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.

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

 

What is Honor?

What does it mean to be honored? I did a google search for images of honor and several images were found of the U.S. President placing a medal around the neck of a soldier. We celebrated Memorial Day recently where we honor the memory of our fallen soldiers. A large part of the observance of Memorial Day is to show honor by decorating their tombs and grave sites, and showing reverence for their sacrifice. It would seem then that honor has something to do with medals & decorations.

Monuments cropped

stocksnap.io

While we do show honor through medals & decorations, in most cases, what we are really honoring is an act. Usually an act of courage, valor, or bravery. Acts come from the inside of people. Consistent acts reveal what is in the heart in abundance. It is in times of long service, or service under high distress and danger that a person’s true character is revealed. It is in moments like these, when some people rise up to a level of true greatness, revealing qualities of exceptional leadership, bravery or self sacrifice. In the act of honoring, we are acknowledging in them a high quality that we revere and value. We are ornamenting a person because they have made a significant impact for good to those around them. They have made a difference.

When we look to scripture, we see in Malachi 1:6 God the Father is asking a question of the priests. He says “A son honors his father, and a servant honors his master. So if I am a father, where is my honor? If I am a master, where is my respect? You priests who despise my name.”

“I am not bound to win, but I am bound to be true. I am not bound to
succeed, but I am bound to live up to what light I have.”
― Abraham Lincoln

In this scripture we see both sides of honor. God says “If I am and Father and a Master, where’s my honor?” Implying that God expected to be honored and respected. The farther implication is that God expects that parents and masters (employers) are to be honored and respected also. (Ex 20:12. Eph 6:1-3. Col 3:22. 1 Pet 2:18).

Recently I saw a picture on social media of a man with his Bible on his knee and his hand wresting on it. In his hand was a lit cigar. I don’t remember what his caption said, but it was something like “this is church this morning”. This man’s father is a well respected minister with international influence. This man’s wife is also a minister working hard to grow her influence.

One of my first thoughts when I saw the picture was “Did his dad teach at home what he was teaching publicly?” Here’s why I’m bringing this up. This young man has what appears to be a successful business in town. At least in part, the success of the business is because his dad leveraged his own influence to help his son get launched. Many of the people who are following this young man on social media are doing so because of his father. Many of the people who saw that picture follow his father and whether people will admit it or not, this picture struck a blow against his father’s credibility. I will not say that it ruined it because his dad is a fine, upstanding man. I will say though, that it caused questions to be asked that would not have even been thought before the picture was posted. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. The beginning of honor is to not cause shame (see The Road To Honor) .

Hypothetically, what if someone were considering asking this man’s wife to minister in their church, but decided against it because of this photo? I am not this man’s conscience. I am not his judge. My points here are based completely on the topic of honor and the apparent thoughtlessness of his actions.

“The most tragic thing in the world is a man of genius who is not a man of honor.”
― George Bernard Shaw

What is honor? Honor is to value as heavy. In the old days when barter and trade would happen, weights and scales were used to determine the value of things. Heavy usually meant better. Even in quality, heavy usually meant better built with more sturdy materials. When something was heavy, it was considered to be worth more. To honor is defined as value as heavy, Showing deference. A good name or public reputation. A showing of merited respect. High worth, and as a verb, a gesture of deference (bow).

The root word in Hebrew literally means: To cause to shine, to glorify or to add luster. This is the definition that I think of when I think of honor. When I think about my relationship with God, my parents & my leaders, I understand that I always need to be reverentially respectful toward them and to always live my life in a way that causes them to shine. I live to add luster to them. This is honor – and as you can see, honor comes from living from what they put into you. This is why poor choices bring dishonor and shame to them.

For me, the clearest example of honor was found in my paternal grandmother. She and my grandpa had been together for many years and raised nine children. When he passed away, she had a large photo of him framed and placed prominently on the wall in her living room. One Sunday afternoon when I stopped by for a visit, she confided in me that sometimes, when she was alone, she would talk to him. She also told me that she kissed that picture at night before she went to bed. This illustrates honor so clearly to me because of the way she honors his memory. She was showing how much she loved him and how heavily she valued him.

