Monday, March 2, 2015

“Your perception of and response to your mistakes determine whether your actions are failures.”

A thought by John C. Maxwell (2000-03-08) from his book, Failing Forward: How to Makethe Most of Your Mistakes (p. 15). Thomas Nelson. Kindle Edition.

I read this book back in 2008 when it came out and found it very beneficial and practical then picked it up again and found it to be the same in 2015.  Mistakes can be enemies for us in so many ways but they also can be very close friends.  It is all in our perspective and response to them.

John says, “You are the only person who can really label what you do a failure.”  And that makes the difference in whether it is your friend or your enemy. 

John says, “According to Tulane University business professor Lisa Amos, the average for entrepreneurs is 3.8 failures before they finally make it in business. They are not deterred by problems, mistakes, or errors. Why? Because they don't see setbacks as failures. They recognize that three steps forward and two steps back still equals one step forward. And as a result, they overcome the average and become achievers.”

Margaret and I have been married for 40 years, 37 great ones and three bad ones.  Those three bad ones were because I went through what I call my jerk time.  I lived totally for myself.  Now in those years we could have bailed on our marriage and many people do during those times.  But I’m glad Margaret didn’t do that. 

One of the areas that I was totally unreasonable in was that Margaret wanted to go back to school to become an RN.  She wasn’t sure where I was headed and she wanted to be prepared.  I didn’t want her to go to school, I wanted her to work.  Now that time had all the marks of failure and for sure deep mistakes on my part but God used it to mature us and to finally bring us closer together.  We just had to go through that tunnel of chaos.

Because of that time God used it to help us in our ministry to hurting people.  We could say to people, we understand what you’re going through and don’t give up.  Use the tough time to make your marriage stronger.  She truly is my best friend today.

Something else that came out of that was how God has used the fact that Margaret stuck with her being an RN and that has brought her now to being an Assistant Vice President of the QI Department in a health insurance company and making a difference in so many lives. 

And God wants to do the same things in the mistakes of your life.  He wants to use them to make a difference.

So what is your perception and response going to be?

Friday, February 27, 2015

“Feelings are, with a few exceptions, good servants. But they are disastrous masters.”

A thought by Dallas Willard (2014-02-01) from his book, Renovation of the Heart: PuttingOn the Character of Christ (p. 122). NavPress. Kindle Edition. (Click on the title to go to to buy the book.)

And so many in this day have let our feeling be our masters.  What do I feel like eating?  What do I feel like doing?  I feel like they slighted me.  I don’t feel like going to church today.  I don’t feel like doing what is right.  I just don’t feel like it.  Our feelings too many times have become our masters and that can be disastrous.

This is so important to realize.  Dallas says, “In a situation such as today, by contrast, where people constantly have— or think they have— to decide what to do, they will almost invariably be governed by feelings. Often they cannot distinguish between their feelings and their will, and in their confusion they also quite commonly take feelings to be reasons. And they will in general lack any significant degree of self-control. This will turn their life into a mere drift through the days and years, which addictive behavior promises to allow them to endure.”

He continues, “Self-control is the steady capacity to direct yourself to accomplish what you have chosen or decided to do and be, even though you ‘don’t feel like it.’ Self-control means that you, with steady hand, do what you don’t want to do (or what you want not to) when that is needed and do not do what you want to do (what you ‘feel like’ doing) when that is needed. In people without rock-solid character, feeling is a deadly enemy of self-control and will always subvert it. The mongoose of a disciplined will under God and good is the only match for the cobra of feeling.”

Did I really feel like walking yesterday?  No but I wanted to be healthy and not an invalid so I walked.  Did I feel like having a scone today?  Yes.  Did I have one?  No.  What I really wanted was greater than what I felt like having so self-control set in over my feeling.    

“Feelings are, with a few exceptions, good servants. But they are disastrous masters.”

So are your feelings your master or a servant?

Thursday, February 26, 2015

“You cannot choose conditions and reject the consequences.”

A thought by Dallas Willard (2014-02-01) from his book, Renovation of the Heart: PuttingOn the Character of Christ (p. 111). NavPress. Kindle Edition. (Click on the title to go to to buy the book.)

This is such an important principle for us to come to really understand.

