Last night I was reading a post from a fellow blogger, Ihagh G. T. . In his post he revisited on of my favorite stories in the Bible. Matthew 25:15-29 “The Parable of the Talents”, It reads:
The Parable of the Talents
14 “For it will be like a man going on a journey, who called his servants[a] and entrusted to them his property. 15 To one he gave five talents,[b] to another two, to another one, to each according to his ability. Then he went away. 16 He who had received the five talents went at once and traded with them, and he made five talents more. 17 So also he who had the two talents made two talents more. 18 But he who had received the one talent went and dug in the ground and hid his master’s money. 19 Now after a long time the master of those servants came and settled accounts with them. 20 And he who had received the five talents came forward, bringing five talents more, saying, ‘Master, you delivered to me five talents; here, I have made five talents more.’ 21 His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant.[c] You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.’ 22 And he also who had the two talents came forward, saying, ‘Master, you delivered to me two talents; here, I have made two talents more.’ 23 His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.’ 24 He also who had received the one talent came forward, saying, ‘Master, I knew you to be a hard man, reaping where you did not sow, and gathering where you scattered no seed, 25 so I was afraid, and I went and hid your talent in the ground. Here, you have what is yours.’ 26 But his master answered him, ‘You wicked and slothful servant! You knew that I reap where I have not sown and gather where I scattered no seed?27 Then you ought to have invested my money with the bankers, and at my coming I should have received what was my own with interest. 28 So take the talent from him and give it to him who has the ten talents. 29 For to everyone who has will more be given, and he will have an abundance. But from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away. 30 And cast the worthless servant into the outer darkness. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’
A talent was a monetary unit worth about twenty years’ wages for a laborer
Though it is one of my favorite verses, every time I read it I would get scared. It scared me because quite often I feel like I am hiding my talents in the ground. Not intentionally, but mostly because as a “jack of all trades” I have had a hard time determining which talent it is that God wants me to focus on. I feel like the old saying, “jack of all trades, master of none”, was written hundreds of years ago specifically for me. For years I have repeated that saying over and over in my head and each time I did, I felt worse about myself. It has been a debilitating thorn in my self-worth and passion since the first time someone used that label on me. What should I do? Which skill should I master? Why can’t I focus? Why can’t I find my one thing like everybody else? God, what do you want me to do? I tried everything to figure out exactly what it is that I am supposed to do. Coaching, school, books, videos, workshops you name it and in my quest, I have only become more and more confused.
Today, I opened Proverbs 16 and although several verses spoke to me, it was verse 9, that really caught my attention. “In their hearts humans plan their course, but the LORD establishes their steps.” When I read this verse I saw the word “hearts”. Maybe because it is Valentine’s Day or maybe because I went to sleep last night asking God and my new found friend, Ihagh G. T., for an answer, today the word “hearts” appeared to me as though I had never seen it before.
Immediately, I knew what I had long been missing and the answer was quite simple. Over the past decades, the search for my life’s purpose never made its way from my HEAD, to my HEART. In my head, I worried about how much money I could make, If I was capable ,if it was a good idea, what people would think about me and of course if the path I was considering was what God wanted me to do. Seldom did I consult my heart and if I did, I would quickly dismiss its calling in favor of all the noise in my head.
Speaking of my head, remember that old saying that I carried around and allowed to cripple me for years? (“a jack of all trades a master of none”) Well, it turns out that when I searched the origin of that saying this morning, I had it wrong. It turns out that while it is used today to describe someone who lacks focus, the original saying was actually a COMPLIMENT!!! When I read that, I just about fell out of my chair and smacked my head on my desk! The original saying actually read, “A jack of all trades is a master of none, but oftentimes better than a master of one.” The phrase means that a person is a generalist rather than a specialist, versatile and adept at many things. Perspective changes everything, with the new definition in mind, I am PROUD to be a “jack of all trades”. In fact, it is almost like all the specialists were jealous and decided to belittle us by changing the phrase to their liking!
As it turns out, now I realize that being a “jack of all trades” IS the talent God gave me, it is NOT a curse. The answer to what I have sought for so long will be found where my heart, not my head, intersects with talents. Once I fully engage my heart, as Proverbs 16:9 states, “the Lord WILL establish my steps”.
