Sunday, October 8, 2017

What Do You Really Want?

Listening to a series of teachings on the subject of what do you really want which has inspired me to write about the subject.  There is a biblical teaching on the subject of what we really want in James 4:1-3.  James, the brother of Jesus, teaches that we often don't have what we want because we do not ask God.  He goes on to say that when we ask God, we don't receive because we ask with the wrong motives, we are focused on our own pleasures, pleasures that do not really address our true needs.

When I consider what James is saying, I think about how we identify what we really want and the reality is that often, we do not go into a long process of thinking about it.  Think about the answer to the question, what do you really want?  What we often neglect to say is, I want what I want.  Yes, the reality is what want what we want at that very moment.  We get upset at work because the decision did not go our way, we get upset at home because our partner did not want what we want, we get upset with our kids because they do not want to do what we want them to do, and so forth.  But have we ever considered the other side of the coin, how often when we get what we want and end up regretting it.  Think about how many times you, like I, have had this thought "If I could go back and do it again knowing what I know now, things would be so different".  Yes, if we could go back knowing that what we wanted then is not what we really should have wanted, things would be different.  Thus the need to carefully assess what it is really truly want, what drives the desires of our heart, and how we determine what we really should want.  Sounds a bit confusing perhaps, but think about it and consider what it is you really want.  As you think about it, keep the following questions in mind:

  • Is what I want today, going to get in the way of what I want for the future?
  • Is getting my way going to get in the way of what I want for the future? 
  • Is getting what I want followed by the reality that I also want it now?  
  • Is what I want now helping me with what I will want later? 
  • Is there a time where I didn't get what I wanted then, that I can be grateful for? 
  • Is what I want now only going to satisfy a temporary pleasure?
  • is what I want now based on a thoughtful consideration of how it impacts where I want to be later? 

More to follow on the next piece, just a little advice to go!

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Not the Same Mistake Again!

Why do we sometimes find ourselves repeating the same mistakes over and over again? We have all heard folks talk about how experience makes you all the wiser for the next time you encounter a similar problem, but still we find ourselves committing the same mistakes. The fact is that experience only helps us if we take the time to analyze our experience and walk through what went wrong. That process has to be approached with a sincere willingness to recognize when we are the problem, when it was our poor judgment that led to the mistake versus blaming someone else. It is always easier  to look for someone else to blame for our problems rather than take responsibility for our own deficits.  Recognizing this truth is the first step towards an honest evaluation of our past mistakes.

Why start with you, with a self examination? Simple, when looking at repeated mistakes look for the common denominator.  You are clearly going to be the first common denominator that needs scrutiny.  What did you do or fail to do that may have led to the problem? It takes humility and sincerity to concede the mistakes you may have made. Fixing those is the first critical step you must take before you can address any other contributing factors.  We should all remember the Bible story that reminds us to take out the plank from our own eyes before dealing with the spec in our neighbor’s eye. If you keep making the same mistakes at work, dating the same losers, having the same arguments with your spouse, etc. start by addressing your actions and how you can improve those. Get advice from someone your trust who is succeeding in the areas you are struggling, they can provide insights that can help you do better. Please remember the humility piece, don’t ask for the truth if you can’t handle the truth.

Once you’ve identified the challenges, then do something about them. Be intentional on making change happen in your life so you don’t repeat the same mistakes. Focus on your emotional maturity, recognizing your weaknesses and how to keep them in check. Then use the strengths you possess to help you compensate for your challenges. Understand that you can avoid repeating the same mistakes by planning to do better and being intentional about it. Just a little advice to go!

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Battling the Giants in Your Life!

We all have or will at some point in our lives find ourselves facing a challenge that appears impossible, an unsurmountable “Giant” of a problem.  There is the biblical story of David and Goliath that often reminds me that given the right approach, we can overcome the giants we may face.  The biblical story of David and Goliath, found in 1 Samuel 17, provides a lesson on how to approach and defeat the giants in our lives.  Here are a few strategies I’ve learned from how David defeated Goliath:

1. David did not confront the problem using a conventional approach.  He first put on the traditional battle gear and then quickly discarded it because he recognized that using a conventional approach was not going to work.
2. David focused on his strengths, not his weaknesses.  Rather than look at the giant and conclude that he could never defeat him, he considered his areas of strength and chose to approach the problem from a strong point.  He picked up five stones and his sling shot, recognizing that his expertise in this area would give him the distinct advantage of striking from a distance.
3. David did not overestimate his skills, he was realistic and level headed.  He didn’t pick up one stone assuming he was going to dispose of his problem in one attempt, he picked up five stones.  He was ready to take five shots, five approaches to overcoming the challenge he faced.  He demonstrated humility and recognized that eating this elephant might take more than one bite.
4. David did not get discouraged or dismayed by the size of the problem, Goliath was one big giant of a warrior.  Instead, he trusted his faith in God and the gifts that God has given him.  His emotional intelligence was critical as he displayed self-awareness by recognizing what he could achieve, self-regulation by controlling his fears, and motivation by focusing on the goal and the importance of the victory.  
5. Finally, David used the victory to his advantage.  His ability to take down the giant, to overcome this insurmountable task, enabled him to lead others confidently into battle. He recognized that this victory provided momentum to win the greater battle and quickly moved on to the next challenge.

