When they had all had enough to eat, He said to His disciples, 'Gather the pieces that are left over. Let nothing be wasted' - John 6:12 NIV
My mother was an excellent cook. One of the things that she specialized in was taking the ingredients that were left over from a previous meal and combining them to make a delicious casserole. Unbeknownst to the rest of us in the family, there were a number of occasions that we would sit down to enjoy a meal that consisted of things that we had eaten the previous day or two. Mama was not going to let those leftovers from the prior meals get in the way of creating something useful to be enjoyed by others. She was determined not to waste nothing.
In that same manner as my mother with the preparation of her casseroles , we should have the same mindset to not to waste anything in our life. The items that we are prone to waste and neglect are our life's experiences. I have learned that all of our life's experiences, whether they be good or bad, shape you to be utilized for useful service to others. The key is that you have to be willing to accept and embrace it. Please keep in mind I realize that you may not understand why it's happening to you or what the benefit of the experience is that you are going through. I just want you to know that God wastes nothing and that at some point, you will know why. This concept is so important that I will spend the next few days covering it. I will share some of things that have happened to me (and maybe you as well) that have played a part in getting to the point where God is using me through this resource. Tomorrow's subject will be relationships (you didn't think I would leave you hanging and not give you a sneak peek, did you?). I hope that you will be here.
Only be careful and watch yourselves closely so that you do not forget the things your eyes have seen or let them slip from your heart as long as you live. Teach them to your children and to their children after them - Deuteronomy 4:9 NIV
Trey (my oldest son) was getting ready for school and had finished brushing his teeth and was heading downstairs to get his backpack and shoes so that he could catch the bus. As he walked by me, I caught a familiar smell of cologne. I asked him where did he get it from and he replied from the cabinet in our master bedroom. I told him that the cologne that he was wearing was from Papa's collection. Papa was my father and of course, Trey's grandfather. Papa is no longer here, having passed away almost 9 years ago. When I informed him of the fragrance that he was wearing, he looked back at me with the biggest smile and stated, "I knew I remembered that smell, Papa smelled liked that all the time!"
Men, I have to ask you, are we leaving behind a trail of memories that will being a smile to the faces to those that we encounter on a consistent basis like Trey exhibited that morning? Will those in our families and circle of influence look at the behavior that we model and be encouraged and motivated enough to model that same behavior to others? I often tell my friends that they are not only having an effect on their children with the lessons that they try to teach, they are also impacting the next generation of children that are not born. This is what the verse in Deuteronomy is referencing. It is emphasizing the importance and the moral obligation that we have to teach our children the proper way to follow God's statutes and serve Him in a reverent fashion. The scripture further instructs that we are not to teach just our children, but also the next generation as well. How to do we do that? First and foremost, in starts with having a solid foundation with your children. Secondly, we have to be intentional in setting aside time to provide instruction for our children. The last and most important thing is ensuring that you are modeling the appropriate behavior that you are trying to teach. That in and of itself will go a long way to making your lessons more effective and increase the possibility that they will pass those lessons down to the next generation.
Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things - Philippians 4:8 NIV
My family saw an interesting sight the other day as we were headed to the recycling site (yes we try to do our part to save the planet) at the local high school. A herd of cows were walking on the street toward us as we were turning in to the parking lot. After getting over the initial shock, we noticed the reason for the cows roaming free. The gate had been left open and the cows took advantage of the opportunity to walk to their freedom. We drove to the farmhouse and notified the owner that his livestock was now on the loose. He hopped on his 4 wheeler and raced to the site. Suffice to say, the cows were safely directed back into the pasture and the gate securely locked. After experiencing this bit of weekend excitement, I reflected on the parallels of the cows getting out of the pasture with the destructive thoughts that we as men sometime allow to run rampant in our mind. Some of these thoughts that I am referring to relate to envy, lust, greed or malice. Like the farmer, I know that there are times that we forget to lock the gate that keeps these destructive thoughts in check and they are able to get out and roam free. Like the farmer, we need to be able to herd these thoughts back together and direct them back to the pasture and lock the gate. How to we do that? One of the things that works for me is to do as the scripture states: focus your thoughts on things that are true, lovely and admirable. I know that's it's easier said than done, so I have another strategy that I employ as well. I have come up with activities to engage in that will refocus my thinking. Some of these include: prayer, reading of scripture or working out. Anything to shift the focus from my destructive thoughts and start to begin the process of herding the negative thoughts back to where they belong. As the farmer learned and so should we, it's one thing to put the cows back where the belong. You also need to take the next step of securing the gate to prevent them from getting back out. We have to do the same. The process will be different for each individual. The key is to get started and figure out what works best for you.
