Do. Create. Achieve.

A poem of encouragement for my daughters and any other woman who faces the doubts of worthiness. God loves you and you are worthy of His love and what He has called you to. Go in His strength.

She placed her wager, she placed her bid,

She thought she could and so she did.

Then fears and doubts raised their ugly head,

They filled her with anxiety, panic, worry, dread.

What if she faltered, perhaps even failed?

What if she worked so hard, but to no avail?

She was born for this, this she knew,

This was her destiny God called her to.

She felt her heart tug again, as a little girl,

“Follow me, my child, and change the world.

I have not called you this far to leave you alone,

You don’t have to change the world on your own.”

She dug deep, resolved to fight her way through.

With the strength of God, her belief renewed.

“I won’t give up!” she cried through her tears.

“I refuse to waste all this work, all these years.”

She checked her plans, she wrote her lists,

With inner strength and with clenched fists,

She faced her fears, she faced her doubt,

And punched them both in the mouth.

She knew she could, she still believed,

Now it was time to do, create, achieve.

Me, My Self, and I

Doing the “Right Things”

Recently, in a discussion, someone said they didn’t understand why they had this constant struggle as a Christian to do the right things. “I guess I am a bad Christian,” they said. Usually, there are the pat answers given to this statement. “You’re not praying enough. You don’t have enough faith or you haven’t given it to God.” I say these are pat answers since they seem to be all too common in Christian circles.

Now, before you feel I am being too harsh here to those who have said these things in response, know that I have said them many times myself and to myself. But I have come to realize that is where the problem lies: with the Self.

I am attempting to complete a devotional book that stemmed from me texting my children bible quotes and a little explanation as to what they meant and what I felt God was saying to me through those scriptures. They would send these to their friends and others would also begin to join the text list. Before I knew it I would spend fifteen to twenty minutes each time typing in the phone numbers for all the people who were following the texts. I would end the little devotion with the phrase: It’s a choice.

Hear Me Out

man wearing suit jacket sitting on chair in front of woman wearing eyeglasses

Doing the “right thing” is a choice. Please hear me out. It’s not always an easy choice, but it is a choice. A choice, a decision that you make. Each and every time. We are faced with thousands of choices every day and how we choose determines our results. I have heard it said, “You are where you are because of the choices you made.” Immediately, I can hear someone say “I didn’t choose for my parents to die…” or fill in any tragedy. True, but you choose how you respond and how you respond will determine where you will be. What about instinctive reactions?

Let me break it down like I did recently to a person who made something similar to my opening statement. That is, look at the Me, My Self, and I. Me is the combined Self and I working in unison. The “Self” is the body, the flesh, as the Apostle Paul put it. The “I” is the conscious thought or personality of the Person within the Self. Also called the Spirit. (Not to be confused with the Holy Spirit). The “I” cannot always control the Self, because the Self will do whatever comes naturally to the Self. Ah, but the “I” or the Spirit can train the Self.

Self and Spirit

gray and white short coated cat on brown wooden table top

Let’s say we could take the “I” or Spirit portion out of a human and put it in a cat, which, by-the-way spends two-thirds of its life sleeping. There may be a symbiotic relationship developed over time, but the cat is going to do what cats do. Ever try to control a cat? The Spirit could train the cat eventually, but it will always be a cat and will probably behave like a cat even when the Spirit works feverishly to train the cat. The first part of learning to train the cat would be for the Spirit to learn about cats and then work with the cat to a desired end, knowing all along that the cat will still sometimes act out of instinct.

Now, look at the human being in the same light. You have a depraved, fallen human who, though created in the image of God, acts like a depraved fallen human and in many respects as an animal. (See Galatians 5:19-21) This is the Self. Think of these phrases in this light:

  • I lost control of my Self.
  • I couldn’t help my Self.
  • I have really let my Self go.
  • Get a hold of your Self.
  • Would you look at your Self?
  • Get your Self some rest.
  • Get your Self something to eat.

Who lost control of the Self? The Spirit. The situation is even worse. Inside the Self resides a fallen, depraved, darkened, blinded Spirit. The Spirit inside the Self, which is a spark of the Divine, is dead, and the Self is only operating off training and instinct. Autopilot if you will. Subsequently, the Self will continue to act and behave like the depraved, fallen creature that it is. It should not surprise Christians when non-believers act the way they do. They are acting according to their nature and they cannot control nor help their Selves. They are slaves to this nature.

