Wednesday, August 31, 2011

It's Only A Test!

IT'S ONLY A TEST! This has become one of the greatest clich├ęs in the Christian church. Whenever a person is experiencing hardships or difficulties, we can count on someone to belt out the phrase "It's Only A Test!" While these words are true and hardships and difficulties do sometimes come as tests to prove and strengthen our faith, character, etc., the person experiencing the test may view the words as a sounding brass or a tinkling cymbal (the words may appear to be meaningless and pale in comparison to the struggles they are facing).

However, I believe if we can be reminded of what tests are designed to do then we could save ourselves the trouble of worrying about or worrying through the test. Tests are only designed to see if you can accurately recall and regurgitate what you already know. For instance, math teachers never test you on math problems that they have not taught or exposed you to.

What's interesting about the tests we face in life is that they can and sometimes do cause us to focus so much on going through them that we forget that we can only be tested on what we have already been exposed to. For example, if we may be going through a season of unemployment and everything that can happen to us financially is happening, then the test requires us to recall when God was a provider. If we are going through seasons of sickness, then the test demands that we recall when God was a healer. If we find ourselves in periods of chaos or despondency, then we should recall moments in time when God gave us peace.

The test will never require you to recall something that you have never been exposed to. For Christians, if God were to test us on something that God has not prepared us for, then God would be setting us up for failure and the mere thought of this goes against everything God stands for. So next time you are going through and someone whispers to you "It's Only A Test" remember that it is only an opportunity for you to recall what God has already exposed you to. IT REALLY IS ONLY A TEST!

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Friday, August 26, 2011

I Should Be Barren, But I'm Bearing!

I have always been intrigued by the developing process of a tree. One thing in particular that always captivates me is the way in which a tree reacts to the change of seasons. Depending on the weather, a tree can be in full blossom or it can be barren with no leaves or fruit in sight. In the spring time, trees blossom and produce good fruit, but as the season changes and winter approaches, some trees begin to take on a less appealing look.

As the change in seasons have often displayed, some trees should be and are expected to be barren during certain seasons of the year (particularly in areas where the weather drops to frigid temperatures). The last thing that anyone might expect from a tree that is in the middle of a season where it should be barren is for it to bear fruit.

However, the amazing thing for Christians is that you can be in the middle of a season where you are expected to be barren, but you are bearing instead. During this season of economic despair and crashing job markets, it is expected for some individuals to be barren because of the season we are living in. People are not expecting others or even Christians, to prosper in such frigid conditions.

But I am reminded of the Words of God spoken through Jeremiah:
“But blessed is the man (woman) who trusts in the Lord, whose confidence is in him. He (She) will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream. It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit.” (17:7-8)

Even when you should be barren, because you serve God, you will be bearing in the season when it is least expected. Continue to bear good fruit...fruit that will last!

- Posted using BlogPress for iPad

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Carrying Dead Things!

Paramedics, morticians, and caregivers often find themselves in positions when they are required to bear the weight of individuals who are incapacitated, handicapped, or lifeless. If we were to talk to persons affiliated with such professions, we would find out the details about carrying dead weight. Without the aid of the person whom the paramedics, morticians, or caregivers are carrying, they are forced to bear the entire weight of the debilitated individual. They are then forced to focus all of their attention on the dead weight they are carrying.   

Much like those who work in such professions, if we are not careful we can find ourselves focusing on the dead weight that we are carrying; doing so can potentially debilitate, obstruct, or even hinder our progress. Therefore, the question that begs for our attention is this: WHAT ARE WE CARRYING THAT IS DEAD? What is the dead weight in our lives that we can’t seem to let go of? What are the dead things in our lives that keep us burdened down and forced to carry weight that we were not intended to? We are often guilty of carrying dead relationships, dead jobs, dead organizations, dead companies, dead prayer lives, or even dead worship lifestyles. I don’t believe that we intend to carry dead things; however, I do believe that if we are aware that the thing which we are carrying is dead, we have two choices.

First, we can evaluate the dead thing to see if it is worth resuscitating. For example, sometimes a company or organization can be revived by re-evaluating the vision of the institution and making necessary adjustments. Likewise, one’s prayer life can also be revived by taking a step as small as praying at a specific time on a regular basis.

Second, we can simply pronounce the situation as dead and move on. Sometimes, we are guilty of holding on to relationships that are no longer life-giving. As a result, these relationships can potentially suck the life out of us.

If there is something in your life that has no vital signs and no potential of being resuscitated, then BURY IT! Carrying dead things only weighs us down. We have to ask ourselves: is it worth it? Will we bury the dead thing or be buried with it? Whatever we choose we should be reminded that there is only one place for dead things…what will you choose?        

Thursday, August 18, 2011

No U-Turns!

There are times when U-turns are convenient. When we've passed the driveway to the grocery store by mistake, when we're searching for the new doctor's office attempting not to be late for our appointment, or when we're met with unexpected traffic that stands between us and work. It is in moments like these that we find ourselves making U-turns.

In some states U-turns are considered to be legal in which designated lanes are designed specifically for drivers who are in need of making a U-turn. However, in other states U-turns are illegal and if committed by drivers they receive a ticket and a fine.

For the purpose of this blog I'm not so much concerned with the legality of making U-Turns as much as I am concerned with the potential damage they can cause. One of the primary reasons that U-turns are illegal in portions of the United States is because making such a turn, if not careful, can cause the driver behind you to be distracted by the sudden shift of your vehicle.

