I Believe in Success

What you believe about yourself is one of the greatest indications of how successful you can be.  If you believe you can be successful you’ll have the motivation, the focus, the drive and the willingness to do what it will take to accomplish your goals.  If you don’t believe you have the abilities, the confidence, the means or are worth being successful you won’t get there.   Success means different things to each of us, some of us will find success in a monetary value, others in a family one, and others in making a difference in the world, so the definition of success isn’t what we’ll talk about today, but that I believe you have the ability to be successful, we all do.

Every day I see things in the news that are an unbelievable waste of time, from random crimes and large scale unprovoked violence, to physical abuse and cyber bullying.  They’re a waste of time because if life is all about the result that you achieve, the success you achieve, the success you achieve from any of these actions isn’t going to get you more than a passing rush and won’t make the world a better place for future generations.   I believe that everyone has something of value they can contribute to the daily workings of the world or to the future world.  It’s their choice, it’s your choice, what kind of future is created.

I believe in you.  I believe that you have abilities that are needed in the world, whether that’s in raising the next president, discovering a medical breakthrough, creating a business that gives people jobs, or just making someone else smile.  We won’t all believe the same thing or agree on everything, that’s the beauty of each of us being different.  The one thing we should all agree on is that we each have value and the potential to make an amazing difference in the world.  It’s unfortunate that there are so many people around the world who refuse to see or tap into that belief.  Take time this weekend to check your beliefs.  Are your beliefs holding back your success?

“We are what we believe we are.” CS Lewis

Trapped by Lies or Freed by Truth?

One of the things that annoys me most is when people feel they can’t make mistakes.  Let’s get this straight for once and all: no one is perfect.  Everyone makes mistakes at some point in time or another.  The issue is that we can’t accept that it’s OK to make mistakes and for others to make mistakes.  The fact that Christians are expected to be perfect is absolute garbage.  There are no perfect Christians, not in church or out.  The sooner we accept that we’re surrounded by people who make mistakes and have room for improvement the better off we will be.

But because we haven’t all accepted that it’s OK to not be perfect, some people feel it is necessary to lie or omit the truth so that they appear as if they have it all together.  This usually does more harm than any intended good, and is one of the main reasons Christians have been given the often truthful ‘hypocrite’ label.  Yes, there is value in not showing up for life in the dirty sweats that show how you really feel about things right now, and showing courage and being willing to push forward through your struggles.  The value disappears when you put on that front to create the illusion that there are no issues beyond what you may see.

Asking for help doesn’t make you weak, it makes you strong!  Lies don’t help you move forward in life or get closer to God, they hurt you! When you present a lie to the world or omit important details you damage your relationships, diminish your professionalism, decrease your chances for success and do the opposite of what God wants you to do.

It’s not always easy to tell the truth and be honest, I get that.  It’s not easy to tell others that you screwed up, that you need help or that you’re struggling.  But the sooner we start taking those steps, the sooner we will feel better about our lives, have healthier relationships and accomplish our goals.

“And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”  John 8:32

Tell the Truth

In John 8:32 Jesus said: “And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

In this simple statement we’re given clarity about how we should live our relationships and lives.  It’s not always easy to be truthful, nor does the truth always sit right with people.  Sometimes we even tell ourselves that truth isn’t the best policy.  Even when we tell half-truths to people we can feel a stab of guilt accompany the statement.  After all, how many TV shows have you watched where the person is sitting in a chair being questioned and all of a sudden then jump out of the chair yelling “OK!  I admit it!  I admit it!!”?  Very few of us can hold up to relentless guilt.

In John 8:32, Jesus isn’t just talking about being honest and telling the truth, He’s talking about how important it is for us to know, discover and be told the truth.  I’ve met and worked with countless individuals who have accepted something as truth and based their lives or careers on that fact, only to find out that it’s not the truth.  This can be a big blow to many people, and can destroy relationships when the truth is finally revealed.

You may have seen commercials for an insurance agency I believe with a man and woman talking and the woman says something like “I read it on the internet so it must be true…”  While there are many truths and lies on the internet, there are also many of both in real life.  Kids grow up believing certain things based on what they see at home with their families.  These beliefs can forever impact their future, and can harm or help what they choose to do with their lives.

This month as we discuss the simpler things of life, I encourage you to not only be careful about the assumptions and judgments you make, but also about what you tell others.  We all make mistakes, and while some of us don’t know that we’re telling a lie, others do.  Do your best to tell and discover the truth; it will make you feel good and be a testament to others too.

Abundance, Lack and the Church

This month one of the topics we’ll be considering is abundance.  Today I have 2 verses from 2 Corinthians for us to consider:

“Right now you have plenty and can help those who are in need.” 2 Corinthians 8:14

“And God will generously provide all you need. Then you will always have everything you need and plenty left over to share with others.” 2 Corinthians 9:8

These verses speak to the seasons we go through as people on Earth.  Sometimes we will experience times of plenty, other times we’ll be in need. During our time on Earth as believers of Christ we aren’t guaranteed a pain-free, joyous experience, rather we’re promised we’ll experience many of the same difficulties those who aren’t followers of Christ will.

