Many Will Be Offended

There is a growing wave of resentment and polarization that I have noticed in the last four or five years. I see it in the news, I read about it in the newspapers and I hear it at my local diner every time I’m there.  What really disturbs me is that I’ve never, ever heard anything even close to this level of negative discontent at any other point in my life. The degree of division and outraged frustration is, in my mind, a symptom of a much greater problem,… that of offence.

There is a reason why the title of this is “Many Will Be Offended”. The quote is from a wonderful passage in the Bible, Matthew 24:10. In it Jesus speaks about what life will be like for those who want to live right when times are hard. It says people will become hard-hearted and selfish, they will simply hate one another and then it states that “many will be offended”. The word “offended” comes from a Greek word that means “a bait stick, a trap or a snare”. In other words, in that day people will be snared by, or stuck in an offended condition, and anger will be the prevailing attitude.

If we honestly consider the world around us right now, we can’t deny that this is in fact a perfect picture of what is unfolding. The question is, how will you choose to respond to all of the above? Some will move in the direction of fear and “hunker down” in a bomb shelter of self-imposed isolation to protect themselves. Others will choose to turn a blind eye and live in ignorant bliss until the mess around them eventually sweeps them away. I believe those with wisdom will recognize the times and act in a way that helps others in the present and secures their own future.

I was once told that the smallest package in the world is a man all wrapped up in himself. The older I get the more I agree. The solution to fear, offence and self-centeredness is not found in protecting myself. If we set our eyes on helping others and put them first, it unlocks a spirit of generosity in our own life. Once that begins to flow, God will step in and partner with us in all we do. This, in case you missed it, is the real definition of success, and in this atmosphere offence can’t survive.

Every pilot, sea-captain and driver knows that we always move towards where we are looking. If I look to myself that is where the boat of my life will end up going. Let me suggest that you should begin looking up to heaven and out to others. Not only will that secure your future, it has the potential to secure the future of everyone you touch. In the final analysis, that is a life well lived and anyone who goes this way will never have time to be offended!

Be Still And Know

There is a wonderful passage that I go back to time and time again which never fails to make a difference in my busy life. Psalms 46:10 says “Be still and know that I am God”. I have learned over the years that this is more than just a few well written words of truth. It is, in fact, a statement of absolute truth that holds a depth which seems to bring everything into a clear perspective. Until I recognized just how meaningful these words were, I agonized over things that goaded me along a path which was not always productive or beneficial.

In this post modern age, the ability to “be still” is an art that is all but lost. Smart phones, tablets and a multitude of other electronics intrude into what was once a personal place of sacred solitude. Here, in the rarefied atmosphere of a peaceful heart, God Himself could come and breathe the vision, clarity and direction we were all lacking. In that still place of waiting, He would satisfy the longing or our heart and settle all the acrid dust of life that was swirling around. We needed it, we hungered for it, and we were never really satisfied within until we had experienced it.

The distractions of our constant electronic companions have built us into a society of isolated techno drones. I watch people walk together without any conversation because each is focused on the text, email or phone call that just commandeered the moment. Beeps, clicks, buzzes and song clips sing out in church services, movie theaters, living rooms, soccer games, courtrooms and bathrooms.

I have watched young mothers in play parks with their children, but they were not “present to the moment”. Their eyes, minds and hearts were not focused on that fleeting and magnificent gift of childhood. They were instead drawn away by an electronic intruder that hijacked the time. Even worse is that it is allowed to continually rob them at any given moment of every single day.

Until we really learn how important it is to “be still” we will never be able to “know .. God” or be able to recognize all of His creation that we are missing.  When your life is nearly over, and you only have days or perhaps hours to live, what would you give to get back all the time that was wasted? Think of how much living has been robbed from you and your family just because a beep, a click or a ring invaded the moment. Take control of your life today and rediscover the power of being still once again. You won’t regret it and neither will those you love!

Our End Is Our Beginning

Of all the things I have experienced in life, coming to the end of my own ability to “get the job done”, has been one of the most terrifying and liberating. I can’t fully explain why other than to say it sets me free from the pressure to know what must be done next. When I finally conclude that I can’t do any more than I have and I must let it go or drive myself crazy, it’s such a sweet release.