Honor is lacking in our world today. People hear the word and don’t understand what it really means. Because of this, they can’t do it and are suffering because of it. In the next few weeks, I want to go deeper into it and talk more about what it is, but also who we are to honor and what the benefits are because we walk in honor.

Understanding that to honor is to value, take some time this week to examine your life? Are you honoring those you should be honoring? Are you walking worthy of it yourself? Join the discussion by leaving a comment.

I appreciate you all!

Art

***Quotes above were found at:
http://www.goodreads.com

 

How Promotion Comes.

If we could promote ourselves, we might all be at the very top of our respective companies. We might all be making top money. We could show up at the company that we owned, at about 10:30 in the morning, driving our brand new Aston Martin Vanquish…Okay, that might just be me.

$100 bills

I am curious though. How many of us would hesitate to promote ourselves because we knew deep down that we lack the skills and credentials to do the higher paying, higher responsibility jobs? I think most of us would probably give ourselves the benefit of the doubt and go ahead & try. Sadly, this would likely result in many companies failing within just a few months.

Truthfully, while you can’t directly promote yourself, you have a lot of control over whether or not you actually get promoted. It’s true. It’s mostly up to you. Let’s look at the example of David in the Bible.

In just the few verses of Psalm 78:70-72, we learn quite a bit about how and why God chose David to be King of Israel.

 

Psa 78:70 He also chose His servant David, and took him from the folds of the flock;

71 He brought him in from the suckling ewes; He brought him to feed His people Jacob, and His inheritance, Israel.

72 And he fed them in the integrity of his heart; and guided them in the skillfulness of his hands. (LIT)

 

We see that God chose David. David did not directly choose this for himself. But what was behind God’s choice? What did He see in David?

We see that God separated him from the sheep fold. David was a shepherd. David was caring for sheep, but not just sheep, lots of baby lambs. The King James version of verse 71 says God took him from following the ewes, great with young. David was shepherding birthing mothers & lots of babies. I can just imagine David now, setting on a log with a lamb in his lap while he is hand feeding it, as he looks out watchfully over the flock to make sure they are all safe.

God joined him to His people. David’s mandate from Heaven was to feed Jacob and Lead Israel. I think this is telling. It shows us God’s heart toward His people and the specific traits he looks for in those he chooses to lead them.

So why did God choose him? Verse 72 says David fed them (Jacob) in the integrity of his heart, and he guided them (Israel) in the skillfulness of his hands.

God saw him doing this with the lambs. God saw his integrity and his skill & wisdom while he was just watching the sheep. David was faithful in the little things and did them with integrity.

So, what kind of shepherd was David? We get a little taste from 1 Sam 17.

1Sa 17:34 And David said to Saul, Your servant has been a shepherd among sheep for his father. And the lion came, and the bear, and took away a sheep out of the flock.

35 And I went out after him and struck him, and delivered out of his mouth. And he rose against me, and I took hold of his beard and struck him, and killed him.

36 Your servant has struck both the lion and the bear, and this uncircumcised Philistine shall be as one of them, for he has reproached the armies of the living God.

37 And David said, Jehovah, who has delivered me out of the paw of the lion, and out of the paw of the bear, He shall deliver me from the hand of this Philistine. And Saul said to David, Go, and Jehovah be with you.

