Why do people do the things they do?

In my job, I talk to people every week about different struggles and problems they are experiencing. We all have issues or difficult circumstances in our lives. No one is exempt from suffering and pain. So as I was thinking about some of my own issues and circumstances I have been asking myself this question: “Why do we do the things we do?”

I believe the answer to that question is, we do what is in our hearts. The principle of inescapable influence says “Whatever rules the heart will exercise inescapable influence over the person’s life and behavior.” I learned about this principle in a book called “Instruments in the Redeemer’s Hands” by Paul David Tripp.

Tripp says “that if we fail to examine the heart and the areas where it needs to change, our ministry efforts will only result in people who are more committed and successful idolaters”. Anything that replaces or comes before God in our lives is an idol.

So, our daily behavior is our attempt to get what is most important to us in certain situations and relationships. What we do always reveals the true desires in our hearts. The book of James says “But people are tempted when their own evil desire leads them away and traps them. This desire leads to sin, and then the sin grows and brings death.” (James 1:14,15).

So this all comes down to an issue of worship. What we worship determines how we respond to our circumstances. If we are loving, worshipping and serving the wrong thing, we will do things that line up with what we are worshipping.

Here are 5 things that Tripp gives us for application in our personal growth:

1. Our hearts are always being ruled by someone or something.
2. The most important question to ask when examining the heart is, “What is functionally ruling my heart in this situation?”
3. Whatever controls my heart will control my responses to people and situations.
4. God changes us not just by teaching us to do different things, but by recapturing our hearts to serve Him alone.
5. The deepest issues of the human struggle are not issues of pain and suffering, but the issue of worship, because what rules our hearts will control the way we respond to both suffering and blessing.

Every one of our hearts has a fount of competing desires. There is a battle going on in each of us for our hearts. God wants all of our heart, not just part of it. Our hearts direct our behavior, so if our hearts have dark corners or empty spaces we will continue to do things we don’t want to do. We will say things we don’t want to say. Things like anger, bitterness, lust, unforgiveness, jealousy and guilt will leak out of our hearts and into our behavior or words.

Our problems in our relationships and the wacky things we do are rooted in problems of worship. That is why we must start with God. I encourage you to go and read Galatians 5:13-26 for some powerful truth. This passage of Scripture is about what we do next. Will we live in self-imposed bondage to our emotions? Will we submit to our own sinful desires? Or will we grab a hold of the truth and transform our hearts?

It all starts on the inside, when that changes, the outside begins to change as well.

Great Story

Two Sunday’s ago I had the privilege of leading three teenage girls to the Lord. Here is the story.

I received three communication cards that said they wanted to be baptized and then underneath that, they hand wrote that they also wanted to be saved.

I called the one teenager and asked a few questions. It turns out that two of them are sisters and one is a friend (age 19, 17 & 16). The one I spoke to said that they all wanted to do this together, so I invited them to meet me in the prayer room the next Sunday at 10:30.

I prayed all week that they would show up and that God would prepare the way. At 10:30 they all three showed up. They were very open to hearing the Gospel and each one wanted to be “saved”. I shared some Scriptures with them and explained what it means to be a Christian.

They listened intently and did not have any questions. I asked them if they were ready to make the commitment to Jesus Christ and they said yes. We prayed together and I gave them each a new Bible. I also talked with them about what baptism is and how that could be a greater next step for them. I was floating after that, there is nothing more fulfilling than leading someone to the Lord.

How exciting it is to see young people like these three girls coming to know Jesus. I am sure many seeds were planted with them along the way and I had the privilege of praying with them. That is why we are doing what we are doing!

We are reaching people and helping them grow in their relationship with Jesus Christ. Every person that serves here at NewPointe played a small part in this story. Yeah God!

Attitude isn’t Everything

I came across an incredible thought today. I was listening to a leadership lesson by John Maxwell. John has influenced my leadership greatly over the last 10 years through his books, tapes and seminars. The quote that got my attention was from an unknown source.

“Attitudes are when we learn to think correctly without acting. Habits are when we learn to act correctly without thinking.”

I used to think that attitude was everything. If I had a great attitude things would go my way. I have found that is not true. A great attitude definitely gives you an advantage in life, work and relationships. However without great habits the best attitude in the world won’t get you through the hard times. It really takes both.