How about you, are you using your talents, while following your heart or are you listening to noise in your head?
Have a Great Day!
After taking a few days off writing as I traveled, I am back at it. It’s strange how difficult it can be to get back on track once we interrupt a pattern. Today I want to write about a topic that has been on my mind a lot the past few days. Since reading a friend’s post on Facebook about a book she was recommending, Love Yourself: Like Your Life Depends on it by Kamal Ravikant, the topic of “loving yourself” has been brought to my attention from several other close friends and clients. To be honest, the book was well written and the topic made complete sense, yet I find myself resisting the concept put forth in the book that loving yourself is as easy as telling yourself over and over that, “I love myself”.
Tomorrow is Valentine’s Day, a day reserved for LOVE. Most often on this day, we focus on romantic love and love for those closest to us like close friends and family. But NEVER, not ONCE, in my 48 years, have I celebrated or even considered the concept of “loving myself” on this day.
There are experts all over the world that have written and taught us that in order to love someone else, we must love ourselves first. It sounds good, but what does it mean to “love yourself?” The second commandment states that “you shall love your neighbor as yourself. There is no commandment greater than these.” Mark 12:31 Since God wants us to love your neighbor as yourself, doesn’t it make sense that we better figure out what “loving yourself” really means, and more importantly how to do it?
Think about it. How many people, including you, not only have one thing but a list of things that they don’t love about themselves? I’m too fat, I don’t like my smile, I hate my nose, I’m disgusted by my body, my laugh sounds stupid, I am too short, I am too tall, my hair is too curly, my hair is too straight, I am too smart, I am too dumb, you get the idea. If we truly despise ourselves this badly, we may be better off ignoring God’s advice to “love your neighbor as yourself”. In fact, maybe many of us are all too good at following God’s commandment and that is why the hate we feel for ourselves ends up being projected on to others in our daily life.
So then, what does it mean to “Love Yourself?” Is it as simple as looking in the mirror and saying “I love you” or as Kamal Ravikant suggests, repeating “I love myself” over and over in your mind until you believe it to be true? Since what works for one person, may not work for another, I don’t want to reject either of these tactics as a possible way to create self love. In fact, they may be an important piece of the puzzle but in my mind there has to be more.
The last couple days, while working with my coaching clients, we have discussed the importance of intention. It is my belief that the only way to achieve a desired RESULT is to first create an intention and then take action. If I apply the same thinking to “self love”, the first thing we need to do in order to love ourselves is to set the intention that we desire to “love our self”, in the first place. Setting the intention to “love our self” brings the desire to our attention. Once we do this, our conscious and subconscious minds look for ways that we can accomplish this goal. Then, when we see the opportunity to “prove it”, we must take ACTION!
For example… I LOVE cupcakes. They are soooooo good. The idea of a cupcake makes me smile. My favorite part about a cupcake is the layers and layers of frosting on top! MMMMmmmm (Did you know that when a person craves sweets, it is actually a really good indicator that they crave “love” or “sweetness” in their life?) The problem with cupcakes, or any sweets for that matter, is that they are not good for us. And while there is certainly nothing wrong with having “a” cupcake now and then, having a cupcake or a combination of many sweet foods on a daily basis, can certainly take its toll on your body and how you feel about yourself. Trust me, I know! With the intention of “loving myself” in mind, when the opportunity to partake in a delicious cupcake presents itself, saying “no thank you” would actually be an opportunity to show self love. The same could be said about how we allow others to treat us at home, at work or in a romantic relationship. Saying “no thank you” to an unacceptable behavior or action doesn’t only show self-respect but it builds self love. Each time you take action and “prove it”, you begin to love yourself a little bit more.
Proverbs 15:13 A Happy heart makes the face cheerful, but heartache crushes the spirit. Let me ask you, what could make your heart happier than truly loving yourself through intended actions each and every day? Loving yourself means putting yourself first, not because you are selfish but because God wants us to love others as we love ourselves and if we don’t know how to properly love ourselves, we certainly won’t be loving each other as God intended for us to do.
Have a great day!
PS- Happy Valentine’s Day!
