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Author Archives: wheelsms

Making your Best even Better

Book Review: The Potential Principle: A Proven System for Closing the Gap between How Good You Are and How Good You Could Be, by Mark Sanborn

Most of us would agree that we have not achieved our full potential. We would also agree that we aren’t sure how to find the path that will lead us to greater fulfillment. Consequently, we settle for good enough and go through life on cruise control.

Mark Sanborn’s conviction is that no matter what you’ve done so far, you can still become better. He believes that constant improvement is not only possible, it is a necessity. His latest book, The Potential Principle: A Proven System for Closing the Gap Between How Good You Are and How Good You Could Be, lays out a paradigm for growth.

Sanborn’s path to improvement, or “the potential matrix,” involves escalating performance, leveraged learning, deeper thinking, and insightful introspection. He spends one chapter on each concept to flesh out what he means. The means to improvement requires the reader to disrupt yourself, (re)focus, engage others, and increase one’s capacity. Again, he spends one chapter on each concept to explain what and how to do it.

As the author explains in the opening chapter, one of the keys to growth and improvement is the willingness to experience failure and discomfort.

One of the keys to continual improvement is the willingness to risk disappointment, to see disappointment not as a bad thing to be avoided but as proof positive we are aiming higher and striving to get better. I will go so far as to say that highly successful people are more often disappointed than are other people. They just don’t let disappointment bother them.

The author combines personal illustrations, biblical principles, interviews with business leaders in explaining his concepts. While the book is interesting, it would be most effective if read in conjunction with a coach, accountability partner, or small group who could encourage you in putting it into practice.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookLook Bloggers <http://booklookbloggers.com> book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.

 
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Posted by on August 23, 2017 in Books, Personal growth

 

Grace Notes

Being surrounded by negativity, it is far too easy to adopt the mindset of our culture. We can play the “It’s not fair!” card or become consumed by worry about what might happen.

Considering what we are bombarded with, it’s no wonder we feel as bad as we do.

To change our mindset, we have to make a conscious choice as to what we feed our minds. We must shift our attention from woe to worship, from pity to praise, from complaining to confidence, and most importantly, from me to God.

Praise plays a key role in this process. Praising God for the past helps us trust him for the future. Moses provides an excellent example of this principle in his song in Exodus 15:1-21.

Moses states his theme in verse 1: “Praise God, he won!” The song contains three stanzas—“See what God did” (2-6); “See who God is” (7-11); and “See what God will do” (12-18). The theme is repeated in the chorus (19-21).

Following the destruction of the Egyptian army in the Red Sea, Moses led Israel in praising God (1). When God does something great, he deserves to be praised. Often this praise comes in the form of a song, something you see throughout the Old Testament.

The three stanzas of Moses’ song focus on God—what he did in the past, who he is, and what he will do in the future. In the first 18 verses, Moses refers to “the Lord” at least 45 times. It demonstrates that praise is focused on God, not on us.

In the opening stanza, Moses acknowledges God’s strength and it leads him to praise (2-6). In the middle stanza (7-11), Moses moves from history to theology, from describing the victory to exclaiming his wonder about God. He uses metaphors and word pictures to help describe God’s attributes and actions (8, 10). In the final stanza (12-18), he moves from proclaiming his wonder about what God did in the past to a statement of confidence and trust in what God will do in the future. God not only brought his people out of Egypt, but he will bring them in to the Promised Land.

The song concludes with Moses’ sister, Miriam, picking up a tambourine and leading the chorus. Considering that Moses wrote this song when he was 80 years old and Miriam played the tambourine in her 90’s, who says seniors can’t learn new songs and lead in worship!

This passage challenges me to consider three probing questions: (1) What can I praise God for today? (2) What does this tell me about God’s character? (3) What do I need to trust him for tomorrow? Praising God for the past helps us trust him for the future.

This is the synopsis of a message preached at First Central Bible Church in Chicopee, MA, on August 20, 2017. It is part of a series of sermons on the life of Moses. Please click on the link to download a copy of the sermon notes.

