Tag Archives: courage

Monday Morning Moment – Leadership Lessons – for All of Us

Photo Credit: Army.mil

Back to work.

What kinds of kickstarts do we build into our lives to consistently do a good job? When we lead out each week, are we leading on fumes? Or are we topping off the tank to get us and our team all the way through to goal?

Leadership coach Lolly Daskal has posted what she considers the 100 Best Leadership Quotes of All Time. Of those 100 quotes, here are just a few of my favorites:

3. ”A good leader leads the people from above them. A great leader leads the people from within them.–M. D. Arnold

7. “The greatest leader is not necessarily the one who does the greatest things. He is the one that gets the people to do the greatest things.” —Ronald Reagan

23. “Wisdom is knowing what to do next, skill is knowing how to do it, and virtue is doing it.” –David Star Jordan

28. “Management is doing things right; leadership is doing the right thing.” –Peter F. Drucker

74. “The task of leadership is not to put greatness into humanity, but to elicit it, for the greatness is already there.” –John Buchan

100. “The most effective way to lead is to lead from within.” –Lolly Daskal

Staying fresh is important in leading well. Hanging with our people. Bringing the vision. Seeing the work through their eyes. Assembling the puzzle (be it product or service) with the pieces that all involved bring to the table. This is leadership of the best sort.

Below are links to just three more pieces on lessons in leadership. Worth the time to read them. 5 of my favorite leadership qualities appear prominently over and over again: emotional intelligence, courage, communication, caring for the people, and transparency.

OK…Monday. We’re ready for you.

The Top Leadership Lessons of 2017 From Steve Jobs, Richard Branson, Tim Cook, and Google – Marcel Schwantes

12 Principles of Modern Military LeadershipPart 1, Part 2, Part 3Capt. Ron Roberts

6 Inspiring Lessons About Success Most People Will Learn Too Late in Life – Marcel Schwantes

Worship Wednesday – the Faith to Believe

Photo Credit: Flickr

For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God.Ephesians 2:8

For the first twenty years of my professional life, I was privileged to have close encounters with five life-changing realities. It was a season of caring for cancer patients and their families – when their diseases were raging and in the final days of life. These experiences galvanized my faith in God and how his image is embedded in us – his creation. These realities are:

  1. Courage in exceedingly hard places
  2. Deep enduring love across a harsh illness and when time is fleeting
  3. Hope mingled with humor
  4. Death isn’t final…our spirits go somewhere (for sure, they leave the body)
  5. Faith to believe

Caring for patients receiving chemotherapy and other treatments for life-threatening complications can prompt an intimate caring relationship. To watch patients (and families) deal with such hard and to be in a position to help them through it gave me a window to extend love and honor to dear ones in crisis.

Was there always courage? Was love always expressed between us all? Was humor or hope or faith a constant?

No…but remarkably, more often than not, this was what I observed… especially in those sustained by a relationship with God.

In the last couple of years, I personally have experienced a cancer diagnosis and a couple of respiratory emergencies that brought those same realities into my life. In such times, much in life gets clarity…a sharper focus, a deeper understanding.

Breathe has been a theme in my life for over a year now…put that together with the title of a film starring Andrew Garfield…and it caused me to NOT “skip the ad” on YouTube.Photo Credit: Breathe, YouTube

I was unaware of Robin Cavendish until I saw the trailer for the film Breathe. Cavendish was a Brit who developed polio at the young age of 28. He was paralyzed from the neck down and required a ventilator to breathe. In those days (1958), he would have been confined in a hospital for the remainder of his days. However, he nor his wife, Diana, would hear of it. After a year in hospital, he went home and adjusted to this very different life, as only Robin would. They had a child and he would be able to see him grow up (in fact, son Jonathan Cavendish produced this film). Robin was a pioneer in advocating for the disabled, especially those like him needing more extreme measures to live a more normal life. He died at 64.

[Since my years in graduate studies in rehab and cancer nursing…the courage I saw in so many patients and families…courage in struggle…never ceased to inspire me.]

I am always intrigued about “based on a true story” films. Reading up on Robin Cavendish’s story, my heart soared and then sank…fullstop at the short statement below:

Cavendish was an atheist.Wikipedia

I have never understood atheism. Even during spiritually flat and confusing times in my life, the existence of God has never been at question.

Especially watching beloved patients at the moment of death…their faces relaxing and their bodies emptying of who they really were. We don’t just stop existing…life here stops and starts at exactly the same moment…There.

