Where Have I Been?

 

Excellence or Mediocrity in 2015. Here’s the Difference.

I play guitar. Eric Clapton also plays guitar. I have eight fingers and two thumbs. Eric Clapton has eight fingers and two thumbs. We both have shoulders where we can sling a guitar, we both are right handed and we both have Fender Stratocasters and we are both uncommonly good looking.  🙂  So why is he renowned for his playing and I am not?

playing guitar_800

There are two significant differences between him and me.

  • One very obvious difference is that he’s considerably older than I am. That leads to a far more important difference that’s not easy to see at a glance.
  • It’s what’s between his ears. The difference between a novice and a professional is mental. Literally! He knows the fret board, notes, chords & keys and so do I. The difference is that he paid the price in countless hours to learn, try, test, perform & practice way more than I did. He knows things that I don’t know.

Eric Clapton

I’ve heard it said that the expertise in nearly any field is 90% mental. There are strong, fast athletes out there that are not famous or well-known. Why, because the difference between mediocre and exceptional is found in the thinking. Lets use football players for an example. Let’s say you have two football players that have identical stats in every category, they are the same age, height, weight and strength. They both run at the same speed, catch the ball with the same regularity and hit with the same force. They appear to be identical in every way. However, one of them has been playing since he was 7 years old while the other one started last year. For the one, his training, drills, practices and the many games he has played since he was a little boy have given him the mental advantage. He can read, understand and anticipated his the opponent’s moves quicker and more accurately than the guy who started last year. That gives him a tremendous advantage over the other.  In war, being able to read and anticipate your enemies movements is an extremely valuable asset.  Which football player has the better chance of reaching excellence? They both do, but one can have it soon while the other has some training and development to do.

It comes down to situational wisdom.  Each of us has expertise in some area where we have tripped over the same stuff so often that when it shows up now, we see it coming a long way off and can take steps to avoid mistakes and problems.  Situational wisdom – that’s what practice and experience bring, and situational wisdom is the difference maker.

Ed Van Halen

Eric Clapton has practices certain things on his guitar so often that his mind is able to conduct his fingers with what to him probably seems like an afterthought. Do you know why Edward Van Halen is where he is today? It’s because when everyone else was out on dates, Edward was sitting on the edge of his bed practicing scales, tapping & flamenco style hammer-ons and pull-offs.  There are great herds of guitarists that have all tried to copy or at least borrow from Edward’s style. That’s influence! All because he paid the price others would not pay.

I heard Seth Godin tell a story once about when he worked for a toy company. One Christmas day he decided to go into work for about 4 hours and just answer the phones. No one told him to or knew he was going to do it but he just decided to go in and try to help the customer with questions. Some time later while in a meeting with other company managers and executives, the question came up about

Seth Godin

Seth Godin

what the customer might think about a product that they sold. Seth spoke up and said “When I was in here answering phones on Christmas day, this is what the parents and kids were saying”.  All voices immediately fell quiet. Seth had just become the expert in the room. What did it cost him? 4 hours on Christmas day. What really happened though, was that he went further than the other people in the room were willing to go to be better at his craft. Because of that, he became the “Go to” guy for customer feedback.

My pastor, Kenneth W. Hagin says it this way, “If you want to get ahead in your job. Learn all that you can possibly learn about your job. Go farther than everyone else is willing to go. Then you will be qualified for future promotion”.

As we launch into 2015, what are some things we can do to help us move forward?  Are there areas in your private or professional life where you can learn more and increase your expertise? Take some time this week and identify three areas where you can “amp it up” and make yourself more valuable to your company, customer, church or volunteer group.  Write them down and use them to set your goals for the coming year.

If you want to get ahead in your job. Learn all that you can possibly learn about your job. Go farther than everyone else is willing to go. Then you will be qualified for future promotion.     Kenneth W. Hagin

What do you want to become better at?  I would love to hear your comments.  Also, please feel free to share this with others that you think might benefit from it.

My prayer is that artmills.org has helped and encouraged you this year.  I want to invite you to drop me an email at contact@artmills.org and let me know how I’m doing.  Also, that would be the perfect time for you to let me know what other things you would like me to touch on and write about.