ACTION PLAN: EXPERIMENT WITH ACTIVITIES THAT ARE DESIGNED TO SHIFT YOUR FOCUS FROM NEGATIVE DESTRUCTIVE THOUGHTS TO THOSE THAT ARE TRUE AND ADMIRABLE. ACCEPT THAT THE SUCCESSFUL IMPLEMENTATION OF THIS STRATEGY WILL NOT OCCUR OVERNIGHT.
By day the Lord went ahead of them in a pillar of cloud to guide them on their way and by night in a pillar of fire to give them light, so that they could travel by day or night. Neither the pillar of cloud by day nor the pillar of fire by night left its place in front of the people - Exodus 13:21-22 NIV
I was shopping at the grocery store the other day picking up items for dinner that night when I saw an interesting sight. I observed this couple in the same aisle with me happily communicating with each other and having a really good time enjoying the shopping experience. Upon closer observation, I noticed something different. The husband was always a few steps in front of the wife and she would periodically place her hand upon his shoulder for guidance. She was visually impaired and was dependent upon him to navigate through the aisle. I stood back and marveled at how they operated together. On several occasions he would go ahead of her and pick up a few items and then come back to his position where she would be able to place her back on his shoulder and move forward.
Watching this scene unfold in the grocery store reminded me of how God guided the children of Israel through the wilderness using the pillar of cloud and fire. The pillars were a constant reminder of His presence. In addition, the pillar of cloud and fire served to protect them from the pursuing Egyptians. God is still with us as a guiding force and a source of protection. Unfortunately, many of us fail to utilize this guiding force that's a constant presence in our lives. Instead, we sometimes choose to go our own way, in the process creating unnecessary obstacles for us and our families that could have been avoided by following God and path that He's illuminated for us. As I've gotten older, I have come to realize that our Father is there ALL the time ready and waiting to guide you in this walk of life and serve as your protector. However, there are still times when I am wont to leave that path that's under the protection of God and go my own way. The beautiful thing is that we serve an awesome God and during those times when I veer off course, I have the opportunity to look up and see the pillar of cloud and fire to get back on course. You have that same opportunity to get back on the right path as well and the process begins with a simple request: asking our Lord to come into your life and being open to it.
ACTION PLAN: BEGIN THE TWOFOLD PROCESS OF HAVING GOD BECOME THE GUIDING AND PROTECTING FORCE IN YOUR LIFE BY ASKING HIM TO COME INTO YOUR LIFE AND BEING OPEN TO RECEIVING HIS WORD.
After the earthquake came a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper. When Elijah heard it, he pulled his cloak over his face and went out and stood at the mouth of the cave. Then a voice said to him, "What are you doing here, Elijah?" - 1Kings 19:12-13 NIV
A few days ago, I published a blog post titled "I Appreciate You". The main purpose of the post was to solicit input about the blog and invite suggestions on how to make it better. Did I receive some feedback! I want to thank all the brothers that reached out to me via text, telephone and the posting of comments. I truly appreciate you and the compassion that you extended to me. The overwhelming feedback from the majority of the brothers centered around listening to God for guidance and doing His will, which leads me to the blog post for today.
In today's scripture, we find Elijah on the run from Jezebel, who had threatened to kill him after his successful challenge to the Baal priests. The Lord had instructed Elijah to go and stand on the mountain and wait for His presence to pass by. As stated above, an earthquake, a powerful and great wind along with fire passed by Elijah and the Lord was in neither. It was only in a gentle whisper that the Lord made Himself known. Men, how often when we are faced with a difficult decision and cry out in prayer to God for answers do we expect the reply to come in dramatic fashion? I have learned in my lifetime that a majority of the time the answer will either come in the quiet time or in the form of communication from a friend. This was evidenced by recent experience with the blog feedback. The problem is that some of us have a fear of silence which keeps us from experiencing the benefit that being still and listening for the voice of God brings. Albert Einstein stated "I think 99 times and find nothing. I stop thinking, swim in the silence and the truth comes to me." If one of the most brilliant minds in the history of mankind has embraced and utilized this process to solve problems, why can't we? I firmly believe that by being still and concentrating on listening for the word of God that we will be able to discern His will in addition solving a number of the problems that we face. I know that my experience from the last days can serve as evidence of the effectiveness of this. Our awesome God is ready and willing to speak into your life! All you have to do is be alert and listen. Start today to create the environment necessary to hear the voice of God.