Now that I know Robin Cavendish, he has my admiration and respect at how he took back his life and helped others do the same. I wonder if, before his life was done…if he had the faith to believe. One line in his obituary reads:

It is a strange irony that, though professing to be an unbeliever himself, he had a capacity for making other people feel closer to God.*

*Obituary – Robin Cavendish – Alice and Tim Renton

What a great gift is faith to believe. We don’t conjure it up. God Himself presents us the faith to believe…it is ours to reject or receive.

Worship with me. Below you will find two songs – Faith to Believe by Shane & Shane and Jesus Is Better by Austin Stone. Choose either or both in celebrating the God who gives us the faith to believe. [Then scroll down to the prayer at the end.]

YouTube Video – Shane & Shane – Faith to Believe – (with lyrics)

Give me the faith to believe You
When I’m stuck here in my fear
Give me the strength to trust You
When my vision’s blurred by tears
Give me a hope for tomorrow
Because today has gone so wrong
I’m on my knees
Give me the strength to believe

Even when I cannot see You
You’re still shining, You’re still shining
Even when I cannot hear You
You’re still calling out my name
Even when I cannot see You
Your arms are open
Always holding on to me
Give me the faith to believe

You say You’ll never leave me
Your love will conquer fear
You say Your day is coming
When You’ll wipe away my tears
Give me a hope for tomorrow
Because today has gone so wrong
I’m on my knees
Give me the faith to believe

Give me the faith to see the invisible
Give me the faith to believe the impossible
Give me the faith to receive the incredible
Oh give me the faith to believe it**

There is no other so sure and steady, my hope is held in your hand
When castles crumble and breath is fleeting, upon this rock I will stand
Upon this rock I will stand

Glory, glory, we have no other king
But Jesus Lord of all
Raise the anthem, our loudest praises ring
We crown Him Lord of all

Your kindly rule has shattered and broken the curse of sin’s tyranny
My life is hidden ‘neath Heaven’s shadow, Your crimson flood covers me
Your crimson flood covers me

Glory, glory, we have no other king
But Jesus Lord of all
Raise the anthem, our loudest praises ring
We crown Him Lord of all

In all my sorrows, Jesus is better – make my heart believe

In all my victories, Jesus is better – make my heart believe

Than any comfort, Jesus is better – make my heart believe

More than all riches, Jesus is better – make my heart believe

Our souls declaring, Jesus is better – make my heart believe

Our song eternal, Jesus is better – make my heart believe

Glory, glory, we have no other king
But Jesus Lord of all

Glory, glory, we have no other king
But Jesus Lord of all
Raise the anthem, our loudest praises ring
We crown Him Lord of all

Glory, glory, we have no other king
But Jesus Lord of all
Raise the anthem, our loudest praises ring
We crown Him Lord of all***

Photo Credit: Flickr

Maybe this is the first step for atheists, too (it was for me)…so thankful for the faith to believe…to see the truth and beauty of Scripture. The Word of God walks us right up the staircase to be with Him – now and forever.

Thank You, God, for the faith to believe. With my whole being, I’m sure you daily, moment by moment, extend grace to all of humanity to know You, through one witness of Yourself or another. Help us to receive this grace. God, give us all this faith to believe.

**Lyrics to Faith to Believe – written by Shane Everett & Phil Wickham

***Lyrics to Jesus Is Better – written by Aaron Ivey & Brett Land

Monday Morning Moment – Grit – the Role of Personal Resolve and a Team Alongside

[Adapted from the Archives]

Diligence is a word that defined my many years in learning Arabic while we lived overseas. Keeping at it, even when I wanted to quit, helped immensely. The joy of living life in a second language is worth all the work. Diligence is a great assist to staying on course, but it is not “grit”.

Once on a beach weekend, I saw grit at work in a group of servicemen, in Virginia Beach, doing their morning exercise. [Not the picture above but that image has its own neat story of grit]. Walking on the boardwalk early in the morning, my husband and I encountered this small group of airmen from the nearby Naval Base, doing a group jog. We saw them starting the run and saw them again coming back – 6 miles total. Most of them were young, thin, and fit.

What caught our eye, in particular, were two men in mid-life, carrying a bit of weight, bringing up the rear. Approaching the end of that run, they looked like they were hurting, but they definitely weren’t quitting. I’m sure to stay as fit as the rest of the group was, a certain measure of grit was at play…but these two, in this snapshot of life, showed the grit that brought me to write today.

