Keep Your Frame

How can you keep your frame when the world seems to be falling in around you?

We are living through a cultural battle where fear is the weapon of choice. Think about it, how many messages have you heard just today that are either a bold proclamation or hidden innuendo inviting you into a posture of fear?

We are not made to live with stress brought on by messages of fear.

We’re angry

We’re confused

We don’t trust

What’s the way out? How can you keep your frame when the world seems to be falling in around you?

Choose Your Values

If you’re going to keep your frame, it will need to be built on a solid foundation. Your values are your foundation. You can read what I wrote about that here.

I’ve chosen to build my core values on the foundation of Christianity. I don’t minimize fear but I respond appropriately. My core values tell me that if I begin with good fear, I’ll keep the bad fear in perspective.

The good fear is fear of God. This healthy awe and respect for a Creator allows me to keep the deceptive fears in check. With a healthy fear and respect of God I can chose to deny a constant state of anxiety or flashes of terror.

What’s your foundational values?

Pay Attention and Discern

The weapon of fear is often used to sway your point of view. If I can make you fear someone or something, I can control you. I can get you to do what I want you to do.

For example, if I can get you to fear the actions of one political candidate, I can get you to support the other, without question. Or, if I can convince you to be afraid of something that has a 99% survivability rate, I can make you act in ways that you wouldn’t normally act.

Keep your frame and discern. Discerning means that you will pay attention. You’ll be aware. You will evaluate everything from a position of your core values.

Discerning people also know that truth is not a private matter. When you encounter information you’ve never heard before; or it sounds uncomfortably different, test it. Test it by the larger body of truth not just by your opinions.

Discerning people are honest people. Honest with themselves, honest with the facts, and honest with others.

Take a Few Steps Back

What’s the way through fear?

Get smart. Your fear might be based on a lack of information. Get the information you need and examine things based on facts rather than hear say.

Name the fear. Telling someone what you fear is therapeutic. When you ignore  your fear it grows. When you face it, it shrinks.

Show kindness. Fear often causes a person to be angry. The anger is directed toward people who are usually innocent. Instead of walking around angry, express love, compassion, and grace. Say “thank you” to your server at the restaurant. Offer your seat to someone. Be kind. Your positive actions may be the best rebellion against a spirit of fear.

Rest. Relaxing could be a great antidote to your fear. Rest is wellbeing.

Keep your frame. People need you.

Fear Kills More Dreams than Failure Ever Does

“Do the very thing you fear and the death of fear is certain.”

There once was this criminal who had committed a crime (Because, hey, that’s what criminals do. That’s their job!).  Anyway, he was sent to the king for his punishment. The king told him he had a choice of two punishments. He could be hung by a rope. Or take what’s behind the big, dark, scary, mysterious iron door.

The criminal quickly decided on the rope. As the noose was being slipped on him, he turned to the king and asked: “By the way, out of curiosity, what’s behind that door?”

The king laughed and said: “You know, it’s funny, I offer everyone the same choice, and nearly everyone picks the rope.”

“So,” said the criminal, “Tell me. What’s behind the door? I mean, obviously, I won’t tell anyone,” he said, pointing to the noose around his neck.

The king paused then answered: “Freedom, but it seems most people are so afraid of the unknown that they immediately take the rope.”

I love how this story encourages us to overcome fear. It is a powerful reminder about the dangers of holding onto the familiar even when the familiar is painful. Too many of us live our lives choosing the familiarity of our rope over the unknown.

“Our lives are one long effort to resist the unknown.”

Because we have a slant to resist the unknown, we’re walking around with invisible ropes around our necks, wondering why we feel dead; wondering why we never make progress.

