Searching for Donkey’s

There is a story in the Bible where a young man named Saul is asked by his father to go and search for his donkey’s that wondered off and are now gone.  Saul takes one of the hired hands and some supplies and heads out to find the donkey’s.  They search all over the area and keep going for three days searching every place they can think of, but they cannot find the donkey’s.

After three days they think it might be wise to head home as his father is probably getting worried about them.  No cell phones in those days.  The hired hand says, wait I heard about this man of God that can prophesy or tell the future and he may be able to tell us where to go next to find these donkey’s.

So they find this man that is a prophet from God.  His name is Samuel.  When they meet Samuel he seems to be expecting them and invites them to go with him to a special meal he is having with some important people in town.  He gives Saul a choice seat and a choice meal.  Saul eats the meal and has a great time and they talk after the meal and get to know each other.  Samuel also tells Saul that the donkey’s have been found and they can return home the next day.

The next morning Saul is getting ready to leave and Samuel joins him and walks with him to the edge of town.  Saul is probably wondering why Samuel was so interested in him and why he is walking with him to the edge of town.

When they get to the edge of town, Samuel stops, takes a vial of olive oil and pours it on Saul’s head, anointing him, and then kissed him.  Whoa, what just happened?

Samuel then tells Saul that God has made him the ruler over his people, the people of Israel.  He just anointed Saul King of Israel.  He then goes on to tell him what is going to happen next as they travel home, who they will meet, and what he should do each step along the way.  As Saul turns to leave God does a work in his heart and fills him with the power of God and everything Samuel said would happen did happened.  Saul did just what Samuel told him to do and he became the King of Israel.

So maybe you have been out searching for lost donkey’s and you do not know where to go next to look for them.  In other words searching for your purpose in life. Here are some things to think about from this story:

  1. Don’t be discouraged because God often works that way.  He sends us off looking for donkey’s and we end up finding God in unexpected ways.
  2. When the timing is right God reveals to us what we need to know for the next leg of our journey.
  3. Sometimes you need to walk through an unexpected door to end up finding the right door.
  4. Sometimes we need to go to a godly person for advice on what to do next.  God most often speaks through people like He did with Samuel.
  5. Sometimes God has an unexpected blessing, message or purpose He wants to give us, but only after searching for missing donkey’s.
  6. Listen carefully and be sure to pray and ask God for wisdom and discernment to know what is from Him and what is not.
  7. Then have the courage to take those next steps that have been laid out for you.

 

 

How Bold Are You?

“Our difficulties and dangers will not be removed by closing our eyes to them.”  Winston Churchill

I recently watched the movie Darkest Hour the story about Winston Churchill.  It tells the story of the beginning of World War 2 and how Churchill rose to leadership and how he provided leadership at that critical time in history.

I also have recently read the story of Patrick Henry and his part in moving our country to become independent and free.

Both of those men had a character quality that helped them to lead in critical, difficult times.  It was boldness.  The definition of boldness is “Confidence and courage to do what is right regardless of the circumstances or others’ opinions.”

Winston Churchill was willing to take great risks and even fail because he believed he was doing what was right and best for his country.  Many people around him criticized and questioned most of his decisions, yet he continued to stay the course and boldly stand firm.  There were moments of questioning himself and dealing with fear directly.  However, he did not allow the fear to paralyze him, he talked to different people to get new perspectives when his inner circle began to crumble.

Patrick Henry also showed great boldness as one of the first people to openly speak out against England and the oppression they were imposing on the colonies.  His steadfast boldness encouraged many others to also stand firm in the face of fear.

