When the Storm Comes

What is the first thing we want to reach for or pick up when it’s completely dark?  A flashlight, candle, or any type of illuminating object etc.  Regardless of the light source we realize something has to help us see in the midst of darkness and guide our path.  Don’t reach for the wrong things that in life are camouflaged as light.  Things that are temporal which in the long run will drop us into a deeper abyss.  I have seen this time and time again with family and friends, that in a time of great need and desperation they reach for alcohol, sex, drugs and all source of multi-media, only to find themselves in a deeper chasm and depressed state. According to 2 Corinthians 4:5-6, we need to select the real light.  Through Jesus light shall shine out of darkness.  He experienced the depth of hell, grave and darkness passing with flying colors (Revelation 1:8)  In your darkest moment, His darkness was greater and yet He says to you, “you can come out of it!”  In John 8:12 He shares,  “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” Jesus wants you to do more than just exist, but to live with eyes of clarity.  The truth is this world will have its own challenges but Jesus is our G.P.S. to navigate through them (John16:33)

Avoid the Vision Killers

Proverbs 29:18 King James Version (KJV)

18 Where there is no vision, the people perish: but he that keepeth the law, happy is he.

I was surprised to learn that when given a choice between being blind or deaf many people would rather see and accept losing their hearing.  I thought of the difficulty of losing the sweet sound of music and the voice of my family telling me how much they love me.  Especially my children, their voices have a way of unlocking and releasing the frustrations life can encapsulate, like a soda bottle shaken to the extreme.  In proverbs it’s clear that without vision people will perish, in other words without site how would we navigate through life.  So why do we waste time with people that cloud the very nature of all that God has for us?  I want to provide some filters that will help you navigate through toxic relationships in order to keep your eyes clear of the oncoming traffic of life and avoid the pitfalls that stunt our growth.

Learn to run your own race and avoid making decisions based on superficial things.  The most successful runners are the ones that keep their eyes on the finish line.  Many races have been lost by a fraction of a second just because the runner looked back and compared their position to someone else.  Learn to be content in your lane and run it to the best of your ability.  The race of life should be filled with moments of value and caring for one another.  Live a life of meaning with the passion and gifts God has given you.  Your race is distinct from anybody else; don’t waste valuable time comparing.  “I read an interesting report from a nurse who takes care of people close to death.  She asked hundreds of patients facing death what their biggest regrets were.  The number one regret was they wish they had been true to themselves and not lived to meet the expectations of others.”(1)

Be the original you were created to be.  I once heard it said, “all are born originals but many die as copies.”  The most original painting poses the greatest value, so why not live like one.  We have been created as God’s original masterpiece but choose to discard who we are and live as a forged painting with lesser value.  When we unlock our true value and what we were created to be, joy rises to the surface and wholeness is achieved.  You will never a find a relationship either in friendship or marriage that will complete you.  Relationships can complement you but God is the only one that can complete you.  In Jeremiah 29:11, God shares with the people of Israel as he prepares to free them from bondage, For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”  This word stands true today! God has a specific plan to prosper you.  While others may choose to harm you, God wants to protect you and prosper you in all areas of your life.  In order for you to avoid vision killers you have to refocus and remind yourself of the specific plan God has given you and your value.

Choose to receive praise from God rather than men.  I have learned over time just as long as you satisfy the agenda of men and their desires, you will always receive praise.  As an Eagles football fan, I have heard the rumors of the type of fans that derive from the City of Brotherly Love.  As long as the Eagles win you will always hear the praises and adulation for the team, but as the pendulum sways to the favor of the opposition; Philly fans are quick to let you have it.  If we are honest isn’t this the worlds expectation?  It’s all about performance in order to receive praise but God’s has chosen a different path.  In John 3:16, His love was given to us without merit.  He chose to love us first before we could love Him.  His love operates differently than the world’s love.  His love is not performance based but a gift granted through the death of His son for us.  Transformational love can only take place when we are able to embrace and accept His love.  When you live a life expecting to receive praise from men, it’s like drawing water from an empty well.  If you continue to make the trip to the same well, you will eventually die of thirst.  Don’t live a life of dehydration when the living well is in front of you which will never run dry.  Jesus said in John 7:37,38 “Anyone who is thirsty may come to me! 38 Anyone who believes in me may come and drink! For the Scriptures declare, ‘Rivers of living water will flow from his heart.’”[a] 

