But Caleb quieted the people before Moses and said, “Let us go up at once and occupy it, for we are well able to overcome it.” Then the men who had gone up with him said, “We are not able to go up against the people, for they are stronger than we are.” Numbers 13:30-31 ESV
While waiting for our turn to see the optometrist, Trey and I decided to see who had the better vision. We stood in front of the eye chart and took turns reading the lines. I got to line 4 or 5 and had trouble clearly seeing the letters (Yes, I need glasses). Trey, on the other hand, was able to see the letters located on line 8 and 9.
Isn't it amazing how many of us experience the same thing that I did during my vision competition with Trey? Two individuals can look at a situation and see or interpret it in two entirely different ways.
I looked at one line and said what I thought the letters were, while Trey looked at the same line and saw the actual letters. His vision was better than mine.
This situation plays every day with people in all walks of life. How many times have you observed individuals from similar backgrounds that have experienced different levels of success? I see this often in the areas of athletics, academics and the work place.
Did one person have an advantage over another? Both came from the same neighborhood and circumstances, but one made it and the other didn't. Why is that? Why was one person able to look at their conditions and see one thing, while the other saw something totally different?
The difference is that the one that succeeds has tapped into a power that is available to all of us.
The person that sees a situation clearly and has confidence is the one that believes that they are doing God's will and He is providing everything that they need to succeed.
Let's look at the today's scripture as evidence of this at work. Caleb was sent along with other spies to
survey the land that was promised to them. After the completion of the mission, they returned with the report. Notice the difference in the reports. Keep in mind that Caleb saw the same thing that the other spies "saw".
Caleb instructed the people to "go up at once and occupy the land." There was no hesitation on his part because he knew 2 things: God had told them the land was theirs (belief) and God had equipped them for the task at hand (faith). That was all that they needed to occupy the land despite the obstacles before them.
The "other" spies saw that the land was flowing with milk and honey, but focused on the giants, walls and castles. As a result, they felt that they would not be able to overcome these hurdles.
What group of "spies" are you in? Do you look at an opportunity and see all of the obstacles and decide not to proceed? Or do you view that same opportunity as Caleb and know that if it's within God's will, you have everything needed to succeed?
What is facing you today that require the faith and belief that Caleb possessed? Will you "go and occupy the land at once" or will the circumstances cause you to focus on the obstacles?
I invite you to look at whatever that situation is and "see" it with the help of God's power. You'll be amazed at what you'll see with that new vision.
But he who is joined with all the living has hope, for a living dog is better than a dead lion - Ecclesiastes 9:4 ESV
I’m not a big fan of watching television (aside from sports). There are times that I will tune in to a show because I’ve heard family or friends mention it.
One such show was “The Walking Dead”. My oldest son had mentioned it, so I decided to watch it. It focuses on a post-apocalyptic world overrun by zombies and the uninfected people trying to survive.
After watching a few episodes (I’m going back to sports and reading books), I was amazed at the parallels between the show and the condition of men in our society.
The zombies were humans infected by viruses, bacteria or other phenomena that reduce their mental capacity. This caused them to behave in a very primitive and destructive fashion.
There are many of us men that are “walking dead.” We have given up hope that we will never be all that God has designed us to be. They have long decided that life has passed them by.
I have seen this zombie like condition of men in the workplace, at home, and in the church. The sad thing is that this condition is being passed down to the next generation. We are literally and figuratively infecting our children and spouses.
What has caused us to degenerate into a state that we are merely existing in a human body? What can be done to change it?
As the leader of our families, it is incumbent upon us to find the antidote to this malady. Where do we find the answer?
Look at the scripture quoted above. In it, Solomon talks about the hope that the living has. In essence, as long as you are living, you still have the opportunity to live with purpose. You have the chance to live a life that’s relevant. You can still have a positive impact on the next generation.
Solomon goes on to state the advantage of living by comparing the existence of a living dog to that of a dead lion. To the Hebrews, the life of a dog was contemptible in contrast to that of a lion.
In Solomon’s eyes, it is better to be living as a dog and have the ability to still make a contribution to society than to be a dead lion.
My brothers, think about this. You have within you to make contributions (no matter how large or small) as long as you are living. There is still hope!
