Monthly Archives: November 2009

How’s the Weather?

We talk about the weather a lot don’t we? When it’s nice out we feel compelled to comment on it and when it’s bad weather outside we often complain about it. In Ohio this is an everyday occurrence. We watch the weather forecasters and watch the weather channel to find out all we can about the weather. Weather does affect our lives in small ways. Sometimes it causes us to change plans or change our moods.

How is your weather? As I was outside today, I started thinking about the weather and how each person has their own weather everyday. Are you party sunny, partly cloudy, mostly sunny, chance of rain, chance of severe thunderstorms? Each day we have a forecast for our weather. The thing about this weather is that we have some control over the weather in our lives.

Our personal weather is affected by what and how we think. Our weather follows our thoughts, so if you are thinking negative, bad thoughts your weather will most likely be mostly cloudy. Now I understand that we can’t always be sunny or happy. There will be those days that are darker than the others. There will be some storms in our life, but how long we stay there depends a lot on our thoughts.

When we dwell on thoughts that are negative, we tend to spiral downward and stay in the storm. We actually increase the strength of the storm the more we stay with those negative thoughts.

So how do you train yourself to think in the right way? Philippians 4:4-8 describes this process well in the Message version.

“Celebrate God all day, every day. I mean, revel in Him! Make it as clear as you can to all you meet that you’re on their side, working with them and not against them. Help them see that the Master is about to arrive. He could show up any minute! Don’t fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns. Before you know it, a sense of God’s wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down. It’s wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life.

Summing it all up, friends, I’d say you’ll do best by filling your minds and meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious – the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse.”

So if your weather has been mostly cloudy or if you’ve been experiencing severe weather in your life examine what you have been thinking about. We become what we think about. Our hearts are fed by our thoughts. The Bible says to guard our hearts, and the best way to do that is to be careful what we think about and where we focus our minds. You have the ability to drastically improve your weather, starting today.

Elements of True Thanksgiving

With Thanksgiving day tomorrow I’ve been thinking about giving thanks. Being thankful means to express gratitude or appreciation. I found the word thankful, thankfulness, thanks and thanksgiving 18 times in Scripture.

The first is in 1 Chronicles 16:8 – “Give thanks to the Lord, call on his name; make known among the nations what he has done.” Verses 7-36 describe how David gave thanks. Go ahead and read it for yourself.

There are four elements of true thanksgiving found in these verses:

  1. Remember what God has done
  2. Tell others about it
  3. Show God’s glory to others
  4. Offer gifts of yourself, your time, and your resources

The emphasis is to remember, tell, show and offer. If you are truly thankful, your life will reflect it. This Thanksgiving take some time to do those four things. Choose to express gratitude and show appreciation to everyone around you. When you carry that thankful attitude around with you, your relationships will all improve and people will want to be around you.

Have a great Thanksgiving

Hot Pursuit

We all are pursuing something. We were created to be and do. What we pursue is what we think most about. Our energy goes in that direction, our thoughts lead to actions to help us pursue that something.

I remember when I was pursuing my wife. We were in High School, she was two years older, a cheerleader, popular and somewhat interested in me. I found myself pursuing her, thinking about her all the time. I wanted to spend all my time with her. Whenever I had a chance to be with her, I chose that path. I pursued her even when she was not interested in me. That persistence paid off and we started going steady. I gave things up for her, I spent less time with my friends to be with her. I wanted her and so I pursued her.

I continued to pursue her through High School and through my first two years of college. I pursued her for 5 years. We got married on May 27th 1989. I have continued to pursue her over the past 20 years. I continue to think about her, spend time with her, have conflict with her, resolve conflict with her, serve her, learn about her and be with her.

When we pursue something with persistence we can achieve some amazing things. For me it has been 20 years of marriage. When you pursue your career and that is your main focus you can make lots of money. If you pursue physical fitness you can achieve amazing results like running marathons. If you pursue close friendships you can have amazing community, accountability and unconditional love. When you pursue knowledge/education you can become a expert on nearly anything you study.

What if you would pursue God like that? What if you pursued truth like that? What if you pursued wisdom like that? The results could be amazing as well. What would happen if you actually read through the entire Bible over the next three months? What would happen if you spent time daily praying, meditating on truth and thinking about God? What if you pursued God like you pursue your job or your marriage or your girlfriend or your education? What if He was the main thing you thought about no matter what was going on in your life?

We all pursue something, when we are not in pursuit of something we are stagnate, bored and often depressed. Pursuing something with passion has great power. What are you pursuing? A year from now how much closer will you be to what you are pursuing?

Sexual Integrity

I went to a workshop over the weekend on Sexual Integrity. Four Mentors from NewPointe Community Church joined me. The speaker was Jason Martinkus from Redemptive Living and Every Mans Battle. Here are some of the notes I took:

Sexual additions are affecting everyone, whether famous, unknown, young or old. Here are some statistics that are eye opening:

  • Total porn industry revenue in the USA in 2006 was 13 Billion
  • Unique visitors to online porn sites in one month average is 61 Million
  • Revenue from mobile phone adult content so far in 2009 is 2.7 Billion
  • 60% of men in church struggle with online pornography
  • 30% of online porn viewers are women
  • The average age of introduction to pornography for young men is 9-11 yrs old

Jason then went on to share his personal story of sexual addiction and how it nearly destroyed his life. To read his story go to redemptive living.

