Monthly Archives: September 2014

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Have you ever noticed there are people you know who are literally at the same place today as they were five years ago? They still have the same dreams, the same problems; the same alibis, the same opportunities, and the same way of thinking. They are standing still in life. It's like their watch stopped five years ago, and so did they. God's will for us is to grow, to continue to learn and improve. The biggest room in our house is always the room for self-improvement.
A famous saying reads: "It's what you learn after you know it all that counts." I must admit that I am somewhat of a fanatic about this. I hate to have idle time - time in which I am not learning anything. Those around me know that I must always have something to read or to write during any idle moment that might arise. In fact, I try to learn from everyone. From one I may learn what not to do, while from another, I learn what to do. Learn from the mistakes of others. You won't live long enough to make all the mistakes yourself. You can learn more from a wise man when he is wrong than a fool who is right.
Goethe said, "Everybody wants to be; nobody wants to grow." I agree with Van Crouch: "You will never change your actions until you change your mind." An important way to keep growing is to never stop asking questions. The person who is afraid of asking is ashamed of learning. Only hungry minds can grow.
We should learn as if we will live forever and live as if we are going to die tomorrow. Harvey Ullman said, "Anyone who stops learning is old, whether this happens at twenty or eighty. Anyone who keeps on learning not only remains young, but becomes consistently more valuable regardless of physical capacity." Timothy is instructed: "Study to show thyself approved unto God..." (2 Timothy 2:15). It's fun to keep learning. Learning brings approval to your life.
Learn from others. Learn to see in the challenges of others the ills you should avoid. Experience is a present instructor that keeps us from repeating the past in the future. Life teaches us by giving us new problems before we solve the old ones. Think education is expensive or difficult? Listen to Derek Bok: "If you think education isexpensive - try ignorance."

(From John L. Mason's "An Enemy Called Average")

Long afterward, Mr. Darby recouped his loss many times over, when he made the discovery that desire can be transmutted into gold. The discovery came after he went into the business of selling life insurance.

Remembering that he lost a huge fortune because he stopped three feet from gold. Darby profited by the experience in his chosen work, by the simple method of saying to himself, "I stopped three feet from gold, but I never stop because men say 'no' when I ask them to buy insurance."

Darby became one of a small group of men who sell over a million dollars in life insurance annually. He owed his "stickability" to the lesson he learned from his "quitability" in the gold mining business.

Before success comes in any man's life, he is sure to meet with much temporary defeat, perhaps, some failure. When defeat overtakes a man, the easiest and most logical thing to do is to quit. That is exactly what the majority of men do.

More than five hundred of the most successful men this country has ever known told the author their greatest success came just one step beyond the point at which defeat had overtaken them. Failure is a trickster with a keen sense of irony and cunning. It takes great delight in tripping one when success is almost within reach.

(Story from Napoleon Hill's "Think and Grow Rich")

