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Posted by on Aug 31, 2012 in Inspirational | 0 comments

Searching for Greater Stability?

Searching for Greater Stability?

 

I know how it feels…walking the tight-rope of life as if one step in the wrong direction and everything would come crashing down.  Singer Colbie Caillat put it to music,

“And I remember the time my balance was fine
And I was just walking on one fine wire
But It’s frayed at both the ends
And I’m slow unraveling”

But life doesn’t have to feel this way.  In fact, your life can have great stability!  The key is understanding where to fix your gaze.  In tight-rope walking (and in life) you have success by fixing your eyes on something stable.  If you look at the constantly moving circumstances around you (down at your feet) you’re going to feel extremely unstable.  But if you fix your eyes ahead of you on things that are steady you’ll have a greater sense of stability, even if you don’t feel like you have control over everything around you.

Here are three destabilizers and one stabilizers.  Choose to fix your eyes on the stabilizer and bring some stability to your life!

1.) (DESTABILIZER) Opinions of others.  I’m all about getting wise counsel and seeking advice.  This is very important to your success.  But you need to seek that advice from the right people.  Living your life based off the unsolicited opinions of your friends and anyone who stops by your Facebook page is hugely destabilizing.  When you do seek advice, search out someone who is accountable for what they tell you…someone who has an investment in your life and the experience to guide you in the right direction.

2.) (DESTABILIZER) Your feelings.  Feelings have a great purpose.  Because you have them you experience a wide-range of emotions.  You get so much out of every moment in life because of them.  But feelings are not a great place to fix your gaze.  They are extremely volatile.  You wake up feeling one way and feel a completely different way by breakfast.  Living your life by what you feel will result in huge ups and downs.

3.) (DESTABILIZER) Circumstances. The tight-rope of life is in constant motion.  There will always be circumstances beyond your control.  If you go through life simply reacting to those circumstances, then you will have no stability.  But if you respond to those circumstances in a way that moves you toward a fixed goal, your life will have stability no matter what comes your way.  I think this is complicated, so a quick example with stocks.  If you invest in a stock with no financial plan, every time the stock price moves up or down you’ll be tempted to make a move.  Every circumstance related to your stock will prompt a reaction from you to sell or buy.  If you have a financial plan, however, backing your decision to purchase the stock, you decision-making will be much more clear and stable.  You’ll know exactly when to sell or buy based on  fixed goals that you set beforehand.

4.) (STABILIZER) God’s Word. Have you ever wondered why some people base their values and belief systems in an ancient book?  This is why:  It does not change.  If you live your life based on the Word of God, you will always have stability.  You will always have an unmoving source to look to no matter what circumstances are thrown at you.  It sounds simple, right?  It is.  Our lives are unstable only because we look to unstable things.  If we’ll fix our eyes on the unmoving, never-changing Word of God for every decision and every belief, our life will make sense in a way we never thought possible.

I thought you would enjoy these Scriptures on this topic:

Heaven and earth will pass away, but My Words will not pass away” -Matthew 24:3

“Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith….” -Hebrews 12:2

“O give praise to the Lord, for he is good: for his mercy is unchanging for ever.” 1 Chronicles 16:24

“In the same way God, desiring even more to show to the heirs of the promise the unchangeableness of His purpose, interposed an oath, so that by two unchangeable things in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have taken refuge would have strong encouragement to take hold of the hope set before us.  This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, a hope both sure and steadfast… -Hebrews 6:17-19

What stabilizers and destabilizers have you noticed?  What helps you bring stability to your life?

 

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Posted by on Aug 22, 2012 in Inspirational | 1 comment

Values don’t matter…until they cost you something.

Values don’t matter…until they cost you something.

It’s very easy for us to sit on our high-horse and look down on the moral failures of the corrupt.  It’s much more difficult for us to put ourselves in their shoes and still be willing to pay the price that it would have cost them to live by the right values.  The truth is that our values don’t mean a hill of beans until we have to give up something to live by them.

There is no sense in priding ourselves on our values until they’ve been tested.  A commitment to financial integrity doesn’t mean anything until you’re presented with a shady opportunity that could help you out of a tight spot.  A commitment of faithfulness to your spouse doesn’t mean anything until you’re tempted during a rough patch in your marriage.  Values don’t matter until they cost you something.

Here are 5 keys to living by your values:

1.) Be black and white.  When it comes to values, grey areas are not helpful.  You need clear lines that you’re committed not to cross.  The more clear the lines are, the more clarity you’ll have when they’re tested.  It’s OK (and healthy) to reassess your values from time to time, but don’t leave questions about values lingering.  You don’t want to be faced with a decision and not have clear values to help guide you.

