Rant; grouch; rage; let it out. Now – How do you feel?

Do you ever read something and the words keep coming back to you like a boomerang?  That happened to me yesterday.  I was aimlessly browsing an article and read part of a conversation where one person said it was enough to express love verbally and the other person said that’s just rhetoric.  You can express love, but it’s weak without action to back it up. Recently I was reviewing some comforting passages in the book of John.  There’s a model for us in John 15:9 “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love.” Jesus said that and set the stage for how real love came to be.

In the past 6 weeks I’ve been the benefactor of awesome love, amazing love. Nobody craves spending time with someone who has no energy and requires special care like a piece of fragile glass. That’s not how my friends and family made me feel though.  They demonstrated what it means to ‘remain in the love’ taught by Jesus way back in the New Testament.  I am blessed.

Have you ever considered how the quality of our lives would improve if we put love into action beyond the rhetoric of simple words? We’ve all witnessed random acts of kindness and heard about the joy expressed by a surprised recipient of a pay-it-forward gift at Starbucks or the drive-thru. We smile when we hear stories of compassion that renews our faith in humanity.

Here’s an idea.  We could practice what we’re taught in 3 John 1:11 “Dear friend, do not imitate what is evil but what is good. Anyone who does what is good is from God. Anyone who does what is evil has not seen God.”  How do we imitate? We watch, we learn, we practice what we see until we learn it; until it becomes familiar.  We do what comes naturally and we are comfortable with the act.

There are opportunities every day, sometimes every hour to express sentiments, feelings, frustrations, joy, irritation, enthusiasm, thankfulness, anger, excitement, annoyance … see what I mean? Crazy mixed up emotions! It’s like Russian Roulette – then the trigger snaps! Do we act in love even when we’re angry?  What about when we’re worn out and annoyed? It’s possible to act out of love even when inwardly we’re drowning in irritation. Are you ready for a challenge?  Here’s the first recommendation from Colossians 4:6 “Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.”  It’s perfectly safe to try this at home.  Remember this:  Act as if.

Have the conversation you need to have with a child, a spouse, a neighbor, a friend. Stand in front of a mirror, full length if possible. Practice your conversation exactly as you would have it; Act as if your irritating spouse was right there; or your annoying child was getting under your skin.  Yell, be crabby, speak irrationally, use your body language – but don’t take your eyes off your image in the mirror. Rant; grouch; rage; let it out.  Now – How do you feel? If someone had that conversation with you, how would it make you feel? Stop and consider the heart of that person? Consider your own. When we say ‘I love you’ is it rhetoric?  Or is it authentic, active love?  Isn’t there a way to express your disappointment, correct a mistake, or punish and act of defiance while still reassuring your love?

Here’s your chance. Decide now to calm your voice, modify your body language, rehearse again but this time with love, the way you would want to hear it. Add a hug and smile. Practice speaking the truth in love. Model Proverbs 1:8-9 “Listen, my son, to your father’s instruction and do not forsake your mother’s teaching. They are a garland to grace your head and a chain to adorn your neck.”

These verses in Romans 15:4-6 teach an important lesson “Everything that was written in the Scriptures was written to teach us encouragement and provide hope. May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you the same attitude of mind toward each other that Christ Jesus had, so that you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.”  Encourage…provide hope…glorify.

When we speak out, no matter what we feel inside, do we encourage?  Do we practice patience and endurance so we are counseling instead of condemning?  Do we build character in others or tear them down? We’re given guidance, even invited to ask God for help, in the book of Philippians 4:5-7 “Let your gentle spirit be known to all men. The Lord is near. Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”  When I read Galatians 6:9, it even looks like we’re promised success.  What do you think after reading this? “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.

You know, Vince Lombardi, the famous football coach had the right idea.  He said “Practice doesn’t make perfect; perfect practice makes perfect.”  Perfect is rare; maybe impossible.  But treating others the way we want to be treated is entirely possible. We need a lot of practice, perfect practice. The mirror doesn’t lie; the image is an exact replica.  When someone talks to you, when conversation takes place, what do you want as a result? Here’s one more thought from Luke 6:31 “Do to others as you would have them do to you.”  We will never regret being kind. Ready to practice? Meet you at the mirror.