 

 

Please stop telling me to say “Amen” or “Like” your post

For those of us of a certain vintage, we recall the bane of chain letters. A well-meaning friend would send you a letter telling about the secret to success. Your task was to forward the letter to twenty-five other friends. If you did, you were guaranteed success. If you broke the chain, disaster would follow. Considering I always tossed them in the trash, it probably explains why I am still working to make a living. 😉

Today’s version of the chain letter is telling someone to say “Amen” or “Like” your Facebook post. “I bet we can’t get 1,000 people to repost this phrase or cute picture.” Don’t break the chain or else …

Please let me make up my own mind as to whether or not I agree with what you’ve posted and want to share it with my network. If I think it is valid and helpful, I will. If I consider it frivolous, I will ignore it. If you keep doing it, I may even unfollow you. Please let me make up my own mind.

I will now step off my soapbox.

 
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Posted by on August 19, 2017 in Culture, Facebook

 

Racism, Supremacy, & Terrorism

The events of the past week—Charlottesville & Barcelona—should break our hearts and drive us to our knees. They should motivate us to repent of our pride and arrogance and beg God to pour out his Spirit and send revival.

Rather than turning to God, however, we spout rhetoric and criticize “the other side.” We use human logic, saying that black and white athletes should stand together. We denounce political leaders when they don’t denounce the ones we think they should. We spout slogans, call for hearings and debate, and ridicule those who don’t agree with our viewpoint.

Racism, Supremacy, and Terrorism are complex issues without easy answers. Or so we tell ourselves and those who will listen to us. Like any problem great or small, complex or simple, there is a two-fold solution—Identify the problem and Fix it.

The core issue at the heart of racism, supremacy, and terrorism is SIN. It goes all the way back to the Garden of Eden (Genesis 3). When Adam and Eve chose to do what they wanted rather than obey God, sin entered the world. The first casualty was their son, Abel, who was murdered by his brother, Cain, who thought he was superior to his brother (Genesis 4:1-16). By the time the book of Genesis closes and the book of Exodus opens, the Israelites have been oppressed and enslaved by the Egyptians for over 400 years (Exodus 1:8-14). Not only does the Egyptian Pharaoh enslave the Israelites, he also issues a decree to kill all the male children under the age of two years old, practicing genocide (Exodus 1:15-22). Racism, supremacy, and terrorism are running rampant.

Racism, supremacy, and terrorism are ultimately an assault on God’s creative activities. Rather than acknowledging that all races and genders are created in the image of God (Genesis 1:27; 9:6), we allow pride to rear its head and shout, “I’m better than you are.” We echo the pigs who control the government in George Orwell’s novel, Animal Farm, “All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.”

Since sin lies at the heart of racism, supremacy, and terrorism, the only answer is the gospel. It is in Christ that there is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male or female (Galatians 3:28). It is in Christ that men and women are joint heirs of the grace of God (1 Peter 3:7). Heaven will be populated by “a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, and crying out with a loud voice, ‘Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne and to the Lamb!’” (Revelation 7:9-10).

True equality will not come through political debate, athletes standing together, protest marches, Facebook posts, or social engineering. True equality only comes when we acknowledge our sin, ask Jesus for forgiveness, and become part of the family of God. Far too often, we focus on the symptoms rather than addressing the root cause.

If you want to bring an end to racism, supremacy, and terrorism, denounce evil and call sin, sin. But don’t stop there. Take the next step and share the message that Jesus Christ can forgive sin and change hearts. Hope and healing is only found in Jesus Christ.

 
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Posted by on August 18, 2017 in Bible Study, News stories, Scripture, Theology

 

What are you feeding your mind?

I am surprised, amazed, saddened … by what people think about and share with the world. There is a decided lack of civility in public discourse, especially regarding politics. On the one hand, Facebook is filled with posts about depression, anxiety, and darkness. On the other hand, it is also populated with trivial games, comments, videos, and frivolous pursuits.

When you calculate what people are thinking about, is it any wonder our world is in trouble?

This morning, I was challenged by Jeremiah 15:16 – “Your words were found, and I ate them, and your words became to me a joy and the delight of my heart, for I am called by your name, O Lord, God of hosts.”

The verse reminded me of the apostle Paul’s instruction in Philippians 4:8 – “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.”

