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!

 

How to live in peace when there’s no escape!

Today’s Reading: Philippians 4:4-9

Key Verse: Philippians 4:9 (NLT)
9  Keep putting into practice all you learned and received from me—everything you heard from me and saw me doing. Then the God of peace will be with you. 

It’s interesting to me that the Apostle Paul ends the book on the joy of the Gospel by addressing anxiety among believers. Life can be hard sometimes. We can become anxious about our marriage being shaky, our kids going through growing pains, our careers being uncertain, and our finances running out. The truth is, there is no escape from the challenges of life and the effects they can have on us. Anxiety can steal your joy and peace and create unnecessary tension in your life.

Here’s the question: How do we live with joy and peace when there’s no escape from the challenges of life? 

Paul reminds us that we should always rejoice in the presence of the Lord in every circumstance. We should cultivate a praying and grateful heart by thinking about the right things. The wrong things to meditate on are the things that are negative, out of your control, weaknesses, failures and events of the past. The right things to think about are things that are of God; his abiding presence, his unconditional love, his unending strength and power in your life.

Here’s the problem: We stop doing what we know to do when life is good. 

When life is going great we pray less, read his word less, meditate on scripture less and spend less time taking care of ourselves. The result of our inconsistency is a blind-side when something goes wrong.

Here’s the solution: The thing that shapes our lives the most is what we do consistently every day. 

Paul says to keep putting these things into practice. We have to think on the right things consistently, every day. The thoughts you dwell on create your emotions and your emotions determine your actions and how you approach life. The key principle here is to shape your thinking in a way that lines up with God’s word, his character, his presence, his power, and his love for you! But it has to be done consistently – every day!

Keep REACHING FORWARD to God’s best in your life by developing a consistent habit of thinking on the right things. May the God of peace be with you today!

Feel free to share your thoughts.

Something to Live For!

somethingtoliveforAs a pastor, I have the privilege of doing life with people as they invite me in to their world. Sometimes that world consists of great joy and celebration; other times it consists of pain, sorrow, confusion, and loss of direction. Recently, I was helping a person process their current season of life, which is one of transition, financial strain and uncertainty. They shared how they have begun reaching out to a neighbor and a friend who need a level of expertise that they have regarding a particular quality of life issue. What they have discovered is a principle that gives us something to live for every day regardless of our personal circumstances. The principle is very simple to learn and with little effort can be incorporated into your daily life.

Sharing your gift, talent, knowledge, or resources with others gives you something to live for!

Everyone has something to offer others; a gift, talent, skill, information, or simply a listening ear. When you and I can focus on offering what we have to help others our lives suddenly have meaning. Our own problems that seemed to be huge are suddenly reduced to manageable life-circumstances rather than overwhelming odds that are stacked against us. Here are a few steps to help you find that ‘something to live for’ every day of your life.

1. Identify what you have to offer.

Perhaps you understand fitness, eating healthy, financial management, leadership, or any other area of life that someone might benefit from. Don’t discredit yourself. Trust me when I say you have something the world around you needs!

2. Look for a need.

I have learned that all you have to do to find a need is to look for it. Needs are all around us every day. I would say that a need is tied to every person in one way or another. One of the best ways to look for a need is to simply listen to what people are saying. The need they have will eventually be revealed.

3. Share with sincerity and compassion.

Once you identify someone that has a need in an area where you know you can help, approach them with all sincerity (not in a haughty fashion telling them what they “need to do”) with an offer to help by providing what you have.

I believe this principle is the one that keeps people REACHING FORWARD for God’s best in their lives. All we have to do is be willing to add value to others with what God has given us. When we learn to do this daily, we find renewed purpose and vision for our lives that will keep us moving forward in the midst of our own struggles.

Make a difference in someone’s life today!

Share your comments of how you found something to life for!

The Power of the First Step!

ImageDeep inside of you is a nagging that begs an answer. Most people have desires that go unmet, dreams that go unfulfilled, and potential that goes untapped. You think about it often and perhaps even daily. You are a leader with a vision that only you can see. You are bound by something with a hope to be free. You are a parent with a desire to do it right. You are a spouse yearning for a dream-like marriage. You are “just you” trying to be “a better you.”

A better you in whatever area you are thinking about is possible. In fact, it is closer to becoming a reality than you think. Whether you are dreaming about starting that business or overcoming an addiction, there is only one thing standing in your way; THE FIRST STEP!

Five enemies to your future that are broken by the power of the first step!

