February 28, 2013

The Poison of Unforgiveness

Unforgiveness is like drinking poison & expecting the other person to die.

There is no relationship that can fully flourish, thrive or even survive without forgiveness. When you are in a close relationship it is inevitable that hurt will occur, the question is how you will respond to the hurt. Is forgiveness a cornerstone in the foundation of your marriage, relationships, or friendships?

Let’s just be real, giving forgiveness is not always an easy thing. But, what most people don’t realize is forgiveness is not just about letting someone off the hook, it is often more for you than for that person. Even psychologists have argued that people who hold on to unforgiveness, bitterness, hurt, or anger tend to have more physical ills such as: tense muscles, headaches, stomach issues, etc. than those who are not harboring unforgiveness in relationships.

My wife & I hurt each other quite often. We don’t hurt each other because we hate each other or because we are trying to destroy each other’s lives. However, we are completely vulnerable to one another, susceptible to hurt because we have opened our lives & hearts to one another. This opens the door for deeper love & deeper hurt. Yet, there is safety. Since we have determined to forgive one another no matter what there is vulnerability with security. There is a conscious decision to lovingly work out whatever mess we allow ourselves to get into.

Forgiveness is a choice.

In your relationships you have to realize that you must consistently choose to forgive. Forgiveness is a choice to act out of selfless love knowing that, “love keeps no record of wrongs,” (1 Corinthians 13:5). And, the choice to forgive is made with the full understanding that it is completely undeserved. Forgiveness does not say what you did is okay or doesn’t matter, but it says in spite of what you did I still choose to love.

Forgiveness does not excuse the wrong done, it loves in spite of it. This is the type of love & forgiveness that Jesus modeled while hanging on the cross & speaking, “Father, forgive them because they do not know what they are doing,” (Luke 23:34); completely underserved & not even asked for! In our relationships we are called to enter into Jesus’ heart to forgive. Don’t allow unforgiveness to poison you or your relationships any longer; enter into God’s heart for your relationships & walk in the freedom of forgiveness!

Let’s Do This Together
How have you seen unforgiveness ruin a relationship? In what relationships do you need to allow yourself to enter into God’s heart of forgiveness?

February 27, 2013

W.R.A.P. #4: It’s More Blessed To Give Than Receive

Don’t you love receiving gifts? 

Over the last couple years I’ve been given so many great gifts: Giants tickets, clothes, movie passes, a plane ticket to South Korea, shoes, money, candy, books, vacations, food, & more! Seriously, I have received so many wonderful gifts over the last number of years that when I reflect on them I cannot help but feel overwhelmed with thanksgiving for God’s blessing on my life & for the people who gave me the gifts.

Yet, the crazy thing is that no matter how blessed, loved, & grateful I feel for these gifts I have received, Jesus said, “It’s more blessed to give than to receive,” (Acts 20:35). Whut?! All the joy, love, & wonderful feelings you have when you receive a gift can be exponentially outnumbered when you give a gift!

The other day at work I was serving a father & his little daughter who was about 4-5 years old, she was so adorable. Towards the end of their meal he asked if we served smoothies because she would love one. I went & put in the order, but I just wanted to bless this little girl so when I brought the drink I told her father it was on me (I did pay for it, no stealing from my restaurant). You should have seen how the little girl’s face light up when I brought the drink with a mountain of whipped cream on it. She was so happy!

While me buying a smoothie for a little girl was not a huge gift to the father or girl, it was one from my heart. No, I wasn’t doing it to get a bigger tip. I wanted to simply bless them, to give them something without expecting anything in return. Often when we give something we expect a certain reaction, response, gratitude, or something. Have you ever given something just out of sheer love?

True gifts are selfless, no strings attached

True gifts are given to bless others regardless of how they respond; these are the types of gifts where you enter into the selflessness of Christ & truly experience how, “It is more blessed to give than to receive.”

The Challenge:
Today’s W.R.A.P. (Wednesday’s Random Act on Purpose) Challenge is to give someone a gift that is completely unexpected. The gift does not have to be big, but let it be from the heart. Today, give someone something not because they deserve it, not because they have done anything for you, and not expecting anything in return. Give a gift that is heart-felt & enter into the blessing of giving.

Let’s Do This Together
How do you feel when someone gives you a gift? How does it feel to give a gift without expecting anything in return?

February 26, 2013

From Vision To Reality

Have you ever had a great vision for your job, family, ministry or relationships, but were never able see it come to pass? When this happens many tend to blame the vision. It is not the vision to blame, it is the visionary. As a leader you must understand that vision alone is never enough.

