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Time Escapes

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“Time Escapes” by Ashley Holland, Acrylic on Canvas

My dad was a preacher and my role model.  One of the things he modeled to me was coming up with a theme for the coming year.  This has proven to be a great habit that keeps time from becoming elusive and escaping.  For example, “Knees to the Floor in ’74” was one of dad’s themes.  He would then use that as the theme of our annual New Year’s Eve youth rally in Winslow, Arizona, where I grew up during elementary and middle school, to kick-start the New Year.  Then for the entirety of 1974 he focused on understanding and integrating prayer into his teaching and daily life.  It was a lot of fun even if at times a bit cheesy.  I have tried to follow his example of having a theme each year in my own life, albeit without his flare for rhyming.

Write Your Personal Theme for 2017

My primary thought for 2016 has been Solomon’s wisdom:  “Above all else, guard your heart for it is the wellspring of life.” (Proverbs 4:23)  That wisdom has captured my imagination because it means that the most important leadership tool I have is something other than my experience, knowledge, skill or network.  Each of those qualities matter for sure, but the more important and lasting concern is the health of my heart because that is the beginning point of everything else in my life.  I encourage you to write down your personal theme for 2017 which might be a word or scripture or quote.

“Life can only be understood backwards; but it must be lived forwards.”― Soren Kierkegaard

Think New Thoughts 

Let your thoughts be guided by your theme for 2017. According to Solomon, the beginning point for a new life is a new heart!  It stands to reason that when you learn to think in a new way, that you will start to live in a new way.  A person’s mindset is the beginning point for a new life.  Our mindset is the sum of our beliefs and thoughts.  Having a theme is helpful because it helps you to become an observer of yourself.  For example, does what you say and do reflect your new thoughts?

Be You 

Another reason I have focused on that verse is that what I feel and think in my heart is who I truly am.  That is what I need to pay attention to.  I am not what I am outwardly but what I am inwardly.  I’m not necessarily who others think I am but rather who I am in my heart.  I may put on a good face for others to see, but that is not necessarily who I am.  I am what I think, say and do in private.  Haven’t you noticed that what is private today often becomes public tomorrow?  And so, I’ve paid close attention this past year to the set point of my heart.  When necessary, I’ve worked to reset my heart in the same way that we reset the thermostat in our homes.  The temperature in our homes always returns to the set point.  That’s always been the case for God’s people.  God always does his part.  He just needs us to do our part by guarding our heart.

As 2016 comes to a close and a new year is on the horizon, let’s guard our hearts, hope in the Lord, enjoy the journey, plan well, apply wisdom and see what good things the Lord provides in 2017.

https://danholland2819.wordpress.com/2013/06/07/want-to-make-a-difference/

 

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The Flow of Time

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Time stood still on 9/11.  The depth of cruelty, hatred and evil of mankind was displayed for the world to see.  However, in the days that followed millions determined that the power and richness of human compassion, love and goodness would ultimately redeem the day.

Many lessons were learned.  Among them is that life and time are precious and that we never really know when our time will be up.  So, on America’s 9/12, I am reminded of the wisdom of Ecclesiastes 9:12.

No man knows when his hour will come: As fish are caught in a cruel net, or birds are taken in a snare, so men are trapped by evil times that fall unexpectedly upon them.” – Solomon 

Time is a funny thing for sure.  John Randolph said, “Time is at once the most valuable and the most perishable of all our possessions.”  Oddly, maybe time is not at all a possession.  Maybe it’s simply borrowed.  After all, time flows through our hands the same way sand flows through the neck of an hourglass.  Steady, steady until it is gone.  

After having my teeth cleaned, I am asked to rinse with fluoride.  A small hourglass is used to measure the length of time required to rinse.  I can’t control the flow of sand in the hourglass, although I have attempted to, much to the chagrin of the dental hygienist.  She always just smiles and reminds me that I can’t force the sand to flow quicker.  Really it’s the same with life. 

We speak of life in terms of seconds, minutes, hours, days, months, and years.  Yet, when it is all said and done, Time and therefore Life, is short.  The Bible describes life as being like a vanishing mist, a passing shadow, a swift runner, a breath, a shepherd’s tent that is blown away, a clay house that is easily crushed, and like withering grass.

Years ago I wrote a time management affirmation.   Perhaps you will want to write your own.  You should read it often.  Here is mine. You can borrow what you like and then personalize it for yourself.

My life is disciplined and focused and I manage my time well; therefore each day I determine, through prayer and the Lord’s guidance, my schedule and am honest with people when confronted with extra activities.

Time is allotted to each one by God one second at a time.  It can’t be saved.  It must be spent.  How will you spend your “possession” of time?

 
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Posted by on September 12, 2013 in Goal Setting

 

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Not Alone

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I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world. – Jesus (John 16:33)

Trouble is part of being alive. Jesus told his followers what to expect so that they could have peace in the midst of trouble. I like that.

Difficult times do not catch God by surprise. In the context of this verse Jesus had just predicted that everyone would leave him all alone. Then he said, “Yet, I am not alone for my Father is with me.”

Imagine that you were one of the disciples hearing Jesus lovingly say to you, “You will leave me all alone.” That just goes against everything within me. I imagine that I might tell Jesus, like Peter did, not me Lord! “Though everyone abandons you I will not.” But Jesus would know otherwise. Jesus was prepared for the worst. He was prepared for rejection by friends.

