How to Revitalize Your Life!

The other day I noticed a flowering hedge next to my house that was looking sort of sickly. My wife also noticed and took a few minutes to prune away the dead flowers and leaves that were just hanging on. It wasn’t long until that hedge was flourishing with bright, beautiful and healthy flowers. It was totally revitalized!

If you’re anything like me, you often find yourself in a season of life that seems as if you’re just standing still – making no progress – being unproductive. You could say that you’re simply not being fruitful. You don’t know how you got here, but you’re here. One minute everything was good and the next minute you suddenly realized your energy is zapped and your mind is in a fog. Two questions come to mind; how did I get here and how do I get out?

1. Practice The Principle of Pruning

First, you’ve allowed yourself to take on more than you can maintain. Like the flowering hedge, you have too many things in your life hanging around that are zapping your time and energy, but are not adding value to your life. Maybe it’s trying to please the wrong people, doing too many projects, planning too much activity, or never saying no. In order to flourish again, you need to prune (cut the unnecessary things out of your life). The principle of pruning says that when you cut away the unnecessary out of your life, your energy and passion can be redirected to those things that really matter, thereby restoring you to fruitful living!

The Bible says…

John 15:2 (ESV)
2  Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit.

So, evaluate your life. What is necessary and fruitful and what seems to be hanging around sucking the life out of you? Keep what you need and prune away everything that is stealing substance from you.

2. Stay Connected to Jesus

The second thing that has happened, most likely as a result of number one above, is that you’ve become disconnected from Jesus, the true source of life and fruitfulness. When we allow the busy-ness of life to steal us away from time with Jesus and his word, we find ourselves being unfruitful. Here’s why…

John 15:4 (ESV)
4  Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me.

If you are a Christian and you don’t have time for prayer and reading the word of God, you simply have too much going on. Again, evaluate what needs to go and prune. Then, put Jesus back into your life consistently because apart from him you can do nothing.

I believe if you will live by these two principles, the fog will clear, you will find fresh energy and joy, and your life will suddenly be revitalized.

Keep REACHING FORWARD for God’s best in your life today! Highest blessings!

Comments welcome and encouraged!

 

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Cultivating a Valentine’s Day Heart!

heartAs Valentine’s Day approaches there’s love in the air, so to speak. People are focused on how they are going to show love to that special someone in their lives. A person’s heart is usually oriented toward being kind, thoughtful and loving on this specific day of the year. However, true love is realized when we develop a heart that is oriented toward that special someone throughout the year not just on Valentine’s Day or birthdays. I was thinking, wouldn’t it really be special if we cultivated a Valentine’s Day heart every day so that we live our lives heart first toward those we love. Here are a few tips for those who desire to live every day with a Valentine’s Day heart.

1. Be quick to forgive.

Ephesians 4:32 says “Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.” People who cultivate a Valentine’s Day heart are quick to forgive. While some things are very difficult to forgive and require a process, most of us hold on to grudges that keep us on edge and not very loving. The best tip to cultivate a heart that is quick to forgive is to pray for those who are close to you daily, especially those who have wronged you. Prayer softens the heart and allows God access to those hidden places in the heart that need healing. There is great freedom in living a grudge-free life!

2. Practice a grateful heart.

First Thessalonians 5:18 says “Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” People who develop a grateful heart are some of the most content people I know. Most people live with a sense of discontentment underneath the surface because of something we don’t have or something we have yet to accomplish. Find something everyday to be grateful for – and start with those people in your life that are important to you. After all, a Valentine’s Day heart is really about saying thank you for being you and sharing your life with me. The real blessings in life are those people we enjoy life with every day. Be grateful for them.

3. Be teachable.

Proverbs 13:18 says “Poverty and disgrace come to him who ignores instruction, but whoever heeds reproof is honored.” The first problem with being teachable is that we feel like we have to qualify the person through whom the correction comes. It’s like we stay stuck in the adolescent mindset that people without the proper “authority” are not allowed to speak into our lives. However, people who are teachable develop a heart that hears the Lord through others and takes heed to instruction. It’s not about who does the correcting; it’s about acknowledging we’re not perfect but being willing to grow. This is the kind of heart that communicates love and mutual respect for one another.

