First Impressions 

I really don’t believe in first impressions anymore. Unless I sense that someone is dangerous to my children, my wife or myself, I don’t allow my first impression of someone to define how I view them. In all honesty the first impression helps to lay a foundation for how I begin to think about a person but I have learned not to make a strong definitive idea about someone based on my first impression or on my first interaction with someone. You could be catching someone on the worst day of his or her life. They could have just lost a parent, spouse or even a child. They could have just been evicted from where they live; maybe they just got fired from their job. I think it is wise to be patient with our perceptions of other people. We should extend grace to others, and instead of immediately labeling people we should learn to love them. Something even dumber than first impressions is – second hand opinions.

Formulating a second hand opinion of someone is even more stupid than allowing a first impression to define how we see someone. It is unfair and unwise to allow someone to define how we view someone else. We can’t allow someone else’s bad experiences to keep us from good relationships. My encouragement to you is to be slow to formulate opinions of people, and don’t formulate second hand opinions of people because you would not want someone to do that to you.

3 Benefits of Patience

  1. Someone with patience is ruled from the inside out.
  2. Someone with patience is slow to speak.
  3. Someone with patience is slow to get angry.

When someone is patient they have self control. Which means they live according to their values, vision and purpose, not their circumstances. If you can control your emotions, you can control your mouth. If you can’t control your emotions you will not be able to control your mouth. If you don’t control your mouth you will damage your relationships and lose your credibility with people. Someone who is patient does not get angry fast. If you are someone who gets angry fast people will deem you unstable and untrustworthy. If people don’t trust you you cannot serve or influence them because they are skeptical of you. If we love people we will be patient with them. Patience is an expression of both love and wisdom. Love makes people feel secure, wisdom helps people become significant. Be loving and wise to yourself and with others. Embrace the slow process of growing in patience. You will feel better, have better relationships and make better decisions that will benefit you and those you love.

Patience 

When your faith is put on trial and is found guilty as charged for believing God to do what he said he would do, then patience is produced. Remember that it is “the trial of your faith that produces patience.” (James 1:3) Patience is worth waiting for. There are somethings in life that only come by working, there are other things in this life that can only be received by waiting. It is our job to discern if we are to wait or work or work while we are waiting. Patience brings God’s work in us and through us to a place of maturity. Things that are valuable and things that last take longer to make. For example a cheap digital battery operated watch takes minutes to make while a Rolex takes about a year to make. While it is true that God can accelerate time and make something priceless happen in a moment, often costly things happen very slowly. What God is doing in you and what God will do through you is worth waiting for. Give yourself to the slow process of growth. Be more concerned about growth than promotion. If you are patient with yourself and if you keep growing you will actually out grow your circumstances. The process that caused us to learn patience is actually the process that allows us to become the person God called us to be. Jesus said, “in patience you possess your soul.” (Luke 21:19) If you don’t have patience you don’t have self control, if you don’t have self control you will be ruled by someone or something else. Your future depends on you having patience. Your legacy is determined by you having long suffering. Long suffering is when patience starts to hurt. Have patience with yourself and others and be sure to enjoy the process. Don’t let impatience cause you to be impetuous. Keep waiting with joyful anticipation that God will do what he said he would do.

Get Understanding

The wisest and wealthiest man to ever live said this about understanding, “in all of your getting, get understanding.” Understanding empowers us to make better, more informed decisions. Understanding helps us to know why to make the right decision. I find that understanding makes certain decisions easier once you know why you should or should not do something.

To be honest weight loss has been a struggle for me for a while. If I look at pizza or pasta I gain weight. This has really been a challenge for me, some days I feel like I am winning and some days I feel like I am losing but I choose to keep fighting. If you are engaged in an ongoing battle and you need a breakthrough your breakthrough may come by getting understanding. I want to share with you how understanding has helped me make two diet based decisions that have helped me and are helping me to make better food choices. Recently I had been frequently eating a ham, egg and cheese quiche. I could not figure out why it tasted so good. So when I spoke to my dad who is a chef about this amazing little goodie he said to me, “buddy that thing is no good for you, it’s made with heavy cream.” So the next time I went to the bakery I asked them if the quiche was made with heavy cream, the owner confirmed that is was made with heavy cream. I have not had one more of those quiches since I understood what it was made of. Now in the future I may have another one, but it will never be something that I frequently eat again. Understanding helped me to make a better choice.

As many of you know soda is not good for you based on it’s ingredients. For those of you who have travelled internationally you know that soda made with real sugar both tastes better and is better for you than soda made with corn syrup. However generally soda is not good for you because sugar turns to fat and fat clogs your body up and weighs you down. All that is good to know but if you see the long term affect on someone’s body although soda may taste like your friend you realize that it is really your enemy. Also if you know what soda used to be used for it may give you the understanding to either totally quit or vastly reduce your soda intake. Cola can even be used to clean toilets and unclog drain. Click here to read more about what cola can be used for.

