What If You Died Today?

What if you died today?

A little over a month ago, a 51 year old man died. I knew him from high school only and he was only a year older than myself. He celebrated his 51st birthday, laid down and died in his sleep. The coroner said that the cause of death was natural causes.  As you would expect, many of those who knew him were shocked and devastated…and rightly so. Everyone said that he was such a wonderful person, no known health issues…just didn’t wake up that day.

I could turn this into an eternity discussion and since I am a Christian it would be very easy to do that. But if you are already a Christian, what if you died today? What if you laid down tonight, knowing that you would not wake up on the earth? What would you do before you went to sleep? Many things have been written about “What would you do if you found out that this was your last day to live?” but what if you didn’t have a whole day?

What about an hour?

30 minutes?

See, we will never be notified a whole day in advance, so let’s just drop it to half an hour?

Would you do what I am doing? Write to everyone? What would you say?

What would you say to your parents? Your brother or sister?

What about your kids? Your grandkids?

Could you look back at your life and honestly say that if you didn’t get the chance to talk to them before you left, they would know what you would have said?

Your friends, do they know? What about Facebook? Does your status know?

I listened to my pastor speak on Sunday about how precious it is to have the forgiveness that Christ gave. He gave the example of a man who was driving carelessly down the road and, because of his carelessness, hit and killed a small child. He goes to jail, serves time for involuntary manslaughter and is released. Although he has paid his debt to society, in the eyes of the law, nothing he can physically do can make the family of that small child forgive him. Nothing. So he lives with the pain and punishment of his carelessness.

How many people are you needlessly letting live with the pain of your unforgiveness? Because of your hurt, your pride, your unwillingness to forgive? And for what?

So that you can live in your anger and hatred?

To die in peace with yourself and everyone else, you need to take the action of forgiveness. If you died today, would they know what you would have said, knowing that you were leaving?

Say it before that day. Say it today. You may not have tomorrow.

Attack mode – Part 2

The element of control…why is it there?  Everyone likes to be in control.  Even when it seems that someone is out of control, the reasoning for their actions is for them to be in control.

Back to the chess game.  Stalemate.  Why? Because one has refused to move.  Reasoning?  The game or process is coming to a climax and the result will be evident:  Success …or failure.  Both of them are painful.  The latter means rejection.  The former means that the process will be encouraged again and the possibility of rejection will creep up again.

This stagnation is real with many.  It is a gap that is hard to fill.  The ability to risk rejection and succeed or fail is coveted but seemingly unreachable at times.

So what is the gap?  If someone were raised without a father or a child of divorce, the fear is sometimes too real to bear.  Taking the step into the unknown is stagnating… paralyzing…debilitating.  Whether acceptance or rejection, there will be rejection at some point if the process is allowed to continue.  So immobility is the choice.

It is the choice.  The act of not choosing is still a choice, and immobility is choosing to fail.

And waiting until there is not any other choice but action?  Is what?  Still failure or a forced effort?

Many entrepreneurs have talked about some of their best work coming at the time when that effort is forced.  Some of their greatest innovation coming to be when they had no other choice.  But should someone put themselves in a detrimental situation every time they desire great innovation?

There is a better way; in fact, many better ways but that “effort” can be engineered rather than forced.  Therein lies the immobility factor again, though.  Some people will plan themselves to the grave.

More to come…

GoalPray part 2

Concerning the term “GoalPray”…let’s take it a step further and make it an action.  “Goalpraying”.

You make a list of hopes, prayers, goals.  This list is constantly changing.  (One of my favorite sayings is “whoever invented the eraser, had the human race pretty well sized up”.  I guess that would be the “backspace” and “delete” keys now)

 

Let’s take an example of a few entries on the list (with fictional names):

 

Under the “Others” category

Terry:  Confidence and purpose.

 

Now this is a bit vague but it is at least on there.  Let’s take the GoalPray method and flesh it out a bit.

 

Terry:  Confidence for when she is dealing with her daughter and understanding the weight of her actions.  Purpose in life so that she can feel more dedicated to her work.

 

That is better.  Does Terry have other needs in her life?  Sure, but these are what has been brought to your attention.  Why?  God is pretty good at this.  Some people would call this burdened.  To me, that word is too religious and overused.  I prefer “selected” or “purposed”.  This issue has been selected or purposed for you to focus on.

 

Under the “Thankful” heading

My job

 

Now some of you are possibly saying “Why should I be thankful for that?  It’s a hellhole!”

Understood.  Duly noted.  It’s a hellhole.  Do you feel better now?

 

This list is not to make you feel better.  It is GoalPraying.  We want to get things accomplished.  So let’s take that entry and expand it.

 

My job:  Thankful for the ability to work and the skills I have been given to work.  Thankful for the money that I make from it.  Thankful for my co-workers (no matter if you like them or not) and the experiences that I will gain by working with them.

 

There is an entry that means so much more than “My job”.

