Thankful

One day I asked my son, “Justice, what are you thankful for?” When I asked him that he started to name who he is thankful for. He didn’t name things, he named people. He reminded me what really matters. People matter. You matter, I am thankful for you. I am thankful that you stopped by my blog for a quick read. I hope it encourages you. This blog is not about me, it’s for you. I am thankful for the relationships God has allowed me to have. The scriptures teach us that we enter into God’s presence with thanksgiving. The scriptures teach us to live with an attitude of gratitude. We are taught that it’s God’s will that we are always thankful. When we are thankful we live with the correct perspective, we live from God’s presence toward our circumstances.

Jesus was teaching the multitudes for several days. They were hungry and so the disciples wanted to send them away. Jesus commanded the disciples to feed the multitudes. What he commanded them to do was impossible in the natural. They found a boys lunch. The lunch was brought to Jesus, he lifted it to heaven, thanked God for it, blessed it and gave it to his disciples to pass out to the multitudes. There were 5,000 men in attendance not counting women and children. Thankfulness is what opened the door to the impossible and through the obedience of faith the miraculous was manifested. When we are thankful we are inviting God to invade our circumstances with his power and provision. I am thankful that God will finish the work that he began in us. You can be thankful to Jesus and confident in his work in you. What he has began he will complete so don’t quit.

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.

How trust is built

Trust is built slowly. The more consistent you are the more trustworthy you will be. Everyone wants to be loved and cared for; everyone wants to be trusted. When we speak we want people to listen to us and believe us. When we belong it means we are both loved and trusted. The Bible teaches us to love people unconditionally because God loved us unconditionally. However, the Bible does not teach that we should trust people unconditionally. The Scripture is clear that Jesus – although he loved everyone – did not trust everyone. See John 2:23-25. Personally, I will only trust someone as much as their integrity allows me to trust them.

5 ways to build trust.

  1. Admit when you are wrong. The more you do this publicly the more people identify with you.
  2. Be on time, apologize when you are late and call people back.
  3. Do what you say. Integrity is essential. He who sows integrity reaps trust. Under promise and over deliver.
  4. Say what you mean and mean what you say: Be honest and don’t flatter people.
  5. Talk to people, not about people. If you speak about people, others will hear you, and will not trust you. 

Integrity

The wisest and wealthiest man to ever live said, “the integrity of the upright shall guide them.” Integrity is a guide, it gives us direction. Integrity instructs us with what to do next. Someone who has integrity may not have a blueprint for the rest of their life, but they intuitively know what is the next right decision. C.S. Lewis said, “integrity is doing the right thing even when no one is watching.” When someone has integrity they are honest with God, themselves and others. If you have integrity you do what you say, you mean what you say, and you admit when you are wrong.

Integrity is not about perfection, it’s about authenticity. Hypocrisy is when we project an image of ourselves that is not who we really are. Hypocrisy is the opposite of integrity. Hypocrisy tells others that we are not trustworthy, serious or safe. Our integrity tells others that we are trustworthy. If people don’t see our integrity they won’t want to hear our truth. If we are honest most of us would say that we are recovering hypocrites who are being changed into people of integrity who mean what they say, do what they say, and are what they project. If we want to have real meaningful relationships then we need to keep it real with ourselves and others.

Our integrity will determine both our longevity and our legacy. King Solomon said this, “The just man walks in his integrity: his children are blessed after him.” Again we see that integrity gives us direction and provides our children with blessing. We can protect our children’s future by living with integrity now. Let integrity lead you to do the next right thing, it will effect you, your family, your friends and your future. Remember this, the more integrity you have, the less regrets you will have. 

How are your Emotions?

How are your emotions? How you manage your emotions will determine the quality of your life. How you mange your emotions will determine how much people trust you. There is a direct connection between how you manage your feelings and how you manage your friendships. Many people are like a hard drive that is 98 % full and slowing down. When the hard drive is very close to full the computer is not only slower but it is also at risk of crashing. Crashing could mean that you loose what you have because you didn’t protect it well. Many people are one situation away from a meltdown. Your mind, will and emotions are limited in both strength and space. Keeping a clear conscience is not just about admitting when you are wrong or confessing sin, its also about managing your emotions. If you don’t manage your emotions you may have a meltdown. The same way if you don’t make space on the hard drive and just keep saving stuff your computer may eventually crash. The end result of not managing emotions could even be murder or suicide, so this is a very serious thing. Your emotional health is determined by what you internalize and what you externalize. Here is a model I have used especially during hard times.


