To live is Christ to die is gain.

One of the most famous of bible quotes Christians cling to is found in Phil 1:21 To live is Christ and to die is gain. I have to admit that this quote has often rallied my Christian gusto and is powerful and commanding as Paul asserts the truth that there is no loss in life or death when we have Jesus Christ in our lives and souls.

Today however I discovered a deeper meaning far more personal and “soft” so to speak than I ever have encountered in my relationship with Jesus. It has to do with a relationship that has been troublesome for myself for quite some time throughout my life. I have harbored much pain, bitterness, and resentment in this relationship and as a result the relationship has suffered greatly.

I think we as sinful human beings all have relationships like this, and if we are truly honest with ourselves a few, many too close to home for comfort. We blame, try to cover it, or even attempt to lay it at the cross but still our sinful hearts cling to the pain because we need it to justify our selfish and bitter actions in our broken relationships. However, God has a way to show us truths when the timing is right and when it works best for His glory (as it should). So today as I was reading a book on mindsets and perspectives I came across a passage that hit me right across my face with truth. How this person moved on from bitterness in the relationship by realizing she was half the relationship and that she could improve this relationship by 50% simply by stop trying to get validation from this relationship and instead try to be the person she felt she would be if the relationship was whole. The result was that the other person over time realized their own selfishness, learned truth, sought forgiveness, and both lives were improved.

There is where the apostle Paul’s famous words popped into my head. See that right there is living for Christ. This woman realized that she was dragging down the relationship by harboring the sinful thoughts and feelings we so long to cling to in our lives. And by letting go and living with a new perspective, a new heart, she was able to fundamentally change not only her own life, but the life of the other person in the relationship. That’s living for Christ. Setting aside who we used to be and growing a new heart, a new soul, in Christ Jesus.

We were called to live without bitterness! God didn’t create us to live in resentment and perpetual anger, we can’t handle that. So to truly live we must be Christlike and live with a new heart and when we die it will be our gain! That is to live is Christ and to die gain.


Its all about the experience

In keeping up to date on the current events of my old high school team I have made an interesting observation on the acceptance of failure and the quick comments about how its not about the winning but about the experience. 

Now dont get me wrong, I do believe that life is not all about winning as they say “experience is the best teacher” and I agree with that statement. However, to say that in competition it is NOT about winning and instead all about the experience seems wrong to me. For instance lets take this for example: You are 37 years old with a wife, 10 year old, 3 year old, a pet dog, mortgage, car payments, and some credit card debt. You are doing pretty good would you say this guy is winning at life with just a shallow glance? Probably. Now lets say this: One day the boss approaches you and with regret has to let you go due to the tough economy. Weeks go by and work is hard to come by. You become depressed, thoughts like “I’m a failure to my kids” “Ill never find work” “We are going to lose the house” start to infiltrate you and your family’s life. Would anyone consider this winning? Probably not. However, would you say “Its all about the experience” to this guy!? Only if you wanted a punch in the face! 

What’s the point? Well. Competitive sports/teams/clubs are created with the purpose to teach life lessons to not just young adults, but all people. Would I say that the entire goal is to win no matter what? Absolutely not. However, to say that winning does not matter undermines the fundamental point of competition. For example if a winning organization such as say the New England Patriots were to loose a game or two by horrible margins I doubt fans, players, managers, or anyone associated with the team would be saying “its all about the experience” There would be some serious training, some damage control and some planning to get back on the winning train. However if the team took extreme measures to win i.e. cheating, illegal activities, etc. There would be an uproar as well! 

If in our example the 37 year old man stopped focusing on “winning” (taking care of his family and finances) and just on the experience he could (and would) have a terrible experience! Unless someone considers financial distress a fun winning experience and something to be celebrated Im sure he would be getting his rear in gear to “win”. 

So I believe that this culture of “its all about the experience” is a bunch of hogwash and a excuse for a lack of results. And while winning is not everything, we must come to the conclusion that society ultimately rewards winners and those who strive to win and that there is a balance that must be met. Personally I feel this balance is where the individual takes all experiences as a learning experience, keeps his head up, attacks with all his will the issues to win. And takes the field understanding he may not be good enough for 1st and he will do his best now. Win or lose he will strive with his entire being to achieve a win or a higher level of success next time. And will not stop until a win is his.


Truth: Freedom Calls

Today I had some extra time while sitting down in a local McDonald’s restaurant and so I decided what a better way to improve my attitude than reading from my Bible! I flipped pages to one of the Bibles most famous freedom passages, Galatians 5 reading the entire chapter, I encountered something I have not noticed ever before. Galatians 5:7-8 reads “You were running well. Who hindered you from obeying the truth? This persuasion is not from him who calls you”

This passage really hit me hard. So many times we are running for goals, our lives are on fire so it seems and nothing can go wrong when BAM!! Things slam into us and we wonder “What is going on here?” Doubt. Disbelief. Frustration, and more all flood our minds and emotions. Oftentimes when I am in this position it seems to me it is because I have violated some truth. It could be that I didn’t set a goal and so had none to shoot for, maybe I didn’t follow basic principles of character and so I met setbacks, whatever the cause it always seems that the issues I encounter in my life are because of a violation of a truth.

