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Scattered But Not Lazy

 

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Lazy hands make for poverty, but diligent hands bring wealth.

Yesterday I read a book that was published well over a century ago, titled “As a Man Thinketh” by James Allen. (Thanks Tom) It is a fabulous, sort of “cliff notes” style book on the subject of mindset. I would have to imagine that in 1903, this book would have been considered cutting edge in the arena of personal development. Today, it is one of many that have been written on the topic. Since reading the Bible, what I have found interesting is that many of the thoughts expressed in this or other self-improvement books can be found in scripture. With that said, these books offer a clear, concise perspective on what many of us consider to be an overwhelming, if not confusing topic.

As I was reading yesterday, so many important and wonderful words of wisdom jumped off the pages. Since I recently moved, I was frustrated that I couldn’t locate my  favorite yellow highlighter so I ended up settling in on a sharp #2 pencil. I used to be one of those people who wanted to keep their books pristine, not anymore! Nowadays I mark it up like a toddler who just discovered that there are 24 colors in a box of crayons. By the time I am done with a book, it’s a mess! The better the book, the messier it gets. ūüôā By the time I finished “As a Man Thinketh”, you could hardly see the type through the charcoal pencil marks and drawings I made all over the light tan pages.

One of my all-time favorite quotes, “coincidence is God’s way of staying anonymous” from Albert Einstein, resonated deeply with me today as I read Proverbs 10 and searched for today’s verse. Apparently God made sure that I read “As a Man Thinketh” yesterday as a prerequisite for today’s post.

The verse that I chose today is verse 4,” Lazy hands make for poverty, but diligent hands bring wealth.” It seems so obvious, right? There are so many verses that speak about this truth, yet for me it hasn’t always been so black and white.

If you know me, you will know that I am anything but lazy. Since I was a little child I have been full of energy. I remember as a kid how my uncle would try to get me to sit down, or how my mom would bribe me with nickels and dimes to keep me still on a long drive. As an adult it didn’t get any better, I always had something going on. I would work 60 plus hours a week as an account executive, then take off immediately after work on Friday to operate my own production company. Many times, I’d work right through the weekend, then start the cycle all over again come Monday. If I wasn’t working, you would find me in the barn, house or yard up to my arm pits in some project that I deemed important. The bottom line is that I am not, a lazy person. Yet, if I am honest with myself, I can’t say that I have always been diligent either.

To be diligent means to show care and conscientiousness in one’s work or duties. So, what happens if your hands aren’t lazy but neither are they diligent? Specifically, what if you are active, show care but fail to bring conscientiousness to your activities, specifically to your work? Surely you won’t be in poverty but will you be on track to  receive all the wealth that God has in store for you?

Where verse 4 and “As a Man Thinketh” coincidentally collided for me was on page 16 where James Allen points out that “until thought is linked with purpose there is no intelligent accomplishment”. He goes on to say, “a man should conceive of a legitimate purpose in his heart, and set out to accomplish it. He should make this purpose the centralizing point of his thoughts“.

If you are still reading this, you may be wondering what all this means and even more importantly, why in the heck should you care?!  I think it all comes down to this. You can “live” the Bible and make sure that your “hands” are not lazy but until you consider, create and focus your thoughts on the accomplishment of that vision; you are working, but not DILIGENTLY working (with consciousness) on the purpose that God has created specifically for you!

It’s time to get focused!

“To put away aimlessness and weakness, and to begin to think with purpose, is to enter the ranks of those strong ones who only recognize failure as one of the pathways to attainment; who make all conditions serve them, and who think strongly, attempt fearlessly, and accomplish masterfully.” – James Allen

I hope that you have a great day!

Kevin

 

PS- If you like what you are reading and you think someone else could benefit, please share ūüôā

Shake it up!

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Proverbs 9 Verse 6:

Leave your simple ways and you will live; walk in the way of insight.