In all of your getting, get understanding. Let understanding empower you to make better choices.

The Anatomy of a bad decision 

Transparent people are confident in grace. They are confident in what Jesus has done for them that they could not do for themselves. So to be totally honest I have made a lot of bad decisions. Some of those decisions have caused my loved ones and myself a lot of pain. Some decisions have cost me a lot of money; some have resulted in me wasting my time. I have also made some good decisions and then rewarded myself in a counterproductive way. For example, I lost two or three pounds in a week and then the next day rewarded myself with an ice cream sundae and gained a pound back with one snack. Many of us are counterproductive as it relates to how we reward ourselves for making a good decision. 

Let me be clear, a good decision doesn’t always get you the results you may have desired. Here is a brief example: Joseph the dreamer chose not to sleep with his boss’s wife; he wasn’t promoted, he was imprisoned. He was falsely accused and unjustly sentenced as a direct result of making the right choice. The good news is that decision positioned him for the process that God would use to promote him from the prison to the palace. Sometimes, a good decision takes longer to materialize but in the long run it is always worth it. A good decision has no regret attached to it; a bad decision almost always involves regret. Regret is something that we will either live with or learn from. The choice is ours. 

Bad decisions happen when we isolate ourselves from the counsel (or the advice) of the wise. If you don’t take counsel you will need counseling. Bad decisions happen when we have wrong desires and wrong priorities. Bad decisions happen when we are motivated by fear. Here are a few ways this plays out. For example, we are going through something that is painful and a shortcut is offered. We choose what seems to be the easier and faster way because of the pain. The end result is more pain and a longer unnecessary detour because we made a decision from our place of pain and impatience. It is important to know and remember that there are no shortcuts in the kingdom of God. Bad decisions are often made from a place of insecurity. We do things to try to prove ourselves instead of being ourselves. Or we don’t say or do things for fear of what people will think about us. We do need to be conscious of others, but we do not need to be controlled by the opinions of others. Other bad decisions are motivated by lust. Although lust is sexual, it is not only sexual. Lust says, “I can not wait, I will not wait, I have to do it now, I have to say it now, I have to have it now.” It is important to remember that patient and prudent people don’t make rushed and impetuous decisions. If you are someone who makes decisions based on emotions instead of wisdom and understanding read this blog. It will encourage you toward better decisions where you count the cost before you make the choice.

Reality

Reality for some is more like a nightmare. For the rest of us it is uncomfortable and at times painful. Reality is like getting on the scale and weighing yourself after a cruise. It’s like looking in the mirror after you have spent the day in bed with the flu. It’s like checking your credit card balance when you have debt and your no interest for 12 months credit card just went up to 24.99%. Reality is something we all have to deal with no matter how much we may try to run from it. We are not our facebook account, we are certainly not the picture we just posted of ourself on Instagram with multiple filters on it, trying to do whatever we can to hide who and what we really are. We are all those pictures in our phone that never made Instagram. Honestly the filters on Instagram are good, the ones on snap seed are even better but we must remember that we are the person before the filter. If we are going to have meaningful relationships we must remember that those relationships start with us first being real with ourselves. We can only be as real with others as we are with our self. Invest some time today being honest with yourself because you are valuable. Stop, think, reflect and make the necessary changes that will help you become who you are supposed to be. So you can do what you are supposed to do. So you can help those you are supposed to help. #YouMatter

Dealing with disappointment

If you don’t deal with your disappointment it will deal with you. We all have problems; we all have dealt with pain. We all have experienced disappointments on some level. We have been lied to, lied about, falsely accused, abused and used. While the pain, problems and disappointments are real we must choose hope instead. Rodney McBride said, “Faith is often strengthened right at the place of disappointment.” If we respond correctly to disappointment we grow in faith, hope and perseverance. If we don’t respond to disappointment correctly we become discouraged, disillusioned and depressed. Here is an example. You were engaged, you thought it was going to work out but you found out that the man of your dreams was really a nightmare. You were hurt badly and the downward spiral began. You became disappointed, disappointment grew into discouragement, discouragement grew into disillusionment and that can cause severe depression or even self-destruction. The “you” may not really be you but it is “someone.” I gave you this role-playing scenario as a parable. The circumstances may be different but the negative downward spiral began in the place of disappointment. If you want to protect your future you must guard your heart.
 
