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

 

DO YOU SUFFER FROM LIMITED THINKING?

Henry Ford said “Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t, you’re right”.

I used to think that there were a lot of things that were unobtainable to me. A lot of places I couldn’t reach. And I was right. While it seemed like the circumstances were holding me down, it wasn’t the circumstances that were really limiting me. It was my thinking. As I grew up, I learned that I could reach further than I thought. I began to understand that the things that were limiting me and locking me into my small life, were actually movable. I could change them.

Courtesy of Stocksnap.io

Courtesy of Stocksnap.io

Hear this again…I learned that I could reach further than I thought. Much of the time, I didn’t try to reach further than I thought. Why, because I didn’t try to think further, and because of that, I couldn’t see very far. I had no vision for it. I was limited by what I thought.

“Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t, you’re right” -Henry Ford.

I can truthfully say today, for me, the idea of No Control is a lie. It was not always a lie though. There was a time when “I can’t help it” was the truth. Not because it was impossible, but because I couldn’t see past the limits.

We often let our circumstances fill our windshield and become so big that they are all we can see. We begin to feel that they are beyond our control. We don’t see any options. Part of the problem is that we tend to bring the problem into ultra sharp focus and then the only choices we see are the ones that are close. Chip and Dan Heath in their book Decisive, call this the Narrow Frame. Often this becomes evident when we hear phrases like Should I, or shouldn’t I? Yes or No. We tend only to see the options that are in the spotlight, completely ignoring all the other possibilities because they are not in the narrow frame.

That’s really something to think about. Our choices are limited because they are the only ones we’re looking at. We may have many more options but we don’t see them because we’re stuck with narrow frame vision. The limit is really what we can or can’t see.

A long time ago, I started my first apprenticeship to learn how to run a printing press. I remember the first time I was washing up the press, I left some of the old ink in the corners & creases of the ink fountain. It looked like old, dried on ink that had built up and had been there for years. When Tim, the guy training me, came to inspect my work, he zeroed in on the ink fountain and made me clean it again. I told him that I thought it was dried on and built up over time. He insisted that I give it another shot and do better. Truthfully, it took me just a few extra minutes of serious cleaning to get the fountain completely clean. My problem was that it LOOKED like it had been dried on and built up over time so I didn’t give it the effort. I allowed what I was seeing, or at least how I was interpreting what I was seeing, impose a limit on me, and because I thought I couldn’t, I gave the kind of effort that comes with “I can’t”.

I’m thankful today that Tim made me do it right. I began to see that when you get to the limits of what you think is possible, you should go ahead and push harder. You will be surprised. There’s almost always more out there.

If you always do what you’ve always done, then you’ll always get what you’ve always got.

The question that emerges is this:  Can we change what we can see? Can we change how far we can see? Do we have any control over our vision? I would say that we do, to a certain extent, but I also know that sometimes, we don’t know there are questions there to be asked. We don’t know what we don’t know. So then, how can we expand our vision?

Tim had been a press man for over 20 years. He knew that the fountain could be cleaned. If Tim hadn’t been there to drive me to a better result, I would have settled for my first one. That is the point of an apprenticeship. An apprentice learns from a master. This means that in order to expand your vision:

  1. You have to expose yourself to people who know what you don’t. This is a common denominator in the lives of people who excel. They have mentors or are following someone who knows what they want to know. I have a few older gentlemen in my life that I look to for guidance. I also follow some successful people online.When Jesus gave the invitation for the twelve to follow him, the word follow that He used comes from the words for Union and Road. The implication is To be in the same way with, to accompany, follow and reach.
  2. You have to be teachable. The book of Proverbs in the Bible continually points out that fools despise instruction.
    Pro_12:15  The way of a fool is right in his own eyes: but he that hearkeneth unto counsel is wise.
    Pro_15:5   A fool despiseth his father’s instruction: but he that regardeth reproof is prudent.
    Pro_23:9  Speak not in the ears of a fool: for he will despise the wisdom of thy words.
    The bottom line is that you already know what you know. To get new information, you have to listen to the wisdom of people who have already traveled the road you’re on.  This usually means being quiet.
  3. You have to act on what you learn. James 1:22 says that we need to be doers of the Word, and not just hearers. We may have heard something awesome that has the potential to unlock the barriers in our lives. The temptation is to think that because we know it, it’s working for us. James says that when we think this way, we deceive ourselves. It’s the doer that is blessed in his deeds.
  4. You have to practice. I have a Fender Stratocaster guitar. So does Eddie Van Halen. I know how to play guitar. So does Eddie Van Halen. Are Eddie and I equals when it comes to playing the guitar? I wish. What’s the difference? Eddie stays up all night practicing all the time. In his early years, he would sit on the edge of his bed practicing while his brother was out on dates. What’s the difference between me and Eddie? About 10,000 hours of practice.
  5. You have to push yourself. Rory Vaden says “You can not balance your way into an extraordinary result”. You must imbalance yourself in the direction of what’s important. In the documentary The Five Keys of Mastery, the final key is Play the edge. This means that you need to always be pushing yourself beyond what you’ve done before. This means pushing yourself out of your comfort zone.

