Work-Life Balance Brilliance by Denise R. Green: book summary

Have you ever thought of hiring a life coach? Have you ever wondered what you could achieve if you had an accountability partner? Maybe you’ve tried the novel approach to creating different results than the trajectory you are on right now. If you are self-motivated at all, this book could be the recipe for positive momentum in finding what works for you. One glance at the book cover should clue you in to what the author thinks of work-life balance. In fact, the title of the book is, Work-Life Balance Brilliance and isn’t that really what we want from our lives and from our work?

I usually don’t copy chapter titles into a book summary, but in this case, the chapter titles are like opening the doors and giving you a full spectrum view of why this book functions like a personal coach. Burnout versus Brilliance, Tame Your Thoughts, Reinvent Your Outer Self, Nurture Brilliant Relationships, Manage Your Relationship with “Stuff”, Brilliant Sleep., How Not to Change, How to Choose the Right Goal, How to Change for Good, How to Say No with Grace, Not Guilt. Now you can see why I wanted to reveal the chapter titles before mentioning what is so fascinating and magnetic about this book.  From the outset, I had a feeling there was a meaningful purpose behind the writing of this book that I could identify with and Denise Green described it. “I’m on a mission to help people light the spark within them that may feel like it’s been nearly snuffed out due to the demands of life.” Does that sound anything like your dilemma? Here’s your next book.    Work-Life Balance Brilliance  

This book, with the chapters listed above, can best be described as a tool for knowing yourself and understanding inspirations and aspirations within and how your relationships and interactions are key in creating brilliance. The author identifies the four realms of Whole Life Integrations which she calls Brillance. Then through stories and instructive dialog, she coaches you through the steps to create that work-like brilliance.

I am a huge advocate of being careful with thoughts because thoughts drive actions. I was impressed with the content of the chapter, Tame Your Thoughts. Green doesn’t just rely on dialog to teach the methods of controlling thought. She offers a 6-step upgrade tool that I would call guided self-reflection. Then she offers advice on how to make your release from negative thoughts really stick.

Some strong points of this book are in the toolkits integrated with each chapter. Story is interesting, and case studies are evidence that somewhere along the line the principles taught in the book worked for someone. All you have to do is read through some of the action items to know that, if put into practice, many of your niggling aspirations could become your reality. By implementing some of the basic ideas suggested could bolster your confidence and give you an edge toward balance which you will redefine as brilliance. You don’t have to change everything. The changes will be dictated by what you discover about yourself and about relationships as you work through the pages of the book and guidance received by using the focus-inciting questions.

When I read a book like this one, I have a tendency to choose a favorite chapter. Manage Your Relationship With “Stuff” was a surprise. It is a powerful game-changer. Rarely have I read a book like this one that so aptly presents the tethers that hold us back like our ‘stuff’. Denise Green points out that we have two limitations that are huge. Time – we get 24 hours every day. Period. Physical – we operate with imperfect bodies that need to be taken care of – sleep is one thing most of us need more of. Note: we get 24 hours every day. Period. The author remarks that “This Brilliance realm (relationship with stuff) includes our relationship to our spaces, possessions, technology, and time.”  Certainly, every reader can identify with the components we all deal with every day and how we allow them to affect our world makes this book invaluable to creating a brilliant life. Do you need ideas for managing your time, designing a winning pattern for your day, working productively in your environment, managing technology? How about reducing your exposure to toxic energy? The toolkit consists of worksheets to help you replace those components that are not serving you.

Remember sleep? Some of us are more familiar with the lack of it. The chapter titled Brilliant Sleep is – well – brilliant. Whether you suffer from legitimate insomnia or sleep deprivation brought on by environmental or physical or activity conditions, the best practices for sleep hygiene in this chapter are priceless. Yes, we all know the trick of going to bed at the same time every night and getting up at the same time every day. We know to restrict caffeine in the afternoon. We might, on the advice of a physician, take melatonin. We might invest in a book that sends us to sleep because it provides absolutely no spark of interest. If you want to sleep and have forgotten what it feels like to get adequate sleep, you aren’t alone. The tips in this book are plentiful.