A vision without execution will always 
remain only a vision.

Some are settled with just having vision. Matter of fact, studies show that sharing great vision with many others can actually give you the psychological satisfaction as if the vision was actually complete without the vision actually manifesting. Talk about empty satisfaction.  If you are like me you want to actually make your days, hours, & minutes count. You don’t want to just dream, you want to see your dreams a reality; this is where execution comes in.

Here are 3 simple keys to help you begin to make your vision, goals, & dreams a reality. Your vision must be:

Specific – Start with a general vision & then hone it. Most people don’t accomplish their vision because it is so broad. Break it down piece by piece, step by step, day by day, & task by task. Don’t just write that your vision is to see change in your life. Write down the specific areas of change you want to see, why you want to see it, & the exact steps that you are going to make to begin to see it. If you are not specific with your execution you will not see specific results.

Measurable – You have to be able to measure your results. As you begin pursuing your vision, what are the specific things that you are looking for in order to see whether you are moving forward or not? If your vision is to have $6,000 in savings at the end of the year then what are your monthly markers? As you begin executing the specific steps to make your vision a reality you must be able measure progress or regress.

Celebratory – On the journey towards fulfilling your vision you must celebrate the small victories. Celebrating the small victories will only be possible if you are specific with your steps toward the overall vision & if you can measure your progress. No one wants to feel like they are rigorously working at something without seeing any results. Celebrating the small things keeps your morale high & your momentum strong; it is the small victories that build towards the ultimate celebration of the vision becoming a reality.

Pursuing vision does not need to be hard. When vision is pursued the right way it is one of the most satisfying & fruitful things to experience as a leader. Begin your pursuit by executing with specificity, measurability, & celebration.

Let’s Do It Together
In what areas of your life does your vision need to become more specific?  What area do you need to strengthen in the execution of your vision: specificity, measurability, or celebration?

February 25, 2013

Making Your J-O-B Fulfilling

Your view of work will ultimately determine your manner of work. I’ve heard people speak of their job as something they dread, despise, & view as a source of relentless dissatisfaction. I think it is one of the saddest things to consistently spend most of your day doing something that brings no fulfillment for you or for those watching you.

God intended work to be fulfilling & satisfying.

We are meant to mirror His style of work: creative, fruitful, multiplying, & good. Of course, sometimes you have to do what you have to for a time so you can do what you want to do. But, no matter what you do it is up to you whether or not you thrive in productivity & enjoy the work of your hands; that is choice.

Every time I see someone who loves & excels in their job I get so inspired; my respect level for the person & his or her work ethic sky rockets. How do people see you at work? Do they respect your work ethic, work results, & work attitude?

As Christians our work ethic, results, & attitude are meant to be one of our greatest witnesses to God’s goodness. Paul tells the Thessalonian Christians, “You should mind your own business and work with your hands, just as we told you, so that your daily life may win the respect of outsiders and so that you will not be dependent on anybody” (1 Thessalonians 4:10-12). Don’t tell someone how ‘good’ your God is & then complain about how ‘bad’ your job is & how you hate working there. Don’t tell someone how greatly God has been moving at your church & then complain about your boss, co-workers, show up late for work, & leave early; that wins no respect!

If you’re struggling with your job, stop complaining & begin to ask God to bless the work of your hands (Deuteronomy 2:7). Your view of work may need to change; start seeing your work as God does: something that is pregnant with creativity, fruitfulness, multiplication, & goodness.

Begin to seek ways you can become more productive at what you do.  Paul tells the church, “Our people must learn to devote themselves to doing what is good, in order to provide for urgent needs and not live unproductive lives” (Titus 3:14). Stop focusing on what is not; begin focusing on doing what is good. Don’t focus on what your boss is or is not doing; focus on making great what God has placed before you.

Determine that your work life will earn the respect of others, increase in productivity, & become a source of joy & goodness.

Let’s Do This Together
How do you view work? Does your work life, ethic, attitude, & results win the respect of others?

February 23, 2013

The Art of Listening

Why is it that when we are talking we want everyone to stop what they are doing, give us their full attention, & hang on every word we’re saying, but often when others are speaking to us we allow our minds to wander like crazy? If you’re anything like me, you are constantly thinking about the next great thing you want to accomplish, on the move, & thinking of what’s happening 10 years from now. While that can be good, it can also keep you from being fully present with those right before you.

