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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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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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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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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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