Summer Reading List 2012

 

Leader’s are readers, I don’t remember who I first heard that from, probably John Maxwell.  Over the years I have made it a point to read as much as I can.  I try to read a variety of books and even include some fiction from time to time.  I like to read because I like to grow, learn, and stretch my thinking and perspectives.  One of the ways I like to read books is by meeting with a group of other people and read it together.  I do that with my staff and different groups of men.  I love the interaction and discussions and it also helps me to actually read more books and finish them.

I have an active list of books I am reading, have read and want to read, to check them out click here.

Several of these books are on my Kindle the rest I have in old fashion books.  If you haven’t read  a book in a while plan to start this summer

I hope you will put a list together of the books you want to read in the coming months.  If you want to be a better leader at home, at work or in your community then start reading.

New Year New Thinking

 

Most people start the new year by thinking about things they want to change or do differently in the coming year.  It is a time when we can hope for a better future and many people will make resolutions or set goals for the coming year.  I firmly believe in goal setting and have done that for years.  It helps me think about what I want to accomplish and the kind of person I want to be.

Most people never follow through on the resolutions they set or goals they come up with.  The main reason for that is we don’t change the way we think and therefore our actions never follow.  Only when we change our mindset and what we care about can we change our lives.  We all have things that we believe to be true about ourselves, the world, God and others.  Those core beliefs drive our thinking which in turn drives our behavior.  So, to really make a change in 2012, the way we think and what we believe  needs to change.

To do that it is important to identify what lies might be a part of our belief system.  Here are a few that many of us struggle with:

    • Believing that acquiring money and things will bring lasting happiness
    • Believing that excessive food and alcohol can relieve my stress and make me happy
    • Believing that an attractive body and personality will get me what I need
    • Believing that gratifying sexual lust will bring lasting satisfaction
    • Believing that I can associate with bad company and not be corrupted
    • Believing that I can read, see or listen to anything and not be corrupted
    • Believing that I  must gain approval of certain people in order to be happy
    • Believing that I must measure up to certain standards in order to feel good about myself

Here are some lines of thinking that lead us into deception:

  • Thinking I am something I am really not
  • Thinking I was just born this way and can’t change
  • Thinking I can be truly religious but not bridle my tongue
  • Thinking that God is the source of my problems
  • Thinking I can live my life without the help of anyone else
  • Thinking that it’s my life and I can live however I want to
  • Thinking that I need to control the people and situations around me
  • Thinking that I can change other people

Before we can identify lies we believe we need to know what is true.  That starts by looking to the ultimate source of truth and that is God and the Bible.  If you only do one thing this year, let it be to read the Bible more than you did last year.  Maybe it’s reading a devotional daily or maybe it’s reading the New Testament or the whole Bible.  If you have never gotten into the Bible, let this year be the year.  Get a translation that is easy to understand like “The Message” or the “Amplified” or the New Living Translation”.

Here is a summary of some of the most important truths from the Bible.  A goal might be to read this daily for 3 weeks and see what happens.

Truth Statements

 I recognize that there is only one true and living God (Ex. 20:2-3) who exists as the Father, Son and Holy Spirit and that He is worthy of all honor, praise and glory as the Creator, Sustainer and Beginning and End of all things (Rev. 4:11; 5:9-10; Is. 43:1, 7, 21).

I recognize Jesus Christ as the Messiah, the Word who became flesh and dwelt among us (John 1:1, 14). I believe that He came to destroy the works of Satan (1 John 3:8), that He disarmed the rulers and authorities and made a public display of them, having triumphed over them (Col. 2:15).

I believe that God has proven His love for me because when I was still a sinner, Christ died for me (Rom. 5:8). I believe that He delivered me from the domain of darkness and transferred me to His kingdom, and in Him I have redemption, the forgiveness of sins (Col. 1:13-14).

I believe that I am now a child of God (1 John 3:1-3) and that I am seated with Christ in the heavenlies (Eph. 2:6). I believe that I was saved by the grace of God through faith, that it was a gift, and not the result of any works on my part (Eph. 2:8-9).