However, part of the essence of the church is to care for all it’s members.  Unfortunately there are many churches that are not really caring for their people, thus we have unhappy, and unfulfilled (and unfilled) churches.  Instead people are hiding their true needs and pretending that they’re in plenty all the time.

This is unhealthy and not what God has called us to.  Yes, we should believe that we will be cared for, because God does promise to care for us.  But God doesn’t say that by our own hands we’ll be filled, but rather that God will provide.  It sounds scary, but that provision may be waiting for you within the walls of the church you attend each week but never reveal your needs or weaknesses to.

So what does all this mean?  It means that we need to be generous when we are in seasons of plenty, and be willing to expose our needs to others when the seasons of plenty have dried up.  Yes, it can be scary to admit your need, but once you know you have others you can rely on, and others know they can rely on you, we’ll all be in a better, and healthier place.

This week I encourage you to reach out to someone in need, or admit your need.  It will take some time but together we can all turn the church back into the caring and sharing center it used to be.

Easter Experiences

This year Easter is early according to the calendar, and with the non-spring we’ve had so far, I don’t really feel much like celebrating yet.  Maybe that’s a little like Jesus felt.  Let’s take a look.

Yesterday Jesus would have taken Jerusalem by storm; riding in on a donkey to cries of “Hosanna.” He’s got a week of teaching leading up to the Passover meal.  A supper to remember the leaving of Egypt many years ago by the Israelites, who were about to be freed by God.  Then there’s the betrayal and Good Friday when He’s crucified on a cross for the sins of the world.  All of this culminates in being raised from the grave 3 days later.  Celebration time, right?

Well, not quite.  Jesus spent another 40 days on earth after that.   He couldn’t go back to heaven where he had been for the past however many years, He couldn’t go back to God, He wasn’t quite done on earth.  Yes, these last few days were important ones because they were days, meetings, interactions that proved His story; His death and resurrection.  But I’d be a little tired of the work at that point in time too.

Jesus rose again, why is there need for more?  In a way, those last days were a gift.  They’re like the months that someone who finds out they have incurable cancer gets to live out to say their goodbyes.  Those last days were also a chance for Jesus to make sure people understood the Scriptures and what they said about Him.

New life only happens after the old is gone.  You can’t start something new if you’re holding onto the past. But breaking from what you know can be scary, even down right intimidating.  But as Jesus knew, the best is yet to come.  Getting past that last hurdle means you’re home free, free to that new life.  But if you look at the Apostles who were with Jesus, they got over the hump and I believe they died proud of what they accomplished.

This week I encourage you to follow Jesus’ trail, take bold steps toward your freedom, even if they seem scary at times.

After All

Life is full of lots of twists and turns, each one bringing me new knowledge and discoveries about who I am and what is in this world.  I’ve learned things over the years that have thrilled me and things that make me sad.  I’ve learned that the world works best when we can all accept each other as different, and let that be a good thing, not something to change.

We go through life each day interacting with people who may or may not have an impact on our future, and often the impact is determined by us allowing them into our lives, or blocking them out.  We do have the ability to impact our future, and map out a new direction if we desire.

No matter what anyone says, it’s people who make the world go ’round.  Not business decisions, architecture, ancient civilizations, or technology.  Why?  Because behind each of those things are people.  People who make decisions sometimes without considering the impact their choices will have on others.  When all is said and done, what will your decisions say about you?

Will your actions reflect a desire to worship God and carry out His plan for your life in the world and in the lives of those you meet?  Will your dreams line up with healing the world of the pain that we have caused each other?  Will you encourage others to live respectfully for the world around them?  When all is said and done, what impact will you have made on the world?

God created us with the heart that we would learn to live and work together, yet so many of us are so far apart in making that happen.  What part do you have in keeping people apart?  What can you do to bring God’s dreams to fruition?  I encourage you to ask God to give you wisdom and a heart for the role you have in His dreams.

Trusting the Invisible

“All I have seen teaches me to trust the creator for all I have not seen.” Ralph Waldo Emerson

If you subscribe to my devotions or newsletters you probably wonder why I usually comment about nature or the world in the beginning of just about every letter.  To me, nature is that connection to real life, to God, to the future, to a whole, healthy, fulfilling, healed existence.

Our eyes show us so much on a daily basis, in fact, we learn most through what we see, where we go, what we read/watch, and the actions we take as a result.

While we many not physically see God in this life, the proof we need is all around us.  God’s created amazing and intricate humans, animals to warm our hearts and nature to balance and ground us.

If you’re struggling with your faith or your life, take some time to stop and look around you.  Pick up a book about spirituality or living a fulfilling life.  Take a walk around a nearby nature center or park.

What does what you see teach you?