad and blessed that we had that time together.  

My uncle and I are pretty tight.  He’s been an active part of my life since I before I started the third grade.  Before that, we lived in different states.

When my parents divorced, I went through some pretty tough times personally.  My uncle took an interest in me and my life.  He loved me.  I say that as a verb.  He taught me, he helped me, he joked with me, he took me fishing, and most of all, he showed me the Love of God.  

He was the first Christian that didn’t make a big deal about my sin and mess ups.  He didn’t judge me. He just stayed steady, and would counsel me when the opportunity arose.  He stepped in when I didn’t have anyone to teach me how to be a man, and spoke to me about things like Honor, Integrity, Humility & Character.  Things that mattered.  

He actually set a good example to me of what these things look like.  The Lord used his example to birth in me a desire to help others this way. Especially young men.  

Anyway, I’ll do better at being more consistent with my posts, but I would like to ask you a favor.  Would you please send me a comment or email and give me three things that you would like me to touch on with this blog.  It would be a tremendous help to me.  I always make the topics a matter of prayer and I’ve been led by the Holy Spirit on much of what I’ve written about in the last three years, but I would like to sharpen my focus on the things that you really need to hear about.  

I sure would appreciate it.  I would like to borrow a comment from my friend, Pastor Bob Keich in closing and just say this – If no one has told you they love you today, let me be the first.  I love you guys.

Art

Do you have what it takes?

I read something on social media a while back where a young person was asking for someone to please be proud of him.  It got me thinking – a lot.  It saddened me that he felt that way, but the truth is, it is completely in his control.  

First, let’s look at the difference between I love you, and I’m proud of you.  

My love for you does not depend on how you act because it isn’t based on who you are, it’s based on who I am.  Love also can’t be taken, it can only be received. If it’s taken, it’s not real love, but something devious that we call manipulation.  Manipulation is the place where the selfish people play.  These will try to make you perform in order to be loved, but that’s not real. Real love must be given, not paid for.  It comes from the heart of love, and is demonstrated by giving.  This can be clearly seen in the famous Bible verse John 3:16.  

Joh 3:16  For God so loved the world that He gave His only-begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.

There’s a huge difference between I love you, and I’m proud of you.  I love you can exist on it’s own because it’s not really dependent on you.  It’s a decision made by someone else, and it’s based on what’s in their heart, not on you, or what you have done.

That being said, when someone says I’m proud of you, that is a way of saying that they are pleased with you.  Being pleased or displeased with someone doesn’t mean that you don’t love them.  It just means that they have done something you think is awesome or they’re doing things you don’t like.  Maybe they’re doing something that you are uncomfortable with. This is where some might get confused.  People can love others, but not want to be around them because of the way they act.

When someone tells you they are proud of you, or are pleased with you, they are telling you that YOU have done well.  Pride in yourself, or other people being pleased with you is based on YOU.  It comes from what you do or have done.  How you act is what matters here.  

Here’s a hard truth, and the faster you learn it, the better off you’ll be.  People don’t really care how you feel.  Seriously.  They don’t.  What they do care about is what you do.  

You have an unspoken agreement with everyone you interact with.  They may care how you feel, but they care far more what you do.  So much of what happens to you, or for you, is based on how you act.  

Does it seem like nothing goes your way?  Is it hard to get ahead?  Does it seem like you just can’t get a break?  When I hear people say stuff like this, the first thing I start looking at is how well do they take instruction and criticism.  What I usually find is that when people think they are struggling and can’t seem to get ahead, it’s usually true.  The reason it’s true though is because they won’t listen.  They can’t take criticism without getting their feelings hurt or getting angry, and they can’t take instruction because they act like they already know it all.  

When you’re arrogant, people don’t like dealing with you.  They will push you to the sidelines of their life and only deal with you when they have to.  

I know this from experience.  When I was 19, I was hard to get along with.  I had a very bad attitude.  I was arrogant, smart mouthed, and easily offended.  I was a real pill.  I had a friend that I worked with named Tim. Tim cared enough for me to pull me aside one day and tell me the truth. He said “People don’t like working with you.  If you don’t change your attitude, you’re going to get fired.”  The fact that he was there talking to me about this meant that it was the topic of conversation among my coworkers and my supervisor.  He was warning me.  

While it was extremely hard to hear, it cut straight through my bad attitude and hit me right in my heart.  It was apparent to me that my friend didn’t want me to get fired.  He wanted me to change, to do better, and he knew that I was burning my own bridge and my time was running out.  

