Fear is a Powerful Force, But Faith Can Help You Overcome It

Like Every Other Decision in Your Life…It’s Up to You

Believing in something we can’t see can be hard. This is where faith comes in.

Last week we celebrated Easter and Christ’s resurrection. We talked about the women finding the empty tomb and how the apostles thought this was nonsense.

This week we’ll pick up from there. In John 20:19-31, the disciples were afraid and hiding in a locked room, when Jesus showed up. He showed them His hands and feet and gave them the Holy Spirit to go out and spread the message of how we can spend eternity with Him in Heaven.

Thomas, one of the disciples wasn’t with them when this happened. When they told him…he didn’t believe them. He said, “I won’t believe unless I see and touch the scars.”

We’re more like Thomas than we would like to believe. We tell ourselves we believe, but do we really?

Thomas’s need for proof was like a farmer from South Carolina in the early 1900s.

 He said that he thought the existence of Europe was fictional. He believed that there was no such place as the continent of Europe. He found it hard to believe that anything existed beyond the Atlantic Ocean. Nevertheless, in 1918, the last year of WWI, he was drafted into the Army and had the opportunity to experience Europe as a fact. He said, “You wouldn’t believe what lies over there.”

This is often how we feel about life beyond the grave.

You wouldn’t believe what lies over there.

Thomas went on to share Christ’s message in India, where he was killed for the work he was doing.

We can believe because people like doubting Thomas gave their lives to get the word out.

It is easy to be afraid. Like the disciples too often we can hide behind locked doors. On the other hand, if we believe, we can share the message that we’ve been given.

Being afraid prevents us from doing amazing things.

The lyrics of Bette Midler song The Rose, from the movie with the same name, we are given a good example of what we miss when we live our lives in fear.

It’s the heart afraid of breaking
That never learns to dance
It’s the dream afraid of waking
That never takes the chance
It’s the one who won’t be taken
Who cannot seem to give
And the soul afraid of dying
That never learns to live

Think of what can we do if we truly believe Christ is risen?

Don’t be afraid to live your life. Live faith over fear!

How Can Movies Improve Your Business Plan?

This is Assuming That You Even Care How Your Business Turns Out

Once again today’s conversation originated from our mastermind. This week we we’re presented with a question to answer.

From the perspective of an entrepreneur, what’s your favorite movie, and why?

Any of you who know me, know that I’m a movie fan. As I considered this question, there were a lot of movies that came to mind. My favorite movie is The Polar Express…but this isn’t a movie about business.

As I considered my favorite movies from an entrepreneurial perspective, something began to stand out…

Every movie is full of lessons about both business and life.

There are a variety of movie genres, story lines and qualities of movies, but as I think back over the movies I’ve watched, all of them are nothing less than lessons for living.

And what is business other than living?

Some of these lessons are things we should do…some are things we shouldn’t.

As I thought about movies and lessons, I remembered writing about Christmas movies as a life plan. The more I thought about movies from an entrepreneurial perspective, the more I realized that The Polar Express had a lot to say about business as well as life.

If I operate my business using the Polar Express business plan, it will be a great ride.

If you aren’t familiar with The Polar Express, it’s about a young boy who is beginning to doubt the reality of Santa Clause. He’s woken up by a loud noise in the middle of the night on Christmas Eve and finds the Polar Express parked in front of his house. With some hesitancy he boards the train.

He then embarks on a ride with other kids to the North Pole. Along the way they’re faced with obstacles to overcome and situations to celebrate. Through his diligence and the help of others he makes the trip successfully. After this journey he is reassured and believes.

This sounds a little bit like business, doesn’t it?

Like in the movie, we have to decide if we’re going to get on the business train or not. If we don’t, that particular train won’t ever come by again. Once we make the commitment, we need to stay on the ride to the end.

Business and movies are both full of difficulties and situations that may or may not be direct results of things we’ve done. Either way, we have to deal with the situations that we find ourselves in. Like the boy on the Polar Express, it’s great to have the support of friends and colleagues when the ride gets rough.

Too often our belief waivers. We don’t know if we should get on the train or not. This probably isn’t the right train.

But something is prodding us to get on.

This is God telling us to go for it. Get on the train. Enjoy the ride…all of it. The good and the bad, the ups and the downs.

Ride that train and the things you will experience will be amazing.

But it requires that you get on the train and believe.

Get on and enjoy the ride!

How Do We Accomplish Big Future Dreams While Living in the Present?

