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Each of us comes into the world the exact same way — but no two people leave it alike. What we become by the time our clock runs out is the result of the choices we make. There are consequences for good choices and consequences for bad choices. Which kinds of consequences would you like to deal with throughout the course of your life? Are the choices you’re making moving you forward or setting you back?
Are you unintentionally sabotaging yourself through your choices? You don’t have to. You can stop the nonsense you may have been putting yourself through — starting today. And by today, I mean that, literally.
The single most important life management thing you can do is set and protect your start-of-the-day routine. Whether you work third shift or no shift, you can’t afford to go through life on autopilot when it comes to how you start each day. You need to have a start-of-the-day routine that sets up the rest of your entire day for success — so you can live in keeping with being the very best version of yourself.
VIEW TODAY AS A “TILE”
Today will take it’s place as a tile in the mosaic of your life, the masterpiece in the making. Create a beautiful tile. Don’t worry about tomorrow. But you definitely do need to focus on today by creating and protecting your daily routine. The truth is, the entire mosaic of your life hinges on whether or not you do this. If you create and guard your start-of-the-day routine as if your life depends upon it (because it does), everything in all of life will begin to fall into place.
Your morning routine is deeply impacted by your end-of-the-day routine, but that’s for another time for us to explore. Right now, I want you to think about your start-of-the-day routine. What time do you get up? Do you start the very first moment of the day surrendering to your Creator, asking Him to fill you to the overflow, and thanking Him for a fresh start? Remember, yesterday came to an end at midnight, so don’t bring yesterday’s problems into the new day.
Think about these things and how you can bring them into your start-of-the-day routine:
- Get up with enough time to live intentionally. Be on purpose or you’ll drift off purpose.
- Sit quietly and think about how the best version of you would live today.
- Pray and ask God to help you help Him in the fulfillment of His epic Master Plan.
- Intend to take every thought captive throughout the day, so you only plant seeds that you want in the garden of your mind.
- Read — and immediately apply — the Bible.
- Read a good book on how to improve your relationships, communication skills, or anything else you need to learn in order to be the best version of yourself.
- Eat a healthy meal.
- Exercise. Go for a walk. Get your body moving.
- Drink more water than you think you need.
- Don’t accept the person you were last week or last month as the template for who you can and will be today. Refuse to allow yourself to go backward because you are on a journey forward.
God gave you a new day because he loves giving us a clean slate. Don’t dirty your slate with yesterday’s chalk. Get going on being the best version of you. One day, beginning today, you’ll be glad you did.
How do you move forward when you’re running out of steam? The Apostle Paul’s dedication, expressed to his understudy, Timothy, is both perplexing and empowering — because Paul faced more difficulty and opposition than we can comprehend. If he faced it, and endured, we can, too, if we embrace his not-so-secret secret of success.
The man who faced an insane amount of hardship could not be stopped. “For I am already being poured out like a drink offering,” he wrote, “and the time for my departure is near. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award me on that day —and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing.” (2 Timothy 4:6-8, NIV)
Take a look at a mere summary of Paul’s hardships in 2 Corinthians 11:16-30:
“Let no one take me for a fool . . . Whatever anyone else dares to boast about — I am speaking as a fool — I also dare to boast about. Are they Hebrews? So am I. Are they Israelites? So am I. Are they Abraham’s descendants? So am I. Are they servants of Christ? (I am out of my mind to talk like this.) I am more. I have worked much harder, been in prison more frequently, been flogged more severely, and been exposed to death again and again. Five times I received from the Jews the forty lashes minus one. Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was pelted with stones, three times I was shipwrecked, I spent a night and a day in the open sea, I have been constantly on the move. I have been in danger from rivers, in danger from bandits, in danger from my fellow Jews, in danger from Gentiles; in danger in the city, in danger in the country, in danger at sea; and in danger from false believers. I have labored and toiled and have often gone without sleep; I have known hunger and thirst and have often gone without food; I have been cold and naked. Besides everything else, I face daily the pressure of my concern for all the churches. Who is weak, and I do not feel weak? Who is led into sin, and I do not inwardly burn? If I must boast, I will boast of the things that show my weakness.”
WHO’S PLAYING THE FOOL?
Like the Corinthians, we might mistake Paul for a fool — but that’s what everyone who is not sold out to Christ thinks of those who are. Paul was unstoppable because he kept his eyes on Jesus, who he was in Him, and what He called him to do. That’s how he could fall forward after so many “setbacks.” His setbacks merely laid the brick and mortar for his comebacks – and a legacy we admire ages later. Paul fought the fight, finished the race and kept the faith. The same can be true for you.