The final chapters of the book are based on putting legs on what you learned in the first part of the book. What do you want to change? What goals do you have? Are they the right goals for how you envision your work-life brilliance future? I remember hearing someone say that we invest ten months planning a two-week vacation and about ten minutes planning our future existence. That’s probably not truly accurate, but isn’t it true that we have goals, but may not know if they are the right goals until we get there and realize they aren’t?

This book, like a life coach, walks through the realms of life and helps you create a vision for your best life, set the right goals, determine how you will get there, and make wise choices of what you will do and what you will not. The author concludes with what I think of as the magic three. I mean if there was a bit of magic in all this.  Green says in her final address to readers, “If I were forced to describe achieving work-life brilliance in a few steps, those steps would include Assess, Choose, Change.”

There is no magic, but if you’re looking for help in reinventing your life, this book can bring magical results.

This book summary was first published at 


Crunch Time: How to Be Your Best When It Matters Most

One of the hooks that attracted me to this book is knowing that one of the authors, Rick, is a coach and the other, Judd, is a vice president at the Ken Blanchard Companies. Expecting to learn something valuable, I wasn’t, for a moment disappointed.  Read the full book summary here

The book is organized for easy learning with quick refer backs to practice the principles for yourself. Each chapter ends with a page highlighting what the authors hope you learned followed by a Try-it section to guide the self-motivated reader to make improvements, beginning now. Peering through the book, I noticed that each chapter title contained the word Reframing. Curiously, I looked for how that term was defined – you know. Just in case my interpretation was far distant from what was intended. I think you’ll like this Reframing approach to getting past hurdles that might be holding you back.    crunchtime

Reframing – The skill of consciously thinking about a situation in a new or different way to change how you interpret the situation, and actions you take, and the results you achieve.
Reframing can be learned by anyone. It’s a cognitive skill you can use to quickly and effectively equip your mind and body to perform well under pressure, anytime, anywhere.

I am a firm believer in how powerful our minds are and how they affect our lives from the smallest moments to the most extensive outcomes. As proven throughout the book, “Thinking differently is the starting point. Change how you act, and change your results.” Put your thoughts into a new frame of reference, new frame of mind, and therein lies the power of Reframing. Each of the chapters tells stories that are totally true, have teachable moments, and are so entertaining you will not be able to choose favorites from those the authors have used to illustrate their points.

Full book summary is published on the BizCatalyst360 network website under BizBooks & Beyond.  Here’s the direct link.


Finishing Well, or Just Finishing

Happy Birthday, Billy Graham. A hero of the Christian faith turned 98 on November 7th. Billy Graham has lived in the public eye since he was in his twenties, stayed true to his faith in Jesus Christ and has never been involved in immorality or been the object of scandal. When I was 11 years old my friends who had TV talked about watching Billy Graham Crusades and 40 years later I was still watching him talk about the object of his faith. In honor of Billy Graham’s birthday and his impeccable testimony, I’m writing this after reading his touching and gentle book, Nearing Home, but it’s also about Finishing Well. A lot has changed since Billy Graham began his evangelistic ministry, but one thing has not changed.  Psalm 73:26 “My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.”

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the phases of life. If you know me personally, you will know that I’m basically retired, but am trying to live as though I am not. I have nothing against retirement if it’s right for your life, but that isn’t the path for me. Someone told me once that retirement is OK as long as you ‘retire to’ not just ‘retire from’. I get that, and when I get far past the age of 80, I will ‘retire to’ rock crying babies in a hospital somewhere. I hope I still have a voice to sing to them too.  That’s all on my 20 year strategic plan. Go ahead do the math, I don’t mind. finishing-well

While wrestling with some decisions I was lead to the latest book by Billy Graham, Nearing Home.  I was drawn to it because of the sub-title “Life, Faith, and Finishing Well” and was caught from the second sentence of  his introduction. “All my life I was taught how to die as a Christian, but no one ever taught me how to live in the years before I die”. He goes on to say, “The Bible doesn’t picture us spending our latter years as useless and ineffective, spending our lives in endless boredom or meaningless activity……God has a purpose for us no matter what our age, young or old, the best way to meet challenges is to prepare for them now, align ourselves with God’s plan so we grow older with grace and find the guidance to finish well.”  OK, so if you happen to have the book you will realize that I took great liberty in paraphrasing, but in essence – those are his thoughts.  And I share them, because that is my prayer for all of us – that we find God’s purpose for our lives so we continually are living out a life aligned with God’s plan, inside His blueprint that’s uniquely our own.