This Huge Gap is What Keeps Most People from Achieving Their Goals

Most of us have…or at one time had…some really big dreams of what our lives were going to look like. All the amazing things we were going to do or have. These dreams started when were young and full of excitement and imagination. Before we experienced some of life’s setbacks.

Early in my life I had big dreams of owning and running a huge farming operation with Dad. Later I added the dream of owning and operating a big construction business also. These were a part of my big dreams.

Then life happened.

This is not to say that the things that happened weren’t my fault…because most were. My young inexperienced decisions came back to bite me. Forty years later, I’m still recovering from some of those bites. Hopefully I’m smarter now and can avoid getting bit.

The last several years my learning, experience and life lessons have helped me move in a direction of cleaning up those mistakes.

As I have been working on goal setting and planning for the future I’ve experimented with several different systems. Most of them had similarities with some differences sprinkled in.

As I used them, I would mix and match them trying to get to the system that worked best for me. Some parts I would keep, some I would replace. Each time getting closer to what I needed.

I could see the big dreams out there but struggled with getting from here to there. Something was missing.

Last week I wrote about how building our lives has to be done one brick at a time. I picked this up while reading the book, The One Thing. Like all the other systems, it wasn’t a lot different. It may have been how it was presented or maybe I was just ready to hear it.

Getting from here to there isn’t hard to understand. If you want to earn a certain amount of money or own a certain house or have a specific job…it’s simply a matter of figuring out what you need to accomplish each year to get there by the target date.

The dilemma is getting from the daily routines of living life to the big dreams out there in the future.

Imagine standing in front of a huge pile of a million bricks that represent one of those big dreams. This would be a pile of bricks 40’ across and 40’ high. It’s your job to figure out which one of those million bricks is the first one you need to lay to get that dream built.

This is where the real problem lies.

Which one is the one I should lay first? What if I lay the wrong one? These questions and a lot more bombard us daily and the next thing you know…another day as gone by without any bricks being laid.

Add to the first pile another for every additional dream. Depending on the dream the size of the piles will vary. Some bigger and some smaller, but all will still be huge piles.

As I stand here looking at my thirteen huge piles of bricks…which brick in which pile should I start with?

This isn’t to say that there is only one right brick in those millions of bricks. What it does mean, is that we need to be clear on what it is that we’re building and focus our daily brick laying on that building.

One thing for sure. Nothing will get built if we don’t lay some bricks.

Next week I will give you some practical, real-world examples of how I choose bricks for building my dreams.

How Building Your Life is Like a Construction Project

It Has to be Done One Brick at a Time

It’s the start of another new year and if you’re like me you want a plan in place for what you’re going to accomplish this year, next year and the next five. I’m naturally a planner, so having a plan gives me a since of comfort.

However, when things don’t go as planned…it can be unnerving. This is why it’s hard to plan.

We don’t want to do something and then find out it was the wrong thing, so we just don’t do anything.

Life is like a construction project…you can have the best plans imaginable in the beginning, but it’s not always going to go as planned. We need to remember that building the best life, means it’s always under construction.

We have two choices…we can start building or not.

My life plan isn’t that different than most plans out there. It takes the big long-term goals and breaks them down into annual, quarterly, monthly and weekly goals. It is made up of visions, values, principles and areas of my life.

It starts with my God given purpose and mission; this is the cornerstone of everything else. Part of that foundation is my core values. I’ve written about most of these previously. (See the links at the end of the post)

One of my core values is (was) moving the mountain one shovel full at a time. This the same concept of eating the elephant one bite at a time. I changed it from eating an elephant to moving a mountain, because it seemed to fit my construction perspective better.

Just like I said that life is always under construction earlier…I’m changing this core value of moving the mountain one shovel full at a time. It’s now going to be:

Build God’s Kingdom one brick at a time

Ultimately, they both have the same foundational point. We need to focus on the small pieces so that we don’t get overwhelmed by the big things.

There are a couple of things I like about this change –

First – Incorporating “God’s Kingdom” helps me to remember that He is the Master Architect and that I need to build according to His plans.

Second – Building is constructive rather than moving a mountain or eating an elephant are destructive.

The most important thing to remember is to choose the right Architect to design your life.

If you don’t have a good plan the life you build will be a mess.

From the Master Architect’s Blueprint –

…but you are citizens together with God’s holy people. You belong to God’s family. 20 You believers are like a building that God owns. That building was built on the foundation that the apostles and prophets prepared. Christ Jesus himself is the most important stonein that building. 21 The whole building is joined together in Christ, and he makes it grow and become a holy templein the Lord. 22 And in Christ you are being built together with his other people. You are being made into a place where God lives through the Spirit.

