Living What You Believe

Your life is what you make it… Right?

Live The LIfe You Say You BelieveWhen you live with dual images then it is often hard to determine what your life is really supposed to be like!

What you believe and preach, is it what you live and practice?

Why are we often duplicitous between what we say and what we do?  I’m tired of two-faced individuals that speak out of both sides of their mouth – one way to the public, but another way to themselves.

PopeyeWhile walking the dogs this morning something clicked in my spirit. I am happy being the person that I am. I do not live it differently than I preach it.  Regardless of what happens to me, Popeye’s words swept through my mind as the dogs chased after the ghosts in the yard.

I yam what I yam!

A boss wanted me to be just like him, some 35 years ago. I simply told him I wanted to be the “me” the “me” could be – and it would not be like him!

Be what God and your passion for life has called you be… Be true to yourself. Be true to God. Do not live one way, and speak another way…

 

Where Did Yesterday Go?

What Happened To Yesterday?

A last minute event sort of ruined all my plans Yesterday. If my short term memory serves me correctly, my time was planned – it almost seemed that every minute had a task to accomplish and a goal to reach. There was a little room for distraction, but not much. Little events crowded the schedule, so some things are left undone and get moved to Today.

Fortunately, there is a Today that I can re-task and re-schedule. Some of yesterday will cross over into today with the hope that it will not bleed into Tomorrow.

Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow. Sometimes a revolving mismatch of segments of time that cannot seem to find a proper place to anchor to a clock and be a completed task.

We have all heard the saying, “Yesterday is History. Today is the Present. Tomorrow is a Blessing.” Yesterday is History. I cannot undo the mistakes or rewrite the events. They are what they are.

In the book of Job, Bildad the Shumite says something that is profound.

For we are but of yesterday and know nothing, for our days on earth are a shadow.
(Job 8:9 ESV)

My analysis is simple. We are a product of all our Yesterdays, and all of our life is but as fleeting as a shadow – it creeps across the landscape but is rapidly approach the end. And we cannot exist in our yesterday…

Roy Clark sings a country flavored song called, “Yesterday”, through which he bemoans the wasted time and effort of his younger “yesterdays.” Most of our Yesterdays do not consider the future. No one plans on being sick, or being forced to move, or losing a close friend or loved one, or having an accident, or even missing an important event. Yesterdays are full of the present and what needs to be accomplished now. Even if it is full of time-wasters! At some point you will leave Yesterday behind, and maybe will even have to pay the consequences of your actions.

The closing words to Clark’s song?

The time has come for me to pay for yesterday when I was young.

The problem is that many want to relive Yesterday. Remember. It’s History. Let’s not sit in disbelief of yesterday, struggling to get a start on today!

And in the daily opening thought of the singer Charlie Daniels, “Let’s make Today Count!”

God Give Me Vision So That I Might See

Vision, Sight, Seeing…

SunglassesWhat a miracle it is to have the ability to see. I thank God for our 5 senses – Life would truly be different with out them.

My favorite is Sight – I would rather keep my sight and let go of tasting, smelling, hearing, touching…

My ability to see is something I do not want to take for granted.

I have been a reader all my life (that I can remember) and with sight I can go on researching the wonders of the world through the written word! In fact, I would much rather read someone’s podcast instead of watching their video or listening to their audio. For me, reading is more important than watching… At least for this purpose!

But then, I am a watcher of all my surroundings; I can hardly wait for the next turn in the road and the surprises it will bring – in fact, I hate to sleep when we are on a driving trip – I might miss something! I enjoy watching people – how they act and react. And who doesn’t enjoy watching children as they begin to experience the world around them!

Thank God for the ability to see…I would have to change how I enjoy life if I lost my sight.

Did you know that each of us is blessed with a dominant eye. This is the eye that looks more directly at an object. The non-dominant eye is the one that sees at the same object at a slight angle. This small difference helps to provide depth perception and is important in order to focus from distant objects to near objects. Medical folks call this Ocular dominance, and this describes the tendency to “…prefer visual input from one eye to the other.” One may think it’s as unique as being right handed or left handed, but there is no correlation to being dominant with one hand and the same side eye. Approximately two-thirds of the population is right-eye dominant.