What is one to do?

ask blackboard chalk board chalkboard

The Spirit within must be reborn. That spark of the Divine within must be quickened, as the Bible calls it. It must be exposed to the light of the transforming power of Jesus. It must be made alive. Jesus didn’t come to earth to make bad people good. No, He came to earth to make Spiritually dead people, alive. This is the only way the Self can be tamed and trained. And with the help of the Holy Spirit that now will be there within to help get the Self under control.

In this new state, the Spirit takes on the “new creation”, but the Self is still depraved and fallen. Yet, control can be exerted. Granted, the Self will still act up and do things that leave the Spirit wondering “what just happened or why did I say or do that?” However, the Spirit under the direction, leadership, and power of the Holy Spirit can take control. That is why it says in Galatians that one of the fruits of the (Holy) Spirit is “self-control.”

Summary – What Now?

Here are summary statements that I have found helpful.

  • You’re not going to get it right all the time. Even the Apostle Paul stated that he (the super saint) still did things that he did not want to. His Self still acted out. That’s why he said he buffeted his body. He was still struggling with his fallen Self even with a redeemed Spirit. Thank you, Jesus, for I John 1:9.
  • Seek to understand your Self with all its quirks, tendencies, traits, likes and dislikes. Your Self is unique and you have to understand the basic human first and then understand the Self in which you reside.
  • Cut your Self some slack. God does. That doesn’t mean you are to give the Self a pass. It means keep moving toward maturity under the direction of the Holy Spirit. He doesn’t expect you to be perfect, but he does expect you to head in that direction.
  • When you fall, and you will, pick your Self back up and go again. Proverbs says a righteous man will fall seven times and get back up again. Don’t wallow in Self pity and feel sorry for your Self. You are a child of the King of the Universe.
  • Don’t beat your Self up for being its Self. You don’t beat your cat or dog for being a cat or a dog. You train them. Train your Self. It takes patience, time, and the help of the Holy Spirit Trainer to train your Self. Read the training manual used by the Trainer. It’s called the Bible and that is why it is there.
  • Love your Self. See your Self as God sees your Self. Worthy of loving and investing in. He sent His Son to reconcile you back to Him.

If you have not come to a place where you know for sure that your Spirit is made new. You can. God waits to renew your Spirit. Click here for more information.

Forgiveness – A Fruit of the Spirit?

The Question

portrait of white pigeon

In the book of Galatians, (Gal. 5:22-23) the Apostle Paul lists out nine proofs or fruits of the Spirit. These fruit show the presence of the Holy Spirit in the believer who possesses these qualities. I have wondered why forgiveness is not listed here. Can one truly have the Spirit of God present in their lives without this one trait or asset? After all, it is one of the heavy hitters in the Christian walk and is sometimes mentioned more than some of the fruit.

The Simplest Answer

The most obvious and simplest answer is the list is not an exhaustive one, and forgiveness could be added. Just because it was not listed doesn’t mean that it is not a proof or a fruit of the Spirit. The gifts of the Spirit has at least three lists in the Bible. Those three lists do not contain all the gifts, and it is argued that there are more gifts than those listed. So it would be for forgiveness. For example, other concepts like mercy, justice, humbleness, etc. are not listed either. It could be argued that these are fruits of the Spirit as well. But I believe there is more to it.

In-depth Answer

 

The more complicated and comprehensive answer when looking at a particular scripture is to look at the context of the speaker. What was said before and after the scripture on the fruit of the Spirit? Also, what is said in the Bible as a whole? Paul was using an opposite comparison when he listed the fruit. Before this section, he listed the “works of the flesh” which are in opposition to the fruit. One is physically focused, and the other is spiritual. One is natural and the other is supernatural.

woman putting red apple on green shopping basket

Paul tells us to separate the fruit from the works. This is a choice and must be practiced. The Spirit is the teacher, the mentor. This choice is simple, not always easy, but simple. We have to choose the Spirit to be able to cultivate and exhibit the fruit. There is a difference between the work of the Spirit and the work of the flesh. The flesh work comes naturally. Just let yourself go. Live the lowest level, almost animalistic life. That is not only simple but easy and guess what you will get? Natural, animalistic results.

clouds countryside daylight environment

However, if you choose and walk with the Spirit, you also choose the higher road. This road is not easy. Jesus said that this road is narrow and there are very few who not only find it but travel it. The Spirit is the teacher, comforter, and mentor. The Teacher uses the Bible as His textbook and life as His laboratory. It’s is just like being in school or college. You spend time in the classroom and then you get to spend time in the practicum. If you don’t attend either of these you fail the course. Too many Christians treat the Christian life as if it is party time at college rather than time to learn and grow. Then they wonder why their life as a Christian isn’t working. They have failed the course and too often blame the teacher for their failure. Paul calls this spiritual immaturity.