Jesus talked about money and relationships in his most famous sermon - the Sermon on the Mount.
 “No one can serve two masters. For you will hate one and love the other; you will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.
“That is why I tell you not to worry about everyday life—whether you have enough food and drink, or enough clothes to wear. Isn’t life more than food, and your body more than clothing? Look at the birds. They don’t plant or harvest or store food in barns, for your heavenly Father feeds them. And aren’t you far more valuable to him than they are? Can all your worries add a single moment to your life?
“And why worry about your clothing? Look at the lilies of the field and how they grow. They don’t work or make their clothing, yet Solomon in all his glory was not dressed as beautifully as they are. And if God cares so wonderfully for wildflowers that are here today and thrown into the fire tomorrow, he will certainly care for you. Why do you have so little faith?
“So don’t worry about these things, saying, ‘What will we eat? What will we drink? What will we wear?’ These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers, but your heavenly Father already knows all your needs. Seek the Kingdom of God[a] above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.
As we consider our priorities, three relational truths from this passage are vital. First, notice that Jesus said we "cannot serve both God and money." He didn't say "should not" or "might not want to attempt to"; he said "cannot". Jesus teaches us that competing values cannot coexist. One will overwhelm the other.
Our modern-day answer is, "I'll manage my life better, and then I'll be able to do more! I'll find time for being completely committed to God and for making money - and for recreation and career and hobbies too!" Jesus says, "You cannot serve both God and money," and we think, "Well, Jesus obviously didn't understand how to multitask!" It doesn't matter how well you manage your life or how many labor-saving, time-saving devices you buy; if you try to hold on to competing values, one will always overwhelm the other.
And here's the strange thing: the lesser value almost always overwhelms the greater. Lesser values take less faith and less effort. The lesser value seems easier, and so it will constantly draw you in. Because to all appearances you can reach a lesser value more quickly, you'll be continually tempted to make it your first priority. Those who try to love both God and money end up loving just money.
Lesser values don't deliver on their promise. That's what them lesser! A while back, I received an email from a friend Bucky. He was on the cusp of a career change, with all of the energy, anxiety, and evaluation such a change creates for anyone. His son had asked him to spend college spring break driving around the old South, visiting all the places where "Dad grew up!" In the email, Bucky said, "I really can't afford to be gone righ tnow but decided that twenty years from now, no one will remember that I took time away for the rest of his life. Pray for our safety, and that I will be able to resist the temptation to do emails and make phone calls every night!" That's a choice for the greater value of relationships - choice for what will last.
There is a second truth here, found in Jesus's question, "Doesn't life consist of more than food and clothing?" The answer is, "Of course it does!" The striking thing about the lesser values is that the more of them you achieve, the more you realize how little power they have to bring fulfillment. You end up lying awake in the middle of the night with these very words of Jesus running through your mind: "Doesn't life consist of more...?"
Revolutionary War hero Patrick Henry is famous for knowing something about values. His stirring cry "Give me liberty or give me death." is certainly a values statement - trumpeting his commitment to the value of freedom. He also had something to say about the value of a relationship with God over lesser things. Near the end of his life, he penned these words: "I have now disposed of all my property to my family. There is one thing more I wish I could give them, and that is the Christian religion. If they had that and I had not given them one shilling, they would be rich; and if they had not that, and I had given them all the world, they would be poor."
There is a third truth in Matthew 6 that has the power to refocus our lives. Jesus says to those he was teaching, "You have so little faith!" The question Jesus posed that prompted this exclamation was, "If God cares so wonderfully for flowers that are here today and gone tomorrow, won't he more surely care for you?" When you boit it all down, questions about priority are questions about faith. If I have faith that God will care for me, it frees me to live with certain set of priorities; if instead I feel that it's up to me to take care of myself, my priorities will go in a completely different direction.
In order to make your relationship with God and others the top priority, you're going to have to trust God like never before! If you're looking for a challenge, if you're looking for an adventure, you'll find it in having the faith to put your relationship first. 

(From Tom Holladay's "Relationship Principles of Jesus")

Jigoro Kano, the founder of the martial art of judo. Kano's story is a lesson of inspiration and motivation for every student of life.
Kano possessed an extraordinary willingness to learn. He sought out the nearly defunct martial jujitsu and modified it to incorporate modern sports principles, creating the art of judo. It became the defense system of the Japanese police and was the first Eastern martial art to be accepted in international competition at Olympics.
Kano was so focused on learning improved techniques in all walks of life that he found new and better ways for the island nation of Japan to educate its youth. He became known as the father of modern Japanese education. Kano was well respected in athletic, social and political circles worldwide.
Just before he died, this world-renowned martial arts expert called his students together. As they congregated to hear the final words of their judo master, he announced, "When you bury me, do not bury me in a black belt! Be sure to bury me in a white belt!"
In martial arts the white belt is the symbol of a beginner - an apprentice who has many things yet to learn.
What a lesson in humility and teachability! Each of us, regardless of our ranking in life, must become a lifelong learner. Whether you are a CEO, a pastor, a secretary, a parent, a child, a leader or follower - under all of your roles, always wear a white belt.
Even if you are an expert in your field, continue to value learning. By continuing to learn, you will continue to be an expert. As soon as we stop learning, we will begin to stiffe and atrophy!

(From Wayne Cordeiro's "Attitudes That Attract Success")

One of the most neglected areas in many lives is the area of gifts that God has placed within them. It is amazing how some people can devote their entire life to a field of endeavor or a profession that has nothing to do with their inborn talents. In fact, many people spend their lifetime trying to change how God has made them. They ignore God-given abilities while constantly seeking to change their natural makeup. As children of God, we need to recognize our innate gifts, talents and strengths and do everything in our power to build on them.