 

  • David was a man of faith! We can see that David had a very deep trust in God. He knew who he was in regard to the covenant.
  • David values the flock. We also see that when it came to the sheep, David considered his lambs so valuable that he went out, confronted and killed predators that were known to kill people. He did it more that once. Even one sheep was so important to David that he put his own life on the line to save it.
  • David was selfless. This was so powerful to God that he said of David “I found David” the son of Jesse “to be a man according to My own heart, who will do all My will.” (Acts 13:22 LIT).
  • We see something similar when Paul was writing to the Corinthian church. He said “And I will very gladly spend and be spent for you; though the more abundantly I love you, the less I be loved.” 2Co 12:15.
  • And again when Paul was writing to the Philippians, he tells them that he’s getting ready to send Timothy to them. He shows us why he is sending Timothy and not some other “Well Known” minister. Timothy had the same heart that Paul had. Paul said “For I have no man like-minded, who will naturally care for your state. For all seek their own, not the things which are Jesus Christ’s. Phil 2:20, 21. Everybody else had self serving motives.

So what does this mean for us? What is the take away here?

God Himself said that David was a man after His own heart, who would fulfill all His will. The secret to David’s success wasn’t found just in God “Picking” him and then he became great. The anointing came on him when Samuel poured oil over his head, but the qualities that made him an excellent king were already in him and made him an excellent shepherd. He walked ever day in faith, integrity, wisdom & skillfulness. He didn’t just do his best, he did his best to do it God’s way.

Think about it. If I’m looking for good help to do something I need done, I’m looking for someone who can faithfully do it THE WAY I WOULD DO IT. How many times have you been the recipient of someone’s help and you had to do it over when they left?

God is looking for people who will submit to His will, do things His way & do them faithfully. These are the same attributes that will cause you to get promotion in every area of your life.

I invite you to take some time this week to examine your own heart. Ask yourself this one question.

Are you doing it all Your Way?

You have no choice? Really?

I have noticed a problem plaguing young men today.  Many of them seem to be perpetual victims. They are suffering under some unseen hand that is keeping them down. They don’t know why but they just don’t ever seem to get a break. I know where they are coming from because I had that problem too.  I seemingly had no advantage. I wasn’t born into privilege or opportunity. I didn’t have a last name that opened doors for me and for a long time, I used these things as my excuses for why I wasn’t going anywhere.  All these reasons were not really my problem though. They were not where my limits were coming from.

I have no choice-Lie

Part of my problem was that I was a captive in my thinking and consequently in my saying.  Constantly saying things like It’s not my fault and I Can’t or What choice do I have? I am convinced today more than ever though, that I have no choice is a lie!

Pro 6:2  you are snared with the words of your mouth, you are taken with the words of your mouth. (Modern King James Version -MKJV).

Sure, today you may not have the choice to move to the neighborhood that you really want to live in, or drive the car you really want to drive, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t have that choice in your future. Here’s where we find a fork in the road.

Path number one is the path of continuing down the road you are on.  You are making only choices that drift in front of you, and hoping that someday an opportunity will float into your life. An opportunity that will change your life for the better in a big way.  This is wish mentality. Wish mentality leaves choice and opportunity in the hands of outside influences so that you are basically the victim of whatever comes along.

Path number two is the path of living on purpose. You may not have the power to make some choices today. But living on purpose, you can make intentional choices today that will create excellent choices in your future. You determine where you want to be, or are called to be, in your future. From there you begin to make strategic decisions that will take you there.

“Living on purpose, you can make intentional choices today that will create excellent choices in your future.”

I have chosen path number two.  Because I am a man of faith, getting vision & direction for my life start with prayer. The Bible says “Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths” (Prov 3:5,6).  While I will do research & get as informed as I can with my options, I lean to my heart when it comes to making decisions. If you have a relationship with the Lord Jesus, it is in your heart that He will lead you.

Proverbs 3:5,6  Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths. (KJV)

Thank God, I am not where I used to be. I am no longer a victim, left to the whims of a life I have no control over. I can’t control everything, but I will control all that I can control and I will continue to make a future where good choices and opportunities show up in my life.

It was a choice that was mine alone to make. So it is with you. You don’t have to leave your life to just HAPPEN on it’s own. You also don’t have to turn over the reins to your life and let others take you where they want you to go. This is probably not where you would want to go anyway.