Leave your simple ways and you will live…

As I read through Proverbs 9 today, I struggled to choose a verse to “live” and write about. Then after a third read, I settled in on verse 6. I think that this verse resonated with me today because of my infatuation with the series Westworld, on HBO. If you have never seen Westworld, it is essentially, a SCFI, based in the old west that tackles the topic of “free will”.

It the series, robots, that look, act, talk and bleed identical to humans, are programmed to be the characters that you would expect to see if you were to go back to the gun-slinging days of the old west. These robots are then placed in an amusement park type setting where humans can go and live out their gun-slinging, philandering fantasies.

What made Westworld so fascinating, is that as the series evolved, some of the robots began to realize that they were not human. As they begin to “wake up” they realize that they had been given a simple set of algorithms that dictated their every function. They had no “free will”. Through their programming, they lived life through the algorithm they had been given, seldom leaving the patterns to which they were comfortable, THEIR SIMPLE WAYS.

Are we so different? Leave your simple ways and you will live‚Ķ¬† When was the last time you “shook” things up? Went to a new restaurant, tried a new food, made new friends with people of different viewpoints, took a different route to or from work, made out with your spouse in a strange, exciting place or learned something new? As humans, it seems that many of us get stuck in the same old patterns. Many of these patterns simply no longer serve our greater good but we are stuck living them because it is the story that we know, the story we’ve created for ourselves.

I’m too_________________.

I’m not _______________________ enough.

I used to be ______________________ but now I’m just ____________________.

I’m stuck because of __________________________.

I can’t because of _________________________.

Whatever the story is, if you believe it with enough conviction, you will program that story to be your truth, your pattern, your algorithm.

Maybe “living” this verse is no more complicated than understanding that to truly live, God wants us to mix things up a bit. Seek insight, seek wisdom, seek understanding and then simply “walk” (take action) in the direction(s) that we discover, never again to be complacently stuck in our patterns.

The interesting part about “free will” is that God has given us the POWER of choice. IT is up to US to choose. God can fill our heads with ideas and¬† plant all the seeds that he wants in regards to who we could become or who we could help but unless we make the CHOICE to take action and leave the programs (our story) that we have created behind , we will never truly “live” the life that we were created to live.

What pattern are you going to shake up today?

Have a great day…

Kevin

No More Labels!

 

rak-blue2A few days ago, in moment of complete silliness, I decided to go live on FaceBook and share my experience regarding the use of Chick-Fil-A sauce on a 10 pack of McDonald’s Chicken nuggets. I figured a few people would witness me making a fool of myself but to my surprise, that cheesy video has had nearly 700 views since I posted it.

Though I may have saved some fast foodie the disappointment I encountered when I realized there is no such thing as a poor man’s Chick-Fill-A, the video served absolutely no purpose. But it did leave me wondering what would be possible if you could use that same exposure for something beneficial to all of us.

Over the last few years I have become increasingly frustrated by the way, we (me included) as human beings act towards each other. Specifically how we seem to put people in a box and then label them. Once labeled, we make many generalizations about them as though we already know all the personal details about how they think or act.

The problem is that labels are nothing more than a generalization. If you are conservative, you must be a racist, misogynistic bigot and only care about money. If you are a liberal, you eat granola, drive a Prius and want everything handed to you for free. The trouble with labels is that they are extremely nonspecific, they are simply a way to quickly identify a group with no real knowledge of the individual. It’s no different than the labels we use on our computers. There’s a label for pictures, desktop and documents, to name a few. Not all the pictures in your picture files are the same. Each picture is unique. It has a unique subject, color and story to tell. That‚Äôs what makes photography so fun, each picture is worth a thousand words, right? So, placing a label on people or things doesn‚Äôt work. It’s the nuances and the details that make a difference. Each picture, just like each individual is different. Each picture offers us a different perspective of a subject and if you took the time to get to know all the people in whatever group you have labeled, they will offer you a new perspective as well.