What to Internalize and what to Externalize.

Internalize – think about and focus on.

  1. What God says in his word (the Bible) and by his Holy Spirit.
  2. What God does. (The Testimonies of the Lord)
  3. Success. (What I have learned from what I did right) 
  4. The lessons I have learned and why? (What I learned from my failures)
  5. Good advice I have received from wise counselors.

Externalize – write them down on paper until you are done processing what was presented to you. 

  1. Problems
  2. Needs
  3. Temptation
  4. Criticism
  5. Failures

We should write down what we internalize as well. The reason I am saying to write down what you are externalizing is so that your problems don’t occupy precious and priceless space in your soul. I hope this helps you process what emotions you are feeling. Remember, emotions make a great servant but a terrible master. 

The World has Changed

People who find it hard to accept reality say, the world is changing. People who understand reality, know the world has changed. People who are ahead of their time get critized, but people who don’t change will get left behind. We have to choose who we will be. Let me explain what two intelligent businessmen explained to me recently. “The largest media company in the world doesn’t produce media; Facebook. The largest retail store in the world doesn’t own a store; Amazon. The largest taxi service in the world doesn’t own a cab; Uber. The largest hotel chain in the world doesn’t own a hotel; Airbnb.” With a push of the button you can share your thoughts with the world, get a cab, rent a hotel or buy whatever you are want and have it delivered to your doorstep. I must say all of this is cool and very helpful. It definitely increases our ability to be both productive and profitable. However there are two cautions that I have about all this convenience.

2 cautions concerning convenience.

  1. Subtly we can begin to think the world exists to serve us.
  2. All of the convenience can make us more and more impatient and that is dangerous.

If we take these mentalities and apply them to our most meaningful relationships the results can be tragic. If we come to relationships for only what we can get we will have very broken, dysfunctional and unproductive relationships. If we are impatient, we are actually unloving and love is at the center of all meaningful, sustainable and productive relationships. So it’s cool to let convenience speed us up and make us more productive and more profitable but we have to be careful that convenience doesn’t make us more narcissistic day by day. Although the world has changed and is changing there are some things that are enduring. There are somethings that will never change such as God, his word and the evidence of his residence in those who believe. Those unchanging realties give us clear reference points and help us navigate change and uncertainties with clarity and certainty.

Busyness

Busyness is an enemy to what matters most. In my last blog I wrote about progress. The danger with progress is busyness. What I have observed about people who have a strong sense of direction is that they are driven. People who are driven need to be careful they don’t drive them self right off a cliff. Almost everyone is busy, but hardly anyone is getting anything done. Being busy is not necessarily bad. It’s hard to find anyone in life who is successful and not busy. However the busyness should be analyzed and prioritized. For example you could ask yourself why am I busy? Is it to medicate my anxiousness? Does being busy for busy sake give me a false sense of importance, that also gives me a false sense of security? Asking ourselves hard questions is essential for those who want success and longevity in the areas of life that matter most. Here is a thought in the form of a question about prioritizing your busyness to secure your success. Are you willing to sacrifice what money can’t buy for more money? If we are not careful in hopes of serving God we can become to busy for him. If we are not careful we can neglect our families today with the hopes of providing them with a better tomorrow. The most powerful thing you can give God and your family is you. I understand that we need to make sacrifices today for a better tomorrow. I get it. But I myself feel cautioned about sacrificing what money can’t buy for just a little more money. Slowing down may cost you now, but in the end slowing down now and learning when and how to rest will keep you fully charged so that you can give your best to who and what matters most. If you are to busy to rest one day a week you are to busy. The God who doesn’t get tired even took a day to rest. Remember Sabbath (rest) is about renewal not ritual. If you slow down now you will wind up going further in the long run. Life is more like a marathon than a 400 meter sprint. Find out what matters most and pour everything into it. Give your best to what matters most. You will never regret giving your best to who and what matters most.