If you desire to thrive in your relationships you need to learn to listen skillfully & intentionally 
& you need to practice.

Listening takes skill – Hearing someone is extremely different from listening to them. I can hear my wife ask me to take out the garbage, but listening to it allows for heart penetration that moves me to action. I can hear my friend share about his struggles, but listening compels me to empathize with him & articulate words or actions that will bring comfort, strength, & encouragement. Listening goes beyond the taking in someone’s words; it takes in mannerisms, considers tones, empathizes with emotions, & filters through hardness.

Listening takes intention – When you listen to someone what are you looking for? Are you trying to just sit there long enough until their verbal vomit is fully released or are you listening to understand what is beneath it all? Intentional listening is fully present with the person speaking. It is fully concerned with what is being shared. And, it is fully engaged in heart with the one who is speaking. Listening chooses to rigorously fight to focus the heart, mind, & emotions on the person that is sharing.

Listening takes practice – You cannot grow in any skill if you do not practice; so it is with listening. James commands us to be, “Quick to listen, slow to speak & slow to become angry,” (James 1:19). In sports when you want to develop quickness you have to exercise your fast twitch muscles, work on fast, explosive movements, & repetition is key.

The same goes for listening. You need to train your ears, heart, & mind to be quick to engage with the person in front of you; stop letting your mind wander, train it to connect. You need to be fast & explosive in engaging your heart with your friend, family member, co-worker, spouse, etc. And, you need to do this over & over in your relationships in order for you to learn to do it well & for those who you are speaking to know that you are truly listening.
Listening is an art that is absolutely essential for you to master if you hunger to have fruitful relationships. Therefore, invest in your relationships by learning to listen. Determine to show those around you that you care by being quick to listen.

Let’s Do This Together
How do you feel when you speaking & you know the person is not listening? What specific obstacles do you struggle with when it comes to listening to someone else? What are you going to focus on to become a better listener?

February 22, 2013

Entrusted With Millions $$$

If you saw all money as belonging to God
how would you treat what you have?

God said in Psalm 50:9-10, “I have no need of a bull from your stall or of goats from your pens, for every animal of the forest is mine, and the cattle on a thousand hills.” He wanted it to be clear that He needed nothing from His people. Back in the day, cattle meant wealth. God was saying His bank was full & it still is! He lacks nothing & everything that people have is simply a trust from Him.

When you begin to see all things as belonging to God, especially ‘your’ money, it should radically shift your perspective. You begin to see your dollars as a privilege to be enjoyed & a responsibility to be managed well. Often times we ask why God doesn’t bless us, but I want to ask, “Are you worthy of the blessing?”

Don’t get me wrong, God does not bless us because we are morally or spiritually worthy. We are ultimately blessed because of Jesus & given grace, an underserved favor. However, God is not a fool; He will not give to someone something that He is going to have to judge them later for wasting. In the parable of the talents, Jesus said the master gave more to those who took what they were initially given & multiplied it. The only thing that awaited the man who just buried what he was given was judgment for not putting to work what was given him.

So I ask you, “Are you worthy the blessing?” If you want God to increase His financial blessing over your life you need to ask yourself, “What would I do with what God gave me?” Actually, before you even consider that question you need to ask, “What am I doing now with what God has given me now?”

Do you realize that a person or couple that makes $30,000 a year for 34 years will have over $1 million pass through their hands? 

And, a person or couple that makes $50,000 a year for 20 years will have over $1 million dollars pass through their hands. With what you make & with a pay increase how much will you have had pass through your hands in 20, 25, 30+ years?

It is not a matter of whether or not God wants to increase your finances; it is a question of whether or not you can handle it. God is not stingy. He wants His people to be financially stable, secure, & prosperous. But, He will not give someone something that will destroy them later.

Let’s Do This Together
If you were a millionaire, would you trust someone who handles his/her money the way that you do with your finances? Are you handling your finances in a way that is worthy of increase?

Finance Fridays

February 21, 2013

Stop Trying To Fix Your Spouse

When you are working through things with your spouse you have to determine that giving up is not an option. Why did God make men & women so different? I have no stinking clue, but the fact is that both are made in His image & likeness & reveal something majestic about who He is. To shut down on your spouse because she or he seems beyond understanding is to shut down on God.

Have you ever shut down on your spouse simply because you didn’t understand him or her and then wrote it off as your spouse is wrong, crazy, weird, & beyond ‘fixing’? Let me break it to you, you’re not a plumber & your spouse is not a broken pipe, no matter how much he stinks or lets things go in one ear & out the other.

