Life Lesson Series – Time Management

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Time is an illusion, there is always time and then there is no time at all. It is here and gone in the same instant.

On the 28th this month I will turn 48 and for the most part, there is very little I regret  about my life. One of those is that I did not spend enough time with my kids as they were growing up. Don’t get me wrong, I was fortunate to be able to spend an incredible amount of time with them over the years but now that they have moved on to new chapters of their lives, and I selfishly wish I had even more memories to draw from.

Time management is a discipline that needs to be developed and takes a lot of work to do it effectively. First of all, I would recommend that you take inventory of your life. What in your life is most important to you? Go ahead, write them down, study them, make sure to include everything that is important to you. Now once you have your list down – rank them in order of importance. For some, this exercise will be difficult as you begin to rank them because, if your honest, you may realize some things are more important than you thought.

Now, for some, the next step will the hardest. Beside each of the things you listed, record the amount of time you spend on each of those things daily. If you don’t do this honestly, than you are just wasting time (pun intended!). I really think this exercise can be a catalyst in resetting your life. Helping you to refocus your efforts, to ensure that you have time to devote to those things you say is important.

An exercise I went through several years ago also affected the way I spend my time and honestly, still have to remind myself to do it on occasion. Usually, when I’m feeling overwhelmed that I don’t have time to complete everything on my list. So what is the exercise you ask? Purpose. What is the purpose of me spending time doing X? If I can define why something is important to me, it helps me to prioritize. A part of defining is to understand it’s purpose. I know it may seem a little trivial or kind of out there, but it worked for me.

Time is a gift from God and should never be taken for granted, especially by followers of Christ. I could do a whole other post on this topic  alone. And even if you don’t believe in God, you should never waste your time. All of us at some point, will die, at least physically. It’s funny how my mindset has changed over the years and continues to do so as I advance in age. At 18, I didn’t give time a second thought. I had my whole life in front of me with plenty of time to spare.

At 25, I started to realize I only had a certain amount of time to make “real” money and provide for my wife and kids.  Priorities changed and my life took a whole new direction. At 40, I started looking at what was really important in my life, what things did I need to concentrate on to ensure that my kids would be ready to leave their mother and I. Also, at 40, I took an honest assessment of what my testimony looked like to those around me. In other words, was I truly walking the walk of being a Christ follower or was it just talk?

So, on the cusp of being 48, I have begun looking ahead, at what my legacy might be in 30 or 40 years. Plenty of time to create, develop and implement a strategy of accomplishing the goals I have set. But, here’s the thing. I’m not promised tomorrow but I do have today!! So really, for me, that’s become my daily question. What will I do today?

Really had no idea this post was going to go in this direction and I’ve thought of scraping it and starting over. But, it is what it is so…..

Last point on time. For me, I have come to realize the most valuable commodity I have in life are the relationships I have with others. So when, I’m faced with a decision on where to spend my time or deciding what’s more important, the decision is usually based on potential impact my decision will have on my relationship with X. That’s why I think it’s critical to know what is TRULY important to you, so that you choose wisely where to spend your time.

Time is not given, you have to take it. Today I just want to encourage you to take time and do the things that are important to you. I have been blessed to have had time to spend with my wife and kids but I know that I am not promised tomorrow. My prayers haven’t changed, I pray that God will give me wisdom to help the kids find their own path and that each day I would grow closer to Him through my relationship with Christ.

May God multiply your time. Blessings to you all. Peace!!

Life Lesson Series – Listening

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I originally posted this back in December but thought it was worth a re-post for this series. 

This is one life lesson that is very much a learned skill and discipline. Ask yourself, How often do you truly listen to the world around you? When in conversation how often do you truly engage the person and listen to what they are telling you? More times than not, I catch myself thinking of my response more than I am actually listening to what is being said.

“One of the most sincere forms of respect is actually listening to what another has to say”. Bryant H. McGill

I love the quote above and think it’s absolutely true. It’s amazing how much more we get out of a conversation when we truly listen to what is being said instead of just hearing them speak. Another aspect of listening and respect is to have eye contact with the person you are conversing with instead of looking at our phones or fidgeting with this or that.