The best Valentine’s Day gift we can give our special someone is a Valentine’s Day heart every day of the year!

Keep REACHING FORWARD for God’s best in your life!

Comments welcome!

How to overcome a dissatisfied life.

In spite of all the promises, satisfaction is never a guarantee. The reality is no one can offer you true satisfaction. They might ensure you get what you bargain for, but they cannot guarantee satisfaction. I talk to people regularly who are simply dissatisfied with their lives. Their job is not the right environment or doesn’t pay enough; their marriage is on the rocks; their finances are not where they should be; they don’t have enough friends in their lives; they are dissatisfied with the way they look; and I could go on but I think you get the picture.

 

Why are we so dissatisfied?

Why are Americans so dissatisfied with life while living in the most prosperous country in the world? I think one reason is that we are bombarded by promises of satisfaction. We live under the illusion that we are always supposed to be satisfied and “happy”, so we live our lives with that expectation. Drastic decisions are made in search of satisfaction. People go in debt for possessions, divorce their spouse, quit their jobs, change churches, or spend a fortune on the latest fad or electronic gadget because they think it will bring them satisfaction. The marketing community does a fantastic job at selling us satisfaction. Most advertisements we see convince us that we deserve and can expect satisfaction and their product is the answer.

Most Christians (hopefully all), will tell you that true satisfaction can only come from having a personal relationship with Jesus Christ and they would be correct. If that’s the case, why are so many Christians as well as non-Christians living defeated, dissatisfied lives? I think aside from the obvious fact that we all need to grow in our relationship with Christ and find contentment in living our lives in close fellowship with the Holy Spirit, there is a heart condition that is plaguing our society resulting in the dis-ease of dissatisfaction; the condition of ungratefulness.

Living a satisfied life comes from cultivating a grateful heart.

First Thessalonians 5:18 says “in everything give thanks, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” Melody Beattie said “Gratefulness unlocks the fullness of life.” Gratefulness is appreciating what you do have with the understanding that without it your life would be less. Living under the illusion that your life will be better when you obtain something you don’t already have is a trap that keeps you locked in a world of dissatisfaction. Once we begin to develop a heart of gratefulness we are empowered to live life to it’s fullness with God.  Here are some tips on developing a grateful heart.

1. Change your expectations. Don’t go through life expecting to have the perfect job, perfect house, perfect spouse, perfect body, perfect bank account or perfect friends. Unrealistic expectations will always lead to dissatisfaction. To expect something better than what you already have is to reject what you do have. The feeling of dissatisfaction comes from rejecting who you are or what you have. Embrace your life and live it to its fullest while partnering with God for his best in every area. In other words, work on making the old better rather than throwing out the old for something new. The new will eventually become old and you’ll repeat the same pattern.

2. Practice gratefulness daily. Pray and thank God for everything and everyone in your life. Thank God that he is at work on your behalf and that all things will work together for your good. Thank God for your job. Thank God for your house. Thank God you have a car to drive. Thank God you have food in your belly today. Thank God you have clothes on your back. Tell your spouse how much you appreciate him/her and how thankful you are for him/her. Start practicing gratefulness and you will begin to develop a heart that sees the good in your life.

3. Seek purpose in life, not possessions. The most meaningful aspects of life come from our contribution to others rather than from what we have. The most satisfying life you can live is to serve others and add value to their lives. The things we have only bring momentary pleasures until the new wears off. Then the search begins for something new yet again. However, impacting someone else in a positive way has lasting value. It not only fulfills a great sense of purpose in you, but it leaves a mark on the world that only you can leave. Start with your family and go from there.

Keep REACHING FORWARD for God’s best in your life. It doesn’t come from the external, but the internal abiding of God’s presence. And be grateful!

Comments welcome.

 

How to find consistent satisfaction in life.