Today I am going to admit that many times when I read a verse that makes reference to a time and place that I can’t relate, I skim right past the verse’s intended meaning. Today was no different. As I was searching for today’s topic, I saw the word “oxen” and in my mind I said “blah, blah, blah this doesn’t apply” but then I stopped myself and realized that this pattern of behavior was no longer serving me. Therefore, today I am going to challenge myself to write about said oxen.
The verse I that I am referring to is Proverbs 14: Verse 4 – “Where there are no oxen, the manger is clean, but abundant crops come by the strength of oxen.”
What’s fascinating, and somewhat controversial to non-believers, is that since the Bible was written, it has been translated into over 2000 different languages and there are more than 40 different versions written in English. The popular King James version was written in 1611, while more modern versions of the Bible include simplified English for people like me. In addition to all the translations, there are all the different interpretations by biblical scholars, preachers and individual. In some cases, a reader will use their own bias to interpret a verse in hopes that it will support a position or belief that they currently hold. The point I am attempting to make is that not every verse has a black and white meaning and the interpretation is not always precise. So as I attempt to uncover the meaning of Proverbs 14:4, please keep that in mind.
When I began to consider the meaning of this verse, to be honest I had NO idea, none. The second half of the verse made sense and so I focused in on that and decided the meaning was that strong, hard work will create an abundant harvest. (life, wealth, etc.) We are to work like the ox. Still not satisfied with my thinking, I consulted Google. What an incredible tool, right? Anyway, Google quickly took me to the Christian Courier, a group created in 1965 whose main objective is to “help average Americans become more knowledgeable about God’s word”. Perfect! I’m average and they know my language, simplicity! After reading their explanation of the verse, I realized that I badly missed the mark! To illustrate this, I decided to share their interpretation in its entirety. (good stuff)
“What is the meaning of Proverbs 14:4? It seems to be out of place in the Bible.”
Before we address the text of Proverbs 14:4, we need consider this important point. Contrary to the opinions of many, the Bible was intended to instruct us in all areas of life. We do not find the concept of compartmentalizing one’s life into secular and religious realms. God has provided the principles for righteous living in all things (1 Peter 1:3).
That important point noted, let us examine the passage at hand.
Proverbs is an interesting book on the surface, but it is not just another collection of ancient sayings. It is, rather, a collection of inspired truths in memorable and vivid forms.
Proverbs covers a wide range of topics. There are proverbs concerning wealth, wisdom, friends, family, work, and worldliness. For a helpful, comprehensive topical index of Proverbs, consult The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, volume five, or Derek Kidner’s commentary on Proverbs in the Tyndale Old Testament Commentaries series.
Here is the text of Proverbs 14:4:
“Where there are no oxen, the manger is clean, but abundant crops come by the strength of oxen.”
Have you ever heard someone say, “There are pros and cons to everything”? We make decisions by weighing the advantages and disadvantages of a thing.
When it comes to owning oxen, there are disadvantages. They eat a lot. They can be expensive and time-consuming to keep. If you don’t have any oxen, you can save a lot of time and expense. Consider having a “clean manger” [Note: The Hebrew term translated “manger” ’ebus means a “feeding-trough.” (The New Brown-Driver-Briggs-Gesenius Hebrew-English Lexicon, p. 7.)].
On the other hand, oxen are the tools for an abundant harvest. Their cost and inconvenience does not compare with their productivity.
Solomon is not simply giving a lesson in agriculture.
Here are two principles:
- get the right tools for the job you need to do, and
- the cost of the right tool is worth it.
This is true for both material and spiritual work.
