Are you of a different spirit?

Many of you are familiar with the Bible story where Moses sent the 12 spies into the promised land to check it out. They searched out the land for forty days and returned to give their report. If you remember the story, ten of the spies came back with what the Bible calls an Evil report. It was all negative. These spies didn’t see the promise that God had given them, instead they looked at the circumstances and determined that they were too small and too weak to take the land.

Num 13:31  But the men that went up with him (Caleb) said, We are not able to go up against the people, for they are stronger than we. And they brought up an evil report of the land which they had searched to the sons of Israel, saying, The land through which we have gone to search it, is a land that eats up those who live in it. And all the people whom we saw in it were men of stature. And there we saw the giants, the sons of Anak, of the giants. And we were in our own sight like grasshoppers, and so we were in their sight.

Scripture says that these reports caused the people’s hearts to melt. It wasn’t the giants that were keeping them out of the land, it was the grasshoppers. They were comparing their enemy to themselves. They were not figuring God into the equation.

Hebrews 3 tells us that the children of Israel had “An evil heart of unbelief”. When we look further, we see that, instead of trusting God, they had a spirit of disobedience. They were obstinate, rebellious, intentionally unbelieving and unpersuadable. Hebrews 3:12 warns us that we should pay attention, to make sure that none of us has an evil heart of unbelief in departing from the living God.

Do you see the issue in that verse? They came right up to the point of making a choice to believe or not and they chose to separate. They departed from God…multiple times. At one point, they even chided Moses (Ex 17:2). The Online Dictionary defines Chide as “To give someone a piece of one’s mind. To take to task, rake over the coals, to tell off”. God called them a “Stiff Necked and Rebellious People”.

Joshua and Caleb were the only two spies that came back with a different point of view. Caleb said “Let us go up at once, for we are well able to overcome it”. They had seen the promised land through a vision of the promise of God and they could see the possibilities. They said things like “Their defense has departed from them, let us go up at once!” All that faith talk started making the faithless people mad. Joshua and Caleb warned the people that they should not rebel against the Lord. The people decided that what they really needed to do was stone Joshua and Caleb. It was at that moment that the Glory of the Lord showed up in a big way! It was also at this moment that Moses and Aaron fell face down on the ground. They knew something serious was happening. They knew God wasn’t just dropping by to say howdy.

There is a ton of stuff to learn in this passage, and I am inspired by the words of Joshua and Caleb. The Lord summed it up best when He was talking about Caleb.

“Num 14:24 But My servant Caleb, because he had another spirit with him, and has followed Me fully, I will bring him into the land into which he went. And his seed shall possess it.”

The Bishops Bible says it like this “Because he has followed me unto the utmost.”

The Bible in basic English says “Because he is true to me with all his heart.”

The Literal version says “he is fully following me.”

The Septuagint says “Fulfilled to walk behind me.”

God said he had another spirit with him. What was that spirit?

The answer can be found in 2 Corinthians 4:13, where Paul, writing to the Corinthian Church, says “We having the same spirit of faith, according as it is written, I believed, and therefore have I spoken; we also believe, and therefore speak.”

Joshua and Caleb were IN FAITH. That simply means that they were fully trusting God to keep His promise. They had a good understanding of what it means to be in COVENANT with God. You and I can have covenant with God today through submitting ourselves to the Lordship of Jesus. In doing that, we open ourselves up to all that God promised. In Him (Jesus) we have ACCESS to God.

Rom 5:2 By whom (Jesus) also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.

Eph 2:18 For through Him (Jesus) we both have access by one Spirit unto the Father.

Eph 3:12 In whom (Jesus) we have boldness and access with confidence by the faith of Him.

God wants us to get to the place of trusting Him where we are like Abraham. “He staggered not at the promise of God through unbelief; but was strong in faith, giving glory to God; and being fully persuaded that, what He (God) had promised, he was able also to perform”.

If you are a believer, it should mean something to you to actually be in covenant with God. It should change the way you think. The way you think about health, direction, even money. According to some reading I’ve done recently, some Jewish scholars believe that poverty is an unjustifiable suffering. It should not be revered or associated with closeness with God.

Consider what Paul says to the Romans. Rom 8:31 What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us? 32 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? Is this not the mind of Joshua and Caleb? They were convinced that the Lord was with them and that He had taken away the strength of their enemies. They were fully persuaded that it was “Take the Land time”!

