Where are you looking?

Where are you looking? Nothing can steal God's vision for our life like the nagging things right before us. Worry about the next step we take or the enemies we may face can only paralyze our forward movement.

He almost crashed the helicopter. It was one of his first lessons and he was fighting the urge to look straight down at the controls. But the only way to keep the chopper stable was to lift his eyes, trust his hands, and look to a distant horizon. Now he was beginning to fly with fresh confidence.
She couldn't keep the car swaying from the center line and back to the far right shoulder of the road. It wasn't a drinking and driving situation. She was a new driver. It was a focus crisis. With a slight lifting of her head she looked far down the road and immediately the car traveled smoothly in the center of it's lane.

The temptation is to fixate on that thing right before us. But enemies will loom too large, mountains become too daunting, our next step becomes too fearful. But God! Yes, there is no other friend like God. And when we gaze upon him the pressure of the present is lifted – God carries our emotional load and gives us courage to move ahead. Where are you looking? Meditate on this wonderful passage of scripture.

Psalm 121
   I
lift up my eyes to the hills.
    From where does my help come?
2 My help comes from the Lord,
    who made heaven and earth.
3 He will not let your foot be moved;
    he who keeps you will not slumber.
4 Behold, he who keeps Israel
    will neither slumber nor sleep.
5 The Lord is your keeper;
    the Lord is your shade on your right hand.
6 The sun shall not strike you by day,
    nor the moon by night.
7 The Lord will keep you from all evil;
    he will keep your life.
8 The Lord will keep
    your going out and your coming in
    from this time forth and forevermore.

Habit of Focus

It’s time to narrow your focus. We simply can’t take a big step, let alone run a great race, without blocking out distractions. Where we’re going is inextricably linked to where our focus is. God’s greater plan and destination for our lives will be challenged by distractions. I love this powerful truth in Scripture about getting focused: “Let your eyes look directly forward, and your gaze be straight before you. Ponder the path of your feet; then all your ways will be sure. Do not swerve to the right or to the left; turn your foot away from evil.” Spiritual blinders are mandatory equipment when life (with all its noise, shiny things, and urgent needs) has a grip on us. This first big step can only really happen when we get the blinders on.

There’s a subtlety about the busyness of life. Without the habit of focus, some distractions appear to look better than ever before. It’s a mirage. That urgent (but most often trivial) thing that grips us is actually baiting us to turn from the extraordinary that lies just over the river. Yes, there will always be something large or small that presents itself in our minds as a compelling reason not to step out. Our human spirit just needs the smallest excuse to never take that first big step. Compromising to-do-list items and compromising people can’t stand to be left behind. Because of this you can’t even afford to take a peek and look back at them. We need to trust God to sort out the stuff, or the people, who can’t take the trip.

But spiritual blinders aren’t nearly as much about blocking out the periphery, it’s more about getting so intently focused on our leader that nothing can distract us. Jesus is ultimately the only leader to follow, so our full attention and affection must be fixed on Him. He wrestled with taking big steps, but He broke through and ran the race to His death so that we could live. We don’t fix our eyes on a cross or even an empty tomb; Jesus is risen. It’s God who authored the vision for your life and it’s God who will perfect it. Get the blinders on, get focused, and let God get to work. 

Proverbs 4:25–27; Hebrews 12:2

Don't Dismiss The Rich

Is routine beneficial? Does exercise and health really matter? Can television steal money from our wallets? What does setting goals have to do with finances? How does the training of our kids reveal things about ourselves? 

Alright, the finding are in. The info graphic below is the result of a study that produces some interesting findings about wealthy people. And we need to be careful. We often fall off on two dangerous sides of the money issue. Yes, I Timothy 6:10 is clear, "the love of money is the root of all evil". But money is not evil and there are clearly some great disciplines we can learn from the people of wealth. 

The truth is that a love affair with money is deadly. But don't let that be an excuse for laziness. There are scores of passages that deal with the sluggard. Paul was pretty clear that "if anyone is unwilling to work, let him not eat" (II Thess. 3:10). Well now, that's serious! There are some terrific insights about rich people that we'd all be wise to learn from. If we have the humility to not dismiss the rich we may find ourselves feeling better, leaving a stronger legacy, and with a little more jingle to invest in God's kingdom work. 

This is worth checking out...

 

Turn Lemons (Trials) Into Lemonade

Last weekend I delivered this message. I hope you find it massively encouraging and that peace guards your heart. The trials you face today are leveraged by God to do something extraordinary in your life. Believe it! 

I'm taking a weeklong break from broadcasting and blogging. I'll be back, fresh, recharged, and ready to rumble. God speed...

The Tomb Is Empty...So Let's Go

What a day! Yesterday we celebrated that Christ is risen. He did it - he did for you and me what we could never do for ourselves. He crushed the tempter. He carried our sin and shame. And he beat the odds makers when he rose from the grave.

This was more than a day to remember. It's a day to hit the reset button. It's a time for new beginnings, fresh God-given goals, and to honor God's victory by embracing things beyond our capacity.

Yesterday marks a new day. It can mark the beginning of a whole new you. I Corinthians 15:57 is clear "But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ." Let's go!