How many times has money been wasted by trying to “cut corners”? It is important to be wise in one’s work and financial matters
Okay, so what I learned today is that reading the Bible is much less about reading than it is understanding AND Living. If I had just continued to skim past this verse, like I had done many times before, I would never have received its gift of wisdom. I also learned that if I’m are having a tough time understanding a particular verse, it may be wise for me to consult one of the many OTHER versions. For example, today when I first read verse 4 in the NIV version, it read: Where there are no oxen, the manger is empty, but from the strength of an ox come abundant harvests. Yet when I consulted two other sources on the internet, they used the KJV of the Bible and the verse read “Where there are no oxen, the manger is clean, but abundant crops come by the strength of oxen.” Notice that even though the verses are similar, the second verse introduces us to more information to use in our interpretation. In the KJV version we also learn that the manger is clean, this simple addition really adds to the meaning and quite frankly, to the discrepancies among those doing the interpreting. (see extra credit below)
Having an ox in your stable is no different than having the right tool in your tool box. If you are a writer, you need a pen. If you are a carpenter you need a hammer. If you are a guitarist, you need a guitar (note to my musician friends. I said “A” guitar, not numerous guitars 🙂 ).
So I’ll ask you. Do you have an ox in your stable? If not, why?
Have a great day!
PS: extra credit, Read the post below for another expert interpretation of this same verse. If you are like me, you’ll find it interesting that their interpretation is a little bit different. See, it’s not black and white. That’s why it is important that when you embark on the path to “living” the Bible, you do your best to understand it first;)
Here it is…
In this fallen world, problems are present even when things are moving forward and productivity is increasing. That is the message of today’s passage. During biblical times, the ancient Israelites placed great value on oxen. The book of Leviticus indicates their importance to the sacrificial system, and passages such as Deuteronomy 25:4 tell us that these animals were a key part of agricultural production. The second half of Proverbs 14:4 confirms this. The strength of an ox brings many crops. More plowing and harvesting can be accomplished, increasing the yield of the field and the growth of a household’s wealth. However, this growth comes at a price. An ox must be fed and watered. It must be housed in a shed during storms. It leaves waste that must be cleaned up. In other words, for all the benefit that an ox provides, this animal brings with it much cost and mess.
So, as the first half of Proverbs 14:4 reveals, the only way to have a clean manger is to not have many oxen. And yet, if one ox can bring so much productivity, many oxen will bring even more. Essentially, this proverb reminds us that if we want to advance, if we want to grow our wealth or anything else, there will be some untidiness about it. It will require responsibility in taking care of all our possessions. Things may get messy at times. Somewhat paradoxically, a big mess can be desirable, not because it is in itself something to seek but because it may indicate the presence of healthy productivity.
3 Those who guard their lips preserve their lives, but those who speak rashly will come to ruin.
To speak rashly means to speak without careful consideration of the possible consequences. Yesterday, there was a situation in my home that, to say the least, really irritated me.
Several months ago I purchased a house for my son and I. Since then, nearly every day or at least a few hours of each day have been spent working on and fixing the home up. Sometimes things go well, most often each step I have taken has been countered with two to three steps back. It has become a VERY frustrating theme. It truly has taken a toll on my mental state. I live in a constant state of frustration. When I step away from the project for a few days and try to relax, all the uncompleted work begins to pile up in my mind. To be honest, while I am truly grateful for this home and I love It very much, there have been many times that I feel as though I have bitten off more that I wanted to chew. Not more than I can chew, just more than I wanted or expected. Every now and then I can see the light at the end of the tunnel. In those brief moments, I find myself decorating or creating items to decorate our home. Each time I add something new to the wall or put something on a shelf it brings with it a sense of completion and a feeling that we are finally home.
Several weeks ago I finally got around to editing and printing a poster of German airplane that was used in WWII. The model of the plane shares my last name (Messerschmitt). Though I am not related to its creator, I had a silly idea that I wanted to fill my house only with items that had meaning to me. For many reasons this picture, a blue print sketch of the original design, found its way into my head as something that would be a fun conversation starter. After-all, since I was a kid, nearly each time someone learns my last name they ask me if I’m any relation to the creator of the Messerschmitt airplane.
A few weeks ago, I spent the afternoon searching for the perfect frame, then editing, and printing the poster. I bought the materials home and put the masterpiece together. Feeling proud of my creation, I quickly walked it to my living room and held it to the wall. Immediately I knew that it didn’t fit, it wasn’t what I was looking for. Not to be discouraged, I placed it in my hallway where I left it hang for all of 20 minutes before removing it and placing it in my basement where I would “get back to it” at a later date.