Forgiveness is not a fruit

So, what has this got to do with forgiveness as a fruit of the Spirit? Forgiveness is a course in the curriculum in the School of the Spirit. I believe it is an exercise in the laboratory of life. It is an instruction given in the classroom. It is practiced in the laboratory. You have to accept the assignment and if you fail the test, you get to take it again. If you fail the course, you get held back. Thank God for I John 1:9, and thank you Spirit for your patience and mentoring, because I cannot count how many times I have failed.

Keep Moving: Seven steps to face the storms of life

I am reminded in my darkest and saddest moments of several Bible scriptures that say “and it came to pass.” To be honest, this phrase is speaking of something that has happened, or of something previously foretold that came true. However, I picked up somewhere that things usually don’t come to “stay,” but they do come to “pass.” In essence, they don’t last. That is true for most of the good, bad, and ugly of life.

Constants

There are only two constants: change and the unchanging God. The temporal and the eternal. I have heard it said several times that all of us are heading into a storm, in a storm, or coming out of a storm. That would mean storms are an intrinsic part of this temporal world. They are a fact of life, and we all have to deal with them. Granted, they come in varying degrees and lengths. Some last for a moment and are intense. Our response is quickly taxed, and our energy quickly spent. Some tend to linger on and slowly drain our energy and reserve.

Our Actions

I have noticed in the business world that there are two kinds of leaders: those that are reactive and those that are proactive. I am sure you have seen both of these. One takes the approach to wait and see what breaks and then we will fix it. They wait until the storm comes and then they react to it. They know the storm is coming, but somehow they hope to dodge it or maybe it won’t be that bad. “Let’s brace ourselves and hope for the best” is their mantra. They bark orders as things start to fall apart.

startup-photos.jpg   Then there are those who know the storm is coming and they prepare. They brace for the storm, true, but they have processes in place that are designed to lessen the damage or better, to face the storm head-on. Their mantra is “We knew this was coming so let’s face this as we practiced.” Will the plan always go as planned? No, but there will be a cohesiveness with the proactive that will not be found with the reactive, especially if the plan has been rehearsed to the point of being second nature. Take, for example, fire or evacuation drills. Those who have been trained in these are more likely to survive because they knew what to do. They have a plan.

Handling Storms

In life, we too can have a plan. Simply put, keep moving. Let’s break it down:

  • Be realistic. What is the worst thing that could happen? Uh, you could die. True, but it hasn’t happened yet and what is the likelihood of it happening today. It could, but the probability is that it won’t. So keep moving.
  • Don’t panic. Panic is not a sound, workable plan. Look around you. What are the facts? Have you survived worse than what is happening to you now? Will you survive this? More than likely. It’s not the end of the world. Well, if it is, worrying won’t change anything. Keep moving.
  • pexels-photo-210182.jpegChange your speed. My wife was with me on a trip as I traveled through Atlanta. I won’t say it was rush hour because I think it always is. Once we hit I-85 north from the south side of Atlanta, I turned my music up and merged (sped) into traffic. My wife began to complain more than usual about my driving. I told her to please remain calm and let me drive. The fast-paced, seemingly erratic nature of my driving and those around us unnerved her. I told her that here “you either run or get runned over” Do you need to speed up or slow down? Either way, keep moving.
  • Face it head-on. Like the traffic of Atlanta or where you might live, face it head-on. I have seen my share of accidents, several while wearing an EMS uniform. I tend to believe the squeamish, overly cautious driver is as bad as or even worse than the aggressive driver. I have taken both offensive and defensive driving courses. I drive offensively and defensively as the situation dictates. Either way, I keep moving.
  • Know where you are going. If you have a destination in mind, then you have a purpose in your movement. Any dead fish can float downstream. Watch the salmon on the Columbia River as they swim upstream to their breeding grounds. They are determined to make it. They have a goal, a destiny, and a passion. Let the setbacks come. With passion, keep moving.
  • pexels-photo-901236.jpegModerate your self-talk. Listen, read, and watch positive messages. There is a difference in what you feel and what you know. Tell yourself what you know. Speak the facts, not the emotions. Have you ever watched athletes as they are walking the tunnel to the field? Many of them are wearing headsets or earphones. Why? Watch the fans of the opposing teams in the tunnel as they taunt and jeer at the athletes. The athletes can’t hear them because they are listening to a different voice. That voice is telling them how they are a winner, a champion, to ignore the detractors, and to keep moving.
  • Surround yourself with like-minded. Find a mentor or two that will challenge you when you are slipping and who will applaud you when you are succeeding. Read, listen, and watch people who have succeeded before you. Hear their stories and learn from their lives. They are rich in knowledge and experience. Let them motivate you to keep moving.