There are so many boxes that we put each other in. Black, white, brown, straight, gay, transgender, bi-sexual, Christian, Jewish, Muslim, male, female, short, tall, smart, stupid, jock, geek etc. etc.¬† It’s as though as adults we never left the cliques we formed in high school! We tell our kids that we shouldn’t assume we know ___________ just because___________.¬† Then we fail to take our own advice and make many ASS U ME tions ourselves.¬† It’s no wonder our kids don’t always heed our hypocritical advice.

I for one am tired of being labeled. I may “identify” with a certain group(s) but that’s where it ends. Just because I identify with the group doesn’t mean that I agree with EVERYTHING the group believes. As an individual, I reserve the right to make up my own mind and speak my own truth. If you took the time to know me, it would be impossible for you to put a label on all my thoughts, beliefs and opinions and I am willing to bet that the same could be said of you.

So in a world where we all are supposed to “fit” in a box and where there is so much anger, jealousy, judgement and resentment, how can we get back to respecting and helping one another regardless of which “label” you belong to?

In my opinion it’s time for good people to step up. It’s time to erase the labels and destroy the boxes that we have been put into by society, the government and the media. It’s time to love and care for one another and spread goodwill.

How? Through Random Acts of Kindness. Open a door for a stranger, take a cart back to the store, leave an extra big tip to a deserving server, pick up the tab for the car behind you at your favorite drive though, spend time with the lonely, let someone skip you in line at the supermarket. Do something, do anything. It doesn’t matter how big or small, just do something.

Have you ever been on your way to work and someone cut you off in traffic? Then, even though you were in a good mood, that one person set you off and for the rest of the day nothing seemed to go your way? It’s happened to all of us. But here is the good news, it can work the other way too. If someone receives a Random Act of Kindness (RAK) it will unexpectedly brighten their day and in turn they will smile more, laugh more and be just a little less tense, on edge and ready to explode when something doesn’t go their way. And maybe, if we are lucky, that simple random act of kindness that you showed them will be repeated over and over again by them to others.

The best part about Random Acts of Kindness is that they are random! You will have absolutely NO IDEA who it is that you are being kind to, it will be completely random. Because of this, people that belong to one label or another, may be showing kindness to people of another label with no judgement from either side.

One of the things that we all have in common, is that we belong to the human race. If we erased all the labels and simply identified ourselves human, then took the time to gain and offer true perspective about the individual, the world would be a much better place to live.

Since you have made it all the way to this point, I’d like to challenge you to perform 3 Random Acts of Kindness. If you accept my challenge, here are the rules:

Complete 3 Random Acts of Kindness in 24 hours.

1) No act is too big or too small. Pick up a tab, leave an extra-large tip, open a door or simply lend an ear to a stranger. The choice is yours, use your imagination!

2) When you complete the challenge, share your story by writing or posting a video on your favorite social platform. Make sure to tell us how it made YOU FEEL to offer Random Acts of Kindness to strangers.

3) If you are the recipient of a Random Act of Kindness, post your story and let the world know how receiving such kindness made YOU FEEL and how it changed your day.

4) Nominate 3 other people to take the Random Acts of Kindness Challenge.

Good luck! I’m excited to hear your stories!

Kevin Messerschmidt-

www.kevinmesserschmidt.com

What is Wisdom?

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This morning I awoke at 2:30 a.m. for the third consecutive day in a row. The last two days I forced myself back to sleep. Today I couldn’t do it, I just couldn’t shut my mind off. I read the Bible. I read the news. I searched Facebook. I read one post after another and couldn’t help but notice all the quotes and nuggets of knowledge that exist on all of my friends news feeds. But that is when it struck me. Most of these little golden nuggets have been around forever in some shape or form, yet why do so many of us not heed their advice?

When I used to think of the word wisdom, I would think of some old grey haired man with a long beard, like Dumbledore in the Harry Potter movies.¬†Wisdom was something that you could only pass on after years of mastery, like Mr. Miyagi teaching Danielson to “wax on / wax off” in The Karate Kid. Okay, enough movie references, but I think that you know what I mean.

So as I laid in bed and gained control of my wandering sleepless mind, I kept thinking about what I was going to write today regarding Proverbs Chapter 8 titled, “Wisdom’s Call”.