Wikipedia.org defines grit as a character trait  of applying passion and perseverance over time toward a goal, end state or objective. Grit goes beyond ability and can withstand failure, keeping the end goal in sight, and pushing through to it.Blog - Grit - Definition 2

Bill Hybels, at the Global Leadership Summit 2015*, talked about grit as “one of the greatest indicators of success”. Gritty people, he said, are the ones who “play hurt” and rarely ever give up. “They expect progress to be difficult, but believe with their whole being that they can be successful if they don’t quit.” It’s “The Little Engine That Could”. Abraham Lincoln. Nelson Mandela. Gandhi. Martin Luther King. Hybels also encouraged the audience that grit can be developed. From childhood through adulthood.

Jon Acuff (author of Do Over) defines grit as “stubbornness in the face of fear“.  In his book, he gives a short list of what’s needed in making gritty decisions (in the “hustle” of work):

  • Time – we think the world “hustle” has to mean fast, but it can also mean focus, intention, pace.
  • Counsel – Lean on your relationships. Some of the worst decisions are made alone. Who are your advocates? Have you given them time to reflect on it or are you rushing right by the wisdom they have to offer? Let them speak into it. A year from now, looking back on the decision, you’ll be glad you made it as a team.
  • Questions – Always ask awesome opportunities, awesome questions. We skimp on due diligence. “What am I not seeing right now?”
  • Kindness – Give yourself permission to make the wrong decision, because…you’re going to. Break the tension of feeling like you’re going to be perfect by giving yourself some kindness from the outset.
  • Honesty – When you look back on a decision, remember that you made that decision with the best information you had at the time.

As we saw those two older heavyset men running just behind their younger airmen colleagues, we saw men with a goal in mind. There was also something more – the cadence to the group’s run that seemed to work to keep them all together. Whether at work or in family relationships, we want to do all we can to help those gritty ones be successful. Their resolve may get them to the goal anyway, but we all benefit when we are able to “stay on course” together.

Have you “grown gritty” over your lifetime? Are there gritty folks in your life who you love to champion? Please share in the Comments below so that we can all learn.

*Session 1: Bill Hybels Opening Session – Global Leadership Summit

Wikipedia Article on Grit

The Truth About Grit

The Grit Test

Jon Acuff on the Role of Hustle in Taking Hold of Career Opportunities – Notes & Quotes – Part 5 of Do Over Series

How to Make Grit Decisions and Built a Grit List by Jon Acuff

Do Over: Rescue Monday, Reinvent Your Work, and Never Get Stuck by Jon Acuff

Does Teaching Kids To Get ‘Gritty’ Help Them Get Ahead?

5 Friday Faves – Video Games, NFL Man of the Year, Hospitality, Writing, and Animal Courage

Blog - Friday Faves

It’s that glorious Friday again. Here are my favorite finds of the week:

1) Video Games – What is the appeal of video games for our boys and men? It is a mystery to me. I do understand the gaming camaraderie between players – some friends, some strangers who become friends, kinda sorta. The cutting-edge graphics designed mostly for the eyes of our guys are clearly appealing. And levels…oh, the levels keep our boys and men coming back for the challenge – the competition on an even playing field – without judging from outsiders. Well, except for the occasional run-ins with wife or mother. Lastly, it’s the welcome mindlessness, I’m thinking. The momentary escape from organic chemistry, or frustrating job, or Master’s thesis, or [fill in the blank].

We all have indulgent time-wasters, and I battled with my boys over video games more than I should have. My regret over that transformed into joy this week, as the guitarist son of mine actually turned a video game theme into a lovely work on classical guitar. Who would have thought it? To see Nathan smile (at minute 1:40 in video) makes me wonder at the sweet memory he has of that game’s music. Hello again, Legend of Zelda. Don’t remember you like this.

2) NFL Man of the Year – I’m not a big football fan, but when we came across the NFL Honors program the night before the Superbowl I was intrigued. Football seems all about leaving it on the field. This was a salute to a band of brothers and the stand-outs among them, both on the field and off. There were three nominees for the Walter Payton Man of the Year Award for 2015 – Anquan Boldin, Eli Manning, and Benjamin Watson. Each man’s character and philanthropic work were highlighted in video vignettes. With all the tabloid coverage of the antics of some of our professional athletes, it was inspiring to see how others spend their off-season time. Anquan Boldin, the San Francisco 49ers wide receiver, received this year’s award from the Payton family. Read more about Anquan’s work in the global community here.Blog - NFL Man of the Year 2016 - Anquan Boldin (2)Photo Credit: Mercury News

Another highlight of the Man of the Year NFL Honors focus was a welcome reminder of Benjamin Watson and his redemptive statement on Facebook (regarding the 2014 Ferguson Decision). In this profession of moneyed celebrity, it was refreshing to see upclose the caliber of such men as Boldin, Manning, and Watson.