Let me stop here and ask you a question.  What would you do if you were me?  Would you spout off something like “I don’t need this  #@!* job anyway!” and storm out?  I didn’t.  I wanted that job.  I immediately humbled myself and asked him to help me.  I submitted myself to his oversight and invited his criticism; both of which he faithfully gave.  It was hard, it was SO hard.  I don’t know about you but I don’t like hearing bad stuff about myself.  I want everyone to like me all the way, all the time.  

I began to realize something in that time that has helped me stay steady ever since.  We all would agree that none of us are perfect. Criticism is one of the most effective ways to identify areas where growth is needed, but we all resist criticism all the time.  Part of the reason is because when someone points out one of your faults, it may not be your fault that’s the issue.  Maybe they are the one who’s actually more wrong that you.  Another reason is that, even when someone is right about us and our faults, we think they are just judging, and we don’t consider them qualified to judge us.

If you can get over that, if you can learn to see correction and criticism for what it really is, you will grow & mature faster than you can imagine.  What correction really is, is someone taking the time to point out that you could be doing a little better.  To really grow, you will have to want it enough to endure the discomfort of being corrected.  You will need to humble yourself.

The bottom line is that, if you want people to be pleased with you (proud of you), you have to do things that earn it.  It’s not too late to start down this road.  You can begin today and build the man you want to be.  It starts with humility, and being able to be corrected.

Are you at a disadvantage?

Not too long ago, I heard a man talking about relationships.  He pointed out that because he was his father’s son, he was always able to go into the garage and use his dad’s tools.  Even when he became an adult and moved out of the house, he was still able to go over to his parents’ house whenever he needed to, and borrow a tool.  His point was that there were advantages to being the son, or daughter, that were not available to everyone else.

I know what it means to be a son, but I couldn’t relate to that whole garage story.  I didn’t have the advantage of a garage full of tools, and a dad who would let me borrow them.  I began to wonder.  What have I missed?  

Courtesy of stocksnap.io

I know of another young man who started a siding company.  This guy’s dad is a popular minister.  When the young man started his company, his dad leveraged his own influence & time to help his son promote the fledgling business.  I remember seeing the dad’s facebook posts, proudly talking about his son’s new business.  I would also see pictures posted of the dad standing at his son’s booth at a trade show, helping him promote it.  I think that is so cool.  

I wonder if these young men know what they have.  Compared to those of us who don’t have that kind of relationship with our dads, they certainly seem to have  an advantage.  

There have been many times in my life that I wished I had my dad with me, even if it was just to push me harder to man up.  There were many times when I noticed his absence and felt disadvantaged.  

Even now, the temptation is there to feel disadvantaged.   I have to keep reminding myself that it’s simply not true. There is no disadvantage when you know God.  His salvation is so great that it completely erases all disadvantage.  I believe the only reason we may feel disadvantaged is because we are getting supernatural help from our spiritual enemy.

I will say this though – Without God, the disadvantage is real.  It doesn’t take a missing father either. You could have an abusive father who’s there all the time.

Like the young man I mentioned above, some young men don’t want to follow in their father’s foot steps, but instead have the benefit of his influence to start their own enterprise.  That’s great too.

Joel Osteen is a tremendous example of someone who stepped into his father’s shoes, stayed true to the vision for Lakewood church, and has grown his church and his influence far beyond his father.  He has, by building on the legacy of John Osteen, continued the growth of the ministry, and he reaches millions more that just those that attend Lakewood.

Consider Joseph in the Bible. (Gen 37 – 41).  He was the great grandson of Abraham.  His dad was called Israel which means Prince of God.  He was heir to a tremendous covenant with Almighty God.  He had prophetic dreams.  His dad gave him a fancy coat.  Everything was just going awesome for him.  Then his brothers conspired to kill him.  Thankfully, they didn’t follow through but instead, sold him into slavery to the Ishmaelites.  There were many times in Joseph’s life where he had opportunity to think that he was disadvantaged.  His father’s influence was gone and he seemed to be alone.  There were probably many times that as a slave, and as a prisoner, he took a beating.  Think about it though.  He was never beyond the reach or the sight of the Almighty.  God knew exactly where he was.  Even as a slave and a prisoner, God didn’t forget about him and kept promoting him.