1. Fear – Fear is generally the primary enemy that prevents you and I from taking that first step. We are afraid of failure, rejection, or the commitment it will require.

2. Lack of Confidence – Taking the first step will immediately boost your level of confidence. It’s difficult to believe that you can run a marathon; but it’s less difficult to believe that you can run a mile. Taking the first step is about breaking “it” down into realistic steps that are achievable and will direct you toward your goal. Your confidence will grow with each step.

3. Inaction – It should go without saying, but failure to act is the one thing that will prevent you from ever achieving what you are constantly thinking about. Taking the first step will get you moving in the right direction. You don’t have to get there overnight, you just have to get moving!

4. Routine – Your daily routine can be a serious enemy to your future because you are stuck in old habits; such as, staying up too late, watching too much TV, eating out too much, etc. Taking the first step will cause you to not only break old habits, but it will help you create new and more productive habits. The best routine to have in your life is the one that will create your desired future.

5. Hopelessness – This one is for those who have given up on their desire, dream or vision. Sooner or later the hope that you have of your desired future will become lost. Hope deferred will make the heart sick. Taking that first step will rekindle the flame of hope that once existed setting you back on course.

In order for you to REACH FORWARD toward that desire, dream, or vision and tap into your full potential, all you have to do is take the first step. There is power in that first step that will defeat more enemies in your life than you realize. I encourage you today to trust God with that first step…and get to stepping into your future!

What enemies to our future did I miss? Feel free to share in the conversation.

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.

Three steps to the lifestyle you will enjoy!

Do you feel like life is moving so fast that you are hardly in control of your own time? Perhaps you are frustrated, tired, weary, or unhappy. The problem could be that life has taken over and you feel like you no longer enjoy life the way you should. You have a longing in your heart to laugh, do something fun, or to simply look forward to your day rather than dread what’s coming.

You often here people talk about having a “balanced life.” I’m not so sure that a balanced life is the best way to describe the life you and I desire. Here’s why:

A lifestyle that is enjoyable is about doing the right things, not balancing many things. 

A balanced life infers that you have several different aspects of your life getting equal attention. The problem is that life has too many components to try and balance everything. In fact, most people are not enjoying life because they are trying to “balance” too many things.

The things that are right for you to be doing are going to vary depending on what life stage you’re in. A young couple with children have a different focus than an older couple who are empty nesters. A lifestyle you will enjoy is not about balancing a lot of different things in your life. An enjoyable lifestyle is about knowing what you should be doing versus how many things you can fit in.

Here are three steps to the lifestyle that you will enjoy.

An enjoyable lifestyle starts with what you know, continues with what you do, and is maintained by what you protect. 

1. What you need to know:

a. Know what’s necessary.

b. Know what’s enjoyable.

c. Know what brings meaning.

d. Know what you love to do.

e. Know your goals. (Hint: Are your goals right for you?)

2. What you need to do:

a. Do away with what you don’t need to be doing. Prune, prune, prune.

b. Do prioritize.

c. Do a daily schedule or plan to be intentional.

d. Do what’s on your daily schedule/plan.

e. Do a continuous evaluation to see if you’re doing what you need to do.

3. What you need to protect:

a. Protect your time.

b. Protect your relationships.

c. Protect your priorities.

d. Protect your fun.

e. Protect your health.

REACH FORWARD for the lifestyle that you so desire and deserve. God wants you to enjoy your life here on earth and find pleasure in all your endeavors. Being able to Know, Do, and Protect will release you from the frustration of the balancing act and free you to live life to the fullest! Above all else, know God and experience the abundant life He desires for you!

Comments welcome.

How to become the person you want to be!

20120120-093551.jpgI often hear people talk about their struggles in changing their lives to become the people God has called them to be. Most of the time they focus on what they need to “stop” doing as if that will somehow result in a new person. I’m not saying that pruning negative behaviors out of our lives is not necessary. Pruning definitely has its part. However, try pruning the rose bush only without watering it and watch what happens.

It’s not what you subtract from your life but what you add that makes the difference.

Healthy growth can only come by the ingredients you add to your life. Rather than laboring on the things that you need to stop doing, ask yourself what’s missing. Here are a few ideas to get you started:

Ingredients to a fulfilling life

  • More sleep
  • Exercise
  • Meaningful relationships
  • The word of God
  • Serve others
  • Fun

You can’t produce the person you want to become without adding the ingredients that will get you there. Prune what you should, add what you must!

Keep REACHING FORWARD to become the person God has called you to be. The seed is inside of you! Water it, nourish it, watch it grow!