Vision killers will never run their own race.  They will choose to run yours so learn to stay in your lane while fixing your eyes on the finish line.  Live as an original masterpiece accepting your true value which is God given.  Resist being a carbon copy of anyone else.  Tune your ears to the praises of God and not of men which are fleeting.  Don’t be afraid to chase your dreams and passions, because when your vision is clear, the journey will feel much shorter.  Every step you take will be easier with the vision killers vanquished.

(1) Joel Osteen Book You Can and You Will

10 Habits to Succeed in Life (Navy Seal)

  1. Start each day with a task completed.(Making beds) Handle the simple task first.  Take pride in the small things and the more challenging task will become more manageable.
  2. Find someone to help you through life. (Row together) Task become easier when you have help.  Forge relationships that allow you to develop accountability and support. Ecclesiastes 4:11 states, “Also, if two lie down together they will keep warm.  But how can one keep warm alone.”  Find a friend that is willing to row at your pace with a constant synchronized flow.  Paddling  becomes easier together and at times a true friend will take both paddles over to keep you moving in life.
  3. Respect everyone.(The Munchkins) Regardless of anyones outwards ability don’t judge them and don’t measure the size of their hearts.  Learn to give everyone a fair opportunity.
  4. Know that life is not fair. (“Sugar Cookie”) There will always be difficult moments and our pain as well as our dirt will be visible for all to see.  Remember it’s the small grains of sand that become an irritant in clams that create the most beautiful pearls.
  5. You will fail often. (The circus) Growth in any area of life is about the willingness to endure the pain and resist the urge to quit.  Develop the proper perspective that set backs are only set ups for what God is planning to do in your life (Jeremiah 29:11).  The true champions that you remember are the ones that get knock down and pick themselves off the canvas.  The key to success is to continue moving forward even when you have to take a breath and recover. James 1:12 says, blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him. Holy Bible – New International Version.  Remember that in any challenge you face there is a process.  Your life is seamlessly woven together by trials that allow for growth and perseverance. Your loving Father has His hands open ready to hold you up when you fall.  Psalms 37:24 states, the you may stumble, God will hold you up with His hands.
  6. Take some risks. Take the plunge because you will never know how far you get to accomplishing your dreams and goals unless you take some risks.  Moses struggles with taken risks, God was asking Moses to confront his brother, the Pharaoh, the most powerful political figure in the region, to set thousands of slaves free, ending a several hundred-year tradition of enslaving the Israelites. Moses, understandably, throws every excuse at God that he can think of. “What if they don’t believe you sent me?” “What if they don’t listen to me?” “What if I’m scared?” “What if I don’t speak well in front of crowds?” Finally, he pleads with God, “Please, send someone else.” (1) This is the secret to taking risks….”it’s not about you or even you going in your own strength.” It’s about God being with you and establishing His purpose through your life to make a real change in this world.  Several questions to ponder: will my risks injure me?  Will my risk taking hurt some one else?  Is there a greater good when taking the risk I want to take?  Here is what God has to say about your risk, ” Note the interaction between Moses and God and apply it to your your life. Moses said to God, “Suppose I go to the Israelites and say to them, `The God of your fathers has sent me to you,’ and they ask me, `What is his name?’ Then what shall I tell them?” God said too Moses, “I AM WHO I AM. This is what you are to say to the Israelites: `I AM has sent me to you.  Take the plunge today head first and break the record!
  7. Face down the bullies. (Sharks) In life we will deal with many types of sharks which can be harmless or dangerous.  Regardless, when you find yourself in shark infested waters, it doesn’t matter what species you need to distinguish from because fear will grip you.  What matters is the ability to fight and control your emotions.  Why? Because fear can be the greatest enemy that will paralyze you. In Psalms 23:4 David searched in his moment of fear after being chased by his enemy and learned the secret to standing up to the bully. “Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.” In the mist of peril know that God is with you.  He has provided His Word to combat and cast all fear away.  God’s word gives us the ability to hit the shark in the snout and remain still while the enemy retreats.  If you back down the enemy will always chase you from behind but stand your ground.  If the struggle is depression or a habitual sin; stand your grand and be reminded you are not alone.  God is with you and His rod and staff wii help you navigate through the enemies minefield.
  8. Step up when the times are toughest. (The dark keel) I remember as a child moving from place to place with my mother and two sisters.  The biggest challenge I faced was adjusting to the dark.  Since my surrounding were different I recall continuing to bump into things.  As the weeks progressed my surrounding became predictable and much easier to navigate.  The enemy wants to keep us in the dark and paralyzed so we don’t move.  His objective is to limit the movement, or place obstacles in our lives that inhibit progress.  In life the more you press forward and bump into pain and tough time, the stronger you become if you keep moving forward.  Learn to reach the light switch quickly.  The more you remain in the light of God the easier it is to see the obstacles headed your way.  Tough times are never easy to handle but it’s just like weights; the more you pick up and press them over your head, the stronger you get.  In tough times remember you are not alone..  In Isaiah God says, 43:2. “When you go through deep waters, I will be with you.”  Be comforted that you don’t have to face what you are going through alone.  Cry out to God because He hears you.  
  9. Lift up the downtrodden. (Song of hope)
  10. Never ever give up. (Don’t ring that bell)