Great story Kevin, but how in the world does a picture of a Messerschmitt airplane have anything to do with today’s verse? I’m glad you asked! Today I have chosen to “live” and write about Proverbs 13: Verse 3. “Those who guard their lips preserve their lives, but those who speak rashly will come to ruin.” Are you confused yet? Good, then you might just stay with me to the end!
Over the course of the last few years, frustrations with myself, my career and my relationships have had a tendency creep out at inopportune moments with those closet to me, namely my son. If you are a parent, I am sure you can sympathize with me when I say that having a son who is more concerned about motocross, biking, video games, snap chat streaks, and hanging out with friends than he is helping Dad fix up the new house can be a little bit frustrating. Especially when you ask, almost beg for help! Now, don’t get me wrong, I have a very thoughtful, considerate, well-mannered kid. I am EXTREMELY proud of him and love him VERY much but there are times that he makes me soooo frustrated, and the last several days have been no exception.
It seems as though one request after another falls on def ears. It’s like he only hears what he wants to hear. Ethan, please clean out your drawers and box all the things you want to store or no longer need, turns into: clean out your drawers, find anything you think is cool, play with it and put the junk on the ground back in the drawer so Dad thinks I finished. Pick up the glass you broke in the basement turns into: pick up the glass and put it right back down in a pile on the floor next to where it broke. Or my favorite, pick up the dog poop turns into wash my friends socks after he inadvertently steps in the dog poop but leave said poop on the floor for the next person to step in it!
The problem that I have is that these frustrations begin to build until something, even as basic as lost socks for the trampoline park, sets me off! When the fuse is lite, there is no stopping it! And heck, since I’ve already exploded, I might as well double down and make the explosion worthwhile by finding more things to fuel my fire! To Ethan’s credit, for the most part he takes it but not without a little push back. Lately he has become a little more brave in his attempts to push back which really doesn’t help the situation, at all!
Yesterday, after driving him to a friend’s house, then back to our house because he forgot his season pass for the ski hill (don’t even get me started on that one), then to a different friend’s house to pick up his snowboard that he left there the last time he boarded, then finally back to the original friend so he could catch a ride to the ski hill, I walked in the basement to find that the glass on my Messerschmitt airplane poster had been broken. (Yes, that is a run on sentence, hopefully you were able to feel my frustration!)
Frustrated, I quickly sent him a text to ask what happened. He told me that it happened a couple days prior and that he was afraid to tell me because he didn’t know how I would react. He went on to let me know that he asked a mutual (adult) friend of ours what he should do and was given the advice to “not tell me right now.” In typical Ethan fashion, “not tell me right now” was understood as “not tell me for a long time.”
What angered, or I think the better word here would be hurt, me most wasn’t that he and our mutual friend both decided to keep the secret from me. I had talked to both of them at length since the occurrence and neither of them mentioned it to me. Not wanting to say something that I would regret, I did something that most in my life have never witnessed, I went silent. Not a word. I picked Ethan up after snowboarding and we drove home in silence. When we returned home, I just went to bed.
When I woke up this morning, I opened my Bible ap, turned to Proverbs 13, and, like usual, the message God intended for me jumped off the page. Verse 3: Those who guard their lips preserve their lives, but those who speak rashly will come to ruin. God used the events of the last few days to teach me a lesson. He wanted me to see that it is important for me to keep my calm and choose my words wisely during times of stress, especially with my son, so that when something REALLY important, dangerous, scary or uncomfortable comes along, he won’t be afraid to come to me over fear of how I will react. Lesson learned. I’ll be working on that:)
Have a great day!
PS- To our mutual adult friend. As you can read, I learned my lesson. However, that doesn’t let you off the hook for keeping said secret 😉
“Influencer”. Until last week, I didn’t even know the word existed in the land of social media. However after watching the Netflix documentary “FYRE: The Greatest Party That Never Happened,” I realized just how out of touch I was with younger generation that follows their every move.
For those of you that don’t know, an “influencer”, in marketing, is a person with the ability to influence potential buyers of a product or service by promoting or recommending the items on social media. The more trendy, outrageous, outspoken or famous you are, the greater influence you have. In today’s generation where how you look and how lavishly you live has taken precedence over who you are and who you serve, “influencers” create trends and sell boat loads of products simply by posting a picture of themselves going to an event or using a specific item. “Influencers” have so much marketing power that a single post on the social media platform Instagram, has the potential to pay the top “influencers” in the world a quarter million dollars, just for one post! Say what?!!?
