If I Can Do It, You Can Too!

Do you ever wonder if you actually have what it takes to (fill in the blank)? I know I do, scared-boy1and it’s happened more than I’d care to admit in my fifty-plus years. At times I feel like I’m just a scared little boy hoping his mommy or daddy will come to his rescue. Feeling this way drives me nuts, especially when I’m called upon to either; one, know what to do, or two, need to have the right words to say in any given situation. But I’ve learned whenever I’m feeling inadequate or stress is trying to eat me up, to turn to the truth of God’s Word and things always turn out for my good.

Now don’t misunderstand what I’m saying here. I didn’t say my problems magically disappear leaving me with nothing but sunshine and rainbows. No. Often I find myself in a maelstrom, my emotions swirling in numerous directions all at once. It’s in these times I remind myself of the words Jesus said in John 16:33.

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

What I’ve learned is, if I stay “in Jesus”, then I too will overcome the world. Notice He didn’t promise to take the problem away, He said you would just overcome it. Sometimes we have to go through the challenges of life in order to find the victory on the other side.

At the time of this writing, I am almost fifty-four years old. And in all those years I’ve had plenty of opportunities to live out this overcoming type of life; some of the storms I’ve been in were easier to weather than others, but regardless of their intensity God has always seen me through and been faithful to His Word. I won’t say those times were comfortable, because they weren’t, but they were useful in making me the man I am today.

I can honestly say without God’s Word to guide me through this life, I wouldn’t have made it through many of the things I’ve been forced to endure. The truth is, I want to share my life and experiences with you in an effort to help you see how you can overcome in life too. God is no respecter of persons, meaning simply, He doesn’t like one person more than another, and what He has done for me, He will do for you too. But let me say it doesn’t just happen because we want it to, we have to do the work so to speak. What I mean is God’s Word works, but only for the person who is actively seeking God and being what the Bible calls a “doer of the Word”.

This life is yours, if you want it. But you have to be willing to follow what God says in His Word. And you can do it too, all you have to do is begin reading the book. And in this day and age, reading God’s Word is easier than ever. With the current technology, you can have at your fingertips (literally) more translations of the Bible than ever before. Youversion phoneDownload the YouVersion app here for your smart phone and you will be amazed at how many versions you will have access to; everything from the easy to read translation to the hardcore study bible scholars prefer. And even if you really don’t like to read, there are several translations which have audio included and they will read it to you.

The bottom line here, or the take away if you will, is if you want the life Jesus talked about in John 16:33 you are going to have to put in the time and effort to learn what His Word says. The Bible is like an instruction manual, it tells us how our lives should be lived. Sure we can figure out some of this life without the manual, but if we want to truly experience all the benefits, we will need a little more instruction. Join me in the coming weeks as we take this journey together and I share how I’ve overcome some of the biggest obstacles in my life, with the help of God and His Word. And in the process it is my hope you will find out that you can do it too!

Living in a story much larger than my own…

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Who Changes Your Mind?

“I should’ve done more!”  “I could’ve done more!” “What could I have done to make them change?”  “I should’ve said more!”  “I should’ve loved more!”  

These are all thoughts which have run through my mind at one time or another when it came to situations I’ve had in my relationships with people. These thoughts usually come during a time where things aren’t going the way I think they should, or had hoped they would. For many years I tried, (unsuccessfully I might add) to get people around me to see the error of their ways by trying to get them to live by my convictions. It took several years, and many arguments for me to realize the impossibility of this.

I really came to understand this when people would try to get me to make changes in my own life by telling me what I needed to do. I found it very aggravating when they didn’t agree with things I felt were okay in my life, and would try to force me to change. They were never able to get me to see their convictions as my own, and consequently I came to the realization I couldn’t change anyone else’s convictions either. This was one of the most freeing in days of my life too. It meant I no longer had to try and police the lives of those around me, and was finally able to focus on my life and what I was doing.

In James 4:17 it says, “Remember, it is sin to know what you ought to do and then not do it.” Look closer at what it says here, it is sin to know what YOU ought to do and then not do it. James is not telling us to pay attention to what others are doing, he is telling us to focus on what we ought to be doing. This is where I was missing it, and where so many other people miss it too. God never called anyone to point out the mistakes or missteps of others. He called us to follow Him and to work out our own salvation with fear and trembling. (Philippians 2:12) In plain english this means God wants you to focus on your own walk with Him and not so much the walk of others.

I don’t mean God wants you to ignore the lives of the people around you. He wants you to be a positive influence on everyone you meet, He just doesn’t need you pointing out everything they do wrong. One of the things I’ve learned in 53 years is I already know when I’m doing something wrong and really don’t need it pointed out. Most of the time, I’m already beating myself up about it anyway. The thing which helps me the most, is seeing someone live out what I’m struggling with in a positive way. When I see someone else overcoming whatever thing I’m struggling with, then I know there is hope for me as well.