Summary

The storms are going to come to all of us, but they don’t have to stop us. If you get knocked down, don’t just lay there. If you can’t get right back up, then crawl until you can. You can’t keep a good man or woman down. Prepare for the storms so when they come you will be ready.

You Do What You Believe

Survey Says…

survey-opinion-research-voting-fill-159353.jpeg   Read just about any survey where the respondents said something was important to them versus whether they do it. Everyone has an opinion as to what is important. Question is: is it important enough to do it? Take any Family Feud type question for example. One hundred American men surveyed said this is the most important thing to them. The top six answers are on the board. There seems to be this pat answer in the politically correct order. Can’t you see the top answers as the bell dings when the board flips? GOD! The contestant yells. “Good answer, good answer,” his family claps and cheers. Ding! God/church/religion. Number one. We’ll play Steve, and the game goes on. Spouse. Good answer. Ding! Family/children. Ding! Country. Job. Ding! Ding! Entertainment/ pleasure. Ding!

Priorities

What if we stopped the game right here? Cblack-and-white-people-bar-men.jpgontestants, where do you spend most of your time, energy, and money? If I were a betting man, I would say you could probably flip the list upside down. There’s a saying that goes like this: “What you do speaks so loudly, I can’t hear what you are saying.” If there is a disparity between what we say and what we do, it begs the question: why? Any problem can be boiled down to the cause by asking “why” at least five times. Usually, it doesn’t take all five “whys.” So let’s take the number one New Years’ resolution: to lose weight. Followed by exercising more so we will take both together. People will join gyms like crazy in January, and then the attendance drops off shortly around February.

The Five “Whys”

Number one: Why do people make these resolutions? Normally, it is because they have guilt or remorse. Some want to do better.

Number two: Why does the attendance drop off in February? People quit their resolutions.

Number three: Why do people quit their resolutions? Too hard, peer pressure, it hurts, I can’t look like that, no really cares, lack of discipline, really not that important. They have tried it in the past and didn’t make it. Certainly not going to make it now, etc.

Number four: Why do people think these things? Because that is the script that is going on inside their head.

Number five: Why do they have this script? The reasons will be as varied as the people themselves. I believe it comes down to this: they have lied to themselves over and over, year after year. They don’t believe the resolutions and therefore do not do what they say to themselves. And you’re saying “Huh?”

The Ant and the Elephant

Vince Poscente has a short, but powerful little book called The Ant and the Elephant. I highly recommend it. In short, the ant is your conscious mind. The elephant is your subconscious mind. The ant tells the elephant that we are going to lose weight and exercise. The elephant laughs at the thought because it has heard it so many times before and knows the ant is lying. Again. So the elephant lumbers on as it did before according to the script as written. We believe something is the truth because we have heard it over and over again. We have ingrained it in our script. We have to change the script to change what we believe which in turn changes what we do. Don’t miss this.

Hit the Target

darts-target-bull-s-eye-delivering-37604.jpeg    Case in point, in an earlier article this year I laid out several lofty goals. I will hit these goals. You how I know? I have hit them before and will do it again. My elephant knows I can, so I will. I am no more special than you or anyone else. How did I do it before? I changed my script. I chose to. Was it easy? Heck no! Was it worth it? Absolutely and you can do it too. Here is how I did it and will continue to do it.

  • Lead. First off, know that you can lead your elephant. You can school the mind, soul, and body. You can change your script. It starts with the “want to.”
  • Feed. Change what you feed your elephant. Your elephant feeds on what you give it. What is the daily diet of your elephant? Is it healthy or hurtful? It is fed through what and who you watch, listen to, and read. If your daily elephant diet is soap operas what do you think your life will be like?
  • Speed. Too many resolutions fail because people want instant success. Know that it takes time to change the script. Know that it takes some work as well. Start small and keep track.
  • Read. Be selective. You should read more than you watch or listen. Listening is important, but a different part of the brain is engaged when you read. Again start small. Start with “The Ant and the Elephant.”
  • Weed. You are what you think, and you are only as successful as you think. Pluck the negative thoughts as if they are weeds. Replace them with positive thoughts. Keep doing this. A perfect example was given to me by a friend about my garden. He said when you till the garden you bring inactive weed seeds to the surface, and they sprout. Kill those weeds and then till the soil again. Then kill the new weeds. It may take many times of this process to kill the weeds, but they will always come back, but not as strong.