I choose to be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might (Eph. 6:10). I put no confidence in the flesh (Phil. 3:3) for the weapons of warfare are not of the flesh (2 Cor. 10:4). I put on the whole armor of God (Eph. 6:10-20), and I resolve to stand firm in my faith and resist the evil one.

I believe that apart from Christ I can do nothing (John 15:5), so I declare myself dependent on Him. I choose to abide in Christ in order to bear much fruit and glorify the Lord (John 15:8). I announce to Satan that Jesus is my Lord (1 Cor. 12:3), and I reject any counterfeit gifts or works of Satan in my life.

I believe that the truth will set me free (John 8:32) and that walking in the light is the only path of fellowship (1 John 1:7).

Therefore, I stand against Satan’s deception by taking every thought captive in obedience to Christ (2 Cor. 10:5). I declare that the Bible is the only authoritative standard (2 Tim. 3:15-16). I choose to speak the truth in love (Eph. 4:15).

I choose to present my body as an instrument of righteousness, a living and holy sacrifice, and I renew my mind by the living Word of God in order that I may prove that the will of God is good, acceptable and perfect (Rom. 6:13; 12:1-2). I put off the old self with its evil practices and put on the new self (Col. 3:9-10), and I declare myself to be a new creature in Christ (2 Cor. 5:17).

I trust my heavenly Father to fill me with His Holy Spirit (Eph. 5:18), to lead me into all truth (John 16:13) and to empower my life that I may live above sin and not carry out the desires of the flesh (Gal. 5:16). I crucify the flesh (Gal. 5:24) and choose to walk by the Spirit.

I renounce all selfish goals and choose the ultimate goal of love (1 Tim. 1:5). I choose to obey the two greatest commandments; to love the Lord my God with all my heart, soul and mind, and to love my neighbor as myself (Matt. 22:37-39).

I believe that Jesus has all authority in heaven and on earth (Matt. 28:18) and that He is the head over all rule and authority (Col. 2:10). I believe that Satan and his demons are subject to me in Christ since I am a member of Christ’s body (Eph. 1:19-23). Therefore, I obey the command to submit to God and to resist the Devil (Jas. 4:7), and I command Satan in the name of Christ to leave my presence.

Happy New Year!

Are You A Worry Wart?

 

For most people worry is something that comes naturally.  We worry about deadlines, how to pay the bills, what other people think about us, our job security, our marriage, our children and their future.  Sometimes we worry about little things and sometimes we worry about big things, but the point is we all tend to worry.  A good definition of worry is negative focused thinking.  When we worry we are thinking in a negative way.  We go into the worse case scenario and often begin to spiral downward in our thinking.  The result of negative focused thinking is that our emotional and physical state is impacted in a negative way as well.

Jesus actually cautioned us against worrying about anything – even the food we eat or the clothes we wear.  In Matthew 6:25-34, Jesus gives us six reasons for trusting in God rather than  worrying.

  1. God Created Us – The same God who gives us the gift of life and created us as a unique human being will certainly supply the lesser things in life like food and clothing.
  2. God Cares For Us – If God cares for the birds and provides for their needs, why wouldn’t He care for and meet our needs as well.  God loves us more than we love our own children or grandchildren.  He loves us more than we love our parents or siblings.  He loves us more than we love our spouse or boyfriend or girlfriend.  Because of that deep love for us He cares about every detail of our lives.
  3. Worry Doesn’t Change Anything – Worry expends energy pointlessly.  It doesn’t change the reality of the situation one bit.  Worry tends to make the situation worse because it robs us of our peace.  It causes us to lose sleep and brings up negative damaging emotions like fear, bitterness, anxiety and depression.
  4. Worry Ignores God’s Faithfulness in Our Lives – God faithfully provides for all the things He has created.  He pays attention to even the flowers in a field, why wouldn’t He pay even closer attention to us, His masterpiece.  When we worry we quickly forget all the times God has provided in the past.  We forget the way He has moved in previous situations and helped us through difficulties before.
  5. We Are God’s Children – God will never treat us as orphans who need to fend for ourselves.  He treats us as His very own children.  His desire is to give us good gifts and to bless us.  Many times we stray away from Him and walk down the worry path instead of the trust path.    When we do that, God patiently waits for us to return to Him.  When we see God as a loving ever present Father instead of a distant or absent father, we don’t have to worry.
  6. When We Worry About Tomorrow We Miss Out On Today – Any problem we face can be handled, with God’s help, one day at a time.  When we rely on God for help, He freely gives us what we need.  When we rely on ourselves and our own strength we will fall short.  When we worry we miss the blessings that God has for us today.  We miss the things that are right in front of us and we don’t see clearly.  When we worry, we tend to make decisions that often make things worse.