I try really hard to have a good attitude, but sometimes find myself with a bad attitude because of circumstances or people. In those down times I need good habits that will carry me through.

Some of those habits include:
prayer, time alone with God, reading my Bible, fasting, silence, solitude, rest, journaling, confession, listening, worshipping God, seeking wise counsel, serving someone else, giving, going to church, community, exercise, focus, organizing and planning.

Not all of these things are habits for me, but some of them are. I am working on it, along with my attitude. Often I find that when I am getting discouraged or down I have strayed away from some of these basic spiritual habits. As I get back into them I experience God and that changes everything.

If you are experiencing a hard time in life look at some of these habits and start to work on them. As you do, you take the focus off of your hard times and onto growing in your relationship with God. Your attitude and habits will keep you centered. Your habits determine what you are centered on. Are you centered on Jesus Christ or yourself?

Life Change

The reason NewPointe Church exits is to lead people every where into a growing relationship with Jesus Christ. That is a big vision. In a nut shell we exist for life change, to be the catalyst for people all over the world to grow closer to Jesus Christ.

Yesterday I had the privilege of hearing six different people share their life change stories with me. All six are going to be baptized in October. I sat down with them and listened to them share what God has done and is doing in their lives.

Nothing charges me up more than hearing people talk passionately about their relationship with Jesus. Tears came to their eyes as they talked about how God drew them to himself and how they were able to overcome sin and difficult circumstances because of God’s strength and courage.

These six people have experienced a change. They have experienced God and they don’t want to go back to the old way of life. I can’t wait for their stories to be played on the big screens for everyone to hear. They are going public with their faith. Way to go Angela, Amy, Steve, Jillian, Jason and Christen!

Each one was nervous and unsure about be video taped, but they knew this was a step God wanted them to take. Often times if we can face a fear and do what God calls us to there is a spiritual breakthrough in our lives. For these six people they will never be the same. They are standing tall for Jesus Christ and following Him.

What is holding you back from following Jesus with all your heart, soul and mind? What is your next step in your walk with Him? For some it is baptism, for others maybe getting in a small group, for some it may be leading a small group or serving in an area of ministry. For others it may be taking on a leadership role in ministry or going on a mission trip. For others it may mean getting help for your marriage and reconciling your relationships. For some people it may mean being a better steward of your money. For someone it may be giving a large chunk of your resources to God’s work. I don’t know what your next step is, but God is calling you to it.

Step out in faith and begin living fully for God!

Worrying II

This is my second post in a series on worrying. Since this is something that nearly everyone deals with to a certain degree I think it is worth the blog time.

In chapter two of Dale Carnegie’s book “How to stop Worrying and start Living” he talks about a quick sure-fire way for handling worry situations. This method was developed by Willis H. Carrier who started the Carrier Corporation. It contains three steps:

Step 1. “I analyze the situation fearlessly and honestly and figure out what is the worst that could possibly happen as a result of this failure.

Step 2. After figuring out what was the worst that could happen, I reconcile myself to accept it, if necessary.

Step 3. From that time on, I calmly devote my time and energy to trying to improve upon the worst which I had already accepted mentally.”

That is a simple formula that can help you to overcome much worry and anxiety. When we are worrying we are focusing on the problem and thinking negatively in a very focused way. Our minds bounce around and it keeps us from thinking clearly. This exercise allows you to look at the worst, accept it and then begin to think clearly. Once we get our focus off the problem, our perspective changes.

Many times we think the thing we are worried about is so much worse than it actually is. We make up multiple worse case scenarios that drive us bonkers. Once you come to the conclusion of the worst and accept it, you can think.

That is why it is never good to make important decisions under stress or worry. In that state of mind we are not thinking clearly.

I would like to throw in another step.

Step 4. Ask God for help! When we bring God into the equation it changes everything. This really should be the first step, because God will help you through the other three.

Turning your focus to Jesus Christ and eternity changes your perspective. This world and these worries are only a mist, here today and gone tomorrow. When we keep our eternal perspective it helps us to deal more effectively with our problems.