2.) Ground your values.  Your values are only as good as their source.  If you’ve based your values on the way you feel or think about something then your values will shift when you feel or think differently.  If you base your values on something unchanging, you can rely on them to help guide you even when you’re an emotional wreck.  Ground your values in the Word of God.  Besides being unchanging, God’s Word is also true.  You can trust that living by Biblical values will yield great success in whatever you do.

3.) Write them down and review them weekly.  Not only does this help you make your values more black and white, but it keeps them in front of you every week.  Simply reviewing what’s most important for you to live by will quickly expose the opposing opportunities that present themselves.

4.) Start small and early.  Simply put, if you don’t make small sacrifices for your values today then you won’t make large sacrifices later.  Take back the office supplies you brought home.  Stop flirting with the receptionist.  Be generous even if you only have a little.  Go home and be with your family.  Make the small choices today and you’ll have trained yourself to make big choices tomorrow.  And when you do, write it down in a journal.  Go back and reflect on how much better your life was because you gave up something for your values.  This will encourage you in the future.

5.) Use Visioning.  This might sound scary at first, but it’s really no big deal.  All I’m saying is “see yourself” in a tempting situation and “watch yourself” make the right decisions.  There is no need for the first tests of your values to be in real life.  We have amazing imaginations.  I have faced all kinds of situations in my mind long before ever facing them in reality.  Because I had already “experienced” the moment, it was easy to stick to my values when the situation was real.

Are values important to you?  Where do they come from and how do you live by them?

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Posted by on Aug 15, 2012 in Inspirational | 14 comments

Sex, Banana Pudding and Self-Control

Sex, Banana Pudding and Self-Control

I heard someone talking about banana pudding the other day.  Apparently, if you want to have amazing banana pudding you’ve got to be willing to invest some time and patience in the process.  There are quicker options, but the good stuff requires hours of preparation, waiting for the right time to enjoy.

By the time we reach adolescence, we should have picked up on a little truth: the best things in life are the result of a patient process.  We work hard at developing a new skill and get to enjoy using it.  We spend years and years in an education system and have so much knowledge to show for it.  We invest in a plan and get to see it happen.  Diligence, patience and self-control pay off with huge rewards.  We deny ourselves temporary gratification so we can experience a better future.

When did sex become any different?  If you were to examine our cultural view on sex, you would think that human-beings have absolutely no ability to exercise self-control in their sexuality.  There is a subtle thread of belief that since sex is so natural and feels so good that it’s not meant to be controlled.  But the truth is that sex and banana pudding have some things in common:

1.) Sex is good.  So is banana pudding.  Anything good is worth waiting on and enjoying the way it was meant to be enjoyed.  For practical, physical, psychological, spiritual and emotional reasons there is no better sex than married sex.  It’s worth the wait.

2.) The wait makes it better.  Instant pudding doesn’t leave the same taste in your mouth as the good stuff.  Sex outside of marriage seems enticing but doesn’t sit well at the end.

3.) The end result is better than the ingredients.  If you eat the ingredients while you’re cooking, they don’t taste as good as the final product…and if you eat too many of the ingredients while its cooking the final product will be compromised.  Trying to enjoy the benefits of sex outside of marriage is often hurtful in the end and brings sexual baggage into your future marriage.

4.) Self-control is required.  But we’re much better at self-control than we think.  We constantly make choices to deny temporary pleasures for long-term gain.  We can do the same with sex…and of course with banana pudding.  We just need a change of perspective.

What’s been your experience?  Is sex exempt from self-control and patience?

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Posted by on Aug 10, 2012 in Inspirational | 0 comments

Comfort Prayers: Why Your Prayers May Not Be Effective

Comfort Prayers: Why Your Prayers May Not Be Effective

Being from South Carolina I’m very familiar with the idea of “comfort food”.  It’s the rich stuff that makes you feel good on the inside.  Now that I’ve been away from home for over a decade, comfort food has even richer meaning.  On the odd occasion that I enjoy fried chicken, with biscuits and gravy, collard greens, macaroni and cheese, green been casserole and a big glass of sweet tea, it takes me home.  I feel more comfortable, like putting on an old pair of jeans that fit just right.

