Posts Tagged ‘encouragement’

So today was a really interesting day. It started with helping to set up one of my favorite speaker’s equipment for a major school presentation. Afterwards I got to have an early lunch with him and his team which was just awesome. Stories from the road combined with a few take aways that can’t help but make me a better speaker in the future. Thanks Bob Lenz for sharing some time with me today. If you are a pastor, you should really consider teaming up with a few other local churches to bring his Dignity Revolution presentation to your local school.

After that, I had a few errands to run. Checks to be deposited, and getting my driver’s license picture taken, after which I was craving a small treat, namely a McDonald’s Hot Caramel Sundae. While I was there, I heard a conversation between a worker and one of the other guests. I was trying to mind my own business, until I heard the young lady say she was an artist. At that point I had to join in. It turns out she had recently posted a photo of a new piece of art to social media. She had tried a new technique (for her) and was looking for feedback. She referred to her post as controversial. It wasn’t so much controversial, but she was getting a look at the difficult side of putting her work out there. Some people liked the piece, others did not. I didn’t read the comments, and she was handling it pretty well, but I could tell some of it was hurtful.

The piece was well done and a very good first effort. If she keeps going, she will grow and excel, but I reminded her of something I have had to remind myself of far too many times. As an artist you have to be true to yourself, claim your work and, to an extent, ignore the unkind critics. Let’s face it, as artists we all want everyone to like our work, but this is not reality. Some people will love your work, others will not. Some will praise it, others will put it (and maybe even you) down. Here’s what we need to remember: The people who love your work are the people who matter. Create first for yourself (and of course for the Lord), and then for the people who love your work and disregard the haters. The people who love your work are the people that will 1. buy it and/or 2. tel the world about it. They need to be your focus.

Also as artists, we need to bless and encourage each other and help each other out. In the course of our conversation, I shared a few of my pieces, talked about my traveling ministry, looked at more of her stuff, shared a couple of ideas, and because she was open minded, I showed her some of he work of one of my friends who I would consider a master at her ‘new” technique. All in all it ended up being a good conversation and I was blessed by it. I hope she was encouraged as well.

I apologize, because this is another crosspost from Beware of Artists, though I am going to expand the thought a little more.

Okay first of all, in case you were wondering, I didn’t misspell it. This is a play on words that occurred to me one day. We’ve all heard the story of that person who seemed to have the world by the tail in high school. They ruled the school and were likely a domineering bully. A big fish in a little pond, but when those four years passed, that was it, they peaked in High School. For the record, I can’t say I knew anyone like that personally, but I’m sure there were a few. The thing is, if we live this life properly, we don’t have to peak at all. We can keep growing, learning and expanding our horizons. Basically it involves giving each opportunity our best and to keep reaching for new heights. No I don’t mean some rat race/hamster wheel existence of chasing our tails and never being satisfied. Rather I mean one of limitless possibilities, where we continually ask “what if?” and like the results.

Consider our calling to expand the Kingdom and move the Gospel forward, as we prepare the way of our King. That job will never be done until He returns in His glory. Our call then is to keep moving forward. Consider the words of the Apostle Paul. Nearing the end of an amazing journey and a world changing life, do you remember what he said. 2 Timothy 4: 7-8. “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day—and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing.”

Keep moving forward, running your race, fighting your fight. There is a crown in store.

No Peaking!

This guy has some great things to say on trying, the naysayers and more.

It’s an expression I find myself using all the time. “In the ideal world this would happen or that would happen.” The ideal world is this mystical place where all the stars align and everything goes perfectly, every time. I’m here today to tell you that there is an ideal world and people are dying to get there. Unfortunately that’s the only way to get there. The ideal world is called Heaven and this ain’t it. Here on earth, things are often less than ideal. Things go wrong, or just don’t line up the way they should. There are problems and struggles, annoyances and catastrophes. We clearly do not live in the ideal world and the question to be considered is what do we do with that?

Some tend to wait until everything lines up and things are as close to ideal as they can possibly be. While that is the optimal place to get things done, life doesn’t often work out that way. Fortunately there is a better solution—that is to get to work when things are less than ideal. Of course we want to take full advantage of ideal situations when they occur, but success is often found when we buckle down when things are less than ideal and do it anyway.