One good thing about God's gifts and calling is that they are permanent and enduring. Romans 11:29 says: "The gifts and calling of God are without repentance." The Greek word translated repentance in this verse means irrevocable. God does not take away His gifts and calling in your life. Even if you've never done anything with them, even if you've failed time and time again, God's gifts and calling are still resident within you. They are this day, and you can choose to do something with them, beginning right now.

Gifts and talents are really God's deposits in our personal accounts, but we determine the interest on them. The greater the amount of interest and attention we give to them, the greater their value becomes. God's gifts are never loans; they are always deposits. As such, they are never used up or depleted. In fact, the more they are used, the greater, stronger, and more valuable they become. When they are put to good use, they provide information, insight, and revelation that cannot be received in any other way or from any other source.

As believers we need to make full use of all the gifts and talents that God has bestowed upon us so that we do not abound in one area while becoming bankrupt in another. There is a saying, "If the only tool you have is a hammer, you tend to treat everything like a nail." Don't make that mistake, use all of the gifts God has given you. If you choose not to step out and make maximum use of the gifts and talents in your life, you will spend your days on this earth helping others reach their goals. Most people let others control their destiny. Don't allow anyone to take over the driver's seat in your life. Fulfill your own dreams and determine your own life's course.

Never underestimate the power of the gifts that are within you. Gifts and talents are given to us not only so that we can fulfill to the fullest the call in our own lives, but also so that we can reach the souls who are attached to those gifts. There are people whose lives are waiting to be affected by what God has placed within you. So evaluate yourself. Define and refine your gifts, talents and strengths. Choose today to look for opportunities to exercise your unique, God-endowed, God-ordained gifts and calling.

(From John L. Mason's "An Enemy Called Average")

One of the most common causes of failure is the habit of quitting when one is overtaken by temporary defeat. Every person is guilty of this mistake at one time or another.
An uncle of R. U. Darby was caught by the "gold fever" in the gold-rush days, and went west to dig and grow rich. He had never heard of that more gold has been mined from the thoughts of men than has he ever been taken from the earth. He staked a claim and went to work with pick and shovel. 
After weeks of labor, he was rewarded by the discovery of of the shining ore. He needed machinery to bring the ore to the surface. Quietly, he covered up the mine, retraced his footsteps to his home in Williamsburg, Maryland, told his relatives and a few neighbors of the "strike." They got together money for the needed machinery, and had it shipped. The uncle and Darby went back to work the mine.
The first car of ore was mined and shipped to a smelter. The returns proved they had one of the richest mines in Colorado! A few more cars of that ore would clear the debts. Then would come the big killing in profits.
Down went the drills! Up went the hopes of Darby and Uncle! Then something happened. The vein of gold ore disappeared! They had come to the end of the rainbow, and the pot of gold was no longer there. They drilled on, desperately trying to pick up the vein again - all to no avail.
Finally, they decided to quit.
They sold the machinery to a junk man for a few hundred dollars, and took the train back home. The junk man called in a mining engineer to look at the mine and do a little calculating. The engineer advised that the project had failed because the owners were not familiar with "fault lines." His calculations showed that the vein would be found just three feet from where the Darbys had stopped drilling! That is exactly where it was found.
The junk man took millions of dollars in ore from the mine because he knew enough to seek expert counsel before giving up. 

(Story from Napoleon Hill's "Think and Grow Rich")

