Every path has an end, a destination. And if our eyes are open we can see the direction we are headed. Only arrogant, conceited people choose to ignore the counsel of others when they attempt to warn us about the direction our lives have taken. We generally see it as an indictment against our judgment. The reality is that their warnings are born out of concern for us more than anything else.
God’s plan for your life is filled with joy and wholeness, broken and poor is not God’s best for you. That means your path should lead you to healthy relationships and a fulfilling life. When life is littered with negativity look back at the path you have taken. Can you see how you got there?
God does not bless us with curses. He gives us rich, life giving gifts. It is His desire to make His will for your life known to you. It is revealed along the Path. When we veer off the road, we delay God’s plan but never change His purpose. You were born with purpose, created by divine design for the time in which you live. Such a time as this.
So, when you feel life heading towards a dead end, ask yourself… ‘is this the Path for me’ and if you are unsure or uncertain ask God to open your eyes to see if this is the way He would have you to go.
But remember, you must have the courage to change if God says, ‘change directions’.
Life is a routine. Intentional or not, we live our lives in predictable patterns. If your walls could talk, they would give a rundown of your tv viewing patterns. If your car had a voice, it would offer your daily listening pleasures. What we know about life is a complex series of coping mechanisms and behavior patterns working in concert together. And the only way to break the cycle of life is to disrupt it with something that changes the daily cycle.
A while ago, I started making prayer and meditation a core part of my morning routine. That sounds unspiritual but I believe the more we integrate our faith relationship into the rest of our lives, the more fundamental it can become to our lives. You cannot simply engage God on Sunday and expect God’s help the six other days of the week.
Every morning I get out of bed and let the dog out. While I am letting her handle her business, I look to the skies and offer a simple, ‘good morning’. I am convinced God likes the fact that I enjoy communicating with Him in simple ways, just like I would if He were sitting on my porch to greet me with coffee. He is a father concerned about His kids. So I begin my day trying to tap into more of Him and less of me. During my morning prayer, I end my prayers the same way for the last thirteen years. Use this as your guide.
‘Father, You made today and i know You want the best for me. So, whether I laugh or cry, at the end of the day, I will still say thank You’.
In my heart of hearts, I believe God is in control. My job is to experience life without fear of negativity and the arrogance of success. Perspective gives you the freedom to enjoy the journey. So when I begin my day, I am free to be the best that I can be because I have surrendered the struggle of the day back to Him. I want God in every aspect of my life, making me a better husband, father, friend and leader. By beginning my day with Him, I set into motion my ability to be lead by His wisdom in my decision-making, His love in my interactions with people, and His will, in my life..
There are many things on your mind today. And that is ok. Sometimes, life litters your mind, overwhelming it with things to be concerned about. The important thing is that you know you are not alone and that God already knows. Prayer is your chance to pass the burdens of life over to Him, saying ‘I cant handle this’ or ‘I need help’. The challenge we face is trusting God to fix it.
Imagine writing what you are concerned about on a sheet of paper. Then balling it up and letting the wind pull it out your hands. That isnt prayer. Thats blind hope. Real prayer gives you the chance to come into God’s presence and ask for your Heavenly Father’s help. And what father does not help his kid when asked?
This day choose to do something different. Try trusting God today, not as some disconnected spiritual force but as your father in heaven. If you can do all that you do for your kids, imagine what God can and will do for you.
My wife and daughter are enjoying a cruise with my inlaws this week (yea bachelorism). The left Manhattan Saturday and return tomorrow morning. Monday, they landed in Florida and I got the expected call from my wife. Aside from the typical couple talk, here’s the conversation.
Her: I need a new cellphone
Me: silently start apologizing to my budget
Her: Yesterday (sunday), we were at the pool. Kayla wanted to get in, so I sat on the edge. While Kayla swam I noticed a little girl who somehow got in the pool. But it looked like she could not swim. The girl started panicking. Her mom, standing on the edge of the water started screaming for help. [Cruise pools are 4ft 11]. So I jumped in, swam to the girl, and pulled her out.
Me: Thats awesome. You saved her life. What does that have to do with your phone?
Her: My phone jumped in with me.
There used to be a time when Norwegian would say hey, you saved that girl’s life. Let us replace your phone. Or the people at AT&T would offer a discount on replacing the IPhone. The reality is, we used to go out of our way to show our appreciation for others. It used to be, that doing the right thing, simply meant doing the right thing.
