Mark Twain once quipped that he spent a large sum of money to trace his family tree and then spent twice as much trying to keep his ancestry secret!
Can anyone relate to Mr. Twain? Would you like to keep some if not all your ancestry a secret? Well, good luck with that!
I thought I would just come out swinging this month by suggesting that if any of your parents or siblings get on your nerves, it may be because you see some of yourself in them. Just keeping it real.
When I get aggravated with them, I wonder how often I act the same way. If I recognize a similar behavior or attitude in me, I freak out a little. Why? Because if your spouse starts a sentence with “you are just like your…(fill in the relative), it is usually negative. By the way, it is never, I mean ever, a safe discussion.
Guys, if you want a very lively and animated conversation with your sweetheart and find the couch comfortable, the next time she does or says something you find irritating which also makes you think of her mother, tell her!
Obviously, we are like our family in many ways. For most of us, we have spent more time with family than anyone else. Over many years, a part of them has been poured into us. Our relatives are a gigantic mirror for us but I only want to reflect the good character qualities. That is a tricky proposition given that we are all deeply flawed and when we are with family, we get AND GIVE it all, both good and bad. No one has had more influence into our lives than family.
And here is a sobering thought: you are the average sum of the company you keep. The real question is: do you lower or raise the average in your family?
I love my father. He is now in his 80’s and when I consider the entirety of my dad and his life, in some ways I hope I am like him and in other ways I hope I am not. The same can be said of my mom, siblings and just about every close relationship. My guess is you feel the same way.
It softens my heart when I hear children say that they want to grow up to be like their dad, or mom or that they want to marry mommy or daddy. For most of us, at one time in our lives mom and dad were our heroes. To become a good man, husband and father, if all I had to do was trust my dad completely in all areas of life and then just model him in everything I do, life would be much simpler. If parents were always perfect role models, families would be so much stronger. Yet, this is impossible as we are all deeply flawed.
God knows our hearts. He knows the heart of every member of your family. He knows who has been hurtful and who has been hurt. He knows how our family has passed on both helpful and harmful heritage. He knows which families build you up and which tear you down.
The Lord said, “Before I formed you in the womb, I knew you.” (Jeremiah 1:5)
Because He knows us so well, God provides a perfect model, built on His love and grace toward us. Though it is true that I do not want to be exactly like my parents, I do, however, want to be exactly like my Heavenly Father. He is a good Father. When we accept His Son Jesus as our Lord and Savior, we become sons and daughters of God.
Then something amazing happens: “And because we are His children, God has sent the Spirit of His Son into our hearts prompting us to call out “Abba, Father.” (Galatians 4:6)
The Spirit of Jesus in us! Changing our hearts to begin to see God as our Heavenly Father. He is the One Who gently and lovingly transforms us into His image so that we reflect His character. This happens supernaturally as we spend time with Him, in His Word and prayer. Talking to Him and listening. He enjoys time with us. He is never too busy. He is always available and He cares about everything in our lives.
All we need to do is trust Him.
Tell Him about the pain family has caused or the pain you have caused in your family. Then allow Him to be the Father He desires to be to you. Spend time with Him. If you do, I promise you, you will raise the average, relatively speaking.
Author Greg McKeown warns, “If you don’t prioritize your life, someone else will.”.
It is the simple notion that others are vying for your time, talent and resources by constantly telling you what should be important to you.
If you are a goal-setter or desire to become one, January is the annual kickoff of renewed determination to achieve goals.
I like having goals. I encourage clients to set them. However, without first establishing priorities, we can set goals that distract us or even be set by the voices of others in our ears telling us what is important.
A priority is simply something that is more important than other things and that needs to be done or dealt with first. I heard it said that many of life’s disappointments come from dealing with second things first.
How we spend time is how we choose our life. Our priorities can put us in either positive positions or unpleasant predicaments. Thinking first about our priorities will help us choose our goals wisely.
Without understanding the “why” behind our priorities, it is easy to slide into spending time on the wrong things. It can even be good things but done at the wrong time. The goal is to work on the best things at the right time.
Establishing priorities takes work. John Maxwell suggests you begin with the Three R’s: what is required of you, what gives you the greatest return and finally, what gives you the greatest reward.
The thinking process goes like this: there are many things that are required of us which are things only we can do or should do. Therefore, we must do those things first.
While we seek to do those things with excellence, we should seek activities that give us the best return for the time we invest.
In other words, make us more effective in doing what is required. These activities are usually within our strengths and natural gifts. Once we are effective with what is required, then we should consider what in life is most rewarding, that is, gives us the most personal satisfaction.