Whatever you are facing today, you don’t have to face it alone. Face it as if Jesus was standing right beside you, holding you up and spurring you on. Face the worst and accept it, then work on improving it. “We can do all things through Christ who strengthens us.”

Worrying

A couple of months ago my wife and I were in an antique store shopping. I love looking at old books, and I happened to find a book by Dale Carnegie. The title is “How to Stop Worrying and Start Living”. It was written in 1944. I started reading it last night, what a treasure! I think I paid $3.00.

Part one is about fundamental facts you should know about worry. This stuff is so good I want to share it as I read. Here are the nuggets from the first chapter:

“Our main business is not to see what lies dimly at a distance, but to do what lies clearly at hand.” by Thomas Carlyle.

Carnegie talked about having “Day-tight compartments”, which means to seal off the doors of the past-dead yesterdays- and the future-unborn tomorrows. Then you are safe for today. Similar to water-tight compartments to protect what is inside from water that can corrode things.

He talked about starting out the day with this short prayer from Jesus, “Give us this day our daily bread.” Asking only for today’s bread and not next week or next month or last months moldy bread. Carnegie also quoted Jesus who said “Have no anxiety for the tomorrow.” We are to think about tomorrow and make plans, but should have no anxiety or worry about tomorrow.

“Good thinking deals with causes and effects and leads to logical, constructive planning; bad thinking frequently leads to tension and nervous breakdowns.”

He also said “One of the most appalling comments on our present way of life is that half of all beds in our hospitals are reserved for patients with nervous and mental troubles, patients who have collapsed under the crushing burden of accumulated yesterdays and fearful tomorrows.” That was in 1944 and it is still very true today.

We can’t live in the past and we can’t know the future and when we focus on those we wreck both our bodies and our minds.

“So let’s be content to live the only time we can possibly live: From now until bedtime.”

He also talked briefly in chapter one about viewing everyday as a new life. That simple thought can help us overcome loneliness and all kinds of fears. It can give us a new enthusiasm for new life every day!

John Maxwell wrote a book called “Today Matters” and that is what this is all about. Focus on today, what can I accomplish today? What project or task can I complete right now? Taking one thing at a time and doing it with excellence is the key.

One final thought: “Think that this day will never dawn again. Life is slipping away with incredible speed. Today is our most precious possession. It is our only sure possession.” The Bible says “This is the day which the Lord hath made; we will rejoice and be glad in it.”

Act

A friend of mine recently got a tattoo. It is a cross with James 1:22 under it. It looks good and it made me think. Not just about tattoo’s, but about that Scripture. This morning I was reading it, and wanted to share it with all of you.

This is from the Message translation verses 22-25 “Don’t fool yourself into thinking that you are a listener when you are anything but, letting the Word go in one ear and out the other. Act on what you hear! Those who hear and don’t act are like those who glance in the mirror, walk away, and two minutes later have no idea who they are, what they look like.
But whoever catches a glimpse of the revealed counsel of God-the free life!-even out of the corner of his eye, and sticks with it, is no distracted scatterbrain but a man or woman of action. That person will find delight and affirmation in the action.”

Did you catch that? Read it again.

Only when we actually do what he hear do we get delight and affirmation. So many of the people I talk to are doing their own thing and not what the Word tells them to do and then they wonder why they are struggling. Putting into action what we hear and learn is the difference between freedom and bondage. Many people would rather live in bondage because they don’t want to do what they know is right.

Real freedom comes when we put into action the things we are learning from the Bible. Are you looking for Financial freedom? Spiritual freedom? Relational freedom? Emotional freedom? Physical freedom?

The NIV translation says it this way “Do not merely listen to the Word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what is says.” That is right, do what it says. The Bible shows us how to live in total freedom, yet we choose bondage when we don’t put it into action.

What action do you need to take today in your finances, your marriage, your work, your thought life, your parenting, your friendships, your time with God, your body?

Steps

We kicked off a wellness program this week for our staff at NewPointe. We are on three teams and competing in several areas. The idea of course is for all of us to get healthier. I am excited about this new program because it has already motivated me to get into better shape. I went on walks the last two evenings. I would like to invite all those fellow blog readers to join us in this wellness effort.