An apostle, a prophet, priest, pastor or missionary you may not be. But you may be a parent, a son, daughter, business person, student, employee, or retiree. Don’t let a title trick you. Your title is not nearly as important as your task — and you must make sure you don’t swerve from it. Your task is to pour yourself out – in Jesus and for Him – wherever you are, throughout your lifetime.
In Jesus you have a bottomless reservoir of resilience – if you ask for it. Paul drew from His waters – and found the secret Source to keep giving. If you drink from the same Well, you will, too.
Following God, truly following Him, is a battle. But it’s the right battle, a good battle. God didn’t call you to run a sprint. He called you to run a marathon. Keep your heart, mind, strength and soul on Him and your pace will be preserved. He would not call you to pour out what He would not supply. You have your supply in Jesus.
NOW IT’S TIME FOR YOUR COMMENTS. WHAT RESONATES WITH YOU?
Jesus does, and so should you. In life, it’s vital to keep the main thing the main thing. The whole point of identifying with Christ as a “Christian,” is to become like him in character. If we miss this point, we miss the whole point. A person who says they are a Christian, but who doesn’t have a commitment to Christ-like character, is like a couch potato identifying as an Olympic athlete.
If Lady Gaga is a “Christian woman,” then I am an eighteen-year-old, Native American female astrophysicist.
Last week, while dressed like a prostitute in the middle of a concert, Lady Gaga stopped mid-song, extended her middle finger, and shouted a four-letter word to the President and Vice President, calling VP Pence the “worst example of a Chrisitian.” The crowd roared in approval. Then, in an amazing instance of the pot calling the kettle black, Gaga identified herself as a “Christian woman.”
VIDEO: Lady Gaga stops a song to shout out a four-letter word, and then calls herself a “Christian woman.”
What’s wrong with this picture? What’s wrong is that the majority of people don’t understand that being a Christian means being like Jesus Christ. We want six pack abs while gorging ourselves on cheese doodles.
If Lady Gaga is a “Christian woman,” then I am an eighteen year old, native American female astrophysicist. Does saying so make it so? Hardly.
In today’s politically correct, self-identifying world, it’s easy to self-identify as anything we like — but is that enough when it comes to being a real Christian? Watch it yourself, here. Her claim to be a “Christian woman” is about the 1:05 mark:
Yup, I get it. You may say “nobody is perfect,” and you’re right. Yes, there are conservative Christians who haven’t represented Jesus well. But there are liberal Christians just as guilty. Hypocrisy is hip these days — but that doesn’t make it right.
Using someone else’s failures as an excuse for our own does nothing to shape Christ-like character in us. Poor conduct from others is no excuse to continue as we have been, or for ignoring blatantly bad behavior from hypocrites. We’ve each got to call out bad behavior, starting with ourselves.
It’s one thing to behave badly. But real Christians, when they recognize their bad behavior, apologize, repent, and get back on their horses. If that’s not happening, something is wrong at the most basic level.
A genuine Christ follower has a growing concern for personal purity and Christ-like character. He or she has to exhibit, at some point and in a growing manner, a genuine, obvious commitment to being perfected — to becoming more like Jesus Christ in character. If that’s missing, genuine faith is, too.
WHAT YOU’VE HEARD IS WRONG, AND HERE’S WHY
You’ve heard them, I’ve heard them, and you may have even said them. They’re popular pithy phrases people toss out these days, and if you’re not careful you’ll believe what you hear (and perhaps even promote). The only problem is that the phrases are entirely false, and here they are, in all their splendor:
“Jesus didn’t judge.”
In today’s “I can believe anything I want and still be anything I want to be” world, the above statements seem credible — until we go to the book where we get our concept of the historical Jesus in the first place. There, we find that not only did Jesus judge, and not only is he going to one Day judge again, but that anyone who claims to follow him must do the same. Don’t take my word for it. Take it from the Good Book yourself:
“In the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who will judge the living and the dead, and in view of his appearing and his kingdom, I give you this charge: Preach the word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage — with great patience and careful instruction.” (2 Timothy 4:1-2, NIV).
Did you notice that Jesus will be judging — and that real Christ followers must do the same? See the words “correct” and “rebuke”? Do we understand what they actually mean? In order to correct, something must be out of whack. In order to rebuke, someone must be off base. These words describe judging people.
Yes, my friend, Christians must judge people. Have the humility and the courage to confront your own sin, and use the same when confronting the sins of others.
Jesus judged people his first time around (remember the cross?) And, Jesus will judge again. There is no escaping it.
2 Timothy 2:3 gives the reason we should judge, especially in today’s politically correct, upside-down, wrong is right world:
“For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear.” (2 Timothy 4:3).