Much like the U-turning of an automobile can potentially distract and cause damage to the flow of traffic, making a U-turn in our spiritual lives can have as great of an impact. Whenever we have set out to do something great for the Kingdom of God I take the liberty of saying that there are moments in which we feel as though we have missed the destination that God wanted us to arrive at. The opposition, the trials, and the resistance that sometimes stand between us and fulfillment are enough to make us want to make a U-turn. However, as you are on this journey with God remember the words of Dr. Martin L. King Jr. who stated, “We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.” NO U-TURNS; for your u-turn could potentially cause damage and distract those who are on the path with you. In essence, Don’t Give Up…Keep Going!

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Finally: Rule #5 Don't Let Visuals Disrupt Your Rhythm!

DON’T LET VISUALS DISRUPT YOUR RHYTHM! What does that mean? I’m glad you asked! Rule #5 gives us a glimpse as to how visuals can disrupt our rhythm. Essentially, what we let into our eye gate can disrupt our productivity. Pro Golfer Steve Elkington always suggests that golfers focus on their swing, the ball, and the flag at the end of the hole. He states that the golf course is strategically designed to disrupt the golfer’s vision. On one hole you may have a narrow fairway (landing the ball into the fairway keeps it in good play), on another hole you may have two bunkers on either side of the fairway (landing the ball here, in the sand, makes the next play more difficult), and on another hole you may have trees that stand between you and the hole (this may require a precise swing that allows the ball to curve around the object). However, Elkington suggests that golfers must not be moved or disturbed by what they see.  A golfer’s only chance at victory lies within his or her ability to focus on their swing in spite of the visuals located throughout the course.

I wish to suggest that as individuals, business owners, teachers, mentors, and entrepreneurs the courses of life that we travel are filled with visuals that threaten to disrupt our rhythm. For business owners a financial loss is a visual that can potentially disrupt your rhythm. For teachers and mentors it may be a rebellious child or mentee that seeks to disrupt your rhythm. For entrepreneurs, CEOs, and Presidents of Non-Profits, delayed dreams can be a visual that seeks to disrupt your rhythm. Furthermore, as individuals the activity of life just has a way of potentially disrupting our rhythm. But I admonish you not to allow visuals to disrupt your rhythm. Play the game through the distractions, continue the business through frustrations, persist in developing the non-profit through rough patches, continue to strive for excellence in life even through trials and expect to have victory once you have finished the course.  


Friday, August 5, 2011

Rule #4 Strong Legs Can Save You!

Over the past week we have been venturing through Steve Elkington’s rules for establishing a great golf swing and using them as analogies to show how we can attain and maintain great momentum and stability in life. Steve’s next rule is no exception. Rule # 4 “Strong Legs Can Save You!” This instantly brings to mind the Scripture that says, “The Sovereign Lord is my strength, he makes my feet like the feet of a deer, he enables me to go on the heights” (Habakkuk 3:19). It is a testament of how God endows God’s people with strength and stability during times of uncertainty and trials. If you are familiar with the foot work of a deer then you know that deer are surefooted. This is credited to the fact that deer have strong legs and precisely structured hooves that provide them with the stability needed to traverse any terra firma they are met with.

With rising gas prices, plummeting housing markets, and high unemployment rates it is evident that the terra firma (figuratively speaking) in society is becoming harder and harder to navigate. However, in times like these our faith or metaphorically speaking OUR STRONG LEGS CAN SAVE US! In times like these developing strong legs will provide the vigor needed to pass through the rough terrain. So the question becomes how does one establish strong legs? For Christians my suggestion would be to pray, to seek God, and to not lose heart. As Christians we are challenged to trust God when our realities give us every reason not to; this can be difficult. However, by praying to and trusting in God, strong legs (strong faith) are developed and strength is provided to withstand whatever trial, season, or situation you may be facing. Allow the Sovereign Lord to be your strength and watch how YOUR STRONG LEGS (FAITH) WILL SAVE YOU!

Monday, August 1, 2011

Rule #3 Dial In Your Practice Swing

Practice makes perfect…or at least it makes you really good at something. It cannot be denied that the more you work at something, the better at it you get. George Eason refers to it this way, “Don’t blame others for your failure if you’re not even trying.” Whatever you desire to do in life you cannot stand by passively waiting for your aspirations to come into fruition; you must prepare and work hard as if it is already here. I plan to study for a PhD in the near future. However, I won’t be enrolled in a PhD program until two years from now, but I started working hard to achieve the right grades in order to get into the school of my choice three years ago.

Many entertainers will tell you that they began cultivating their craft years before anyone knew their names. They cultivated the necessary habits to maintain the type of success they intended to have. In golf, Steve Elkington declares that Tiger Woods makes every effort to marry the rhythm of his swing to its tempo by practicing...this is what makes him such a great player. As often as he can, he takes the time in the present to practice for his future wins. No one arrives to greatness in any area of life without putting in some time for practice. If you aspire to be a great business guru then cultivate the business skills you already possess. If you aspire to be a great singer, song writer, or producer then sing as often as you can, write songs until you can’t write anymore, and hook up with other great producers. If you aspire to be a great teacher, preacher, or the leader of an organization then began to cultivate the necessary disciplines that are required to be successful in such areas.  

If you are preparing now for what you want to attain later, then keep preparing. No matter how discouraging it may be, keep preparing because PRACTICE MAKES PERFECT…OR AT LEAST IT MAKES YOU REALLY GOOD AT SOMETHING!