Mandisa/Sparrow Records: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BcLYkUb5Keo  What if we were real?

Moments with the Master of Immunty

I was watching the end of the TV show ‘Survivor’ the other night and just before the vote that determines who gets kicked off the island, and in short, gets eliminated from any chance at victory, the moderator asked if anyone wanted to cash in their immunity chip. At that moment I thought wouldn’t it be perfect if we could, when faced with a broken heart or personal devastation, cash in our immunity chip? What if we had a survival mechanism like that?

Most of the time we float through life, riding the waves as they crest and even the dips as they descend, but then there are jolts that slam us to the depths. We can be crushed by an event or circumstance that leaves us drained and deeply distressed like David lamented in Psalm 69:2 “I sink in the miry depths, where here is no foothold. I have come into the deep waters; the floods engulf me.” Doesn’t that sound hopeless? Already in the depths and unable to even gain a foothold. I want to cash in my immunity chip. I want safety. I want my security back.breathe

I had a moment with the master over a heartbreaking situation. I’ve learned that human hurt requires the healing touch of the Master. He reminded me that this is all temporary, but his plan is eternal and has no dependency on conditions of this life. The Master gently spoke 1 Corinthians 2:9-10 to me “As it is written: “What no eye has seen, what no ear has heard, and what no human mind has conceived”— the things God has prepared for those who love him— these are the things God has revealed to us by his Spirit. The Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God.”

I wish I had it all together, but I don’t. I hurt sometimes. I want to wave the white flag in front of life and surrender, cry uncle, give up. But then I hear this gentle whisper “My child, get up!” And I’m reminded that God breathed his Word for times like these, His ultimate Immunity – my personal Immunity. Proverbs 22:19-21 “So that your trust may be in the Lord, I teach you today, even you. Have I not written thirty sayings for you, sayings of counsel and knowledge, teaching you to be honest and to speak the truth?”

Do you need Immunity from hurts of this world? Start with moments with the Master of immunity. 2 Corinthians 4:7-9 “But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us.  We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.”

There is no way to describe the freedom and peace when cashing in the immunity chip created by the Master.

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Oad8ov10AjY Michael W. Smith – Breathe

This was first posted here April 11, 2014

26.2 or 0.1

Spring is coming – I promise. To get you in the training mode or maybe training mood – well, here. Something to think about.

I was walking through a parking lot yesterday and there on the bumper of a car was a familiar white oval shaped sticker imprinted with the number 0.1. For a split second my mind tried to associate that white oval with something relative and suddenly I had to laugh.  That white oval is a proud symbol of a strong athlete who runs half-marathons or full marathons. Do you envision the white oval imprinted with 26.2 or 13.1?  And there are other badges of endurance that recognize the achievement of a goal.  The white oval 0.1 is intended for humor. Goal achieved! I was laughing all the way to my car. But it also started introspective thinking as I drove home.13.1 and 26.2

What have I been doing lately to seek out my purpose and work toward goals I’ve set for myself? Have I prayed and ask God for guidance through my day, then ignored his direction and gone my own way? Have I given a worry to God at night, and taken it back again when the sun came up?  Has my attitude been in line with Philippians 2:5 that says I should “have the same attitude toward one another that Christ Jesus had…”

Our Word of Life kids on Wednesday night sing a song that starts out “Running the race for Jesus …” How am I really doing in the race of life? Am I diligent and striving for that 26.2? Or am I stagnating and satisfied with 0.1?  I don’t know if you’ve been to a race or watched them on TV, but you might notice runner’s attire. Summer athletes are wearing lightweight, clothing and as little of it as possible. Even in the winter, when runners perform, fully covered, their clothing weighs very little. Have you lifted a running shoe lately? They have almost no weight.  I think it takes more energy to heft a Q-tip than it does to lift a modern day running shoe.  Athletes who are serious about their goals endure through training, practice perfection of their stride, nurture their physical bodies with protein and healthy foods, and feed their spirits with positive thoughts.   An excerpt from Hebrews 12:1-2 says “…we must get rid of every weight and the sin that clings so closely, and run with endurance the race set out for us, keeping our eyes fixed on Jesus …”