Think about some of the invisible ropes of fear you wear:

  • Fear of commitment
  • Fear of reasonable risk
  • Fear of leaving
  • Fear of staying
  • Fear of saying “no”
  • Fear of looking foolish
  • Fear of being irrelevant
  • Fear of failing
  • Fear of being weak

It’s true that the emotion of fear is a tool to help us escape danger. But we can abuse this “fight or flight” tool and let the emotion of fear paralyze us from doing anything or making positive changes. We stunt growth possibilities by imagining negative outcomes.

Make New Choices

The tipping points for me was when I realized what my fear was costing me.

  • Holding me back from living the kind of life I wanted
  • Having the influence I desired
  • Intimacy
  • Financial freedom

When I felt the rope tightening, I began to approach fear differently. I embraced the warning, weighed the potential risk, and considered the outcomes. Then I leapt. I leapt because the value of living into my purpose and making a difference was greater than the fear of the unknown.

“Do the very thing you fear and the death of fear is certain.”

Ralph Waldo Emerson

Be an Overcomer

Truth is, fear is always going to be there. That’s not a bad thing. It keeps you honest. Fear keeps you from doing really stupid stuff. Accept that fear is always going to be present in your life. You can’t stop from feeling it.

But, always confront why you are afraid. Take everything into consideration, including the emotion of fear. What is the emotion really saying? Is it only the emotion of fear stopping you? How can the emotion of fear help you make the best choice?

Do you want to talk about your fear and how its holding you back from making progress toward your dreams? Connect here for a free consultation…

Who Gave You Permission?

Core values are your fixed position. The consistent and reliable way you respond time after time. They are your north star. Whether you are aware of them or not, core values will always show up in your actions and decisions.

You need a line in the sand.

When I was younger and starting a career I didn’t have a line in the sand. I was too busy trying to impress my boss, my co-workers, and the people I served. I would do whatever they wanted. My mission was squashed day after day. I was miserable. I felt like I couldn’t say “no.” And I really couldn’t. I didn’t know what I stood for.

I didn’t know my line in the sand.

One of my favorite presidents and historical leaders is John Adams. He was the philosopher and idea man behind the American Revolution. After becoming the second president of the United States, Adams revealed the values he used as guiderails. He wrote, “I must study politics and war, so my sons may have liberty to study painting and poetry, mathematics and philosophy.” Adams knew why he did what he did. He was grounded in his daily decisions. When his back was against the wall he knew the response he would make time and time again.

You and I need lines in the sand. Core values are lines in the sand.

Core values are your fixed position. The consistent and reliable way you respond time after time. They are your north star. Whether you are aware of them or not, core values will always show up in your actions and decisions.

When I got serious about my mission, I knew I needed to discern my values. Here’s what flowed out of me.

I value…

Excellence

Self-improvement

Truth

Optimism

These are the values which guide my decisions and actions – no matter what. These show me when to say “yes” and more importantly, when to say ”no.”

You might be asking, how do I discern my values?

Make a list

Here’s the way to start. Find a comfortable place, get a note pad, and start writing words that you believe describe you. Some words might be “courageous, stubborn, helpful, loving, compassionate, driven, faith, excellence, commitment…”

Spend time with this and write what comes to mind. You may even want to think about positive words others have used to describe you.

Choose 3-5 Words

Once you have your list, go back and highlight three to five words that resonate deeply with you. These are words that warm your heart and put fire in your belly.

Only choose three to five words. These are characteristics and habits that you will live by when your back is against the wall.

Will they last?

These values will need to be your line in the sand. You’ve got to ask yourself, “Will these things I’ve chosen to guide my decisions last when it gets hard? Or will I respond oppositely?”

If your core values don’t work when you have to make a hard decision they’re not values, they’re wishes.

You’ll know if your values are right the first time you need to say “no” to someone.

Have fun with this exercise. I’m here to help. Let me work with you as you get a clear handle on your life mission and core values. Schedule a free 30 minute consultation with me.

Self-discipline is the Magic Bullet for Your Rebound

Self-discipline determines success. It is the magic bullet to unlocking your potential and finally moving forward with your life. Self-discipline is your rebound.