One of my favorite quotes has been attributed to everyone from Tony Robbins to Albert Einstein. I don’t know who said it first but the truth of it is no less powerful. If you always do what you’ve always done, then you’ll always get what you’ve always got. If we want better in our life, in our job, in our relationships, then we are going to have to do something different. We may have to start listening to different people, or hanging with different friends. In AA they call it ‘Changing your playground’.  The point is that in order to see further, we have to expose ourselves to new input.  We can take steps today to remove the limits from our thinking.  I’m in…Are you with me?

If this helps you in any way and you think it could help someone else, please share it. Thank you for helping me reach further.

I appreciate you guys!

Art

Does your vision have pulling power?

It’s right about now that the passion many of us have for our new year’s resolutions begin to fade. If you’re like a lot of people I know, you’ve already run into plenty of reasons to quit. You may have already given up on your goal for 2016. We start with good intentions but when the reality of our goal begins to fill our windshield, we can get discouraged and quit. Michael Hyatt calls this part of the process “The Messy Middle”. The part where there aren’t very many rewards but all the work still has to get done. This may be where you are in the pursuit of your goals. I want to take a minute to encourage you.

I started 2011 weighing in at more than 200 lbs. For my height that was too much. My healthy weight window is between 170 & 185. What really got me though was when I saw pictures from one of our family reunions. It was in the middle of the summer and we were at a lake. I saw myself in those pictures and did not like what I saw. It was my wake up call.

Girl on road in fog

It’s not that hard to start doing things we know we should do. We all do that on a regular basis. The true difficulty is in finding the will to keep doing them when you really don’t want them bad enough to keep going. Often the drive to stop is greater than the drive to keep moving forward. Our desire for a long term benefit is over-ridden by the desire for a short term benefit. Most of the time, the short term benefit is not what we really want. Then we get mad at ourselves.

I know me. I have not always been a fan of pushing my body to higher performance. When I got serious about my fitness journey, I took a hard look at me. I knew there would be days when I would be weak. I knew that these are the times that I would fall if I didn’t have help.

I tried to do what Jeff Walker calls “looking through the corners”. I intentionally looked down the road to see what was coming. I would then build my situation while I was strong so that it could carry me when I was weak. If you are prone to quit under certain conditions, you need to either strengthen yourself or remove the conditions.

More important than engineering your situation is to have a vision of your destination. We can never become anything that we can’t see ourselves becoming. Proverbs 29:18 says that where there is no vision, the people perish. Clarity is so important when it comes to motivation. Having a clear vision will help us keep motivated and passionate about our goals.

Daniel Harkavy says that your goals & plans need to have pulling power. They have to mean enough to you that you are pulled forward by them. We see this in Genesis when God tells Abraham to look up at the stars. In light of His illustration to Abraham, the words “So shall your seed be” has tremendous pulling power. Abraham didn’t faint at the promise even though it took years before he saw the realization of it.

Ask the Lord for wisdom concerning this. He will give you the help you need. Quite a bit of the book of Hebrews is about dealing with and resisting the temptation to quit. For the Hebrew church, the temptation was to draw back from following Christ. Consider this passage from Hebrews 12 in the Easy to Read translation.

Heb 12:2 Having our eyes fixed on Jesus, the guide and end of our faith, who went through the pains of the cross, not caring for the shame, because of the joy which was before him, and who has now taken his place at the right hand of God’s seat of power.