Disappointment is a real place, it’s ok to visit but don’t live there. When you experience disappointment you are learning that maybe you scheduled the wrong appointment. Maybe you trusted the wrong person. Maybe you made a good decision with the right motives but the timing was wrong. Maybe you didn’t listen to a voice of wisdom and stability in your life. Maybe you did something you know you shouldn’t have done. For me personally, the deepest and hardest to handle disappointments are the ones that were my fault. The ones I could have avoided. If that is you what you will need to do is assume responsibility for your mistake or bad decision and learn a lesson from it, forgive yourself and move on. If you are feeling courageous share your story with someone else so that you can help someone avoid the pain that you went through. You can either have wisdom or regret, the choice is yours. If someone else is the source of your disappointment forgive them and put your hope in Jesus alone. Here are three things that I learned from disappointment. I hope my pain can be your gain.

Accountability 

One of the keys to sustainable success in anything is accountability. If you want to pay off debt or acquire wealth you will need to be accountable to people, your plan and the law. If you want to get free of an addiction or be a competitive athlete you will need to learn how accountability works. Accountability is supposed to work for you not against you. I realize that oppressive and insecure leaders have hurt people and so accountability may sound scary. But we can’t live in reaction to other people’s stupidity and expect to succeed in life. Forgive them, let it go, get healthy, be humble and accountable and you will move forward in life. Just know this, where there is true humility there is accountability.

Accountability is a about freedom not control. When most people think of accountability they think of someone calling them to ask, “Are you looking at porn? or Are you still using drugs?” That is the necessary but negative side of accountability. The positive side of accountability sounds something like this. “Are you writing that book you have been talking about?” “What are you doing to start that business that you have been talking about and planning for?” Accountability will pick you up when you fall, keep you on track, help you succeed and help you not become victim of your own success. Accountability helps you to build or rebuild trust.

In the Bible when the prophet Nathan held King David accountable, he helped save David’s kingdom, which actually protected his legacy. Psalm 51 is a direct result of a healthy confrontation that helped David become accountable. In the democratic process accountability protects us from tyranny. In the banking world accountability protects us from fraud. In the jewelry business accountability assures that what you have purchased is authentic. If you want to succeed in life you need to make sure that you see accountability as a servant not a slave driver.

Vision 

Your eyes give you sight, but faith gives you vision. Sight sees what is, vision sees what could be. Vision is when faith and hope look into tomorrow and see something that is not yet, but should be. Vision is when you see a picture of something that is not yet, but could be. Vision sees possibilities. The people in life who have vision usually have direction as well. For vision to give you clear direction, vision must be converted to mission. For example if you have a vision of a skinnier, healthier or wealthier you. You will need a game plan to get there. So your diet and gym routine become your mission and that came from the vision that you had of a better you. When you look at a problem through the lens of faith and hope you get a vision. So look at your life or circumstances through the lens of faith and hope and see what could be. Don’t be discouraged about what is, crying over spilt milk will only turn the milk sour. Look at what is and see what could be. Who do you see yourself becoming this year? Where do you see yourself going this year? What opportunities are before you now? What are the possibilities if you make the most of the opportunities you have been given?

What is in your power to do now that will help you move closer to the vision you have for your life? Powerful people don’t focus on what they can’t change, they focus on what is in their power to change. Be powerful and take initiative to move closer toward the vision you have for your life. Remember being passive is not being patient. Now is the best time to move forward.

Bar Outreach  

After church on December 20th, 2015 at about 8:25 pm Rescue Church did an outreach to the bar across the street from the church. It is an El Salvadorian bar with bars on the windows. The music was loud, the lights were low, there was a man there drooling on himself. The owner was friendly, we were able to literally pray and give her prophetic words while she was bartending. We told her that God had a purpose for her life that was greater than passing out drinks. She allowed 6 of us to walk into her bar and hand out Dunkin’ Donuts gift cards to the people who were there. It was a pretty unique experience. Other people were prayed for, one guy gave my friend Joseph a hug and thanked him for the gift card. A few other guys were honest about saying they had already received a gift card when I went to give them one. A few others were prayed for. Some people didn’t want prayer, and a few didn’t want the gift card. All in all the people were pretty receptive considering how loud it was in the bar. Kindness is the seed that fertilizes the soil of men’s hearts. People respond to the gospel more when we extend a hand instead of pointing a finger. For a long time good hearted and well meaning people have pointed a finger at the world instead of extending a hand. It is important to remember that condemnation has never saved anyone. People are saved by grace through faith when we (the church) give them (the world) a reason to believe in Jesus. It is not us against them, it is us for them the same way that Jesus was for us.

When Jesus came to earth through the womb of a virgin, Israel was under Roman oppression. Israel was an occupied nation, their land was taken, they were heavily taxed and extorted, their women were raped. There was a genocide going on of the Hebrews boys. In that climate heaven responded in the opposite spirit. At the birth of Christ the heavenly host of angels declared “peace on earth and goodwill toward men.” The gospel that we preach and the life that we live needs to communicate and demonstrate “peace on earth and goodwill toward men.” The clearest expression of love and goodwill is generosity. Generosity gives prosperity a purpose. Your act of goodwill may just help someone find God’s will for their life.