That might mean we keep on doing the same things we’ve been doing because we’re on the right path and in the proper grid on the blueprint.  It might mean taking a slight bend in the road and modifying our course, just a little; a small incremental change.  Or it could mean a 90 degree angle or 180 degree turn. Where should I be today to be assured of finishing well tomorrow?  Today is all I have and tomorrow is the result of how I live it.  Maybe start hereDeuteronomy 6:5 Love the Lord your God with all your heart, strength, and mind.   Then speed read over to 1 John 5:3 This is love for God; to obey his commands. And if I start to waiver and fear that I can’t do what God has put in my heart to do, there is always the wisdom of Isaiah 41:13 I am the Lord, your God, who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you.  Seriously, friends – what are we afraid of? God has made us unique because He has a purpose for each of us, He created us with certain interests, abilities, and yes, even our personalities.  He will be our guide if we are committed to follow His lead. Get that – His lead.

How many times do we fall into the trap of thinking this is all there is? Life isn’t the party I signed up for. Let’s encourage each other in our walk today. I know myself well enough now to recognize that my passion to learn and share what I’ve learned through writing, mentoring, and teaching is who I am. The nearly obsessive desire to be a helper and support others so they don’t have to do it all themselves – that’s part of me. Scott Steiner, a true faithful servant of God recently when home to live in heaven with Jesus. A few years ago he taught a class at my church on spiritual gifts and, me, always eager for insight into what God’ purpose was for me, couldn’t wait to put action into my purpose. God spoke to me through those lessons in discovery and purpose. I’m still discovering and will continue – well, until God says it’s a wrap for my life on earth.

We are all going to someday reach the finish line. All our days, like sand, will collect at the bottom of the hourglass, our time on Earth expended. Finishing well, or just finishing?

At age 98,of course Billy Graham has retired from daily work, but he still has confidence that until his next breath is celestial air, his purpose on Earth is not over.  So back to that retirement topic – there are many versions of retirement as there are many seasons of life! I’m looking forward to branching out, spreading joy, learning more, sharing more, being more tomorrow than I am today, because it’s in God’s plan for us to be what he created us to be until we no longer are.  Ephesians 5:16 Make the most of every opportunity. For some, that’s their version of retirement. For me, it’s “Show me the mountain, Lord, then grab my hand and pull me up it”.   Are you struggling today? Do you have obstacles to overcome? Are you seeking the right path? You don’t have to do this alone.   Isaiah 41:14 Do not be afraid … for I, myself will help you declares the Lord.  2 Thessalonians 3:3 & 5 The Lord is faithful, He will strengthen and protect you …. May the Lord direct your hearts into God’s love and Christ’s perseverance.

From Crisis to Calling: Finding Your Moral Center in the Toughest Decisions – Book Summary

As I sat down to write about this book, From Crisis to Calling: Finding your Moral Center in the Toughest Decisions by Sasha Chanoff and David Chanoff, an online article in the Huff Post grabbed my attention proclaiming Afghan Refugee Crisis Worsens. It seems the news is dominated by more and more crises related to refugees who are suffering greatly in violence–torn regions. This book would have been much more uncomfortable to read had it not been for the authors’ presentation of the storyline through the moral compass of each person involved in the refugee evacuation. In the second half of the book, the five principles of moral decision making are conveyed through stories about corporate heroes of today.

Here are the 5-steps to moral decision making which are in the book called The Five Principles – building blocks to making moral decisions.