As a kid I had to go to speech therapy 2 times a week for a couple of years so that I could learn how to speak properly. Being born with a cleft pallet caused this process to take longer for me than it did other kids but looking back on it now I realize what a blessing that was, as it taught me how to listen. Time after time, my therapist would say a word or a sentence and then I would have to repeat it back to her. Another benefit of this is that with time I learned how to read lips proficiently. This ability has proven very beneficial over the years.

One of the things I had to overcome and still struggle with to this day is that I have a tendency to look at people’s lips when talking with them instead of making eye contact. As I said earlier, eye contact, is another key component of showing someone respect and something that I made sure to teach my children how to do. When you keep eye contact with someone as their speaking to you, you will also notice that it allows you to see more. Maybe not into their souls but it allows you to see more deeply into the person.

The life lesson of listening is one that is typically overlooked but over the years, at least for me, as become one of the most critical for me. Listening is one discipline I am constantly having to work at, as it is easy for me to be distracted but is also one of the most needed. Another component of listening, especially to God, is to simply be still. In  Psalm 46:10 He says, “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.”

In order to truly hear God, we must learn to be still and allow Him the opportunity to speak to us. To often I find myself going through the motions with God – my prayers become one-sided and I don’t take time to pause and let Him speak to me or during my study time, I may find myself trying to understand a particular passage of scripture and I simply breeze through it without actually taking the time to study or meditate on it, giving Him the opportunity to speak to me.

Again – Listening, to me, is one of those skills that we can never master but by being diligent to try, we can greatly improve the relationships around us.

Would love to hear your thoughts! Really, I would love hear your thoughts. Honestly, ………….I will listen.

Peace and thanks for reading!!

Life Lessons – Learning is the Key

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One of the truly great gifts we are given in life is the ability to learn. I wish I had realized this earlier. I don’t have many regrets in my life but this is definitely one of them. It has only been in the last 20 years or so, that I have developed a passion for learning. Oh, if only I could return to my youth, how very different my pursuit of learning would be. And while I can’t go back, going forward, I can make sure that I learn something new every day.

“Learning is the only thing that the mind never exhausts, never fears, and never regrets”. – Leonardo Da Vinci

During our lifetime, we naturally grow in our knowledge by simply living our life but how much greater could that be if we truly pursued learning as a life long pursuit. In the last 10 years, with the internet explosion, there is literally no end of resources available for anyone who is willing to learn more. I’m old enough to remember the Dewey Decimal System and how frustrating it was when the local library didn’t have that one book I needed to finish a report.

While it’s true that learning simple facts or researching specific topics is as easy as a Google search or asking Siri if she knows the answer, there’s more to learning than just knowing stuff. I submit to you, that while the informational highway has become an Autobahn for quick learning, we are becoming a society that is forgetting how to live and learn life with and from each other. Anyway, I guess the point I’m trying to make is this – learning math, languages, science, history, geography, etc. etc are vital in anyone’s development of knowledge but I hope that we never forget the art of learning from each other.

I’m an avid reader, always have been. I will read just about anything and appreciate anyone who has the discipline to start and finish writing a book. I love blogs and can spend hours on the internet reading various posts from people all over the world. I admit one of my favorite sites is Pinterest. Say what you want but it’s one of the greatest resources available to us today. You can learn how to do just about anything or at least gather new ideas to pursue further.

I love autobiography’s, to be able to delve into the minds of people as they were in the process of living their lives is just so cool to me. I also enjoy personal blogs where people share their thought processes. I love those moments while reading when it’s like – wow, I never thought of looking at that like this. I guess for me, reading represents my second favorite way to learn. It seems to challenge my imagination, my concepts of what I think I know more easily than anything else.

So my favorite way to learn, you ask? From others! I love being able to sit across from someone has they begin to unravel the truths they have learned while living their lives. To be able to see their facial expressions, see into their eyes as they talk, provides a connection that you simply can not gain any other way. As I said earlier, I hope we don’t become a society that forgets the art of learning through personal interaction.

Learning from each other is one of the ways we can “Share the Journey” with others. And I am so thankful for those men and women who have graciously given of their time to pour their knowledge into me!! My hope is that I may also  be found to be as gracious and giving of my time, that others may learn from me.

Peace and thanks for reading!!