Are you in covenant with God? Have you made Jesus your Lord, and submitted yourself to Him? If not, click here. If so, are you standing where you should be standing in regard to God and His promises? Do you trust Him to make good on His Word?

This week, spend some time and examine your heart. Let God say of you, as He said of Caleb, “They have a different spirit, and have followed me fully”?

The Driving Force That Is Dad

father-child-on-beach

A guitar playing friend and I were having a conversation about David Gilmour a while back. We were discussing how we both believe that, Pound for Pound, he’s one of the best lead guitarists ever – for playing with feeling. No one is as good as he is at putting emotion into his leads.

While thinking about this, it occurred to me that as good as David Gilmour is, he was not the primary driving force behind the success of the band Pink Floyd. One of the other prominent members of the band was Roger Waters. Roger played the bass, wrote most of the songs with David, and also sang many of the songs. I am not crazy about the sound of Roger’s voice but he writes good songs.

A lot of Roger’s writing motivation came from the loss of his father. There are references to it in his songs throughout his career. Roger’s dad was killed in Italy during World War II when Roger was only five months old. Sadly, it wasn’t until just a few years ago that Roger learned this. For most of his life, he only knew that his father was missing in action and presumed dead. When I listen to the song Wish You Were Here, I can hear Roger’s heart about not knowing what happened to his dad.

This caused me to wonder. Would the Band Pink Floyd have ever reached the status that they have achieved had this sadness not existed in the heart of one man?  The things that I identify with, and enjoy in their music are in part, because of the veiled references to this very thing.

The truth is that fathers matter. Even absent ones have a remarkable effect on their children. The ripple that’s caused by a missing father can be seen and felt over multiple generations. I see in some people, how the training they received from their father concerning money has affected how even their children think about money. The opposite can also be seen. Fatherlessness often results in families that struggle financially. I can see it in the lives of people I know. So many struggle when it comes to money, and it becomes a generational mindset that gets passed down. Fathers matter.

In his article Manifesto of the new Fatherhood, Stephen Marche wrote “Fatherlessness significantly affects suicide, incarceration risk, and mental health. The new fatherhood is not merely a lifestyle question. Fathers spending time with their children results in a better, healthier, more educated, more stable, less criminal world. Exposure to fathers is a public good.”

You may be a man who’s dad isn’t present very often anymore, and now you find yourself being a dad.  What do you do?  What’s the right thing to do?  Below are some important guidelines every father needs to follow.

  1. Show up. You can’t have any influence for good in your child’s life if you’re not there. I promise, there will be tons of negative stuff to take your place when you are not there. Many fathers don’t realize that it’s not just what you bring into the relationship that matters, it’s what stays away because you’re there.
  2. Teach what you know is right. The lasting solution is to raise our children God’s way. That means that we teach our children the right way, and we exemplify what it means in our own lives. By precept upon precept, line upon line, here a little & there a little (Isaiah 28:10). It’s important for you to teach what you know is right. Some things are too important to just leave them to find out for themselves.  If you’ve found some right answers in your life, some things that work, then it’s incumbent upon you to pass it down.
  3. Lead by example. It means that fathers need to discipline themselves to model the right behavior. Paul the Apostle also tells us in Ephesians 6 that we as fathers are not to provoke our children to wrath (anger) but to bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. Scripture also tells us to train up a child in the way they should go, and when they are old, they will not depart from it. The next verse is also connected to it, the rich rule over the poor, and the borrower is servant to the lender.
    To me, fatherhood is one of the most important things I do. I think it’s vitally important to not only teach my children the right things, but to also live the right things out in the open where my children can see me. I do not give myself permission to be sloppy in this area. These are my children, and in the end, I will be accountable to God for what I did and didn’t put into them.

Like Roger Waters used his pain to fuel his creativity, I use the pain that came from growing up without my dad to fuel my desire to help others who are enduring it now. There are just so many of us.

I say to all fathers that read this. You are more important than you may think. Your children are worth fighting for. Remember – Show up, teach what’s right & lead by example.

Until next week – be encouraged.

Art

Living In The Realm Of What Is, Not What Isn’t.

When I was about eleven, my sister and I hatched a plan. My parents had divorced the year before, and my Dad lived three states away. We hadn’t seen him since before the divorce, and we missed him some kind of bad.

We heard that our grandparents were planning a trip to go see him. Our caper was simple, we would find a way to get to our grandparent’s house right before they left and we would stow away in their camper. They always had a camper and we were pretty sure they would take it on this particular trip. Our idea was that they wouldn’t find us until it was too late to drive back. You know, It would be a “Well, we’ve already gone this far”, kind of thing. It never quite worked out. We didn’t get to stow away in the camper.

