Touched in joy

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1      The Challenge

“A quiet and comfortable obsession with an ultimately destructive hurt, habit, or hang-up can led to final failure.”  Phil Larson

“The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.” Mahatma Ghandi

Philippians 4:8 “Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.”  Paul of Tarsus

Proverbs 21:23(NKJV) 23 Whoever guards his mouth and tongue keeps his soul from troubles. Solomon

Proverbs 13:3 (NKJV) 3 He who guards his mouth preserves his life, But he who opens wide his lips shall have destruction. Solomon

These wisdom guidelines speak to me this morning.  This week I am in a time of prayer and work and rest.  The prayer is to focus my soul and energies and seek the intervention of God.  The work is to get outside and do those things that I enjoy.  The rest is to honor the principles of trust and Sabbath so directed in Christ and break from the normal.

As I start this week I have two books in my hand.  The Power of Optimism by Alan Loy McGinnis and The Bible by the Holy Spirit of God.

2      One Pain

“A quiet and comfortable obsession with an ultimately destructive hurt, habit, or hang-up can led to final failure.”  Phil Larson

“Fatigue makes cowards of us all.” Vince Lombardi, George S. Patton and every leader under which I have served.

Courage stands. Cowardice grovels.

Courage advances. Cowardice retreats.

Courage envisions. Cowardice tunnels.

Courage empowers. Cowardice controls.

Courage gives. Cowardice takes.

Courage resolves. Cowardice complains.

In a survey of young women gathered to reconnect with fathers, a great truth was discovered. The young women told us they wanted their dads to be more vulnerable and transparent. They yearn to hear Dad talk of his mistakes and recovery. They want to know he gives them room to make mistakes and be human because he acknowledges his mistakes and humanity. It is tough to relate to a prideful leader full of himself and his stories of conquest.

One of my flaws under pressure is to release negatives into the air about those items and people most disconcerting to me at the moment.  It is not that I don’t appreciate the item but that it is irritating me at the moment.  It is not that I don’t love and appreciate the person, but that some aspect of resistance is irritating me at the moment.  Then my mouth opens and my foot inserts and someone is damaged.

A leader carries great power of negative and positive.  Life and death exude from the tongue.  Of course we think hard thoughts and must process them.  But we should not as leaders process them out loud.  They should be as privately engaged as prayers in our closets.  In fact, they should be prayers in our closets until resolved in our heart.

3      Serve

“The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.” Mahatma Ghandi

Serving solves stupidity and soothes struggling souls. When we serve, our mistakes can be covered.  People see the heart and love covers a multitude of sins.  That does not excuse sin, but hey, a little cover is good.  We are all flawed human becomings that need to give and receive grace. Be gentle with yourself, repentant when making a mistake, and serving of others.

4      Remember

Philippians 4:8 “Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.”  Paul of Tarsus

Mistakes, slips, falls, failures, glitches, or problems easily beset us and blur vision.  Remember who you are.  Remember whose you are.  It is right to view your mistakes, change direction, and move forward. It is not right to grovel. Step up and step out.  Admit. Change. Move. Learn.

F.U.M.B.L.E.   Sport analogies are overused, but here is one.  A fumble in football defines a team.  There is one focus.  Get the ball.  Focus on the issue. Understand the impact. Maintain esteem. Build relationship. Lead by example. Expand to other areas. F.U.M.B.L.E.   When the ball is loose, get the ball.  Don’t point fingers.  Don’t try to find someone to blame.  Don’t isolate from others and sulk.  Don’t wait on someone else to get the ball.  Figure out how to prevent in the future. You’ve fumbled before.  You’ve recovered. You’ve learned.  Do it again. Do your part.

Focus on the Issue. What needs fixed?

Understand the impact. What has been damaged?  What else needs fixed? How far has the damage gone?

Maintain Esteem. No finger pointing. No blaming. Believe in every player.

Build Relationship.  A fumble is a great opportunity to discover strengths and weaknesses in a team and strengths and weaknesses in our opposition.  To every positive there is a negative trying to keep it from happening.  Gain understanding of friends.

Lead by Example. Hesitation increases damage.  Don’t wait on someone else.  Get on the ball.  Take action.

Expand to Other Areas. What will cause one fumble will cause twenty.  A blip in one area will blip in another.  Where can the solution be expanded, applied to something else and help growth?

Remember your victories.  David, legendary king of Israel, faced not just Goliath but his four brothers.  Entering into the moment he reminded himself that he had killed a lion and a bear and that God was on his side.  I’m sure he also remembered there was a great reward waiting for the victor.  Memories of prior conquests and present helps and future rewards all moved him forward.  Remember.  You have conquered before and will conquer this.

Speak of the truth of the positive.  List out all the positives and begin to speak them to others. Okay, be transparent in the positive along with the pains.  Focus on the positives.