Think about the people we admire most. Why do we admire them? Because everything was easy and everything went their way? No. Because they came up against tremendous obstacles, persevered and overcame them. People so often assume that the blessing of God on a person’s life is revealed in the ease of their lives. This negates the examples of people like Moses, David, Paul and even Jesus. God never promised an ideal world on this side of the grave (well at least not since we blew it in the Garden) what He promised was to go with us through the world we have.

This world is not ideal, but great things are still possible and those of us who stay in the fight, follow our Lord, walk in faith and persevere are best suited to point people beyond this world to the One who will take us to the ideal world.

In the mean time keep at it! You’re not alone.

Getting back on the encouragement track, check out this short message from Stan Lee. It’ll make your day.

Today’s encouragement takes a decidedly different turn. This is for those of you who feel like you’re swimming upstream. Like everyone else is going in one direction and you’re going in the other. You feel like you’re trying to do the right thing and everyone else is going a different way. I felt this way just yesterday. I was listening to what was for he most part a really good message, but somewhere along the way, it began to feel like the person was condemning so much of what I stand for. It was really disheartening, but it led me to a thought. I hear so many people talking about how the world is getting worse and worse and worse, and yet for some strange reason so may people feel compelled to follow along with the whims of the very things that are taking us in that direction. Why is that?
One of the things we are going to have to accept is that the conventional wisdom today is neither, and doing everything right will probably have consequences. To live in this world encouraged is to know who you are, and do what’s right even when it feels like you’re standing alone. Know this. You’re not alone.

There’s a verse in the Bible that says, “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.” Romans 12:2 The pattern of the world is what is taking the world in the direction it’s going, so don’t conform, be transformed.

…being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus. Philippians 1:6

To me this verse is sort of the ultimate expression of encouragement. You see encouragement is supposed to bring courage and with courage comes confidence. This is what so many people in our world seem to lack. People are willing to do just about anything, or go along with anything, for fear of not fitting in or measuring up. Think of all the destructive paths that people will enter into and the carnage that goes along with it in the name of measuring up to a worldly standard that shifts like the sand. It’s madness. It’s got to stop and the verse tells us how.

One of the great things about Christianity is it takes measuring up off the table. All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. This means none of us, by definition, measures up. I know that sounds like the opposite of encouragement, but it’s not, for one reason. Jesus met us at our worst and laid down His life for us because we were worth it to Him. Our confidence, then, comes not in our own goodness or righteousness, or in our ability to measure up, or anything else. Our confidence comes from Him and His love.

Look at the above verse again. Why are we confident? Because He who began a good work in us. Stop there. Even as people of faith there is a certain amount of measuring up that we can be lured into. Jesus saved us and now we need to measure up. Now this is not to say we should not repent of our sins and try in Him to live righteously. We should. Also believers have a call on their lives, and we can get caught up in whether or not we are being successful in that calling and once again, we are trying to measure up, but that’s not what the verse says. Oh we need to be faithful and do what we can, but who began this work? He did. He began the good work in us. He knows what we’re capable of because He made us and when He made us, He began the work. He already knows the path you’ll take and what you’ll do and He has planned for it. He began it in you, and then it says He will carry it through to completion until the day of Christ Jesus. In other words, He will finish what He started in you by the time Jesus returns and sets all things right.

This means you were not responsible for the beginning, and you are nor responsible for the ending. You’re responsible for what you do and the choices you make and that’s it. Your responsibility can be summed up in one word, faithfulness. You do your best to live a godly life, and you repent when (not if) you fail. You are responsible for doing the best you can with every opportunity, and repenting when, for whatever reason, you don’t. Friend, the plan and the purpose is bigger than you and me, and all along the way, at every step of the way, God knows. He is not dependent on us and we are totally dependent on Him. The pressure is off. Give God your best and He will handle the rest.

Be confident. You are loved by God and He’s got this!