A photo by Tim Arterbury. unsplash.com/photos/VkwRmha1_tI

Thinking back today, I’m so glad we failed. Eleven year old’s just don’t think very far ahead. When I think back on it and I think about all of the potential problems it would have caused, I just shudder. It would have likely cost everyone a lot of money and we would have ended up where we started. Also, it would have broken my mom’s heart and ruined my grandparent’s trip.  We were so focused on our Dad that we weren’t considering everyone else.

Recently I watched a documentary about Tony Robbins. It’s called “I’m Not Your Guru”. It chronicled one of Tony’s 4 day “Unleashing the Power Within” seminars. One of the people that Tony helped specifically, was a young woman who was there with her mom. This young woman had a fractured relationship with her Dad. I don’t remember what the issues were specifically, but I know he hadn’t been in her life for many years. One of the things that came to light was that she blamed her Dad for many of the difficulties that she had experienced. She felt abandoned. She traced most of the problems she faced in her life back to the fact that he wasn’t there.

Tony said something to her that stuck with me, and I’ve given it a lot of thought ever since. He pointed out that we have a tendency to fixate and obsess over what’s missing in our lives, and completely ignore what’s actually there. When it comes to our absentee fathers, we ascribe a value to them based on what we imagine would have been different, or better, had they actually been there. Everything from the rough neighborhood we had to live in growing up, to the imagined advantages that we never had because we didn’t have a man around to teach us man things.

When we obsess about the missing pieces in our lives, we hurt ourselves in many ways. I’ve outlined four that I had to deal with below.

  • When we focus on what’s missing, we ignore what we have. Spending all our time thinking about the Dad that left often blinds us to the Mom that stuck it out. When I think about the things my mom went through raising us, I am humbled. Against some pretty tremendous odds, she managed to keep us together. And it’s that more than anything else that gives us strength today.
  • When we focus on what’s missing, we develop a victim mentality. We look at our lives with a sense of powerlessness. Situations and circumstances are mostly beyond our control and we feel that we either have no right or no power to change things. This leads to the thinking that everything bad that happens to you is always someone else’s fault.
  • When we focus on what’s missing, we tend to become ungrateful. We tend to overlook the good that we have. We may unintentionally let all the negative overshadow the positive in our lives.  This includes all the people who never gave up on us.  The ones who stuck it out.
  • When we focus on what’s missing, we accept the limits of the wrong story. For many years, I thought that I couldn’t get ahead because my Dad left me without advantage. My friends and relatives who’s Dads were still there, helped them with things. Things like understanding money, basic knowledge of cars, work ethic, and knowing how to build and fix stuff. The first time my grand dad took me to the garage to work with him on my mom’s car, I had a revelation. I was not without help. I began to understand that I had a lot of the help that I thought I was missing. God just brought it to me by another route.

Tony Robbins made a strong statement to the young woman in the documentary. He said that if she was going to blame her Dad for the negative, she was also going to have to blame him for all the positive that came from it. She was going to have to blame him for the fact that she learned how to deal with problems. She was going to have to blame him for making her into a strong woman. She was going to have to give him credit for those things too.

Look at the person you are today. What difficulties or hardships in your past shaped you for the better? What do you possess today that you wouldn’t have had if you hadn’t endured your past? It’s time to focus on what is, and forget about what isn’t.

It’s time to re-frame the picture of our life, let go of the imaginary life in our head that never happened and give real thought to how we can move forward from where we are. Let today be the foundation for a future where we focus on possibilities. Not a foundation that’s haunted by the ghost of what wasn’t, but, at least in our minds, should have been.

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

Are You A Man Worth Having?

I’ve seen a lot of Memes & image cards on the internet that tell me what a good man is, or what a good man will do.

Here are some characteristics gleaned from social media about what a Real or Good man is.

He listens.

He reads.

He’s secure enough to have her stand in the lime-light.

He’s romantic.

He minds his manners.

He holds the door open.

He understands that he doesn’t know everything.

He makes a conscious effort to learn something new every day.

He reads this without being offended.

He treasures a woman’s heart after he’s won it.

He doesn’t have time to look at another woman because he’s too busy looking for ways to love his own.

He changes himself because he loves his woman.

He’s careful with his decisions & actions so he’s never responsible for her pain.