Truthfully when someone points out what I’m doing wrong and tells me about it, I just want to scream, “Don’t tell me!” like Arthur Spooner from the sitcom King of Queens. I’m sure it’s the same with you too, none of us like to be told what to do. I’ve found out if I’ll spend more time on what I’m supposed to be doing in my life and stop telling others what to do with theirs, things become much simpler. And as the old acronym K.I.S.S. says; “Keep It Simple Stupid”.

Let’s stop pointing out the things other people can do to change their lives, and work on our own. Because I believe when we get our house in order and follow the Lord the way He wants us to, it will cause those around us to do what it is says in 1 Peter 3:15;

“But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect.”

Living for Jesus with an honest and transparent life…

For I Am Costanza…Lord of the Idiots

My best friend Terry and I shared a love for the television show Seinfeld. We spent many years quoting lines from this hilarious sitcom and even would call or text each other on every occasion we were able to live out a moment from the show. (Finding a Kenny Roger’s Roasters in Manila was a highlight for both of us.)

One of the more memorable and funny episodes is called The Apartment, and in it George Constanza is wearing a wedding ring in a social experiment to try and get dates with more women. Towards the end after having his plan backfire, he makes the statement, “For I am Constanza, lord of the idiots.” It makes me laugh even as I’m writing it now. I have picked up this line and use it whenever I’ve had an idiotic moment in my own life; something which happens more often than I actually care to admit.

In my fifty-three years of life on this planet, I have had plenty of opportunities to play the idiot, as I’m sure we all have. There are times however when I feel I’m actually setting the bar for idiots everywhere to be judged by. But during the times of my lunacy I don’t think this way, it’s usually after the fact. And once this realization hits me, I really feel dumb. Those are the times where I want to crawl under a rock and hide, it can be so embarrassing.

This past week at work I had a couple of extremely difficult days and a Constanza moment raised its ugly head. It was so bad one day I actually thought about fleeing; just going to my truck and leaving without saying a word to anyone. In my entire adult life I’ve never wanted to run away from anything and this shocked me. Thank God it did, because it was this shock which woke me up from my lunacy and got me to asking what was really going on my life.

These Constanza moments come to me whenever I perceive things are not going my way. It’s like my default button is to act like a fool whenever things are not going the way I want them to. Yes I realize this sounds horrible, but truth is truth, and as they say, the first step in fixing a problem is realizing you actually have one. The man who is not self-aware is the man who really has a problem. I realized the issues I’ve been having and have begun to rectify them, making the necessary changes towards becoming a better man, which will be another blog altogether.

What I want you to realize today is you’re not alone, there are millions of us out there. And just like in the Seinfeld episode as George is confessing his idiocy to Jerry, a lady in the background starts yelling out the window to the runners, “You’re all winners!” to which George says, “But suddenly a new contender has emerged.”

 

 

 

 

Lies, Lies, Everywhere Lies

One time I lied about my son to my wife.  I told her he was being disruptive and causing problems with the customers in my shoe store and he needed to go home with her.  He was just a little boy at the time, probably five or six, and the look on his face as I stood there and lied about what he was doing was a mixture of shock and disappointment.  Not to mention the fact his mother got very upset with him for doing the supposed things I had said he’d done. It was not one of my best days as a dad.

Lies.  We’ve all told them; either to get out of trouble, to save someone’s feelings or just to get past some uncomfortable situation in our lives.  And if you say you’ve never told a lie, well you just did.

No one is immune from being put into a position to tell a lie, but it’s like the old saying goes, “You may not be able to keep a bird from flying over your head, but you can sure keep him from building a nest.” It’s  what we do in these situations which makes the difference.

Remember the story of Pinocchio?  The little wooden puppet who came to life in the workshop of Geppetto, and every time he would tell a lie his nose would grow.  Wouldn’t this be awesome if this happened in real life too?  There would be no guessing who was lying to us, not to mention it would be a great deterrent to keep us from telling lies as well.  But alas, this is not the case; so it falls to us to use self control and discipline instead.

Lying seems to have become the norm in our society.  It seems I expect to hear lies than truth any more. Or at the very least I’ve come to expect that I will have to weed out the lies in order to actually find the truth; which is exhausting.

It’s uncomfortable to tell the truth though isn’t it?  For example say your friend is learning to play the banjo. They’ve been at it for a year or so, and you know they are not really getting any better, but when asked by them how their latest song sounds, you reply, “Hey, that sounds great!  When are you going to produce a CD?”  What will they take a way from your words? They will believe they sound better, when in all reality they aren’t.

Yeah Dave, but I don’t want to hurt their feelings, it’s easier just to tell a little white lie. I understand, I wouldn’t eant to hurt their feelings either, but by telling them they sound really good don’t you think maybe it will hurt them in the long run?  

The Bible encourages us to speak the truth in love.  Perhaps instead of lying, you could say something like this, “You know, that song needs a little work, but keep at it, you are sounding better than you did a couple of months ago.”

Constructive criticism can seem hurtful if you let it, but it really is a good thing if you’ll let it be. I remember a few years back asking a friend to read through and help me edit a book I was writing.  When I sent it to her, I felt as if I had written the next best seller. 