I once was driving along when I saw the guy in front of me had one of those little frames around his license plate that said “Failure is Not an Option.” My heart went out to him and I thought, “Man you are putting way too much pressure on yourself.” The thing is failure is part of life, and it is rarely fatal. Remember I said, “rarely.” We pulled up to a red light and it was at the light that I could see the top of the frame. It said “Bomb Disposal Technician.” Yep, in his case failure is fatal, and I stood (okay sat) corrected. But here’s the thing, I’m sure even in his line of work, there have been failures. Oh not when it counts, in that moment, trying to decide which wire to cut, he has to be spot on every time, but I am also sure that moment of pressure is not the first time he ever faced a “bomb.” I am fairly sure that before he faced a real one, he had to do a lot of training disarming fake bombs, in situations where failure was an option. Cut the wrong wire and live to snip another day, much wiser and more ready to face the life and death situations that are no doubt a major part of his life, and that’s the point.

Most of us are not bomb disposal technicians. We face struggles and challenges every day and no one but God gets it right every time. For the majority of us, failure is not an option, sooner or later it’s a guarantee. We need to stop fearing failure, and instead take it for what it is, a learning opportunity. We need to learn to fail forward.

I wish we treated life more like scientists treat their work. Scientists expect to fail. They come up with an idea, a hypothesis, and they begin to do experiments to prove (or maybe disprove their hypothesis. If the experiment succeeds, they were right and they move on. If the experiment fails, and they often do, they look at the variables, try to figure out what went wrong and move on. Notice that, if they succeed they move on and if they fail, they move on, but either way they keep moving toward success.

Failure is not just an option, it’s often a necessity, and unless you’re a bomb disposal technician, it’s rarely fatal, that is unless you quit. Learn from your failures, see what went wrong, try something different and keep going until you succeed.

So you’re probably familiar with the story of the Wizard of Oz, and specifically the Cowardly Lion. He joined Dorothy on her quest to get home, so that he could miraculously have some courage bestowed on him by the great Wizard of Oz. Of course we know, the wizard was a fraud. When the lion finally got to Oz, the Wizard gave him a medal and basically told him that’s all he needs. The only thing separating the lion from every other hero is the recognition. I don’t think that’s it.

The Lion was terrified all throughout the journey, but the thing we need to see is, he still made the journey. Courage is not the absence of fear. Think about it, it takes no courage at all to do things that don’t cause us fear. If you like to skydive, skydiving is a rush and a thrill. There’s no fear, you’re too excited to be afraid. No what the lion did was true courage. He was afraid and did it anyway. That is the opposite of cowardice and so it is with you. There are things in this life that must be overcome and that means sometimes you have to face your fears and do it afraid.

The lion was afraid, but he was also a hero, because he didn’t let his fear stop him from seeing his mission through.

Courageous people are not necessarily unafraid. They simply don’t let fear stop them from succeeding.

Imagine you’re a youngish leader. You’ve been honored to serve under a leader who many consider to be the GOAT (Greatest Of All Time). The thing is, his time is up and now it’s your turn. You get to pick up where he left off. You have the responsibility to taking over. The ball is in your court, the mantel is on your shoulders. This is not going to be easy, not by a long shot. The people you are leading have proven to be beyond difficult. As a matter of fact the reason I said you were youngish, is because you’ve been wandering around for the last four decades, waiting for everyone in your generation to die. You’re Joshua and you’re taking over for Moses.

You’ve seen Moses pray for your people, because God himself was so done with their behavior that he was ready to wipe them out and start over. You’ve been by Moses’ side through rebellion after rebellion after rebellion, but it gets worse. Years ago you were sent into the land to spy it out, and you saw what now lies before you, your objective. You are going to lead the next generation of your people, into a battle with people who make NFL lineman look small by comparison. The task before you is monumental. That’s when you hear a voice. Be strong and courageous…

You’ve likely heard some variation on this too. Someone trying to encourage you as you face something you think is bigger than you. Does it ring hollow? I can imagine it might have for Joshua. The task before him is huge, the people behind him have driven the greatest leader of his time (maybe of all time) to his knees. “Be strong and courageous… How can you say that? This is huge…” After all, no one tells you be strong and courageous when you’re headed to something pleasant or fun. No, those words always come before a trial. Ah but I left off half the statement. “Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” That makes all the difference doesn’t it. Suddenly you’re not alone. The creator of the universe is with you. The One who empowered Moses is now empowering you.

Friend it really is that way. Yes what you face might be huge, but take heart and have faith, the Lord your God is with you and what He calls you to, He’ll get you through. Trust Him.

Be strong and courageous.