Most people’s lives are pretty much the same day after day barring a life-altering event such as marriage, divorce, a new job, moving to a new location, and so on. For most of us, however, today is not much different than yesterday. Nevertheless, one day we’re excited about life and ready to conquer the world and the next day we don’t even want to get out of bed. Many of us go through life in sort of an ebb and flow between satisfaction and dissatisfaction. Our lives are inconsistent when it comes to satisfaction, which causes us to seek out that which is missing. The problem is, we never find it. With this in mind, let’s ponder these questions:

  • Why do I feel happy with my life one day and sad the next?
  • Why do I feel good about myself one day and struggle with insecurity the next?
  • Why do I feel confident one day and inadequate the next?
  • Why do I feel loved by others one day and judged by them the next?
  • Why do I feel satisfied in my job one day and question it the next?

I could go on, but I think you get the idea.

Feelings and ultimately behavior are determined by the tape that is running in our minds.

I am intrigued by the power of the mind. Scripture speaks time and again about the importance of our thoughts. What we think about matters. I’ve learned that in relationships, as well as life in general, that it’s not my circumstances that affects my life most, but what I ‘think’ about my circumstances.

I want to go deeper than mere thoughts. Thoughts in and of themselves will not necessarily effect how you feel. However, the thoughts that you MEDITATE on will not only determine how you feel, but how you behave. One of the Hebrew words in Scripture for meditation means ‘resounding music’. Have you ever had a song stuck in your head that played over and over again? That’s what the word means. I call it the tape that is constantly running in my mind. Everyone is meditating on something.

The reality of our lives is born when the meditations of our hearts come out of our mouths.

The reason we have inconsistency in our contentment toward life is primarily attributed to what we allow ourselves to meditate on. Our hearts follow what we meditate on. Once it is in our hearts it comes out of our mouths and our reality is born. For example, when you constantly meditate on the perfect job, your heart will leave the job you’re in and you will become dissatisfied. You will begin to talk about the perfect job and your reality will be that your current job is no good for you. The same process is true in relationships, areas of insecurity, moral behavior, and many other areas of life. We must replace that running tape with a new one.

How to improve satisfaction is life.

1. Meditate (think on, ponder day and night) on the Word of God. Ensure your meditations and words are pleasing to God. (Joshua 1:8; Ps. 19:14)

2. Meditate on what is true, honorable, just, pure, lovely, commendable, and worthy of praise, and reject what is not. (Philippians 4:8)

3. Meditate on the will of God not worldly passions. (1 Pet 4:1-2) Meditating on worldly passions will always lead your heart to dissatisfaction and invoke feelings of fear, anger, restlessness, and internal struggle. Instead, meditate and focus on God’s will for your relationships, job, health, etc.

Keep REACHING FORWARD to the satisfaction that can only be found in Jesus Christ. Meditating on Him will lead to a life that gets better each day!

Three stumbling blocks you must let go of to achieve your dreams.

Sometimes it’s difficult to understand why things aren’t going our way. We have a vision for our future and the passion to pursue it, but for some reason we cannot seem to move forward. We spend days, months and years trying to figure out why we can’t accomplish our dreams and goals. We realize at some point that there are patterns that repeat themselves over and over again in our lives and we can’t seem to break them. More often than not, these patterns become stumbling blocks that keep us from moving forward. The stumbling blocks of the past are those things that we continue to hold on to with the belief that we must take them with us into our future. The reality is that we will never fully realize our full potential until we let go of the stumbling blocks of the past. There are many stumbling blocks of the past, but I have chosen three that top the list.

Three stumbling blocks of the past that we must let go of.

1. Past experiences. New results require new experiences, a new way of thinking and a new attitude. Our past experiences can be both positive and negative. We guard against repeating the negative experiences while hoping to emulate the positive ones. However, a repeated positive experience of the past is still a repeat of the past. In order to accomplish new dreams and experiences we must let go and allow ourselves to explore new ideas. Take risks, be brave, and allow new experiences to develop.

2. Past hurts. Unforgiveness is a ball and chain. Emotional wounds and bitterness zap your energy and courage for a fresh tomorrow. Open wounds cause us to protect ourselves from further harm. We often become over protective to the point that we stunt our own growth. When we harbor an offense, it becomes the motive behind our decision-making and shapes our relationships. The past can never be changed. A vibrant future will require a measure of vulnerability. Let go of the hurts and entrust them to God for the benefit of your future.