Dallas says, “Our present American culture boasts of complete freedom in what one sees, says, and hears. Many professing Christians are paralyzed or even destroyed by adopting this ‘freedom’ as a lifestyle. For they allow images into their mind that eventually overwhelm them. If we allow everything access to our mind, we are simply asking to be kept in a state of mental turmoil or bondage. For nothing enters the mind without having an effect for good or evil. You may say, ‘I want to be open to think of anything, imagine anything, have all feelings, see everything. What do you think freedom of thought is all about? This is America!’ Well, then you must take the consequences.”

It is imperative to take control as much as we can of the images that we allow into our minds.  Now I’m not one that wants to go back to the days of no television.  I remember my dad talking about the first time he saw a TV.  I also remember the first time I got on the internet.  It is unbelievable what is on here.  It opens up a whole new world of freedom but we need to be in control of this freedom not it in control of us. 

Dallas goes on to say, “Images, in particular, are motivational far beyond our conscious mind, and they are not under rational control. We must take care that we are nourished constantly on good and godly ones, without necessarily being able to see and say what is wrong with the others. ‘What is wrong’ with them well may be something we cannot bring before our consciousness, but which works in the depths of our soul and body as an instrument of forces beyond ourselves.”

As Paul says in Philippians 4:8-9 (Msg), “Summing it all up, friends, I’d say you’ll do best by filling your minds and meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious—the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse. Put into practice what you learned from me, what you heard and saw and realized. Do that, and God, who makes everything work together, will work you into his most excellent harmonies.”

So what images do you want to control you?

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

“Without correct information, our ability to think has nothing to work on.”

A thought by Dallas Willard (2014-02-01) from his book, Renovation of the Heart: PuttingOn the Character of Christ (p. 103). NavPress. Kindle Edition. (Click on the title to go to to buy the book.)

There are many different reasons why I believe God has given me the opportunity and challenge to write this particular blog.  One of them is to expose you to information from difference sources to help you learn and grow in your life.  As the writer of Proverbs says in chapter 11 verse 14 (Msg), “Without good direction, people lose their way; the more wise counsel you follow, the better your chances.”

Of course the Bible is the place we start, but then there are other writers who give us so much to learn from.  I want to expose you to them.

As Dallas says, “Lack of information results in everything from unpleasant burdens to stark tragedies, across the entire range of human life. Not knowing about resources at a public library or on the Internet may mean that a scholar or writer or other professional person is deprived of needed materials or at least must obtain them at considerable effort or personal expense. In the past, doctors with unwashed hands unwittingly carried deadly germs, which caused the deaths of hundreds of thousands of women from ‘child-bed fever.’ Failure to know what God is really like and what his law requires destroys the soul, ruins society, and leaves people to eternal ruin: ‘My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge’ (Hosea 4: 6, NRSV), and ‘A people without understanding comes to ruin’ (4: 14, NRSV). This is the tragic condition of Western culture today, which has put away the information about God that God himself has made available. Accordingly, the first task of Jesus in his earthly ministry was to proclaim God: to inform those around him of the availability of eternal life from God through himself.”

I find it so interesting how people live life totally on what they think without any impute from any other source.  They don’t talk to people to learn, they don’t read, especially Christians who don’t read the Bible and Godly writers, they don’t search for information, they just think they know all they need to know.  But there is so much other information and knowledge that God wants to give us to stretch us, to use us, to mature us to help us to live the tremendous life he has for us.

There is so much out there to help us in living the abundant life.  So if you want to read more from Dallas Willard just click on the title of this book and it will take you to where you can buy it.  You can also buy a Bible there if you need one.

So what are you reading that gives you something to think about and to help you grow?

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

“Images increase the danger of inadequate ideas.”

A thought by Dallas Willard (2014-02-01) from his book, Renovation of the Heart: PuttingOn the Character of Christ (p. 100). NavPress. Kindle Edition. (Click on the title to go to to buy the book.)

Does that make sense to you?  Here is what Dallas says, “The image one has of oneself, for example, can override everything else and cause one to act in ways contrary to all reality and good sense. Those who have been rejected or abused as children or have lived with addicted or ‘cold’ parents, have distorted images of themselves and of ‘reality.’”

He then goes on and says, “Individuals who suffer from a poor image of themselves are caught up in self-rejection and have no defenses against group pressures. They do not see themselves as the objects of God’s love, and they have no place to make a stand.”