I can’t tell you how many times I have heard of men shut down on their wives because “she is beyond comprehension or too complicated.” Or, how many wives shut down on their husbands because “he is too simple & narrow minded.” If you possess the perspective that your wife is too complicated or your husband is too narrow minded then you are setting yourself up for failure & your relationship for conflict.

The goal when working through things is understanding; it’s not about fixing 
the other person. 

Whenever you enter into conversations with your spouse with the intention of trying to fix their perspective, attitude, or personality then you already loss. You see, at first you try to fix the problem with your spouse & after the frustration of no fix the result is inevitability more frustration & shut down. But, when you seek to understand one another there is great growth that is able to take place in both of you.

Understanding does not always mean that you agree with something or that you would do it that way, but you get it, comprehend, & have chosen to live accordingly. Statistics show that men tend to think with a one tract mind. Women tend to think on multiple tracts at the same time. Both can be strengths or weaknesses. You have to learn to delight in each other's differences (You gotta check out: Men Are Like Waffles, Women Are Like Spaghetti).

Growing in deeper understanding of one another’s differences without writing them off as bad or wrong provides opportunities for great growth & deeper intimacy. Giving up is not an option. It’s time to thrive in your marriage & grow in the differences. Stop trying to fix your spouse, use your differences to complement one another, & allow God to reveal more of Himself through your spouse.

Let’s Do This Together
What things in your spouse have you written off because they were different (ie. ways of thinking, planning, cleaning, etc.)? How can you learn to let both of your differences become strengths that help your marriage thrive?

February 20, 2013

W.R.A.P. #3: Caring Beyond the Surface

“Nobody cares how much you know 
until they know how much you care.”

In India a Christian man went into a village to talk with the leaders about how the organization he worked for would like to help them. At first the village leaders were very standoffish. They had seen men ‘like’ this before. They come in, bring in money, try to make tons of changes, & then dictate how the people should live.  

However, when this Christian man entered their village he took of his shoes, he gently declined to sit on the chair they brought for him & instead he sat on the floor as they did. He looked at them in their eyes with genuine care, he listened to their stories before he talked, & he allowed them to share their hearts. The Indian leaders felt so honored, valued, & dignified. Then, as he shared how he would like to partner with them to assist them in the development of their village their hearts were wide open. Thus began a life-long partnership for the man & leaders.

It is one thing to show surface-level care, but it is another thing to go beyond the surface. Help is not always help & kind actions are not always kind, especially when there are stings attached. While that is not always wrong or bad to do something in order to get something, it can be extremely selfish. And more importantly, people can tell when someone is done void of genuine care. How do you feel when someone does something for you, but you know it is because they want something or want to push an agenda?

The Challenge – Wednesday’s Random Act on Purpose (W.R.A.P.)
Today I want to challenge you to show 1 intentional, genuine act of care that goes beyond the surface for someone in your life. This caring act is not to open the door for you to share something with the person, sell something, win brownie points, or push your agenda forward. Choose in your heart that this is going to selfless, loving, genuine, & caring. Today, the point is not about showing them how much you know, it is to showing them how much you care. Get it!

Let’s Do This Together
How do you feel when people do things for you knowing they want something in return? Is it hard for you to show genuine care without expecting something in return? 

February 15, 2013

Dreaded Financial Emergencies

Let’s keep it real, nobody likes to be blindsided with a financial emergency, especially when you’re barely making it month to month. Financial emergencies are one of the most dreaded things for the average family. Alongside the emotional dynamics of an emergency, who likes to be told they are going to have to come up with an extra $200, $500, $1000+ for the month?

However, financial emergencies don’t always need to be emergencies. Let me clarify, that getting new shoes, going on a date, buying new clothes, eating out, Christmas, a birthday, or a vacation are NOT financial emergencies. Just because everyone else is doing it, you don’t want to feel alienated, or you don’t want to be looked at as weird, does not make something an emergency.

Second, most people face financial ‘emergencies’ simply because there has been a lacking of planning, budgeting, saving, & unwise spending. When you spend your money without keeping the future in mind it is called foolishness. Proverbs 21:20 tells us, “In the house of the wise are stores of choice food and oil, but a foolish man devours all he has.” The wise keep the future in mind, save for it, prepare for it, & are not caught off guard when the unexpected happens; fools are the opposite.