“In reading the lives of great men, I found that the first victory they won was over themselves… self-discipline with all of them came first.”     

– Harry S. Truman

Self-discipline determines success. It is the magic bullet to unlocking your potential and finally moving forward with your life. Self-discipline is your rebound.

Guys, the reason you still haven’t finished that project but have spent hours surfing the internet every day is a lack of discipline. The reason you’re still just as fat as last time you ate that cake before bed is a lack of discipline. The reason you haven’t made any progress on starting that side business and you feel like your life is slipping away – no discipline!

Self-discipline is essentially the ability to put off what you want in the moment for what you want in the long run. It is a habit of self-regulation for the sake of improvement. Some have said it’s the ability to do the things you really don’t want to do.

Are you familiar with the marshmallow experiment? Four year old children were each given one marshmallow. They could either eat the marshmallow immediately or, if they waited 15 minutes could receive another marshmallow. The kids who were able to wait generally went on to become successful and well-adjusted adults, while the kids who quickly ate the first marshmallow had more trouble dealing with stress, frustration, and impulse control.

Everyone wants a short cut on how to be more disciplined. But there isn’t one. It is simply a matter of training. It’s saying “No!” to the things that waste your life and your time and saying “Yes!” to habits that draw you closer to success. This is especially true during your rebound.

Your rebound is your comeback. Comebacks take discipline. Whatever habit or action got you to a place of failure must change for you to achieve a successful rebound. Self-discipline is necessary to drop the fifty pounds that laziness gained. A crumbling marriage or shaky relationship with the kids because you work too much will only be healed when you decide on a disciplined schedule for work.

When it’s time for a rebound, it’s crucial to replace your old habits and lifestyle with new ones. There are consequences to your actions. If you want new results and positive consequences, change your actions. But there’s a critical step before you change your habits.

Get your core values right, first. Your core values are your foundation upon which every decision and action is based.  If you want a successful rebound build on your core values.

Your self-discipline is energized by your core values. If one of your core values is to be physically fit you’ll have more discipline and not finish the whole pizza by yourself. Do you want a healthier relationship with your wife? That core value will discipline you to leave work on time and go on a date with her.

Once you’ve settled your core values you’re positioned to achieve victory and win the war over self.

Stir Up Urgency

Urgency forces discipline on you.  It doesn’t always exist on its own. Get a sense that time is running out.

  • If I don’t lose weight now, I won’t be around for my grandkids
  • If I don’t get serious about this marriage, she’ll leave
  • If I don’t get my debt under control, I’ll never be able to retire

Sometimes you must manufacture urgency. If you need something done, set a deadline. And always include a consequence if you miss the deadline.

Find an accountability partner. Set deadlines for each other and hold one another accountable.

You will live with regret for the rest of your life unless you make decisions from a place of urgency. You’ll keep saying, “I should, I should…” until you look back and realize you haven’t made any changes you’ve just “should” all over yourself!

Design a Routine

The minute you decide to begin, everything will compete for your time. All of a sudden, your favorite show is on, the newest version of Call of Duty drops, all of your friends are planning to go out. Temptation leaves you defenseless unless you design a routine. Find a way to structure your day so that you’re moving to the goals of your rebound. This can be as simple as writing down what you intend to accomplish and a time frame in which to complete them. Set guard rails that will keep you on track. Be ruthless is sticking to the routine.

Say “No” a lot

You will only achieve victory in your rebound when learn to say “no” to the old habits. The more you practice, the easier it becomes. Be consistent to what you’re walking away from and you will see change. You’ll feel a lot better about yourself.

Self-discipline has been practiced by all great men. Master yourself, first.

Keep Your Head When Everyone is Losing Theirs

The measure of manhood may well be keeping your head when everyone around you is losing theirs.

In 1895, Rudyard Kipling wrote the timeless poem, “If.” The first stanza implores us to “keep our heads” when everyone around us is losing theirs.