The “Fyre” documentary focused in on the event’s creators, exposing one lie, false promise and exaggeration after another. Essentially, the creators used social media, specifically Instagram and Twitter, to create a “buzz” about an event touted to be the greatest party the world had ever seen. The exclusive party was to take place on a private island in the Bahamas. It was to include the opportunity to see some of the music industry’s hottest bands, sleep in luxurious ocean villas, dine on fine food, drink till your heart’s content and rub elbows with today’s top celebrities, models and other amazing looking people. (spoiler alert) In the end, it was all a scam created by a young entrepreneur who tangled top executives, investors and even a popular rap artist into his web.
The documentary is definitely worth watching, especially if you have teenagers or young adults that you care about. I say this because the documentary provides an inside look to just how easy it is for our kids to be swayed and taken advantage of in today’s world that is dominated by social media. Wow, as I write this I can’t help but to feel old! Today’s world??? Young people??? Seriously how did I go from being in the “know” to being shocked, old and out of touch? Eeeekkk, seriously.
Anyway, let’s get back on track. The verse I chose today is from Proverbs 12:Verse 9, it reads: Better to be a nobody and yet have a servant; than pretend to be somebody and have no food.
When I read this verse I couldn’t help but think about the Fyre documentary. The documentary exposed one person after another that was more concerned about their image than they were about anything else, including other people. Some of the kids were spending all they had or quitting a job to attend the event in hopes that the bragging rights of being at the event would boost their social status. Others posed for pictures in the perfect setting on the beach while wearing expensive sunglasses and designer clothing. The pictures that they would capture were nothing more than a blink of the eye, a brief moment in time. But that one perfect picture, posted on the right platform at the right time, had the potential to change their life and lift them to the status of a super star. THIS is what scared me most. It scared me because even though that one picture appeared to be fun or glamorous, the events before and after the “perfect” picture often times were not! In some cases, people were actually “living” this verse, albeit not in the way that it was intended. They were living the second half of the verse by pretending to BE somebody they weren’t and in the process, sacrificing that which was most important.
For me, this verse speaks to the importance that humility plays in our lives. Being humble means to be modest and lower the estimate of your own importance. In other words, unlike the beliefs of many of today’s Instagram superstars, a humble person, a “nobody,” understands that the world does NOT evolve around them. A “nobody” works hard and serves others even when no one is looking. A “nobody,” doesn’t believe in ulterior motives. A “nobody,” puts the needs of others before their own. Though often times this person may “fly under the radar”, they are the ones that make the world go round. The true “influencers” in life aren’t the ones we find on social media, the true “influencers” are all around you. They are parents, teachers, community leaders, pastors, and those that walk in your door when everyone else decides it’s time to walk out. Being a “nobody” may not increase your social status or bring you fame on Instagram but I for one would much rather be a “nobody” with a servant; than be a somebody and have no food.
Have a great day! Thanks for reading 🙂
Proverbs 11: Verse 25 A generous person will prosper; whoever refreshes others will be refreshed
What does it mean to be generous? Webster’s Dictionary defines it as to give or share freely. Therefore, the next question I have is to give what? What is it that God is asking us to “give” when he says a generous person will prosper? Are we to give money? Necessities? Things? Time? Knowledge? Love? Perhaps the answer to my question is in the second half of the verse. “whoever refreshes others will be refreshed”. I like the concept, I love the word…”refreshed”. Stop right now, say it out loud . Re FRESHED! Say it again and this time draw out the shhhh sound like REFRESSSHED! Doesn’t make you feel good, like you’re surrounded by millions of little bubbles as you lay comfortably in the middle of a warm bath? Or maybe the word reminds you of jumping into a cool lake on a hot summer day. For whatever reason, maybe really good marketing, I picture a big, clear glass of Sprite with HUGE droplets running down the side and fizzy little bubbles jumping out of the glass. I don’t even want to drink it, just the image in my mind is absolutely REEEEFRESSSSSHING! Okay, I must digress, after all what does a soft drink have to do with “living” the words set forth in the Bible over 2000 years ago? The answer? Nothing but maybe everything!