So how do we go? I have three thoughts: 1. Jesus rose up and you don't have stay down. There is nothing you have done that God can't redeem. No amount of past failure has to define a Christ follower. So today is a day to get up and dust yourself off. 2. Get so focused on Christ that distractions look blurry. The statement that "a person can be so heavenly minded that they are no earthly good", was invented by someone who couldn't see beyond themselves. With eyes fixed on Jesus our life will be full of light. 3. Step out by faith. Faith doesn't wait until peace floods our soul. Peace is often granted as a result witnessing God deliver us while we are gripped with fear and uncertainty. Take that step today.

 

Don't Get Killed By Comparison

Some spiritual disciplines can seem odd, hard to quantify, and not at all compelling. But if we take an honest look at our options, we can get fired-up in a second.

Focusing our life on God and having spiritual blinders can strike us as being relevant for only the hyper-spiritual. But "fixing our eyes on Jesus" is one of the most life-enhancing, fruitful, and fulfilling disciplines to pursue. God focus can actually save us from a ton of heartache and missed opportunities. Consider the common alternative–comparison. Comparison may have some slight benefit in basic measurement, but comparison is generally destructive.

Comparison can create ENVY. Comparing ourselves with others rarely produces gratitude for what others possess or have achieved. Competition is a solid truth of scripture, but it's aim is to get a huge personal win, not beat someone else or take them down. Comparison might get us moving, but if the motivation is to put us above someone else, the payoff will certainly be small. Envy springs up where comparison is planted.

Comparison can create APATHY. The reason God calls us to live extraordinary lives is simple. What's "normal" in this world is not enough for God's kids...period. If we want to live "better than most" we may well be settling for a life with a giant sucking sound. Abundant life will never be experienced by comparing ourselves to others. The absence of comparison gives us a chance at a vision and a life that's God sized. "Normal" is the result of living life by comparison.

So fix our eyes on Jesus. Lift up our eyes to God. Put on the blinders to block out comparison and soon we'll have power to live with love and compassion.

Psalm 121, Hebrews 12

Discover Focus

There's no vision for our life that is greater than God's vision. So never settle for aimlessness or even busyness for that matter. Our life can count for something dynamic. Our gifting can be tapped into in ways like we've never imagined. Our legacy can be as rich as our God is great. Our soul can be saturated by a peace that transcends understanding. And all of this can be our new reality, even as we walk through tough personal trials. Yes, our desire to breath, taste, and experience abundant life is even more than the American dream. So we better not settle for anything less than God's best. 

But God's best is often missed by substituting one big problem for another even larger one. Many of us struggle with seasons of aimlessness. Wondering where to focus our life and what to drill down on in life is a common point of discussion. Myriad books are written on finding our sweet spot and staying in it. But without God speaking into the equation we trade aimlessness for busyness. And that's trading down. When lacking clear direction we must resist getting busy. Our greatest need when a sense of aimlessness strikes our soul is to seek the God who gave us our unique design. 

God's plan for aimlessness is not to get a degree in vision. Look at how change really happens.

"Where there is no prophetic vision the people cast off restraint, but blessed is he who keeps the law." 

If we carve out consistent time and in this time pour over the word of God, we WILL receive a joy-filled vision for our lives. There is one other element to put in the mix. Always have a trusted mentor to check your work. Find that person who loves us enough to not be a "yes person" but who will always point us us back to the truth of who God is and who we are in him. 

So trade in aimlessness for the revealed plan God has for your life. Don't get busy. Take the necessary time to dig into the word of God and watch what will happen. The greatest personal discoveries come through self-discovery. 

Proverbs 29:18

The Fear of Taking that First Big Step (Part 3)

Get The Blinders On

That first big step requires narrowing our vision. We simply can't take a big step, let alone run a great race, without blocking out distractions. Where we're going is inextricably linked to where we're looking. God's greater plan and destination for our life will be challenged by fearful distractions. This is why one of the most powerful truths in scripture involves getting focused - "Don't look to the left or the right." Spiritual blinders are mandatory equipment when fear has a grip on us. This first big step can only really happen when we get the blinders on.

There’s another subtlety about fear. That fear that creeps up in us is looking for an excuse. Fear can find compelling reasons not to take that first big step. Without blinders, some distractions appear to look better than ever before. It's a mirage. The fear that grips us is always looking for a way out, or a compelling reason not to step out. Our fear just needs the smallest excuse to never take that first big step. There's a good reason why we need blinders. Our fear is looking for an excuse and compromise loves company. It's true, compromise can't stand to be left behind. Because of this you can't afford to take a peak. It's God who authored the vision for your life and it's God who will perfect it. Get the blinders on and let God get to work. 

But spiritual blinders aren’t nearly as much about blocking out the periphery, it’s more about getting so intently focused on our leader that nothing can distract us. Yes, Jesus is ultimately the only leader to follow so our full attention and affection must be fixed on him. He wrestled with big steps, but he broke through and ran the race to his death, so that we could live. But the grave could not hold him so we don’t fix our eyes on a cross or even an empty tomb, Jesus is risen. Get the blinders on, we have a big first step that we have to take.

Proverbs 4:27, Hebrews 12:2