Ephesians 2:19-22

Okay, I need to quit putting off my 2022 life plan and get started laying the first next brick.

Previous core value posts:

Using core values as a life filter

Honor God in all that I do

Intentional action

The Importance of intentionality

Taking off the blinders and being more observant

Attention to detail

Spend time wisely

Never be satisfied with mediocrity

Find and maintain the balance in everything

Move the mountain one shovel full at a time

Remember that I have two ears and one mouth

Be accountable

If You Don’t Want to Feel Stupid for Eternity…Don’t Waste Your Life

There’s a Limited Amount of Time in This Life, So Spend it Wisely

Knowing the future is less about knowing and more about doing. None of us know what’s going to happen tomorrow, next week or next year. We can only control what we’re doing right now.

Things we do now, affect the future, either for good or bad…it’s up to us.

There was a man that lived in Hawaii that loved major league sports. The problem he had was the time difference from the mainland to Hawaii. The games would be delayed and broadcast on TV in the evening. He would listen to them on the radio during the day and then watch the delayed broadcast in the evening.

This meant that he already knew what was going to happen. This affected his feelings and involvement when he watched. We need to be engaged and involve in life.

In Mark 13:1-8 Jesus tells His Disciples to, “Be careful and not let anyone fool you.” He gives them a list of things that will happen before the end. “There will be fighting and times of no food. There will be earthquakes and all sort of troubles.”

Things that have already happened multiple times throughout the history of the world.

Jesus continues to list all the terrible things that will happen before He comes back. Throughout history there have been people predicting the end. Their record isn’t very good.  Whether the end is our dying or Jesus’ second coming is not the point.

The thing to focus on is how we live this life.

In the 32nd verse of Mark 13 He says, “No one will know when that day or the time will be.”

So, if these things are going to happen before the end…and they’ve already happened, then why haven’t things ended already? Good question.

Things we do know are

  • We don’t know the future – We can plan, but we need to be willing and able to change. We need to be flexibly rigid. Fear of the future gives us something to blame. It gives us an out for being responsible. We need to learn from the past, look to the future and live in the present.
  • We need to make the most of the present – If we know and trust God things will work out. This doesn’t mean sitting around waiting on God to do things. It means knowing God and following His directions. We are His hands and feet here in the world.
  • God does know the future – If we know God’s character…we know His intentions. We get to know His character by reading His Word and talking with Him. We know that in everything God works for the good of those who love Him. Romans 8:28

Too much of the time we float through life with no clear plan or direction. This is not how God wants us to live this life. He wants us to actively participate every minute of every day.

We can choose how we will live this life…how we will use this gift we’ve been given.

Preparing for the end times is simple. Trusting in God and having faith is what it takes. If we don’t waste this life, we will have a much better eternity.

What is True Love and What Does it Look Like?

Life is Full of Difficulties, But Love Makes It Easier to Get Through Them

We all experience difficulties in life. Some are more severe than others. Sometimes these situations can suck us down into depression and we just want to hide under the covers and stay there.

This is how Naomi felt after their family moved because where they lived was experiencing a famine. Then after moving, her husband died. Her sons both married and then a few years later they died. This was a lot to handle.

Then Naomi heard that the famine was over. She still had family there…so she decided to move back. Her daughters-in-law decided to go with her. Naomi told them they would be better off staying there with their families. Ruth, one of the daughters-in-law was having none of it. She loved Naomi and was going with her.

Ruth told Naomi, “Wherever you go, I will go. Wherever you sleep, I will sleep. Your people will be my people. Your God will be my God. Where you die, I will die, and that is where I will be buried.” Ruth 1:1-18

Life is full of difficult decisions, but they are much easier when we have the support from people we love and that love us.

This is what true love looks like.