One day, there were only two people in all the land that knew that God had given Joseph supernatural wisdom, and used Joseph to interpret dreams.  The butler and the baker.  Within three days, one of them was dead (the baker).  Things really looked bleak for Joseph because when the butler was restored to his position, he forgot all about Joseph.  The day came though, where, in a single day, IN A SINGLE DAY – it went from one person knowing about Joseph, to everybody in the land knowing about Joseph.  That’s what I call promotion!

God was faithful to bring Joseph into his destiny, but Joseph had to be faithful even when it looked like things were only getting worse.  The promotion was from God, not Joseph, but the promotion would not have come had Joseph not been faithful when no one was watching. Even after his promotion, it was the favor that God had given him with the pharaoh, and his faithfulness to do the job that kept him there.  

It might seem to you that you are disadvantaged.  You have nothing going for you and everything is hard.  It may be true.  Through being prideful and hardening your heart, you may have damaged, or weakened relationships with others and now it seems like you are alone.  It doesn’t have to stay this way.  

God hasn’t forgotten about you. He knows where you are.  If you will draw near to Him, repent for your stubbornness and commit to do what He directs you to do in His word, He will get into your business and help you like He did for Joseph.  The very next step COULD be the first step in the right direction.  

I have a note on my cork board in my home office.  It’s a quote from Rev. Keith Moore.  It says “I don’t have to know anybody.  I don’t have to have any money.  I have faith in God, and faith in God is enough”.

When you have God, you are not disadvantaged.  Quite the opposite.  When you’re His, you have an extreme advantage!  You can do ALL THINGS through Christ which strengthens you.

How to get clarity & direction.

For many years I struggled with knowing what to do.  I usually ended up drifting. I would make the best choice of the opportunities that would float by me, but I had no idea what the future held.  I just hoped that it would be good and sometimes worried that it wouldn’t be.  Yes, I said worried.

Today I don’t believe in worry.  Worry is a form of fear, and fear is the opposite of faith.  We know by scripture that faith comes from hearing God’s Word continually.  I now know that when I’m tempted to worry now, I need more exposure to God’s promises.

I took some time off from Blogging this last month to spend some extra time praying and getting clarity regarding direction in 2017.  I put some of the things I’ve been thinking about in this video.  I pray you find it helpful.

So – Are you with me?  I would really like to hear from you.  What are you focusing on for the coming year?

If this video helps you at all, please share.

I sure do appreciate you all.

Art

It’s the thought that counts.

One time when we were kids, my younger brothers, sister and I were invited to a neighbor boy’s birthday party.  Back in those days we didn’t have any money for a gift.  I remember giving him a pair of novelty glasses that had lights on them.  They were mine and I really liked them but I really didn’t want us to show up empty handed.  I remember feeling ashamed that we weren’t giving him a new gift, but at the same time, I remember that gift being a real sacrifice for me personally.  He may have never known how big of a gift we gave him that day.

One of the hallmarks of this season is buying gifts. I’ve heard that when it comes to retail, there are two seasons. Christmas season and Not Christmas season. There’s no doubt that a pretty substantial chunk of our economy relies on the purchases made for Christmas gifts.

The other side of the buying is the giving. That is where the real action is. Unfortunately, this can be a little tricky. I remember several years ago, we had a “Secret Santa” at my work. We would draw names & then give an inexpensive gift each day for five days leading up to Christmas eve. I drew the name of a young man who drove our delivery van at the time. I thought I would get him things he could eat. Everybody eats – right? It was a terrible idea. It seemed that he was allergic to everything I got him. I could tell he was pretty disappointed. The problem was that I didn’t know him very well.

Don’t you just love it though, when you get it right? It’s pretty awesome when you give a gift that’s a hit. Especially if it’s a surprise. I know how I feel. When someone takes the time to get to know what you like, how you think, what you need, what you WANT. They take the time to carefully evaluate you and what would make you happy, then choose your gift…wow!

We’ve all heard “It’s the thought that counts”, and it’s usually used to make us feel better about a bad gift.  When you really think about it – It’s the thought that counts is an eye opening perspective.  Consider for a second that it really is the thought behind any gift that makes it what it is.  It shows how much or how little we think of the people receiving the gift.  It’s getting easier to buy for people you don’t know very well now that so many stores are offering gift cards.

Now consider the truth behind Christmas.  John 3:16 says For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.  Now, that verse gets more attention than many other verses in the Bible.  But so often, people don’t take the time, stop, and really consider the implications of it.  While there are people everywhere who know that Jesus came to earth, most don’t consider why.