There are many lessons to be learned from David’s strategy for defeating Goliath.  He would go on to become the King of Israel and win many more battles because he was faithful to God, remembered to think out of the box, focused on his strengths instead of his weaknesses, believed that victory was possible, and used the victories of the past to motivate others to take on new challenges.  You too can defeat the Goliath’s in your life, it simply takes faith in God and the wisdom of a shepherd boy called David.  Just a little advice to go!  

Sunday, June 25, 2017

A Message to Politicians, Cut The Crap!

Sounds a bit harsh but I remember several people in my life telling me to cut the crap and get with it. As a youngster my wresting coach would tell us to cut the crap and get with the work out. As a student several of my instructors advised me to cut the crap and work to my potential. Today, I think it is time we told our political leaders to cut the crap.

Our politicians need to understand that their role is to represent the best interest of the people they serve both within the boundaries of their political constituency as well as the rest of the citizens living within our country. Our political leaders also have to consider the realities of those who while not citizens of this country, are hear both legally and illegally. I’m not condoning criminal behavior, but I am also not naive to the fact that many of those who are here illegally, the majority, are here because we have employed them and taken advantage of their willingness to work for much less than the average citizen. Lets not be hypocrites.

The problems we face as a country are complex and require a great deal of sincerity and a commitment to do what ever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think (do) such things (Philippians 4:8). Yes we have so many politicians who proclaim they are trying to keep this country a Christian country but then turn around and neglect the biblical teachings that are the foundation of our Christian faith.

 Politicians need to understand that serving their constituents means serving in the best interest of all and not aligning themselves with the lobbyists and special interest groups. We have a country that is in need of true health care reform, reform that focuses on doing what is right so all of our citizens can have affordable health care. The same is true when it comes to job creation, tax reformation, and many other critical decisions. We should all be committed to changes that benefit our children, family members, friends, seniors, and neighbors. Politicians should act based on doing what is true, what is right, what is pure, what is lovely, what is admirable, what is excellent, and what is praiseworthy! That might not get them re-elected but it will make them worthy of the calling that God has bestowed upon them.  Perhaps then, we can sincerely proclaim that we are the greatest country in the world and reflect it in our actions, actions that speak far louder than our words. Just a little advice to go!

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Endurance Is A Must!

There is a scripture in the Bible that reminds us to stay joyous even in the difficult moments because we derive endurance from our trials and tribulations.  Successful people were not always successful, but rather became successful because of the endurance they developed as a result of the failures they experienced.

Endurance was the topic at a recent graduation ceremony I attended where the speaker encouraged the students to not give up despite failing.  He explained that failure was an opportunity to learn, grow, and do better reminding them of a number of leaders who failed but endured:


  • Colonel Sanders of Kentucky Fried Chicken had his secret chicken recipe rejected over a thousand times before succeeding at the age of 65.
  • Frank W. Woolworth started the Woolworth Company (now Foot Locker), his boss did not allow him to wait on customers because Woolworth "didn't have enough common sense to serve the customers."
  • Fred Smith while a student at Yale University presented a business idea to his business management class that received a nearly failing grade. The idea was for a parcel service that could deliver packages overnight. Smith ignored the grade and founded FedEx.
  • Rowland Hussey Macy, between 1843 and 1855, opened four retail dry goods stores that all failed. He learned from those mistakes, and hit it big with his next store in New York City, Macy's.
  • Walt Disney  was fired by an editor because, "he lacked imagination and had no original ideas." His first animation company went bankrupt and it's said that he was turned down hundreds of times when he sought financing for Disney World. The Walt Disney company makes average revenue of U.S. $30 billion annually.

There are many more examples of people who endured despite their many failures, they remained persistent, opened to opportunities for improvement, capitalized on the positive feedback, disregarded the naysayers, and endured.  It is in the most difficult of moments that your character, integrity, and values are tested, refined, and perfected.  Stay true to who you are, opened to endless learning, and faithful to the one who will never leave you or forsake you, our Heavenly Father.  Endure!  Just a little advice to go!

Sunday, April 16, 2017

When Is Enough, Enough?