I hope you all had a Merry Christmas.  Have a Happy New Year!  See you in 2015!

Hard Knocks University. What’s Your Major?

“The school of hard knocks”.  We’ve all heard that phrase.  I’ve been hearing it most of my life.  I might have even said it.  Usually when we hear it, someone is referring to the lessons that they have learned by suffering through negative situations in their life.  It often occurs when you ignor sound advice and life gives you a good spanking.  I think I can safely say that we’ve all experienced THAT!

“The school of hard knocks” is a phrase coined by Elbert Hubbard.  According to a verified statement on Wikipedia, He used the phrase 1st in an article he wrote about himself in 1902.

“So that is how I got my education, such as it is. I am a graduate of the University of Hard Knocks, and I’ve taken several postgraduate courses.”  Elbert Hubbard.

I can not count the times in my own life, especially as a teen, you know, back when I knew everything, that I broke the rules, ignored sound advice, maybe even a law or two and ended up suffering for it.  Maybe even bleeding a little in the process.  I don’t know if this is true for everyone, but there was a time in my life that, even though I knew things were wrong, I wanted to test the water for myself.  I wanted to see how far I could take it.  This may happen with teenage boys more than anyone.  As a dad, this is where I get a lot of my sage advice.  I have real life experience as to why some things are stupid and shouldn’t be messed with.  Unfortunately, we as parents don’t want to tell our kids WHY we know what we know.  That would put the “But you did it!?!” argument in play.

Sunflower Mom told you quote

Anyone who has been on planet Earth for any length of time at all has had life take a swing at them. Suffering doesn’t always mean you made a bad decision. Often we will be the victims of the fallout of someone else’s bad judgment.  Difficulties come though, and we will all have to contend with tragedy, suffering, crazy people and the results of our own bad ideas.   The important thing is that there will be a lesson in each one of them.  The wise will learn the lesson and be better for it. When the same thing starts to happen in the future, the wise will see it coming and be able to navigate appropriately.  The fool on the other hand will not see it coming because they didn’t learn the lesson. They will get kicked again and wonder why their life is so hard.

The entire 4th chapter of the book of Proverbs is about inclining your ear to wisdom.  I encourage you to read it in many different translations.  It will help you.  The part that stands out the most to me begins is verse 20.

Pro 4:20 My son, give attention to my words; let your ear be turned to my sayings. 21 Let them not go from your eyes; keep them deep in your heart. 22 For they are life to him who gets them, and strength to all his flesh. 23 And keep watch over your heart with all care; so you will have life. 24 Put away from you an evil tongue, and let false lips be far from you.  25 Keep your eyes on what is in front of you, looking straight before you.  26 Keep a watch on your behaviour; let all your ways be rightly ordered.  27 Let there be no turning to the right or to the left, keep your feet from evil. (BBE version)

Recently I read a comment that nailed it concerning this.  It was essentially this: A wise man learns from his mistakes.  The wisest of men learn from the mistakes of others.  When it comes to the school of hard knocks:

  • Learn from your mistakes.  In each situation there’s a lesson.  The wise will search it out and learn it.
  • Apply it.  I’ve heard wisdom defined as the “Skillful application of knowledge”.  I like that.  Wisdom is knowledge applied.  You can’t be wise in an area where you have no understanding. Once you’ve got the lesson though, use it!
  • Learn from the mistakes of others.  This is excellent advice.  When you apply your heart to find wisdom, you can see the lessons all around you.  There’s no rule that says YOU have to be the one to take the beating.  You can let fools do that and you can learn from their mistake.
  • Help others when they ask for it.  Notice I didn’t say when they need it.  The truth is that even if someone needs your advice, if they don’t want it, they will not receive it.  You have to make certain that YOU have the position in their life to speak to them about certain things.  There are people in my life that probably see things in me that they may have deeper understanding about, but they are not close enough to me and don’t have the position to speak to me about them.  The wise understand this and don’t force things.  Sometimes all you can do is stand at the ready and pray for people.  Maybe God will open an opportunity for you to advise them.  If not, then just keep your pearls to yourself.  Do you realize that even God is limited by what we will receive?  He can not help us based on what we need.  He has the power and the desire to fix our stuff but He’s completely limited by our own faith.  He can only help us as we have the faith to receive His help.  He will not force anything on us.  In like manner, you shouldn’t force your stuff on others.
To make no mistake is not in the power of man; but from their errors and mistakes the wise and good learn wisdom for the future. Plutarch

Sadly, the only real diploma from the University of Hard Knocks is a death certificate.  If your faith is in Jesus Christ, then that will be a time of great joy.  If it’s not, CLICK HERE.  The little you’ve been faithful over will then be turned into much.  Just remember, in the school of hard knock you can learn without taking the beatings for yourself.  Apply your heart to wisdom and your life will be better and your suffering will be less.