As I silenced my mind and allowed my thoughts to become clear, the one thing that I kept asking myself was “what exactly is wisdom?” As I read the chapter I waited for a verse to speak to me. At first, I got nothing so I read the chapter a couple more times, then there it was. Verses 10 and 11.

10 Choose my instruction instead of silver,

    knowledge rather than choice gold,

11 for wisdom is more precious than rubies,

    and nothing you desire can compare with her.

Maybe it is because its 4 a.m. but when God is telling me to choose instruction over silver and knowledge over gold, I think I better listen!

Then for him to go on and say that wisdom is more precious than rubies and that NOTHING compare to her… What??? Nothing? Nothing at all compares to wisdom?? If this is true, then why is it so hard for me to understand exactly WHAT wisdom is?

For many years I have considered knowledge to be synonymous with wisdom. Wax on / wax off. Isn’t that simply Mr. Miyagi sharing knowledge with Danielson? Isn’t he simply giving him instruction? To wax the car you wax it on like this, then wax it off like that. If you do this you will have a nice shiny, smooth paint job. This in fact is great knowledge, where knowledge transforms into wisdom, is when you put that knowledge and instruction into action!

What makes Mr. Miyagi and Dumbledore so “wise” is that they just don’t “know” how to do something, they have “done” it, mastered it. It is through repetitive action that knowledge becomes wisdom.

After much consideration, the easiest way I can define WISDOM would be to say that WISDOM, is knowledge put into ACTION. For the past seven years, I have been affiliated with a great company full of many incredible people. As part of the operation of this company, there is a wealth information and knowledge passed throughout the organization. What has always bothered me is that even though knowledge and instruction exist, and for the most part is spot on, many people never get past the point of “knowing” what to do. Week after week, month after month they attend events, webinars and training’s where the exact same information is being shared by many different voices in multiple different ways. What has always frustrated me is that very few of these knowledge seekers, put what they learn into action.

Imagine how differently The Karate Kid would have turned out had Danielson simply sat in a crowd of people and listened as Mr. Miyagi told the enthusiastic assembly to “wax on / wax off”. I can see Danielson sitting there with a pen in one hand, a camera in the other feverishly taking notes and pictures of Mr. Miyagi’s PowerPoint presentation. I can see him stand up and cheer as Mr. Miyagi walked off the stage to the roar of the crowd as his theme music was pumping through the speakers.¬† Now imagine Danielson going home and deciding that because he was at that seminar, and learned information from one of the best karate masters in the world, he was ready to enter a competition. What would have been his fate?¬† Most likely the movie would have ended with Danielson receiving a ride to the local hospital, right? You simply cannot go from student to master without taking action on the knowledge that we gain¬†first.

Are we any different? God fills the Bible will knowledge and instruction. We spend our lives at church, study groups and with our noses in the book trying to gain knowledge for our salvation. But if we stop there, if we stop at knowledge, we are no different than the image I just painted of Danielson.

To receive all the gifts that God wants to give us, it is not enough to “know”. We must, above all else, put the instruction and the knowledge that we receive into ACTION. For when we take ACTION we gain WISDOM and it is WISDOM (knowledge in action) that is the key that will unlock the door to everything that we desire.

Hope you have an action filled day!

Kevin

EXTRA CREDIT:

What is one piece of knowledge that you have that you have yet to take action upon? Today, begin to turn that knowledge into wisdom by taking action and apply that knowledge into your life!

What?

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Proverbs 7, Verse 24 -Now then, my sons, listen to me; pay attention to what I say.