Men are born with an internal toolbox. Internal tools are as important to us men as our toolbox out in the garage.
They are so important that if we woke up one day and didn't have these tools, we'd be lost, just as lost as Robert was when he discovered his toolbox had been stolen.
Just like a man who once lost his tool pouch. The story played out this way.
A female friend of ours had an appointment at the local middle school. She was waiting at the office counter when a man dressed in a suit and tie rushed in. He was breathles, and sweat was dripping off his forehead. In his hand was something large and cumbersome - about the size of a grocery bag. At first our friend couldn't quite make out what it was. 
"Here you go," he said as held it up.
His tone was similar to the one man uses when he's bagged a five-point buck. But our friend could see that this man wasn't carrying a deer. He held in his hands a large tool pouch overflowing with wrenches, drills, pliers, and other assorted tools. Our friend noted that none of dirty, like leftover clutter from a garage sale," she said later.
We know what most of you guys are thinking. Tools? Like leftover clutter from a garage sale? Hardly?
The businessman held up the tool pouch for the women behind the counter to see. "I foud this in front of your school. It was just lying there on the sidewalk," he said incredulously, shaking his head..
The women in the school office glanced from the man to the tool pouch and back again, their faces utterly blank. They were probably thinking what our friend was thinking - that whoever left the pouch had obviously done so on purpose. Maybe it had gotten too heavy to carry another few blocks down the road to the Goodwill truck.
Finally, one of the women stepped forward. "Okay. What should we do with it?" she asked.
Now the blank stare belongd to the man. "These are tools!" he said.
His tone suggested that losing tools might be only slightly less tragic than losing a child, but definitely worse than, say, losing a wedding ring or a thousand dollars cash.
The woman at the counter was not seeing that.
"Well," the other woman said as she peered into the tool pouch, her nose slightly wrinkled, "okay."
Now the man huffed, "Look, I'm late for the biggest appointment of my life, lady. But I had to stop. Somewhere there's a guy missing this tools." He said the word mssing with a level of emotion usually reserved for weddings and funerals. "I couldn't drive another foot without stopping," he said and mentioned back to where his car was parked. "I ran all the way up here."
The woman used her toe to point to a spot on the floor. "Put them there, I guess," she said. "Maybe, someone will claim them."
"Maybe someone will--" the man stopped himself. "Never mind. I'm late for work."
He turned and ran out of the school, hair dishevelled, coat tails flapping in the wind. But he had a heroic look on his face, as if he'd done a deed that him worthy of calling himself a man.
After he left, the woman behind the counter turned to her office coworker and said, "Is it just me, or was that man a little over-the-top about tools?"
The fact is, most of us guys are a little over-the-top about the tools in our toolboxes. It's the same way when it comes to our internal tools.
The good news is we excel at something. In fact, in some settings we're downright amazing. That's because our internal toolbox contains certain tools that make us naturals in those settings.
Let's take a lok at some of the internal tools you probably already have in the next blogs.

(From the Smalley's "Mens Relational Toolbox")