A real man will make missing you his hobby, caring for you his job, and making you happy his duty, and loving you his life.

man-worth-having

Do you agree with these? When it comes to being a real good man, I think most of them are narrowly focused and missing the point.

While I think that too many women are already yoked to a man who is not worth having, one of the underlying themes in my writing is to help that. I want to write about being a man of quality. In relationships, being a man worth having.

One of my first jobs that didn’t involve delivering newspapers or mowing grass was as a dish washer for the local Elk’s Club. One day while on my way home from work, I came to a red light and there was a car stopped in front of me. While waiting for the light to turn green I noticed in the car in front of me, the man behind the wheel, closed fist punching the woman in the passenger seat. He punched her 4 or 5 times that I could see. I was just stunned. I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. I’m a teenager & I didn’t really know what to do. All I could think of was that I should maybe honk my horn or something to let him know that I was witnessing his abuse. The light changed, they were gone and I did nothing.

That incident has come to my mind many times over the years and I have rolled it over and over in my mind, trying to determine what the best & most appropriate action should have been. It bothers me when I think about it because I wasn’t raised thinking it was acceptable to hit women and I still wish to this day that I had done something.

She needs to know you’re not going to hit her or abuse her.  If you have a tendency to lose your temper and hit and If you are going to torment and punish her for choosing you, you are not a man worthy of the relationship. To be a man worth having, you need to show her that she’s safe with you.

A few years ago a woman I knew was let go from her job. The company had been sold and was being moved to another state. We all knew her fairly well and we knew that her husband hadn’t had a job in some time. When we asked her how she was doing, she said she was doing alright and was doing a little brokering. We asked if her husband was out looking now that she was unemployed, to which she replied with an eye roll “That would be too life altering for him”. We could tell that she didn’t like supporting him and that her whole situation was discouraging to her.

Remember, God gave Adam a job before He gave him a woman. While both spouses can, and many do work outside the home, a husband needs to be a prominent contributor to the financial well being of the family. I don’t think he needs to necessarily be the primary breadwinner, but he also should not making his wife support him while he spends all his time playing, and not contributing. To be a man worth having, provide for your family & make sure they have what they need.

There’s a guy I knew once that used to call his wife fat in front of his relatives. I used to ask myself why he would do that, but it doesn’t take much thought to really understand why. She was over weight. She knew she was over weight. He knew she was over weight. Everyone who saw her knew she was over weight. What was the point of calling it out and drawing focus to it? He was unhappy with her weight and was trying to shame her into changing it.

To be a man worth having, you need have her back, to look out for her and protect her. Not just physically, but also spiritually and emotionally. Not causing her to be publicly humiliated, but rather, to run interference for her.

When my wife and I are out together, I can usually see when a conversation or an interaction is going weird for her. I see it coming and interject myself to take steps to stop it or change it’s direction. When I recognized that there were things that I would do in front of others that bothered her, I took steps to quit doing them. Why? Because I’m her covenant partner and I’m on the lookout for this stuff. She’s my covenant partner and is doing the same for me.

Being a man worth having starts long before any relationship begins.  It really starts with a man making solid decisions about the kind of man he wants to be.  A man worth having is a man of honor, integrity, humility & faithfulness in every area of his life, not just in relationships.  He is these things because God put in him a desire to be these things. He doesn’t do it for her, but any woman in his life will benefit from his commitment to being a man of excellence.  While I’m talking about men here, these things don’t only apply to men.  These are universal principles and we should all be working to put them into our lives.

So, what do you think?  Have I left something out?  Leave a comment & let me know your top attribute for a man worth having.  I look forward to the conversation.

If this has helped you, please consider sharing.  Thanks again,

Art

 

Being A Man Of Love

To be a good man, you need to bring good things to the table. Think about it. In dating, you may have high standards for what you are looking for in a woman, and that’s okay. You need to make sure that you’re meeting your own requirements first though. You need to be a man of equally high value.  Why would you want to punish a woman for choosing you? You need to be a man worth having. To be worth having, you have to have a few things nailed down.

man-on-rocks-at-beach

Photo courtesy of stocksnap.io

All friendships and relationships destined to grow and become meaningful need to start out with courtesy and manners. If a person doesn’t lead off with courtesy and manners, they are immediately making the road ahead unnecessarily difficult before they even walk it.  While courtesy & manners are the basic minimum for any positive relationship to last, to have a truly meaningful and mutually fulfilling relationship, Godly love must become the center and the glue that holds all else together.  A good man will have manners and be courteous, but a good man will also be a man of love.

