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Personal Limits

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A thought: Everyone has limits – and that isn’t a bad thing – it’s simply true.

Examine your capabilities…maybe you see in yourself a mad pursuit of one thing and then another. Stop.

Maybe you’re in a place where by faith you are prepared to trust that God has ordered your steps according to his own purposes. If that is so, then be patient and enjoy life as God gives it.

If on the other hand your limitations are self-imposed, then do something about it and move on with your new life. How can you do that you ask?

First: Focus Your Mind on Christ. Concentrate on him. If you look beyond whatever is going on in your life you will find Christ. Have you ever wondered how Christ made it through the pain and agony of the cross? He did a couple of things that you can do as well. First, pray – actually cry out. “He cried out to the one who was able to save him and he was heard because of his reverent submission.” No one gets a hall pass from learning obedience. Second, submit to God’s will. “Although he was a son, he learned obedience from what he suffered….” Heb. 5:7-8. Third, focus on the joy set before you. “…who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame…” Heb. 12: 3 So, focus your heart. Truth is that you can put up with anything so long as you have focus: cross, shame, whatever. 

Second: Run with Perseverance. Don’t run aimlessly. That’s how Jesus did it. Keep your eyes on the finish line. “Run the race marked out for us.” Heb. 12:1 In other words live life intentionally. Do you know what race you are supposed to be running? Have you noticed the markers?

Third: Throw off everything that is hindering you. Like a runner, strip down and commence to running. Just take the next step. For sure, dump sin: whether its attitudes or habits, dump them…because they are weighing you down unnecessarily. About the sin thing…Jesus said if your hand causes you to sin, cut it off…you’ve read that before (Matthew 5:30). Obviously, don’t actually cut off your hand! Jesus meant that we should deal drastically with sin…as is necessary. He is addressing how you think and what you love. Hey, even a blind man can lust. Most of all, he knew that the more you love the Lord, the more you will seek to please him.

“Moreover, when God gives someone wealth and possessions, and the ability to enjoy them, to accept their lot and be happy in their toil—this is a gift of God. 20 They seldom reflect on the days of their life, because God keeps them occupied with gladness of heart.” – Ecclesiates 5:19-20

 
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Posted by on April 17, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

Mind Your Head

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“Mind Your Head,” the sign read. Not that it mattered because I wasn’t paying attention. I was having so much fun in London, certainly not reading signs and the next thing I knew, “WHACK!” I had hit my head…and it really hurt! Then I saw the sign but it was too late.

“No duh!” I thought. Have you ever done something like hit your head and then get mad like it was someone else’s fault? Only there was no one to blame but you. The sign would have been more useful had I read it before I nearly knocked myself out. There should have been second sign that read, “Told you so.”

Life is a lot like that…just when things are going fantastic, you can become complacent so that you ignore the most obvious signs. Recently, Justin Miller, lead pastor of Real Life Christian Church, gave our team a heads up on three destructive behaviors. Sometimes you may think that nothing can stop you or go wrong for the simple reason that things are currently going so well. Here’s a heads up on what can derail your life and plans…in a big way.

Warning: Please don’t make this all about “church” or “spiritual things” – that would be an enormous miscalculation. The truths mentioned below are just true. If you want to wreck a church, family, friendship or company, ignore these signs. But you don’t want to do that, so here we go.

First, Secret sin will stop you. Don’t live in sin. That is don’t practice sin so that you’re getting good at it and growing your appetite for it. What Achan did in the story of Joshua (chp. 7) was calculated. He knew personally that what he was doing was wrong and his family thought it was a way of getting ahead. Truth was ignored so by the end of that story Achan was aching. The worst part is that his self-centered behavior ruined his family as well. This was a community deal. What is done in secret will be shouted from the rooftop. Everyone suffered because Achan and his family ignored the sign. Don’t be that guy.