What’s one lesson you learned from the school of Hard Knocks?  The floor is yours.  Please leave a comment and share your wisdom.  If this is helpful to you, feel free to share.

Marriage to enjoy, or endure. The choice is yours.

I don’t drive with the radio on very often.  When I’m in the car I’m very often praying.  A few months ago while I was driving to work I was meditating of the mercy of God.  It was quiet in the car and I wasn’t making any noise, I was just thinking about how merciful the Lord is and how faithful He is to show mercy.  All of the sudden, the Lord began to deal with my heart about my marriage.  I have a good marriage and I pay attention to the kind of husband I am.  Sometimes though, we get lazy in our thinking and just assume that it’s ok.  Our marriage is the backdrop for our lives and always running in the background – sometimes being ignored.  A good marriage takes intentional thinking though, and I was not being intentional about it that often.  The Lord impressed upon me that my wife had not made a plan B.  Our marriage was it.  Her happiness and fulfillment were in my very hands.  I can not be 100% responsible for her being happy or fulfilled but I could be 100% responsible if she wasn’t.  I need to build & keep an environment of love and protection around her so that she can grow to find her own happiness & fulfillment.  I was being shown that I need to be watchful that I don’t make her suffer for choosing me.  If she was going to be truly happy & reach her full potential in this life, I was going to be a part of it.  I realized more clearly in that moment that if I wasn’t intentional with the way I treated her, I could give her a life that instead of loving and enjoying, she would have to just endure.  It woke me up.

linked fingers

I love my wife and want the very best for her always.  When the Lord deals with me like that, I really take it seriously.    God doesn’t just have a plan for my life.  He has a plan for her life too.  His plan for me and my wife will be intertwined and it will be much easier for both of us to make it to our full potential if we are both in our place and following the Lord’s plan for us.  God cares as much for her and my children as He does for me.  We are all on equal footing when we approach Him.  God has no grandchildren.

God’s instruction to us as husbands in Ephesians 5:25 is to love our wives as Christ loves the church.  How did Christ show his love to the church?  He gave himself for it.  We as husbands need to have this attitude in our marriage.  I like the words that Paul the Apostle used in 2 Corinthians 12:15 when he said “And I will very gladly spend and be spent for you, though the more abundantly I love you, the less I be loved”.  Our love to our wife is a gift we must give.  She can’t take it, it must be given.  We need to have a “very gladly spend and be spent” attitude when it comes to her.  One last thing.  You need to consider yourself the bottom line in your relationship with your wife.  Don’t wait for her to satisfy all of your needs before you even try to make her happy.  You do your part now,  you do your part continually and you do your part no matter what!

Isn’t Fitting In Really Hard Sometimes?

IMAG0468Here’s the truth about us.  We want to be liked.  We always want to be liked.  We always, at all times, in every situation, want everyone to think the absolute best of us, period. Most of us understand and have learned to live with the fact that we will not be liked by everyone though.  We know that we’re not going to be everyone’s cup of tea.  What really seems to motivate us then, is that we don’t want to be disliked by anyone – ever!  Why do we want this so badly?  Why do we expend so much effort to be so pleasing to everybody?

We seem to be engineering ourselves toward what we perceive as the “middle ground”.  The place where we draw neither derision or praise.  We call it fitting in.  I think it’s because when you really look at it, fitting in isn’t really as much for being liked as it is for not being disliked.  We don’t want to draw negative attention to ourselves or be on the receiving end of other people’s scorn or contempt.  While we deeply want to be loved and accepted, we will settle for being ignored and not persecuted.  This, however, is a big problem!