Listen to me‚Ķ Pay attention to what I say‚ĶThat sounds exactly like a conversation I have with my son daily. However, when I read it to day in Proverbs chapter 7, verse 24, it struck me that although I preach to my son to listen to ME and pay attention to ME, I don’t exactly do a great job of it myself when it comes to God and the messages that he is trying to tell me. My son, Ethan’s, favorite response when I tell him to do something is, “what?”. It’s like he believes that if he pretends to not hear my words, he doesn’t have to comply with my instructions. For me, it can be VERY frustrating, to say the least. So, with that in mind, can you imagine how God must feel when I choose to listen to him, only when his message is convenient to my current wants, needs or desires. Each time Ethan and I have this conversation, God must be thinking, Kevin, check yourself, look in the mirror, you big hypocrite!

The irony here is that HYPOCRISY is the number one thing that troubles me about many Christians. Obviously, it troubles me and I am able to recognize it so easily, because I too, can be hypocritical. This self-recognition, is very uncomfortable, to say the least. So what can I do about it?

I think the answers to this question can be found in what it means to “listen” to “pay attention”.

“Listen”, as defined in the dictionary, means to hear something with thoughtful attention : give consideration.

I think the key words in the definition of “listen” are THOUGHTFUL ATTENTION and CONSIDERATION. If you are listening with thoughtful attention and giving consideration to what it is that you heard, you receive the message. There is no way that you can respond, like Ethan, by saying “what?”

Unfortunately, all too often, I believe that we hear things but don’t take the time to apply thought or consideration before we respond. It’s like we are so busy thinking of the next thing to say or do that the message goes, as my mom would say, “in one ear and out the other”.

Writing about and attempting to “live” Proverbs over the last week, has taught me a lot. The process of writing about a topic, that quite frankly makes me uncomfortable, has required me to slow down and really give THOUGHTFUL CONSIDERATION to just a few words. It hasn’t been easy. There has been a lot of stopping, starting, back spacing and deleting but at the end of the process, each day I learn something about myself and have greater understanding. Then hopefully, through taking action by applying this new understanding, I will become a better friend, Dad, son and Christian.

The hard part is now that I am fully aware of my actions or lack thereof,¬† I can no longer pick and choose God’s wisdom only when it is convenient for me. Only when I like what it is that he has to say.

I hope you have a great day and I hope that from now on when you “listen”, you apply thoughtful attention, consideration and action to what you have heard.

Take care

Kevin

Live Life Like the Ant???

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Today, as I was reading Proverbs 6, one verse jumped off the page and landed squarely in my lap!

It was verse 6. It reads like this‚Ķ “Go to the ant, you sluggard; consider its ways and be wise.” Upon googling the ways of the ant, I learned that many others have written about this exact same topic. At first I thought, GREAT, I can simply link to one of my favorite blog posts on the topic and be done! Then I read a few of them and realized that though they were extremely well written, the purpose of writing every day is not to copy, paste and share someone else’s work. The purpose is for ME to write my posts so that I learn the lessons God has intended for me. So, with a little inspiration from many others around the web, here is my take on three lessons we can learn from the ant.

The very first thing that came to mind when I thought about the ant, was it’s incredible strength and power! Seriously, I remember watching a colony of ants one afternoon and there was one carrying a crumb many times its size! I knew it could be done but had never witnessed it in person. According to researchers, ants can carry items 10-50 times their body weight. It was truly something remarkable to witness.

Can you imagine if we had that power? Think about it like this. I weigh roughly 250 pounds. If I were able to carry 50 times my body weight, I would have no trouble carrying something that weighed 12,500 pounds! What?!?! To put that in perspective, it would be like being able to carry, not one but two FULL SIZE PICKUP TRUCKS on my back! And if you weighed 125 pounds, you would be able to carry one! Can you imagine if your 12 year old, 120 pound kid had strength like that? The child labor laws would have to be rewritten!

But seriously, with that kind of physical strength would you be scared of anything? What’s most interesting about their strength though, is that in order for them to have great physical strength, they must also have great mental strength, right? After all, without great mental strength, how would they even have had the courage to try to lift something that heavy in the first place?

