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

The power of persistence 

When you get to the end of your rope, tie a knot and hang on. – Franklin D. Roosevelt

Most people aren’t persistent long enough to see what they have actually labored for. Usually we come to a breaking point before we actually break through. Often the thing that we think is going to break us down is actually the thing that is really building us up. Often the very thing we run from is what we need most. We often want our circumstances to change but in all reality it is us who need to change. Abner Suarez said, “It’s not our circumstances that need to change it’s our perspective of our circumstances that needs to change.” When you have the right perspective being persistent seems, feels and is actually easier. I am not saying it’s easy, if it were everyone would be doing it. I am simply saying that the right perspective energizes persistence.

Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful individuals with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. – Calvin Coolidge 

The most successful people spiritually, physically and financially were the ones who refused to give up. Persistence is a choice, not a feeling. Everyone feels like giving up, but successful people were the ones who decided to consistently live above their feelings. Their passion and purpose caused them to be persistent. As this happened they began to grow through the process. The end result was that they grew enough on the inside that they then became able to steward what they persisted for. Almost anyone who has done anything significant has been through hell and back. The resistance we face tests our persistence. You will not fulfill God’s purpose for your life without persistence. So keep on doing what is right, whether it is costing you or making you a lot of money. Keep on doing what you know to do. Keep on being faithful with what you have been given. Faith pleases God. God rewards faithfulness. Faith is a belief; faithfulness is when you live that belief to the fullest.

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.