From the Bible, the Greek word for this love is:

ἀγάπη  agapē  ag-ah’-pay.  From G25 (Strong’s); love, that is, affection or benevolence; specifically (plural) a love feast: – (feast of) charity ([-ably]), dear, love.

In the Hebrew the word is:

חֵסֵד  chêsêd   kheh’-sed.   From H2616 (Strong’s); kindness; by implication (towards God) piety; rarely (by opprobrium) reproof, or (subjectively) beauty: – favour, good deed (-liness, -ness), kindly, (loving-) kindness, merciful (kindness), mercy, pity.

True love brings all sorts of other things with it. Things like respect, faithfulness, honesty, integrity & kindness & mercy.  To be a good man, you need to be a man of Love.

  1. Love God. Put Him first in your life. Make His path for your life your top priority. His path for you includes only good. His plan for you is the best possible life you could possibly have.
    Loving God means also allowing God’s love to flow through you. You allow yourself to be a conduit through which the Love of God can flow. God loves people through you. Therefore, you love people with the love of God.
  2. Love your wife. This applies to those who are already married.  If you are not but plan on it one day, listen up.  As a godly men, the Bible has shown us that we are to love our wives as Christ loved the Church. The very next sentence shows us how Christ loves the Church, He gave Himself for it (Eph 5:25-26). A husband shows love for his wife when he gives of himself to and for her. I also think it’s worth pointing out that when Jesus gave himself for the Church, he has never taken himself back. He will forever be our high priest. He will forever be our intercessor. He will never stop giving himself for us. If he ceased either one of these things, we would surely be lost.
  3. Love your brethren. Jesus said By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another (John 13:35). He then said This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you (John 15:12). While I think it’s important to walk in love toward those that are lost, Jesus specifically emphasized that the world would know that we are His disciples by the love we show one another. That’s a specific love to a specific group. Who? To the brethren. How? As I have loved you. How did he love us? John 15:13 says Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.
  4. Love those that are without. One of the lawyers trying to trip Jesus up asked Him a question. Master, which is the great commandment in the law? Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets (Mat 22:36-40).  In this case, neighbor means near by.  The one physically close to you.  This is where we get the Golden Rule.  Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.

When Jesus said that the greatest love is shown when a man lays down his life for his friends, It doesn’t necessarily just mean dying.  Your life is measured by time.  You can give your life by giving your time, and giving your time is a demonstration of love.  Paul the Apostle wrote to the Corinthian church & said “I will very gladly spend and be spent for you; though the more abundantly I love you, the less I be loved.” (2 Cor 12:15).  Spending and being  spent are representing Paul’s resources, and Paul’s time.  He equates them both with abundantly loving the people of the Corinthian church.

I want to challenge you this week.  Could you use a tune up in the area of love?  Take some time this week and spend it on someone you want to show love to.  Make the time only about them.  I’d love to hear the results.

I appreciate you guys!

Art

 

Five ways to avoid hurting with your words.

These days when we have a question, we can almost immediately satisfy our curiosity by whipping out our smart phones and googling it. I do this all the time. Unfortunately, accessing information this way doesn’t necessarily help us remember it. Most of the time, once I’ve satisfied my curiosity, I forget the answer I looked up. It’s like we’re all players in a real life game of trivial pursuit, except we don’t really have to know anything. We can just google it.

While I may not retain some of what I google in curious whimsy, I have learned a tremendous amount from my own online research. Everything from building a website to installing an electric window regulator in a Honda Accord. The global knowledge base is there for anyone with a device to access.

wisdom

While I’ve learned quite a bit online, sometimes it’s hard to practically do what you learn because there are subtleties in any job that you can only learn by doing. This is the difference between wisdom and knowledge. While doing my daughter’s brakes, the first took me about 45 minutes.  The second took me nine.

Knowledge is – the fact or condition of knowing something with familiarity gained through experience or association” – (Websters Online Dictionary). Wisdom on the other hand is – Accumulated philosophic or scientific learning; Knowledge, ability to discern inner qualities and relationships. Insight, good sense; Judgment, generally accepted belief – (Websters Online Dictionary).

To break it down a little, Knowledge is knowing. Facts have been accumulated, stored and remembered, while Wisdom is the skillful use of knowledge. One can be wise in one area but foolish in another, while possessing knowledge in both areas.  When I see a wise man, I understand that in the area that he is wise, it’s not his first time dealing in it. He’s not a novice.