That feeling may be a great goal for the end of a good meal, but it’s not a great goal for the end of your prayers.  “Comfort Prayers” are the prayers we pray asking God to take us back to some place in time where everything feels comfortable.  There are some reasons why “comfort prayers” don’t work:

1.) God doesn’t want you to move backwards.  He wants you to move forward into the unknown.  Yes, His plans are good.  But they aren’t to take you back to your past, no matter how good you’ve convinced yourself it was.

2.) You’re not supposed to be in control.  “Comfort prayers” are usually an ask for God to bring things back to the place where “you can handle it”.  But God doesn’t want you to just handle it.  He doesn’t mind you feeling uncomfortable enough to have to rely on a relationship with Him!

3.) They’re not Scriptural.  Almost every reference to prayer in the New Testament involves an agreement with Heaven or praying “in the name of Jesus”.  “Comfort prayers” are completely centered on our own interests with no consideration for the will and purpose of God.

I have been guilty of praying “comfort prayers”…a lot.  Even when I think I’m praying God’s will I catch myself praying He’ll do it in a specific way that I understand, a way that puts me back in control.  For instance, when I have a need I often pray for more money.  Having more money puts me in control.  I understand how that works.  But God has a million ways to meet that need.  I have to choose to trust God to meet the need the way He decides to do it.

Forget about being comfortable.  A life of faith means being outside your comfort zone.  Actually…instead of completely forgetting about comfort, learn to be comfortable trusting in God when you’re not in control.  Ask yourself, is this prayer an attempt to put me back in control or an attempt to agree with God?

How about you?  Have you ever caught yourself praying “comfort prayers”?  How do you turn them into effective prayers?

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Posted by on Aug 8, 2012 in Inspirational | 2 comments

Don’t STOP Sinning!

Don’t STOP Sinning!

Sin (of all kinds) is terrible.  Sin hurts other people…and ourselves.  Maybe you’ve been trying to quit in some area but haven’t had much success.  I have advice for you.  Don’t stop sinning…start living better!

Sin starts with a thought.  The thought is called temptation.  Some psychologists have said that tempting thoughts only stay with us for 5-7 minutes at a time.  Avoiding sin would mean not allowing those thoughts to move you toward sinful behavior.

But, have you ever tried to stop thinking about something?  It’s basically impossible.  The more you think about not thinking about something, the more you think about it!  The trick is to replace thoughts in your mind with better thoughts that lead to better actions.

Here are some tips:

1.) Be Prepared – Vision: You don’t have tempting thoughts ALL of the time.  Use time away from the battle to prepare your mind.  Develop a vision for your life without sin.  For instance, if you’re regularly tempted to look at pornography you might think about the relationships you value that would be hurt by that decision, or the ministry opportunities that would be limited by that decision.  Why do you care about those relationships/opportunities?  What do you want them to be like?  Write down those things so you have them with you the next time a tempting thought comes along.

2.) Be Prepared – Ammunition: You’ll also want some ammunition to counter the tempting thoughts when they come.  The Bible is full of the ammunition you need. The key here is to be able to assert your identity as a child of God when you’re tempted to believe otherwise.  My favorite verse for this is Romans 3:21-22, which says that the righteousness of God through Jesus is a gift for all who believe.  I am the righteousness of God…not a sinner!

3.) Go to Battle: Here comes the tempting thought!  This time, rather than trying NOT to think it, bring out your vision and your ammunition.  You’ve got 5-7 mins of material, so put it to work.  Visualize the relational and ministry accomplishments that are in your heart.  Speak out loud and meditate on your Scriptural identity.  This process is actually training your mind.  Before long you won’t just be NOT sinning, you’ll be living for something better!

4.) Drop Shame: Shame is that feeling like something is wrong with you.  Let me set the record straight.  Nothing is wrong with you just because you have tempting thoughts.  The Bible says that Jesus was tempted in every way.  When you’re being tempted, you’re being like Jesus.  Don’t choose to believe that you have a problem because you keep feeling tempted to sin.  Rather, focus on your righteous identity from tip #2.

5.) Make a call: I’ve got a guy in my life that I can call at any hour.  If I’m losing the tempting thoughts battle, he’s told me to call him up so he can help talk through a better vision and who I really am.  Honestly, sometimes just the thought of calling him is all I need to help me win.  I bet you have a friend like this in your life.  Go ahead and get permission so you know they will be there for you when you need them.

“Throw off your old evil nature and your former way of life, which is rotten through and through, full of lust and deception.  Instead, there must be a spiritual renewal of your thoughts and attitudes.  You must display a new nature because you are a new person, created in God’s likeness – righteous, holy and true” Ephesians 4:22-24

Let’s hear from you: What has worked for you to overcome tempting thoughts?

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