And as for you, brothers, never tire of doing what's right - 2 Thessalonians 3:13 NIV
Every morning I watch my kids board the school bus and it's amazing watching the dynamics of the interaction between the kids. One morning, 3 new kids came to the bus stop. I realized that they were the ones that had moved into the neighborhood last month. I watched from inside the front door as they walked to the bus stop. I wanted to see if anyone would speak to them and acknowledge their presence. Much to my disappointment, no one spoke to them or even looked in their direction. I was surprised at this because Trey, my oldest, is a gregarious sort and I figured that he would be the first to speak to them. The new kids hung in the back and were the last to board the bus. Later that day, I asked the boys why didn't they speak to the new kids and make them feel comfortable in a new environment? Their muffled response was that they didn't know the kids and felt it wasn't important to talk to them. I cornered Trey a little later and asked him why didn't he reach out and speak to them. He told me that he was tired of always doing those types of things and someone else needed to do it this time. My brothers, how often have we felt like Trey and become frustrated with doing what's right and waited for someone else take "their" turn? I've been guilty of it myself. I've seen a visitor walk into our church and not greet them because I felt that I've done it so many times in the past and someone else would handle that duty.
As I ended up explaining to Trey, we should never become weary in doing the things that are right and in accordance with the will of God. When we are doing good works, God equips you with the strength needed in order to accomplish whatever tasks that are set in front of you. We as a community of men should never weary in in doing good for each other and in doing so, we provide the encouragement needed to be a light in our families and communities.
ACTION PLAN: COMMIT TODAY TO DOING WHAT'S RIGHT EVEN IF YOU DON'T "FEEL" LIKE IT. ASK GOD FOR THE STRENGTH NEEDED TO DO THE RIGHT THING.
He who works the land will have abundant food, but he who chases fantasies lack judgment - Proverbs 12:11 NIV
I was talking with Mike Sickles on yesterday while he was training my 2 sons (he's doing a great job and I would highly recommend him!), and our conversation centered around the lack of effort that we both see people putting into training. We both agreed that people want the results, but oftentimes are unwilling to put in the effort needed to achieve them. As Mike so eloquently stated, "you gotta put in the work." How many infomercials do we see on TV where the advertiser promises instant results with a minimal amount of effort? You take this pill once a day and you will see the pounds melt away! All of this for $19.99 with free shipping and handling!
I have been guilty of this "microwave" mentality myself as evidenced by the moves that I have made in my professional career. For a period of time, all it took for me to look at other opportunities was a recruiter to make a phone call with the promise of increased compensation along with faster and easier underwriting. The word that I focused on was "easy." That's all it took and I was gone to the next position, leaving behind clients and the sweat equity that I had built. I was chasing after the easier way to do things, not realizing that no matter where you are, there is work involved for you to experience lasting success.
The lesson of developing and practicing consistent focused work habits is one that I am trying to impart on my children, especially my 2 sons, as they participate in athletics. They need to realize that the difference that separates them from the next competitor is determined by the amount of work that you put into training. If you desire to achieve great things, it begins with the work that you put in on a consistent basis. As the passage in Proverbs states, 'The sluggard craves and gets nothing, but the desires of the diligent are fully satisfied' (Proverbs 13:4). Men, when you are tempted to seek the easy way to achieving your goals, remember that there is no shortcut to success. It requires consistent, focused effort which develops the habits and disciplines needed for success. In doing this, you provide an example for both your family and friends.
ACTION PLAN: RESIST THE TEMPTATION TO SEEK THE EASY WAY TO ACHIEVING YOUR GOALS AND COMMIT TO A FOCUSED SYSTEMATIC PLAN THAT YOU EXECUTE ON A DAILY BASIS.
PLEASE COMMENT ON HOW YOU WILL START YOUR PROCESS TO ACHIEVING YOUR GOALS.
Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus - 1 Thessalonians 5:18 NIV
I wanted to take the time to thank all of you that have read the blog at some point or another. A number of you have reached out to me with words of encouragement about the blog and how it has provided some uplift for you as you read it. I am really appreciative of the feedback and it's things like that keep me motivated to continue writing and seek avenues to make this an even better resource for those that read it. With that in mind, I need your help. I would like to hear from you things that you would like to see in The Power Of One Man that can make it more effective in reaching men. I am open to your suggestions to make this a more powerful tool to improve men's lives as they lead their families and positively impact their community. There are 2 ways that you can communicate your feelings and suggestions. The most obvious is to post a comment below. The second is the "contact" page above. Once you click on it, you will be directed to place information in the required fields and submit. It will come directly to me. Gentlemen, at the end of the day, The Power Of One Man belongs to you and I want you to have an impact in assisting in the crafting of the message along with the tools that you would like to see as a part of it. I know that there are a lot of talented men out there that read the blog on a consistent basis and I need to hear from you! I have ideas as well, but I want to make sure that they coincide with the thoughts of the men that visit this website. Thanks again and l look forward to hearing from you.
Or suppose a woman has ten silver coins and loses one. Does she not light a lamp, sweep the house and search carefully until she finds it? And when she finds it, she calls her friends and neighbors together and says 'Rejoice with me; I have found my lost coin.' - Luke 15:8-9 NIV
I have been having discussions recently with friends about their purpose and what they would like to accomplish during their brief time here on earth. It's amazing the common theme that's prevalent for the ones that don't quite know what that "one" thing is. They have special talents and a wonderful skill set, but it's that one missing thing that keeps them from actually pursuing their purpose with passion and focus. It's a paralyzing feeling and one that I've experienced on a personal basis.
The scripture above taken from Luke provides an excellent strategy for those that may be in the position referenced in the previous paragraph. The woman has a three step process that we should adopt. Step one, she had taken an accurate inventory and knew exactly what was missing. Step two, after identifying what it is that's missing, she now implements a process to find the missing item at all costs because of the importance that is attached to it. Step three, and this is important for us community of men. Once she finds the missing coin, she called others together to celebrate. The reason why this last step has special significance for me is because we need to be able to share our successes with each other. In addition, we can share the process that we utilized in order to find the missing item that kept us from effectively pursuing our purpose with other men. They may find value in it and be able to apply it to their situation.
ACTION PLAN: ADOPT THE PROCESS USED BY THE WOMAN IN LUKE TO FIND HER MISSING COIN. ONCE YOU EXPERIENCE THE SATISFACTION DERIVED FROM FINDING THE ONE THING THAT KEEPS YOU FROM EFFECTIVELY PURSUING YOUR PURPOSE, SHARE IT WITH OTHER MEN.
PLEASE FORWARD THIS TO OTHERS.
And Elisha prayed, O Lord open his eyes so he may see. Then the Lord opened the servant's eyes, and he looked and saw the hills full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha - 2 Kings 6:17 NIV
Many of you that know me are aware of how passionate I am about people finding and fulfilling their God given purpose. I am equally as passionate at assisting others that may be stuck in neutral when it comes to moving forward with their plans. Nothing is more frustrating than when you know that you are called to do something, but are paralyzed with fear because you either don't know where to start or you feel the odds are overwhelming. It is during these times you need to realize that you have a wealth of power in the form of your Father in heaven at your disposal if you are acting in accordance with His will.
The 6th chapter of 2 Kings discusses King Aram and his struggle with Elisha. King Aram had become so frustrated with Elisha thwarting his plans that he sent an army to capture him. His army was eventually able to surround the city where Elisha was. As you may know, Elisha's servant got up in the morning and saw the forces of King Aram and panicked. This is when Elisha prayed for the servant's eyes to be opened as noted in the scripture above. Like the servant that was with Elisha, we need to open our eyes of our faith and our mind and see the help that we have. We have everything that we need to scale the mountain of doubt and defeat the forces that conspire to overwhelm us. We have hills full of horses and chariots of fire all around us in the way of prayer, godly family and friends for support, and last but not least, the intrinsic value that comes from being a child of God. I believe that if you are struggling with taking the next step in any endeavor, pause, step back and take a look at what God has at your disposal to assist you. You may be pleasantly surprised at the fact that you had everything required for success, you just needed to open your eyes to see it.
ACTION PLAN: TAKE INVENTORY OF ALL THE ITEMS THAT GOD HAS PROVIDED FOR YOU TO CARRY OUT HIS PLAN AND PURPOSE. OPEN YOUR EYES LIKE ELISHA'S SERVANT AND BE APPRECATIVE OF GOD'S SUPPORT.
Ken Sadler is a leader of Men's Ministry at a megachurch and has a heart and passion for helping men become the best they can be.