 

One more…

Under the “Myself” column

My health

 

What about it?  Let’s write it out

My health that I will have adequate strength and be able to perform the duties that I have the responsibility to do.  That I will be able to resist the fiery arrows of the enemy that come in the form of pizza and Coke to tempt me.  That I will understand that fruits and vegetables are my friends.  (Okay, enough of that)

 

Is that much better?

 

What have I done in the last few lines? Have I just written out a bunch of words to fill a page or have I cemented a purpose in my life?

 

What is it that is important to you?  Is it important enough to write it down and GoalPray on it to make it happen?

 

Phillipians 4:6 says to not worry about things but in all circumstances, in the form of prayer and definite requests, while giving thanks, make your requests known to God.

Part 3 is developing…

How are you?

Are you working for your posterity or your posterior?  On Sunday, are you looking at getting to the week…or through the week?  Are you thinking CYA or JOY?

 

Much of how you get things done depends on how your attitude.  I think back to one of my previous posts, The Precedent, and the manager of the restaurant I spoke to.  He was truly grateful and the effect of praising him and his team had a replicating effect as well.  Speaking to him a few weeks later, he said that after I left, he stopped his whole team and told them about it.  He said that this is what they had been striving for…to consistently serve a good product, and he was delighted to share the experience of customer satisfaction.

 

We just do not realize how far our influence goes?  People talk about making a good first impression.  It is sooooooo important.  People form an impression of you before they ever speak to you, if they ever do speak to you.  If you are dressed outside of the norm, your expression and attitude usually have to work harder to maintain a good first impression.

 

Now you may say that you don’t care what other people think of you and to some degree, that may be true.  But….how hard do you want to make life for yourself?  And to change your “first impression rating”, it takes some preparation.

 

I used to listen to and read different authors telling you how to be happy.  It would be a bit comical at times when I would hear them talk about making yourself happy.  It sounded artificial and forced and actually it was.  But it was more like rubbing menthol on sore muscles.  It started on the outside and worked its way in.  Your attitude is affected either by you or your surroundings.

 

Robert D. Smith may not have coined this phrase but when he said it, I remembered it.  He said, “I don’t sing because I’m happy.  I am happy because I sing”.  Sounds kinda dumb, right?  Well that “dumb” habit may mean the difference getting good service and bad.  Having a nice conversation or negative?  Getting a kiss from your spouse or a look?

 

Preparation for life is a part of life.  It is a paradoxical thing that keeps feeding itself and determines really HOW you are…

So…HOW are you?

Guarded

There is an amazing little story, probably a legend, that I read the other day about a guard post in England.  The guard post was set up next to the castle walls and had one guard posted there, kn shifts, 24 hours a day.  The post was not near a gate, door or any sort of entry, but just a guard along a stretch of sidewalk along the fence.  When a tourist asked the sentry what was being guarded, he answered, “I do not know. This post has been here for over 100 years and it is commanded that a sentry is placed here  at all times”.

Sentry

The tourist, amused, decided to find out what the reason for the sentry was.  After asking around for a few days, the answer was revealed.  Over 100 years ago, the Queen of England (at that time), planted roses at that very spot because she felt the walls were too uninviting. She hoped that the climbing roses would cover the walls and fill the air with its sweet scent.  It was commissioned that a sentry be posted there to guard the roses so that they could grow unhindered.  That Queen had since died and so did the roses, but the sentry post had been there ever since, guarding what looked now to be a regular grass-covered plot of ground.

There are things in your life that you hold on to.  Things that you have started and not finished.  Things that are gifts but not a way to make a living.   Things that are guarded but are no longer there.  These can be physical, mental…even spiritual.

They can be things that were started by someone 100 years ago or yesterday but all they do is take up space, time and money;  resources that you have longed to have more of.  It is necessary in life, just as when you re-evaluate a budget that you look at life’s budget and remove the items that are robbing you and your family.  Seek out the sentries that are being wasted and guide them to the places they are needed.

A Different Power

Have you ever been driving down the road, having an OK to great day, cruising at a safe speed, listening to the radio…and then, out of the corner of your eye, you get this:

Hey...Pay attention to the road!!!
Hey…Pay attention to the road!!!

What is the first thing out of your mouth? “What?!?” “Idiot!!!” “Where does he get the right to…!!” Maybe worse.
Well, congratulations! Your mind has just been controlled. You went from mellow to blood pressure issues in a few seconds and it was your choice. Yes, it was your choice to be controlled and you chose to allow your emotions to go in that direction.
Now, we can think about what you could have done. Something a little more “controlled”. Just like we talked about a couple of days ago, certain things make the “true you” come out.
Examine this power. Not the power that you gave to that guy who pulled up next to you and yelled, but the power in you. It is you who has the power here.
The power is forgiveness and the way you read about it here, may not be what you are expecting.
When exploring your own heart, digging around for nuggets, soul-searching…what are you finding? Are you finding things that make you sad, angry, beaten? Forgiveness is a power that you have…not only to forgive those who wronged you. You have the power to let go and forgive those who have inadvertently made your life take an unintended direction…and they actually did nothing against you. Maybe I need to rephrase that. You forgiving in this way is about straightening up your life, not theirs. It could have been anyone from your father to some guy on TV…It could even be God.
God needs no forgiveness from you for Himself…
but you may need to forgive Him…for you.