As I look at myself, over the past several years (post-divorce), my greatest weakness has been in the form of my mental strength/toughness. Writing that out and seeing it on paper really hurts, but it’s true. I am capable of much more but I let my mind get in the way. For me it’s not as much about the fear of “doing”, as it is about the fear of not being accepted. The fear I have is that if I put myself out there, fully out there, to the best of my ability out there‚Ķ I won’t be good enough or even worse, I will simply be ignored. If that happens while I am really trying, I won’t have the excuse that “I wasn’t really trying”, to fall back on.

If God is speaking to me today and asking me to not only examine but “live” the ways of the ant, then applying strength in the form of mental toughness is my first step.¬† As Dr. Seuss said, “those that mind don’t matter and those that matter don’t mind”.

The second way of the ant that I really admire is that of teamwork. If you watch a colony of ants at work, each of them seems to have a role and ALL are doing their part for the greater good of all the others. They simply work together for the benefit and survival of all.

Can you even imagine what the world would look like if the human race was capable of working together in a similar manner?

The third and final way, is how the ant seemingly never quits. I remember as a kid we had many big ant hills in our yard. Each week when I would mow the grass, I would knock down several large hills. Then the following week, there they were again, sometimes even bigger!

The ants never quit, they never gave up. When one hill was leveled, they were instantaneously back to work, building it again, making it even bigger! I can’t help but wonder what my life would be like if I never quit. Would I finally have that elusive set of abs that I have longed for since I was a pudgy little 9 year old?

Seriously how many times have you given up on an idea, a passion or a relationship only to look back and regret it years later? In my bathroom, I have a picture that shows the patents of four every day, common household items. I placed this picture there to serve as a daily reminder to me that even the best ideas, like toilet paper, a scale, a toilet seat lid and a toothbrush, at one point were no more than someone’s fantasy. What if any of these people had quit, listened to the critics or had been afraid of being ignored or rejected? Can you imagine how different the world would look without the invention of the toothbrush? Or how different it would smell without toilets and toilet seats? Or the one that perplexes me most, exactly what did people do to keep their bottoms clean, prior to the invention of toilet paper in 1891????

I have heard it said several times this week that success leaves clues. Most often this saying is telling us to examine other successful people who have achieved what it is that we desire and repeat their actions. Today, I would like to finish by saying that while I agree that success leaves clues, instead of only looking to other successful humans to find those clues, maybe we should slow down, look down and look for those clues in the life of the ant.

Have a great day!

Kevin

The Ultimate Accountability Partner

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Proverbs 5 Verse 21 For your ways are in full view of the Lord, and he examines all your paths.

When I read this verse, it is hard for me to put into words how it makes me feel. So often in my life I have found myself thinking one thing then doing another. Do you know what I mean? Take my health for example. I feel that my life has been a walking, talking, breathing contradiction.

I tell myself that I should be healthy. I know the value of health. I know to eat quality food and exercise. Yet when push comes to shove, convenience and the temporary pleasure associated with sugar, emotional eating or being lazy, seems to find its way into sabotaging my will power AND my health.

Since my ways are in FULL view of the Lord and as it says in 1 Corinthians 6:19,¬† “your bodies are temples¬†of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God, You are not your own”

The truth is that not only are my health sabotaging actions in full view of the Lord but these actions not only harm me, but also, harm my temple which belongs to the Lord.

Many of the times that I tried to lose weight, I had an accountability partner. Unfortunately, those relationships quickly dissolved when either one or both of us, fail to complete the assigned task or stay on track. What usually happened is that neither party wanted the other to feel bad so we let each other off the hook. So much for accountability!

What would happen if instead of trusting myself or another person, I asked God to be my accountability partner?  God, who sees every action I take in FULL View! God, who will examine the paths I take. God, from who I cannot hide. God to whom I cannot make excuses. God to whom I cannot lie.

Today, my take away from Proverbs 5 Verse 21, Is that when you “LIVE” the Bible, you’re not alone. In fact, you are far from it. For with God, you have the ULTIMATE ACCOUNTABILITY PARTNER with you every step of the way, every second of the day.

Thanks for reading. Please let me know what verse you chose today and what that verse meant to you.

I hope you have a great day!

Kevin