Here’s a little secret about most people.  Even when they have the time to think about you, they probably aren’t.  Dale Carnegie said it like this, “Remember that a person’s name is to that person, the sweetest and most important sound in any language.”  People are almost always thinking about themselves and what’s important to them.  They spend their time working out personal problems or deciding the next move.  They are in all likelihood, not thinking of you or me at all.

Remember that a person’s name is to that person, the sweetest and most important sound in any language.  – Dale Carnegie

Several years ago I went to lunch with a couple of friends. It was a buffet so we were all up filling our plates and I was the last person to come back to our table.  When I went to sit down, I nearly fell out of the other side of the chair.  I don’t know what happened, I mean, I sit down regularly.  I’m fairly practiced at it.  Don’t ask me how on this day, in front of all of these wonderful people out here eating lunch, I decide to forget how to sit down.  Anyway, my friends got a pretty good laugh out of it and when I finally looked up to view the crowd in the restaurant, no one was looking at me anymore.  They gave me about a second and a half of their busy time and then went on about their way.  Most of them were probably just glad it wasn’t them that goofed up that day.  I’m reasonably confident that everyone in the place could identify with how I felt.  This experience helped me. My comedy event was like a rubber ball that hit the attention of everyone in the place, and just like a rubber ball, it bounced right off again.

We all have a mask.  We call it our “normal”.  We put it on when we think the social situation requires it.  The truth is though that the “normal” is not normal.  It rarely represents who a person really is.  I tell my daughters that normal is what a person is until you get to know them.  I know that there are things about me that you may not think are normal.  Most of us are like that.  I say “most” because I have met the rare individual who really is genuine and what you see is what you get.  For the rest of us, we spend bucket loads of effort trying to get positive attention or at the very least, no negative attention in order to have some peace in our life.

The problem with our little personal conformity project is that by forming ourselves to be liked by everyone, we’re engineering out of ourselves the things that make us unique and awesome!  I was watching a documentary about Henry Ford a few days ago. He revolutionized manufacturing with the idea of forming the assembly line for making automobiles.  He got the idea from the meat processing industry.  He was able to increase production of the Model T by something like 1,200 %.  One of the things that stood out to me about Henry Ford’s thinking was that, in order to make the system successful, the parts had to be manufactured consistently and interchangeably, but so did the workers.  The system had to be engineered so that employee Bob could do employee Mike’s job if employee Mike called in sick.

The industrialization of the country created a system of thinking where it was important to fit in.  We’ve all been taught to conform very easily.  Seth Godin said it best when he said “The reason that they want you to fit in is that once you do, then they can ignore you”.  What do you think about that?  I think it’s true.  Mass marketing was created to appeal to a mass of people who all think the same way and like the same things.  Going back to Henry Ford as our example, we see that Henry Ford was not like all of the men he hired.  He was different.  He had vision and drive and a willingness to let the things that made him remarkable be the things that defined him.  Instead of trying to conform, he was using his unique gifts to stand out and be set apart.

The reason that they want you to fit in is that once you do, then they can ignore you.  – Seth Godin

You and I are remarkable and have unique things about us too.  The bible says that we are “fearfully and wonderfully made”.  Instead of working so hard to suppress the things about you that make you who you are, leverage those things to reach into lives and help others.  You have suffered. You have lost. You have been victorious.  You have experienced trials and hardships in your life that make you uniquely qualified to speak into the lives of certain people in this world and help them.  This means that a hug from you can do more to minister healing to certain people than a hug from me would.  You are a divine gift to the world.  There are people that you are meant to love, help and lives that you are meant to touch and change .  Don’t cheat those people and sell them short by hiding your gifts or failing to act.

I want to encourage you today to stand up and let your scars be seen.  In a court room a testimony is a first person account of what happened by someone who was there and witnessed something .  In our walk, our testimony is our first person account of what God has done in our lives.

These are important for others to see because –

  1. It’s encouraging to others. People need to see that God is actively working in the lives of people who trust Him.
  2. It shows what’s possible to those who don’t know.  Many people haven’t read the bible and don’t know what’s on the menu – what’s available to them.
  3. It’s really hard to argue with and disprove your first hand account.  Discouragers and hard hearted people may try to argue with you but they are too late…you were there!

