Just Remember

Have you ever had a rough patch?  Have you ever had a series of days, weeks, or months where you felt isolated, unappreciated, misunderstood, or even discouraged because of your relationships with others?  Stretches like these can quench your desire to connect deeply with others.

Apparently, Asaph, the author of Psalm 77 had his share of rough patches.  His were so rough that he lost sleep, couldn’t pray, and even thought God had turned against him.  But instead of soaking in his sorrows, Asaph shifted his focus to the good times.  He remembered that life isn’t always rough, and there is light at the end of our seemingly endless tunnels.

When you find yourself in a rough patch in your relationships, do like Asaph – remember the good times.  Some of the best advice I ever received conveys the same message: don’t let your highs get too high or your lows get too low.  Keep everything in perspective – life won’t always be rough.

Thought to Consider:
How do you handle your rough experiences?

Just Listen

Frank Tyger once said, “Be a good listener.  Your ears will never get you in trouble.”  Jesus said, “So pay attention to how you hear.  To those who listen to my teaching, more understanding will be given …” (Luke 8:18, NLT).  Both of these quotes highlight the importance of listening.

In the few years I’ve been in leadership, I’ve learned that listening is an invaluable tool for building great relationships with others.  People gravitate to listeners, for in their presence, they truly feel prioritized.  Here are some of the lessons I’ve learned while developing my ability to listen:

  • Listeners develop relationships with ease.
  • People communicate open and honestly with listeners.
  • Listening will reveal the root of problematic behaviors.
  • People often resolve their issues without your input, if you just listen.

Listening has endless benefits, both naturally and spiritually.  If you haven’t developed your listening skills, I encourage you to try.  God was intentional when He gave us two ears and one mouth.  Take advantage!

Thought to Consider:
Are you a good listener?

The Clean Slate

Have you ever drawn a conclusion about someone you had only heard about?  Ananias did.  When God told him to do something for Saul, he refused because of what he had heard about him.  If God hadn’t overruled his objection, Ananias probably would not have met Saul, who eventually became Paul, one of the greatest Apostles.

Sometimes we judge people inaccurately because of their reputation.  We hold them hostage to their past and even believe they cannot change.  Consequently, we miss opportunities to develop meaningful relationships with people who may be awesome or have insight that can help us.

When I’m tempted to judge someone too quickly, I try to give him or her a clean slate.  That’s how God treats me.  Daily, He gives me a fresh opportunity that’s detached from my past!  I encourage you to do the same thing.  Give people a clean slate.  You never know – the person you’re hesitant to connect with may be on the path to greatness.

Thought to Consider:
Do you give people a clean slate?

Let Them Be Human

Have you ever noticed that people tend to be hard on others?  I’ve been a confidant on many occasions, and I’m always amazed at the opinions people have of others.  I’ve noticed that some people have higher expectations for others than they do for themselves.

One of the God-inspired people skills I use to combat this tendency is the subject of this email: let them be human.  I’d argue that we’re all guilty of having unrealistic expectations of others.  We want them to “dot every ‘i’ and cross every ‘t’,” especially when they interact with us.  Paul, however, gives us a reality check about ourselves and others: For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard (Romans 3:23, NLT).  We all have areas for improvement, and remembering this can spare you of some unnecessary stress.

The next time someone says something that rubs you the wrong way, drives recklessly in front of you, or doesn’t meet your expressed expectations, remember this: they’re just being human.  No one is perfect, so we shouldn’t expect it.  I encourage you to let others be human.  After all, God gives you the same courtesy.

Thought to Consider:
Are your expectations of others too high?

Break My Heart

The title of this email may seem odd, especially since Valentine’s Day was last week.  There’s never a good time to break someone’s heart, right?  Or, is there?  According to Mark 3, there just may be.

The heart is often referenced in terms of our receptiveness to God’s Word.  The verse listed above contrasts two heart conditions – hard and soft.  The Pharisees had heart hearts.  They knew the Word, but they didn’t let it change them.  Because of the hardness of their hearts, they missed a precious opportunity.

The man with the withered hand, however, had a soft heart.  When Jesus spoke, He listened.  Because of his receptiveness, he received a miracle.

After I read this passage, I thought about how many times I had resisted God’s voice.  I thought about how many times I refused to implement what I read in His Word.  I’ve had a hard heart, and maybe I’ve missed some miracles because of it.  This gave me a new perspective – I want God to break my heart.  I want Him to break down every wall that I’ve put up that hinders the flow of His miraculous power.