Here are some key lessons we can learn from Winston Churchill and Patrick Henry about boldness:

  1. Boldness helps you communicate your message more effectively – Appropriate boldness brings power to your message.  Sharing your message with confidence and passion gets peoples attention.  Bold people speak up when asked to give their opinion, because they have thought deeply about the issue at hand and are clear about what is right and best for the organization or country.  Even if they are not completely clear on how to gt there, they are willing to take risks to make progress and get the right things done.
  2. Boldness will improve your relationships – People that are not afraid to have the hard conversations in life have some of the healthiest relationships.  They keep short accounts and resolve issues.  Other people like being around people that are confident and value living and influencing over simply existing and staying in their comfort zones.  Appropriate boldness requires having composure and intentionally working on relationships before they get worse.
  3. Bold people are often criticized – If you are bold and passionate about something you will most likely get criticized and even ridiculed.  True boldness gets you through those low times of rejection and failure.  You are not a great leader if you have never been criticized, questioned and ridiculed.  Boldness keeps you pressing forward.
  4. Boldness takes a positive outlook on life – Bold people think positive and believe the best.  Nothing kills boldness faster than a pessimistic outlook or negative thinking.  If you focus on what could go wrong your boldness dwindles but when you focus on what can go right your boldness grows.
  5. God raises up and uses bold people – When you have a relationship with God through Jesus Christ you have access to incredible power.  God’s spirit lives in you and empowers you to be bold for Him.  The stronger your faith in God grows the bolder you become.  2 Timothy 1:7 says “For God has not given us a spirit of fearfulness, but one of power, and of love and of sound judgement.”

When a person is not bold they often miss opportunities to influence and make a difference.  Of course you can be bold for wrong reasons and sometimes people will be more of a bully than a bold person.  Character matters when it comes to being bold.  Sometimes the most bold thing you can do is not fight back but forgive and love.  Stand up for what is right and good and protect the weak and oppressed.  Be bold about things that make the world a better place and serve other people, that’s appropriate boldness.

Next Step:

Boldness is one of 48 principles that Lodestar Guidance teaches.  Each principle has a short video and a bulletin that walks you through the keys to improving that quality in your life.  It’s a great way to build a culture that is healthy and thriving.  If you would like more information about Lodestar or leadership development email me at castutzman@gmail.com

 

 

How’s Your Health?

How healthy are you?  Most people would answer that question by talking about their physical health.  We start talking about aches and pains and our weight.  We talk about needing to exercise more and eat better and maybe go see the doctor.

But we don’t often think about our emotional health or our spiritual health or our relational health.  When I think about being healthy I think about mind, body and soul.  If those three are not healthy we are in trouble.  When one is not healthy it can affect the others.

I believe the most important part of us is our spiritual side, our souls.  That is our true self.  Taking care of our souls should be a high priority.

Our spiritual health is critical.  Too often we try to get well after we are sick spiritually instead of avoiding getting sick in the first place.

One soul renewal discipline is to set SOUL GOALS. 

You need to have a plan for spiritual growth to avoid doing life in a dull spiritual trance.  Not many people take the time to write out goals for their lives let alone goals for their souls.  To me our soul goals should come before any other goals.  Being a Christian is not an academic exercise, it is a relationship.  In any relationship we must put the hard work in if we want it to be successful.  A good marriage doesn’t just happen, great friendships take work and being intentional about getting to know each other.  Isaiah 55:8 says “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord.”

We need to get to know God better, and setting soul goals can help you do just that.  If you are not intentional about growing closer to God you will plateau and not experience all that He has for you.

Here are a few examples of soul goals:

  1. I want to practice Heaven by enjoying now – celebrate the little things in life by starting a grateful journal.
  2. I want to have a part in advancing God’s Kingdom – not hinder it.  Where can I serve?
  3. I want to grow in grace in my relationships – a soft heart, compassion and love for people.  What are two things I can do to improve my relationships?
  4. I want to laugh more – my life is in His hands.  Find ways to have fun and enjoy life.  Schedule fun.
  5. I want to remain open to God’s changes in my life – His way, not my way.  This is surrendering to Him and trusting Him with every part of your life.  What do I need to surrender to God?
  6. I want to live less like a victim and more like a victor – A broken bone will heal stronger than before. Am I using the trials of life to shape my ministry?  God often used the most painful experiences in our life to shape us for ministry and use that pain to help others.  How can I use my painful experiences to help others?  Look for opportunities to do that.
  7. I want to excel in prayer.  I need to plan a time of prayer and then have a prayer mindset throughout each day.
  8. I want to be a more giving person – time, money, talent.  I need to start tithing and serving.  When will I start?