5      The Challenge

Proverbs 21:23(NKJV) 23 Whoever guards his mouth and tongue keeps his soul from troubles. Solomon

Proverbs 13:3 (NKJV) 3 He who guards his mouth preserves his life, But he who opens wide his lips shall have destruction. Solomon

Oopsadoodle.  Is that a word?  Yes, it is what we say to babies when they drop something.  We say it with a musical lilt as we reach over and fix it.  Later on we get angry and scowl at a four year old who makes the same slip. Ouch.  What is wrong with us?  Contain your consequences to right time and place. Allow for recovery.

There are ten tons of troubles to tackle. Focus on the one in front that needs present attention.  Contain your discontent for the prayer closet.  Most will solve themselves with no help from you.  Trust God.  You asked Him to help did you not?  Why are you taking it back?  Put some filters on your words.

Thinking out loud can get you into trouble.  I do that sometimes.  I am processing something and it comes out of my mouth and someone hears and thinks I am upset.  I’m not.  I’m processing.  But they don’t know that.  Then they take it wrongly and I don’t even know it.  The damage is the same no matter my intention. So I go to the lake in the woods and yell at God, who loves me and understands me, and the birds and trees don’t care.  Then I get back in the game with a resolute heart and cheerful. Heavy on the cheerful.

After noting the story of a young man beset with a disease that ended in death, this poem was penned by Edmund Vance Cooke.

 

 

How Did You Die?

 

Did you tackle that trouble that came your way

With a resolute heart and cheerful?

Or hide your face from the light of day

With a craven soul and fearful?

Oh, a trouble’s a ton, or a trouble’s an ounce,

Or a trouble is what you make it,

And it isn’t the fact that you’re hurt that counts,

But only how did you take it?

 

You are beaten to earth? Well, well, what’s that?

Come up with a smiling face.

It’s nothing against you to fall down flat,

But to lie there — that’s disgrace.

The harder you’re thrown, why the higher you bounce;

Be proud of your blackened eye!

It isn’t the fact that you’re licked that counts,

It’s how did you fight —  and why?

 

And though you be done to the death, what then?

If you battled the best you could,

If you played your part in the world of men,

Why, the Critic will call it good.

Death comes with a crawl, or comes with a pounce,

And whether he’s slow or spry,

It isn’t the fact that you’re dead that counts,

But only how did you die?

 

6      Summation:

Each of us faces tough days and defeatist moments.  You can reduce their number by focusing on the positive and speaking life into those around you and situations.  Remember the victories you have seen in life and apply those lessons to new challenges.  And hey, have a great life along the way.  Death will take us all, be living when it finds you.

Seven Faith Actions to Restore Hope

Seven Faith Actions to Restore Hope

“He who has a why to live for can bear with almost any how” (Man’s Search for Meaning, 121).  Victor Frankel

What pain pushes you into yourself? We do that.  We retreat into our world and our need when pain pushes.  Hope will bring us out.  Hope will draw us closer to God instead of closer to self.

Our nation has pain.  There is the pain of being asocial.  We are a nation of Facebook and Twitter and LinkedIn and gaming and netflix.  Researchers and health professionals alarm at the impact of constant stimulation that over stresses youth to the point of needing medication.  Dr’s increasingly point to our disassociation and electronic trends as roots of further social disorder.

“Children or teens who are “revved up” and prone to rages or—alternatively—who are depressed and apathetic have become disturbingly commonplace. Chronically irritable children are often in a state of abnormally high arousal, and may seem “wired and tired.” That is, they’re agitated but exhausted. Because chronically high arousal levels impact memory and the ability to relate, these kids are also likely to struggle academically and socially….
Time and again, I’ve realized that regardless of whether there exists any “true” underlying diagnoses, successfully treating a child with mood dysregulation today requires methodically eliminating all electronics use for several weeks—an “electronics fast” to allow the nervous system to “reset.”
If done correctly, this intervention can produce deeper sleep, a brighter and more even mood, better focus and organization, and an increase in physical activity. The ability to tolerate stress improves, so meltdowns diminish in both frequency and severity. The child begins to enjoy the things they used to, is more drawn to nature, and imaginary or creative play returns. In teens and young adults, an increase in self-directed behavior is observed—the exact opposite of apathy and hopelessness.” Victoria Dunkely MD

Our nation has pain.  There is the pain of amoral existence.  Some states report active belief through church attendance below 5%.  Nationally it is 16% and expected to drive lower.  Just a half a century ago this was 60%.  We had a moral standard of respect of life and decency toward others and self. Moral compass gives stability. Moral compass gives a staff on which we can rest in hard moments of indecision.  Moral compass provides a rally point. There is no accepted moral compass at a time when our immigration is at all-time highs.  How do you assimilate into nothing?  We need a national ethic and morality and conscience more than we need a wall of separation.

