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Breakthrough

As I consider my experience in Taekwondo the thing that stands out to me most is that in both Taekwondo and life we should always be willing to give a little more than might be required or expected. In order to do that you may need to learn to concentrate on what you know with your mind rather than what you see with your eyes. Let me explain.

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Action Photography by Micah Holland

One of the first real tests that a martial artist faces is the test of breaking a board. Each time a student begins to learn how to break a board we instruct them to kick beyond the board or to kick through the board. To help him or her grasp this concept we remove the board so that the student is able to visualize the point to which they should kick or strike. The goal of course is for them to concentrate their focus, energy, power and aim beyond the fictitious barrier.

Most students do well in this exercise. Then comes the actual test. Everything changes the moment that they see an actual board standing in the way. At that point something happens in the mind of the student. Rather than concentrating on kicking beyond the board their full attention is captured and placed on the board itself. The board is suddenly obstructing their perfect view of their goal. What seemed possible now feels impossible. 

Why does that happen? Why will a student agree to concentrate kicking to one point, practice kicking to that point and then suddenly and somewhat unconsciously completely lose sight of their goal? Why do they suddenly become in danger of fixating on the board? Is it that the student doesn’t trust their instructor? I think the explanation is a rather simple one. This change of focus happens because the board is real. Breaking the board was a nice goal and thought but actually breaking through the board is another matter entirely. What the student knows in their mind and believes in their heart is hijacked by what they see with their eyes. They believe their instructor, but then they begin to think and that is the problem. It seems that the more they think about the board the more they stop believing they can actually break through the board.

Action Photography by CI Roy Reid

That is a powerful lesson in life itself. You may know that there is more then what you might be able to see in this life and so you make your goal to live with faith, courage and determination. Yet, sometimes whenever you face physical, relational or financial obstacles (to name a few) hope, faith and joy can suddenly be hidden from sight. And then what happens? You focus on the problem rather than beyond the problem to the solution. You focus on what may become a source of pain rather than the joy that lies just beyond it. In some instances you may find that you have been fixated on the “board” in your life for years!

Now, because you have lost sight of the goal, you may continually and courageously kick against the very real obstacle and it hurts again and again. Why are we suddenly afraid of the trouble we face? While there is no simple answer I would like to submit that it might simply be due to a loss of sight. It seems to me that in the same way that a student might be suddenly afraid of seeing the board, although he or she knew that there would be a board to break, that we can suddenly be afraid in life.

We fear the board because we do not want to suffer.

We certainly don’t want to cause ourselves unnecessary pain and suffering. And so we do everything in our power to avoid the pain we expect. In other words, we want to break the board, but we don’t want it to hurt! We want to move through each challenge without suffering in any way. Yet suffering leads to perseverance, perseverance leads to maturity / character, and character leads to hope, according to scripture.

Something powerful happens in the human spirit whenever we focus our attention and belief on something that is outside of ourselves and beyond our trouble. For me, whenever I focus my attention on Christ and eternal life that is beyond anything on this earth, I also find exceptional joy and abiding peace. And when I focus on joy I am better able to break through obstacles that life presents. Not always without pain and not always on the first try. But that’s life.

Not accomplishing something the first time is ok.

Hurting as a result of trying is ok. Pain does not mean that you are doing something wrong; sometimes it’s a result of breaking through something. However, it is not ok to give up just because you are tired. There is no valid reason for not trying again: if you fall down seven times, then get up eight.

Back to the board-breaking…I learned to focus on a point beyond the board. All was well until I was required to face the more difficult challenge of breaking through concrete. First degree required that I break one 2″ concrete cap with my hand. Second degree black required breaking through two 2″ concrete caps with my foot. The lessons I carried into breaking concrete were things like: Don’t overthink it (huge lesson)…It’s been done before…You are well prepared…Trust your instructor to put you in situations that are both challenging and sometimes difficult…Always give your best.

Having said that, times of testing in both Taekwondo and in life can be useful markers along the journey just to confirm that you are experiencing progress. I like that I am always learning and always teaching.

Why did I pursue 3rd Dan Black Belt?

Once the testing was over, individuals were allowed to ask questions of me in a public forum. One of those questions came from my wife. She asked me why I did it? She said, “A lot has happened in the year leading up to this point of testing. At any point you could have decided not to move forward. Why did you do it?” After thinking for a moment I answered to the audience, “I decided to persevere because I knew that if I did and was successful, it would allow me to work toward a fourth degree. But if I didn’t, it would be the end. I didn’t want it to be the end.” 