Another spiritual renewal discipline is PRAYER.

To have healthy souls, we must pour out our souls in prayer, both secretly, and in public.   Prayer connects us with God; it is a gift we are given because of Jesus.  We are each priests, working for God and able to communicate directly with Him.  Therefore we need to take advantage of this great gift.

Prayer should be a part of our everyday activities, throughout the day we should be in constant connection to God.  Just as if He was right beside you each and every moment of each day.  “Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful.”  Colossians 4:2

Prayer is an opportunity to Praise God – to express your love for Him

Also to find your purpose in life – what He has for you.

It also is a way to ask for our needs to be met and for confession of sin.

Prayer is a time to intercede for other people and to ask for protection.

John Wesley was a man of prayer, the busier his life became the more time he spent in prayer.  Today many of us are exactly the opposite.  The busier we get the less we pray.  No wonder our lives are filled with stress and anxiety.  Prayer is vital to a healthy soul.  “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.”  Philippians 4:6

A few closing thoughts on prayer:

We need a time and a place to pray.  A regular time is essential.  We still need to pray throughout the day, but we need a special time each day to really connect with God.  Give Him your best time each day, whether that is in the morning, afternoon or evening.  Prayer requires a certain level of preparation.  The pace of our lives causes our minds to race at fast levels.  We have noise all around us that distracts us from our communication with God.  Our thoughts are sort of like a bunch of monkeys jumping around on a banana tree.  So when you begin your prayer time you need to be at your best and let the monkeys settle down.  Take a few deep breathes and allow your mind to slow down and focus on God.

We also need to keep our prayers simple.  There is a gap between what I am supposed to pray for and what is really on my mind.  Simple prayer means praying about what is on your heart, not what you think God wants to hear.  In the movie Bruce Almighty, God asks Bruce to pray and he prays for God to feed the hungry and for world peace.  Too often that is the extent of our prayers and it never comes from our hearts.

Tell God about how frustrated you are at work, or how your neighbor made you mad.  Be real with God.  Nothing kills prayer faster than when we pretend before God.  Prayer like any relationship has to begin in honesty and grow.

Another thing that has helped me tremendously in my prayer life is to be fully present.  I don’t know about you, but my mind wonders when I pray.  I thought this would stop as I grew spiritually, but it did not.    I used to feel guilty about this until I learned what it means to be fully present.

If your mind keeps returning to a particular topic or person, it is probably an indication that this is the topic or person of most concern to you, and you need stop and talk to God about it.

Sometimes my agenda for the day keeps coming to my mind, so I stop and pray for the things on my calendar, meetings, projects and people.  Or maybe I keep thinking about a person or persons, so I stop and pray for that person and what is going on in their lives.

If you approach these thoughts as stepping stones rather than barriers to prayer you will be fully present with God.  There are times that thoughts can be a distraction though and that may mean you need to keep a notebook close by to write down the thought or the thing you need to do, so you can get back with God and really connect with Him.

So set some soul goals and make sure prayer is a regular part of your life.

A Key to Success

norway-travelnews-amundsenI’d like to share a story with you about two explorers:

Explorers Roald Amundsen and Robert Falcon Scott competed to be the first to lead their teamon an expedition to the South Pole in October 1911. The 1400 mile trip was challenging, and temperatures often reached 20 degrees below zero even during the summer. The terrain was uncertain and unforgiving. The modern communication we rely upon was non-existent. If things went badly, rescue was very unlikely. Amundsen led his explorers to safety and victory, but Scott’s expedition led to defeat. The difference in the leaders’ expeditions was wisdom.