As a father, I believe I am required to help my young son to know Jesus personally. I love the clarity and simplicity of what Jesus said as quoted in Matthew 6:33, “Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and He will give you everything you need.”
There are many goals I can set to fulfill this requirement. I can make sure my son is in church and involved in youth group. I can teach him how to read the Bible. There are many options. Along the way I need to pay attention to what helps my son the most, giving the best return on the time spent.
My son enjoys working with the production team at church. He is surrounded with wonderful, young, godly leaders who pour into his life. Therefore, my wife and I are very intentional in creating opportunities for him to serve in those areas. This is one of our priorities.
Beach vacations bring me personal satisfaction and can reenergize me. However, if I am not effectively doing what is required of me in all areas of life first, then any renewed energy or enjoyment I received from the vacation will evaporate quickly once I return.
I want to be satisfied with my life, don’t you? Therefore, I try to pay attention when Jesus reminds me, “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.” (Matthew 5:6)
Welcome to 2020!
Take some time to evaluate your priorities by starting here: “And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.” Micah 6:8
Topics: Encouraging Words
I came across a prayer I thought I would share with you.
So far today, I am doing all right. I have not gossiped, lost my temper, been greedy, grumpy, nasty, selfish or self-indulgent. I have not whined, cursed or eaten any chocolate. However, I am going to get out of bed in a few minutes and I will need a lot more help after that. Amen.
That’s both hilarious and accurate. You know it’s true. Your list of struggles may be different in your prayer but we all have issues we would love to master; to gain victory. I believe a great strategy includes the right attitude.
According to Webster, “Attitude” is a feeling or way of thinking that affects your behavior. It is a mental position.
In other words, everyday your attitude will affect you and influences the people around you. Your attitude will be either an asset or liability. This is no small matter.
There is a secret to having a great attitude: it should be part of preparation, not something that is adjusted during moments of adversity.
Several years ago, I worked for a dear friend and mentor who was in the process of building a new business and money was very tight. Due to budget constraints, he drove an old car with many miles and it had problems. During a busy work day full of important appointments, the great beast broke down on the interstate. When I asked him about his challenging day, I was blown away by his response.
He said it is God’s money and time and if He wants to spend it this way, he was fine with it. I know this man well and this is his genuine attitude. His attitude during this circumstance was already in place long before that day. He was prepared knowing true contentment is generated internally, based on attitude. It’s not what happens to you that matters, it is what happens in you.
So, how do you prepare your attitude? It starts with placing a high value on people.
Author John Maxwell summarizes it this way, “You can’t dislike people and have a good attitude at the same time. Have you ever met anyone who always treated people badly but had a positive attitude?”.
It almost seems natural to get frustrated with people. I recently saw a t-shirt that said, “The more people I meet, the more I like my dog.” If fits the narrative that life would be easier if we did not have to deal with people.
Yet, the Holy Spirit tells us “Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves…You must have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had…He took the humble position of a slave and was born as a human being.” (Philippians 2:3-7)
God has placed the highest value on you. So much so that He sent Jesus to reveal the Father’s love for you by becoming a servant continually focused on the needs of others. Jesus was always about His Father’s business.
Just like my friend’s car, people are going to let us down. But my friend’s heart is always in his Heavenly Father’s business, not his own. Because he was prepared, he knew God would use even this circumstance to do something important. This attitude is only humanly possible when Jesus is living in us and through us.
I hope this Christmas season when you see a manger scene, you will see the baby Jesus with fresh eyes. Seeing Him as One with the attitude of a humble servant Who has come with you in mind.
That IS why He came.
He came because you are valued and loved by God. Just accept that love by asking Jesus to be your Lord and Savior.
I can’t think of a better Christmas gift from us to God and to others than to have the same attitude as Jesus.
Topics: Encouraging Words
New-car-smell (NCS) is intoxicating. Auto makers have developed a scent so powerful that a husband should never shop for a car without the permission and presence of his wife. That aroma causes an “autoimmune” disease that, in some men, causes them to abandon reason and responsibility! Ladies, it is not our fault. Someone should sue the makers of NCS!
To be fair, who doesn’t like “new”? Something new is fresh and full of promise. When my son Eli was born, I remember smelling his hair and skin. Ah, a new baby. New-baby-smell is also intoxicating and even more powerful than NCS. A wife should not get a whiff of someone’s new baby without the permission and presence of her husband.
Sadly, that new car smell fades quickly. You get your first scratch and door ding within the first six months. The car gets dirty inside and out and needs a lot of work to maintain the illusion of new. That baby is keeping you awake at night. The first jaw dropping, vomit inducing diaper hits your senses like a mace attack. In a blink of an eye, the little angel is now a demanding, boundary-pushing army of one.