In order to get where YOU want to go, this path choice is a decision that only YOU can make. Truthfully, you and God are the ones who care the most, and have a vested interest in how your future unfolds.  Are you ready to take control of your life?

What’s one choice you can make this week to start you in the direction you want to go?  Share your answer in the comments.

For more content on choices, see Ruth Chang’s TED Talk entitled “How to make hard choices” by clicking here.  It’s about 14 minutes long but pretty well done.

Please share this post with others & help me expand the reach of this blog.

I appreciate you!

How to respond to offence & meanness in others.

Have you ever had a situation spin out of control and the next thing you knew, you were being verbally attacked by an aggressive person?  Maybe you locked horns with someone at work and it escalated into a heated argument. When it was all over and the dust was settling, did you begin to roll it over and over in your mind?  This is usually when all the logic rolls in.  You are suddenly awash with razor wit and remarkable cleverness.  It always seems that in the aftermath of these arguments, we have 10,000 come-backs.

The truth is, we are probably better off that we can’t access this cleverness in the heat of the argument.  Who knows what damage we could actually do.

This week I shot a video about this.  Jesus said offences would come.  That’s one of His promises that no one wants to receive.  What is the right way to deal with offence?  How should we handle ourselves when we’re in the thick of it?

I think we’ve all been in situations like this, and we have all walked away wondering if we handled it well.  I know that sometimes I have walked away certain that I didn’t.  This video gives us some guidelines for some appropriate ways to respond.

Remember –

  1. Forgive!  This has to be first.  This opens the door for God to move in our situation.
  2. Push the offense to the sidelines and ignore it.  There are people who bash me about being a Christian.  Guess what?  I’m not going to stop!  I have to push their opinions of me to the margins and ignore them.  I can’t let them hinder me from moving forward.
  3. Put your eyes back on the mission.  It was the joy that was set before Jesus that pulled Him through the cross & the shame and now He’s set at the right hand of God.  Your mission will pull you forward too! But you have to keep your eyes on it and not on the weights and sin that can slow you down and stop you.

What tips can you share that you have used to successfully deal with the meanness of others?   Please join the conversation.

Also – If you know anyone who would benefit from hearing this, please share.

Art

If you can slow down and do this, you can avoid a future full of regret.

In his anger he shouts “I don’t (cuss)ing care what you say! You need to get off of my back and stop trying to run my (cuss)ing life! You need to fix your own mess before you try to fix me!” In exasperation John picks up his coat and storms out of the house. He only hesitates long enough to slam the door on his way out, leaving his mom standing in the middle of the living room crying. “She won’t let up.” He thought as he stomped off the porch steps. John’s mom had been pushing him to get a job. She really wanted him to enroll in community college but he said he wanted a break first before he rolled into the “Real World”.

John had been staying in his room gaming for weeks now and hadn’t done anything except eat, hang out with his friends & borrow money since graduating from high school four months ago. She wanted more for him and she expected more from him. So she pushed him. She didn’t want to be a nag but she really wanted to see some forward motion. That brings us to this moment. The moment John is walking down his street thinking about how he had just exploded a few minutes ago and said all those hurtful things to his mom.

His mom had been single for many years now and had been raising him on her own. She was committed to doing her absolute best to raise her son up to be a good man. She often wondered and feared that her best might not be enough. She had recently had her own relationship go bad and she was still getting over that. She had no idea that John would use that to hurt her, but he did…just now.

As John walked, his conscience began to bother him. He knew he had gone too far. He didn’t mean it. He didn’t know why he said it. He was just mad and lost control. He was sorry but was unsure what to do next and he didn’t know how to make it right. Now shame was beginning to creep in. He began to tear up. “Why do I have to be such a jerk!” He said out loud in an anger that was now aimed at himself.

Few things can compare to knowing what to do.

 

We’ve all done what John did. We’ve been in situations where we have allowed the pressure to build until we’ve just “blasted off”, vented our anger, said mean things and hurt people we care about. We would probably also all agree that while we as individuals are not necessarily mean people, we just get caught up in the moment and react badly.