A Study of Joseph – Forgiveness before Restoration

God is the ultimate healer as we saw in our last post. After years of trials and tribulations, God delivered Joseph from his afflictions and allowed him to be placed over all of Egypt. Along with that, Joseph was given a new bride and shortly after that, was blessed with two sons. Egypt was soon enjoying 7 years of great prosperity just as Joseph had said they would and Joseph knew that 7 years of famine were to follow. So with preparations made and the storehouses full, Joseph and Egypt were ready for the days that lay ahead.

And just as God had delivered Joseph from his bondage and protected Egypt from the famine, He was about to bring restoration to the house of Jacob (Israel). The onslaught of famine was not immune to Egypt only but was felt around the world, even into the land of Canaan. This week we will look at Genesis 42:1-28 with our focus being on the latter part of the chapter.

In Genesis 42:1-4, we see the plight of famine is reaching across the globe as Jacob instructs the sons to go to Egypt and buy the grain they need to survive. Jacob did not send Benjamin (the youngest) with them. In verse 4 – But Jacob did not send Joseph’s brother Benjamin with his brothers, for he thought, “Something might happen to him”.  I wonder to what extent Jacob did not trust the 10 brothers? Obviously, he was protecting Benjamin but exactly from what, we are not sure. So the brothers, after 20 plus years come face to face once again with the brother they thought they had gotten rid of years earlier! And we see that a dream long forgotten by most, was soon to be fulfilled….partially anyway.

Genesis 42:6-7 – 6 Now Joseph was the governor of the land, the person who sold grain to all its people. So when Joseph’s brothers arrived, they bowed down to him with their faces to the ground. 7 As soon as Joseph saw his brothers, he recognized them, but he pretended to be a stranger and spoke harshly to them. “Where do you come from?” he asked. “From the land of Canaan,” they replied, “to buy food.” They however, did not recognize Joseph so he decided to test them a little. He claimed they were spies to which they obviously denied by telling him their story and that they were the sons of one man and that they were…..wait for it…..honest. Still unknown to them but the sins of their past were about to be unfolded for all to see.

Joseph challenged their response and insisted they were spies to which they confessed even more – in verse  – 13 But they replied, “Your servants were twelve brothers, the sons of one man, who lives in the land of Canaan. The youngest is now with our father, and one is no more.” Joseph decided to test the brothers by holding one of them in prison while the others returned to Canaan to deliver the much needed food and then return with the youngest brother to prove that they were not spies. It’s interesting how the brothers respond to this plight. See, they knew exactly what they had done some 20 years earlier was wrong and they now recognized they were being punished for their sins. Genesis 42:21-22.

Important to note here, I think, is that Joseph was not proposing these tests to his brothers seeking revenge or in some way making them suffer to get even. He is simply testing their current attitudes. Is there any remorse? sorrow for what they had done years ago. Joseph had long since forgiven his brothers for what they had done. It didn’t however, change the overwhelming emotions of having his brothers face to face in his presence. Can you imagine all of the emotions that Joseph must have felt the instant he recognized his brothers?

I would encourage you to read Genesis 42:21-28 for yourself and take in what true forgiveness really looks like. You will notice 3 distinct things about this passage.

1. We are to forgive unconditionally. We may never hear an apology or have a person admit being at fault. Doesn’t matter, we are instructed as Christ followers to forgive. Christ himself forgave us long before we ever admitted of being guilty of anything. Luke 23:34 – 34 Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.”[a] And they divided up his clothes by casting lots. and in Matthew 5:44 – 44 But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 

2. Even with true forgiveness, there may still be some painful, possibly negative emotions. My dad always tried to teach me one principle and that is – Do what you know is right! Period. No execuses. The challenge to this for me, has always been in regards to those who have wronged me. There are some people who have done wrong by me yet I have forgiven them and have been able to do right by them, even when it was tough to do. But in all honesty, there are some who I have tried to forgive but in my heart I honestly don’t know if I would be able to do right by them. I would like to think so, but I know in my flesh, there is a good chance I wouldn’t.

3. Giving forgiveness while also praying for justice is acceptable behavior…the key however, is to who’s justice are praying for? Yours or God’s? True justice can only come from God! And as such, that should help to bring us a sense of peace.  Romans 12:17-19 – 17 Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone.18 If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. 19 Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,”[a] says the Lord. 

4. Last thought. Joseph is also showing great leadership here and in the scriptures to come by helping his brothers restore broken relationships: with him, with each other, their father and ultimately with God himself. So here is a future challenge for you. The next time you find yourself in a position of having to forgive someone – ask yourself this  question – how can I use this situation to help bring the offending person to a closer relationship with Jesus.