Second, Selfish ambition will stop you. If you stand for gossip in your family or backstabbing in your business then look out! Not everybody that you pay is for you and wants you to do well. Not everyone wearing the uniform wants to be on the team; sometimes they’re there because they get a check. And the thing is, as the leader you need to do something about that. Jesus said that there would be wolves among you…people with an agenda. Watch out for those people…and, don’t be one of those people with a secret agenda. If being where you are is all about you, don’t be surprised if it doesn’t end well.

Third, Schisms will stop you. Jesus said a “house divided” couldn’t stand. Not that it would struggle to stand. Not that it would have a hard time standing. No. He said that when there are schisms or divisions you would not stand. Be very careful with hallway conversations and water-cooler conversations. Lots of leaders have ignored the signs of division in hopes that they would just “go away.” Those leaders have suffered for ignoring the signs. Listen, whether or not information about someone is true: gossip, slander, undercutting leaders and co-workers are still divisive behaviors and are therefore a threat to the existence of your family, business, church, or school.

Whenever I witness such consistent negative behaviors in someone, I imagine a sign hanging over his or her head that reads, “I don’t really want to be here.” Don’t misunderstand me…Critics are not all bad or wrong. They’re just critics! When your critics are right, set aside your pride long enough to make some personal changes. However, as Miller said, “I don’t mind having critics, I just don’t want to employ them.” If you are a leader, and you have noticed a consistent negative pattern, then it may be time to release that certain someone to their future.

I hope that everything is going great in your life: marriage, business, church, friends, family, financially. I also hope that your team is pulling in one direction together.

Now…Mind Your Head!

 

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Active Waiting

eagle02I woke up at 4:15am with Isaiah 40:31 rehearsing itself in my mind.  “Those who wait on the Lord will renew their strength.”

Recently, I met a man who was at the end of his hope and he came to the church building looking for help.  He was asking for a hand up, not a hand out.  He needed hope in the worst way.  He had hoped that there would be more work in his field of construction, but that was scarce.  He had hoped that the relationship with his fiancé would be stronger but it was falling apart.  He had hoped that he could provide for his daughters but times were tough.  He was in distress and needed something to grab onto.  So I recommended that he do what so many others and I have done and that is, turn to the source of all hope.  So we did and he seemed to be encouraged.

Anyway, as I was waking up to Isaiah’s voice the only thought I had is that his words are true!  My strength has been renewed.  The word Isaiah that is translated “renew” literally means “to exchange” like changing into a new set of clothes.

Whatever you are hoping in as a source for your hope, peace, or joy can be exchanged for hope in the Lord.  That promise is for anyone.  Your weakness will give way to God’s strength.

“He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.”

I know lots of people who need their strength renewed.  Maybe you are one of them.  I know quite a few people who have set out on a course only to discover that the plan didn’t quite happen the way they thought it would.

The prophet is speaking to you through time to remind you that you that, in the Lord have a never-ending source for hope.  To hope in the Lord means to trust in or look expectantly to the Lord.  When you hope in the Lord you will not be disappointed.

What would be wrong if you actively waited on the Lord to renew your strength?

 
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Posted by on February 18, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

Examine Yourself

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An environment of tolerance is a funny thing because in such an environment, intolerance is not tolerated. Weird.

I’ve thought it might be helpful, or at least fun, to say to people who are intolerant of intolerance, “Sorry you think its intolerant of me to not tolerate your intolerance,” but then that comment may come across a bit, shall we say, snide.

What is the opposite of tolerance? Is it intolerance? No. I think the opposite of tolerance might be caring. When you genuinely care about ideals you have about people and things, then you will appropriately stand for truth. Yet, this gets you to the root of the problem…doesn’t it? All to often you may not be clear about what is truth. Here’s the truth…

Tolerate something long enough and it becomes acceptable.

Accept something long enough and it becomes familiar.

And if it’s familiar long enough – it becomes right – even righteous.

At this point everyone does what is right in his own eyes. It happened to God’s Old Testament people (Judges 17:6; 21:25) and it can happen to you. It can happen to you but it doesn’t have to happen to you. Just be careful what you tolerate!