The mind is a powerful thing. The fact of the matter is that as humans, unlike your favorite internet browser, (In case you are wondering, mine is Chrome) don’t have a refresh button. The only way we become refreshed is through how we see ourselves at any given point time. Take a nap, you wake refreshed or if you are like me, you wake even more tired! Jump in a lake, feel refreshed or to some of you that may mean that you feel COLD! It’s really a matter of perception as to WHAT will refresh you or someone else. So if God is asking us to REFRESH others, shouldn’t we first know what it means for that person to be refreshed?
The other day it was BITTER COLD, snowy and very windy. There was approximately 8 inches of freshly fallen snow on the ground. It was so cold that even the dogs couldn’t stand to be outside for more than a few minutes. So in keeping with my theme of “living” the Bible and just simply wanting to be a “good” guy, I proceeded to clear out the driveway of the elderly couple that lived next to me. It seemed like a great idea so I proceeded to clear out the first of their two driveways. The snow was deep and the wind on my face was cold. My hands and toes were getting a bit numb but all I could think about was how grateful I was to be in a position that I could help them. As I began the second driveway, the garage door opened and standing there in just a sweater was my neighbor Kathy. Though we met several years ago and have had numerous conversations since, she looked at me and said, “who are you?”. “Kevin”, I said. Well either I must have put on a few pounds or my light grey beard was more of a disguise that I thought because even after stating my name she said, “from next door?”, I said yes. Surprised, she said, “ohhhh, bless you! I didn’t recognize you with your hood up and your beard.” This is where the story takes and interesting and unexpected twist!
She graciously thanks me for my help, then turns and points to an old lawn tractor darning tire chains and a snowblower. As we look at the old tractor she begins to tell me that he husband, who had a stroke several years ago, often time feels so worthless, a shadow of his younger self. She continues to tell me that he is a proud man and that clearing his own driveway makes him feel like he still has value as the head of their household. I should have known this. I should have honored this because several years ago on a much nicer snow day, he refused my help, at the time, I just didn’t understand why. Now that I did, I felt awful. As we continued to chat, tears welled up in her eyes as she told me about the recent, untimely passing of her second child. Though the conversation got heavy, I could tell that it was exactly what she needed in that moment. At the end of our conversation she looked at me and said, “if you want to shovel the sidewalk, that’s my responsibility and I’m not too proud to ask!”, so of course I did and she closed the garage door and went back into the house.
I thought of this story today when I read verse 25. What I learned that day is that what is deemed generous to one person may be considered offensive or intrusive to another and what I may find refreshing, someone else may consider frustrating. Like most things in life, it’s all a matter of perspective.
So many times in my life, my heart is in the right place but through someone else’s eyes, maybe because of my delivery or possibly their own insecurities, they miss my true intention. When this has happened, either a stake has been driven between us and our relationship takes a step backward or feelings are hurt. Either way, my true intention was not received.
So then, what’s the lesson and how do I apply the lesson(s) learned and move forward with generosity in an attempt to refresh others? I think the answer is simply to ask first. Ask what the recipient of your generosity needs. Ask them how you can best serve them and more importantly, listen to AND respect their answer. You may want to “solve” or “fix” a friends problem, when all they really wanted was a ear to listen or a hug. You may want to offer someone money when all they want is an opportunity. You may want to give advice when all they want is a pat on the back and to find their own way. Or as in my case, you may want to serve someone you think is too old and weak to be out in the cold shoveling snow when all they want is to prove to you and themselves that they still can.
Have a great day!
PS- Two days later I received a call from the same neighbor. This time her husband asked her to call me to see if I would be so kind to accept payment for removing snow from their back porch before it thaws and turns into water in their basement. Of course I said yes:) I am looking forward to my payment of some homemade bake goods 🙂
4 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. 🙂 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!
PS- If you like what you are reading and you think someone else could benefit, please share 🙂
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… 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 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…
A 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’s what makes photography so fun, each picture is worth a thousand words, right? So, placing a label on people or things doesn’t 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!
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!
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!