Amundsen spent years rigorously preparing for the journey. He learned how to handle polar conditions, and he lived with Eskimos to learn how they survived, what they wore, and how they moved. He studied every possible scenario. Amundsen designed the entire journey to reduce the likelihood of chance events. He carried enough extra supplies to be able to miss every single supply depot and still go another 100 miles, but Scott risked running low on supplies. Amundsen stored three tons of supplies for five men; Scott had only one ton for 17 men. Amundsen brought four thermometers, but Scott brought only one. Amundsen used sled dogs, based on the wisdom of the Eskimos. Scott used unproven motor sledges and ponies. The sleds failed, and the ponies died. Amundsen was famous for his “20 Mile March” wisdom, having a set distance the team had to travel daily no matter the circumstances. Scott let the weather determine when his team moved. Amundsen trained his body and mind with rigorous discipline, but Scott’s preparation was limited. He made plans based on his own intuition and opinions, not on direct research of the environment he was entering.

On December 15, 1911, Amundsen and his team reached the South Pole. They planted the flag and went right back to work. They reached home base on January 25th, the exact day he planned. Eight months later, a British reconnaissance party found the frozen bodies of Scott and his last two teammates in a snow covered tent just eleven miles short of his supply station. The entire team had perished. Scott’s lack of wisdom led to defeat.

There was a pretty big difference between the two explorers right.  Amundsen was much better prepared for the journey than Scott.  Why was he more prepared?

  1. He spent years preparing himself and his team – Always remember that to take on something important, something big we have to prepare for it. We have to practice and work on our skills.  So whatever we want to do in life start preparing now.  We are always preparing for something, when we stop growing and preparing we often miss opportunities or make critical mistakes and failures.
  2. He also learned as much as he could about the South Pole – This is a reminder for all of us to always keep learning and growing. The most successful people in life are the ones that are life-long learners.  So just because you are out of school doesn’t mean you stop learning.  Keep reading books, keep studying things you are interested in.  Keep stretching yourself.  There is always something new to learn.
  3. He planned for chance events – He knew that there were lots of things out of his control, like the weather. He had to be flexible when things went wrong.  No matter how much you plan there are always things that can go wrong.  Life has lots of ups and downs, so we need to prepare for those things by making wise decisions and having some backup plans.  Amundson packed extra supplies and took more than he needed in case things did not go as planned.  In life things often do not go as planned, so prepare to be flexible.
  4. He talked to people that knew more than he did, the Eskimos – We can also learn a lot from other people that have gone before us that are older or more experienced than us. Ask questions and learn from people that have been doing the things we want to do.  Where I work at a church we go to other churches that are bigger than us, more experienced than us and ask them questions and try to learn what is working for them.
  5. He had a system and was disciplined – he planned to go 20 miles every day no matter what. He learned what worked then he stuck with it and followed the plan.  Self-discipline is important because we often have to do things we don’t enjoy.  To accomplish good things in life we need to work hard, stay focused and stick with it.
  6. Amundson used wisdom to succeed – Wisdom is accurately applying knowledge and clear judgement to life situations

The Bible has a lot to say about wisdom.  King Solomon – wrote most of the book of Proverbs.  That’s a great place to start in seeking wisdom.  If you haven’t read Proverbs start today.  Make is a practice to read through the 31 chapters of Proverbs a couple of times a year.

 

Daily Creed

A couple of weeks ago I did a funeral for a 95 year old woman.  The family gave me her Bible to look through as I prepared for the service.  I’d like to share one of the things that I found.

She wrote this on a piece of paper:

My Daily Creed:

  1. I believe God’s promises are true
  2. I believe heaven is real
  3. I believe nothing can separate me from God’s love
  4. I believe God has work for me to do
  5. I believe God will see me through and carry me when I cannot walk

I love that I and I now have that hanging in my office.  So what do you believe?