In this world there is weight of insurmountable cares – unless we keep our eyes on the prize as the Apostle Paul wrote in Philippians 3:14 “..with this goal in mind, I strive toward the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.”  For years I had this sentence printed and taped to my wall to remind me of my purpose. I can’t give the writer of it proper credit because I don’t know where I read it or where it came from. “Live your life in such a way that those who don’t know God will want to know God because they know you.”  If I lived up to that every day, I think I’d come pretty close to that 26.2.  This last thought from the Message translation of Ephesians 6:13 “Be prepared. You’re up against far more than you can handle on your own. Take all the help you can get, every weapon God has issued, so that when it’s all over but the shouting you’ll still be on your feet. Truth, righteousness, peace, faith, and salvation are more than words. Learn how to apply them. You’ll need them throughout your life.”

Keep running for what is good and honorable and worthwhile.  Guard your mind and your heart!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PLHe0W9Q1Rk – Things are gonna get better – because we win in the end!

First published here February 7, 2013

Blank! What is your interpretation?

A while back I opened the box of marketing materials for my home based business; oversized postcards with a calendar on the back and ink pens, both items a replication of my business card.  My first inclination was to inspect the contents and everything was perfectly placed and printed exactly as I’d ordered it. Then it happened!  Putting the cards back in the box a few separated away and one looking suspiciously out of place fell to the floor.  Totally blank on the front – nothing imprinted – completely pristine white. What would the voice in your head tell you at that point? Blank! Some thoughts went spinning through my head. Guess what they were. “This card is you. Your efforts are nothing compared to what others can do. You should stop this crazy notion and see the message in this blank card.” Blank!

How easy it is to be snared into defeat. How easy it is to be twisted into thinking nothing quite measures up. If at first you don’t succeed … just means you didn’t succeed – for the 100th time.  How easy it is to give in to the struggle and let negative thoughts permeate our existence until we are like that blank card – and have nothing. It’s easy to lay down our tools, pack the protective tarp away, and let the freight train run over us.  Or we can fight back!  Recognize where the stinking thinking comes from.  Look what it says here in Ephesians 6:12 “For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.”  Do the dark thoughts and defeat come from God? Of course not.  God is light and in him there is no darkness at all.  Look it up.  1 John 1:5.

God had to speak to me about that blank card. Psalm 102:1-2 “Hear my prayer, Lord; let my cry for help come to you.  Do not hide your face from me when I am in distress. Turn your ear to me; when I call, answer me quickly. “  I know how to pray.  I also know that even when I pray, God expects me to ask with the right motives and to do my part.  James 4:3-4 “When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives … Don’t you know that friendship with the world means enmity against God? Therefore, anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God.”  Falling into friendship with the world limits my thinking to what I am able to do. Comparison is the opposite of contentment and when I compare myself to the achievements of others, I become my own worst enemy and that doesn’t please God either.

So what about that blank card?  Could it be that instead of representing my nothingness, it represents a slate of possibilities?  Was God showing me that He has a plan that has not yet been revealed?  A blank card – where the future is waiting to be written?  When my Bible fell open to Psalm 37, saw this message clearly.  I hope these few inspiring words encourage you for the day ahead and help you see a new message on your blank card. How will you fill it up? It’s for a lifetime – not just today.  Psalm 37 “Trust in the Lord and do good; Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the Lord; trust in him and he will do this:  He will make your righteous reward shine like the sun. Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him; do not fret when people succeed in their ways. Refrain from anger and turn from wrath; do not fret—it leads only to evil. ….. The Lord makes firm the steps of the one who delights in him; though he may stumble, he will not fall,  for the Lord upholds him with his hand.”

Blank! What is your interpretation? It’s hopelessly blank OR it’s got space for endless possibilities? Start today to write on that blank card . . . Let’s get out there!