Imagine what life would be like if you could come to the place of calm acceptance when you finally face the reality of an unalterable situation. I have hit many of these in my lifetime and for the most part I refused to back off, back up of back down. Then, after weeks or months of frustration and mental contortions that failed to bring about any change, I finally gave in to the truth that this was out of my control. I needed to just let it go… so I did!

It may have been a person, a situation or a self-inflicted demand that simply was not reasonable, but I happened to miss that point. I usually bang my head against it, speak with reason and clarity to it, and even try to work with it as a show of good faith. In the end, I threaten to “never give up” and “if it kills me I will die falling forward against it”. And what is the usual result? I waste a lot of time, energy and raw emotions on something that never had any intention of changing and it sucked way a great deal of my life’s time and focus.

Perhaps you have let your life be ruled by “time tyrants”. These are people and things that demand your attention, siphon off your time and drain your energy, but refuse to be reasonable no matter what you do to appease them. My suggestion is quite simple. It’s your turn to take full control of things and just let go. It will amaze you how quickly you will gain composure, find peace of mind, reclaim clear vision and begin to move forward in what’s really important in life.

Remember, it’s not your job to make everything right. No mater what others think or what you demand of yourself you don’t have that kind of power. It’s your job to make your life, and the lives of those who love you, as right as you are able. As for the rest of the world…they need to get over it and get a life of their own. Why? Because it’s N.Y.P.(not your problem!)

Look Up And See What You Are Missing !

I saw an amazing sunrise this morning and it caught me totally by surprise. I happen to look up because the world around me had suddenly become bathed in soft red, deep rose and a wondrous light pink. Every house, car and tree limb was highlighted in a way that seemed unearthly and almost impossible.

Yet there it was, the clouds and horizon were on fire with such vibrant intensity that it took me breath away. Deep blue sky back-dropped a spike of vermilion clouds that stretched up from the earth and cut across the morning sky. It was an awe-inspiring moment that I will never forget…and I almost missed it! I was so busy getting my day started that my mind and eyes were totally focused on all that “had” to be done.

In the silent moment that followed,  I stood there in the street and watched as the entire event just faded away…. as if it had never happened. In that brief interlude of time I had an epiphany. A revelatory insight that hit me about life, my life that is, and I realized I have often lived it without looking up to see the beauty that is all around me. It struck me that the business of life had often robbed me of the joy of living.

How many times in your life have your spouse, your kids, your grand kids or your friends had breath-taking events, or fleeting moments of great joy happen, and you missed it? You were there, somewhere, but looking elsewhere. These treasured snapshots of life are as rare and magnificent as the sunrise I just witnessed. They come like shooting stars in the night sky that flash past unexpectedly, and if you are not engaged in the life that surrounds you, you will fail to look up and they are gone forever.

Unplug from the computer, turn off the smart phone, the TV, the Ipod, the tablet and all the other “life suckers” that are wasting the precious time you have. Those around you are the only jewels of your life-crown. Get your vision on them as they experience victory and defeat. If you become part of their life events, you will also become part of their history, their memory and become a molder of their life message. What better legacy is there to leave behind?  Think about it for a moment and take the time to look up and see the glory that is in the people who are all around you! It will change you, and forever impact the lives of those who know you are there watching, because they know they are really what’s important in your life.

Life Without Regret

Have you ever wondered what it might be like to live life in a way that was pleasing to you and to everyone around you? Don’t misunderstand me, I realize this is probably impossible in the world that we live. People have their own idea about how things should be and this lends itself to a great deal of controversy. Perhaps the best we can do is learn how to live our life in a way that helps others and works best for us. What I mean is, we need to live our life passionately and without regret.

That concept, living life without regret, seems like a foreign idea to many people. Let me assure you it certainly should not be that way. To get there we must move beyond the false belief that it is our responsiblity to make sure the people around us are happy. People are responsible for themselves in that department. If your joy depends on what I do, then you have left me in control of your life. In case you missed it, not having “self-determination” is about as unhelathy as it gets for everyone. This is what we call “co-dependency”. Do yourself a huge favor, grow up and learn to take control of your own life. It’s your train so you might as well drive it!

Once we get past the fear of making mistakes it is possible to move into a realm where each day can be lived with a sense of satisfaction, purpose and genuine fulfillment. Such a life begins when we find our purpose and our place of passion. Only those with purpose and passion live, I mean really live. The rest of humanity slogs along from day to day wondering why they are here and how much longer they will be stuck in the waiting room of life. They think that winning the lottery, getting a promotion or findinng that perfect “someone” will bring things together. What they fail to realize is that untill THEY are “together”, and have a vision of their own, there will always be more puzzle pieces than picture to their life.