Heb 12:3 Give thought to him who has undergone so much of the hate of sinners against himself, so that you may not be tired and feeble of purpose.

 

What a good way to say that. So that you may not be tired and feeble of purpose.  As of this morning, I weigh 179 lbs.  I have been able to reach and maintain a healthy weight because of the pulling power of a clear vision, and anticipating my weakness and while I’m strong, doing what I can to make those weak moments easier.

So – Have you grown tired and feeble of purpose? Have you allowed the weights, sin or distractions of life to rob you of your vision? Begin this week to think on your reasons why you are doing what you are doing. I know that when I stay connected to my “Why”, I can usually find the motivation to step up and stay focused.  Let the joy of your “why” become the pulling power to draw you through the hard parts so that you can be victorious.

If this has helped you, please consider sharing. Also, please leave a comment. I draw encouragement from your comments.

I appreciate you all.

Art

Simple Guidelines For Making Great Decisions In 2016!

Jeff Walker in his book Launch said that in a workshop that he was hosting, an attendee came up and asked him what was the one thing that made all the difference to him and his business success. The thing this man should be focusing on as his business grew. Jeff ‘s answer was this – Opportunity Cost.

Opportunity cost is a theory in Micro-economics.

www.netmba.com defines it this way – The value of the next best choice, that must be given up when making a decision.

www.wikipedia.com defines it this way – The value of the best alternative foregone, where a choice needs to be made between several mutually exclusive alternatives given limited resources.

Opportunity Cost image card

When I was a teenager, I started learning to play guitar. I used to lay in bed imagining myself playing my favorite songs in front of large audiences. I’m sure I’m not the only one who’s ever had rock-star dreams. The thing is, I also liked hanging out with friends and I was getting interested in girls. While I did learn quite a bit about playing guitar, I knew several guys in my school who could play far better than I could. Why? Because they didn’t spend the majority of their time hanging out with their friends. When they had spare time, they were sitting on the edge of their bed practicing scales. Here is where we find the Opportunity Cost. There has to be a trade off.

We all have the same amount of time every week. We all get 168 hours to work with. While we would like to be awesome at everything we pursue, we simply can’t. We humans develop excellence through study & practice, so we can’t realistically expect to be stellar in every area of our lives. We need to make choices as to what we are going to give our time to because for everything we say yes to, we have to say no to something else. You will be saying no to opportunities in order to say yes to (hopefully) better opportunities.

“The chief cause of failure & unhappiness is trading what you want most for what you want right now.”  -Zig Ziglar

One of my favorite Zig Ziglar quotes is: “The chief cause of failure & unhappiness is trading what you want most for what you want right now”. Isn’t that sad? We sometimes short circuit our own long-term success because we run off after vain, short-term satisfaction.

Another favorite Zig Ziglar quote is “Success occurs when opportunity meets preparation.” Let’s take that to heart and take the time as we enter the new year to build a plan. Set a goal to make the life we dream of, a reality. As we make our plans, here are some things to consider:

  1. Look through the corners; Another thing I learned from Jeff Walker. If you only focus on what’s immediately in front of you, things will “suddenly” pop up in your field of vision and you will not be able to react in time. Make it a practice to look around the turns & see what’s coming before it gets here. Also, consider how your actions will affect your future. Wisdom sees down the road.
  2. The value of a good reputation is immeasurable.  Therefore, sacrificing a good reputation is not acceptable. When considering Opportunity cost, saying no to a solid, honorable reputation in order to achieve short-term gain is not worth the trade-off. Above money or power, your reputation will work for you, or against you. Protect it constantly.
  3. Money should be a byproduct of making the world a better place. When we focus on enriching the lives of those around us, we stand a better chance of finding happiness and fulfillment in our own lives. There’s a book by Marsha Sinetar called Do what you love and the money will follow. I believe this to be true unless your love is sleep. I haven’t seen anyone making a long term living at that one yet. I will say this though. There are now people making a living playing video games on youtube. No joke. The bottom line is that when money is at the top of the priority list, things are on shaky ground.

“Success occurs when opportunity meets preparation.” – Zig Ziglar

As we stand here staring square in the face of 2016, let’s examine not only our goals for the coming year and beyond, but also the opportunity cost to make them happen. If we carefully choose only the few truly important things we want this coming year, we can use these to guide our decisions about all the other things. The things that while eating up all of our time, don’t really get us where we want to be. Let’s get where we want to be in 2016! Let’s be strategic with our “Yes & No”. Say NO to good opportunities so you can say YES to great ones!