Our nation has pain. There is the pain of amarital community.  40% of our children go to bed without dad in the home.  41% of new births are into never married situations.  The impact is huge.  Poverty, criminal behavior, emotional and mental distress, school performance, suicide and more key off of fatherlessness.  We are birthing a generation with no chance of a normal or peaceful life.

Our nation has pain. That pain is a mess.  Intimate partner violence and intimate terrorism show up in 1 of 3 women.  Sexual assault is 1 of 4 women by age 16.  The highest rates of domestic violence are with those 20-29.  The angst and anger is violent.  We are crying in our homes for solutions.  This is not about percentages and political punditry.  This is about me and my house.

The Faithful
Yet, you are faithful.  You are doing what you know to do in faithful obedience and sacrifice. With the pains, each of us is impacted.  A father, mother, sister, brother, child, cousin, or you is impacted.  Why?  We live in this pained world and it touches us and we bleed.

Stand there for a moment.  Where has this pain touched you?  Who around you is impacted?  Where are you personally impacted?
We can feel rejected of God and cry, “Unfair.”  He is with you.  He is here.  Hope points to answers and secures a path.  Put your hope in God and in His presence.

Most often our experience of pain comes from living apart from God’s influence and presence.  In Christ, we have choices.  We can be in the world and not of the world.  We can make choices that give us stronger whys in the land of hows.  He has not left us on our own.  He has not abandoned us.

For God is not unjust to forget your work and labor of love which you have shown toward His name, in that you have ministered to the saints, and do minister. Hebrews 6:10

This Hope
This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast, and which enters the Presence behind the veil, where the forerunner has entered for us, even Jesus, having become High Priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek. Hebrews 6:19-20 NKJV

So let’s talk about how hope works behind the veil. When I am in His presence, I am secure.  I am hopeful.  I can see a future with beauty and success.

Last Fall, Dian and I spent the day in the beautiful New England countryside and on to the coast of Maine.  When we allow ourselves to enjoy the beauty of God’s creation, we are refreshed. Those images will walk with us for decades. It is good. Dian and I have a small lake cabin in Oklahoma in the wooded part of the state for this reason. I love to watch the birds and listen to the stillness.  Whenever I post a calm or strikingly beautiful picture of nature on facebook, it gets the most likes. We like the calm. We need the calm and the beauty.  Is not the presence of God more beautiful than nature?  Have you ever enjoyed Him beyond any touch natural beauty can produce?
How often do you stop the noise and the pain and let God be God?  This world with all the pain and problems that prick and provoke is there.  It is there 24/7.  In the middle of all of that, we have the privilege to walk with an amazing God of light and joy.  His overwhelming presence permeates and puts us on top and covered.  Yet, this is not some Pollyanna denial of a painful world, but a determined joy in the face of assault.

Brutally Confront The Facts
It is unrealistic to ignore the pain.  It is incorrect to deny reality.  After an opponent to Abraham Lincoln painted an unrealistic view, Lincoln responded.  “Now a horse has four legs.  If I call his tail a leg, how many legs does the horse have?
One in the audience answered, “Five.”
“No,” Lincoln responded.  “The horse has four legs.  To call a tail a leg doesn’t change the fact it is a tail.”

Don’t deny reality.  Face it. Deal with it.  Put yourself in the presence of God and allow Him to adjust and protect and secure and strengthen.

But, Phil
But, Phil, it just keeps coming back and I can’t seem to hold my footing. It drags me into wrong action and disturbed and depressive days.

Walk with me into God’s Story
In the Old Testament the priest would go into the Holy of Holies on assignment.   There was great ritual and preparation for his time in the presence of God.  There was great fear.  If he did one thing wrong, put on the wrong piece of clothing, or touched a forbidden object prior to going into God’s presence, he would be struck dead.

The people would tie a rope around his leg and put bells on his robe.  If the bells quit ringing, they would pull him out, dead.  He was anchored in the world.  He had to come out.  He could not stay in God’s presence.  The world owned him.

In Jesus, we have a new and better life.  Each of us is called into the presence of God 24/7. It is no longer about one person going for all.  Jesus did that and opened the path.  We don’t pull Him out, He pulls us in.  His Holy Spirit is provided for 24/7 presence and provision to all.  Yet, we don’t live in that awareness.  We allow the world, the pain, and the problems to displace us from our rightful position. We drift from our anchor point.

Watch for a moment what is happening in this verse.  Hope is an anchor.  Anchors have ropes fastened to a point.  As the current of life pummels our bow, the anchor point holds us steady.  If I want to be closer to the anchor point, I pull in the rope and shorten the extended line.

Hebrews 3:6 But Christ is faithful as the Son over God’s house. And we are his house, if indeed we hold firmly to our confidence and the hope in which we glory.