  1. Be prepared
  2. Open your eyes
  3. Confront yourself
  4. Know yourself
  5. Take courage

The subject of this book, From Crisis to Calling is about developing authentic leaders who make decisions based on deep personal values that positively affect their lives and the lives of their organizations. Leaders of this deep moral character will build cultures of trust, fairness, equitability, and ethical leadership. One final thought from the authors, “Empathy is the essential need of great leaders who are intentional about building their organizations and communities.” Whether leaders or lay people, life’s tough choices need to be infused with moral sense – empathy, compassion, altruism.

CSLews - Book Cover - From Crisis to Calling



Read the full book summary published on the BizCatalyst360 network.

Well that didn’t work! What was I thinking? Planning so that doesn’t happen.

Have you heard the latest? We are already two days into the New Year and some of us are still thinking through what we plan to accomplish in 2015. I said some of us. If you are one of those other ones who has their list written, posted, and are already in hot pursuit of making it happen – I’m proud of you. You probably don’t need to read the rest of this saga on dreaming dreams, planning plans, and somehow merging the two to create a vision for this year and maybe even beyond.

A few years ago someone handed me a page of notes from a meeting they had attended. “Here, she said. I have no use for this, but I thought of you. You’re the information junkie.” She was right, of course. The handout from the meeting described setting goals that are SMART. I’m not the master goal setter, but I can read a prescription. I also know that there is no chance for hitting a target if I don’t aim, and no chance to achieve a goal if I don’t set one. So here’s my take on S.M.A.R.T. goals. Let me know what you think.Scheduling A Meeting In A Diary

S          Specific: This sounds pretty easy. Right? To be specific means knowing exactly what you want as a result of your effort. Get a job. Read more books. Eat better. Stay warm. Not very specific are they? Well, maybe the stay warm one. To be specific what kind of job do you really want? Do you have your heart set on a certain company? Eat better could mean a lot of things, but to be specific, choose an eating plan, write a menu, and maybe keep track for a while till you see progress. Read more books is one of my goals. I have titles of books on my list that I will read and places to add more once I have read all of them. This might surprise you, but one of the books on my list is 1100 Words You Need to Know. Any guesses on why that’s on my list? Just curious.

Something to think about.  Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. – Philippians 4:8

 M         Measurable: This is seriously a tough one for me. Numbers are not my thing, but how hard can it be to add a few digits to a goal to make it a ‘valid’ goal? (at least according to the SMART rule) Let’s use my goal of reading more books. My brother-in-law set a goal to read 1 book for every year of his age plus 1 every year. I’m no mathematics genius, but even I can figure out that he is reading two additional books every year. My goal is not that admirable. First, I will read one book every 2 weeks. That’s a goal, but some goals should be stretch goals, so along with that goal, I have committed to writing a book review every two weeks. Feel free to challenge me in a few weeks to see how I’m doing.

Something to think about.  But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. – Matthew 6:33

A          Achievable: Ten years ago, one of my goals was to run 3 times a week for not less than one hour. That was a good goal for me at the time, but if I were to temper that goal for what is achievable today it would look vastly different. Walking for an hour, three times a week is an achievable goal. Let’s talk about my book goal. I don’t have 24 books listed because the year is young and I don’t know every single book I will read. However, I have ‘write-in’ space to decide later. Twenty-four books in one year is achievable.

Something to think about.  Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. –
1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

R          Realistic: With enough coffee, I can rule the world. Probably not going to happen. That would not be realistic. file9091310183759That goal would not even be sane. Who would want to rule the world even with the best dark roast coffee in the world? Realistic goals require that you do some deep soul searching and decide what you really want. See that root word ‘Real’ly want? One way to test it out is to invest time in mapping it out step by step. If you can’t do that, maybe a different goal would be better.

Something to think about.  Jesus said to him, “Away from me, Satan! For it is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.’ – Matthew 4:10

T          Time: Even though we all talk about goals for the year, don’t get all caught up in that notion of time begins on January 1 and ends on January 31. Remember I said I’m not the master goal setter? I’ll let you in on a little secret. You can set a goal anytime. If you’re driving down the road and think of something you really (really) want to do, you can decide right then to make it happen. A strong word of advice here…please wait till you get home to map it all out, or at least pull into a parking lot somewhere. It would not be at all SMART to write and drive.