To be sure, even as I write this, I still deal with the temptation to think and say the wrong thing because of the heightened stress of a situation. I caught myself just this last week letting something slip out of my mouth and then quickly having to try to recover and minimize the damage because of my poor reaction to pressure.

This matters because we’ve all said or done things that we regret and wish we could change. If a person can get this, they can live with no regrets.  So what’s to be done?

Prov 21:3 says – Whoso keepeth his mouth and his tongue keepeth his soul from troubles.  The World English Bible (WEB) says it this way – Whoever guards his mouth and his tongue keeps his soul from troubles.

To guard or to keep imply that you are watching for because you are expecting trouble.  When it comes to our mouths, this could not be more true.

James the Apostle said – For in many things we offend all. If any man offend not in word, the same is a perfect man, and able also to bridle the whole body. The New Living Translation (NLT) says it this way – Indeed, we all make many mistakes. For if we could control our tongues, we would be perfect and could also control ourselves in every other way.

The bottom line is that we are the ones responsible for our words.  We are to make sure our words don’t offend or hurt.  Some have said “God, Why did you let me say that?” – but we should not be asking God to do something that He has told us to do.  He will help, strengthen and empower you but it’s you who must do the doing.

Set your standards before the moment so you don’t waiver in the moment.  This one truth has helped me so much in this area.  I try to run all things that happen in my life through the filter of the Word of God and if I can, I want to establish my thinking in advance.  One definition I’ve heard for Wisdom is “The skillful use of knowledge.”  In the 24th chapter of the book of Proverbs, the writer talks about the field & garden of the foolish & lazy.  He says in verse 32 “I saw and considered it well: I looked on it and received instruction.”  That’s the take-away.  Consideration.  If we will establish in advance how we will act when the heat is on, then it eliminates all the choices we might have to make when the heat is on.  Can you see the truth here?

I heard a story many years ago about a man who was called to testify in court against the man he worked for.  He was told that if he lied and protected his boss, he would be richly rewarded.  When the time came for this man to testify, he simply told the truth.  His teenage son talked to him about it later and commented that it must have been a tough choice to make with the possibility of all that money hanging in front of him.  The dad simply told his son that the choice wasn’t tough at all because he had made it many years ago when he decided that he wouldn’t tell lies.

Consider in advance and set your standards before the moment, so you won’t waiver in the moment.

If this post has helped you this week, I would ask you to please share it with those you know who it might also help.  I really appreciate your support in helping me reach those who can benefit.

Have a most excellent week!

Art

Your Success Is Closer Than You Think.

When I was younger, I was always looking for the magic bullet.  The truth, thing, event or person that would solve my problem. Then, presto – all the tumblers would just fall into place, the door would open, the birds would sing…Hello Easy Street!  If you are anything like me, you find yourself looking for the hack.  I like hacks, easy ways of doing difficult things.  I really like finding a better way to do almost anything.

Dart board bullseye

While that “Magic Bullet” idea may be pretty unrealistic, your success and victory are closer than you think. What if I told you that you could improve your life, build strong relationships and enhance important ones, now. You wouldn’t even have to pay separate processing and handling to get two for the price of one. While this is worth a lot, it’s absolutely free. Well, kind of.

How you might ask?

By doing what you know to do. That’s right. You and I already know that there are things we should be doing. We already know that there are things we should be quitting. We  already know that there are things we should be and should NOT be saying. How do I know so much about this you may be asking?  Because I deal with it too. But I recognize that we are limiting our own success and happiness in many ways because we are not doing what we know to do.

True, there are probably plenty of things you ARE doing that you know you should, but we all seem to have things that we either don’t want to do or we are simply afraid to do. Maybe we have a deep notion that we need to reach out to a loved one who has grown distant, but we’re afraid of rejection or making things worse. Maybe we are yielding to personal immaturity and are trying to punish a loved one for a past hurt. Either way, we really know what needs to be done, we’re just not doing it. It takes guts but…do what you know to do.