This month my wife & I had to make 2 major expenditures that, in the past, would have devastated us financially, probably led to relational conflict, & put us in a financial hole. We had to purchase new tires ($400+ need) & take our dog to the vet because he got injured ($200+ emergency). However, because we have been working hard, recently developed an emergency fund, & been saving it was really no hit at all. There was no credit card, no financial stress, no anxiety, no arguments, & no debt! Rather, there was great relief, gratitude to God, & peace.

For many, including me, saving & wise spending have been very hard practices to master, but they absolutely essential. The life style of devouring all you have is a self destructive heart issue that will cause you to continually experience financial emergencies. You have to face it & you can beat it!

If you truly believe God to be your Source & the One who has entrusted you with His finances, then there will be a heart change resulting in managing your finances as one who is ‘wise.’ You can change your spending habits, you can save, & you can have ‘stores of choice food & oil.’ While they will never be fun, you don’t have to dread financial emergencies any longer. Let change begin today.

Let’s Do This Together
What do you dread most about financial emergencies? Are you devouring all you have? What changes do you need to make in your heart, mind & habits so you can be prepared for a financial emergency?

Finance Fridays #3

February 14, 2013

Expressions of Love: Presence vs. Presents

When you are dead you will not be able to give your presence to anyone.

Your presence is a far greater gift than a present can ever be in your relationships. While presents are great expressions of love, they can never substitute for a fully present you. It’s so easy to try to move or win somebody’s heart with a thing, especially on days like today, Valentine’s Day. However, you cannot overestimate the power of a present & underestimate the power of your presence.

Driving home from work last night my wife & I were talking about our time together. Dead serious she looked at me and said, “Babe, I think you will one day regret the time that you don’t spend with me now & the conversations that we don’t have.” Talk about red flags, sirens, flashing lights, & a spinning drop kick to the head! I immediately stopped & realized that my wife has not felt that I have been fully present with her. I determined to never allow here to feel that again.

Nothing can substitute my presence in my relationship with my wife just as nothing can substitute your presence in your relationships. Yet, so many times we allow things to try to fill the place that only our fully engaged presence can fill. Things will never take the place of you! However, just being physically present is meaningless if your heart, mind, & emotions are somewhere else.

It’s so easy to be physically present without being fully present. You know how it is right? You’re talking with someone, they are nodding their head, appear to be listening, but you can tell they are thinking about what they are going to do later or what they are having for dinner. How about when you are talking with someone & they pull out their phone, start texting, respond to you, & then keep texting? You know they are physically there, but their heart clock out as soon as their phone came out. Who wants to be in a relationship like that?

When you are on your death bed what is going to matter is not how many things you bought for your loved ones or how much stuff you did for them, it is going to be how much your presence impacted their lives. Quick advice, most texts, emails, calls, & work can wait. Wherever you are, be fully there.

You will never get your time back; once a day is gone it is gone. You have to choose to allow your heart to be fully engaged & fully invested with those who are before you. In your relationships, determine to give one of the greatest expressions of love & greatest presents that ONLY YOU can give, your presence.

Let’s Do This Together
How do you feel when someone is not fully present with you? Have you allowed presents or things to take the place of your presence? What do you have to do to train yourself to be fully present with people?

~Happy Valentines Day~

February 13, 2013

W.R.A.P. #2: Hugs Can Save Lives

Would you believe me if I told you that a hug could raise the dead?

In Australia there was a set of twins born premature. The girl came out healthy, but the boy was pronounced dead. After running tests the doctors took the premature son & gave his dead body to his parents telling them to say their goodbyes. The mother took her son’s dead body, lay him on her bare chest & her & her husband started hugging him, cuddling him, talking to him, & rubbing him.

After 2 hours of this, the baby began to gasp, move, & make sounds! Doctors couldn't believe it. It was miraculous. The mother’s & father’s touch brought their child back to life! Jamie Ogg, the baby boy is alive to this day & celebrated his 2nd birthday with his twin sister last year.

Our touch has so much power! God has uniquely designed your body, its systems, warmth, healing power, & comforting ability. You may not think you are a touchy, feely person, but the reality is that everyone needs healthy, loving touch every day. It is said that caring, warm touch can relieve stress, lessen anxiety, comfort, encourage, relinquish fear, infuse with courage, & heal.

The Challenge:
Today, your Wednesday Random Act on Purpose (W.R.A.P.) is to give 5 warm, sincere, & loving hugs to different people in your life. For guys this may be really challenging, but step out & do it! Don’t just do the pat hug either; you know, the hug where you embrace a friend, but then you don’t hold it, you just pat his back a couple times & then let go.