As Christ followers, we need to make healthy choices about what we feed our minds. While we cannot avoid the negative, we also don’t have to focus and meditate on it. We must make the choice to fill our minds with Scripture in order to gain God’s perspective on life. We must choose to focus on those things which will build us up rather than tear us down.

What are you feeding your mind?

 

Following God … to a Dead End

Have you ever felt like your life hit a dead end? You were heading in the right direction. You were making good progress in your marriage, career, relationships, etc. And then without warning, everything went off the rails. You came to a sudden, inexplicable, jarring halt. You couldn’t go forward and you couldn’t go backwards. Regardless of your best efforts, you were stuck.

That was the dilemma the nation of Israel faced when they found themselves trapped between the Red Sea and the armies of Egypt (Exodus 14). Before they could go forward, they needed to learn some new lessons about who God is and what he was going to do on their behalf.

God often places us in situations where we have to rely on him (1-14). On those occasions, God displays his glory so that we might know him better.

God led Israel into a cul-de-sac in order to demonstrate his glory (1-4). With armed fortresses to the north, the desert to the south, the Red Sea to the east, and the armies of Egypt advancing from the west, Israel was at a dead end. God led them into this problem so that they might know him better.

It appeared that Israel’s enemies had gained the upper hand (5-9). A few days after the Passover, Pharaoh changes his mind about allowing the Israelites to leave. He dispatches 600 of his best chariots and armed forces to bring them back. It appeared that he had them trapped in a geographical cul-de-sac.

Rather than rely on God, Israel reacted in fear (10-12). They weren’t merely afraid, they were greatly afraid. They were in full blown panic mode. Like many of us, they cried out to God and then blamed the leadership (Moses) for their predicament.

God wanted Israel to depend on him (13-14). God gives them four commands—fear not, stand firm, see the salvation of the Lord, and be silent. Like Israel, we tend to do just the opposite. We are afraid, run away, don’t look for God, and complain to everyone around us. In so doing, we miss what God is doing.

When we trust God, he fights our battles for us (15-29). Contrary to human wisdom, God instructs Israel to move forward (15-18). God then moves to stand between Israel and her enemies (19-20). During the night, God opens a path through the Red Sea (21-22, 29) and then destroys the Egyptian army when they try to pursue Israel (23-28).

Seeing God at work should cause us to trust him and to worship him (30-31).

There are four life lessons I take away from this account. (1) It often takes dead ends to break lifetime habits. God often has to bring us to the end of ourselves and our resources in order to truly change and transform our lives. (2) When you have nowhere else to turn, trust God. Far too often, trust in God is viewed as a last resort. (3) If God is to get the glory, he must fight the battle. If I can do it myself, I will take the credit. (4) Red Seas open and close according to God’s timing, not ours. God’s timing is always best, but it is always different from mine.

This is the synopsis of a message preached at First Central Bible Church in Chicopee, MA, on August 13, 2017. It is part of a series of sermons on the life of Moses. Please click on the link to download a copy of the sermon notes.

 

Practical advice for good communication

Book Review: Before you Hit Send: Preventing Headache & Heartache, by Emerson Eggerichs, Ph.D.

How many of us have created a mountain of heartache reaped a harvest of hurt feelings because we hurriedly posted a comment on Facebook, tweeted an inappropriate response, or vented in a blog post or email? Dr. Emerson Eggerichs has written a very practical volume to help prevent that from happening again.

While Before you Hit Send: Preventing Headache & Heartache is aimed at the phenomenon of social media, it provides helpful and practical advice for communication in every form. Emerson poses four questions that should guide all of our communication—Is it true? Is it kind? Is it necessary? and, Is it clear? He devotes one chapter to each one of these questions.

The chapters are laid in identical form. They begin with a Scriptural Meditation on the question. He gives numerous verses that provide biblical guidelines for true, kind, necessary, and clear communication. He then discusses the heart of the issue, trying to define what is most important regarding the topic. He discusses how the Golden Rule applies to each question. He then identifies at least twenty mistakes that we make when it comes to true, kind, necessary, and clear communication, as well as how to fix the problem in your own communication and how to address those who abuse it in communicating to you. He closes each chapter by reminding the reader of the standard that God calls us to in communication.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookLook Bloggers <http://booklookbloggers.com> book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.

 
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Posted by on August 10, 2017 in Books, Social Media