What does it say about us that validating the contributions that others make in our lives is seen as unimportant. This is not about the phone nearly as much as it is a microcosm of our redefined values quotient. And the methods we use to express the worth of others.
This weekend is Mothers Day. Dont be too busy to pick up the phone and sayI love you. If you really want to touch her heart why not add to it, thank you.
There is a civil war inside all of us. The best of who we are competes for attention with the worst of who we are. Our best challenges us to make the right choices and do the right things. The worst of us is emotional and inconsistent. It is unreliable and downright dangerous. But it is part of who we are. And ignoring it is like severing part of ourselves off. Through life, the battle is less about the differences between the two of us and more about bringing harmony to both sides of ourselves.
Any coin you see has two sides. Neither side is more valuable than the other. We see each side as part of the same currency. While the worst of us disappoints, the challenge is not to abort it or disconnect ourselves away from it. Most of us prefer to ignore that side of our individual coin because it allows us to pretend like it does not exist. And if we ignore it long enough we build an image of who we are that we can be proud of as opposed to the truth of who we are, which we struggle to accept sometimes.
And so we live this lie, pretending that we are great and that the best of us is who we are all the time. Considering, if the people we let into our worlds, knew the worst of us, it would change the way they see us. And it would. Because we never let them see who we were behind the mask we created.
So many people want more out of life than they have right now. Ambition is not wrong, desiring more is not evil. We may be guilty of pleasure trappings as a society but the drive to pursue is an innocent one. Where we have fallen short or lost our way has to do with the paths we have chosen to see those desires fulfilled. As a young adult, I was a guy who wanted everything but did not really want to work for it. My work ethic was not bad, when I started to work. But if I could find an easier way to do something, I made a beeline for that. It was the early adoption of working less, not smart or hard. I did the minimal amount of work required and that was it.
Over time, you begin to realize that the difference between the successful people and those spectators watching successful people was the work they put in, the quality in it and the quantity of it. People who lived and died via their visions and dreams. They woke up thinking about it, went to sleep dreaming about it. They put the work in. And the more they worked the closer their objectives came into view. They were not satisfied simply with pursuing the dream. They wanted to touch it, feel it. Success could not be obtained until they cross the finish line.
In life, some people get off to tremendous starts. They blast out of the blocks going 100mph but the closer they get to the finish line, the slower they become. Their ability to endure is not nearly as good. They allow distractions and minor issues to affect their productivity. They lose their focus and see how everything, everywhere is wrong. Their’s nothing wrong with starting strong as long as you finish strong. Is the last 10% just as good as the first 10%. It is not about the speed, it is about the form. Is your technique the same, did your attitude hold up or did you lose it along the way? You have to endure the struggle.
Jesus has a great deal of optimism about you. You have the ability to do amazing things if you can endure. He said it would be difficult, that you would have tribulations and trials. There are going to be hard days but do not give up. You can pass the test if you simply endure. This is not about you working smarter than other people. It is about you putting as much seed in the ground today to reap as big a harvest as you can tomorrow. Muscles are not developed by lifting easy weights. Muscles get used when they are stressed and tested. If you truly want more out of life, more out of yourself look at the challenges you face as opportunities to get better, to learn more, to become more.
Thought for the day:
Mountains are formed in the face of valleys. You cannot reach the peak if you dont first endure the valley.
Since I got into ministry, I have rarely touched on sin. It is not because I think it is unimportant. I think it is. The problem for me has always been that I saw the Gospel as a platform for healing and wholeness rather than a method of finding people guilty of their imperfections. I have my own laundry list and have always found God’s grace met me where I was and continues with me inspite of my mental hiccups. I choose or feel led to build people rather than hanging a condemned notice on the front door of their lives.
I did not start this way. In fact I felt quite ashamed of my problems until I found out that I was not alone. The Apostle Paul had issues too. And he was so bothered by them he pleaded with God to remove what he called a thorn in his flesh. While we do not know exactly was bothering him, we can say it was not an injury. Paul had an issue and he had been unable to overcome it, beat it, or get over it. Sound familiar?