The new LivRite Fitness is opening in Fishers. I got a sneak peak at the facility and it is nothing short of awesome! It is the first ever new build for LivRite. In addition to all new state of the art fitness equipment, the exterior and interior building design is new, fresh and amazing. From floor to ceiling, everything has been done with excellence, complete with new fitness club smell!
And just like that new car, the equipment will begin to age and require maintenance. As time marches on, members will become blind to the beautiful interior design. There will be carpet rip here, a floor stain there and eventually the parking lot will need to be repaved. Nothing is new more than a day and nothing on this earth lasts forever.
But this is where the real LivRite story begins!
What remains new every day at LivRite is the culture of caring for its members; both body and soul. It is their pursuit of that which is of eternal significance for both you and your family that drew me to LivRite in June of 2018.
Yes, LivRite wants to help you live in good health and fitness, to live right in how you take care of your body. They also want to help you live with health in your soul, which is your mind, will and emotions.
LivRite helps with your physical health by providing you the best exercise, fitness and nutritional resources. They help with your soul-health by pointing you to Jesus because God is the only source of anything that is new every day which includes the culture of LivRite Fitness.
Lamentations 3:21-23 says, “This I recall to my mind. Therefore I have hope. The Lord’s lovingkindnesses indeed never cease, for His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness.”
Every single morning, God’s love, compassion and kindness toward you is fresh and new - a new supply of His grace which is something you cannot earn. It is His gift to you. God desires to satisfy our souls with joy when we turn to Him.
Psalm 90:14 explains it this way: “O satisfy us in the morning with Your lovingkindness, that we may sing for joy and be glad all our days.”
LivRite works hard to help you live in good health. This is the only body you will ever have in this life and we must do all within our power to protect it because without good health, it is difficult to enjoy life.
John Maxwell puts it like this: “You can escape from a lot of things that might hurt you…But you can’t get away from your own body…Think about how hard it is to be positive, concentrate or pray when you have a toothache.”
When your mind is troubled or you struggle with making good decisions or your emotions are controlling you, it is possible to give the hopeless feelings to Jesus so that they do not overpower you.
I want to encourage you to remain committed to getting and staying physically fit. More importantly, I want to encourage you to spend time with Jesus every day because He is the One Who brings health to your soul.
I love this verse from Hebrews: “…Let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith.”
You build physical running endurance by spending time with cardio equipment. You build soul endurance by spending time with Jesus. As Jesus refreshes you and builds your faith, your faith will lead your soul and you will live right.
Topics: Encouraging Words
As a child my grandparents would often vacation with us and one summer we went to Daytona Florida. Back in the 70’s you could drive automobiles on the beach and when we sat back far enough, the traffic passed between us and the ocean.
My grandpa loved to sit on the beach and look through binoculars at the activities on the sand and in the water. (We all knew who he REALLY was watching.)
When cars would pass within Grandpa’s line of sight, he would pull his feet back. Even though the cars where several yards away, through his binoculars they were going to run over him!
According to Webster, “Perspective” is defined as “A glass through which objects are viewed”.
A perspective is a filter on how we see our lives and the world, it affects our attitude and even influences how we order our days.
Lester Sumrall started and pastored several churches, including growing a church in the Philippines to 24,000 members. He was the founder of World Harvest Bible College, World Harvest Radio International and a Christian magazine. He also acquired television stations that are now known as LeSEA Broadcasting and many consider him the “father of Christian television”.
During the latter part of his life, Lester said “I have never done anything great for God. I just do something for Him every day.”
I think Mr. Sumrall had a “today” perspective.
Each day is a building block for your life. Where you are now did not suddenly happen. The sum of your days thus far equals the life you are currently living and the impact you are making in the lives of others.
I love the image from Psalm 95:7: “For He is our God. We are the people He watches over, the flock under His care.”
A good shepherd is never absent. He is constantly providing.
“And God will generously provide all you need. Then you will always have everything you need and plenty left over to share with others.”
(2 Corinthians 9:8)
A good shepherd is always instructing.
“I am teaching you today-yes, you- so you will trust in the Lord.”
A good shepherd is always protecting.
“Fear of the Lord leads to life, bringing security and protection from harm.” (Proverbs 19:23)
I think many of us fall for the trap of building our lives in blocks of weeks, months and even years, which can cause us to take our eyes off the possibilities of today.
Just as Jesus is the Lord of today, I want to encourage you to have a “today” perspective. Today, you can realize God’s presence in your life. Today, you can draw closer to Him. Today He can be your shepherd. Today you can do something for God by being a blessing to others.
Topics: Encouraging Words