Are you ready to step up?  Someone out there is emotionally bleeding out and they need you to step up.  It’s time to take your place and do what you were uniquely designed to do!  It doesn’t have to be some earth shaking thing, just do something.  Start your forward motion and see what God does with it.  Look what He did with a little boy’s lunch.

Refuse to wait for others to recognize your potential.  Slip your life out of neutral into drive, you will be surprised where it will take you.  –  Doug Jones.

I want to take a line and just express my appreciation for you all.  I love you guys.  Thank you for reading my blog.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Want to Reach Your Full Potential? This is a Must.

A few years back, I saw a made for television movie about settlers moving west. I don’t remember what it was called but I remember one scene in particular when a family came to the Mississippi river. It was during winter and the river was frozen over. They were going to have to cross the river in their wagon. Though the river was frozen over, there was always the possibility that the wagon would break through the ice . They needed to make sure they were as light as possible. As they stopped on the bank of the river, all along the bank were fine pieces of furniture, cabinetry and even an organ. Treasures left behind by travelers who had passed before. Family heirlooms that were so precious that they couldn’t be left behind and it no doubt broke the hearts of the people who had to just leave them there sitting in the open air on the bank of the river. Why were they there? Because they suddenly became a direct threat to the success of the journey. Hanging on to them would have meant possibly breaking through the ice, losing the wagon, the rest of the belongings and maybe even the lives of the family. These things that were once considered so valuable were now considered heavy weight and were hindering the progress. Keeping these things would have caused the travelers to fall short of the goal. They would not have made it if they didn’t dump the unnecessary weight. 

IMAG0435I remember a time several years ago when I had an experience that I will never forget. It was early one morning and I was right at that point where my eyes were not open yet but I was sort of awake. You know, that point where you are sort of teetering on the edge of sleep, when all of the sudden this thought floated up into my mind like a voice from the inside of me. ”The time is coming when this will no longer be tolerated”. First, I knew immediately what it was pertaining to, and second, I was instantly fully awake. So many times this is how God leads his people. Not by an audible voice but by a “knowing” or a conviction.

I understood what it was about. There were some things in my life that the Lord had been dealing with me about and I was over-riding my conscience about them. I was ignoring His correction. He was warning me that if I wanted to reach my full potential, I was going to have to lay them down and not pick them up again.

I began to see that many of the ministers that I have heard of that have fallen, failed and brought reproach against themselves and the ministry were in this same situation but would not listen. They would not receive correction and wound up ship wrecked with damaged credibility and diminishing influence. In some cased dying sooner than they should have. Some fell over money. Some over sexual immorality. Some over mishandling the ministry that the Lord put them over and in each case they would not judge themselves, they would not submit to correction. In some cases we have record of other ministers going to them and warning them but they would not listen. I realized that if I continued to resist instruction and over-ride correction, I was very likely to stall. 

I began to understand the importance of correction. First we need to understand that God loves us, and who He loves He corrects. Heb 12:5 (God’s Word Translation) says “You have forgotten the encouraging words that God speaks to you as his children: “My child, pay attention when the Lord disciplines you. Don’t give up when he corrects you. 6 The Lord disciplines everyone he loves. He severely disciplines everyone he accepts as his child.” 7 Endure your discipline. God corrects you as a father corrects his children. All children are disciplined by their fathers. 8 If you aren’t disciplined like the other children, you aren’t part of the family.” 

How should we think about correction? Correction is not a bad thing. God corrects us because he loves us. Realize that when He begins to convict your heart about anything at all, it’s the creator of the Universe taking a specific interest in your life and giving you instruction to help you grow up to a greater level of maturity. Correction from God should not to be feared or despised. The tiny details of your life matter to Him.