Peace and thanks for reading!

A Study of Joseph – Pride Avoided

Finally, after 13 years Joseph is released from prison and not only that, he now finds himself as the 2nd in command of the whole nation of Egypt! As we pick up the story in Genesis 41:41-44, we see that Pharaoh announces Joseph’s rise to power in a big, big, way. After declaring that Joseph will be over all the land of Egypt, Pharaoh removes his signet ring from his own hand and places the ring on Joseph’s hand. And then gives Joseph a brand new wardrobe of fine linen garments to wear and lastly, he then places a gold chain around Joseph’s neck!.

After the makeover his complete, Pharaoh then has Joseph ride in his second chariot and while Joseph is touring the country, servants go before him calling out “Make Way”. Joseph has arrived, he has been delivered from the depths of prison and given a new life to lead. As part of this new beginning, he receives a new name from Pharaoh and also given a new bride, whose name is Asenath. Can you imagine if that happened in our day? The media would just explode with all kinds of coverage about the new kid. Where did he come from? What’s his background? Any skeletons in the closet? and on and on.

I imagine the people of Egypt during this time were also wondering some of the same things. And it had to seem to them, that this had just happened overnight. They had no idea that this new kid had been being groomed for this role over 13 years. They would have no way of knowing what Joseph had to endure during his life to get to this point. Sold into slavery, a servant for years, falsely accused of a crime he didn’t commit and then sentenced to serve his life in prison.

NO CHARGE FOR THE FOLLOWING AS IT IS JUST THOUGHTS AS I AM PREPARING THIS:

What about us today? How often do we look at others and before we really know anything about them or the life they have had to live; pass judgement and decide what our response to them will be – sometimes even before we talk to them. Let me say this another way. How many Joseph’s do we know? Those people that we see, that seemingly have it all figured out and/or at least seem to not have the struggles we do. Do we take the time to get to know them, find out their story or do we simply hold to our initial judgement and leave it up to them to change our opinion?

I think the opposite is true as well. I think there are times when we see those people, that by worldly standards appear to be down and out, undesirable, uneducated, unworthy, etc. and we again, make judgments based on preconceived bias’ we have. Do we condemn them to never having the opportunity to gain our friendship simply because of their appearance. If so, shame on us!!

Ok, back to the study. Joseph answered his calling and did exactly what he had proposed to Pharaoh by going throughout the land of Egypt collecting all the excess grain and storing it in the different cities around the country. Genesis 41:47-49. There was so much excess in fact, that Joseph quit measuring the grains that were collected. For Joseph, the land wasn’t the only thing producing in abundance, as we read about he and his wife welcoming two sons into their family in Genesis 41:50.

It strikes me as I read about all of this that Joseph doesn’t become boastful are prideful. I think it would be easy for him to puff up and say “look, I knew I could do this, I just needed the chance. Look at how great I am managing all this”. No, what we see is the opposite as we look at Genesis 41:51-52 – 51 Joseph named his firstborn Manasseh[a] and said, “It is because God has made me forget all my trouble and all my father’s household.” 52 The second son he named Ephraim[b] and said, “It is because God has made me fruitful in the land of my suffering.”

Joseph recognized and understood that it was by God’s grace and mercy that he was enjoying the life he was now leading. The trials and tribulations that Joseph had endured for those 13 years helped position him to have a grateful attitude and not one of pride. How are we doing with pride today? Do we recognize and honor God regardless of our circumstances or do we boast about what WE have done or if facing trials of our own, do we hold true and steadfast, giving thanks to God despite our plights?

If you take a moment and finish reading the rest of Genesis 41 , you will see that in fact, famine does come, not only to Egypt but the whole world. And as famine spreads across the country, people from everywhere make their way to see Joseph and buy grains in order to keep their families fed.

Next, we will look at restoration and the word that has to happen before that takes place….forgiveness!

Peace and thanks for reading!

A Study of Joseph – Meant for Evil

As we finish up Genesis 37, we get into the events that will set the course for a most remarkable journey for Joseph. And as we do so, I want to draw attention to the fact, that just like today, they also had to deal with evil in Joseph’s day as well.  Looking at this passage we will see different types evil, along with character flaws, shortcomings, and although men conspired to do evil, God used it to fulfill His purpose and protected Joseph.