3) Hospitality – Hospitality is defined at Google as “the friendly and generous reception and entertainment of guests, visitors, or strangers.” We live in a culture today of “come as you are; just hanging out with friends; bring your own food/beverage”. I love the comfortable sound and easy experience of that. However, I hope we don’t lose the great global habit of extending generous hospitality – where nothing is expected but the welcome presence of the guest. We lived for many years in North Africa where they expect hospitality of themselves and they lavish it on their guests. Even in the poorest of homes, the cookies and fruit are beautifully presented, and the tea is poured with great ceremony. I learned so much from my Arab and Berber friends and neighbors…and don’t want to forget ever to extend hospitality. There is a difference between service and hospitality – described in TED Talks and distinctive in industry. [I wrote about this here.]

“Hospitality is about looking out instead of looking in…I can look outward and help someone else.”Bobby Stuckey.  The Bible is full of examples of hospitality and encouragements toward it. We are to extend blessing even as far as to our enemies. Benjamin Corey writes eloquently about this Biblical hospitality. Finally, Rosaria Butterfield, in her book The Secret Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert says this: “Hospitality means bringing the stranger in…you have to meet and respect people where they are…I believe strongly that hospitality is just the ground zero of the Christian life, and of evangelism, and of everything else that we do, apart from the formal worship of God.” Blog - Hospitality - The Secret THoughts of an Unlikely Convert - Rosaria ButterfieldPhoto Credit: Amazon.com

It’s good to remember that we can extend hospitality in a less-than-perfect house, where toys are still scattered and books a bit piled. It’s more the attitude of the heart in celebrating the other. Also, by definition, hospitality doesn’t have to be based in the home. I will never forget spotting a friend, whose husband was also in graduate school, walking up my driveway, with a pot of coffee and favorite mugs. It turned my morning of home-schooling littles in something altogether other. Extending hospitality…mobile and on-the-fly.Blog - Hospitality

4) Writing – I am always grateful for help in this skill of writing. Finding Chris Bailey’s blog (A Life of Productivity) and book (The Productivity Project) was a great boon to organizing my life and writing (my notes here). Daniel Darling’s blog this past week was another huge encouragement. He writes on how to be a prolific writer.

Darling gives 6 helps in writing: 1) I don’t wait for inspiration, for a cabin next to a mountain stream, or a light bulb. I just write; 2) I write from my passions on topics that interest me; 3) Always be cultivating and chronicling ideas; 4) I try to be curious and always learning; 5) I write in short bursts, in the margins of life; and 6) I try not to be a jerk. Don’t miss how he fills out the story on these points on his blog.Blog - Writing & Journaling - Joy List

5) Animal Courage – When our kids were small and we were living overseas, we took with us this wildlife video entitled The Bear. Like other children’s videos (a lot from Disney), there were story bits that needed processing with a loving adult (like how often the mom dies in these stories…sigh). The Bear was filmed with an intentionality of demonstrating the real life struggle of life in the wild for these animals. Also depicted was the almost-human qualities of care and courage in these animals. I have used one scene of this movie in talks over the years on how gracious it is to have an advocate. One stronger or more influential than we are who stands with us, sometimes out of sight, against an adversary. The plot story involves a bear cub, orphaned when his mother dies (again?!) and an older adult male, beleaguered himself by hunters and the sheer strain of survival sometimes, who becomes the cub’s protector. Here’s the scene (fast-forward to minute 2:30 for time’s sake if needed).

I love this scene. It actually reminds me of us sometimes…and God. We stand as tall as we can and roar (like a wee cub) against the wrongs of this world – wrongs against us sometimes. We are not always aware, but the LORD (I believe from experience and His Word) issues a God-sized roar against those same wrongs. Our adversaries will be reckoned with.