“If you can keep your head when all about you   
    Are losing theirs
…”

Did Kipling have a time machine? Did he somehow travel to 2020 and quickly escape back to the nineteenth century to write this warning for future generations?

If there is any word which describes 2020, “insanity” would be at the top of many lists. This past week has been no exception. It’s been exhausting, frustrating, and painful at many levels.

Someone has said, “elections have consequences.” All too often the personal consequences are dire. I stayed up way too late Tuesday night (I’m embarrassed to say it was actually Wednesday morning). I thought if I stayed awake I could somehow influence things. So Wednesday I was stressed. My jaw seemed clenched all day. I was so lost in my own thoughts and in such a fog that I found myself ignoring conversations and meaningful interaction with my own family. I found myself glued to the news cycle and talk radio. I kept refreshing my social media for the latest developments. The more I listened and watched the more pain I experienced. I know better. You know better. THIS IS NOT HEALTHY! I was getting sucked into the insanity.

Finally I had to make a decision. It was like facing my addiction all over again. Is this how I want to live? Is this what I want to consume my precious time and relationships? I took action and changed my mind. It’s been a better week since then.

This is what has worked for me, maybe these will help you.

  1. Turn it off. I broke the chain of the 24 hour news cycle. I turned off the TV, the radio, and I set a schedule for when I interacted with social media.
  2. Pick it up. I picked up a book that always inspires and heals me and I read.
  3. Connect. I spent time with a mentor. I reconnected with my friends. And we didn’t talk politics! We encouraged and cared for one another.
  4. Go outside. This week in the northeast has been beautiful. High temperatures and sunshine. Go walk, play, get some vitamin D.
  5. Refocus. What happens next nationally is really out of my hands. I like control but I can’t control this. But what I can control is how I respond. I chose to respond by getting refocused on my “Why.” I choose to double down on my purpose and mission for life. When I focus my mental energy and my actions on what I want to achieve, the noise of insanity vanishes.

Your life is yours to control. You make the most important decisions of your life. You are the constant. You can either be pulled into other people’s insanity, or you can chart your own course.

Kipling ends his poem with this stanza:

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,   
    Or walk with Kings—nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
    If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
    With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,   
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,   
    And—which is more—you’ll be a Man, my son!

The measure of manhood may well be keeping your head when everyone around you is losing theirs. Live well.

Surrendered Leadership

How bad do you need to be for history to classify you as a scoundrel?  Paul Martin, in a Huffington Post article, cites some of the worst historical scoundrels like Daniel Drew, the Fox sisters, and Hetty Green.  These folks, and others like them, lived unscrupulously at the expense of others.

Now, how bad do you need to be for the Bible to identify you as a scoundrel?  That’s a whole new level.  But that’s exactly how Phinehas and Hophni are described (1Samuel 2).  They consistently robbed people; slept with whoever they wanted; disregarded authority; and ignored God.  Their story may not raise many eyebrows until you know that these two men were leaders.  They were part of a family that had been committed to serving God and God’s people.  But nothing they did reflected their position as leaders.

Leadership is hard.  If you lead, you get this.  As a country we’re tough on our leaders – from the government to the church and everywhere in between.  We certainly expect our leaders to be people of character and integrity, and we should.  But we also have the propensity to knock leaders down.  We want them to be the best, but we quickly look for their flaws and cheer when those flaws are well known.  Leadership is not for the faint of heart.

And that’s precisely why those who are leaders – especially spiritual leaders – need to pay attention to the details.  While Hophni and Phinehas were disregarding their character and position, God was raising up another leader to replace them.  Samuel was still a young boy but God was shaping him into the kind of leader both God and the people needed.  God gives us a hint of the kind of leader Samuel could be – “those who honor me I will honor but those who despise me I will disdain…I will raise up a faithful priest, who will do according to what is in my heart and mind” (1Samuel 2:30-35).