Here are some more notes I took from his talk:

  • It’s not about the sex,but about the sin
  • Jesus always deals with the heart attitude, see Matthew 5:27-28. Behavior is just the actions of our heart.
  • Sexual immorality can impede our sanctification process
  • Sin always offers us something. Often it is an opportunity to meet a legitimate need in an illegitimate way.
  • There is a healthy & Unhealthy way to meet every need we have. Food is a good example, as is relationships and sex.
  • Two key enemies we face are the devil and the flesh.
  • Four areas of lies from the devil
  1. Lies about God & God’s will
  2. Lies about Scripture – Twisting the meaning of God’s Word
  3. Lies about our identity
  4. Lies about our heart

Countermeasures against those lies is how we prepare ourselves. Fasting & Prayer are keys. Are you connecting with God on a regular basis, growing deeper in your relationship with Him?

Notes from his talk about the flesh:
The Mind:

  • Philippians 4:8 – Think about these things – True, Noble, Right, Pure, Lovely, Admirable, Excellent, Praiseworthy. What you think about creates a worn path or highway in your mind.
  • When lustful thoughts kick in, you can’t just stop it, you must replace those thoughts with the good pure things in your life like your children, wife, sunrise, God’s creation, good food etc.
  • Objectification vs. Personification – seeing people as people and not as objects. Seeing a young woman as someones daughter, granddaughter or sister and not just an object.
  • The eyes – WYSIWYG – What you see is what you get! What you put your eyes on is what you store in your mind.
  • 1 & 1 Rule – No more than one look for one second. If you look at a woman and do not recognize her in that first one second, look away.
  • Internet & Phone filters are band aids dealing with symptoms and not the root issues.

The Body:

  • 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 – Make the temple, the body a really special place for the Holy Spirit to dwell.
  • One of the ways we defile our bodies is through masturbation
  • Masturbation is like giving yourself a hug, the medium through which you increasingly adore yourself. It keeps you trapped in the prison of yourself.

The Heart:

  • God is much more concerned about changing your heart, instead of your behavior.
  • Imago Dei – We are created in the image of an emotional God. We were created to experience emotional highs and lows and not stay steady or level all the time with our emotions.
  • You see this in children, high a low emotions (happy then crying). As they get older they rain in their emotions, because that is what we teach them to do.
  • We need to expand our emotional range to experience life to the fullest.
  • There are three levels of communication – Content, Thought, Emotion
  • Content is data, It’s the data of life. It’s sunny, it’s cloudy,
  • Thought is what I think about the data. I like it better when it’s sunny outside.
  • Emotion is what I feel about the content. When it’s sunny outside I feel energized and happier.
  • Most men stay on the content level of communication, because its safe.
  • Most women talk on an emotional level. When one person is talking on a content or thinking level and the other at a feeling level they miscommunicate.
  • To men, I hear what your thinking, tell me what you are feeling.

Holes in the heart:

  • We tend to put square pegs in the round holes in our hearts
  • Most of the holes in our hearts are developed in our childhood
  • Three most common holes
  1. Incompetence – Fear of Failure – not good enough, always need to improve or perform.
  2. Insignificance – Fear of Rejection – Do I really matter, Am I important?
  3. Impotence – Fear of Powerlessness – Can I make a difference?
  • You do what you do because you are looking for something. There is something driving you to go there. There is a reason you are doing what you are doing. Usually it is to fill a hole in your heart.
  • Sexual sin becomes a square peg to fill a round hole in our hearts.

Help for Hurting Souls:

  • Allies, You can’t do this alone. This can only happen if there is a no shame zone or a safe place to share without judgement.
  • We were created for community. Do you have an inner circle? Do you have men or women that will ask tough questions, love you unconditionally?
  • You need connection with people on a deep level and you need counsel from people that have walked the walk and can give you guidance.
  • With your allies, you need to share everything, come clean on everything. If you are holding something back, it will hold you back
  • Confession is vital to the beginning of recovery and wholeness.
  • To help people in sexual sin, Love and Grace are vital.
  • Connection, Accountability & Relationship are the keys to recovery.

I hope some of my notes were helpful to you. If you struggle with any kind of sexual sin, there is hope for you to overcome it. You can’t do it alone though, so get some help. Ask some people close to you to walk with you through this journey to sexual integrity.

What’s Most Important?

What is distracting you from doing what is most important? What have you said no to lately? Here is a simple exercise I would highly recommend you trying.

Take a piece of paper and write goals at the top. Then list your top 10 goals for the next 12 months. It could be work related, health related, money related, spiritual or relational.

Once you have at least 10 goals listed ask yourself this question: If I could only accomplish one goal, but it would happen within the next 24 hours, which one goal would have the greatest positive impact on my life.