Verse 8 of this passage reads very interestingly. “This persuasion is not from him who calls you” now what on earth does that mean?! I am convinced everyone knows what is right and wrong and anytime we as people have to persuade or convince ourselves or rationalize actions it really means we feel we did wrong. Now who is the author of all that is wrong about the world? Not God! However his adversary sure does and we can be sure that Paul is warning us here that he who hinders us from the truth is not of God but rather his enemy.

So what is this truth? What IS it that he who calls us actually wants us to know? Lets look at verse 13 “For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.” WOW! So we are called to freedom that is the truth! That we through Christ are a free people and are called to exercise that freedom for service of each other! Maybe you were running well to get out of debt and things just came in your way. Maybe you were running to work on your marriage and things just got too rough. I find these verses to be an encouraging reminder that God has called us to be a free people and to remember that it is not God who keeps us from freedom which is his truth and our calling, but it is ourselves.

God Bless

Keith


Free Enterprise

In the short period of time I have been around, one of the topics I have always had a deep interest in was economics. As a student in school we deal primarily with theory particularly one theory, that of John Maynard Keynes. Even in my college level courses it seems looking back that professors, their curriculm, and consequently their students were experts on the reasons why Kenysian economics were so good and yet silent on the works of economists such as Adam Smith, Ludwig Von Mises, and others. I am not going to write about the many flaws and failure rate of government intervention in the economy. I am simply going to give a small illustration and personal story of the beauty of freedom in economics.

Two young individuals who I know personally were working for a company basically as contractors we shall call one Fred and the other Jane. They made their own hours and were free to create whatever strategy was needed to hit the goals for the company within moral bounds. The only catch was, Jane was to make more than Fred on the account that she was to be the official leader of the two man team even though they both did the same basic job.  (I wonder, if this is similar to anything you might experience on the job? haha) What do you think occured? Well Fred stopped doing as much work as before, production slowed, number fell as did income, attitude, and loyalty to the company. And here is the interesting thing: these feelings were mutual to BOTH parties. After seeking agreement the company agreed to equalize the pay between Fred and Jane on performance purely. The next couple days loyalty to the company increased, attitude rose, income raised EVEN FOR JANE BECAUSE…numbers rose as production increased because now Fred was in a system where he was free to perform and work cohesively with Jane without any limitations.

This story for me has so many implications. For example when government taxes it steals from those who work hard (Fred) this does not encourage Fred to work more and his attitude and loyalty drop off along with production because what is the point when he is not justly rewarded for his efforts? Instead why not let Jane, Sally, Sue, or whoever else to pick up the slack? What is interesting here is when fred has a handicap on his income vs. Jane’s, he gave up because what is the point? Won’t Jane just make more anyways? Why should he work so hard for her success? This leads to Fred’s feelings of resentment towards “rich” Jane but really its not her who is making this all occur, it is the system that has been set up in a way to create an aristocracy, to create one over another accidental or not these things happen and we should probably consider their implications on society.

Rascal: A Purpose Driven Leader

Welcome to my new blog! Thank you for using your time to read what I hope will be some thoughtful thoughts that may provoke discussion or action to help improve lives. I hope that I can be a blessing to all my readers lives with each new post.

Today I wanted to write about a book on leadership I recently finished, Rascal by Chris Brady. I have read a few books on leadership and reading, highlighting, and note taking have always been part of the regimen that has helped with my understanding and development. Recently though I was listening to a recording by Mr. Brady himself actually where he mentioned that one of his reading habits upon finishing a book is to read the highlights backwards in the book to get a outline of the book from which to build the main point of the book.

I decided to test this out with Rascal and here is what I got!