I say all of this because I want to be wise when dealing with others. I don’t want to rely on knowledge only when dealing with people. I care about people. I spend time thinking about interactions and in some cases, I try to choose words and actions in advance. I do this because if I see a potential problem, I want to do all I can to avoid it, and sometimes that means seeing it coming and deciding in advance how I will handle it so that in the moment, I’m not overtaken by high emotions or stress.

That’s why it bothers me so much when I do get swept up in emotion and stress. Sometimes, things just get sideways.

A few years ago I made someone so angry that they stopped speaking to me. I didn’t mean to make them that angry, but they were reaching out for help and I didn’t see it. Instead, I saw them being melodramatic and manipulative. They were hurting and I didn’t realize how much. I was insensitive, rude and I hurt their feelings. I also didn’t see how strong their response would be, so I was totally shocked when it all went south.

I am thankful to say that we have fixed things between us and are enjoying a good relationship, but it’s not the first time I’ve hurt someone and not seen it coming. I sometimes have a big mouth. I really don’t like when I hurt people so I’ve compiled a short list of things I try to do to avoid it.

  1. Ask God for wisdom.
    James 1:5 If any of you needs wisdom to know what you should do, you should ask God, and he will give it to you. God is generous to everyone and doesn’t find fault with them. (GW).
  2. Consider the end.
    Proverbs 22:3 says A prudent man foresees the evil and hides himself, but the simple pass on and are punished. The fool passes all the signs of trouble but doesn’t see them. They just roll down the road at full speed and are surprised when they run into trouble. A wise man by contrast, will see the trouble coming and take action to either stop it, or side step it. Jeff Walker calls this Looking through the corners.  It’s a reference to being in a race. When you are moving fast, the wrong thing to do is to just look right in front of you. If you do that, problems will enter your field of vision too late for you to respond.  If you look thought the corners, you’ll see it coming and you will have plenty of time to take action.  We can to this with interpersonal relationships too. We can anticipate certain problems and head them off before they can happen.
  3. Look to your elders for wisdom.
    I remember a situation while serving in a helps ministry at church.  Something happened that hurt our leaders. Everyone saw it and everyone knew that they were hurt. I remember talking to one of them and asking her what she was going to do. I was expecting her to outline a strategy for dealing with it but that’s not what she did. She responded with this. “I’m going to forgive them. What other choice do I have?” That answer has stayed with me and helped me on many occasions. This woman loves God and loves people. The Lord commanded her to forgive, (Mark 11:25). Neither she, nor the Lord consider this to be a suggestion.  It didn’t come with options. She knows and has demonstrated that to obey means to forgive. In like manner, our elders can often see things from a higher perspective than we can, and can often offer excellent guidance.
  4. Let everything come from a heart of love.
    Let your reasons for saying or doing anything be motivated by a true desire to help and to show love. Many people have been hurt by people saying “Well, I told them the truth!” Scripture says about believers that we: “speaking the truth in Love, may grow up in Him in all things” (Eph 4:15). I don’t think its accidental that when we are speaking the truth IN LOVE, that we are showing signs of maturity and growth. It’s important that we make sure our words are born of love and are spent out of our mouths with the purpose of edifying and strengthening one another.
  5. Shut up.
    Truthfully, no one wants free advice, so we shouldn’t be quick to give advice unless we’re asked. Most of the time, when people are wanting to talk, we need to answer the other half of that equation…we need to listen. Many people are looking to share and to be heard. It’s only when they ask that we should think it appropriate to advise. We need to watch for the phrase “You know what you should do?” While it’s usually coming from a honest desire to help, it often has an underlying message. “You know what you should do? Follow my advice because it’s obvious that you don’t know how to live your life”. While people may not intend to send this message, it’s often the one that’s heard.

Interpersonal relationships can be tricky sometimes, depending on the people involved. I don’t think any of us get out of bed in the morning thinking “Who can I pick a fight with today?”, but sometimes the fight just finds you. My prayer is that I’ve given you some practical things to help you avoid hurting people with your words.

While I know that sharing this sort of stuff is hard because none of us really wants to show our shortcomings, do you have a story that can help others? Please join the conversation & leave a comment.

Also – If this has helped you in any way and you think it can help someone else, please consider sharing.

Thank You!