Happy New Year!

What Key Unlocks Your Future?

Think back in your memory.  I want you to remember a time in your life where everything changed.  Something happened.  It may have been good or it may have been painful but it was the catalyst that pushed you forward toward a decision that fundamentally changed you.  I can think of several.  I call these defining moments.  Moments that altered the way I think and see myself.  These defining moments still shape the decisions that I make.  They are moments when I discovered important things about myself and they are also times when I made concrete decisions about how I would think, say & do from now on.  Defining moments shape us.

 

Often, at least for me, my defining moments put me on a path to a whole different set of choices and decisions, some of which were in themselves defining.  For example, October 1985 I committed my life to Christ.  I made Him my Lord and it immediately began to effect my choices and actions.  It later played a huge role in who I chose to date and later marry.  I would have never went to Bible school had I not made that decision back in 1985.

What defining moments have you had that have shaped you?  I encourage you to join the conversation & leave a comment.

Kicking Discouragement To The Curb.

Some people don’t like you. I hope this newsflash didn’t just make you fall out of your chair, shocked with disbelief and unable to function. It however, is a very real fact, much like realizing that Santa Clause and the Easter Bunny aren’t real. Umm… Hopefully I didn’t just mess up your reality.

Kick discouragement to the curb

You are probably awesome in every way, multiplied by ten with a slice of pie on the side, but you are still not going to be everyone’s taste. There are people who don’t know you and have never had a conversation with you who do not like you and are not going to give you a chance. Then there are the people who do know you and still don’t like you. In spite of your stupendous & sparkling personality, some just won’t…and that’s okay.

“One reason why birds and horses are not unhappy is because they are not trying to impress other birds and horses.” ― Dale Carnegie

We all want to be liked…..by everyone. We don’t like being disliked. We sometimes get caught up playing this game of reading, interpreting and responding to the words & actions of others and constantly modify our behavior to either be viewed in a favorable light or at least avoid being judged. In reality, very few people are paying that much attention to us anyway. As Michael Hyatt likes to say, most people are tuned in to WWIFM. What’s In It For Me.

In reality, we have quite a bit of control over what others think of us. M. Farouk Radwan wrote “Before you encounter strangers, authority figures or important people don’t tell yourself “now I will know how they see me” but instead tell yourself “let me tell them who I am”.

I met someone a while back that I was really looking forward to meeting. I had heard good things about them and I liked them even before I met them. They did not respond to me the way I thought they would though. They started off and remained distant and cool. I poured on the charm, convinced that If they knew me better, surely they would like me. Nothing changed and eventually, I had to make a choice. Continue to change my behavior to please them in an effort to try to win them over, or push them to the sidelines in my life and continue to move forward doing what I know to do.

“Critic’s math. (1 insult + 1,000 compliments = 1 insult.)”.  -Jon Acuff

Do you know people who seem to always be seeking the approval of others? Constantly changing their behavior and laboring to be accepted. Being disliked creates anxiety in these people and provokes them to make choices, even choices they know are wrong, just to fit into the crowd. Scientific research has shown that fear of being judged has caused some people to intentionally choose the incorrect answer, knowing that it was incorrect, because everyone else did.

I am a Bible believing Christian, as I know many of my readers are. Making a stand for Christ has put us in line for persecution because of what we believe. Persecution is one of the things Jesus said we would have as long as we’re here. It’s the one promise that no believer really wants to receive. None the less, it’s so. I believe the Bible is God speaking to me. I believe the bible so strongly that I have made it the final authority in my life. Because of that, I study it and seek the Holy Spirit’s help to understand the heart of the Father more and more. My Christianity is not about a religious exercise. It’s about a relationship with God. I want to please him in all I think, say & do. Because of this, when it comes to my God, I have already “Picked my fight” so to speak. I have made my stand and I am fully committed to Him. Some may think I’m foolish or uninformed but that’s okay. I have already considered their words and have pushed them to the sidelines that I might continue to move forward and live by the convictions that He has put in my heart. Paul, the apostle said it this way :

Php 3:8 Yes truly, and I am ready to give up all things for the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, which is more than all: for whom I have undergone the loss of all things, and to me they are less than nothing, so that I may have Christ as my reward, (BBE)

The reasons why people don’t like you, criticize you or harass you will vary. In some cases they are probably just being inconsiderate . Others may be intentionally trying to discourage you and shut you down. That was the case with the unbelieving Jews that paid their own way & followed Paul around persecuting him. They were trying to shut him up. Some even swore an oath that they wouldn’t eat until they killed him. That is outright devilish hatred.