When it comes to spiritual leadership God looks for a particular kind of person – one that wants what God wants.  Wanting what God wants has a way of shaping our character and increasing our integrity. When temptations challenge our moral fiber, leaders after God’s heart trust God’s strength.  When moral failure happens, leaders after God’s own heart seek forgiveness and restoration.  Spiritual leaders don’t ignore or dismiss their actions they come to terms with the call and grace of God.  God raised up Samuel to do what was on God’s heart and mind.

Whether you are a Christian leader at work, in your home, with you kids, or at your church – God is inviting you to do what is on his heart and mind.  Phinehas and Hophni reveal the destruction unsurrendered leadership creates.  Don’t be a scoundrel!  Seek the heart and mind of God, surrender yourself to God’s purposes and lead well.

Abundant Life is Found Out on the Water

Bread and water are the often joked about references to the food of the incarcerated.  But bread and water are two elements Jesus uses to show Peter the secret to a full and abundant life.

The story begins in Matthew 14.  The crowds have followed Jesus into a remote place.  The sun’s going down and everyone’s getting hungry.  The disciples want to send the crowds into town for dinner.  Jesus has another idea – “you give them something to eat.”  The reaction of the disciples is one that we would share if we were in their shoes, “We don’t have enough…”

  When faced with obvious need, “we don’t have enough…” is our usual response.  I’ve been guilty of that.  We don’t have enough time, money, people, money, time…you get the idea.  We’ve all been there and we’ve all uttered the same thing.  But I love what Jesus does in light of their scarcity.  Jesus says, “Bring them here to me.”  Bring me your resources.  Bring me what you do have.  Then Jesus does what only he can do.  He takes our limits and stretches them to meet the need.

This story is immediately followed by Peter walking on the water.  Coincidence?  I don’t think so.

Peter and the other disciples are in a boat struggling against the storm and waves.  They’re trying to get the other side of the lake to meet Jesus, but they’re stuck.  So Jesus comes to them, walking on the water.  Peter sees Jesus and wants to be where he is – out on the water.  But Peter let his water walking certification lapse.  So he says, “Jesus, if that’s you tell me to come to you on the water.”  If I were Peter, I’d want Jesus to respond with something like, “No. Don’t worry about it. Stay in the boat and I’ll come to you.  No need to get your feet wet.”  But he doesn’t.  Jesus’ response to Peter’s longing is simply – “Come.”

Now Peter has never walked on water but here’s what he has done: he has stepped out of a boat before.  He was a fisherman, after all.  He knows how to lift a leg over the side, set it down, and walk.  So Peter does what he knows how to do.  He gives Jesus what he already knows how to do.  And Jesus does, in those moments, what only Jesus can do.

I’m convinced that this is a life truth.  We give Jesus what we know how to do and Jesus takes it and does what only he can do!

Following Jesus is about being stretched.  Left to ourselves, we usually see what we can’t accomplish.  And that always limits the abundant life Jesus promises.  Jesus stretches our faith when he says, “Give me what you do have” and I’ll take it and do an amazing thing.  Abundant life is found out on the water – when we give Jesus what we know how to do and let him do with it what only he can do.

Last night I attended an event hosted by The Asservo Project (theasservoproject.org).  The Asservo Project, based out of Pittsburgh, exists to combat global human trafficking.  They are a David facing a Goliath.  Human trafficking is currently one of the world’s most profitable criminal enterprises.  There are 40 million victims globally.  At $150 billion annually, this criminal enterprise makes more money than Google, Apple, Yahoo, and Netflix combined.  Since 2010, human trafficking has grown 850%.  Trafficking and sexual slavery is real.  Open your eyes and it becomes so obvious.

This reality is so staggering I couldn’t help but think, “Jesus, we don’t have enough…”  That’s all I could think about on the way home.  How do you even make a dent?  And I kept going back to this story.  Jesus says, give me what you have/what you know how to do and I’ll do what only I can do.

