Speak Life

 

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.

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Meet Jesus: Worth Following

Our leadership examples today are flawed and full of gaping holes

Matthew 8:1: When he was come down from the mountain, great multitudes followed him.

“Make sure you are doing what God wants you to do–then do it with all your strength.” George Washington

Follow Me: Few people in life seem to be worth following. Honesty is out of style. Truth is irrelevant. Integrity wanes to the way of the world. Our leadership examples today are flawed and full of gaping holes. Jesus is worth following. Not only that, but He changes us to be worth following. His example and presence change us to be more like Him. Follow.

Follow Jesus: Jake was ready to follow this Jesus again. The morning back in the presence of God at church had impacted him. He wasn’t sure how to explain his feelings to his wife or to his old friend, Greg, or to Sally, who had invited him. He just knew he needed to get back in line and follow. Whatever that meant! He was going to find out…..

Act! Be worth following. It was his confidence, authority, and kindness that resulted in so many following. Find a place to be kind today and reach out to someone who can’t help themselves at the moment.

Pray! Father, help me to be a leader worth following. It is my example to which others look. Help me to be the Christian of integrity that You seek. Encourage my faith to be bold in those areas in which you have commissioned me. Empower me to continue to do good to those around me in You. Let people see Jesus and follow Him in me.

This devotion is #17 and final of a bigger storyline… Watch the category GSJ Story for miniseries.

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Meet Jesus : Fruit Inspector,,, GSJ14

Each of us has a flavor of which comes out

Matthew 7:16: Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? 17: Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit. 18: A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. 19: Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. 20: Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them.

 Daily Produce

Ever thought about what it is you produce daily?  Each of us has a flavor to what comes out.  A friend of mine has a perfume she has worn for years.  It is her trademark, her flavor.  Whenever she is around, you know she has been there.  Some years ago I worked with an individual that flavored the room.  Upon entering the workplace the entire atmosphere would become sour.  Each of us has a flavor of what comes out.  Another friend is vivacious and sparks excitement in whatever he does.  By our fruit are we known.

Pain Carry

For years, Greg had carried pains from his early years.  Memories haunted him.  At times he would accuse people of actions and motivations they never had.  It was an unwelcome memory bursting out into distrust and accusation.  It just wouldn’t shake.  Now he was looking for forgiveness.  He wanted to be free. He wanted to free himself from the flavor of the fruit of the past.  So many times he had been betrayed.  It had built a rage inside that needed to go away.  It created a distance from others that needed healed.  Greg was ready to change the flavor of his relationships and life.  Maybe he could start with Jake.  Maybe he could go back and start over.

ACT!  Inspect your flavor.  Are you goofy grape or excited orange?  Are you passionate purple or negative needles? What is your flavor?  Is it what Jesus wants your flavor to be?

PRAY!  Father, help us flavor the day with Jesus.  Grant us grace to give out Your sweet incense.  Enable us to let others know that You have been in the place.  Cause our fruit to come from the true vine, Jesus.  Let only fruit from His life veins come out from us.  Let our flavor be the scent of Your presence that men and women would come to You.

This devotion is #14 of a bigger storyline… Watch the category GSJ Story for miniseries.

Meet Jesus: Straight Up ..GSJ14

Matthew 7:13: Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: 14: Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.

 Straight Up: Approach life straight up.  “Go straight ahead.”  “Go straight and narrow.”  These are all phrases that communicate little variance from an accepted path or norm or rule or guideline.  Straight up today might mean a person is real.  You get what you see.  They live what they say.  They say what they think.  Straight up might mean, “the best”, “what I want”, or “the exact focus of what I have been thinking.”

In any measure, straight living is valuable. Jesus is straight up.  He and His life are not boring or meaningless.  Life in Him is focused; results oriented, and evokes determined action that leads to a specific point.  The point?  Glorifying God.