“An appeaser is one who feeds a crocodile, hoping it will eat him last.”  ―Winston S. Churchill

You may have people out there who are not trying to add creative criticism to your life at all. They are actively trying to discourage you and to get you to disconnect from your focus. You have to push these critical voices to the sidelines. If certain people are only discouraging to you, then you will have to marginalize them in order to move forward. Don’t hate them or start running them down, gossiping about them or hating them back. Rather, pray for them. And rather than letting their harsh words take the wind out of your sails, just push them to the side. Make a decision that you will not allow them to discourage you and if possible, take steps to stop hearing their voices.

The stronger the stand you make for anything, the greater the opposition will be. People are allowed to have a dissenting opinion. In the Unites States they even have the right to free speech. But they don’t have the right to be heard. You do not have to listen. Just keep living consistent with your values and keep on stepping. One of the five regrets of the dying is the regret of not being more true to one’s self – (Ms. Bronnie Ware – The Next Web).   Living true to your convictions is too important to trade for the fickle approval of people who don’t really care about you.

“You have enemies? Good. That means you’ve stood up for something, sometime in your life.”                      ― Winston S. Churchill

In his ebook “The Hater’s Handbook” Jon Acuff says it like this: Critic’s math. (Which is “1 insult + 1,000 compliments = 1 insult.”). Too many times we center in on the critical dissenting voice and ignore all of the wonderful people encouraging and cheering us on. Let’s you and I made a decision this week to marginalize the negative and discouraging voices and instead, focus on the ones who are encouraging us and helping us stay connected with our mission and purpose.

How have you dealt with and overcome criticism? Please join the conversation & leave a comment.

Here’s One Big Reason Why I’ve Made It This Far.

Joe: “Bill, why did they bury your mother in law so deep? 10 feet is a little much don’t you think?”

Bill: “Well, deep down she’s a pretty good lady”.

A lot of people do not like their mother in law. While searching the Internet for information and statistics about this subject, it became pretty clear that many people struggle with the In-Law relationship. The mother in law has become the brunt of a lot of jokes. By far, the majority of the information indicates that the daughter in law / mother in law relationship is the more contentious relationship in comparison to the son in law / mother in law relationship.

My Mother in Law is Awesome and a Half!

My mother in law’s name is Mary. I just want to say right away that I love Mary very much. She’s awesome and a half!

Mary has been a constant source of support and encouragement for as long as I’ve known her. When you meet her, it becomes evident early on that she puts high value on people and relationships. She has a big heart that’s full of compassion for people in need.

I’ve seen her bring people into her home and make them feel like they were part of the family again and again. She’s quick to invite people to dinner who are new in town and don’t know anyone, inviting some to spend the holidays with our family and even buying them gifts so that they will have something to open when we all open gifts.

Mary has a heart for God. Her heart’s desire is to please Him and be used by Him. She is committed to personal study and prayer. She’s always ready with an encouraging word and publishes her own inspirational blog. I encourage you to check it out. Just click this ridiculously huge blue button.

Huge blue button

https://maryruwe.wordpress.com

 

On more than one occasion Mary has put an arm around me and just said “We’re glad you’re a part of our family”. She has helped me build my faith through some of our long phone conversations, and she’s helped me build my library over the years with many faith building books and tapes. She has also been an enthusiastic supporter as I have stepped out to fulfill my calling.

The book of Ruth in the Old Testament is a small book. It’s only four chapters long and it tells us about a woman named Naomi and her daughter in law Ruth. Naomi’s family moved to the land of Moab for better opportunity. While there the two sons married two Moabite women, Orpah and Ruth. As time went by, Naomi’s husband died and then a while later both sons also died. Naomi determined to go back to her home town and told the daughters in law to return to their father’s house because there was no benefit for them to stay. While Orpah was sad, she kissed her mother in law and then returned to her father’s house. Ruth however, would not leave Naomi’s side. Because of that relationship, they both were ultimately blessed and Ruth turned out to be King David’s great grandmother. None of that would have happened without that powerful relationship between Ruth and her mother in law.