Find 5 people & intentionally embrace them for a couple moments. Some people may find it weird that you are hugging them, that’s okay do it anyway. Others may feel overwhelmed by it because that is their primary love language. You don’t know how they will respond, but choose to hug anyway. Your hug may save a life.

Let’s Do This Together
Was it awkward for you to intentionally hug 5 people? How did they respond? How did you feel before & after?

Click "Jamie Ogg" to see the video interview with his parents after he was revived to life: Jamie Ogg

Click "Dr. Gary Chapman" to check out his article on the love language of physical touch: Dr. Gary Chapman 

February 12, 2013

What You See Is What You Get

As a leader you will always find your current team, circumstance, assignment, or organization as you saw your last one.

There was an old man walking from one town to the next on dirt road & a young man entering the town the old man just left asked him, “How do you find the people in the town you’re leaving?” The old man asked, “How did you find the people in the town you just left?” The young man replied, “Mean, angry, thieves, complainers, selfish, & good for nothing.” The old man responded, “You will find the ones in this town just the same.”

Your perspective is either your greatest asset or your greatest enemy. If you are constantly telling people what they are not good at, exploiting all their faults, & exposing their flaws then don’t ever expect them to rise to a higher standard. Leaders have to learn to constantly call out who their team can be, not just harp on how they are acting now. Leaders set a higher standard for their team, communicate their belief in their team to rise to it, & walk with them there.

Leaders take responsibility for their perspective & recognize that their perspective will drastically impact the outcome of their organization. If something is not happening in the organization, the leader immediately looks at himself or herself. As John Maxwell says, “Everything rises & falls on leadership.” True leaders will never shift blame upon their team, staff, or employees for the organization not being where they want it to be, they always look at themselves first.

You are the common denominator in every town, relationship, job, team, church, & place you go in the world. If you want to see your team grow then start with you. Your team will most often rise to how you see them just as you will most often rise to how you see yourself. If you want to see growth, transformation, & more productivity, check how you are seeing things now. What you see is what you get so start seeing more, better, & greater.

Let’s Do This Together
How do you view your organization, church, team, or relationships? Where have you been shifting blame on others? In what areas do you need to change your perspective?

February 11, 2013

Would You Hire You?

If you were a CEO, founder, boss, or manager of a company would you hire you? 

Stepping back & evaluating your habits would you be someone that you would want on your team? After dissecting your heart & thoughts, scrutinizing your work ethic, & analyzing your willingness to work for the betterment of your company, church, organization, etc. would you still give you a job?

It’s funny, many times I hear people complain about why their organization is horribly run & how their bosses could do things different, but I rarely hear them share how they can change to better the company or support their boss. I don’t know about you, but I would not want to hire someone who is constantly pointing out the faults of their organization or leaders. I want people who are solution-oriented, support prone, & team focused.

At work you have to recognize that you either contribute to the growth & betterment of the work culture or you cause it to become destructive. There is only one person you have complete control over, one person that you can make better, you! If you want to see things change on your job then start with you.

Do you cut corners when no one is watching? Do you immediately complain or seek a solution? Are you doing the minimal or are you causing things to excel?

What you do as an employee you will do as a manager. With the degree that you serve as an employee you will be served as a leader. You are perpetuating and replicating something right now, what is it? You have to learn to do now what you would want people to do if you were a leader; to support, serve, encourage, & help your leaders the way you would want someone to support, serve, encourage & help you.

If you want a positive environment at work then let it start with you. If you want better communication then let it start with you. If you want more support then start by giving more support to your leaders & team.

You will replicate what you perpetuate. 

How you work now is setting the pattern for all those who follow & will follow your example. Stop blaming, waiting for everyone else to change, & expecting your organization to figure it out, become the person that you would want to hire.

Let’s Do This Together
How often do you complain about your boss, organization, or team? Where can you change to better your organization? Do you intentionally seek to support your leadership & better your organization? If not, how can you?

February 10, 2013

Is God's Will Really Good For Me?

As hopeful as I am, I have realized there are areas in my life where disillusionment has kept me from rigorously reaching God’s fullness. You know what I’m talking about right? The times where you have believed for change, contented for transformation, expected healing, or had faith for movement, but nothing seemed to happen. It is as Solomon shared, “Hope deferred makes the heart sick,” (Proverbs 13:12). Many times I have chalked it up to, “It must not have really been God’s will for it to happen.” But is that really the truth?
My pastor & spiritual father, Benjamin Robinson, challenged me this week by sharing how Christians often refer to the will of God as a default. If something great happens then it was because you made it happen or had enough faith, but if you are expecting God to do something & it doesn’t happen then you just say it was not God’s will. God’s will is often spoke of in a way that is ‘less than.’