I am going to share here what Gary, Greg, and Michael Smalley said in their book "Men's Relational Toolbox"
It all centers on the toolbox.
After thousands of hours researching relationships and thousands more counseling others about them, we've stumbled onto a truth we believe can help any man build or repair his relationships. The truth is this: We build and repair our relationships much the same way we build and repair anything else - by using the right tools.
That's right. Our ability to effectively build or repaire our relationships depends on the quality and number of items in what we call our "relational toobox."
If you want to build or repair deck around your house, you need a box full of right kind of tools. The same is true if you want to build or repair a relationship. However, the problem with many of us guys is that we lack the right relational tools for the job. That doesn't make us the dimmest lights in the harbor. It makes us different.
For every relational tool we guys might lack, we possess different internal tool - usually a factual and practical tool that makes us independent and skilled at providing and protecting, the two things most of us are best at.
The book discussed that we (men) are best at being providers and protectors. 
Robert is a teacher, a guy whose most dangerous work tool is a pencil. He spends his hours instructing students about the wily ways of the English language. But like most guys, Robert has a toolbox on the garage shelf at home. 
One day Robert's wife took the car on a carefree trip to the supermarket with their three toddlers bucked in the backseat. Unfortunately, she forgot to close the garage door when she left. When she and Robert met up at home at the end of the day, Robert announced that something tragic happened.
His toolbox had been stolen.
To hear Robert's wife talk about his reaction, you'd have thought the house had been burned down.
Robert stood in the garage, pacing in small circles, a vacant look in his eyes, "My tools," he said over and over. "Someone took my tools."
Robert's wife felt bad about the incident, but she was still able - with very little effort - to put the matter out of her mind long enough to help the kids safely into the house, unload the groceries, and start dinner.
"She told me I could get new tools." Robert explained later. "Can you believe that?" New tools? As if that would somehow replace the tools I'd lost."
Robert eventually became excited at the prospect of getting new tools, but he wasn't thinking about that in the minutes after he found out about the burglary. Standing there staring at the empty garage shelf where his toolbox once sat, he thought, What if  I need to fix something? What if something's loose or something squeaks or something falls off?
We believe Robert speaks for most of us guys when he said to us, "Guy, I fest naked."
We men often feel this same sense of inadequacy when we try to build or fix important relationships. We often don't have the necessary relational tools, and that leaves us feeling helpless as Robert felt without his toolbox.
We may not be builders or mechanics or carpenters, but we feel secure knowing our toolbox is out there in the garage. It's reassuring, giving a sense of completeness. And we believe you can have that same feeling once you get the second half of this book and stock your internal toolbox with the right relational tools.
If you checked inside the toolbox belonging to the average guy, you'd probably find some basic tools, including the following:
Hammer - used to pound or deliver repeated blows, especially when driving nails into wood.
Wrench - usually operated by hand, used for tightening bolts and nuts 
Screwdriver - used for turning screws with slotted heads
Pliers - used for holding and gripping small articles or bending and cutting wire
Tape measure - used for measuring
Saw - used for cutting solid materials to prescribed lengths or shapes.
Lots of guys we know never build things and rarely even repair them. But almost every guy has a toolbox with at least these tools. Most of us aren't sure when we actually acquired our toolboxes, but we have them all the same. It's almost as though we woke up one morning and there in the garage was a toolbox with the basic tools that go along with being a man.
Why is this/?
Because there are some things most guys are god at, and one of them is using tools to build and repair things. Our guess is that whether you are an accountant or a truck driver, a doctor or a delivery guy, you have a toolbox stocked with tools that you know how to use to acomplish some basic tasks.
Here's a list of the things most guys can do with the basic tools in their toolboxes:
-Hang a picture
-Install basic shelving
-Tighten and loosen things (like door hinges)
-Install a screen door
-Replace a faucet
-Change furnace filters
-Install a new light fixture
-Fix a broken toy
-Repaire a leak
-Measure the size of a room or window
-Trim or cut a piece of wood
-Grip or hold something steady as it is being repaired
Now granted, you might be the kind of man who has traded in his toolbox for a tool chest, the man who has enough tools to allow you to assemble a 747 in your garage. But even if you can't tell the difference between a rachet and a crescent wrench, you can usually handle the tasks listed above.
Certainly some guys don't own toolboxes - though we'd venture to say that they are for the most part, very young or very old guys. And we're equally certain some women have toolboxes like one described above. But for the purpose of this book, we'll generalize a bit and say this: Toolboxes are primarily a guy thing.
There's a reason for this: Men and women are different.
This is probably not earth-shattering information to most people. In fact, it's usually in negative terms. We see women as having an "inborn relationship manual," while we see as stumbling about looking for ways to get along in their relationships.
Or, as Greg said, we men-bash.
We aren't going to do that in this book. Instead, we will take a look at what we're trying to build. This book is a manual for building relationships, mostly relationships with women - girlfriends, wives, mothers, daughters, coworkers, bosses, committee members. Of course, guys need relational tools to relate with other men, but generally guys are already equipped with the tools necessary to do that. The relational tools that work between guys wil not always work when a man tries to relate to a woman. In fact, that kind of relationship usually requires a different set of tools altogether.
With that in mind, let's look at our internal makeup and at what types of tools we guys have in our internal toolbox.
to be continued...