This relationship does not have to be a rocky one. It can instead be a relationship that God can use to make a difference in the lives of all it touches.

Mary, you have been a source of strength, support and encouragement to all of us. I am glad to be a part of your family.

Mary celebrated a birthday last week and I intended to publish this post then. Stuff got in the way. Don’t forget to check out Mary’s inspirational blog for yourself.  Just Click Here – https://maryruwe.wordpress.com/

Walls, Giants & Grasshoppers. The Lies That Hold Us Back.

 

“When you grow up, you tend to get told that the world is the way it is and your life is just to live your life inside the world, try not to bash into the walls too much, try to have a nice family, have fun, save a little money. That’s a very limited life. Life can be much broader, once you discover one simple fact, and that is that everything around you that you call life was made up by people that were no smarter than you. And you can change it, you can influence it, you can build your own things that other people can use. Once you learn that, you’ll never be the same again.

“The minute that you understand that you can poke life and actually something will, you know if you push in, something will pop out the other side, that you can change it, you can mold it. That’s maybe the most important thing. It’s to shake off this erroneous notion that life is there and you’re just gonna live in it, versus embrace it, change it, improve it, make your mark upon it.

“I think that’s very important and however you learn that, once you learn it, you’ll want to change life and make it better, cause it’s kind of messed up, in a lot of ways. Once you learn that, you’ll never be the same again.”   — Steve Jobs

I love this quote.  I find it very inspiring.  The truth is though, I was that guy.  I was living “inside” the life that I had, trying not to bump into the walls.  Not realizing that I had any control, that I could change things and make them happen instead of just letting them happen and responding to them.

K2 remove the limits

It reminds me of the verse in Acts 27 when during Paul’s voyage to Rome, the ship owner and the captain ignored Paul’s warning that they should not loose from the Fair Havens of Lasea, but instead launched out with a soft wind.  Not long after they were out at sea, they ran right into a typhoon.  When the winds were so strong that the ship wouldn’t respond to any attempt to steer it, the just turned it over to the wind.

And when the south wind blew softly, supposing that they had obtained their purpose, they weighed anchor and sailed along Crete, close in shore.  But after no long time there beat down from it a tempestuous wind, which is called Euraquilo: and when the ship was caught, and could not face the wind, we gave way to it, and were driven. – Act 27:13-15 

We gave way to it, and were driven!  If you continue reading they got to the point where they literally did not know where they were.  They were lost.  That’s what I did for many years, and I see people everywhere doing that with their lives today.  The truth is that God has a VERY, VERY BIG plan for your live.  It’s a life that Ephesians 2:10 says that God hand crafted you to live, and that it’s been waiting for you. It was “before ordained that you should walk in it”.  It’s a good life.  It’s the very best, and most fulfilling life you could possibly live.  We see from Ephesians 3:14-21 that part of our problem is that we have trouble comprehending the extent of the love that God has for us.  He wants us to know that He is able to do Exceeding Abundantly Above all that we ask or think when we allow Him to work in us.  The short of it is this…God wants to help us but we have a vision problem.

The sad truth is that God is not limited by His ability to help us, He’s limited by our ability to receive His help.  We are the limiting factor in whether or not God can move in our lives.  We receive by faith and faith is of the heart.  Our heart problems limit God in our lives.

We don’t see ourselves the way God sees us.  Consider this.  Remember the story in the Bible about when Moses sent the 12 spies into the promised land to spy it out?  They went into the promised land and surveyed it for 40 days.  They said:

“We went to the land where you sent us. It is a land filled with many good things! Here is some of the fruit that grows there. But the people living there are very powerful. The cities are very large and strongly defended. We even saw some Anakites there (Giants). Caleb told the people near Moses to be quiet. Then Caleb said, “We should go up and take that land for ourselves. We can easily take that land.” But the men who had gone with him said, “We cannot fight those people! They are much stronger than we are.” So those men gave a report that discouraged the people. They said, “The land we saw is full of strong people. They are strong enough to easily defeat anyone who goes there. We saw the giant Nephilim people there! (The descendants of Anak come from the Nephilim.) We felt like little grasshoppers. Yes, we were like grasshoppers to them!”   Num 13:27-33 ERV