The will of God is often seen as something that needs to be endured, rather than something that is pleasurable, good, exciting, & profitable. When you view God’s will this way you are positioning yourself either for glorifying your efforts to make something good happen, settling for something that may be less than God & blaming it on God, or priming your heart disillusionment. You may be settling for something that has nothing to do with God!

When Jesus was in the garden preparing for the cross He prayed, “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done,” (Luke 22:42). This was not Jesus saying that God’s will was unpleasant, powerless, or less than good; it wasn’t just something Jesus saw as He had to endure. He was praying for the greatest manifestation of God’s goodness & power to be revealed. Jesus could have called down legions of angels to His defense, but if that was not the Father’s will then He didn’t want it. Jesus was coming in line with the Father’s heart, recognizing that it took more power for Him to remain on the cross, to allow Himself to suffer, then it would to call down angels.

God’s will is a powerful thing & it is a good thing; not just good for Him, but good for you too! Matter of fact, Paul tells us that, “it is God who works in to will and act in you according to His good purpose,” (Philippians 2:13). God’s will is that His kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven (Matt. 6:9-10). In heaven there is no sickness, anxiety, fear, demon oppression, sorrow, poverty, or division. You can’t allow your experience or lack of experience to keep you from believing, contending, & reaching for the fullness of God’s will to manifest in your life; God’s will is good, pleasing, & perfect & He desires you to know it in every area of our life (Romans 12:2).

Let’s Do This Together
Where in your life have you been disillusioned because something you believed for didn’t happen? In what areas of your life do you see the will of God as less than: finances, family, work, healing, etc.? What does the kingdom of God look like in those areas?

February 9, 2013

Fighting For Your Relationships

Have you ever walked away from a relationship because it seemed too hard to remain in?

Growing up in a culture of convenience & individualism has its perks, but I think it also has some major consequences, especially in the area of relationships. Some great things about convenience are it makes things easy, it can diminish toil, & it brings about great access to things. Some great things about individualism are that it brings about a sense of independence, uniqueness, & personal value. However, these great gifts can also become great weapons of relational destruction.

When you look at your relationships, what happens when it does not seem convenient to be somebody’s friend or spouse anymore? What happens when it is no longer easy to talk through things or work through things? You can allow convenience & individualism to condition us so much in relationships that we end up walk away from them because it is “too much work” to remain in them.

Sometimes in your relationships you can be so focused on being ‘you’ that you are not willing to bend, change, or compromise for the sake of the relationship. Of course this can be taken to an extreme in which someone losses their sense of self for the sake of compromise, but more often than not I have seen the opposite. For the sake of guarding your individualism you are not willing to change your position & the relationship seems inevitability over.

Regardless if they are friendships, dating, working, team, ministry, or marriage relationships, they take work. Relationships are not always convenient. Sometimes you need to rearrange your schedule, stay up later than you want too in order to talk through something, keep calling when the person doesn’t return your call, or make the drive even when it is far.

Every relationship that you are in will help to shape your life if you allow it. If fact, to cut certain relationships out of your life will only result in stunting your growth & losing something that is of great benefit to you. When you hit a rough patch in a relationship in the short term it is usually easier to just cut it off, but in the long run you are only perpetuating a pattern of unhealthy abandonment. When the going gets tough that when it is time to remember the value of that relationship & why it is worth the fight.

You have to recapture the value of relationship. God has made you for healthy, loving, challenging, & fruitful relationship. Your relationships are valuable, necessary, & essential for your growth as individuals. God uses relationships to reveal more of Himself to you & to reveal more of you to yourself. It’s time to fight for your relationships, work through the hurt, forgive, determine to understand, be willing to compromise, be willing to take a stand, & be willing to grow together regardless of how hard it may be.

Let’s Do This Together
Is it easy for you to walk away from relationships? If so, why? What relationships do you need to learn to fight for?

February 8, 2013

Are You Broke or Poor?

Do you realize there is a difference of being financially broke & poor? There is a difference from not having any money compared to thinking you will never be financially secure. When we look at our lives & money we tend to only look at it in terms of amount, but the reality is that beneath the amount there is something way more powerful driving our lives, it is our mentality.