This week we are counting our steps for an entire day. On day one I only had 9,300, but I got my step counter after first service Sunday. Todd Colucy was the big winner on day one with over 36,000 steps, wow! Today I am at 13,000 steps.

I know we all want to get in better shape and for me I need a little motivation. This may be the catalyst that I need to get over the hump and lose the weight, body fat etc while lowering my cholesterol.

I want to challenge everyone that reads this to set some goals for the next month. Get out and walk once or twice this week. Go on bike rides, stretch every morning, whatever it is for you. Then get out and start doing it.

It is the same for us spiritually. Set some achievable goals to pray, read the Bible, listen to messages or read a book. Then start doing it. Spiritual and physical health doesn’t just happen, it takes some effort, planning and accountability. Next time you see me ask how my diet & exercise is going. You can also ask me how my prayer and Bible reading are going too. If you ask me, I will ask you.

Personal Growth

My personal mission statement is “Growing in Faith, Character & Leadership” To me the most important part of that statement is the first word; “Growing”. Growing means that I am learning, changing, adapting, failing, planning, attempting new things, going, doing, thinking and focusing.

If I am not growing then I am declining. I want to grow in my personal faith, becoming more intimate with my Lord. I want to know Him and experience His presence and learn His ways.

I also want to grow in character, which usually happens through adversity. I want to be known for the character qualities others see in me, not the accomplishments. Qualities like dependability, flexibility, patience, responsible, determined, gentle, wisdom, discernment and courageous.

I want to grow in leadership as well. To become a better leader with the people that I have influence with. Leadership is about influence and I want my influence to grow. I want to be the leader that God created me to be. To step out and take chances and live life to the fullest.

So how do I grow? One way is I read a lot of books. I love to learn from other people. The more I read the more I grow in knowledge and understanding. I just finished three books I had been reading over the last couple of months. Each of those books challenged me in a different way. It fed my desire to become a better husband, employee, pastor, friend and Christ-follower.

Reading is very important in growing. Remember as a child how reading played a significant role in your development. In school I had to read, in college I had to read even more. Now I read because I want to. I read books on leadership, Christianity, discipleship, business and management. I also read fiction, usually stories about ordinary and extraordinary people. My favorite fiction writer is John Grisham, my favorite non fiction author is Erwin McManus.

As important as reading is in personal growth, so is going and doing what what I read. I need to put into practice what I am learning or it is wasted. If I read the Bible and don’t do what it says, all that reading is wasted. My challenge to you is to Grow. Don’t stay where you are at spiritually, emotionally or intellectually. Read, listen to Cd’s, watch DVDs whatever works for you, but don’t stop learning and growing. The more you grow the more God can use you.

Baptism Sunday

Today was baptism Sunday at NewPointe. What an amazing morning. John Bunn talked about Jesus’ miracle of turning water into wine. Great stories John about baseball and your wedding. John challenged us all to be obedient to what God is calling us to do. By acting in faith we could experience a miracle.

We also got to hear nine life change stories, it is unbelievable how God is working in peoples lives. That is why we do church at NewPointe. Our desire is that everyone that comes to NewPointe is changed forever. We call it life transformation. I am so pumped for these nine people that have publicly declared that they are followers of Jesus Christ.

They all talked about there experience of making a decision to surrender completely to Christ and live for Him. Each one has grown in their faith and trust in God. What a special morning.

Congratulations to Paul & Sharon Wolodkin, Dave Cantwell, Cheryl Warther, Dani Engstrom, Jessica Rilke, Tom Troyer, Diana Young and Benita Miller. They all took the plunge so to speak. It took courage to step forward to record their testimony on video and then get on stage in front of hundreds of people. But each one was there for a reason and had a story to tell about how God has changed them forever. I hope and pray their stories touched someone today and that life change will continue on in others.

One last thing, John also threw out the challenge for our church to fill 1,000 boxes of food for our local food banks in Dover, Uhrichsville, Newcomerstown and Millersburg. I know we can meet the challenge. I called each of the food banks and they are excited about our goal. Let’s make a difference one meal at a time.

Some great items to bring in would be dry cereal, canned soup, canned chicken and tuna. Make sure you only donate something that you would eat, no old or damaged cans please. To God be the Glory!