Art

Cutting People Some Slack

The other day I ran into some road work on my way home. This construction is not far from my house and I hit it nearly every day.  I tend to get into the correct lane early and slowly roll through the construction. Everyday many cars speed by on the left trying to get all the way up to the front of the slow line before attempting to merge. I’m almost never one of those people. I would rather get into the correct lane early, where the sign says “merge now”, rather than hoping someone will let me in later. One way is easy, the other can turn into a confrontational mess.

The other day, a pest control truck sped past everyone and forced its way into the traffic right before the lane closure. This got under my skin a little too much. I thought to myself, “What a ME FIRST jerk”! I remember thinking that someone should take a picture of his automotive billboard, you know, the truck with his name, number and business name all over the side, and paste it all over social media calling him out on his bad manners behind the wheel.

One to take on image card

Here’s where the problem came in. Earlier that same day, I had to go home for lunch in a hurry because of something urgent I needed to take care of. I was in a hurry and I’m sure there might have been people who thought my driving was fast and lacked courtesy. It probably was, I was in a legitimate hurry. We all have times when we are in a legitimate hurry. The pest control guy could have been racing home because of a distress call from his wife. I don’t know. So why did I automatically jump to negative thinking?

Unfortunately, we all often forget those times when we are judging others behind the wheel. Now I will concede that there are probably times when people are just being rude and selfish, but we won’t necessarily know, one way or the other. So why do we assume the worst? I catch myself doing this a lot and I hate it. Why is it that my first thought is that people are being mean spirited? Why do I seem to assume that people are being malicious first, and then have to re-think and make a conscious and deliberate decision to think more positively about them?

We have a tendency to judge others by the outcome but judge ourselves by our intentions. I have learned that when I’m tempted to judge a situation, the closer I get to it, the more I understand why it was done the way it was done. I need to keep this in mind to help me when I’m tempted to form a fast, uninformed opinion.

Jesus said in Luke 6:27 & 28 “But I tell you who hear: love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, and pray for those who mistreat you”. (WEB). This is not a suggestion from the Master, this should be our default setting, so how do we get this to be where we start? Instead of taking things the wrong way, thinking negatively about them and then catching ourselves, how do we begin on the right foot so to speak?

I think what I really need is a habit. I want my first thought to be positive. Some may say that it’s not even possible but I think we can be far better than we are. I know I have room to grow.

Hebrews says – For every one that useth milk is unskilful in the word of righteousness: for he is a babe. But strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil. (Heb 5:13-14).

We can get to the point where our very senses can be developed to discern whats right and wrong. How to we get to that point? The Bible says in Romans 12:2 that we are not to be conformed to this world, but to be transformed by the renewing of our minds, that we may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect will of God.

So the first step to making this change is to renew our minds with the scripture. This means getting plenty of exposure to it. It’s going to take more than a quick verse in the morning. Real change requires real commitment.

One thing you can do is print out 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 and personalize it.  Tape this to your bathroom mirror and read it out loud every time you look into the mirror.  You can get a copy of it here.

I want to do better. Do you want to join me? This can be our One To Take On this week. Join the conversation by leaving a comment. You can also follow me on Facebook and Twitter. Just click the icons in the upper right corner.

Don’t forget to share.

I sure do appreciate you.

Art

Decisions & deceptions. How we make choices.

The fact that there are so many people who report to have and enjoy a real, sincere relationship with God should at least be reason to have an open mind. For His existence to be so lightly considered and so easily dismissed seems to be unusually closed minded. I have heard people who profess no believe in God, compare the early church gospel writers to “near Cro-magnon men”. This argument is meant to belittle Christians and try to strike at the credibility of the writers of the Bible. The problem is that this statement actually reveals a very strong bias and prejudice, and isn’t scientific at all.

Man on mountain at dawn

When science and Christianity don’t seem to fit together, it doesn’t mean one is true and the other is not, it just means there’s more there to know and there’s a hole in our understanding. What these gaps in our collective understanding mean to me is simple. It just means we don’t know yet.

Most people would agree that there is a spiritual realm and that people have a connection to it. The problem materialistic thinkers have with spiritual things is that they can’t readily be measured. When we find that something can be perceived but we can’t figure out how to measure or quantify it, denying it exists is a huge leap. What we begin to see is something Chip & Dan Heath discuss in their book Decisive call Confirmation Bias.

Confirmation Bias is the way we deceive ourselves. Confirmation Bias is when we form a quick belief about something and then seek information and evidence to bolster what we already believe. I may make a poor choice and then afterwards try to build a case for why it was the right choice. I’m trying to justify my position. This is Confirmation Bias.