When you are broke it means you don’t have any financial resources; your pockets are empty & the only things that live in your bank accounts are crickets. When you’re broke you are living pay check to pay check, your savings account has it’s “vacancy” sign buzzing, & you can’t rub two quarters together. But, when you are broke you still may have something in you that never says die, a drive that keeps you envisioning for a better tomorrow.

However, when you’re poor you have allowed yourself to seep into a mentality that is never satisfied, fulfilled, & always in lack. Of course there are systemic things that contribute to poverty, but someone can be financially broke without ever entering into a poverty mentality. A poverty mentality is always a victim mentality; no matter how much it receives, the poverty mentality can never envision beyond the experience of lack.

Here are a couple ways to identify if you are experiencing being broke or if you are possessing a poverty mentality:

Being Broke:
1.      You don’t constantly lack, but at this time you don’t have resources you need.
2.      You are living pay check to pay check, but only because you haven’t made good financial decisions.
3.      You are constantly envisioning for ways to move forward & you are acting on them.
4.      You don’t have resources, but you are making efforts to increase your resources in a healthy way.
5.      You have not yet developed the skills & habits of good spending, saving, giving, & investing, but you are working towards it.

Being Poor:
1.      No matter how much you are given you spend it immediately or hoard it because you don’t know if you will ever have it again.
2.      You don’t see any end to your financial woes.
3.      You have no plan for your financial future & you don’t want to set one because you think things can never change.
4.      You constantly blame the system & people for holding you down & not giving you opportunities.
5.      You have no desire to develop the skills & habits of good spending, saving, giving, & investing because you don’t see yourself being out of where you are; you don’t think those things are possible or needed for you.

The first step to truly being financially free, getting out of debt, & walking in God’s fullness for your life in the area of finances is recognizing where you are & where you will end up if you keep going the route your going now. You have to be real with how you think & what you believe about finances. You can never come out of poverty if you don’t realize that you are in it in your heart or mind because poverty is not a financial issue, it is a heart & mind issue.

Let’s Do This Together
In what areas are you experiencing being broke or poor? What ways of thinking need to change in order for you to move toward financial freedom?

*Finances Fridays #2

February 7, 2013

Attention: You Have A Spouse, Did You Forget?

Honestly, I can’t tell you how many times I have hurt my wife because I have not given her the attention she is worth. Trust me, I don’t say this as a good thing, but as a confession of long desired growth. Your spouse is one of the greatest gifts from God that you will ever know or experience; do you treat him or her that way?

It is so easy to get preoccupied with the things of life that we forget the one we at one time could not live without. You know how it is right? When you get all excited about a new iphone, hobby, show, or even job & you are giving more attention to that thing than your spouse.

If we were to be honest this happens most often in the small things. If we were to look at our lives we would in no way think that we are giving more attention to TV, shopping, or sports than our spouse. But, how about in the little day to day things?

I’m sure this never happens to any of you, but I’m starting to punch myself every time my wife says, “Babe, can you look up at me from that computer?” Or, “How you going to just walk right pass me when you first come home?” The neglect happens when you get ready for bed & before your wife could say, “Goodnight,” you are already drooling on your pillow. It happens when your husband wants to share something exciting about his day, but you’re too ‘busy’ watching a show. The neglect happens in the small things & those small things add up.

Now before you write off your spouse for just being needy or before you shame yourself to death, know that both you & your spouse are worth attention & you can give it. Every fruitful relationship takes intentional care, effort, time, & attention. You can have a great marriage, where you both know you’re valued & loved. If you want a better marriage you can choose to make time for your spouse & give her or him the attention she or he is worth.

Here are some quick tips for giving your spouse 
the attention he or she is worth:

1.      When your spouse walks in the room after work stop what you are doing & loving greet her.
2.      When your spouse wakes up in the morning give her a kiss & tell her how thankful you are to have her.
3.      When your spouse does something you ask immediately acknowledge it with a loving thank you.
4.      Plan to have at least 10 -15 minutes to talk before you go to bed.
5.      If you are on the phone with a friend & your spouse asks to speak with you tell your friend you will call him back & talk with your spouse.
6.      Look up from the computer when your spouse walks in the room; your work, facebook, or email can wait.
7.      Plan something weekly that you two do together for at least 30 minutes with no distractions.

Let’s Do This Together
What neglect traps do you seem to fall prey too?  What is one specific way that you can show your spouse more attention this week? How would your marriage be different if you gave more attention to your spouse?