Determining the dominant eye is actually very simple. Simply look at an object about 15-20 feet or so from you, raise your hands in front of your face with your palms facing away from you. Create an opening between the two hands by crossing your thumbs and fore-fingers. Look at the object with both eyes open, and then close one eye and note what you can see, then close the other eye and note the differences.

I first learned about this when taking archery lessons. Though right handed, I struggled with hitting the target, much less the bulls eye. My arrows were always going awry. When the instructor tested for eye dominance, we learned that my left eye was seeing more straightly than my right eye. To use this to my advantage I changed from shooting right handed, to left handed. Now, that was a trick!

Knowing which eye is dominant helps us in many facets of life. The way we angle our bodies toward something that is seen clearer by one eye over the other, or the way we always seem to comprehend easier when something is on the side of our bodies which has the dominant eye..

Our eyes and the sense of seeing are very important to us!  While our eyes send signals to our brain, it is our brain that makes decisions based upon the results of our vision. One study even says we can see the light of a candle from 10 football fields away!

Although a picture is worth a thousand words, there was the story about the beauty of a face that launched a thousand ships.

We oft remember what we see more than what we hear. An adage of old: “Teach me I forget, Show me I’ll remember, Involve me and I’ll comprehend.” I will remember better when I see, than simply with the telling.

Scripture seems to be more focused on the sense of sight more than the sense of hearing. Equal in number, God has given us two eyes and two ears. Yet the translation of images through the ocular nerve into something retained in our brain for later recall is an amazing process.

Samuel T Coleridge said, “My eyes make pictures when they are shut.” The concept of seeing something in our mind is missing when someone is blind. To a woman who never had sight, Helen Keller said, “Of all the senses, sight must be the most delightful.”

Jesus deals with a man who was born blind and healed him. The man was questioned about the miracle. His reply?

He answered and said, Whether he be a sinner or no, I know not: one thing I know, that, whereas I was blind, now I see.  John 9:25

Like Helen Keller, this man might have never had the opportunity to see, even with modern technology. When brought before Jesus as a challenge, Jesus simply anointed his eyes with clay and spittle and instructed the man to go and wash his eyes. Upon doing so, the man miraculously gained his sight. The religious authorities were quick to seize on this, looking for a reason to accuse Jesus. When they queried the once blind man, part of his statement has stayed with me for the past little while, “…one thing I know, whereas I was blind, now I see…” This man was not only going to be thankful for that which he could see right now, today, but imagine how he will be thanking God later on in life when he can experience wonders that were once closed to him.

What must it be like to come from a place of total blindness, and now be able to see everything, all the time.

Take this concept of seeing and use it for the “long view.” We can be made happy by things which bring instant gratification. I heard a man make a statement about why we love digital cameras so much, we can instantly see the results – no waiting for the film to be completely used, no waiting for the processing of the film, – show it to me right now. This simple change in technology means the photographer can always get another shot to make it right, or better!

I believe Vision needs to be something that gives us not only short term benefits, but a gaze of where we are headed on the path we are walking so as to determine the end result.

The children of Israel were willing to give up their eyesight in their right eye in order to have a king (1 Sam 11:1-11). How could you voluntarily give up your depth perception just to have a king. Not even a Godly king, but one whose name means “snake”. He was not a Godly man, he was a man of the world. They were willing to follow anybody just to have a king in their life. Perhaps the problem was not only in their desire, but they had already lost the Vision of what God had intended them to have – a chosen people, a royal priesthood, and a holy nation!

This world wants us to give up our eyes, our vision, just so we can all get along. They want to enforce their own set of rules and values upon us and have us accept their way of looking at things.

Don’t give up your spiritual vision just to fit in with someone else that doesn’t believe what I believe

Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness? And what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel? And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you, And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty.

2 Corinthians 6:14-18

Scripture is full of those who gave up their Spiritual Vision to fellowship with Darkness.