James 4:17 in the BBE says a Man who has knowledge of how to do good and does not do it, to him it is sin.

You can even take it a step further by doing ALL you know to do.

When I was a younger man, I lost my license. Yep, the state said “That’s enough out of you”.  As time went by, it became a real problem in my life. I prayed about it but I also feared it. It was a big mystifying problem and I didn’t know what to do. I remember the night I got my breakthrough. I didn’t hear an audible voice but it was a still small voice deep down inside me.  Here’s what I heard, “Have you done all you can do?” I thought about that for a few seconds and I realized that there was really only one step that I could take that was small enough to actually take. That was to pay the $40 reinstatement fee. Everything else was just too big and scary. I knew that paying the reinstatement fee was something that I should be doing after I had resolved all the other things, but it was literally all I could do. So I did it!

A couple of weeks later I got a phone call from the State that had my license, asking me why I had sent them a $40 check. I told the lady on the phone that I didn’t know how to fix my problem but I was taking the only step I could see to take. She then began to unravel the whole problem for me and in just a few minutes, I had a clear road-map to get completely out from under the suspension and get my license back. It was just a few weeks later that I was able to go to the Department of Motor Vehicles and get my license. I know I’ve talked about this before but I just can’t encourage you enough. If it seems too big and mysterious, take that step that you can see to take. Begin doing not only what you know to do, but start doing ALL you know to do.

It helps me to break things down into steps. Steps allow me to make incremental progress and at the same time record little wins that help me keep my fire stoked.

  1. Decide. You need to make a decision that you will not hold back anymore. A lot of the pain and suffering that we experience is partially in our control. Often, we have the power to make it better if we would just quit holding out, waiting for someone else to make the first move. Decide to do.
  2. Pray. Ask the Lord for guidance. How should you move forward? He knows. Two things you can be sure of. If you are going to do it His way, Love will be in your words and your actions. And, you will do it by faith. You will not necessarily see immediate results. You will have to walk and stand by Faith.
  3. Make a list. Honesty Time! Write down the areas where you know you’re not doing all you know to do. It’s important because once you get it down, you can now start to make a plan of action. I will often write it down and then work backwards, asking myself questions & writing down the answers to get clarity about how to move forward. This also gives me something to physically mark off when I’ve followed through and completed a step. Great victories are compiled of lots of little wins

If you are dealing with difficult or broken relationships, YOU take responsibility to make the first move.  You may be surprised at how little it takes to make a huge difference.  You will at the very minimum be able to breath easier knowing that the distance between you and them is no longer because of you.  You have done what you know to do and ALL that you know to do.  Also, by acting by Faith, you are giving God an open door to get into your business and work supernaturally.

What steps could you take that would help you move from being a hearer to being a doer this week? I would encourage you to write down at least two actionable items & make it your goal this week to follow through and be a doer. Join the conversation & leave your comment.

Recommended reading = James 1.

I love our community and I look forward to more awesome interactions with you all in the coming year!

Happy New Year!

Art

What It Really Takes To Be Fearless.

Have you ever gotten yourself in over your head? You said yes to something, maybe it was a job or something similar, and the next thing you knew, you were looking up at the surface of the water. Maybe you got your dream job but then realized that you had to work with people you were reasonably sure was related to Satan. You find yourself swimming in a tank full of sharks.

When I left my home, my old job, my family & friends to move to a new city and go to Bible school, it felt a little like starting a new life. I was launching out into the plan of God for my life & I was very excited for what the future held. I was certain that I was on the right path. I knew it was right. I emphasize this because it wasn’t too many days later, that the rear end started going out in my truck. Back in my hometown, I knew where to go for the parts. If I didn’t have the ability, I knew several people close by who could advise and help me fix it. Here, I didn’t know anyone and I didn’t know where the honest mechanic was. I ended up deciding to replace the truck but I didn’t know where the good used cars were sold. I checked the paper but there were not very many listings. I was stuck. I was hundreds of miles away from the community where I knew where everything was. Now, I didn’t know what to do.