Trust God First (Charles Swindoll)

  1. Avoid self-sufficiency– It short circuits the test.  Don’t be quick in finding your own solutions.
  2. Don’t live as an extension chord- your immediate connection should always be God first.  Don’t look to others for your source for trusting God.  Don’t be quick to rely on others because they will eventually become a crutch.
  3. Don’t allow yourself to remain distant from God– Job was a great example of trust, while losing it all he remained faithful to God. Job said,”Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him: but I will maintain mine own ways before him.” (Job 13:15)
  4. Don’t cultivate a bad habit of worry– Does your worry list out run your prayer list?  Examine what your worry is connected too.  No matter how much you try, you cannot out run your worry.  Worry can only be conquered through trust.  When thoughts come into your mind, quickly replace them with affirmation of your trust in God.  Push worry to the side and rest in the Lord.  Learn to lean on Him and choose to remember his faithfulness.  “God is not a man, that he should lie; neither the son of man, that he should repent: hath he said, and shall he not do it? or hath he spoken, and shall he not make it good?” (Numbers 23:19)
  5. Avoid the seed statements of un-trust-                                         a. I am worried.    b.  I can fix it.  c.I can’t wait.    d.I can’t sleep. e. Are you sure I can trust the Word of God?       f. I  need help from others before God.    g. If I manipulate the situation it will work in my favor.       h.  I will take charge now and pray later.    i.  I feel insecure with myself and need others.                                                                                                                                              

Atomic Habits to change your life

  1.  Build Good Habits-   

Who's your miracle for?

  1.  The miracles starts with you! (Learn to serve others)  When Paul encountered prison (Acts 16:16-40) after being falsely accused. Paul’s miracle of freedom displayed mercy and forgiveness for the prison guard.  The miracles we receive are not just for our benefit but to display the glory of God to all.
  2. True happiness isn’t self absorbed but self-reflected.  Jesus said in Matthew 10:42, “if anyone gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones who is my disciple, truly I tell you, that person will certainly not lose their reward.”
  3.  Don’t focus on the return
  4. Big people learn the power of doing something small. In the book by Joel Osteen, You Can You Will, he shared that serving is a satisfaction money can’t buy.  You feel peace, a joy and a strength.  In John 4:34 Jesus said, “When Jesus explained: “My nourishment comes from doing the will of God, who sent me, and from finishing his work.”
  5. Synergy Is Said To Occur When The Whole Is Equal To The Sum Of The Parts.  If you long to find purpose and live complete then use each individual gift God has given you to serve the Kingdom and become “whole.”  It simple, the more bridges you help build the more access you will have for support in life.  If you only focus on your bridge when it starts to fall apart you will have no way out.  Build lives for your future because there isn’t any better investment plan.
  6. Speak life to others and not death.
  7. Miracles begin first at home.  Serving your family should be the catalyst to all that you do.   
  8. Display humility to others.  Jesus expressed great humility in John 13:1-17 when He washed the feet of His disciples.  Notice the difference between pride and humility between Peter and Jesus.  “No,” said Peter, “you shall never wash my feet.”