  • In order to eat lunch with a snake, Eve partook of the fruit that was designed to not be taken. And she lost her home and was expelled from the garden…she was kicked out of a perfect environment…she lost her purity…her innocence…
  • Samson was willing to loose his eyes over a beautiful lady…. Here was a Judge of Israel, a man of strength who could rip apart a lion with his hands, destroy thousands in battle – but he had no depth perception and could not keep his eyes in focus! In the end…he lost his ability to see…and we find him a servant to the enemies of God…grinding corn in a dungeon with both of his eyes plucked out.
  • David lost his vision several times by the lust and pride within his own life and walked off down roads that led to darkness.
  • Peter loses his Vision of the Messiah and flees into the darkness after cursing those who thought he was a follower of Christ.
  • Paul describes this world blinded by the god of this world in 2 Corinthians 4:3-4, where the Gospel of the Good News is hid.

Do not be a slave to a vision that is not Godly! Matt 18:9 “And if thine eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee: it is better for thee to enter into life with one eye, rather than having two eyes to be cast into hell fire.” If you find yourself off the pathway of God, do whatever it takes to get back on the strait and narrow. Mark Twain said, “You cannot depend on your eyes when your imagination is out of focus.” Keep our focus in tune with the direction of God is where we need to work the hardest.

Helen Keller was asked, “what would be worst than being born blind, she said being born without a vision”.

Prov 29:18 Where there is no vision, the people perish: but he that keepeth the law, happy is he.

How Do You Affect Change?

It Takes Effort! Time! Expense! Planning!

Regardless of what you know that needs change around you, it takes hard work to make something happen. Nothing comes easy, nor does it come at no expense. It’s the combination of hard work and perseverance that creates results.

Sharp ShooterDo you see my favorite yard tool? I live in a meadow to the west of Mt Rainier about 25 air miles away. In some time past, the volcano that is the mountain let loose with a lahar and the entire area was flooded with the debris. Scientist say so… I actually believe them.

And we live at an extreme edge of this field.

If you walk my property from the North to the South, East to the West, you can map out the flow based on where all the rocks are. It fades away the further South I go and across my back property line there are few rocks, and the land slopes away from the debris field by about 20 feet or so.

Though I have scraped and leveled the yard in times past, and I have back filled with dirt at necessary places, the rocks are like a new crop of potatoes – they keep coming back! Now, I know they are only rising to the surface as heat and cold, moisture and dryness, works them loose and they begin to surface. My trusty blade helps to pop them out, or at least to reveal the larger ones that I need to spend time with using my orange tractor.

Regardless, it takes effort, planning, expense and time!

Jesus gave a lesson on the same concept, only his focus was a little different. In Matthew, Mark and Luke the same parable is taught, and the hidden meaning to the lesson is learned by the disciples and the readers of the gospels.

“A sower went out to sow his seed. And as he sowed, some fell along the path and was trampled underfoot, and the birds of the air devoured it. And some fell on the rock, and as it grew up, it withered away, because it had no moisture. And some fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up with it and choked it. And some fell into good soil and grew and yielded a hundredfold.” As he said these things, he called out, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear.”  (Luke 8:5-8 ESV)

Do you see the difference? There is nothing here about the seed planter (Sower) taking a moment to clear out the debris field and make for a better experience. I dig out the rocks, cut back the weeds, and break up the ground that is hard – all for the end result of the planting and enjoyment.

Now, Jesus was dealing with a Sower planting the Word of God. As a pastor and teacher I understand this parable from his perspective. As I sow the seed I am not in a position to control the environment – I just plant. And water. God takes his course with his own Word, and either it works or it doesn’t.

In Matthew, we find that the field the Sower goes to is possibly a single person. It is quite possible that we each have areas of our lives that are full of thorns, rocks, beaten ground, or fertile soil. (Matthew 13:18-23) The various edges of our lives are often calloused, prickly and hard. The fertile ground is the space that we put a lot of effort into productivity and distance from the world around us. It may not be the best of ground, but the seed does have a better opportunity to become productive!

Consider the seed that falls into these unproductive parts of our lives.

  • If in the areas of rocks with very little soil and no hope for the root of the Word to flourish, it very quickly withers away when there are trials or persecutions.
  • If in the areas where thorns are known to grow, then the Word has no hope because the cares of this life and the deceitfulness of living this live quickly chokes it out.
  • If in the areas of our hard view of life, the Word has actually has no time to germinate because the enemy quickly moves in and snatches it away.

Sort of sounds like we all have corners of life where the Word is not very productive! And it sounds like that if these areas are needing change, then we are only available to change when we make the effort, spend the necessary money and time to make it happen, and follow a plan to keep it cleared!