Start small. A small living spark can produce a flame. The mighty Mississippi river started as a small brook. Small contributions lead to big things.
A life lived with hope is far better that one lived with uncertainty. Let’s resolve to snap out of the zombie like state that has infected a large number of us.
Tap into the hope that is available to all of us that believe in the power of Jesus Christ. If you don’t know where to start, reach out to someone that you respect or contact me through the website or email.
Please let me know the impact of this message and comment below.
I tell you, though he will not get up and give him anything because he is his friend, yet because of his impudence he will rise and give him whatever he needs. And I tell you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened - Luke 11:8-10 ESV
On the morning of January 10th, something happened that I didn’t think I would see again in my lifetime: the Clemson Tigers won the college football national championship!!
I was there in 1981 when they won their first championship. I shared that championship with my now deceased father. I was able to share this one with my sons.
As proud as I was of being able to share that moment with my sons, I was happier about sharing the story of the kid that made the game winning catch.
Hunter Renfrow, the receiver that made the greatest catch in Clemson football history, wasn’t supposed to be there. Hunter doesn’t look the part of a football player. He looks more like a student majoring in computer science (no offense to any computer science majors) than a football player.
He wasn’t highly recruited out of high school. He received a number of offers from smaller schools, but wanted to play at Clemson. He walked on, paying his own way and taking a chance that his play would be rewarded with a scholarship.
Hunter’s persistence paid off when Coach Dabo Swinney awarded him the final scholarship in 2015. He worked his way into the starting lineup and made significant contributions to the team’s success. His efforts culminated in his game winning catch.
Like so many of us men, we may not look the part of someone successful. The one thing that can’t be measured is commitment and heart. Hunter decided to walk on at Clemson because that was part of his destiny and purpose. He was not going to be denied in the pursuit of his goal.
My brothers, if we adopt the same outlook as Hunter Renfrow displayed in the pursuit of a goal, we would be unstoppable. Just imagine how much better this world would be if we men possessed an attitude of persistence. Can you imagine the lives that would be impacted in a positive way?
Today’s scripture details the things that you must do in accomplishing goals. It speaks of doing 3 things: ask, seek and knock.
Ask- Seek God’s counsel in regard to His will in your life. Then act in accordance with the counsel that has been received.
Seek – Use the talents that God has equipped you with to find the opportunities that align with your abilities and skill set.
Knock – This may be the most important action of the 3. When you have identified your goal and know that your abilities are aligned with accomplishing it, persist in knocking at the door until you reach your goal.
Like the gentleman in verse 8 that knocked on the door of his neighbor until he answered and provided him what he needed, so should you persist in your efforts as well. Like Hunter Renfrow in the national championship game, your efforts will be richly rewarded.
In hope he believed against hope, that he should become the father of many nations, as he had been told, “So shall your offspring be.” - Romans 4:18 ESV
My wife and I love to watch movies together. Just yesterday, we were watching one of our all-time favorites, The Shawshank Redemption. We loved it so much that we chose to watch it over the Rose Bowl (which was one of the more exciting games in recent memory).
The thing that we like about The Shawshank Redemption is the number of life lessons that are a part of the story. Even though we know the movie by heart, we still enjoy watching it.
One of our favorite scenes is when Andy (one of the main characters) is sitting slumped against the prison walls and Red, his friend, comes up and sits down beside him. They sit in silence for a period of time before Andy states what’s on his mind. The reason for Andy’s despair would be cause for depression for the majority of us.
You see, Andy had been falsely accused of murder and the one person that could prove his innocence had been gunned down by the crooked warden. He had spent 20 years in jail for a crime that he didn’t commit and his one opportunity to prove his innocence had been snatched from him.
Despite this, Andy still had hope. He refused to be shackled by what happened in the past and let it determine his future. He was going to maintain the mindset to break free of the things that handcuffed him (both literally and figuratively) and express that to Red.
The interesting thing was Red’s response. He told Andy that having hope was a dangerous thing and not to torture himself with possessing the hope that someday he would be free.
Let’s stop for a minute and reflect on the Andy’s mindset. How many of us would be able to maintain hope in the face of overwhelming circumstances? How many of us would still strive to achieve our goals despite the “advice” given by friends like Red (even though they have good intentions)?