So that’s my current next step.  But what about you?  You may not be passionate about ending human trafficking (I hope you will be) but there is something that you are passionate about.  There is something that God is calling you to and you’re first response is “I don’t have enough…time, education, money, fill in the blank.”

But here’s the spiritual truth.  The only way disciples grow is when they are stretched.  When they say, “Jesus, I hear you, and I don’t know how I will accomplish this but I will give you what I know how to do and I’ll let you do what only you can do.”

Abundant life is found out on the water…so get out of the boat.

Stand up!

There are seasons of life where we come to the end of our ability. Hopefully these are the very seasons that drive us to a deeper place of surrender.

…Hannah stood up.

I’ve never really seen this phrase before.  It seems to come out of nowhere, yet Hannah’s action is a consequence of years of provocation.

Let’s remember the story.  Hannah was the wife of Elkanah.  But she wasn’t his only wife.  In a context unlike our own, Hannah was a product of polygamy.  She shared Elkanah with another woman – Peninnah.  Furthermore, in a culture that placed wealth, privilege, life, and success on a person’s number of children, Hannah was losing.  She had given Elkanah no children, while Peninnah seemed to be very fertile.

Not only was Hannah seeming to suffer from the depression and frustration of a “closed womb,” she was constantly provoked by Peninnah.  This troublesome relationship went on year after year until Hannah was so depressed and broken down that she couldn’t eat and constantly wept about her painful reality (1Samuel 1:1-20)

This was Hannah’s reality until she stood up.  She had enough and stood up.  She was tired of her pain and she stood up.  She was done being provoked and ridiculed.  She stood up!  She was done with the depression.  She was done feeling sorry for herself.  She stood up…and went straight to her knees. Hannah came to the end of herself and to the beginning of God.

There are seasons of life where we come to the end of our ability.  Hopefully these are the very seasons that drive us to a deeper place of surrender.  I cannot…but God can.  Often these seasons arrive after long periods of frustration, pain, brokenness, and maybe even some ridicule.  The time before we come to a place of surrender may find us filled with self-doubt and devastated self-worth.

Hannah offers a beautiful portrait of strength.  She is tired of her present reality.  She wants change – not just for herself but for the people she loves.  I also suspect she wants God to be honored with her future.

Hannah comes to the end of herself and to the beginning of what God can do.  This is a remarkable picture of maturity.  Hannah speaks to me about moving from a life of brokenness into the full and abundant life of God.  And the one act that separates the two realities happens when Hannah stands up and say’s “enough is enough!”  I am tired of existing in my current status.  I want a better future.  So she stands up and goes straight to her knees believing that God is the one who changes our story.

Where do you need to stand up today?  What are you tired of living with?  What are you tired of permitting?  What are the habits or cycles that you’re done with for the last time?  Where have you reached the limits of your abilities?  Remember the definition of insanity – if we keep doing what we’ve always done, we’ll always get what we always got.  Stand up!  And go straight to your knees.

In chapter 2, Hannah offers a prayer of thanksgiving for what God has done to change her reality.  In that pray she pronounces a new path, “My heart rejoices in the Lord; in the Lord my [strength] is lifted high…there is no one holy like the Lord; there is no one besides you; there is no rock like our God.”

Stand up today and surrender your current reality to God’s best future for you.  Remember what Jesus said, “the thief comes only to steal, and kill, and destroy.  I have come that you may have life and have it to the full” (John 10:10).

Ron Geisler (@rongeisler) has shared a tweet with you

Parents are the primary disciplers of their children. The church can reinforce, but can’t replace — Mike Glenn (@mikeglenn)

Ron Geisler (@rongeisler) has shared a tweet with you

To reach unchurched; means to radically realign our focus, time, energy & resources — Mike Slaughter (@RevMSlaughter)