Are you hearing that? Was what they said true?  For the last 400 years, someone else had designed their lives. Someone else who didn’t care about them but only wanted to use them and exploit them for their labor. God had led them into the wilderness for about two years at this point.  The Bible says that He did it to prove them.  Now God Almighty has led them right up to the land that He promised them and it’s finally here…It’s Go Time!  Time to believe God’s Word and move into the “Exceedingly Good Land”.  So – Was what they said true?  No!  and to prove it, 40 years later their children took the land!  After 40 years, the inhabitants of the land were the same, the walled cities were the same and the giants were still there.  But 40 years later all those things didn’t matter because the people believed God’s promise and didn’t allow the circumstances to stop them from moving forward.  They refused the limits and the lies. They proved it could be done.  The Grasshopper vision was gone!  God’s plan for them was soooo much more than anything they could have done for themselves.  It truly was Exceeding Abundantly Above all they could ask or think.

Jeff Goins writes in his book “The Art of Work” about the unlived life.  He writes about allowing yourself to become who you are supposed to be in order to be able to do what you are supposed to do.  So, I ask you today, there, looking down at my writing from your glowing screen.  Are you ready?  Are you ready to accept God’s call to you to live the life you were born to live?  Are you ready for the Exceeding Abundantly Above path for your life? Are you following your path and making your life happen instead of just “giving way to it and being driven”?

This is a prayer that Paul the Apostle prayed for the Colossian church.  It is a Holy Spirit inspired prayer.  I ask you to pray this over yourself every day.  Believe it knowing that God wants to do it in your life.

“Since the day we heard these things about you, we have continued praying for you. This is what we pray:

that God will make you completely sure of what he wants by giving you all the wisdom and spiritual understanding you need; 

that this will help you live in a way that brings honor to the Lord and pleases him in every way; that your life will produce good works of every kind and that you will grow in your knowledge of God; 

that God will strengthen you with his own great power, so that you will be patient and not give up when troubles come. Then you will be happy”   Col 1:9-11 ERV

 If you not sure about your relationship with God and you’re not sure of His willingness to help you, Please Click here.

Need to Make a Change? Start with Your Thoughts!

Most of us have things about us that we would like to change.  Most of us don’t give much thought to how.  Change happens when we change the way we think.  In this weeks video post I’ll talk about the need for change and also practical ways from the Bible to start change for the better in your own life.

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I would love to hear what you think.  Share your story.  How have you been able to make positive change in your own life?  Please join the conversation by clicking here.

Why I’m not afraid of God.

Stone Christian CrossI grew up in a Christian  family and had a lot of exposure to God, Jesus, prayer, bible reading & Sunday school.  For several years though, during my teens, I ran from it and wanted nothing to do with Church or Christians.  I remember being in my high and lofty teens looking down on the idea of God and religion.  I thought at the time that rational thinking didn’t really support a world view with God in it.  There were too many loop holes, too many un-provable claims. I also had trouble with the example set by those I loved and trusted.  The corruption that showed up in my own family was almost too much to overcome.  I was really angry and like so many people, I was hiding behind the excuse of “Victim”.  What I didn’t really consider at the time though, was that the seeds had already been planted in my heart and were already in there, growing.  And truth be told, I had already seen too much.  I could not really deny that God existed because I had already seen Him working in my life on many occasions when I was younger.

When I first made the commitment to God for myself, I was 17 years old.  I remember praying to receive Jesus as my Lord and Savior in late October 1985.  My uncle led me and some of my friends in that life changing prayer.  I had prayed that same prayer before more than once. This time the difference was that I meant it.  I received that night with all of my heart.  When I look back I can see that I received for three reasons.

  • First was the example of my uncle.  While many of my relatives are Christians, he stepped up like no other. He showed me love and support when it seemed like I had no one else.  He was the best man I knew, and he was the real deal when it came to his faith.  As Christians, we should all aspire to be this kind of influence in the lives of others.  He has set a pretty high benchmark for me and I am committed to make sure he wasn’t wasting his time.
  • Second, I had come to the end of myself.  Everything in my life seemed to have gone wrong at once.  In my young man’s perspective, I thought I had no where to go.  I know as an adult that no distress lasts forever, but I didn’t see that then.  Rev. Marvin Yoder, the Dean of Rhema Bible Training Center while I was attending, has a saying. “Today is not a life sentence”. That’s good advise when you’re being pressed between the rock and the hard place and it seems like nothing is going right.  At that time in my life, I couldn’t see. I was stuck and didn’t have any vision.

