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.

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.

Overcoming Emotionalism

Choices are more powerful than feelings.

Now great multitudes went with Him. And He turned and said to them, “If anyone comes to Me and does not hate his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and his own life also, he cannot be My disciple. And whoever does not bear his cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple. For which of you, intending to build a tower, does not sit down first and count the cost, whether he has enough to finish it — lest, after he has laid the foundation, and is not able to finish, all who see it begin to mock him, saying, ‘This man began to build and was not able to finish’? Or what king, going to make war against another king, does not sit down first and consider whether he is able with ten thousand to meet him who comes against him with twenty thousand? Or else, while the other is still a great way off, he sends a delegation and asks conditions of peace. So likewise, whoever of you does not forsake all that he has cannot be My disciple. (Luke 14:25-33 NKJV) 

My emphasis will be on the words that are bold. Here Jesus is talking about the cost of discipleship. If you read the gospels carefully you will find that Jesus never looked for half hearted followers. He was always looking for the totally committed, those who would be fully given. Often people make decisions based out of emotions. Which means they make commitments they don’t intend to keep. We have all done this at one time or another. It is crucial to know that we can overcome our feelings with faith that is rooted in the truth.

Jesus uses two illustrations that make his point clear.

  1. You don’t build a tower that you don’t have enough money to finish. That is not faith its presumption. Presumption is usually rooted in selfish ambition. We should not make decisions based out of ambition because the decisions will always be unrealistic. The emotion of ambition will not lead you into a decision, it will lead you into a disaster. The fruit of that disaster will be shame. Don’t let ambition decide your trajectory, let faith decide your capacity and let integrity chart your course.
  2. You don’t start a fight you can’t win. Anger causes people to start fights they can’t win. We need to check ourselves before we make a decision from a place of anger. Anger will cause you to get into things you may not walk away from.

To make it clear we need to count the cost of our commitments before we make them. It is critical that we don’t make decisions or commitments based out of emotions when we haven’t counted the cost. Ambition and Anger can cause us to commit to building something we can’t finish or fight a battle we can’t win. Counting the cost is actually what helps us prepare to pay the price. Similar to stretching before you exercise. When we prepare ourselves we are actually positioning ourselves to succeed.

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.

What defines you?

You are not what you have. You are not what you don’t have. You are not where you live. You are not what you drive. You are not what you feel. You are not what happened to you. You are not what didn’t happen for you. You are not what others have said about you. You are created in the image and likeness of God. Out of the world’s 7.4 billion people no two people have the same fingerprints. You are unique. You are valuable. You were created for a purpose that God himself planned for you to do before the world began. The value of something is determined by what someone will pay for it. You are priceless. God gave his very best (Jesus) for you. You matter. You can define yourself by your assets or your debts. You can define yourself by your circumstances or choices. Or you can value yourself and interpret your circumstances in light of who you are to Jesus.


“For this reason I, Paul, the prisoner of Christ Jesus for you Gentiles.” (Ephesians 3:1 NKJV)
Paul the Apostle wrote this while he was in prison in Rome. Paul did not call himself a prisoner of Rome although he was in a Roman prison. Paul identified himself as a prisoner of Christ. He defined himself in light of his most valuable relationship. He identified himself in light of who he was to Jesus and who Jesus was to him. He refused to be a victim. Because he had the right perspective of his circumstances he was able to receive revelation in his circumstances. His place of limitation became his place of revelation. Later, in his letter to the Ephesians as Paul looked at a Roman soldier, what he saw was actually the Armor of the Lord. He was free enough to receive revelation from those who were holding him captive. Paul refused to have a chip on his shoulder in the midst of the injustice that he was experiencing. In Rome people didn’t serve long prison sentences. They were beaten, killed or let go. He was actually in prison waiting to be sentenced. He was guilty until proven innocent. Instead of feeling sorry for himself he chose to show concern for others and so he wrote Ephesians, Philippians and Colossians. What if your place of limitation was actually your place of revelation? What if the pain that you have been through could help someone enter into the purpose of God for his or her life? Remember this: When you have been victimized and refuse to be a victim you enter into a place of victory. The victory that you have experienced you can help others experience.

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.

4 Ancient Business Tips

These 4 ancient business tips come from the wisest and wealthiest man to ever live. These truths have stood the test of time and are still very relevant today. If you apply these principles you are positioning yourself to prosper. These are not opinions they are truths that have been tested by time, truths that transcend culture.

  1. Be diligent to know the state of your flocks, And attend to your herds; For riches are not forever, Nor does a crown endure to all generations. (Proverbs 27:23-24 NKJV) Diligence means we are aware of what we have and steward it well. We need to know our inventory. If you don’t know what you have you don’t know what you need. If you don’t know what you have you may not see the opportunities that are before you.
  2. A good name is to be chosen rather than great riches, Loving favor rather than silver and gold. (Proverbs 22:1 NKJV) Integrity is our most valuable commodity. Integrity is more valuable than money. Money is what you have, integrity is either what you are or who you are not. You either have integrity or you don’t.
  3. Where no oxen are, the trough is clean; But much increase comes by the strength of an ox. (Proverbs 14:4 NKJV) Hard word is messy, and it pays. Hard work is the only way to honest and sustainable increase.
  4. “It is good for nothing,” cries the buyer; But when he has gone his way, then he boasts. (Proverbs 20:14 NKJV) Here King Solomon is giving us a bargaining strategy. You never tell someone how bad you want something because the price is certain to go up. You can brag about your bargain after you bought what you wanted. 

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.