Some of you reading this are dealing with situations that on the surface, are as dire as what was facing Andy. The question that I have, is how will you respond? Will you accept the handcuffs or continue to search for ways to break free?
There are times in my life that I have been close to giving up hope. I want to throw in the towel and adopt the mindset of Red. I want to feel that my situation is hopeless and there is no way out. I shouldn’t torture myself by possessing hope.
When I reached this point, I visit the scriptures and look at the examples of faith and hope exhibited by the people mentioned in the 11th chapter of Hebrews and I am encouraged.
By no means am I saying that possessing hope in overwhelming situations is as simple as picking up the Bible. I am saying that doing this is one part of the process. The other part is knowing that you have the ability to overcoming the dire circumstances based upon the things you’ve overcome in the past.
A spoiler alert for the few people that haven’t seen this awesome movie follows.
Andy was able to escape and provided inspiration for Red when he was paroled shortly thereafter. The look of sheer joy on the both of their faces when they were reunited reminds us of the feelings we experience when we maintain hope and are able to overcome negative situations.
There are 2 things that I want each of you to do. The first is look back in your past and remember the times that you were able to scale that impossible mountain in your life.
The second is to study the many examples cited in scripture of those that overcame seemingly insurmountable obstacles by having faith and hope in our Father.
Doing these 2 things will have a profound effect on how you view potential negative situations in the future. You will be infused with a new energy and perspective as you tackle the challenges of life.
And going into the house they saw the child with Mary his mother, and they fell down and worshiped him. Then, opening their treasures, they offered him gifts, gold and frankincense and myrrh - Matthew 2:11 ESV
Christmas growing up was an awesome time in our household. I can remember my sister and I waking up at 4 am (I know my parents probably disliked the fact that we got up so early and as a result, forced them to have the gifts ready sooner than they liked) and running down the stairs to see what gifts we had. We were so excited, that we could not wait for our parents to get up. The thrill of running down the steps to see our gifts was an indescribable experience that I have never forgotten.
Now as I've gotten older, I am able to personally experience what my parents felt during those Christmas mornings. My 2 sons, especially when they were younger, got up early to see what gifts they had waiting under the tree. Like my parents before me, we were fortunate enough to have something for them under the tree to enjoy.
The ironic thing is that I derive a great deal of satisfaction from seeing the looks of joy on their faces as they open their gifts. I am happier because I have given to them as opposed to receiving presents.
Now imagine what the scene would be like if they ran down the steps to open their gifts and nothing was under the tree? How do you think they would feel? Can you imagine their level of disappointment? Is this something you would want to experience as a parent? I would think not!
Unfortunately, we do something equivalent to this when we withhold from others the gifts that our Heavenly Father provided for us. Every time we take our talent and hide it under a bushel, we have deprived someone of the opportunity to feel unbridled joy and satisfaction as a result of seeing your gifts on display.
Like the wise men that brought the best that they had when coming to worship Christ, we should always bring the best of us when we are with those in our sphere of influence. They deserve to see the best that we have to offer. We should give them the best that we have on a consistent basis.
I don't imagine that you wouldn't keep gifts from your children at Christmastime. Let us keep that same mindset when we are tempted to not utilize the gifts that God provided to impact those around us. Resolve to give those in our sphere of influence the very best that we have to offer. Do not withhold our gifts and talents. In doing so, you will learn the value of giving and the wonderful feeling that comes from sharing.
So we see that they were not able to enter, because of their unbelief - Hebrews 3:19 NIV
Connor, who is my youngest, is a little short for his age. We were in the kitchen one day and he needed to get a bowl out of the cabinet. He reached for the bowl and was unable to get it. He unsuccessfully tried several times and was ready to give up. My first inclination was to get it for him. I decided that he was going to get it for himself.
"Connor, close your eyes, get on your tiptoes and BELIEVE that you can get the bowl". Those were the words that I spoke to him. He went through the same routine, but this time he closed his eyes, stood up on his tiptoes and reached. He was able to extend his reach to secure the bowl and bring it down. He opened his eyes and looked at me in amazement. "I did it, I did it!" he shouted. I asked him what was different. He looked and me and said that he believed he could do it.
I looked at him with pride and hoped that he learned a lesson from this episode. It also made me think about how many of us have been in a similar situation and didn't believe? We were unsuccessful in our attempts and decided not to try again. We did not believe that we could set out and accomplish our goals. Why? What keeps us from trying again? It's unbelief and it has serious consequences.