Something to think about.  Every day I will praise you and extol your name for ever and ever. – Psalm 145:2

           For this God is our God for ever and ever; he will be our guide even to the end. – Psalm 48:14

Artist paint and brushesReady team? What are your goals? Sometimes just getting through a day is a good goal, but as soon as you can, write out some things you want to see in your life? Maybe in one week or one month. If you’re brave, go ahead. Envision your life months down the road or a year down the road. What does it look like? Paint me a picture. Let’s get out there.



The Fire and the Masterpiece

Awhile back I watched the Day of Discovery program produced by RBC Ministries.  I was intrigued by the familiar topic of the potter and the clay.  Isaiah 64:8 says ”Yet Lord, You are our Father; we are the clay, and You are our potter; we all are the work of Your hands.” I’ve heard that story all my life. The potter (God) takes a lump of clay (me) and puts me on the potter’s wheel, spins me around while dousing me with water, and shaping me into a masterpiece, fashioned for a unique purpose. Does that sound familiar?AA031

Through the process, the master has this designer mindset that transforms an image into a vessel with all the qualities planned in advance, before the clay even arrived.  Jeremiah 18:6 spells it out for God’s vision for his people. “He said, “Can I not do with you, Israel, as this potter does?” declares the Lord. “Like clay in the hand of the potter, so are you in my hand, Israel.” God has a plan for his people today, just as he did back in the days of Jeremiah the prophet.

Here’s what really caught my attention. The gentle shaping of the clay, forming the sides to fit the base, making the handle ornate or leaving it smooth and serviceable, creating purpose inside its shape. Characteristics – all malleable through tender prodding with features formed through gentle guidance to balance its designed purpose.  This is how we want God to work on our design.  We want slow, deliberate guidance, not too rough.  If we must endure some pain along the way, like smoothing out a rough patch or covering a dried out crack, we want the action to be swift and precise. We want to be assured that no matter what we’re going through, God is close by, working all things out for us because we love him.  Romans 8:28 “We know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.” The potter and the clay – a masterpiece.

What happens when our life is not defined that way?  Instead of the gentleness we agree with, our circumstances are tumultuous and agonizing. We feel like the temperatures of our circumstances are rising and we are far past the boiling point. Where is God then? We are going through fire and we feel like God has abandoned us.  Did he just walk away and leave us in our distress? What does the potter do in these times? When the potter puts his fully formed masterpiece into the kiln, it is then that he watches most closely. The temperature in a kiln reaches over 1500 degrees.  The potter can’t risk being far away or being distracted. Think about it for a moment.  Remember how David sang about being relieved from his distress over and over in the Psalms.  Just as the potter watches and protects his masterpiece when the kiln is fired to its hottest temperature, so these are the life times when God watches, tends, and protects his children, his masterpieces.

Yesterday, I talked with someone on the phone whom I had met through a complex network of individuals I’ve known through online communities. Nobody but me would recognize the miracle of that phone call. Nobody but God had heard my specific prayer, and even I didn’t know the name of the person I would have a conversation with yesterday. Through that one phone call though, it was like being taken from the kiln and released to cool air; no burns, no scorches, just on time. For months I have prayed for a place to use my current skills and build new ones, to improve my writing, and in the process, make a difference. I can’t describe the intricate paths God had to intersect on the way to preparing the right conditions for that call yesterday. I know God was protecting me from making poor decisions that would have prevented it though – and just when I was tempted to think he wasn’t paying attention, God opened the door. What does this mean in a tangible way? I’m not sure because I have only this moment.  I can’t see into the future.  But I know that in God’s sovereignty, he orchestrated yesterday’s event.  I have no doubt that he will orchestrate anything that comes from it.

All I can think of when I realize that only God could connect so many dots in a pattern that makes sense, is Galatians 6:9 “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” And Psalm 16:5 “Lord, you give me stability and prosperity; you make my future secure.”

Jeremiah 29:11 “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.”  You are strong enough to wait for God’s best plan to be acted for you.