Summary

You can do this. It helps if you have someone to partner with you and challenge you. If you are one of the fortunate ones that can find a mentor you will be miles ahead. You also can sign up for several self-directed education courses. I would be glad to recommend books and audios for you. You can see the books I have read and are reading at Goodreads.com. I also have several blogs where I recommend books. As always I welcome your comments and questions. You can reach out to me at thesaltyeclectic@gmail.com.

2018: A Significant Year in Six Simple Steps

How’s your year?

Have you ever had a day or week even, where you have felt like you just muddled through it? How about a year or a series of years? Some might say that this is indicative of their whole life. Or have you just felt like your life is not one of significance? My favorite saying for most issues is that “it’s a choice.” Rather simple and uneventful. Simple, yes, but not always easy. The significance is a choice. But how can I choose to make 2018 a year of significance? Here are six practical steps to head you (and me) in the right direction.

Step One: Define Significance.

As Stephen Covey has said, start with the end in mind. At this time next year what would have to of occurred for you to say that the last twelve months were significant? What does that look like? What would you have to be or, where would you have to be, and what would you have to accomplish? The term significance in of itself is too broad. Set specific goals. This is foundational. Don’t gloss over this. If you get this right then you are on the right track. It is worth your time to really work hard on this first step. Some call it defining the “why”.

Step Two: Plan.

Break it down. Step one is broad in nature. Now you have to break it down into smaller attainable chunks. Can you break the goal down into twelve steps where you can accomplish one each month? Let’s say your goal is to save $1200.00 this year. Some may laugh at that. The average American family won’t save even $200.00 each year. Did you save $1200.00 last year? $200.00? So, that’s our goal. Can you find a way to save $100.00 a month? Or let’s say you want to increase your knowledge on any given subject and you decide to read books that would help you accomplish this. Could you read a book a month or a book every two months? You get the idea.

Step Three: Focus.

Keep the goals you have outlined in front of you. Out of sight, out of pexels-photo-370659.jpegmind is a true maxim. Never underestimate the value of a 3×5 card. List your goals on several and strategically place them so you see that list every day, several times a day. Put one on your bathroom mirror so you can see it in the morning when you get up and before you go to bed. Put one on your refrigerator, one on the dashboard of your car, one on your desk, in your lunch box and so on. Keep your mind focused on your goals.

Step Four: Evaluate.

eye-female-funny-glass-41558.jpeg  You have a goal, and you have a plan. Now you have to measure the plan. There are several ways to do this, monthly, quarterly, biannually, and annually. In some cases, depending on the goal, you may have to measure and review weekly or daily.  For you to save $1200.00 a year, you will have to save around $23.08 a week or $46.15 every two weeks. What if you get paid every two weeks, and you rounded it up to $50.00 a pay period? At the halfway point of the year, you would have $650.00. You would be $50.00 ahead of your goal for that timeframe.

For most of my adult life, I have reviewed how my life was going every six months. I would do these reviews around Christmas and my birthday in June. I have asked myself these questions: am I where I want to be in life? Is my life heading in the direction I wanted it to be? Have I accomplished what I wanted? What am I going to do differently to get myself back on course?

Step Five: Adjust.

What course corrections do you need to make to keep on course? The worst thing you can do here is beat yourself up for not meeting your intended goals and mile markers. Now don’t get me wrong. I agree with you if you are disappointed. If you are not disappointed, then you have other issues. If life has dealt you a heavy blow and has knocked you way off course, then it may take some time and effort to get back to it. I am not talking about that. Pick yourself back up. We all get there, but if you are just plain lazy and making excuses then I have no sympathy for you, and you really weren’t committed to your goals. Too harsh? Not if you want it.

Step Six: Complete it. Repeat it.

So let’s say you weren’t able to meet your goal of $1200.00, but you were able to save $700.00. How much more do you have than the average American? Were you successful? YES! You are now further along than you were before. So you were trying to read twelve books but only finished ten. Success! Your year was significant. Now, let’s do it again. From month to month and year to year, you will create a life of significance. Question is: what is significance? You may have to redefine the answer to that question each year.

P.S. Let’s make it more personal. Here are my goals for 2018 and how I have them broke down.

  • Fifty-two blogs. That’s one a week. I have fifty-one to go.
  • Twenty-six podcasts. That’s one every two weeks.
  • Record four audio books. One a quarter.
  • Read twelve books. One a month.
  • Upload twelve videos to my YouTube Channel. One a month.
  • Publish one book.
  • Increase my prayer life. Spend five mornings a week in prayer. Keep a journal.
  • Reduce my debt by 25%. I’ll discuss this in another blog.
  • Increase my savings by $1200.00 this year. Sounded like a good goal. I have set up a monthly transfer of $100.00 from checking into savings.

 

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