The children of Israel learned firsthand about the consequences of unbelief. An entire generation was excluded from entering the Promised Land. The primary reason behind this: it was their unbelief. God provided the children of Israel with the opportunity to enter Canaan immediately upon their coming out of Egypt. Their unbelief, combined with disobedience, kept this from happening. As a result they experienced hardships instead of enjoying the land promised to them.
My brothers, please don't let what happened to the children of Israel happen to you. Believe that you can accomplish whatever it is that God has planned for you. Believe that you can use your talents to make a difference in the world around you. Believe that God uses ordinary people to accomplish extraordinary things. Like my son, your success begins with belief. Start adopting that mindset today.
Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing - James 1:2-4 ESV
As some of you may know, I am letting my oldest son practice driving whenever we drop off our recycling at the local high school. Last week, we made another recycling run and practiced driving around the parking lot. As he was making a turn into the parking lot, he overcompensated and drove directly into the curb. The result was a flat tire.
As I got out to observe the damage, I looked back into the car and noticed Trey had his head down. He was despondent and all the excitement of taking on the driving challenge was gone. After getting the tire changed and heading back home, I talked with him about how you experience setbacks when you are trying to accomplish things in life.
The very next day, I grabbed a few items to take to the recycling site and had Trey to come with me. He had no idea where we were going. I dropped off the items, pulled to the side and instructed him to sit in the driver's seat. After looking at me in surprise, he sat in the drivers' seat and proceeded to navigate around the parking lot. As the session drew to a close, he looked at me with a smile on his face and thanked me for believing in him. I thanked him for having the courage to persevere in the face of adversity.
How many times have we been faced with a situation like my son and our first response is to shrink back from the challenge? I know that it has happened to me on more than one occasion. I wanted to show my son that the best response in those situations is to get up, dust yourself off and get back in the saddle. My son was able to experience this life lesson involving perseverance in a real way.
What will you do when you experience setbacks? Are you going to give up the pursuit or persevere and know that this trial is helping you develop habits that you need to succeed? As James stated in the above scripture, you should be excited and joyful when you experience trials because it tests your faith. In addition, it will help you produce perseverance and steadfastness. My challenge to you today is if you've experienced a setback, the best strategy is to charge back into the fray and try again.
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
I was visiting my relatives on our annual trip to South Carolina for the Thanksgiving holdidays and was sitting with my uncle in the basement as we watched tv together. During a commercial break, I looked over at him and asked how he was doing. He stated that he doesn't move around like he used to, but it could be worse and compared to others, he was doing ok.
He proudly proceeded to tell me about his workout regimen which involved using exercise bands and dumbbells for resistance training. He has a workout routine that he adheres to a minimum of four days a week. By the way, my uncle has Parkinson's disease, long-term degenerative disorder of the central nervous system that mainly affects the motor system.
I was amazed at the attitude that he displayed during the time that I spent with him. My uncle was one of the hardest working men that I know. For him to contract this disease and still maintain his positive attitude has served as a source of inspiration for me. In spite of his circumstances, he still exudes positive vibes and is a pleasure to be around.
If my uncle, in spite of his circumstances, can display a positive attitude, why can't we? Why do display a negative attitude or stop trying when we are faced with obstacles? As I have learned, fulfilling your purpose or finding your passion is not easy. As you move toward to achieving your God given goals, realize that one of your most important allies will be a positive attitude.
The following poem sums up the effect that your attitude will have in regard to determining your chances for success:
I can make you rise or fall.
I can make you a success or failure.
I can work for you or against you.
I control your feelings and actions.
I can make you laugh, work, and love.
I can make your heart sing with happiness.
I can make you wretched, dejected, or morbid.
I can make you angry and resentful.
I can make you sick and listless.
I can be a shackle, heavy and burdensome.
I can be as a prism's hue, dancing bright and colorful.
I can be nurtured and grown to be beautiful.
I can never be removed, only replaced.
I Am Your Attitude
--Author Unknown -
The choice is yours.