Genesis 37:12-26. The brothers had taken the flocks to Shechem to graze when Israel (Jacob) decides to send Joseph to find out what’s going on with the brothers. Why he wants to do this, who knows but here we have a reinforcement of favoritism being displayed to the brothers. So, whatever the reason,  he decided to send Joseph to Shechem to find his brothers, And in verse 15 is the following: A man found him there, wandering in the field, and asked him, “What are you looking for?” I make note of this verse because what if the man hadn’t of been there? Joseph possibly would have returned back home not knowing where his brothers were and if so, would have never ended up being sold into slavery.

How often in our lives have we had a “man” or “something show up” out of the blue that we were able to look back on and think wow, how fortunate we were that they were there? So, tragedy was avoided and Joseph was able to continue on with God’s plan and made his way to Dothan after being directed there by the man. Now in verse, 18, evil is in full bloom with the brothers – “They saw him in the distance, and before he had reached them, they plotted to kill him.” They didn’t want to just mess with him a little bit, maybe beat him up to teach him a lesson. They wanted to KILL him!

Luckily for Joseph, his big brother was there to rescue him and keep him safe. His proposal to his brothers was to put Joseph in the pit without doing the whole killing thing! At first glance, it seems that Reuben is a hero by standing up to them but really – no, not even close. He proved to be a weak leader by not standing up fully against his brothers wishes. He was more concerned about keeping peace among his brothers than simply doing the right thing! Joseph was sparred and was put into the pit alive. Pretty sure that at this point, I would probably begin questioning my whole faith thing.

In verse 26, a new leader is established among the brothers as we see Judah step forward – v.26 Then Judah said to his brothers, what do we gain if we kill our brother and cover up his blood? 27 Come, let’s sell him to the Ishmaelites and not lay a hand on him, for he is our brother, our own flesh.” His brothers agreed. A couple of points. Although mentioned by Reuben earlier, the question of whether or not to kill Joseph is not really answered until this passage when Judah makes his plea. I love how Judah justifies that it is ok to sell Joseph into slavery over just killing him. So in addition to jealousy and anger, we now are introduced to the evil of greed.

As we end this post, I want to make special note of the fact that Joseph, at this point, has absolutely no control over his situation. He has fallen victim to the evil plans of others, family who have essentially cut ties with him forever (or so they thought) and I can only imagine how dark this day for Joseph truly was. And for us today, we would do well to remember that no matter our circumstance or overwhelming the plight we find ourselves may seem, God is in control and we should remember Romans 8:28 – And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.


Peace and thanks for reading

A thought on Leadership for Fathers

I love the movie, The American President, exactly why, I honestly can’t tell you but I do. Every time it’s on, no matter what part of the movie is on, I usually end up watching till it’s conclusion. The movie has a lot of great scenes in it along with some very memorable lines. Tonight as I was watching it, I was struck by a scene – (the know the difference) scene. You can watch the clip that inspired this post here. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HKTqS4bXugg. There are a couple of expletives in this clip.

In this scene, Lewis (played by Michael J. Fox) is taking issue with the President (Michael Douglas) for not speaking up and taking a stand against another candidate who is constantly questioning the President’s values. As the scene begins to hit it’s climax, Lewis tells the President “people want Leadership Mr. President and in the absence of genuine leadership, they’ll listen to anyone who steps up to the microphone. They want leadership. They’re so thirsty for it, they’ll crawl through the desert to where a mirage, and when they discover there is no water, they’ll drink the sand”. President replies and his last sentence to Lewis is “people don’t drink the sand because they’re thristy, they drink the sand because they don’t know the difference”.

Is this not the problem that we are facing today? Maybe I’m wrong but we as fathers need to look at the scene again and replace people with “our children”. Our children want and more importantly NEED genuine leadership and in the absence of it, they will most definitely find any number of other influences to fill that void. It is our responsibility to teach, guide and yes, lead, our children on a path that is truly beneficial for them!!

It is our responsibility to be the spiritual leaders of our home. We have a whole generation of kids falling by the wayside. We, fathers, have allowed them to wander aimlessly in the desert in search of water to drink and sadly, for most of them, they won’t ever find it because we, men, have never led them to the water so that they would know the difference.

Peace and thanks for reading!