I may choose one of my team members to help me with a special project. I choose this person because I like them and we just click. They may be poorly suited to do what I need them to do but I didn’t choose them on that basis. Even if I made a Pro’s & Con’s list, it would be slanted by the bias I have already built in.

A CEO has an idea that will change the direction of the company, he believes it is the right move and he needs to convince the board that it’s the right move so he starts compiling data, but his data comes back nearly evenly split for and against the change in direction. What data will be used when talking to the board? The data that supports the idea. The data against the move may be minimized or even ignored totally. It may all appear very scientific but in reality, the bias was added early in the recipe.

Dan Lovallo says “People go out & collect data and they don’t realize they’re cooking the books”. We think we want truth but what we really want is reassurance. Do these jeans make me look fat? A lot of our questions don’t crave an honest answer.

What do you think? Have you noticed yourself falling for confirmation bias? Join the conversation & leave a comment.

Are you being authentic or just stupid?

One podcast I enjoy listening to is called Steal The Show with Michael Port. Most of the time, the format of the podcast is that Michael interviewing people that he believes will add value to his listener. Sometimes its just him speaking directly to the listener. In the last few episodes, Michael has touched on what it means to be authentic and quite honestly, he’s got me thinking.

The Bible says in Pro 18:2 A fool hath no delight in understanding, but that his heart may discover itself.

Barnes commentary on Prov 18:2 says this:  Another form of egotism. In “understanding,” i. e., self-knowledge, the “fool” finds no pleasure; but self-assertion, talking about himself and his own opinions, is his highest joy.

Chameleon

During Michael’s interview with Tucker Max, they discussed in depth about having different rolls for different situations. Tucker speaking quite candidly, said “I’ve always resisted the idea that we should have different rolls for different situations, but it’s kind of an immature, young person thing to do to say ‘No – I have one identity. I’m one person. I’m going to be the same everywhere. That’s the only way to be honest’. That’s that sort of idealistic, nonsense, young person stuff. Finally, I have come around to realize that having different social masks, identities, or rolls is not being fake.”

Michael responds with “To be called a chameleon is generally considered an insult, but a chameleon is adaptive. They are green when they are on a green leaf, they are red when on a red leaf, but they are never faking it. It’s actually part of who they are, and people have those abilities too.”

Michael later interviewed Mark Bowden. Mark is an expert at body language. He comes from an acting & performance background. Mark points out that at any given time, you feel multiple ways about what’s going on. It’s up to you to decide the most appropriate manner to display yourself. In this you are still being authentic, but you are also being wise.

Here’s a simple, personal example of what Mark talked about:

  • This is hard. It’s hard to write things week after week with very little engagement from readers. I don’t know if anyone is listening. I don’t know if it’s going anywhere. I don’t know if I’m really helping anyone. It’s hard to keep moving forward. I could be doing something more fun right now. I’m not sure it’s worth it.
  • This is awesome. I absolutely love doing this blog. I love making a difference in the lives of people. I am so grateful that God has given me this incredible opportunity. I’m making a difference in the lives of people. Even if it’s not today, maybe someone will read my stuff in the future and it will change their life. This is awesome. I have so much to say! I love helping people!

Right now, both of these thoughts exist in me. I have to decide which is appropriate for the situation and yield to that one. I am not betraying myself by shutting down thoughts that I have that don’t help me or move me forward.

It seems to me the idea that, in order to be authentic, we should only have one version of ourselves and force-fit that one version into all situations is a bit stupid.

To a certain extent, I expect to see this in younger people. They are still learning what is important. It breaks my heart to see it in people who are old enough to know better though. They are really hindering themselves. Here’s why.

When you hold to the idea that in order to be true to yourself and to be truly authentic, you must be the one version of YOU in all situation, you are requiring the people and the environment to meet you on your terms. You are requiring them to wrap around you – to serve you, your will, your way. We might call people like this High Maintenance. What they really are is selfish.

On the other hand, when you go into every situation with the idea that “I will be what the situation requires”, you are not being less authentic, you are being the version of you that cares about the people you’re with. You’re being more thoughtful, more compassionate, more helpful. You are people and situation focused instead of me focused. You are still being you, you are just being the better, more giving and caring version of who you really are.

So what do you think? Do you have a story about what it means to authentic? Please join the conversation in the comments.

Also, If this has helped you, please share.

Love you guys.

Art