Too often, we associate love with romance and forget how much more it is. It is so much more than the romantic love. There are four types of love

  • AffectionAffection covers an array of loves. The care of mother to baby is a picture of affection. It relies on the expected and the familiar. “Affection almost slinks or seeps through our lives. It lives with humble, un-dress, private things; soft slippers, old clothes, old jokes, the thump of a sleepy dog’s tail on the kitchen floor, the sound of a sewing-machine…”
  • FriendshipFriendship is the love dismissed. “To the Ancients, Friendship seemed the happiest and most fully human of all loves, the crown of life and the school of virtue. The modern world, in comparison, ignores it.”  Friendships have begun faith movements, developed entire areas of thought, and contributed to many projects from art to business.
  • RomanticDifferent than friendship, lovers, “are always talking to one another about their love” and “are normally face to face, absorbed in each other.” There’s a reason Scripture teaches this bond of man and woman, from Genesis onward, is the picture of God’s love for the world, Christ for his bride, the church. When we discover afresh that romance is more deeply set than the drivel served up by our culture, then we will more rightly hold our spouse in the model of unconditional love.
  • CharityThis is our chief aim, the unconditional love of the Father given to us through his Son. Affection, friendship and romantic love are each the training ground for charity to grow. We are made to love and we are in want of it. If we play it safe, we are not living out the Gospel, but burying the coin in the safe ground, as the parable says. We are taught in the Scripture to love those who are broken, not for some vague humanitarian effort, but to make disciples of all nations, “baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you” (Matthew 28:19-20).

Jesus is love. He is what true love looks like.

After Naomi and Ruth got home, Ruth married Boaz, they had a son named Obed, who was the father of Jesse and Jesse was the father of David. This is the family of Jesus. The love that Naomi and Ruth shared changed their lives and the world’s.

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.  It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. (1 Corinthians 13:4-7)

We come from a long line of Love. Go and share that love with everyone you can.

As Long as We’re Alive Our Picture is Still Being Painted

And It Will Be a Beautiful Picture When It’s Finished

This past Sunday was Palm Sunday. This is the Sunday before Easter and commemorates Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem. Mark 11:1-11

As Jesus rode into town people spread coats and palm branches on the road in front of Him. This is the way the people would celebrate the arrival of kings and victorious leaders. His followers expected Him to take over the Roman government and begin ruling like David.

Looking back, we know this did not turn out as Jesus’ followers expected.

They had a picture in their minds of how they thought things would go and couldn’t see past that.

We do the same thing. We get a picture of what we think our lives are going to be…and we know how that turns out.

A man was scrolling through programs on TV when he stopped to watch a man doing a painting. He thought the painting has finished. It looked amazing and he didn’t think it could look any better. As he watched, the artist took a brush with black paint and smeared it right through the middle. It looked like it was ruined. As he continued watching, the artist used the black paint to make the painting better than it had been.

Leave the painting of your life to the Master Craftsman and it will turn out beautiful.

This is similar to our lives. Sometimes there is black paint smeared through the middle. If we will just leave the painting to the Master Artist, our lives will be better than we thought they ever could be.

This doesn’t mean that we don’t have a part to play in the painting of our life picture…it just means that we need to know who the Master Craftsman is. Keep painting as long as you live.

How Will You Ever Get Where You Want by Walking in One Spot?

The Only Way to Get There is to Step Off the Treadmill

Did you know that treadmills were designed for punishment? This explains a lot.

In 1818 an English engineer named Sir William Cubitt, who was the son of a miller. Noting idle prisoners at Bury St Edmunds, he proposed using their muscle power to both cure their idleness and produce useful work.

Cubitt’s treadmills for punishment usually rotated around a horizontal axis, requiring the user to step upwards, like walking up an endless staircase. Those punished walked around the outside of the wheel holding a horizontal handrail for stability.

Punishment treadmills remained in use until the second half of the 19th century; they were typically paddle wheels with twenty-four steps around a six-foot cylinder. Several prisoners stood side-by-side on a wheel, and had to work six or more hours a day, effectively climbing 5,000 to 14,000 vertical feet. While the purpose was mainly punitive, the most infamous mill at Brixton Prison was installed in 1821 and used to grind grain to supplement an existing windmill which Cubitt had previously installed nearby.

This continuous repetitive act of walking and walking and never getting anywhere does sound like a little torturous.

Many people feel like their lives are a treadmill.

We’ve all felt this feeling of being tired of the routine of life. There is a German word for this. Lebensmüde is a compound noun made up of the words Leben (life) and müde (tired). It therefore translates to ‘life tired’. This is not how we are to be living our lives.

We all have a purpose and when we live life ignoring it we find ourselves slugging along unaware or ignoring our surroundings. The longer we walk back and forth without a destination the deeper the rut gets. When it gets deep enough, we can’t see out. It’s been said that “A rut is a grave with both ends kicked out.” It’s up to us to not get stuck in a rut.

Something is wrong when ‘life-tired’ becomes the norm.