  1. We should pay attention to it. The King James says it this way “Despise not the chastening of the Lord”. We find in the Bible that to despise means to value lightly, to lightly esteem (1 Sam 2:30). When we are corrected, we need to value it & take it seriously. This is honor. The reason we are warned to pay attention is because the temptation will arise to ignore it.
  2. Don’t give up. The whole purpose for the correction is to help you move forward. Consider what would have happened to the settlers moving west if they had gotten all the way to the Mississippi and then just refused to part with the heavy stuff. Imagine thirty years later, there they are, stuck. The dream of a new life in the west fading into distant memory. In some cases, not accomplishing the life that they were born to live, all because they wouldn’t let go of the things that were weighing them down and holding them back.
  3. Understand why you’re getting it. You’re getting it because God really does love you. He wants the best for you and wants you to stay on track and stay out of the ditch.
  4. Understand how God thinks of you. If you’ve received Jesus as your Lord, He thinks of you as His child. As His child, He has the right as your father to instruct, guide and correct you. There’s no one wiser that He is. When you look to His word and it hits you right where you live, don’t ignore it. It really is for your good.
  5. Correction may come to you through an elder. You must have the humility to receive it. They may not say it in soft tones but if you’re going to grow, you can’t let hurt feelings keep you from seeing the truth of it. When you can receive it and use it and not let your feelings or pride get in the way, that shows real maturity.

God is faithful. I trust Him to help me. I’ve prayed and asked the Lord to show me where I’m being held back. I want to know. I don’t want to be deceived into thinking I’m okay in an area where I’m not. I know that in my own past I have been entirely too light on myself when it comes to what I allow. The truth is, corrections are always necessary in order to get where you want to go. Life will try to blow you off course all the time. The only way to reach any goal is to correct. If you don’t correct, you will end up somewhere but it will not be anywhere you want to be.

You be faithful too. I remember a long time ago when I quit smoking. I blew it after several days of success and I was so disappointed in myself. I remember praying and saying “Lord, I’m sorry. I don’t want to do this anymore.” Just like the morning I woke up to that thought, He caused me to realize this “The quicker you become faithful, the quicker the fruit of faithfulness will show up in your life”. The faster you respond and the more serious you take the instruction, the faster the results show up.

Correction usually means course change and that sometimes involves repentance. Hebrews 12:1 says “Since we are surrounded by so many examples of faith, we must get rid of everything that slows us down, especially sin that distracts us. We must run the race that lies ahead of us and never give up.”

fist-1What should we do? I’ve decided to get “Bare Knuckles” with myself concerning these things. I want to get brutally honest with myself. I don’t want anything to hold me back from hitting the mark and reaching my full potential. So here’s my challenge to you. Will you go with me? Will you take the Bare Knuckles challenge? Let’s take this walk of faith together.

What steps can you and I take this week? Let’s mix it up! I want to hear from you. Maybe we can give a few minutes each evening to reflect on the day and where we may have missed it, then make a plan for the next day so that we don’t.  Please leave your comments below and that way we can help each other.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Your Path and Your Provision

I want to let you know that you can now get my mini-eBook “Your Path and Your Provision” for free when you sign up for email updates.Your Path & Your Provision book image.pngHere’s an excerpt.

Did you know though that God has a path just for you? It is a life that was designed just for you. It’s your life of significance, and only you can live it to the fullest. It’s a life that God has tailor made for you and only in this God designed life can you reach your full potential.

I want to show you that you can discover God’s plan for your life. You can find your path of significance. You can find out what you were meant to do with your life and you can begin on that path today!

Ephesians 2:10 We are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works which God has before ordained that we should walk in them.

We are His workmanship.

God created you. He crafted you to the finest detail. Psalm 139:14 says that you are fearfully and wonderfully made. God put into you grace, gifts & equipment to make you effective in your life. His giftings are tailor made for you to do what He created you to do. God built you to be “High Performance” in the life that He’s ordained for you. God created you on purpose and for a very special purpose! He did not create you with all your awesome gifts just to toss you out there to see what would happen. He built you in a precise and specific way.

I hope you enjoyed this.

Always remember, I respect your privacy and I will never share your email with anyone.

Welcome to my Blog.

Hi, My name is Art.

I’m a Christian, a father, a husband and a son.  I have created this blog in an effort to talk about these relationships and to reach out to people who may need a word of encouragement in these areas.  I look forward to being all the help I can be.

I intend to post a new blog entry at least once a week (probably on the weekend) but I may adjust the frequency after I get a feel for it.

I will always be looking for ways to improve the blog and increase the value of the content.

I am looking forward to connecting with you!