And may the Lord our God show us his approval and make our efforts successful. Yes, make our efforts successful! - Psalm 90:17 NLT
We are down in South Carolina on our annual trip for the Thanksgiving Holidays. Before partaking in the awesome meal later in the day, Abbey and I decided to go for a walk in the morning to get in our cardio workout (built in excuse for overeating later in the day!). As we were walking around the track, I noticed an elderly gentlemen walking by himself. I came up to him and started a conversation. I found out that he was 86 years old and that he came here and walked on a consistent basis. He stated that his motivation for walking at the track was the fear of what his life would be like if he didn't put in the effort to keep moving. He knew that if he didn't keep moving that there was a good chance that his quality of life would be diminished. As a result, he used that as a motivation to get out of bed and keep up his exercise regimen.
Brothers, how many of us wish that we had the mindset of this 86 year old man when it comes to providing the effort needed to accomplish our God given dreams? Here is a gentleman that is walking outside on a chilly Thanksgiving morning when he could have stayed home and no one would have blamed him. There are people that are half his age that needed to be out there exercising that choose to stay in their warm homes as opposed to doing something that would benefit them. Why? Why did this gentleman have the wherewithal to continue to get up every day to walk while others choose to not put forth the effort? The answer lies in his motivation not to experience the alternative that he would experience is he DIDN'T put forth the effort. He knew that if didn't keep up his effort to walk, that he wouldn't be able to have the physical ability to keep doing the things that he enjoyed. He knew that he wouldn't be able to maintain his level of independence that he currently experiences and is a source of joy for him. The resolve that I saw in his eyes and as we walked around the track was an inspiration for me and should be for each of you reading this.
As much as I would like to be able to provide this, only you can come to that point in your life where you will realize that not giving forth a consistent effort will be met with disastrous results. My walking partner that day came to a point in his life where he determined that he effort he was going to put forth every day was worth it and was better than the alternative. Are you at this point in your life? If not, what will it take for you to get there and start placing the effort needed to move you in a positive direction? Only you can provide the answers to these questions and I would take the time right now to begin to answer them in a truthful manner. Doing so can move us closer to experiencing the energy, effort and determination that I saw on display yesterday morning.
Remember how the LORD your God led you all the way in the wilderness these forty years, to humble and test you in order to know what was in your heart, whether or not you would keep his commands - Deuteronomy 8:2 NIV
Because I have an aversion to flying, whenever we go on vacation or visit family and friends, we always drive to our destinations. I remember on one occasion when we were driving back from some trip, I pointed out to my sons a power plant that was located on the Ohio River (once we got there we would cross into Kentucky) and asked them how long would it take for us to get there. Their answers ranged from 2 to 5 minutes. It took us approximately 20 minutes to actually reach the power plant and cross into Kentucky. They were puzzled about the length of time that it took to reach the power plant because it appeared to be closer than it appeared. I had to explain to them that we were not able to take a straight line directly to the plant and that we have to navigate the turns in the road in order to reach the destination. As a result, it required additional time for us to make it there.
There have been times in my life that I shared the same opinion and possessed the same attitude as my 2 sons that day when it comes to reaching my goals and dreams. I was impatient and puzzled because it took a lot longer to reach my goals than what I originally thought. It has been a constant source of frustration throughout my life. Guys, am I alone in that sentiment or can you identify with the negative feelings that accompany waiting to see your goals come to fruition? As much as I would like to be able to attain my goals in a more timely manner, I have come to realization that I will not have the straight line to success and will have to learn to trust the process that is required. The process may require that you take detours and alternative routes to reach the final destination. It may require experiencing a time that like the children of Israel, wandering in the wilderness in order to reach the Promised Land. During that period of time in the wilderness, you learn the skills that are necessary to be successful in addition to relying on God to provide you with the proper mindset to get to the next level. All too often during this period of time in the wilderness, we become frustrated and disenchanted and abandon the pursuit of our God given dreams. As I write this, I think of what potential positive contributions that have fallen by the wayside because of someone's inability to endure their time in the wilderness. Imagine the change that could have been experienced in this world if more people were able to realize that there is no straight line to success and getting there may require you to take a series of turns to arrive at your final destination. Are you one of the people that have abandoned the pursuit of your goals because you have spent time in the wilderness? If so, please grab your map, get back on the road and begin the process once again with the realization that you will have to make a series of turns in order to arrive at your final destination.
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.