    Jesus answered, “Unless I wash your feet, you have no part with me.”  Pride can come in many ways, especially through a false humility.  I remember early in my marriage at one of the lowest points financially I faced struggling with pride.  I had a brother in Christ bless us with a financial gift.  I remember stating to him, “keep it!  I know you don’t have it like that.”  He explained, “if you don’t allow me to be a blessing, you will rob me of my blessing.”  That really stuck with me regarding my arrogance to believe God’s blessings can only come in the way that I expect.  In tough times you need support from others,  In Ecclesiastes  4:11 states, “if two lie down together, they will keep warm. But how can one keep warm alone?”                            If you are living lonely begin to ask the right questions.  Am I waiting for other to meet me where I am it?  (pain, hurt, isolation etc.)   Or am I willing to meet the needs of others.  Newton’s Second Law states for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.  In other words what you are looking for should be displayed in you first, then you will be surprised to see it reciprocated.  Paul challenges us with this admonishment in Philippians 2:3, “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves.”

  9.  Learn to be intentional and seek to bless others.
  10. Keep the miracle on the down-low.   In Matthew 6:4 Jesus states, “Give your gifts in private, and your Father, who sees everything, will reward you.”  Don’t allow it to be about you.

Live Expecting Good Things to Happen

  1. Expect more out of life.  We tend to set limits by outwards appearance, ability, skills and sadly what others think of us.  In 1st Samuel, God gave King Saul an opportunity to lead his people the right way.  He began to choose his way and what others thought of him rather than what God expected.  To expect more is a heart condition.  Ask yourself a question, “how does God see my heart?”  The world will set expectations on your life which sets your compass. “What is the best job?” The world will compare your financial status, outwards appearance and attitudes.   Saul was a man of excuses and lead with pride and arrogance.  When disobeying God, he refused to wait on Samuel before going to war against the Philistines.  Then he blamed the people for his mistakes.  “The people spared the best of the sheep and oxen to make a sacrifice to Yahweh” (1 Samuel 5:15). Saul even used God as an excuse for his gains.  What God looks for is the condition of the heart. In  1st Samuel 16:7 the prophet Samuel couldn’t understand what was happening with Saul.  Surely God doesn’t make mistakes because Saul had all the right qualification.  God now challenges Samuel into what he expects, But the LORD said to Samuel, “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The LORD does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.”
  2. Power of Faith results in God acting on your behalf
  3.  Shift your what “if” (Psalm 23:6)
  4. Change the channel to the good memories
  5. Don’t relive your past pain.  
  6. Shift your attention to what is right with you
  7. Put down your memory stones and pick up your staff.
  8. Don’t keep yourself out of the Promise Land-
  9. God is a God of Repeats-“God can do it again”

Re-Charge Your Mind

  1. Choose the right attitude daily
  2.  Keep shifting your mind forward
  3. Your mental approach determines your success (Colossians 3:2)
  4. Story of the boy who struck out
  5. Allow your thoughts to heal you and not make you sick
  6. Keep the right perspective “Good morning Lord!”
  7. You were born with right DNA
  8. Your are not a victim but a victor
  9. Every set back is a set up for a comeback.
  10. Seek to always find hope “search for the light house”
  11. You don’t need arthroscopic need surgery
  12. Quite carrying the boulder “Don’t dwell on it”
  13. Keep the positive play back going
  14. Daniels story “The true Model of a Great attitude”

Live in Excellence

  1. When you have a spirit of excellence, you do your best wether anyone is watching or not.
  2. Do more than expected; carry it 2 miles (Matthew 5:41)
  3. Edit your life on a daily bases 
  4. Clean the refrigerator
  5. If you look good you will feel good
  6. Pick up the broom and clean
  7. Learn to pass the small test (Daniel 6:3)
  8. Surround yourself with a team that will pick you up.