One final thought… The Apostle Paul deals with the subject with a little different clarity.

I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth. (1 Corinthians 3:6 ESV)

Regardless of who plants the seed, nor when it was planted…. Regardless of who nurtures and toils over the growing planted Word… Whether me, or someone before or after me, it is God who gives the growth! It is His Seed, and will be profitable when the receiver affects change to nurture the seed in their own life…

Change Happens…And again, changes keep on happening!

The Thing about Anything is the Constant Change Cloud we live under!

Keypunch cardIs that it is always changing. Just look at this keypunch card… There was a day that it represented data, and control of data. Today, it’s all found in minuscule bits of magnetized elements, or even in lasers and lights!

Even the act of leading has changed. In a church, the pastor often has less respect and authority than the pastor of 100 years ago. Back then people reacted differently. Lived differently. They even respected differently.

Today. the world around us is in constant flux and our methods and styles of leadership must adapt to this ever changing world. I am in contact with people around the globe who are reading this blog, and what I write must resonate because people keep coming back!

Why?

Because nothing is the same. It is constantly changing. Some changes are good. Others are not. Some changes will stick. Other will not. We must constantly adapt, or else…

A humorous personal story about change involves my IT (Information Technology) experiences. Back in the 70’s it was called DP (Data Processing) – and did we ever process data! File cabinets of stored data in the form of EBCIDIC formatted keypunch cards. Most of our systems revolved around accounting, billing and inventory. Paper records from these departments would find their way into Keypunch and data elements from the forms would be keyed onto a specifically formatted card, and then the collection of these cards would be inputted into the computer via a Card Reader. Thousands of card data per day were processed against existing data stored on keypunch cards stored in the file room. A new set of updated keypunch cards were created by the computer and stored, ready to be used that same day, or later in the month. Climate control was the mantra of the day because the cards could absorb moisture and be almost impossible to read into the card reader – thus valuable data could possibly be ruined.

Laborious and tiring, but also exciting – because I was working and managing a very high tech computer room!

However, technology being what it is, the day came that we planned to move all of our data into digital formats that would be stored on magnetic tapes and disk drives. Programs had to be changed to recognize the new media, which required ordering new hard drives, tape drives, and computer tapes. The week came, and a multitude of hours were spent reading in the cards one last time and storing them on the appropriate medium (disk or tape).

As we stood around the computer room and admired the ending results – tapes cabinets lined the wall full of newly stored data, new disk drives filled some empty space and they too were loaded with data. The card file room would soon become a thing of the past and those millions of keypunch cards would eventually be tossed.

My manager, a very smart man from India, sort of panicked for the moment as he realized the big change we had just undertaken and immediately wanted to go back doing the things the way we had always done them… Incredulous looks all around the room… No one knew what to say. I swallowed big and said something along the line – “If we go backwards then I quit…” He just laughed really big and walked out of the computer room. The subject was never broached again. And we stepped into a dawning age of change. And I have not looked back to the “good ol’ days” of Keypunch Cards wishing to return to their preeminent time.

This is sort of what I am talking about. Change. This world is replete with change.

Simply looking at our automobiles and you see the big change that has happened during the past 40 years. Although I have rebuilt carburetors on my cars of the 1950’s through the 1980’s, I do not believe there is a single carburetor made for the modern engine. I remember the first time I tapped into my car radio and attached an 8 Track Player… Mid 1970’s as I remember it – now I carry everything on my portable device and through Bluetooth connect the data to my “car radio” and speak to the system and tell it what to play, or even stream national radio from Sirius/XM – a satellite system that gives me the same station anywhere in the nation.

As the world changes, so must our methods. Principles will never change, but methods must adapt to this changing world. In fact, we constantly see laws adapting to the new world!

Though the laws of man might change, God will never change (Malachi 3:6). Our methods and styles must change, but will always reflect Jesus who is the same – yesterday, today and forever (Hebrews 13:8).

In fact, newer methods and styles will show up every day to deal with this constant changing world. Yet, Leadership will always be needed. We need to strive to change with the times so as not to become like the Keypunch Card, or the 8 Track.