Paul did what all of us should do. He asked God for help. ‘Hey God, I need You’. God’s answer was not what Paul wanted to hear. God chose not to heal Paul, responding, ‘My grace is sufficient’. Paul was asking for help to overcome an issue but God chose to allow the issue to remain.
It did not affect Paul’s ministry or his relationship with Jesus. In fact it strengthened it. In life, we will all have challenges. Some we can handle. Others not so much. The thing that this teaches us is that God is focused more on your heart than your issues. My daughter will one day do something that angers me. But I will not disown her. She belongs to me. And every ounce of her being comes from my wife and I. So if I’m that committed to her, how much more committed to is is our God.
God’s grace is sufficient. We have issues, all of us. Some we are more comfortable about than others. The fact that God chose to leave Paul with his thorn is not an indictment against Paul. It is a judgment about God’s grace. And He rendered all of us ACCEPTED into His family. And that’s 4ever./
All of us have people in our lives who have tremendous influence and impact on us. So important is this group of people, that the first piece of advice (proverb) that a king gives to his son is about the foolishness of friends. Friends can cause you to turn left when you feel like turning right. They can lead you in one direction or another. Friends function like banks in our lives, depositing their influences into us. I remember looking at a guy I considered a really good friend. However, his life did not line up with the life I was starting to build.
Ultimately, it is our choices to choose the kind of people we let into our space. You must monitor this space to make sure those in your inner circle need to be there. Just because they have been there all our lives do not mean they need to be there for the rest of our lives. Look at your friends, are they encouraging you to step out and pursue a dream or are they telling you why it will not work? Are they on the sidelines looking for ways to help you? Or are they on the sidelines screaming for you to get out the game.
Inside our friend relationships is dynamic we struggle with. We are much quicker to call someone a friend than we need to be. Being called a friend should be a significant and valuable commentary on that person’s role in your life. When a person does not measure up, it simply makes them an acquaintance, not a friend. An acquaintance is someone you spend a little time with, that you share a little of yourself with. A friend is someone you are more open to, most transparent with. You as an individual must learn to monitor your personal relationships. You must restrict access to parts of your life. Foolish people should not have a voice in your marriage, your career, your family or your future.
Just because they are good to you does not mean they are good for you.
All of us have a group of people we do life with. At some churches, a great deal of emphasis has been placed on small groups and they are awesome tools for investing in relationships. I’m a big believer in separating friends and acquaintances. We should know and understand the difference between the two. But when I talk about LifeTeams, I’m not talking about if you have a group of friends are not. A LifeTeam is your designated group that you look to through life for accountability and encouragement. The difference between a friend and LifeTeam member is the fact that you hold them accountable for their roles in your life. Which means you function as the general manager of your personal LifeTeam.
A general manager in sports is responsible for hiring a head coach and putting a roster together. Most of us believe Jesus is the head coach of our lives. With that settled it moves to building our team roster. Unfortunately, everyone cannot be on your team. Neither can you be on everyone’s. In order to effectively manage your team, you have to know who is focused on you reaching your full potential, who will hold you accountable for the decisions you make and who will pick you up when you have fallen flat on your face. Some of our best friends struggle with holding us accountable. They are great for encouragement but terrible at telling us we cannot do something.
I prefer having a team of no more than seven people. I think that is the number of people you can manage to allow deep enough into your life that will provide you the infrastructure you need. On the other hand, a team of less than three would be unproductive because you do not have a wide enough pool of people with vast experiences to offer your sound wisdom in your life choices.
Understand the point of a LifeTeam. They are not here to be your friend, pacifying you is not good for you. Your LifeTeam will play many roles in your life. They will be there to help you clarify a position, focus your attention, as well as help you develop as an individual. I struggle with people who enjoy being the richest, smartest, best person on their team. In fact, I think you do yourself a disservice if you are doing the best on your team. You should be doing less than the average of your team. Believe me, it is alot easier to reach somewhere if people around you have already been there.
Ultimately, building a personal LifeTeam comes down to you placing a priority on surrounding yourself with an advisory board, a board of directors who are invested in your long term success. These people come because they care about you not because they need anything from you. You must be willing to be transparent in front of them and give them your entire balance sheet, the wins and the losses. You cannot be a secret keeper from them. Their time is too valuable to allow your issues to get in the way of what they strive to do. They would much rather resign their place from your life if they see their time being wasted.