He then quotes, Henri Nouwen who noted, “Success, popularity and power can indeed present a great temptation, but their seductive quality often comes from the way they are part of a much larger temptation of self-rejection. We have come to believe in the voices that call us worthless and unlovable, then success, popularity and power are easily perceived as attractive solutions.”  We accept it as a fact that we deserve to be pushed aside and rejected. We see ourselves that way. “Self-rejection,” Nouwen continued, “is the greatest enemy of the spiritual life because it contradicts the sacred voice that calls us the ‘Beloved.’ Being the Beloved constitutes the core truth of our existence.”

I love what the Psalmist says in Psalm 139:13-14 (NLT), “You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body and knit me together in my mother’s womb. Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex!  Your workmanship is marvelous—how well I know it.”  And then he says in verse 17, “How precious are your thoughts about me, O God.  They cannot be numbered!”

The key is what is your image of God and what do you see is his image of you.  As Dallas says, “The person and gospel of Jesus Christ— building on simple ‘Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so’— is the only complete answer to the false and destructive images and ideas that control the life of those away from God. The process of spiritual formation in Christ is one of progressively replacing those destructive images and ideas with the images and ideas that filled the mind of Jesus himself. We thereby come increasingly to see ‘the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God’ (2 Corinthians 4: 4, NRSV).”

So where did you get your image of who you are?  Do you want to change it?

Monday, February 23, 2015

“Our ability to plan for the future must constantly run ahead of reality.”

A thought by Dallas Willard (2014-02-01) from his book, Renovation of the Heart: PuttingOn the Character of Christ (p. 96). NavPress. Kindle Edition. (Click on the title to go to to buy the book.)

I had put down on my Facebook this morning this thought, “Here it is, another new day, new week, new adventure with new challenges and new posts to write. I've never lived this week but I face it with confidence and enthusiasm. I can face it because God is out ahead preparing the way.”  But there are so many realists out there who face their week with fear and discouragement instead of confidence and excitement.  And both of those ideas start as thoughts within our mind.

Dallas says, “A will that runs ahead depends, of course, upon our abilities to think; and what we think, imagine, believe, or guess sets boundaries to what we can will or choose, and therefore to what we can create.”

Now what boundaries have you set for your week?  So many negative thinkers will set major boundaries with the excuse that they are realists.  But what is real to them is set about by what they put into their minds and what they see.

What about what Paul said in his thoughts to his friends from Philippi, “Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.” (Philippians 4:8 NLT)  He was not talking about being a realist there.  You see he was in prison. And then he said, “For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength.” (Philippians 4:13 (NLT)

Please break out of the boundaries that you have set by running ahead of reality. 

So what can you do through Christ who will give you strength?

Friday, February 20, 2015

“Our thoughts are one of the most basic sources of our life.”

A thought by Dallas Willard (2014-02-01) from his book, Renovation of the Heart: PuttingOn the Character of Christ (p. 96). NavPress. Kindle Edition. (Click on the title to go to to buy the book.)

Dallas continues, “They determine the orientation of everything we do and evoke the feelings that frame our world and motivate our actions. Interestingly, you can’t evoke thoughts by feeling a certain way, but you can evoke and to some degree control feelings by directing your thoughts. Our power over our thoughts is of great and indispensable assistance in directing and controlling our feelings, which themselves are not directly under the guidance of our will. We cannot just choose our feelings.”

I have been looking for something all morning.  I still haven’t found it but my feelings about what will happen if I can’t find it have been out of control and they have messed up to some extent my day.  I even have had a problem with setting down and focusing on finding a thought to write on here today.  But finally I took control of my thoughts about the lost item and thus my feelings to the point that I am now writing.  As Dallas said, “Our power over our thoughts is of great and indispensable assistance in directing and controlling our feelings.”

One of the main reasons I read first thing in the morning a portion of Scripture in to put God’s Word into my mind.  And that goes a long way in making each and every day a productive day.  

This morning I read from Paul’s letter to his friends in Thessalonica and he told them, “Yes, you are our pride and joy.”  And I just realized after I was putting myself down for losing something important and in turn not being able to write something that will make a difference in your day that God started my day by saying to me, “Yes, you are our pride and joy.”  Even though I mess up I am important to him and that has freed me from the worry and self-condemnation and lifted me to another day of productivity and joy.

So what thoughts do you have to start your day?