The irony is that Jesus died for everyone, but he did it alone.

Prepare yourself to be at peace even though you will have trouble.  Jesus did not say to his followers that they ‘might have,’ or ‘were likely to have’ trouble.  He said that they would have trouble.  He sounds pretty certain to me.

Maybe you can be grateful for the heads up on this one. Now that you know that you will have trouble (in various shapes and sizes for sure, but trouble none the less) know this: the only reason he wanted you to know was so that you would find your peace, your calm, in him.

When you have trouble in your world of family, marriage, finance, church or business remember that you can also find peace ‘in Jesus.’ He is a friend who will never leave you.

A prayer: Master. Thank you for the heads up on the trouble I will face. Thank you for friends who stand with me when there is trouble. Teach me to wait on you. May trouble be the wind that lifts me into your calm presence; in your presence I am courageous and my heart is full. Amen

 

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Success

finish live 07Winning is a worthy goal in whatever you do in the pursuit of a life following Christ. Paul’s encouragement in scripture is that everyone runs in a race but only one gets the prize so we should “Run in such a way as to get the prize.” (1 Corinthians 9:24) Paul was a fan of the Olympic games. He made interesting correlations about how you live your life being similar to running a race, boxing, and competition in general. If one is going to compete, it should be to win.

The context of the verse above is in connection with his God given mission to carry the gospel message of Jesus beyond the Jews to the Gentiles. Like Paul, every Christian has the high calling of following Jesus.

To have a mission is to have a purpose. Lasting purpose begins with having a charge, calling, aim, or duty in life. It reminds me of a line in a hymn “A charge to keep have I.” Being successful begins with being clear about why you are on earth and what it is you are trying to accomplish during your lifetime. Everyone gets one and only one lifetime. Your “lifetime” is given one second at a time. Everyone, regardless of position, gets 168 hours in a week – no one gets more.

Once you are clear as to why you are here, you also have a better idea about where you are going. Then it logically follows that a roadmap or plan will be assembled. Once assembled you can live and act according to the plan. This map constitutes your plan to win.

How do you define success? How will success be measured? Will you measure success in dollars, personal achievements, number of acquaintances, age of retirement, possessions, or the length of our life? The answer to the question lies partially in the answer to the next question: What are you striving for? Do you strive for more money, more possessions, retirement at an early age, or success in your business? Whatever measure you presently use, will remain your measurement until you make a conscience decision to change the measurement. While reality takes time to change, perception can happen in an instant. Change your perception and reality often follows.

Success in life is not automatic. A man could conceivably live a long life without it being successful.  As with most things more is not always better. In fact that is usually the case. For example, one meaningful and deeply penetrating song can do more then an entire day filled with meaningless random songs. Another example s: One word amply spoken can heal a soul.

In the same way, Success in life is not measured in the quantity of years that make up one’s life. Consider Jesus, upon whose life time itself turns. He was given the time he needed to finish his work on earth. Just as it was with Jesus who lived only 33 years on the earth, so I believe that you can have the confidence that you will be given the years needed to accomplish your purpose on earth. However, you must be about the business of living on purpose.

You can be assured that when you live according to the highest principles, you are living out your purpose. Solomon came to a great conclusion as to the question of what matters most on the earth. He, like us, was in search of fulfillment in life. After his great search, he concluded that to fear God and obey his commands was indeed the greatest thing a man can do. This is not to say that the pursuit of living intentionally is a simple matter. It is not.

Let me give you a friendly warning: The moment you begin to live with specific clear direction, you will discover both internal and external resistance and distractions. You must learn to push through what is urgent in order to get to what is important. Do not allow the tyranny of the urgent to hold hostage what is important. There are those times when what is urgent and important become one in the same and those times are good. Make more of those times! Discipline (force) your mind to think about why you are alive today and do that every single day.

So let’s ask about your life what you have most likely asked about a project, test or road trip. What is the desired end result? Where are you hoping to end up? And if you know the desired outcome, how will you know the way? In other words, what will serve as your compass? Which way will you head? What will guide you? Will you adjust your course by the stars or by every passing ship? What is important to you? For me I want to end life with a sweet spirit (able to laugh genuinely and love deeply and enjoy the life and work God has given to me), a wife who loves me and for my(our) children to love Jesus Christ and his Church. We want to enjoy our marriage and family. In the end we want good memories. We want to be faithful to the Lord. In this regard the Bible acts as our compass. We must constantly defer to it to correct, teach, rebuke and train us. All right that is enough preaching!

I have read that change happens twice. “Reality and perception are the two components necessary for successful change and change is mostly a perceptual issue. We tend to see things the same way until, quite suddenly, we don’t. The two parts of change require different approaches. Changing reality requires action. Changing perception requires thinking. Changing reality can take a long time. Changing perception can happen in an instant.” (“Quantum Leap Thinking Tip #77 Change Happens Twice” by James Mapes)

As you read this blog, what was one major thought that came to you about your life? Write it down, I’ll wait. Now think, pray about that. Your perception has changed. In order for your latest thought to become reality what do you need to stop doing? What do you need to start doing? What do you need to keep doing?

Enjoy your life…now!

 
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Posted by on March 26, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

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