As Difficult as Child’s Play

Children have it made, don’t they? No schedule, no job, no financial responsibility – just play all day, eat meals served up by someone else, carefree and leisurely … It’s tough being a child. You don’t agree with me, do you? Last night I had the privilege of remembering what it was like to be a child getting to play all day, eat meals served up by someone else, carefree and leisurely. I remember saying multiple times a day – “I’m bored. This day is boring. Nothing to do.”  It’s complicated, but true that having no responsibility can be almost as distressing as having too much of it. OK – I said almost.

It was my turn to teach the Word of Life kids a short, applicable, understandable, and relatable lesson from scripture. Short? I get that and definitely had no problem with that part of the assignment – but applicable and relatable? What do children ages 5 to 10 understand and even more important, relate to? Certainly not the things I’m immersed in daily: values, purpose, goals, vision – Or are they? Child’s play is difficult because even though they don’t know it, they are building values, purpose, gspare parts 1oals, and vision – and they are doing it every day, just like you and me.

Running the Race for Jesus – that’s the theme of Word of Life clubs around the world. That was our theme last night. I spread out a few labels along a path to indicate a cross country running track. The whole of life is a race and once we are at the starting line, we act, we run, we stumble, we walk, we use stepping stones, we run again, we pass milestones, we are committed till the finish line. I asked what do you think ‘START’ is? That was easy – “It’s when you’re born.” answered one young boy. The last label wasn’t as easily identified, but it spoke volumes. It was ‘FINISH’.  After a few crazy looks and blank stares, the same young boy said “It’s when you become an adult!”  Um, not quite, but I had to laugh out loud. This was a lesson all wrapped up in that one tiny sentence. Life is difficult from where we start to where we finish. It consists of experiences from child’s play to the responsibility of adulthood; choices and consequences; the good and the bad; then we are ‘finished’.

Here’s how we ran our race last night, turning over stepping stones long the trail to choose the characteristic and action that Jesus would want us to choose? Which choices would you make? Remember we were Running the Race for Jesus.

START – What do you think about when reading Hebrews 12:1? “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, 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, the pioneer and perfecter of our faith.”

I could be wrong, but I always think that great cloud of witnesses are people cheering me on from that mansion in heaven. Whether wrong or not, God made a point of telling us that we are surrounded by witnesses and he also makes it a point to tell us we can’t make any progress in our Christian race if we are weighted down with burdens. If we have a burden and don’t get rid of it, the weight becomes heavier and endurance becomes impossible.

Life is full of experiences, good and bad. The way we live is affected by attitudes and actions. How we finish is all about the choices we make and the stepping stones we use. In a gathering of children all under 10 years old choices were pretty benign, but they each had a ‘stepping stone’ representing choices, one on the front and another choice on the back.  Along the trail, there are barricades and road signs put there to keep us on the right path so we don’t stray off and get lost.

  • 1 Corinthians 10:13 “No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.” We are on the trail to finish the race and win the prize – a crown of righteousness, we have to stay on the trail.

Imagine the conversations as we toggled between right and wrong choices.

Comparison / Contentment:  Contentment is the opposite of comparison. When we constantly compare what we have to things others have, we never learn to be satisfied and love what we have already. Life is never even; what we have is never equal but when we are thankful for what we have, it is enough. God promises to cover all our needs and some of our wants. God’s promises are forever.

  • Hebrews 13:5 “Your conduct must be free from the love of money and you must be content with what you have, for he has said, “I will never leave you and I will never abandon you.”

Disrespectful / Obedient: Obedience is learning to say no with our hearts when our heads tempt us to do the wrong things. When we disobey our parents and our leaders, we are being disrespectful and hurt our relationships. When we are diligent in our obedience, our outlook is positive, we have natural enthusiasm. And don’t we get more enjoyment out of the day when we aren’t in timeout because we are being disciplined?

  • Hebrews 13:17 “Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they keep watch over your souls and will give an account for their work. Let them do this with joy and not with complaints, for this would be no advantage for you.”

Arguing / Listening:  If we choose to listen instead of argue, we will find a solution to our differences much more quickly – and we get to keep our friendships.