In the parable of the sower, Jesus explains that people who hear and receive God’s Word (soft heart) are more productive.  I hope you’ll let Him break your heart, so you’ll see His power at work in your life.

Thought to Consider:
Do you have a soft or hard heart?

Unsung Hero

Mark 5:27 notes that the woman with the issue of blood came to Jesus after she heard about Him.  When I read that, I thought, “Who told the woman about Jesus?”  To speak to this woman required a great sacrifice.  At this time, anyone who went around a woman who was bleeding risked becoming ceremonially unclean, and consequently, unable to worship and fellowship with family and friends.  In spite of the inherent risks, a messenger told the woman about Jesus.

Ironically, the messenger’s name is not mentioned.  He or she remains anonymous.  That also made me think.  How often do we fail to recognize those who help us?  All of us are the beneficiaries of someone else’s advice, listening ear, support, or resources.  Although we reap benefits from others, we seldom pause to acknowledge the impact they have on us.

The woman with the issue of blood did not thank the messenger who directed her to Jesus (at least not in Mark 5).  I hope you’ll choose otherwise.  Make time to thank the unsung hero who has helped you along the way.  Your thankfulness can work wonders!

Thought to Consider:
Who’s your unsung hero?  Have you thanked him or her lately?

You’re God’s V.I.P.

One of my best friends shared his mantra for the New Year with me.  Each day, he strives to go above and beyond for someone else.  A few days ago, an older woman was the beneficiary of his kindness.  He offered to carry her luggage from a flight they shared.  In other words, he treated her like a V.I.P. (very important person), sacrificing himself to make her feel special.

My friend’s gesture of kindness made me think about how Jesus treats us.  He’s never too busy or preoccupied to stop and help us.  The woman with the issue of blood is a witness.  Jesus treated her so special that He stopped what He was doing to help her.  He could have kept moving toward Jairus’ house, but He paused to show her how much He cared.

I’m thankful that God gives us the V.I.P. treatment.  Every morning when you open your eyes, every breath you take, and every heartbeat you enjoy is a sign of how special He thinks you are.  So, live each day like a V.I.P.  If no one else thinks you are, God certainly does!

Thought to Consider:
How does God treat you like a V.I.P.?

Enjoy Where You Are

Do you have a vision for your life?  Do you have a clear picture of where your life could go if you maximized your potential?  If you do, then you may realize that the vision that often inspires you can also be disheartening.  The longer it takes to reach the life you envision, the harder it is to cope with where you currently are.

Sometimes, we get so anxious to reach our vision that we forget to “smell the roses” along the way.  In the verses cited above, Paul gives us a different perspective.  With God’s help, he learned to be content – totally satisfied – in whatever phase of life he was in.  In other words, he completely enjoyed each season of his life.

So, what about you?  Do you enjoy where you currently are?  If not, then consider the benefits of where you are.  I truly believe that our steps are ordered by God, and He has a purpose for every phase of our lives.  Our challenge is to enjoy each phase, believing they will lead to our destiny.

Thought to Consider:
Do you enjoy where you are?

What Are You Thinking?

Have you ever been asked this question: “What were you thinking?”  If you’re like me, you probably heard that after behaving uncharacteristically.  Today, I want to ask you a similar question: what are you thinking?  Proverbs 23:7 is clear – we are what we think.  So, who are you, based on what you’ve been thinking?

We are byproducts of what we think, so we must monitor our thoughts closely.  More specifically, Paul says some things aren’t worth thinking about.  In Philippians 4:8, he encourages us to only think about positive things.  Why?  Again, we are what we think.

Again, I raise this question: what are you thinking?  If your answer is not favorable, then let this message encourage you to evict your negative thoughts.  Think about the great things God is doing in your life, and watch your life transform before your eyes!

Thought to Consider:
Do you have any thoughts that need to be replaced?

Exchange It

Have you ever received something that didn’t meet your expectations?  Maybe it was a gift from a loved one, an outfit that looked better in the store than on you, or a device that seemed too good to be true.  Aren’t these disappointing experiences more manageable when you can exchange the item?  It’s a joy to know you can exchange something you don’t like for something you do.

What if the same thing was true in other areas of our life.  Can you exchange pain, anxiety, and other unwelcome emotions for love, joy, and peace?  Absolutely, and Paul gives the terms of the exchange in Philippians 4:6-7.  Through prayer, we can exchange life’s worst for God’s best!

Now, that’s a pretty sweet deal!  Want to try it?  If you have “weight” that you need to unload, turn it over to God.  He’ll exchange it for His peace and comfort.

Thought to Consider:
What do you need to exchange for God’s peace and comfort?