Often, the gift represents honor, and honor represents value.  God’s gift to earth represents how much He values us.  He sent us His only begotten son – who laid aside His majesty, glory & honor, and became one of us. In Philippians, the King James Version says “But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men”.  New American Standard Bible says it this way “but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bondservant, and being made in the likeness of men”.  He became a man and came to earth because, to save us.  Why? Because we were beyond helping ourselves.  We were sold under sin to a cruel master, cursed and unable to help ourselves.  God, the Father loved us so much that He sent His Son.  To become one of us.  To live with us. To die for us. To be raised from the dead for us. To be seated at the right hand of the throne of God for us, so that Hebrews 6 calls Him the Forerunner.  That’s a very important distinction because forerunners are not the only runners.  Forerunners are the first runners.

Heb 2:10  For it became him, for whom are all things, and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons unto glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings.

It all started on earth with a little baby in a manger. From an earthly perspective, such a humble beginning, but we can see heaven’s perspective by the way the angels acted in front of the shepherds on the hillside outside Bethlehem that night.

Luk 2:13  And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying,  Luk 2:14  Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.

Heaven’s perspective of this gift was significantly different.  They were ALL rejoicing.  This was a big deal.  Think about what they said.  On earth…peace, good will toward men.  This means that before this, there was no peace.  Things were incomplete and broken.  Why? Because the definition of peace literally means “set at one again”.  Fully restored.  Nothing missing, nothing broken.

Take some time during this Christmas season to reflect on what this really means.  God said in Jeremiah 29:11 (God’s Word Translation)  I know the plans that I have for you, declares the LORD. They are plans for peace and not disaster, plans to give you a future filled with hope.  The King James says it this way “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you…”  God’s thoughts toward us are thoughts of peace, wholeness, nothing missing, nothing broken.  These are all reflected in the gift He gave to us – Jesus. God could not have given us more.  The gift reflects the thoughts.  That’s what God thinks of you.

From my family to yours,  Merry Christmas!

Art

Where to start on the road to honor.

New Year’s Eve 2009, my family and I were on our way home from my wife’s parents’ house.  We had spent the evening eating junk food & playing games but everyone was getting pretty tired so we decided to go home.  It was right about midnight (I remember because of the fireworks) when a small Mazda coming toward us spun out of control. It hit the big pickup truck in front of us, turning the truck in the road about 120 degrees & then tail whipped right into the front of our car.  It hit us so hard that it slapped the front of our car clear off into the ditch. The Mazda was wrecked in both the front and the rear.

We were all okay, escaping with just a little seat belt rash and some muscle stress from the accident, but our car was totaled.  The 19 year old young man driving the Mazda was okay too.  He kept apologizing and it became pretty clear that he was under the influence of alcohol.

A lot happened that night.  The Highway Patrol & the Fire Department showed up, made sure everyone was okay & took our information. Then I realized that the young man’s father had also arrived. He made sure his son was okay and was now talking to the state trooper. The father had a weary look on his face.  It seemed by his actions that he was very embarrassed by his son’s behavior that night.  When he was also informed that his son had refused towing service because “his dad had a guy” the father sighed and his head just dropped into his hand.  He was ashamed.  I remember thinking as I watched it “This is the exact opposite of honor”.  Accidents sometimes can’t be avoided, but that night there were some very bad choices made that led up to this one.

Proverbs 17:2 says “A servant who does wisely will have rule over a son causing shame, and will have his part in the heritage among brothers” (BBE).

It’s so important to understand that the first part of honoring your mother and father is to NOT cause shame.  I know there are plenty of times when I was a fool and embarrassed my parents.  I am personally responsible for many of the gray hairs on their heads.  It took me a long time to understand what it really means to honor them. I wish that someone would have helped me understand honor and why it’s important when I was a much younger man.  I will share more about honor in upcoming posts but the simplest way to define it for me is “to heavily value”. As we grow up we sometimes forget that we’re still sons & daughters and that what we do directly reflects on how we were raised.  God holds us strictly accountable to honor our Father and Mother (Ex. 20:12).  We do that with our life, by being quality people, and it doesn’t end when our parents are gone. We honor them for the rest of OUR lives.

I would love to hear your thoughts on honoring your parents. Please add your comments.

 

(Previously published April 2014)