Maybe you need to ask yourself the question, “Am I still leading like I would have a generation ago?” If the answer is yes… Well. You know!

What’s Your Schedule Like?

Sometimes Life Gets Too Busy!

Branding IronInsanely busy! This does not make time fly. Nor is it the best use of my productivity. I know I am not the best when my life gets crammed with busy work.

Too many irons in the fire only makes for a great big conflagration! It takes fuel to heat up the irons. It takes energy to keep the brands ready.

Where does our fueling come from? A good meal, quiet time, decent night sleep, and probably the right kind of soul nourishment to make the day productive. 

At the end of a busy work week, and preparing for next week with all it’s demands, we took a few hours last night to sit on the porch and enjoy the coolness, flowers, sprinkler noises and the birds. Part of my personal recouping time is simply enjoying the beauty of the homestead. Yes, the grass is brown and some trees are in stress, but the apples are nearly ripe and the baby birds are cheerfully excited when parents bring them dinner!

Quiet and joyful rest should be a requirement at the end of the day. Unload and unwind. No rehashing, or rethinking. Just chill….

Dinner BellThen, take your nightly rest.

The morning will come soon enough. Silence will be shattered by the clambering of tasks, like the dinner bell that calls you to the table. Busy enough will be the morrow. Simply enjoy the quiet while you can.

This reminds me of the most quoted psalms of David.

A Psalm of David. The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters. He restores my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the LORD forever.   (Psalms 23:1-6 ESV)

Shepherd at hand. Green Pastures. Still waters. Soul restoration. Righteous pathways. Rod and staff of comfort. Table prepared. Anointed head. Overflowing cup. Goodness. Mercy. In God’s house.

Do you have a scripture or poem for the quiet closure and slow start of your day?

Why Your Perspective Matters

Late in the evening…

Monument Valley…and at the end of a long and tiring day, my mind panned over some recent events. Frustration on my part was at times high. Primarily due to things not going according to the way I think they should. But in a flash I thought, “I wonder how the other person sees the same event?” (Or question, task, project, ending, etc.)

This is not the first time for this thought, but when you are trying to do something a certain way, and when you limit your view of  completion from your own perspective and not another persons way, then you will feel the frustration of a job not well done!

When you work with paid workers then you can expect your way to be met. But when you work with volunteers then you often get a volunteers perspective.

You must learn to twist the world around and see things from another persons moccasins, or shoes, schedule, timing, ability, care, or love. And these are just a few ways to glance from this concept.

I teach there are 40 sides to every story – a generation of perspectives just waiting for an audience to notice.

My son introduced my to an iOS App called Monument Valley. Each level presents a top-down view of a structure that can be manipulated so that the character can move through the field of play and arrive at necessary doors, crossings and portals. When you look at it from your own perspective it is somewhat hard to see the solution. When you look at it from the character’s position, then it is even more challenging. They are at eye level with perhaps only a narrowed perspective. You see further, and you see upcoming challenges.

But the challenge is to see the object from all angles so you can snake your way to success.

Some times we need to change how we look at the world around us. I am not saying that I always need to see it from your perspective, but when I take thought of your lot in life then I realize that you have a different version of the job or life in front of you.

It’s almost like looking at the micro vs macro view of things, or from the wrong end of a telescope, or at a project that as no end defined.

There are a myriad of ways to see the world around us. I cannot imagine every perspective, but from each angle there is a different scenery of the same thing. You know, the blind men feeling the elephant from different positions gives a different stated view.

What happens then when you see life with all the various challenges, roadblocks, obstacles and issues with people, and there is no end in sight? No solution? It’s your way or the highway…

I want to take things out of my perspective and try to see them from God’s perspective. And he does have a better viewpoint!

For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you. You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you, declares the LORD, and I will restore your fortunes and gather you from all the nations and all the places where I have driven you, declares the LORD, and I will bring you back to the place from which I sent you into exile. (Jeremiah 29:11-14 ESV)

What’s that simple phrase? God knows…

Have you ever been around someone who knows your next thought or sentence? My wife and I have been married over 41 years. It seems like we are often so in tune that we know what the other is thinking before a sound is uttered.

I wonder if I will ever get that way with others around me… Or will I ever have that same connection with God. I really want my perspective to be from his vantage point. How about you?