 When she replied a few days later with her critiques I was devastated.  I thought, “She doesn’t know what she’s talking about.”  But after a few days, I re-read her comments and looked at them objectively and I realized she was right and made the changes. Her truthful comments made my book so much better.

The bottom line is we should never lie, because it goes against everything a man should stand for.  If you are honest at the core of who you are, people will notice and then you can and will make the difference in this life you are destined to. You’ve got what it takes to do this, so stop telling lies and begin cultivating honesty in your life and see what happens. You may be surprised by the reactions.

Now you know what I think, what do you think?

 

 

 

 

 

Say What You Mean, Do What You Say

My oldest son and I were driving somewhere together one day when he was in his teenage years.  He was pestering me, just being a teenage boy when I said to him, “Micah you better stop it or I’m going to punch you in the face.”

He replied laughing, “Oh dad, come on, you know you’re not going to punch me in the face.” and he went back to pestering me.

About ten minutes passed when I reached over and lightly punched him in the jaw.  “Hey! You hit me! Why’d you do that for?”

“Because you said I’d never do that.”

Suffice it to say the pestering stopped. (At least for the remainder of the ride anyway.)

One of the worst things you can do as a man is to say one thing and then do another. While I don’t advocate punching your kids in the face, this one time I had to get a point across to my son, and be a man of my word.  Too often we tell people we’re going to do something and then it never happens.  Is it any wonder our world is such a mess?

What are we teaching our children when we do this?  We perpetuate this idea of saying one thing and doing another as the norm.  When my children were living under my roof, I really made an effort to do what I had told them I’d do.  If I said we were going to do something, I made every effort to make sure I could honor my word and do it.

My children did hear the phrase, “We’ll see.” in answer to most of their questions about doing something.  It got to the point where when I said that, they would roll their eyes and say, “That means we’re not going to do it then.

Think about it for a minute, if you tell your kids you’re going to do something then don’t, they learn it’s not important to do what they say from the most important person in their life.  In turn, they begin saying one thing and doing another; and the circle just keeps spinning and spinning; people never doing what they say.

Basically not keeping your word means you’re a liar.  Yes, you heard me correctly.  Every time you say you’re going to do something and don’t, you lied. Obviously being a liar isn’t as bad a thing in the eyes of the world like it used to be; after all we see it in politics all the time.  It’s almost as if lies have become the norm, and telling the truth is weird.

Be a man of your word regardless of how difficult it may be. If you tell someone you’re going to do something, then do it.  It’s up to us as men to make the changes in our own personal lives first and if enough of us do it, then we’ll begin to see change in our society and watch as things get back to the way they always should’ve been.

Now you know what I think, what do you think?

 

 

Truth and Honesty; You’re Not a Man Without Them

I’d like to start this out with a confession; I am not a perfect man and I have told more than my share of lies in my life.  I’m not proud of this fact; but to act as if I’d never done this and then write about it would make me the true definition of a hypocrite. Having admitted this however, I believe it gives me the right to discuss lies and honesty among men today.

Have you ever been lied to?  How’d it make you feel? Betrayed, cheated, maybe like you don’t matter at all to the person lying?  There is a whole range of emotions tied together with lying and being honest.

What gets me is when a man lies just to save himself a little bit of grief.  Let’s say for instance you make a mistake at work, you get called on it and instead of facing up to it and taking the responsibility for your actions; you pass the buck, or try to divert the attention away from you and onto someone else.

When you do this, how do you think it makes the person being thrown under the bus feel?  I can tell you from personal experience it makes me fighting mad.  I would have more respect for the man who fesses up and takes the responsibility over the jack wang who doesn’t.

Let me bottom line this for you; if you’re a man, don’t tell lies and always be honest.  It’s really a pretty simple way of life.  The bad thing about lying is you lose all credibility with the person you’ve lied to.  Trust can be regained, but it may take months or years.

Most of the times I’ve been lied to, it’s been because the person lying didn’t care about me as a person; therefore it was easy to lie to me. The problem with this is when I found out I was being lied to, it didn’t make me want to pursue any type of relationship with them either.

I think we should all adopt the “do unto others what you would have them do unto you” way of life.  Perhaps if we spent more time focusing on others and not just ourselves lying would cease to exist.  I can dream, right?

As I said at the beginning, I’m not perfect at this; I’ve told my share of whoppers in my 52 years, but this doesn’t mean I’ve given up.  I’m presented with opportunities to lie just like everyone is, the only difference is I’ve made the decision I wouldn’t lie anymore.

Since making this decision, it has been difficult at times.  Just because you decide to make a change in your life, don’t think everything will be perfect overnight.  It won’t, you’ll be tested until you pass the test. But let me tell you the rewards are amazing and worth all the effort.

Listen men, if you’re in the habit of lying to save yourself a little grief, why not change, and instead of telling lies, grow a set and act like a real man and stop the lies and be honest with everyone.

Now you know what I think, let me know what you think.