The Fearless Path

One Saturday, I went to the store with my family. While they went into the store, I just stayed in the van and laid the seat back. I closed my eyes and I just sank. I was so consumed by this problem that I was beginning to get a little fearful. All the sudden, these words drifted up from my spirit. “Reckon on the faithfulness of God”. I had read that phrase in a book. I thought about it and the more I thought on it, the better things began to look. “Reckon on the faithfulness of God”. Then I began to remember. When God leads, He empowers. Remember Peter getting out of the boat & walking on the water? The main thing he was walking on was the word “Come” that Jesus had spoken to him. If God led me all the way out here to go to Bible school, He also empowered me to be successful. My faith began to surge. I had the realization that the car I needed was already here…somewhere. I just needed to listen, be led & find it. I believe with all of my heart that the provision for my life is found on God’s chosen path for me. I just need to stay on the path. God loves me too much to leave me shipwrecked. He wants me to succeed more than I even know. I immediately changed what I had been saying. I was saying that I didn’t know what to do. Now I declared that “My God shall supply all of my needs according to His riches in Glory by Christ Jesus” (Phil 4:19). The provision was there somewhere. We ended up just a few days later finding a really nice car that was way more than we had hoped for and it was a very affordable price. Remembering God’s love pushed fear out of my mind. My faith was strengthened. God is faithful.

There have been days on the job where problems were so abundant that it seemed like all I did was put out fires all day long. You get to the end of the day absolutely exhausted but it doesn’t look like there’s anything to show for it. In times like these, I have gone out to my car during my lunch break and again, I would lean the seat back & just thank God for the abiding presence of the Holy Spirit.

I learned a long time ago that the Holy Spirit is the difference maker. When I’m facing a situation and I don’t measure up, He makes up the difference. He strengthens me in every situation if I will follow Him. But its not just being strengthened, it’s being made strong enough. He is enough. He causes me to not only meet but exceed & be victorious in every situation. The King James Bible calls Him the comforter. Comforter = strengthener. He makes us adequate for the task. What task? The one you’re facing. He is faithful.

It’s through absolute dependence on Him that we can be fearless. I know that when I’m following Him and leaving nothing undone that I know I’m supposed to do, If it’s not enough, He makes up the difference. That’s why we can truly say “In all these things, we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us” Rom 8:37).

I want to encourage you this week to look to Him for strength. He will help you with the smallest of things. He cares about the details of your life.

In what ways have you seen God work in your own life? Please testify by leaving a comment.

A Father’s Heart to His Daughters.

I thought long and hard about what to write today. I decided to write this post for my two daughters. As my youngest turns 21, my thoughts turn to the past. I was reminiscing about some of the fun times we’ve all had over the years and I also remember many times where we would just talk.  These “Talks” would often just happen and sometimes last for hours.  It wasn’t anything that was planned, they would usually bring up something that they saw or that had happened to them and it would be the start of a great conversation. Often we would talk about what was right and how to move forward.  I was able to instill into them some of the truths that I have come to know.  My girls would laugh because I would be in “teacher” mode and wouldn’t even realize it.

Hands & flowers

As their father, I don’t want to be there for them for the rest of my life, I want to be there for them for the rest of their lives. This isn’t likely to be the way things play out though, so – I wrote this post.

Ladies. As you’ve grown up you’ve had my voice in your ears and sometimes echoing in your head when I wasn’t around, giving you instruction, encouragement & correction. I decided that what I really wanted to write was something that could help you. Something from me that could help you be strong and encourage you. Something that you could go back to from me that would be here beyond me.