3. Past successes. We cannot ride into the future on yesterdays victories. Each day has its own set of challenges and obstacles to overcome. The moment we start thinking we have arrived is the moment we stop moving forward. It may or may not be easy to let go of past failures, but often times we try to hold on to past successes because it feels good and gives us confidence. However, what brought us success in the past will not necessarily guarantee success in the future. Be creative, try new things, and listen to new people.

One thing from the past to never let go of.

There is one thing that is common about everything in the past that we must never let go of and that is the lesson learned. All past experiences, hurts, successes, failures, relationships, etc., can be converted into principles or lessons learned that we can live by. When the past is converted into valuable lessons that guide our lives, then it is no longer a stumbling block for us but a catalyst that forges our way into the future.

Convert your past into wisdom and keep REACHING FORWARD to God’s best for your life. He is shaping and molding you into the person He wants you to become.

Comments welcome.

How To Get More Enjoyment Out Of Life!

Do you feel “stuck” in life? Do you get the feeling that life is not as it should be? There seems to be a nagging sense of discontentment simmering just below the surface. You can’t quite put your finger on it because it seems that everything in your life is there for a reason and mostly beyond your control, right?

Wrong. The problem is not that life has overtaken you. The problem is that perhaps you’re not living life ON purpose FOR a purpose. I know what you’re thinking. Here comes another blog on “finding your purpose.” Wrong again. I’m not thinking in terms of “life purpose” but in terms of doing what you do on purpose and for a reason. This is about taking control of your life and living in such a way that life is enjoyable for you. Stop allowing others to dictate your life.

Restore control and enjoyment in your life by first taking an inventory.

When a store manager does an inventory, he or she determines what is there, what is not there, and what adjustments need to be made. A life inventory is similar. Try the ARC Principle as a guide to help you take back control and enjoy life again. (Note: you will need a pad of paper and a pen)

The ARC Principle

1. What do I need to ADD to my life? A relationship with God; a friend; a hobby; exercise; a job; accountability; self-discipline; fun; good books.

2. What do I need to REMOVE from my life? People who have a negative influence on me; bad habits; anger; a financial liability that I don’t need; procrastination.

3. What do I need to CHANGE in my life? More time in prayer and reading the bible; healthier eating habits; better movies; less TV; more sleep (hint: go to be earlier); new job; saying no sometimes.

The ARC Principle will help you gain back control over your life so that you can REACH FORWARD for all that God has for you! Learn to  live your daily life ON purpose FOR a purpose. After all, the sum total of your life takes place one day at a time.

How To Add Quality Back Into Your Life!

You know something is missing. You wake up every day wondering if today will be any different. You go to bed every night with regret that today was the same old routine. You feel stuck in a life that seems to be going nowhere. You feel like your life lacks quality because day in and day out nothing changes and the feeling that something is missing continues to linger on. You know in your heart it’s time to take action, but you’re not sure what to do. Try implementing these principles.

Steps to adding quality back into your life

1. Discover what’s missing. God? Eating healthy and losing weight? A regular exercise program? Quality relationship with your spouse or children? Friends that you can do life with? Most people know what’s missing, but don’t do anything about it.

2. Seek wisdom. Seek out someone who is doing well with what you are missing. Meet with that person and ask questions like, “what should I do? where do I start? what resources do I need?”

3. Take action. Make a plan, but the most important thing is the first step. Take one step of action in adding what’s missing. Don’t procrastinate any longer. That is perhaps the number one problem. Do the things that the person in #2 above suggested. After all, they are doing well with what you are missing.

4. Be accountable. Hold yourself accountable by submitting yourself to someone that wants God’s best for your life.

5. Don’t try to change too much at one time. Changing too many things at once will overwhelm you. Prioritize what you desire most and let your confidence build.

6. Focus on the daily activity not the desired results. A quality life is achieved by the daily choices we make. If your goal is to lose weight focus on the eating and exercise not the scales. If your goal is to make friends focus on connecting with one or two people today not the whole world.

Keep REACHING FORWARD for the abundant life God has for you. Stop procrastinating and take action today to get the quality life you deserve and so desire.

Please comment: What have you done to add quality to your life lately?