Introspection: It had been a long time since Greg had felt comfortable with an old friend that represented his old life.  He wanted to forget what he was like before Christ.  Now, he felt an inner voice prompting him to face realities.  This was not time to ignore his prior life.  Sure, he had become a new man in Christ.  Old things were passed away.

 The people from that old life had not passed away.  They were still alive. They still had memories.  Greg still had memories.  It was time to be straight up with himself and them.  It was time in his personal thoughts and prayers to repent at a deeper level.  It was time to root out some leanings in his life that had not passed away.  They were still hanging on.  It was time to be straight up with himself and God.

ACT!  Be straight up today.  Don’t be evasive when questioned about your faith or prayer life.

PRAY!  Father, give me courage to be straight up.  Help me to do what You want me to do and live it all the time.  Help me to be a person of prayer and faithfulness to You and Your word in private and in public.  Help me help someone closer to Jesus today.

This devotion is #14 of a bigger storyline… Watch the category GSJ Story for miniseries.

Meet Jesus : Reciprocal ..GSJ13

Just do it like you want it.

Matthew 7:12: Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets.

 Simple: Simple.  Simple.  Simple.  So often we want God to be complicated.  Our tendency as men is to construct great tomes and writings and laws to guide our steps.  Jesus is simple.  Do to others what you want them to do to you.  How simple can you get!

Offering: Greg’s offer of friendship after so many years somehow reached through to Jake.  He liked the idea.  He liked being invited as a friend and not being approached as “another new person to the church.”  Open and relaxed, he stuck out his hand to Greg.  

His wife relaxed.  The storm was really short.  She had seen Jake have much longer explosions.  This was new.  She liked it.

ACT! What do you need done to you?  Is someone harassing you?  Do you need kindness?  Give it.  Get it.

PRAY!  Today, Lord is my day of giving and receiving.  You simply ask, Father, that I treat others in ways I want to be treated.  Be it done to me according to Your word.

This devotion is #13 of a bigger storyline… Watch the category GSJ Story for miniseries.

Meet Jesus: Wisdom At Large …GSJ11

wisemenHaving wisdom in the setting of the disinterested is pensive and tough.

Matthew 7:6: Give not that which is holy unto the dogs, neither cast ye your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn again and rend you.

 Broad Applications: Having wisdom in a setting where everyone agrees is simple.  Having wisdom in the presence of enemies may be tense, but can be negotiated.  Having wisdom in the setting of the disinterested is pensive and tough.  Jesus had all.

Here he shares with us precious insight into those going about their business looking for “stuff”.  Our tendency is to assume those around us are for us or against us or neutral.  There is no neutral.  If they are neither for nor against, they are against.  The undecided will destroy the good works of God, when left to their own devices.  Some pearls, some wisdom, and some truths are best left in the bag until in the presence of those who will receive them and value them.  Everything is not meant to be shared.

Greg Goofs: Sally stepped up quickly to greet Jake.  She could feel the tension in the hallway.  Greg was rapidly engaged in encouraging Jake to go with him to class.  Jake was anything but ready to go with Greg and his wife.  Jake’s wife was flustered and ready to go back out the door.  The kids had already seen some friends and scrambled into the kid’s church area with them.  What a scene!

 “What do you mean, you are glad I came here to find Christ?”  Jake was angry, frustrated, and humiliated all at once.  How dare Greg say such a thing in front of his wife?  It felt demeaning.  It felt like he was being accused of avoiding responsibilities.  This was one bad way to launch a Sunday church visit with friends.

  This devotion is #11 of a bigger storyline… Watch the category GSJ Story for miniseries.

ACT!  Share a precious truth God has shown you with someone who loves God.

PRAY!  Father of truth and light, guide me today.  Help me to have the wisdom of Jesus in all my dealings.  Help me to share Your pearls with those that are listening.  There are so many hungry to hear about You.  Teach me discretion and sound wisdom in all I do and share.  Show me the truths that are for all, the truths that are for those close to you, and the truths that need the specific guidance of Your Holy Spirit to share.