Not everything we tolerate is a sin or national crisis. Sometimes we tolerate “dumb” stuff. Some examples might help: If you Tolerate laziness, in yourself or anyone, and what do you hope to gain? If you Tolerate overspending, then eventually you may have to live with her children named poverty and hardship – and they have an insatiable appetite! If you Tolerate people misbehaving in your life/world, anyone, then you likely will live in chaos, conflict, strive and serious avoidance.

It begins with building a tolerance for something…anything. That is usually accomplished by allowing existence or practice of something without interference. Often it is tolerating something that you do not necessarily like or agree with. You just tolerate it. You allow it to exist or to be practiced without interference. Why would you do that? Good question? What’s the answer? Is it…Fear of rejection/Desire for acceptance…Lack of courage…Laziness…Avoiding conflict? Your guess is as good as mine.

The point is that you can and probably should examine what and why you tolerate stuff.

“That’s All Folks!”

Oh…almost forgot, a couple of scriptures for you to contemplate:

1. “For a man’s ways are in full view of the Lord, and he examines all his paths.” – Proverbs 5:21. You can be sure that the Lord is paying attention to your steps.

2. “Now the Bereans were of more noble character than the Thessalonians, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true.” – Acts 17:11. Before you accept something as true examine it through the lens of scripture.

3. “A man ought to examine himself before he eats of the bread and drinks of the cup.” – 1 Corinthians 11:28. Communion is a time when you should examine your life and relationship with God and others as well.

4. Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves. Do you not realize that Christ Jesus is in you—unless, of course, you fail the test? – 2 Corinthians 13:5. Notice that the pronoun yourselves is used twice…this is to emphasize the idea that you should start looking more at your self than at others.

 
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Posted by on February 14, 2014 in Bible Verse, Goal Setting, Leadership

 

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Impossible-Hard-Inevitable Stuff

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Speak of the impossible and someone might say: “It’s not impossible – it just hasn’t been done yet.”

As true as that might be, you sometimes face situations that you feel are impossible.

Or perhaps inevitable might be a better word to describe some situations. You feel like something is inevitable and hard at the same time and you would like nothing more than to avoid that situation. Maybe you know what I’m talking about.

When you are in a hard-inevitable situation, have you ever asked God for something impossible, such as stopping the inevitable? Me too! In fact, whenever Jesus came face to face with the hard, yet inevitable suffering and death by crucifixion, he did as well. In fact, the way he talked to God in that moment has often guided the difficult prayers that I have prayed. More precisely, the prayers were not difficult, but the circumstances in which I found myself were indeed difficult.

The model I personally use in such times is Jesus’ prayer(s) in Gethsemane. To say that he was facing a difficult situation would be the understatement of all time. “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death” were his exact words. You’ve heard his words but have you noticed the clarity?

First read his prayer…then pray your prayer following his example.

“Abba, Father,” he said, “everything is possible for you. Take this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will.” Mark 14:36

First, pray intimately. After all you are speaking to your heavenly Father.

Second, pray expecting that God can and will answer…acknowledge his power: “Everything is possible for you.”

Third, pray specifically. Don’t be chicken. Don’t concern yourself with how it sounds. You’re talking to your Father and you are desperate! Pray! Ask! Seek! Knock!

Finally, pray better than you are. All I mean by that is this: when life is said and done you will be glad that you lived in God’s will. You will never regret asking that God’s will be done before your own. So in every bold prayer say this: “Yet (even though I have asked for some things I would like/prefer) not what I will, but what you will be done.” Accept his will above your own.

I learned from a wise woman…and sometimes it is this simple: “You have not because you ask not.”

 
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Posted by on February 12, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

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Word of the Year

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2014 Word of the Year

Imagine that you are at December 31, 2014.

What would have had to happen for you to say that it was the most successful year of your life? What word would you use to describe the year as you look back on it?