Are you ready to cross over into your real life, the one you know you were created to live? If you said yes to that question then let me encourage you, be bold and begin to take a few risks. Get outside your comfort zone and learn what it means to walk the less traveled road. Rekindle the dream that is in your heart and begin to believe things can be different. Allow yourself the pleasure of making decisions and the joy of learning from life’s mistakes. Once you do you will never go back to your old standard. Take it from someone who has lived on both sides of this fence, the grass really is greener on the other side! To quote Jim Cook, a very wonderful man who is now in heaven “it’s amazing what you can do if you’ll only try”. Get out there today and try. You might just be surprised at how wonderful life really is!

When Life Makes No Sense

Have you ever experienced something that just came out of nowhere and it rocked your world? This is the kind of thing that you may have been told about, or even read about, but it never crossed your mind that it could, or would, happen to you. These are what psychologists call “seasonal events”. That is, when they happen it either ends or begins a new season in your life and things will never be the same. It could be the death of a loved one, the loss of a job, a move to a new place or a hundred other things that enter your life and you are forever changed.

In these events, what actually changes is our personal concept of reality, and how we fit into it. How we process life, and what our part is in the lives of others, provides a basic frame of reference. When that reference point is changed, life changes with it. Be it good or bad, we have to learn how to not only embrace change, we have to learn how  to go beyond it. What I discovered as a consultant in the business and private world, is that those who flourish have learned how to thrive because of change.  This is the key that brought them success at every level and in every season of life.

How we respond to change makes all the difference. Respond well and we will grow, develop new strategies and thrive. Respond poorly, (this is called resisting) and we will miss the opportunities that will be presented through our new situation. It’s the difference between longing for the past, living in the present or looking for the future. To quote a wonderful man of God I know “you’re somewhere in the future and you look much better than you look right now”. Get that concept living inside you and it will shock you how quiclky you will begin to anticipate your next “seasonal event”.

Life makes no sense when we hold it so tightly that it dies from strangulation. Do yourself a favor and begin to let go of the past. Look more to where you are going then where you have been. The real you is somewhere in the future, but you have to embrace change, and enjoy what it brings, in order to get there. The bottom line in all this is very simple.  Any time you sacrifice what you can be on the altar of what you are, you have settled for something much less than what you were created to be.  Go live your life with passion and embrace those seasonal events as a gift. When you do, you will also find out what it means to live your life without regret. This my friends, is what we were made for, and it’s the only way to have a life filled with meaning that positively impacts the lives of others.

Finding Real Life In A World Of Change

We are entering the fall season and it is a very wonderful and unsettling time. It is during this shift that we see the ebb and flow of life and are forced to recognized that everything must change. None of us are immune to it no matter what our financial, social or emotional status is.

As I watch the leaves turn color and drop to the ground, something in me begins to better understand how fleeting life really is, and how important it is to drink in every moment. This gift we have been given lasts 80 or 90 years for some. For others it ends much more quickly. Whenever it ends, it is gone all too soon, just like those beautiful leaves in a brisk October wind.

My mother, who is currently 97 and going strong, is a remarkable acception. Her zeal for living, love of people and desire to just be a blessing to everyone has served her well. Though her memory has faded a bit, she is still the same happy, upbeat lady she was at age 40. It’s always a pleasure to spend time with her and hear her speak of the life she has enjoyed and the people she enjoyed it with. I know of few other people who have lived with such a simple but profound impact on so many others.

I asked her not long ago what her secret was and her answer was a wakeup call for me in many ways. It was a very short list pulled together from what she had learned over nearly 10 decades of living life to the fullest. As I considered what she said I made a mental check list of my own to see how I stacked up against her proven standard. I share it now so that you may use it, as I did, to evaluate the kind of life you have and the kind of person you really want to be.

1. Refuse to be offended.
2. Speak kindly and with grace.
3. Pray for others, for family and for yourself daily.
4. Share food, fun and laughter with everyone.
5. Always be a good listener.
6. Always be an encourager.
7. Believe for the best in people and forgive the worst.

Thanks mom! You have always been my hero….