In life we pass from pain to pain and from victory to victory.  At each of those moments there is opportunity to fasten the rope tighter into our grasp.  If I want to get a good grip on a rope, I put a knot into it.  My grip, my hold is more secure and firm.  Every test in life, we can secure our grip on hope.  Every time we see God provide for us in a hard moment, we can station our feet and tie another knot in the rope for a future need.  Whether it is a pain to which God applies a solution or a victory in growth, each can become a knot that secures my grip and shortens the distance between the anchor point and me.

Our journey can be a series of choices to draw closer to God, to live in His presence.  Our journey can also be a series of choices to drift.  I can chose to gripe and groan and complain and my rope will stretch and extend and I will float further from my anchor point.
Make the choice at every point of pain and every point of victory to shorten the rope. 

Seven Faith Actions
The anchor point is in the realized presence of God.  In the presence of the Lord there is joy forevermore.  A. Increase your dependence on Him in prayer and tie a knot.  B. Build a closer relationship with a fellow Christian and tie a knot.  C. Hammer scripture into your memory and meditation and tie a knot. D.Increase your personal and public worship times and tie a knot. E.Tell others of His goodness and tie and knot.  F.Give out of the abundance He provides and tie a knot.  G. Rest and trust Him in faith in hard moments and tie a knot.  Live as a Christian disciple and tie a knot.  The life of discipleship is not about obedience and duty, it is about drawing closer to God and He draws closer to you. The distance to the anchor point becomes less and less.  In time of need you can pull in the line and be to that point faster when you live a life of tying the knot.

But, Phil
My rope is extended. I’ve not lived the Christian discipleship provided for me in Christ. Ah, the grace of God has been provided.  You see, the anchor point is Jesus in the presence of God.   We are no longer anchored in the world.

Before Jesus, that anchor would pull us back into the world.  Now, Jesus will pull you back into His presence.  He sees you drifting.  You have hope.  He will pull you into His presence as you drift.  His grace is huge.   Of course it is better to live close to the anchor and we will have fewer pains and fewer defeats.  But, He is on your side.  He is the anchor and He will pull you into His presence even if you chose to drift when your hope is in Him.
In this world of toils and snares tell me Jesus just who cares. None but thee Lord, none but thee.
Summary:  Life pummels. Christ in me, the Hope of Glory, anchors me in the presence of God.  Joy and answers are in His presence.  Christian discipleship will pull me closer to the presence of God.
Live your life of Christian Discipleship in hope and healing.  Tie a knot.  Every opportunity.  Tie a knot.  Keep the rope on your anchor short and your time in His presence continual.  Tie a knot. Don’t drift.
If you find yourself drifting, call out in hope.  He will draw you in.  Your anchor is in His presence.

;- { ) #phil@hclive.org

On the Mountain of My Messes

On the Mountain of My Messes

image

copyright AP Photo Steve Gooch

And seeing the multitudes, He went up on a mountain, and when He was seated His disciples came to Him. Then He opened His mouth and taught them, saying:
Matthew 5:1-2 NKJV

In the stirring of my storm,
The Lord is by my side.
On the edges of my ledges,
The Lord is by my side.
In the low spots of my loss,
The Lord is by my side.
On the mountains of my messes,
The Lord is on my side.

The Lord is on my side.
No matter the pain, problem, pursuit, or persnippity persistent pest,
The Lord is on my side.

On the Mountain of My Messes

image

And seeing the multitudes, He went up on a mountain, and when He was seated His disciples came to Him. Then He opened His mouth and taught them, saying:
Matthew 5:1-2 NKJV

In the stirring of my storm,
The Lord is by my side.
On the edges of my ledges,
The Lord is by my side.
In the low spots of my loss,
The Lord is by my side.
On the mountains of my messes,
The Lord is on my side.

The Lord is on my side.
No matter the pain, problem, pursuit, or persnippity persistent pest,
The Lord is on my side.

A FRESH GENneration: Out of the Crowd and into Their Place.

Hope is in your hands….

SOLUM Community Transformation Initiative

servantsUse Your Professional Power…

Have you found the powerful young man or woman in your sphere of influence ready to do something big? Community Transformation Initiative reaches all ages and all stages. CTI connects with government, education, community, congregation, family, and individual. I like that and I support that.

Painted across our mental landscape are pictures of angry youth and twenty-somethings. Really? Is that all there is? The media is far too busy destroying hope. Yes, this is a generation of fatherless and increasingly parentless powerhouses. The potential is warped and pained. It is potential. It is power waiting to be unleashed.

As a professional, we can get skewed visions of this generation. Our own home is prim and proper. Our friends are prim and proper. As a professional did you ever realize you are the minority? The majority lives in pain. Violence and abuse is a norm. Abandoned…

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