I am humbled by the fact that while many began this race, few (by comparison) have come this far. I am thankful for each person who invested time, energy, suggestions, training and encouragement. While I am so grateful to each instructor and students, I am especially grateful to Kwanjangnim David Turnbull and Sahbumnim Wendy Turnbull. I hope that there will be many opportunities to help others experience breakthroughs to their dreams and goals.

 
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Posted by on May 21, 2014 in Goal Setting, Leadership

 

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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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Taking Stock

ImageOn 1/31 look at Gn 1:31 “God saw all that he had made, and it was very good. And there was evening, and there was morning—the sixth day.” (Ge 1:31)

On the final day of creation – which just happens to be the final verse of Genesis chapter one – God looked back over his handy work and declared that it was very good. It was so good that on the following day he rested!

Well, today is the last day of the first month of 2014! Stopping to evaluate the first month isn’t a bad idea. In fact it can be quite helpful.

When you look back over the first month can you say it was very good? Are you headed the direction you had hoped for? Would you grade January as average, good, or excellent? What things did you plan to do and in fact you did them? What opportunities came along that you are glad that you took ahold of? Are there some important lessons you learned that you should write down in your journal? What are some “do betters” for the month of February?

Now say a prayer thanking God for all the things that went well and ask for His help in the areas where you need it.

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” Phil 4:6

Try not to be too narrowly focused as you look over the past month. For example, Think about all aspects of your life: marriage, parenting, financially, friends (are you meeting new people), family, education, physically (confession: I need to step it up in this area), educationally (are you reading and learning anything), attitude (are you joyful, at peace, friendly, etc), spiritually (Are you loving God by being content and thankful to Him for where you are in life? Are you loving your neighbor as yourself?). You get the point. I have also found it to be quite encouraging to list your blessings, speak them out loud.

I’ll end with a quote from the movie The Shawshank Redemption – just because I like it – “You need to get busy living or get busy dying.”

 
 

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The Reason

Reason02Why do you do what you do?  And…why do you do what you do the way you do?

I serve as a pastor of Real Life Christian Church.  Real Life is a serving and growing place.  Everyone serves and everyone grows.  That’s how it works.

Fortunately, I get a front row seat to witness the lives that are being changed and impacted through this ministry.  On one particular weekend after services, our team met to pray and to celebrate the changed lives.  I complimented one of the team leaders about the excellence and intentionality of his leadership.  His response was more than a “thank-you-for-the-compliment.”  His response to the team and me summed up his reasoning behind his leadership.

I thought that, regardless of your profession, you might appreciate and be motivated by his reason for living and leading well.  Here is what he said:

“One of the reasons that I am so detail oriented when it comes to the presentation and operations of Real Life UCF/Oviedo is because we only have 90 minutes to let God do what he does best.  My objective is to eliminate as many distractions and hindrances as possible in order to let God have full access to a person’s heart. 

I am blessed to work with such an awesome crew that is willing to do whatever it takes to make the Sunday morning experience the most inviting and least distracting environment for our visitors and newer members.”

Three take-a-ways to apply immediately to your life and work are:

Eliminate distractions from your environment.  Anything that interrupts or disrupts the flow of your life unnecessarily might be considered a distraction.  Also, consider others so that you do not become an unwanted distraction in their life.  It is easy to underestimate the power of changing your environment.

Eliminate hindrances from your life.  Anything that obstructs or sabotages what you do can likely be dealt with if a little forethought is given to your day.  Identify those things that were hindrances yesterday or last week.  Write down three possible options you have to remove, or at the very least, minimize the impact of the obstacle?

Surround yourself with an awesome crew.  Pay close attention to the people to whom you choose to entrust yourself.

Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity.”  Ephesians 5:15-16

 
 

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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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The Tortoise and the Hare

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Have you lived long enough to know the value of patience and perseverance?  Do you believe that the good stuff in life comes only through endurance and long-suffering?

We like the story of the Tortoise and the Hare because in the end the improbable happens…the tortoise wins!

The slow unimpressive turtle won against a much quicker, more impressive opponent rabbit.  He didn’t win because he was slow or because he was entitled to win.  He endured, didn’t quit and eventually crossed the finish line…in first place.  He won because he applied the principle of steady plodding. 