I’m not perfect but you already know that. Nonetheless, I have always tried to be the best example I could be. I am relentless in trying to make my words and my actions match. I have always wanted you to see in me, a living example of the things I’ve been teaching you. What I believe, I believe whole heartedly. I am convinced that I have found things in life that are worth passing on to you and I refuse to let you find your own way without telling you what I have already learned. I pray always that you have the ears to hear them and the strength of character to let them work in you too.

I want you to know above all else, how much I love you. I also want you to know that my love for you is unconditional and not based on your performance. Most of your choices are excellent and I can see wisdom working in you. A few of your choices have not always made me proud, but I believe in your right to make them. I have found also that many of the things you have done that I would not have done if it were up to me, ended up being right. It proves once again that I don’t know everything.

I have told you this before and I mean it. When everyone else has left you twisting in the wind, as long as I’m here, I will be the one standing behind you helping you. Together we will dig you out of whatever hole you find yourself in. I am always on your side and I will always help you.

I want you to know that I think you are pretty. You got your looks from your mom (thank the Lord).

I want you to see that your physical beauty is only a small part of who you are. The truth about physical beauty is that it’s fleeting. It doesn’t ultimately matter how many blouses, purses, or shoes you have. Eventually you will be putting them on an old person. Don’t build your identity on your beauty because it WILL change and then where will you be? Proverbs 11:22 says “A ring of gold in the nose of a sow – a fair woman and stubborn of behavior” (YLT). In the BBE (Bible in basic English) translation it reads “Like a ring of gold in the nose of a pig, is a beautiful woman who has no sense”. As you can see, the really important stuff about being attractive doesn’t come from the outside. The true quality of a person comes from the inside. Yes, a gold ring is pretty, just make sure everything behind it is awesome too.  This brings me to the next point.

I want you to understand that you not only can, but need to walk in personal discipline. Truthfully, most people don’t really care how you feel. They care about what you do. It’s your actions in life that will be rewarded and/or punished. Think about it. From your earliest school years all the way up to your job today, reward and punishment are based on your performance. What you do. This is important because you need to understand the power of your will. You can choose to act contrary to how you feel. Remember Jesus in the garden of Gethsemane? He didn’t want to go forward. When He said “Nevertheless, not my will but your will be done”, there were two wills at work there and they were NOT the same. He decided to submit Himself to His Father’s will. By doing that He illustrated for us that our will is FAR stronger than our feelings. We can choose to put on a smile and go forward with our day. We can be pleasant and friendly when inside, we don’t feel like it. We can be helpful and kind when inside, we may want to smack people. We can stand by faith when we feel like falling.  Author and speaker Andy Andrews says it like this “Self discipline is the ability to make yourself do something you don’t necessarily want to do, to get a result you would really like to have.”

Acting appropriately when you don’t want to will open you up to more and better opportunities than will be given to those who are lazy, selfish and have an attitude of entitlement. Keep that in mind because no one who ever accomplished anything significant did it by themselves. You will need the favor, guidance and the help of those who have gone ahead of you.

Above all, remember that the value of a thing is based on what someone is willing to pay for it. The Bible says in Leviticus 17:11 that the life of the body is in the blood. That means that the very life of God the son, was shed & spent to purchase you. To redeem or “buy you back” to God and out from under the curse that came from man’s first disobedience. This means that you are immeasurably valuable to God. He loves you, wants the best for you, has designed a wonderful path for you and has given you His Spirit to empower you to live it.

I also want you to remember that you stand in His circle.  Circumstance = the circle you stand in.  You have both been made the Righteousness of God in Christ Jesus.  Because of this right standing with God, you are standing in Jesus’ circle.  His circumstance is that of victor!  He’s given His victory to you!

As I write, I realize that I can’t even scratch the surface. There are many paragraphs that I have removed from this post to keep it reasonably sized. There are also some subjects that need their own post. We can’t give them the attention they require in this post.

Often I pray specifically for you two that you will have the wisdom, understanding & patience to walk your walk. I pray this according to Col 1:9-11.

A special Happy Birthday to my baby girl.  21 today!

I love you both with all my heart.

Dad