I want to share another portion of a book I've read entitled "The Relationship Principles of Jesus" by Tom Holladay, I hope with the excerpt from the first chapter you'll be able to grab some insights to realize or ponder, and think of love and inspiration and blessing, and even miracles...
"Relationships are painful. Relationships are wonderful. We all live in the drama that plays out between two truths. 
I think of Neal and Robin when I think of the drama of relationships. Married for only a few years, their life together had started strong. And then, with a suddenness that tore their world apart, Robin suffered a brain hemorrhage. As I sat with Neal in the waiting room on the night it happened, we heard the doctor seak in hushed tones about high-risk surgery and low odds of success. Even if Robin were to survive the surgery, she would likely be in semiconcious state for the rest of her life. Neal's immediate response was simple faith and sacrificial love. He believed that God had a plan even in this dire circumstance, and Neal was committed to love Robin, no matter what it would take.
Robin survived the surgery, and Neal kept his commitment to love. Day after day, he sat with Robin and spoke to her and nurtured her. Little by little, he loved her to unexpected restoration. Robin learned to speak haltingly and began to be able to use her hands and arms again. She has even taken a few victorious steps on her own. Almost every weekend at church, there they are - Neal, a shining example of overcoming love, and Robin, a powerful example of overwhelming courage and faith. Robin sometimes wonders just what she can accomplish for God in a wheelchair. The truth is, she speaks a life-changing sermon on the power of love by her mere presence. Those who have been involved in Robin's care see her life as a miracle. The greatest miracle, they say, isn't the healing (they've seen bodies healed before) but in the love. This is the love of a couple who made the choice to continue to love, even in the most crushing of circumstances - Neal having chosen to practice sacrificial love in a marriage that wasn't close to what he and Robin had dreamed it would be, and Robin having chosen to accept and return Neal's love rather than allowing her own hurt to push him away.
Relationships are filled with both wonder and pain. When I think of the pain of relationships, literally hundreds of pictures flood into my mind from my thirty years as a pastor:
-a couple on the verge of a divorce neither one wants yet both are choosing.
-parents who can't get through to their child, no matter how much time, money , and heartache they invest
-a son whose dad has treated him with cruel contempt of abuse
-a friend whose feeling of betrayal is so deep that she never wants to trust anyone again
When I consider the wonder of relationships, I am equally overwhelmed:
-a marriage no one thought could be restored - but it was 
-friendships in a small group that have become the bedrock of life
-a family that would surely fall apart when the pressure of an illness hit - and yet they all came together in the most amazing way
When Jesus came to this earth, he demonstrated that he understands both the wonder and pain of your relationships. He experienced them both. He came to begin a new relationship with you - a relationship that will strengthen all your relationships. Jesus came to show you how to enjoy a new way of relating to God and to others.
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I will continue to share some portions of the book while I learn from my readings. If you want to keep learning with me, subscribe to this blog. 

Now I am sharing a portion of Wayne Cordeiro's intro to "Attitudes that Attract Success" he said...
I love to watch people, specially successful people - people who are successful in business, relationships and finances. And I have to learned there is a reason they're successful. Success doesn't happen by accident; people don't stumble onto it by mistake. There are solid reasons why these men and women are successful, and they leave clues behind for us to observe and collect - if we will look for them. A willing student of life will examine these clues and learn that anyone can develop an attitude that attracts success!
One of my favorite pastimes while attending college in Portland, Oregon, involved going to the airport and finding a nice bench adjacent to one hour or two, I would watch people.
I know what you may be thinking, that I am a bit off-kilter. Maybe you're right. Nevertheless, that's what I did. Before you write me off, however, stay with me a moment longer.
I would see a businessman hurrying on his way to an important appointment. I would observe how he was dressed, his mannerisms, the speed with which he walked, the way he would countenance. Did he carry on his face a look of anxiety, joy, or despair or concern?
Then I would spot a young mother carrying a child from one terminal to another, I would try to discern what kind of a person she was. Was she secure or fearful? What kind of day was she having? Was she successful? Was there peace in her heart or was there worry?
I watched students, workers, airport officials and others as they walked to and fro in the concourse. I observed the way they stood, sat, walked and communicated with one another. I watched the focus of their eyes when in conversation. I observed how they greet friends or family members who had to pick them up. And I pondered what it was that made one person successful and another not. What made one life happy and fille with joy, while another seemed empty and hollow?
Each of the lives had a story behind it - a story of struggle or success, of abandon or hope, of pessimism or promise.
Through the years, I have collected and catalogued scores of observations of failure and success. I have attempted to distill the principles I learned and record them for other students of life, like yourself.
Never stop learning. Make it a lifelong goal. Discover new truths and insights that will awaken your spirit. New horizons will help you to look ahead and focus on your potential rather than on your problems, on your future rather than on your failures.
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I will continue sharing the atttitudes in the next post, if you also want to continue learning with me you can subscribe on this blog. Thanks!