Leaders generally agree with the importance of persistence and grit.  Yet how often have you looked for another way?  Is there another way?  Of course there is.  There is the way of the Hare!  However…

Wisdom teaches us, “Easy come, easy go, but steady diligence pays off.” (Pr 13:11, The Message).  While the principle of steady plodding applies to all of life the context uses wealth to illustrate.  This is more obvious in the NIV:  “Dishonest money dwindles away, but he who gathers money little by little makes it grow.”

Little by little?  Frankly I would prefer “a bunch by a bunch.”  What about you?  However much you may prefer quick growth, the change that is produced usually isn’t sustainable.  The tortoise won because he used the principle of steady plodding and because the hare loses focus and interest.

Did the hare want to win?  Of course he did!  Everyone wants to win.  But because he was fast he knew he could easily win.  So he started out fast and impressive but soon grew tired.  He could not sustain the pace.  Not true with the turtle.  Mr. turtle started out at a speed that was sustainable and simply didn’t stop walking.

Where have you behaved like the hare?  Where would you like to be more like the tortoise?  Do you have areas of life where you would like to win?  Your health?  Your money?  Your energy level?  Your friendships?  Your marriage?  Your children?  Your spiritual life?  Your education?  May I suggest that you pick a direction and start walking!

Take a life lesson from Solomon: “…steady diligence pays off.”

 
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Posted by on August 24, 2013 in Leadership, Uncategorized

 

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Let There Be…

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Day zero: “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Now the earth was formless and empty,..” Ge 1:1–2 Before day one, as we think of it, the earth had no visible shape or design and it was void. Sometimes, life can feel that way. You are alive and yet each day feels like yesterday; no shape or design, no purpose, void, and empty. But it doesn’t have to remain that way for you. Let today be Day One, the first day of the rest of your life. Participate with God and follow His example in creation. What did God do?

On Day One, when everything was in chaos and empty, God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. Ge 1:3. Obviously, we are not God and our words do not hold the power of His. Yet I encourage you to finish this statement: “Let there be…” What do you think? Let there be a book, a strong marriage, faithful children, a non-profit organization that meets a specific need, a club in your neighborhood that meets a specific need or maybe financial stability, etc. You get the point. The first thing God did was to create light. He turned the light on the situation. He clearly delineated light and dark. He did not create the sun or moon until day five. The sun and moon were part of filling the heavens and the earth. He just turned on the light. What would turn the light on for you, right now, at this time of your life? Getting finances in order, reading the Bible daily, or taking a class?

I dare you to think, to dream, and to imagine about your personal “Let There Be.” Don’t worry right now with the how or what (which can be difficult if you are anything like me). Just spend a moment completing this statement: “Let there be…” Once you have something write it down. Better yet write down whatever you’re thinking. You can clean it up later. Right now we’re just turning on the light. Once it’s written your statement will likely need more design and content. For now just write it down and leave it messy. We will work on the shape and filling later.

While you think about your ‘Let there be,” think about this question: How will you define success? How will success be measured? Will we measure success in dollars, personal  achievements, number of acquaintances,  the age when I retire, possessions, or the length of our life, to name a few? 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 maybe success in your business? Whatever measure you presently use, will remain your measurement until you make a conscience decision to change the measurement.

Lasting and sustainable success in life is not usually automatic. It must be intentional. A man could conceivably live a long life without his life being successful.  As with most things more is not always better (although it is not intrinsically bad either – it’s just more). I would like to suggest to you that success in life is not measured in the quantity of years that make up one’s life. We must consider Jesus upon whose life time itself turns. He only lived 33 years and fulfilled his purpose. Like Jesus, I believe that we can have the confidence that we will be given the years needed to accomplish our purpose on earth. What do you think? However, we must be about the business of living on purpose, with resolve and a singleness of mind.

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. The moment anyone begins to live with direction, purpose, and meaning, they will discover internal and external resistance and distractions. Live according to the highest principles you know anyway. Learn to push through what is urgent in order to get to what is important. We should seek to live in the important more than the urgent. Eventually, what is important will become urgent.

In all of life’s busyness, what is your Let There Be? Let that rattle around in your brain for a while…

“We need to learn to set our course by the stars, not by every passing ship.” – Omar Bradley

 
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Posted by on January 1, 2013 in Goal Setting

 

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