I was thinking Natalie Grant’s song Hurricane would be a great ending for this story. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1glRTnhssjA

Just because I grew up in church doesn’t mean I know everything.

I read something in My Utmost for His Highest by Oswald Chambers today that I hadn’t thought about before. Jesus the Son of Man could have in those last hours turned away and not gone to Calvary. As the Son of God, he knew he came to save the world and die for our sins. But as the Son of Man he was flesh and blood and felt the same pain anyone else would feel. The Cross of Christ was a triumph for the Son of Man. I like the way Oswald says Gethsemane and Calvary represent the gateway into life for us. Because Jesus didn’t run from fulfilling his destiny as the Son of God AND the Son of Man, every person has access to God through him.

Our salvation came at a great cost and just because Jesus was God’s son doesn’t mean he wasn’t terrified, that he could shut off the pain, the he could bleed without feeling the dread of death, or could take his last breath without struggle. Jesus paid it all and it took all of his life, the shedding of his innocent blood so that not one person would ever have to spend eternity in hell. I’m expecting some pretty intense learning from this presentation tonight.  http://www.nbc.com/ad-the-bible-continues   NBC at 9:00 pm ET – if you can’t watch it, I hope you have a DVR.

Reflections – David J. Greer shares thoughts on growing your business

I have have been a fan of David Greer for over a year since I started following his blog during one of his sailing adventures. I couldn’t wait for his next post. Now he has applied his passion for sailing to principles of leadership in his new book Wind In Your Sails: Vital Strategies That Accelerate Your Entrepreneurial Success. I can’t wait to read it!  In the meantime, I am honored to share this guest post from David that so closely aligns with values and attitudes that I have adopted as my own. I know you will find inspiration and encouragement as you read.

In recent posts, Jane has reflected on faith, attitude, self-belief, successes, and truth. These are all great topics that impact all of us, especially entrepreneurs. In my new book Wind In Your Sails: Vital Strategies That Accelerate Your Entrepreneurial Success these topics come up over and over again for entrepreneurs who manage and grow their businesses.

Faith

While there are hundreds of thousands of entrepreneurs in the US, they are only a small percentage of the whole population of the US. It takes a special person to sense a market need, come up with a solution, and then to ask for and get money to solve the problem they see. All entrepreneurs take an enormous leap of faith when they start their business, launch a new product, or move in a new direction. One whole chapter of Wind In Your Sales is about the entrepreneur him or herself and what they need to do to keep faith in themselves and their business.

 

Attitude

Entrepreneurs set the tone. Every day. How they show up at work is magnified 100-fold. Their every action, tone of voice, and the words they use are scrutinized for meaning. Living in a fish bowl is an entrepreneur’s lot in life. If you show up feeling down or negative, people will assume that the company is having a bad day, not just you.

 

We choose the attitude we come to work with. As an entrepreneur, I know that I have to choose to show up with positive energy, a smile on my face, and an attitude that no challenge is too big. Neuroscience has proven that we can rewire our brain to focus more on the positive aspects. Learn more in Jesse Lyn Stoner’s post 7 Ways to ReWire Your Brain and Become a Better Leader.

 

Belief

To have faith, show up with the right attitude, and have belief in yourself requires that we actively keep things in balance. I journal every morning when I first get up and every evening just before going to bed. I use my journal to note my insights during the day and to note when I am having a lot of negative thoughts. At night, I make sure that I write at least five things in my journal that I am grateful for that day.

Creating self-belief can start in one area of your life and then extend into another. As I wrote in Keeping My Edge, I challenge myself by skiing. While I sometimes fall, picking myself up and trying again on the ski hill is a great way to create the belief I’ll need to do the same in my business.

 

Truth

Kevin Lawrence writes in Expel the Elephants about our need to face the truth in our businesses. It is amazing how people will tip toe around the elephant in the room. It is often the entrepreneur who is unwilling to face up to the reality of the situation.