Circle that one goal that would have the biggest impact on you if it happened. Then flip the page over and start brainstorming how you can make that one goal a reality. List out several things that you could do immediately to start getting closer to that goal. Start saying no to other things that would distract you from achieving that goal, within reason. I don’t think it is wise to say no to your family, your marriage, your faith.

When we narrow the focus it helps us work on things that are really most important. Those important things that will impact our work. Those important things that would transform our marriage. Those important things that would impact our faith. Those important things that would impact our finances.

I know for me I need to start setting aside more time for the important stuff and limit the distractions. That takes some self-discipline and maybe learning some new habits. To make that happen you may need someone to coach you or mentor you or maybe even hold you accountable. That may sound like hard work, but that’s the only way to have lasting change happen in your life.

Don’t wait for the new year to start making changes in your life, start today.

Fitness

Physical fitness and spiritual fitness go hand in hand. Both are highly beneficial, but difficult to achieve. Most everyone wants to eat right and exercise to have a healthy, strong body. Most everyone wants a close intimate relationship with God and the inner peace that comes from that. Why don’t we do it?

This is what God has laid on my heart lately. I need to develop some better physical fitness routines and spiritual fitness routines. I have some people that are going to hold me accountable over the next 90 days to work at improving the health of my physical heart and my spiritual heart.

How does this happen? Well for me it was a decision I made. I basically said. “OK God I’m ready”. This is the journey He is taking me on. I know that for me to go to a new level of spiritual leadership I need to develop some new habits and eliminate some old habits. Anytime I feel stuck it is usually because I have gotten comfortable in a routine or rut.

To get unstuck physically, emotionally or spiritually you first need to make a decision to change.

Then you need to find your motivation. Why do you want to lose weight, exercise, read your Bible or pray? Is it because other people want you to do that or because it is something you should do, or is because you desire to change and grow and be a better example to everyone around you. Finding your motivation is critical to the long term success of improved fitness.

Once you find your motivation to make the change then you need to find some people to hold you accountable and to go on the journey with you. Developing new routines and habits is hard work and it really helps to have people asking how you are doing. It also helps to have someone to encourage you when you don’t want to go exercise or read or eat healthy.

Once you have your accountability in place, you need to develop a strategy and some practical goals. That is the stage I am in right now. The next step is to start, don’t wait until everything feels right. You need to start making changes today – Are you ready?

Deep Waters

“Knowing what is right is like deep water in the heart; a wise person draws from the well within.” That is from Proverbs 20:5 in The Message.

How do you get deep water in the heart? How do you gain wisdom to know what is right? Those are tough questions to answer. To gain wisdom we need to listen well. Mainly listening to God, through reading Scripture. There is incredible wisdom in the Bible, yet most people choose not to go there and dig deep.

Life experience can also bring wisdom if you listen well. If you are learning from your experience and make changes accordingly you gain wisdom. I have found that when I do the hard thing instead of the easy thing I gain wisdom and insight from that experience. Sometimes doing the right thing can be hard. When you know the right thing to do and then follow through and do it, you mature, grow and gain wisdom. Your waters get deeper and you have more to draw from.

When you know the right thing to do and choose not to do it, you go backwards, you get stuck in muddy waters. I believe courage and wisdom go together. When you have the courage to do the right thing you gain new wisdom from that experience.

Deepen the waters in your heart by digging into God’s word, learning from your experiences and having the courage to do what you know is right.

Checklist For Encouragers

Are you an encourager or a discourager? I believe that one of our purposes in life is to be an encouragement to the people in our lives. All of our relationships are improved when we encourage. The Bible talks a lot about encouraging one another. Here is a checklist for encourager’s:

  • Build each other up – Point out to someone a quality you appreciate in him or her.
  • Respect leaders – Look for ways to cooperate with and make your leaders look good.
  • Hold leaders in highest regard – Don’t make critical comments about those in positions of responsibility. Say thank you to your leaders for their efforts and don’t talk behind their backs.
  • Live in peace – Search for ways to get along with people. This means holding your tongue and looking for common ground.
  • Encourage the timid – Remind them of God’s promises and that you believe in them.
  • Help the weak – Show love through acts of kindness and pray for them. Be generous.
  • Be patient – Plan to stay calm in situations or conversations that try your patience.
  • Resist revenge – Instead of planning to get even with those who mistreat you, do good to them.
  • Be joyful – Always remember that God is in control – people are drawn to a person filled with joy. Choose to be joyful.
  • Pray continually – The more you talk to God the more you will be able to encourage others.
  • Give thanks – When you give thanks your attitude towards other people changes. People like being around grateful people.
  • Avoid every kind of evil – Avoid situations where you will be drawn into temptation, remember you are na example to someone.
  • Plug into God’s Power – The Christian life is to be lived not on our own strength, but through God’s Power
  • Watch your words – the words you use every day determine the level of your encouragement.

Look for opportunities this week to encourage the people you work with, live with and bump into. Every conversation, every encounter with another person is a chance to encourage them.