The next time that worry starts to creep into your life or you feel the pressure of life, pray for the grace you need to depend on God.  He is faithful and trustworthy and will provide what is needed to endure and overcome whatever comes your way.  Psalm 118:6, 8-9 says “The Lord is with me; I will not be afraid.  What can man do to me?… It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in man.  It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in princes.”

This is only possible if you have a personal relationship with God.  It is your decision whether you have that relationship or not.  In order to be a child of God you need to accept the free gift God gives to you through His son Jesus Christ.  By asking Jesus to forgive your sins and be the leader of your life you instantly become a child of God and can have the close personal relationship I described above.  Once that decision is made, you begin the journey with God in becoming the person He originally designed you to be.  God begins to chip away the rough edges and begins to shape you and mold you, so that you can fulfill the calling He has for your life.  He begins to heal the hurts and hang ups from your past that keep you from living life to the fullest.

God wants to carry our burdens for us, but we need to hand them over and not take them back.  So take some advice from Jesus and stop worrying.

Eleven Rules For a Healthy Brain and Body

 

I have been reading a book on brain health, by Daniel Amen.  If ind it very interesting.  His overall theme is that most people’s brains are not very healthy because of the poor nutrition, lack of exercise & lack of sleep.  I just finished reading the chapter on nutrition and thought I would share the Eleven rules the author shares for our best nutrition.  By following these rules, we can lose weight, lower blood pressure, bad cholesterol, increase focus and energy and enjoy life much more.  So here they are:

      1. Drink plenty of water, some green tea (2-3 times a day), and limit drinks with calories.
      2. Watch your calories – The bottom-line message about calories is that the fewer you eat, the longer you live. Calorie restriction with optimal nutrition should be our motto.
      3. Increase good fats and decrease bad fats – Bad fat (saturated fats), really bad fat (trans fat), and good fat (unsaturated fats).  Good fat foods:  Anchovies, Avocados, Lean Meats (Chicken/Turkey), low-fat cheeses, Nuts (walnuts are the best), Olive oil, Canola oil, Flaxseed oil, Salmon, Soybeans, Tuna.
      4. Reduce your Sugar intake – Sugar spikes your blood sugar level then sends it crashing down about 30 minutes later, leaving you feeling lackluster and dim-witted.  If you want to cut down on your sugar intake, start by cutting out the soda and limiting the cookies, candy and ice cream.  Hold the bread before meals, bread makes you hungrier and encourages you to eat more.
      5. Dump artificial sweeteners and replace them with small amounts of natural sweeteners – Artificial sweeteners can cause joint pain, headaches, increase sugar cravings.  Natural sweeteners like stevia, Xylitol can be used on a limited basis.
      6. Limit caffeine intake – caffeine restricts blood flow to the brain, dehydrates the brain, interferes with sleep, can be addictive in high amounts, can accelerate the heart rate and raise blood pressure, can give you the jitters, increase muscle tension, upset your stomach, elevate inflammatory markers and interfere with fertility.  Caffeine is in a lot of things besides coffee.  Coffee in moderation has some health benefits.
      7. Eat great brain foods – The author lists the top 50 best brain foods.  Lots of fruits, veggies, fish, beans & lentils, whole wheat, chicken/turkey.  One of the big keys is to eat a balanced diet.  Knowing how many servings of each food group you need each day is vital to being healthy.
      8. Reduce salt intake and increase potassium intake – Most foods already have plenty of salt in them, try to avoid adding any on your own.  Foods high in potassium include:  bananas, spinach, honeydew melon, kiwi, lima beans, oranges, tomatoes and all meats.
      9. Plan snacks – Eating every 3-4 hours throughout the day helps to stabilize your blood sugar.  Here are some good options:  Low-fat yogurt & nuts, 1 ounce string cheese & half a cup of grapes, Turkey with an apple, dried fruit with no sugar added.
      10. Take a daily multivitamin/mineral supplement and fish oil – Ninety-one percent of Americans do not eat at least 5 servings of fruits and vegetables a day, the minimum required to get good nutrition.  Therefore most of us need to take a supplement.
      11. Recognize when you or someone you care about has hidden food allergies – Certain foods may cause physical, emotional, behavioral, or learning problems.  The most common culprits are peanuts, milk, eggs, soy, fish, shellfish, tree nuts, and wheat.  Others include corn, chocolate, tea, coffee, sugar, yeast, citrus fruits, pork, rye, beef, tomatoes and barley.  Many people with ADD can improve dramatically if they find the foods that they are allergic to and eliminate them from their diet.