We all have a purpose. Something that we were meant to do. If you don’t know what it is, you need to check with God. Find out what He wants you to do and then stop walking around in circles and move toward it.

Knowing our purpose is not some form of magic. It’s a direction to a destination. It’s up to us to find it and start walking.

We Want a World Without Suffering

There is No Such Thing, This Side of Heaven

There is no question that the world has plenty of examples of suffering. Why, we ask, would a loving God permit pain and suffering? Ultimately, this is a question that you will have to ask Him.

Suffering is critical to us becoming who we’re meant to be.

If everything was easy, we would not be able to accomplish all that we are supposed to. Nature is full of examples of this.

When a baby giraffe is born it falls 4’-5’ feet to the ground. Then as it is trying to get up the mother kicks it, again and again. Working through this struggle the baby giraffe learns to get up. In a matter of hours, it’s prepared for lions, hyenas and wild dogs.

Or, what about butterflies pushing to get out of the cocoon they find themselves wrapped up in. We’ve all heard about someone helping a butterfly with this process and then the butterfly’s ends up being too weak to fly.

We are no different. Sure, it would be nice if we didn’t have to suffer, but this would leave us weak and unprepared for life. Suffering makes us stronger.

While everything else follows its instincts and does what comes naturally…we humans think and think and think… Rather than embracing the struggles and learning and growing, we want things to be easy. We think we know better than God how things should be.

Easy leads to a life void of meaning.

In Viktor Frankl’s book, Man’s Search for Meaning, he outlines his theory of logotherapy. Logotherapy says, “The primary motivational force of an individual is to find meaning in life.” This theory helped him to survive his Holocaust experience. Being in a concentration camp as a Jew…that’s real suffering.

Frankl says there are three things needed to experience a life of meaning:

  • Finding a worthwhile project to work on and working on it
  • Understanding suffering and viewing it from a productive perspective
  • Working through life’s challenges with other people

Too much of the time people drift through life accepting things as they are rather than doing something about them. We have more control than that. Sure, there are things that happen that are out of our control but, we have way more control than we choose to believe.

God knew what he was doing when He created the world. He knew we would need help, so He sent Jesus. Include Jesus in your group when you’re working through life’s challenges.

We can choose to embrace life’s difficulties and be stronger…or not!

How To Get Control Of Your Life

Budget Your Time…You Have a Limited Amount

For years I have heard people express frustration with organizing and managing their schedules and “to do” lists. For years I was one of those people. These issues are multiplied when running a business.

Not that I have it all figured out but, I’m closer than I’ve ever been.

The question of what the best tool to use to manage scheduling and “to do” lists, has come up a lot lately. Most people are looking for a simple app or tool that will magically do it all.

There is nothing that will miraculously do this for you.

I’ve been refining my scheduling system for decades. Trying different things, starting with paper calendars, notebooks and notes on scrap paper. Now it’s all on my computer. I like my system way better now than before (I still use some paper for quick notes). However, it doesn’t do the work without my involvement.

Here’s the thing, most of us have way more things on our lists than there is time to get them done. Or we forget to do something because it wasn’t written down. Or the paper it was written on got lost in a stack of papers. It’s easy to get overwhelmed and forget or misplace reminders.

Keeping track of things is the most important part of being organized.

We naturally want order in our lives. We want to be in control. The problem is we live in a world of chaos. Organization is a weapon to fight against the chaos. The more organized we are the less chaos there is.

What does organization look like? According to Webster, organization is, “the act or process of organizing or being organized.” Organize is, “to form into a coherent unity or functioning whole, to arrange by systematic planning and united effort.” This sounds good to me.

Having OCD, Organizational Compulsive Disorder, I organize at a level more intense and detailed than most.

My system works for me. This doesn’t mean that everyone’s has to be at this level. Some people feel restricted by a schedule. Just like some people feel that a budget restricts them financially.

I find both to be freeing.

My detailed system allows me to know what to expect. Not to mention it keeps me motivated to get more done. I used to struggle to determine what thing should be done next.

It is a combination of lists and calendars. My “to do” lists are a place to write things down so that they aren’t forgotten. I then prioritize the things that need to be done to reach goals. Each task gets an amount of time and then put on the calendar. The calendar allows me to see the tasks as a block of time and not just an item on a list.

A calendar works like a “budget” for time.

It is easy to let things slide if you aren’t intentional about planning. The most important thing is to know yourself and figure out what works for you.

Next week I will open up my toolbox and show you the tools I use to keep control of my life and minimize the chaos.