“it is also a good idea to craft a personal statement that speaks directly to you…choose carefully the words we say and think to ourselves…encouraging books and people, and prayer…one’s eyes upon the dream…maintaining a proper perspective…It is the problems and challenges overcome by the Rascal that determine the magnitude and  credibility of the success achieved…cherishes his freedom and fights to preserve it, not only for himself, but for others…politics is a battle among people to determine where a country will exist on the continuum between the two dominant viewpoints…ideas represented by the Rascal view lead to individuals having more choices…Rascals should launch themselves on their own program of financial education…those without financial ability are therefore at least somewhat limited in their scope and reach…one leader’s actions affects the larger picture in an outward ripple…The biggest weapon a Rascal has against the encroachment upon his freedoms in education and awareness…they don’t swallow ideas and ideologies blindly, they think for themselves and make up their own minds…It [The Constitution] was established primarily to limit and divide the powers of government from bracket-creep and control…Rascals everywhere have been willing to risk everything to gain it…Freedom is precious and rare, but freedome isn’t free, and it never has been…it is not only about one Rascal’s success…Rascals know that one person can and does make a difference…Without a big cause there is no big hero…realizes that even at the point of peak frustration he still retains the personal freesome of choosing…Champions, however, keep these moments to a minimum and always find a way to pull out of them…Rascals hate losing enough to change while those who Whimify hate changing enough to lose…Jackals can never be fatal to a Rascal’s purpose…Justification is the door through which character departs…It is always someone else’s fault…Losers must always provide and excuse for their lack of winning…It is usually gradual…Inaction is an especially dangerous condition for a Rascal…They dont live in The Zone. Instead, they live zoned out, and it’s a shame…It is when one’s actions are perfectly in line with one’s purpose…This excitement, in turn, leads to the overcoming of fears…Learning becomes extremely fun, because it is so relevant…most Rascals, being Rascals, are skeptical…The real issue is which type of success one will pursue…The point is one cannot produce darkness, but can only snuff the light…Each of these definitions relies on the readers’ foundational understanding of the concept of ‘light’…we realize that evil is nothing more than the absence of good…Success is the same way. It is a matter of choice…positive impact on the lives of other people…usually much slower than the decadent kind of success…becoming a force for good… Being decadent is easy. Evil is everywhere…Obstacles has no power over us that we don’t first give him…But nothing worthwhile ever comes easy…Discouragement is what happens when a Rascal loses belief…Obstacles has used to power of financial pain to throw many a would-be-Rascal off the path of success, destroy otherwise strong marriages, and split apart friendships…The weapon is always deployed along the same line: the desire to please the crowd, fit in, to be somebody…you can’t buy courage and decency, you can’t rent a strong moral sense…Failures of character are extremely hard to overcome…”The Bible will keep you from sin, or else sin will keep you from the Bible”…It takes merely seconds to destroy the character years were required to build…Comfort is a trap. Complacency is a disease that robs us of our best efforts…There is always a better personal best, a more excellent success to be attained…But everyone, including Weihenmayer, has mental disabilities. We are all limited by pride, ego, fear, lack of confidence, laziness, passivity, indifference, and the desire for comfort…We need someting to jolt us out of our false-comfort and reawaken us to our calling…Good is never good enough if better is available…complacency can set in at any level…learning on major on majors…”We fail when we get distracted by tasks we don’t have the guts to quit”…broken focus leads to broken dreams…Obstacles will attack by getting the Rascal to focus on something other than his goal…Failures of pride sneak up on us suddenly…Closely related to a lack of confidence in the arsenal of Obstacles is the case of an overblown ego…We must raise our own value by controlling the power of our thoughts to reinforce the positive aspects of our self-concept…visualize success regularly and clearly…we don’t feel worthy so we don’t try…Winners make decisions to do something quickly, to quit something slowly…almost nothing is as damaging to a team as doubt about the leadership…One of the most damaging areas of doubt is self-doubt…Doubt is an extremely toxic poison because it infects convictions…This kind of doubt aims at the heart, motive, and very spirit of the Rascal…pushing through one’s comfort zone builds a kind of momentum…hunger for success is a discipline that must be exercised…the best way to overcome fears is to take action…Cowarda are kow by those they have let down…the weight of regret is tons, while the weight of courage is ounces…whenever we give in to our fears we are playing the coward…courage is not action instead of fear but in spite of fear…Rascals are violently opposed at every step…”to know what is right and not do it is the worst cowardice”…Nothing worthwhile can be done or accomplished without the cooperation of others…victory always follows struggle…The ability to persevere through challenges and obstacles is a matter of strength, will, and focus…In life, people can choose to either play hurt or adopt a loser’s limp… winners learn to play hurt…Delayed gratification is not so much about living in the future as it is about working toward a brighter future…What we settle for now is usually quite inferior to what we could have accomplished over the long haul…the burn to have something right now can lead to pragmatism, compromises, and damaging shortcuts…the greater the desired reward, the greater the delay required…a positive attitude doesn’t preclude seeing things realistically, confronting brutal reality, or any other number of assessments…Having a positive attitude also comes from preparedness, hard work, and dedication…the greater part of our happiness or misery depends upon our dispositions,  and not upon our circumstances…Those who enjoy regularlly scheduled down-time, who deliberately repair their frazzled nerve-endings, will finish stronger…It is effectiveness which leads to significance…we need renewal and restoration even more so…There should be no shame in hard work…pursuit of mastery can produce fruit long before true mastery is accomplished…anyone can become great if he is willing to put in the time and effort…Practicing for the sake of practicing or simply to “put in the time” is not really practice, it is dishonesty…And there is a certain typr of effort that is required: passionate and perfect…success is more about mastery than it is about inborn ability…confidence derived from their competence…properly constructed habits are powerful…one has to get good at saying ‘no’ to a lot of good things in order to preserve space for the great things…when your focus is bigger than your obstacles that you can make progress…understand their priorities…busyness is no excuse for lack of performance…”He has honor if he hold himself to an ideal of conduct thought it is inconvinient, unprofitable, or dangerous to do so”…their courage and individuality is so uncommon…they seem to respond to the calling of an inner voice: one that stands for principle and justice.” (Brady; 1-179)

Wow!