The more I study nutrition, the more I am convinced that many of our physical and emotional problems come from poor nutrition.  Most of us would prefer to first medicate instead of dramatically changing the way in which we eat.  God designed our bodies in an amazing way and if we put the right things into our bodies they function better and last longer.  I still have a lot to learn and implement into my life, but I am trying I hope you will as well.

Get Your Mind Right

While I was working out yesterday, the instructor in the DVD made this statement while I was bent over try to catch my breath: “Get your mind right!”.

I heard a similar message at our staff retreat on Monday. This idea of how powerful your mind is and how much the way we think affects our emotions, our physical well being and our relationships. The Bible says that we were created in God’s image. He is the one that gave us these incredible minds to use, not only to benefit ourselves but to glorify God.

For most of us our minds have been transformed into something other than what God intended. By the early age of six years old many of our basic beliefs are already in place. As we grow there are many lies we begin to believe because of the experiences we go through. Our mind filters each experience and that shapes our worldview.

Of course God knew this would happen in this fallen, evil world. This is not perfect heaven, so there are many lies and deceptions that we fall for. That is why Paul wrote in the book of Romans “Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is – His good, pleasing and perfect will.”

When we get our minds right, our focus sharpens and clears. When our minds are racing, whether worrying about the future unknown or remembering the painful past, our focus is weak and foggy. When our minds are not living in the present, our emotions get out of control and actually begin to control us. When our minds are right, we can hear God better and know what His will is. When our minds are not right, we do not hear God and tend to do our own thing.

When I was working out, my body wanted to stop because I was getting tired. When I focused my mind on the exercise I was doing it gave me the energy I needed to finish and keep up. When we are tired, our mind tends to drift and negative thoughts can easily fill our minds.

So how do we get our minds right?

  • Examine what you are putting into your mind – Television shows, movies, books, magazines, conversations, music.
  • Replace harmful input with wholesome material.
  • Read God’s Word – The truth will set you free!
  • Pray – talking to God is one of the best ways to get your mind right
  • Meditate – This has become a popular practice, but the real power comes when you meditate on God’s Word. Emptying your mind can be a dangerous thing to do. Meditation is focused positive thinking – focusing on God brings incredible peace.
  • Put into practice what God tells you to do – real transformation happens when our mind is right and we then act on that by being obedient to God.
  • Slow down – we can either slow down on our own, or God will do it for us at some point.
  • Simplify your life – most people are doing too many things – busy people are not very effective. Say no some things and watch the stress level come way down.

So get your mind right!