YouTube Video – Scene from the film The Bear, 1988 (Cub & Cougar at 2:30 into scene)

Film The Bear

Top Ten Most Courageous Animals

Happy Friday! Have a weekend full of extending and receiving hospitality, quiet times of refreshment, and reflection on the God who watches over us. Also, hug those video-gaming men of yours…when they take a break (don’t want them to lose a level in the midst of wrestling them down to the floor), right? Right.

Any favorites you want to share? Or memories…or words of wisdom. Would love to hear them (Comment below).

A Prayer for Those First Days of School

Blog - School Days 2Blog - School Days 3

Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it. – Proverbs 22:6

Today, in these parts, kids are returning to school. We live in a neighborhood across from a middle school. It’s get out early or be waiting a long time on buses and cars delivering their kiddos to their first day back to school.

We homeschooled ours at first (that first day of school – August 24, 1992) . Even today, my throat still tightens thinking of our little ones and their friends in those days, heading off to a big world. It doesn’t take long and then they are grown.

Blog - School Days 1BLog - School Days

Only a few years home schooling, and we went overseas. First to Cairo where they rode across town to a small American school for many years of their education.IMG_0016 (3)Blog - First Days of School - Christie, Nathan, DanielBlog - School in Cairo, Egypt

Blog - School Days 3Blog - School Days 2Blog - School Days

 Then we moved to Morocco, where one by one, they graduated high school. We were so proud of them and at the same time sad to see them launch. Just being honest.June 2005 - Seniors and Graduation 060Blog - School DaysNA -- Christie, Daniel, Nathan Mills

I want to join you in your prayers for your little guys, and not so littles, as they return to school (or as they start another day of school).

God, Thank You, for the gift of children. Whether ours or someone else’s. What a stewardship you give us to raise them in Your nurture and admonition (Ephesians 6:4). They are Yours, after all, as are we.

Help us to instill courage and joy in them as they head into their day. Remind them of how You will never leave them or forsake them (Deuteronomy 31:6). Help them feel Your nearness to them today. May they sense their purpose in school today – not just to be about the job of learning but to also be a friend, helper, and true community member. Empower them to reach out to others with honor and kindness.

Father, we thank You for the teachers (some of them Moms and Dads themselves), the administrators, and those who work in assistive roles (from drivers and cafeteria workers to janitors and security guards). Give them strength for the day. Help them see the largeness of their work. The impact they will have on these young lives. Lord, I pray especially for those classroom teachers. These have been given charge over the precious ones You’ve given us. May these teachers have such love for their students that they can lead their class well. In such a way that they don’t have to wait until November to smile. Give them vision, too, to see their students as You see them and how they will impact their world…Some day AND today.

We pray for grace for ourselves as parents and grandparents. Grace just to get through these first days of school, trusting You. Show us ways to serve these teachers and staff that they will see You in us – that we would be received as considerate, insightful partners in the education of our children. Help us not to be a burden to them, but a help. May these school be lights in the community.

Lord, we think of others – children, parents, teachers – around the world who are about this great work of education. It is much more difficult for some than for us. Remind us that they are all precious in Your sight, and You blessed us, as Your people, to bless the nations. Help us to discover pathways to help those whose current situations hinder them from having what You desire for them – in our city and across the world.Blog - School Days 1 - bpnews.netBlog - School Days - bpnews.netPhoto Credit: bpnews.net

Thank You again, God…for firsts. First day of school. First graduation. First job. First baby. First day of school for her in 5 years. The years go by, and we are grateful for all we find of You in those years.

In Jesus’ name. Amen.

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YouTube Video – Veronica-Pooh Nash Poleate – Tips and Tricks for Teachers

Praying especially, too, for this one, as he enters his first week teaching guitar in a local middle school. – Nathan Mills

2011 May Dan's birthday & Nathan's graduation 108

5 Friday Faves – One Podcast on Organizational Culture, 3 Great Reads (Self-Medicating, Hard Decisions, Affliction) & a Sing-along

Blog - Friday Faves

1) A Podcast – 5 Leadership Questions about Building a Great Organizational Culture – This is a great conversation between Barnabas Piper, Todd Adkins, and Eric Geiger on organizational culture. They define culture as “shared values beneath the surface that drive behavior”. Aspirational values (what takes place on the wall) are distinguished from actual values (what takes place in the hall). What is your workplace culture? “We don’t treat people like that here”. Like what? What culture do you have or hope to build?Blog - Organizational Culture - slideshare.netPhoto Credit: Slideshare.net

Also see Organizational Culture and Climate – SlideShare.