ITCHING EAR SYNDROME, AN EPIDEMIC
America has become the land of the free and the home of the brave, to our detriment. We want freedom without restraint, and are brave to our own embarrassment. We are a nation where itching ear syndrome has spread far and wide. Plug your ears and stand your ground, or you will be infected . . .
Jesus judged. If you claim to follow him, you must judge, too. If you reject this, and buy into the “don’t judge. Jesus didn’t judge” nonsense, you don’t have the most basic concept of what it means to really identify with Jesus Christ.
It’s time to stand up, speak out, and be courageous. Judge, because the time has come and itch ears abound. Start with yourself, and it will go a long way in helping you judge with love and compassion, not just the expression of truth.
AGREE WITH ME? DISAGREE? EITHER WAY, I’D LOVE TO HEAR FROM YOU . . .
If you’re not careful, you could go through life thinking your circumstances determine your impact and legacy. In reality, you have the ability to shape not only the circumstances of your life but also those of many, many other people — no matter what your circumstances. Life isn’t about the hand we’re dealt, but about how we play each hand. Your decisions, not your circumstances, matter most.
MLK, Jr. changed the world from a remarkably tiny office. He did it without a fax machine, a computer, a smart phone, or a social media account. How, and what lesson is there for us, today?
One of my life’s most transformative moments was our 2016 family visit to Atlanta’s Ebenezer Baptist Church, where the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. co-pastored with his father from 1960 until his 1968 assassination. Amazingly, the pulpit, chair, and platform from which he preached are still used in the sanctuary. Yards away, the body of the small giant lay (he stood only 5’7″ tall) along with that of his wife, Corretta Scott King. That my wife and sons (then eleven and nine years of age) were with us, made it especially significant. My prayer is that the trip forever inspires them to be leaders in the thick of the leadership vacuum gripping our nation.
Life isn’t about the hand we’re dealt, but about how we play each hand.
WHAT ABOUT YOU?
King didn’t let the size of his office determine the breadth of his influence. Neither should you let your influence be determined by your circumstances. Far too often, we get it backwards. What if King let the size of his office dictate the scope of his impact?
Four Questions to Ask Yourself:
- Am I waiting for someone else to lead when I know what needs to be done?
- Am I following, supporting, and encouraging the leaders in my life?
- Have I mistaken circumstances as more important influential factors than my decisions?
- Am I distracted by lessor things than what matters most?
Your family needs you. So does your neighborhood, your church, and your nation. Don’t let your circumstances dictate the size of your impact. Commit yourself to be an agent of positive change. You’ll end up influencing your circumstances, and the people around you, rather than your circumstances limiting you.
HAVE YOU MADE THE MISTAKE OF THINKING YOUR CIRCUMSTANCES, RATHER THAN YOUR DECISIONS, DETERMINE YOUR IMPACT? NOW IS THE PERFECT TIME TO CHANGE YOUR THINKING — AND CHANGE YOUR LIFE.
Be thankful! We hear it all the time. Here’s a powerful suggestion that will show you how to develop an attitude of gratitude that will change your life!
It’s too easy to drift in the oceans of stress, fear and hatred floating in today’s waters. If you’re not careful, you’ll drown. Don’t make the mistake of thinking this is where it’s at — because it isn’t. You don’t need to stress, worry or fret – nothing down here can harm you because it’s all beneath you anyway.
Reign in your mind and heart and you’ll be just fine. Even a brief look at four sentences can change your life forever, and move you forward, where you need to be. Head space – and heart treasures – matter immensely.
These four sentences will set you free – and keep you living free – if only you’re willing to own them. Here they are, in all their glorious power, especially for you:
“Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.” — Colossians 3:1-4 (NIV)
When you give your life to Christ, you die to yourself – and are supernaturally raised with him in victory. What this means is that you are no longer to follow the standards and interests before knowing him. Once you accept Christ, you follow whatever interests him – not yourself, not others, and nothing in this world. All of the opinions and things that used to consume your time and energy are now beneath you. That’s the way you are now supposed to live. The only opinion and agenda that now matters is that of Jesus Christ. If you aren’t living this way, you’re missing out.
HEART AND MIND SHAPE EVERYTHING
Pay more attention to what you think and treasure. The only opinions of people that matter are those whose minds and hearts are set on God’s perspective. Those are the kinds of friends and friendships you need and want. They’ll help you become the very best version of you possible.
Your life, job, every relationship, and your use of financial and material resources – everything about you – will be directly impacted by real faith in Jesus. If your faith is real, then you need to live each day as if everything that’s at odds with Christ and his agenda is beneath you.
How are you doing? Have you been thinking this is where it’s at? It isn’t at all. I’d love to hear from YOU.
THINK. PRAY. LIVE: LORD GOD, please help me to put my entire life in your hands, with your perspective. Help me to live like the things down here really are beneath me – because they really are.