Back to that guy in the car (although we might need to meditate on some of the previous words for a while).
He does not need you to say “Oh, you poor soul. I forgive you”. Truth is, that guy could have been you and you probably would not be interested in forgiveness at that time. But you need the act of forgiveness coming out of you.
This is a gap that many fathers forget because they have not learned to deal with it themselves. This is a power that when wielded properly, can lay spiritual and physical enemies to waste quickly. One that empowers you.
A different power.

Discouragement

It is hard to face discouragement.  When faced with rejection, boredom or failure, your true nature actually shows itself.  Are you moving forward, seeking to move forward or discouraged because “things aren’t happening”?

Everyone loves success.  Things are riding high and emotions are up but what about when things are down.  How do you handle failure?  Do you get discouraged?

Think about this:  what would it take for you to switch your thinking around and respond with excitement every time you fail?

What happens when we fail?

Do we learn?

Think of Thomas Edison and the invention of the light bulb.  Thousands of failed experiments occurred until he hit it right.

 Why?  Because with every failure, he knew he was getting closer to the purpose he had set for himself to accomplish.  And yet sometimes, we have 1 or 2 failures and lose interest.

Why?  Re-examine your purpose and your commitment to it.  Either rededicate yourself to it with a renewed vengeance or redirect.

Your success depends on it.

Distractions

Sometimes we just don’t understand why things happen.  You work hard on your marriage, job, house and/or family, believing that you are doing well and then something happens that discourages you and takes you off your chosen path. You may wonder “Why? I was making progress.”  Personally, I get annoyed at the distraction because it usually seems like it’s only purpose is to distract.  If I am not careful, it can affect my focus for a long time.  So what is a guy to do?  Not deal with it and have it repeat itself so that it becomes insurmountable to deal with?  What would you like to see as the outcome?  Get creative here.  It is time to fill a gap and possibly set a habit that will serve you for the rest of your days.

Think to yourself, “If this had not happened, what would I be doing?”  You can look forward and see yourself talking about the event and laughing about it and the lessons learned.  But isn’t it true that distractions happen every day and it is really how we react to them that is important?

Sometimes, it is very simple.  It is so simple that the answer is right under our noses.

Focus.

Yes, I know that we realize that a distraction is taking away from our focus and that we need to refocus but let’s simplify.  Focus. Definition. It is both a noun and a verb.  Putting the two meanings together reads like this:

“Adapt to the prevailing level of light and become able to clearly see the center of interest or activity.”

Its almost like a command.  We understand the last part.  That is the goal.  It is the first part, the verb that we want.  “Adapt to the prevailing level”.

blindingLight

What would happen if your eyes never adapted to light when you walked out of a dark room?  Hands in front of face…eyes hurt.  You can’t see where you are going.  If you don’t watch what you are doing, you may bump into someone, fall and/or get hurt.  Soon you may get discouraged and sit down.  Then, finally, after you understand that your sight is not going to change, what do you do?  You retreat back to the dark room; go backwards to where you came from…and stay there because you did not adapt.

Realize that this stuff not only happens, it happens more than we think and will keep on.  Your GAP to fill is the realization of this and the maturation involved with being unwavering, steadfast and dependable.  There will be some distractions that are larger than others but you grow from them.  Decide to adapt and keep growing.

Isaiah 32:8

“But the noble man make noble plans, and by noble deeds he stands.”

This verse has meant so much to me for many years.  I have kept it in my heart daily and remembered its sobering words.  Having been self-employed in the past, I chose it as the name for the business each time.  Noble man.  Besides being taught John 3:16 as a small child, the verse about the noble man has taken stage as a guide for my life.

But I saw a different translation this morning that challenged me.  It said, “But a good leader plans to do good, and those good things make him a good leader.”  Still the statement about planning, which is another post in itself, is important but it actually states that the good leader plans good things and the good plans make him a good leader.  If those deeds were money, that would mean that every good financial plan you make, would in turn make you richer.  If it were friends, then every good friend you make would make you a better friend.  Every lesson you teach, makes you a better teacher.  It is so simple and yet we look for something different occasionally when we should stay the course…to become better at what we do.

path

It is apparently one of the “gifts that keep on giving”…one that when used, does not go without a reward.  And being the noble man can stand on its own.  It not only gives your family confidence, it gives you confidence in return.  Because of my upbringing, standing up to lead has been a challenge.  Having this scripture as a guiding motto, has given me confidence over many years.  One of my favorite creative minds, Seth Godin, wrote “Leaders have nothing in common, except the decision to lead”.