  • Proverbs 4:1 “Listen, my sons, to a father’s instruction; pay attention and gain understanding.”

Fighting / Understanding: Sometimes it’s tough to turn off the urge to fight back. Nobody wants to have their idea rejected. Nobody wakes up in the morning wishing someone would pick a fight with them. It’s a challenge to be understood and it’s a challenge to understand the thoughts of someone else. God tells us that we are wise when we try to understand the thoughts and ideas of others. Be wise. Instead of standing up for your idea, stand down quietly and gain understanding.

  • Proverbs 4:7 “The beginning of wisdom is this: Get wisdom. Though it cost all you have, get understanding.”

Prideful / Humble: Being prideful is sin, but it’s one of those tricky actions. We need to take pride in doing our best. If we are rewarded, we should be thankful that we were recognized, but not parade it around and show off to our friends who didn’t win an award. Then when does pride become a sin? Pride is destructive when we are boastful, think we are better than someone else, or feel like we deserve to be praised. Pride is sin when we compare something that belongs to someone else and assess its value lower than ours. It could be a toy, an award, a house, a car, a talent, a job, or anything comparison-enabled. God says pride is wrong and he allows us to feel its oppression when we get off the trail and start to be proud and boastful. When we are prideful it takes up so much of our spirit, there is no room for God.

  • Proverbs 16:18 “Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall.”
  • Psalm 10:4 “In his pride the wicked man does not seek him; in all his thoughts there is no room for God.”

Lying / Truthful: We all know what lying is and it is never OK. Recently I read an article titled, “When is it OK to Lie?” There were a few arguments for telling the ‘little white lie’, but the Bible says lying is deceitful and will cause us to stumble. Lying will distract us from the trail, make us confused, and our Race for Jesus will not be effective.

  •  Galatians 5:7 “ You were running well; who prevented you from obeying the truth?”
  •  Psalm 45:4 “In your majesty ride forth victoriously in the cause of truth, humility and justice; let your right hand achieve awesome deeds.”

Anger / Peaceful: We witness the effects of anger every day. Impatient people, prideful people, stubborn people, selfish people – anger is their natural reaction. Instead we are told to be slow to become angry. Anger should not be our first reaction, it should be our last resort. God calls us to seek peace and be peacemakers.

  • James 1:19 “My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry,”
  • Matthew 5:9 “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called the children of God.”
  • Hebrews 12:14 “Pursue peace with everyone, and holiness, for without it no one will see the Lord.”

FINISH – When we came to the end of the lesson, we had pretended to run cross country through fields, over rocks, through dark tunnels, but we learned about how to make choices that are wise, thoughtful, and effective in Running the Race for Jesus.

  • 2 Timothy 4: 8 “There is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day.”
  • Philippians 2:16 “Holding fast the word of life, so that I may rejoice in the day of Christ that I have not run in vain or labored in vain”

Do you think every child made the right choices, touched the correct stepping stone, and stayed on the right track to the Finish?  Even at their young age, they know that child’s play presents difficult choices.  Where are we as adults? Difficult choices. By the way, the kids chose correctly every time.

Just thinking here – but could Proverbs 19:1-2 provide a little insight? “Better is a poor person who walks in his integrity than one who is perverse in his speech and is a fool. It is dangerous to have zeal without knowledge, and the one who acts hastily makes poor choices.”

Hebrews 12:1-3 in the Message translation sums it up like this:  Discipline in a Long-Distance Race

1-3 Do you see what this means—all these pioneers who blazed the way, all these veterans cheering us on? It means we’d better get on with it. Strip down, start running—and never quit! No extra spiritual fat, no parasitic sins. Keep your eyes on Jesus, who both began and finished this race we’re in. Study how he did it. Because he never lost sight of where he was headed—that exhilarating finish in and with God—he could put up with anything along the way: Cross, shame, whatever. And now he’s there, in the place of honor, right alongside God. When you find yourselves flagging in your faith, go over that story again, item by item, that long litany of hostility he plowed through. That will shoot adrenaline into your souls!

Sometimes don’t you just want to wave your White Flag and surrender everything to God of the Universe?