When is enough, enough? Yes, perhaps we should all ask ourselves this question. I have been working with the homeless since 2010 and have come to recognize the tragic hopelessness within which so many people exist. From the challenges of mental illness to the tragic emotional, physical and sexual abuse suffered by so many who find themselves experiencing homelessness. My work surely drives me to ask the question when is enough, enough?

Throughout my various careers, I have found myself blessed by God's grace. My journey has taken me from the poverty of a family of 9 in a three bedroom apartment struggling together to make ends meet. Many other families struggled alongside us and many would not overcome the traps of poverty, violence, and deprivation existing within the world in which we lived. God's grace coupled with a spirit of hope and hard work enabled my siblings and I to overcome our circumstances and find ourselves blessed beyond what we could have ever imagined.

My past helps me understand the sense of hopelessness of those struggling to overcome homelessness and make ends meet, thus everyday I work to give of myself and of what I have to bless others. The father of the Methodist faith, John Wesley, came to a place in life where he answered the question when is enough, enough. He decided that enough was being able to pay his living expenses and all he earned beyond that, he would dedicate to helping those in need. I can't think there is a greater test to our faith and commitment to humanity than to put our money where our mouth is. It is not easy to make such a commitment, but imagine the impact we would have if we all committed to living within a budget that provided for a practical life style and then dedicated the balance of our finances to helping those in need.

Most recently, I have begun a journey towards minimizing my possessions in an effort to maintain a practical lifestyle while dedicating my resources towards helping others. It means being able to help someone pay their rent who didn't get this month's child support, helping someone struggling to get back on their feet by paying their driver's license suspension fines so they can drive and find employment, or paying for new tires to help a co-worker avoid taking a loan that would incur ridiculous interest payments. No, I am in no way comparing my efforts to those of the great minister, John Wesley. I am simply starting a journey towards sacrifice and minimilasim for the sake of helping others who I know have a legitimate need. Most I've helped, have found a way to return the money which enables me to use it to help others who have a need. Imagine what could happen if we all took a step of faith and decided enough is enough and started to bless those in need. Wow, what a difference we would make. When is enough, enough for you? Just a little advice to go!

Sunday, March 26, 2017

All The People

What does all the people mean, does it not mean that everyone is included.  Jesus loves all the people of the world means all the people not just a select few.  Believers often confuse the fact that Jesus does not limit his love just to them.   They forget that we are called to love all the people, not just the ones that are easy to love.  In fact, Christ challenges us to love the least lovable, those who give us every reason not to love them.  Anyone can love the lovable, which is precisely why we all describe babies as so lovable.  Surround yourself with a bunch of two year olds and your perspective might change with regards to how lovable babies are.  In the end, we are called to love all the people much as he loves all of us regardless of their condition or conduct.  

In Luke 2:10-11,  the birth of Christ is announced and he is proclaimed as the savior of all the people, not just the most lovable.  Christ journeyed through our land to set the stage for His message to be delivered throughout the world so that all the people, Jews and gentiles, would through his grace find a path towards his gift of salvation.  His death and resurrection is the covenant that provides all people a path to salvation.

Salvation is the understanding that there is an almighty God, that He created us, and that God provides a path by which we can move out of sin and into holiness; the holiness that enables us to attain eternal life and a heavenly home. This path enables us to be reborn from a fleshly sinful life to a spiritual sinlessness and a sin forgiving life.  It is critical to understand that our flesh binds us to a sinful nature but Christ unbinds the flesh enabling us to overcome our sinful nature, to recognize sin and resist it.  His grace provides all the people an opportunity for repentance and never ending forgiveness.  Forgiveness is a washing away, a complete disregard of any sinful conduct regardless of the severity of that sin.  God is not particular about his forgiveness, it is given to all who seek it and given without condition to anyone who recognizes him as the giver of forgiveness; the redeemer of all.

The gift of redemption is evidence of God's love for all people.  It is an unconditional love that is freely provided regardless of who we are and how we are.  Whether believers or sinners, the love is never ending.  Like the prodigal son who left his father and persisted in pursuing his sinful nature, we too may persist in sin.  But the story does not end there, when the prodigal son returned covered in sin and filth his father did not curse him, deny him or tun his back on him.  Instead he ran out to greet him and welcomed him home.  He celebrated his return recognizing that while his son was lost for a time, he was now found.  He recognized that his son was seeking his forgiveness and love and unlike most of us opted to avoid the "told you so" verbiage and freely embraced him with his loving arms and a spirit of forgiveness.  So too, God welcomes each of us who repent and turn away from our sinful nature celebrating the fact that we have returned home.  His arms are opened wide waiting for all the people to find their way back home.   Just a little advice to go!