For example, Words such as…Courage. Value. Outstanding. Determined. These are the words our family members chose for 2014. Some of us thought of the word relatively quickly; others needed a little time to think about it. Step one is to choose your Word.

Once you’ve determined your Word of the Year, try writing a sentence using your special word. Don’t feel like you have to settle for the first tries. Listen to phrases in songs, movies and conversations. In time it will come to you.

Your sentence might be something like this.

If your word is Outstanding you might say: “My year was outstanding because I poured superior and excellent effort in the people I met and the things I did.”

If your word is Courageous you might say: “I lived courageously by trying new things and exploring new opportunities.”

If your word is Determined you might say: “I was determined and therefore I succeeded far beyond what I could have imagined.”

If your word is Value you might say: “I spent time in things and with people that added value to my life and I added value to others.”

I think that you get the point. Now, what about you? If you want a fun exercise ask everyone in your family to think of a word that can guide his or her decision-making this year. And then maybe take it a step further and think of a scripture or meaningful passage that will remind you of your special word.

One more thought: If other family or friends have a Word of The Year, be intentional to use the word in your compliments to them. This will help to keep their word alive! After all, the point is not to merely have a word but to live by it.

Also…remember to put your goals for the year into writing…that’s another blog. Let your Word of the Year inform how you go about accomplishing your goals.

 
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Posted by on February 7, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

If This Desk Could Talk

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Senator’s Drafting Table, 1911

My drafting table tends to generate a lot of discussion. Maybe you own something that does as well. I have secretly wondered what this desk would say if it could talk.

I usually get two questions right out of the gate. Do you stand to work? And, how old is the desk; where did you find it?

Do I stand to work? Often, yes. Why? Preference, I guess.

Where did I find the drafting table? Believe it or not, Beth found this drafting table at a garage sale in Oviedo, Florida in February, 2004. For years I had wanted a standup desk but building one was cost prohibitive. The seller, Rebecca Salley was asking $100, which we gladly paid. Beyond its sturdy craftsmanship which includes tongue-in-groove corners and three locking drawers (with skeleton key), what is most fascinating is the history of the desk.

It was owned by George W. Bland of West Virginia. He was a senator from 1911-1914 for the 12th district of West Virginia. That earned him the nickname “Senator,” which is how his friends referred to him the rest of his life. Rebecca Salley, the lady from whom we bought the desk, is related to the “Senator.”

At my request, she wrote to her father, Mr. Bland’s grandson, to inquire about the history of the drafting table. This is what he had to say about the it.

“Grandpa Bland was an Abstract Lawyer for Standard Oil Co. of New Jersey owned by John D. Rockefeller. He worked 32 years for the same company. He would go to the courthouse in any county where the company was trying to lease oil rights and check the title to be clear to be leased by this particular person. If all was OK he would draw up a map or blue print of the area for the company on this drafting table. It was always in the attic as long as I can recall.”

“Grandpa Bland was born December 31, 1866 at home in Blandville, WV, the family farm. He died June 14, 1941 when I was three years old and I do remember him and the funeral, which was in his home. His casket was in the office, first room to the left coming in the front door. He took me to Oscar`s for my first haircut. He died at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota. He had a kidney removed due to cancer and was doing fine for several days but died suddenly from a blood clot.”

“John Davis who ran for president in 1924 from Clarksburg, was a friend of Grandpa’s. I remember in the middle room in the attic, back to the window on the drafting table was a letter from William Jennings Bryant who also ran for president three times. In the letter he was thanking grandpa and ma for the hospitality while he was campaigning in the area and letting him stay there at Eastover, the name of the house where Grandpa lived and I grew up. I have no pictures of Bryant.”

See what I mean? If this desk could talk…

Note: The brown Stetson cowboy hat hanging to the left of the standup desk was given to me by my brother-in-law, Theo Jones. He purchased it on Whiskey Row in Prescott, AZ from a store that was going out of business. The hat is made from beaver felt and was made in the 1950′s. It’s the real deal!

 
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Posted by on February 5, 2014 in Inspirational Stories

 

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