 

The kicker is that until the elephant gets on the table and you start talking about him it will do nothing but hold you and your business back. We fear the brutal truth, yet it is only by admitting to the reality of the situation do we have the opportunity to do something about it. Your fears are never as bad as the truth. Get you and your employees past those fears so that you can talk about the real problems that are holding everyone back.

 

While Jane writes about faith, attitude, self-belief, successes, and truth in the context of her life, she is a fabulous example of where we all need to focus our attention, as people and as entrepreneurs. My goal with Wind In Your Sails is to help all of us do just that.

 

 

F-A-I-T-H

Yesterday I posted some thoughts on change. Not to get stuck on a topic, but change is so pervasive, so let’s visit it again – then move on to something else. Sometimes change is exciting! Anticipation of shifting what is happening now to make room for something new can be enticing and motivating. A chapter closes, a chapter with an unknown plot opens.  Or maybe change is scary! What if I this new ‘thing’ isn’t what I expected? What if it doesn’t work out? What am I going to do if I can’t find my groove? What happens when I can’t change it back? Those are not my thoughts, although the enemy of my soul is going to throw them up to me with every difficult situation guaranteed to cross my path. In case you’re going though a rough patch and you’re facing a difficult situation, let’s help each other through it by examining our attitude toward faith so we can strengthen it from the root.

When we get the inside right, the outside will take care of itself. Right? F-A-I-T-H

F         Forever – Wavering is part of our nature.  Nothing is perfect, bad things happen and we get discouraged, but life is a huge mixing bowl with an overload of good mingled in there too.  Through every situation and every decision, we have the ultimate guide.  Psalm 48:14 God is our God forever and ever; He will guide us to the end.

A         Adversity – Someone said “That which does not kill me, makes me stronger.” When we go through adversity, we will become stronger if we learn from it. Athletes know the muscle pain of overexertion. Little tears in the muscle occur but healing makes it stronger. When we struggle through adversity, what can we learn that makes us stronger? It could be a learning a new skill, discovering a solution to a problem that’s laid dormant for a long time, or maybe it’s simply finding a new coping mechanism. I like the Message interpretation of Proverbs 18:14 & 15 A healthy spirit conquers adversity, but what can you do when the spirit is crushed? Wise men and women are always learning, always listening for fresh insights.

I          Impossible – I love the word ‘impossible’. There is nothing quite so motivating as proving wrong the impression that an act or a goal is impossible. I’m sure I developed that attitude at the age of 11 when I first watched the movie Cinderella. There was a song that proclaimed very emphatically that impossible things happened every day.  And don’t they? If God is in it, the impossible becomes the Possible.  Another verse from the Message Ezekiel 36:27 I’ll put my Spirit in you and make it possible for you to do what I tell you and live by my commands.

T         Timing – How many times have I argued with God about his timing. “God, look at me here.  Time is nothing to you, but it’s everything to me . . . ” Does that sound at all familiar?  But God reminds me that it is he who is in control, he sees the tapestry in all its intricate detail where all I see is one tangled mess of threads.  Psalm 18:20-24 GOD made my life complete … he gave me a fresh start. Now I’m alert to GOD’s ways; I don’t take God for granted. Every day I review the ways he works …  GOD rewrote the text of my life when I opened the book of my heart to his eyes.

H        History – Reviewing my past proves over and over again that God is faithful.  He has been my comforter, my cheerleader, my sustainer, my helper, and my guide. I make mistakes.  Every day, I can count on me to blunder at something. There might be painful consequences from some of those mistakes, but somehow I move on; by some miracle I find my way back to the right track. All I am and all I hope to be are made possible by the creator and sustainer of all things. 1 Chronicles 29:10-13  Everything in heaven, everything on earth is God’s!  Riches and glory come from him and he is ruler over all; God holds strength and power in the palm of his hand to build up and strengthen all. And here we are, giving thanks to God because of how he always was and who he always will be. God never changes. He is God.

What have we learned about F-A-I-T-H today? This simple fact. We need faith in the God who never changes because the path of life is ever changing. We need to look toward the light of the world who shines his light on our path so we can first find it, then stay on it.  John 8:12 Jesus said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”