    The Bible says in Proverbs 29:18 Where there is no vision, the people perish: but he that keepeth the law, happy is he.

    That’s where I was.  Without vision.  I called out to God because I was losing hope.  It’s interesting how “Open” to the idea of God people get when they are out of options.  I was no exception.  Sadly, He could have been helping all along.

  • Third was the teaching and example of my parents when I was young.  The seeds of truth about God had been planted in my heart from an early age.  It wasn’t just the teaching though, it was the example.  When I was young, my parents lived what they believed in front of me.  I saw that God was real to them and they formed and strengthened in me a reverence for God that was there even when I was trying to pretend He didn’t exist.

I didn’t fully understand what I had done that night.  All I knew was that I was serious about it.  I had a strong conviction that God was not interested in hurting me, but that He really wanted to be a part of my life. It took me years to understand that the entire Salvation plan, the whole thing, from the animal skins in the garden to the covenant with Abraham, to Jesus bleeding & dying on the cross, it was all His idea; and it was all for the purpose of bringing me closer to Him and clothing me with His goodness.  Wow!

The Bible says in Isaiah (BBE)

48:17 The Lord who takes up your cause, the Holy One of Israel, says, I am the Lord your God, who is teaching you for your profit, guiding you by the way in which you are to go.  48:18 If only you had given ear to my orders, then your peace would have been like a river, and your righteousness as the waves of the sea:

Very often when people see the word Profit, they immediately begin to think in terms of money & wealth building.  The word Profit used in verse 17 is the word Ya’al.     יעל  ya‛al  yaw-al’  It’s a root word in Hebrew that means to ascend with the connotation of “in a good way”. To profit.  A simple way to say it is “Increase” but not just in the financial area.  He teaches us to increase in every good way. Family, relationships, growing up spiritually, on the job, health, peace, so many areas.  Again – all His idea.  This is not man looking for God and God saying “Well, I suppose if you don’t act stupid, or embarrass me in front of the angels, I suppose you can worship me”.  No!  While we were lost and dying, He came to us.  God’s loves you and has taken up your cause. 

2 Cor 5:19 says that God is not imputing our trespasses unto us.  The word impute isn’t a word you hear very often but the Greek word used here literally means to take inventory, to count, to estimate, or to reckon.  God is not doing that to you.  Can you just imagine – clipboard in hand – “On August 22nd, 1972 at 11:34 A.M. you hit your sister.  On August 22nd 1972 at 11:36 A.M. you lied to your mother and said you didn’t hit your sister”.  No! No! Thank God, No!  His heart toward you is full of good!  He’s not taking inventory of all of the times that we’ve blown it. 

Finally, I need to point out Isaiah 48:18 though.  God is saying “If you would only listen to me…Then you would have peace like a river.  So many people think that God will do what ever He wants in our lives and they don’t understand why He doesn’t seem to get as involved as they would like Him to.  After all, He’s God! He’s all powerful.  Right?  But they fail to understand that He created us with a choice.  We can choose to reject Him.  Many do, without saying so.  They just always have to do it their way.  He says “Look!  If you would just listen to me and do what I’m telling you, man – you would have peace all up in here!  You could stack the awesomeness 5 high”.  What I want you to take away is this – God is for us, not against us.  It’s us who are usually acting as our own enemy.  We hurt ourselves when we don’t listen to His wisdom.  We think He’s trying to ruin our fun but what He’s really doing is plotting our course around disaster.  Here’s an assignment for us this week.  Daily pray Col 1:9-11 over yourself in the 1st person.

Col 1:9 b  Father, I ask you to fill me with the knowledge of your will through every kind of spiritual wisdom and insight.

Col 1:10 I ask this so that I will live the kind of life that prove I belong to you Lord. Then I will want to please you in every way as I grow in producing every kind of good work by this knowledge about You, God.

Col 1:11 I ask you to strengthen me by your glorious might with all the power I need to patiently endure everything with joy.
-(God’s Word Translation – 1st person edit)