2) On Self-Medication5 Socially Acceptable Ways Church Leaders Self-Medicate  – Carey Nieuwhof, a Canadian pastor and thinker on leadership, writes about how leaders can get caught up in “socially acceptable” self-medicating as a way to manage their stress. Important read for anyone in leadership.Blog - Self-medicating with Carey NieuwhofPhoto Credit: CareyNieuwhof.com

3) On Hard DecisionsBuilding the Courage to Make Changes  by Dr. Danita Johnson Hughes. Quick read on steps in making difficult workplace decisions. I have dear friends going through a tough downsizing which has to happen for their organization to survive. It took huge courage, faith, and forward-thinking on the part of the leaders to make that hard decision. .A Bible study along these lines can be found in a Slideshare on the Gospel of Mark (chapter 14).Blog - hard Decisions

Photo Credit: GreatLeadersServe.com – also a good resource.

4) On Affliction in the Lives of 3 Men – The Hidden Smile of God: The Fruit of Affliction in the Lives of John Bunyan, William Cowper, and David Brainerd (The Swans Are Not Silent, Book 2) by John Piper. The Swans Are Not Silent series by John Piper is a collection of biographies, grouped in such a way as to point to a particular character, situation, or gift from God. This volume is particularly fascinating to me because of how these men demonstrate the nearness of God in lives torn by trouble.

Blog - The Hidden Smile of God - John Piper on Affliction

Photo Credit: DesiringGod.org

5) A Sing-Along – YouTube videos of classic songs done in a bit different way. Enjoy and have a restful weekend.

YouTube Video – I Will Follow Him with André Rieu

YouTube Video – U.S. Navy Band – Selections from Jersey Boys

Worship Wednesday – To Live is Christ; To Die is Gain – Youth Alive

Uncle Bob & Dave at Chance, Maryland

“…according to my earnest expectation and hope, that I will not be put to shame in anything, but that with all boldness, Christ will even now, as always, be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death. For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.”Philippians 1:20-21

Don’t we have this idea that some day we’ll retire and gently ease into those sunset years of our lives? Maybe not. We definitely don’t think about dying younger than then…and for sure, we don’t think about dying suddenly. People say, “I want to go in my sleep.” Or “I want to go fast.” Maybe so…but that means living life in such a way you can die at any time. You are ready to die whenever that moment comes.

We have a dear friend who did just that. Mike died suddenly. Breathtakingly fast, his life was finished. We are still reeling.

You see, our friend Mike lived life full to busting every single day. He was a great leader, a faithful mentor of students, and a good friend…a friend who stuck “closer than a brother” (Proverbs 18:24). He was always that reliable “iron sharpening iron” (Proverbs 27:17) person in the room.

When the sparks flew, something amazing happened. Worthy ideas were born. We were drawn out of our comfort and into a conversation that mattered. Whatever the cause at the moment, with Mike in the room, it radically moved forward.

Now he won’t be in the room. The quiet of that reality is … well… impossible to frame words around.

What I can find the words for is a life lived as large as possible for God and His purposes. Mike was still teaching, writing, leading, but more than that he was following a God who gave him the huge life he had. As unimaginable as it is for us that he’s gone, all I can think is that he finished this life…and he finished it well.

We will continue to learn from Mike, remembering his life, our conversations, his writing, and the ventures still ongoing which he helped launch. He was a force for excellence and for pushing forward to take hold of what God would do, if we believed in Him and not just our own meager efforts.

Mike lived in such a way that he could die at any time. He died a man still in the middle of life, having lived, in earnestness and purpose, a longer life than many will ever live. For what? For God…for his family…for all of us whom he touched.

This song, performed by Youth Alive, speaks to his life. We can all live such a life – with courage, boldness, faith, and confidence…like our friend Mike…when “to live is Christ”.

Worship with me.  Pray for his family.

For me to live is Christ and to die is gain.

No matter what price I pay, I choose to give this life away.

I make a vow. My life will always honor You, Christ.

Whether I live or die I belong to Him.

He bore my sin; I owe this life to my saving King.

I make a vow; My life will always honor you, Christ.

Whether I live or die I belong to Him.

He bore my sin; I owe this life to my saving King.

Hallelujah, I am not my own. You are in control; Hallelujah!

For me to live is Christ And to die is gain; No matter what price I pay, I choose to give this life away.

I make a vow; my life will always honor You, Christ.

Whether I live or die I belong to Him.

He bore my sin; I owe this life to my saving King

I make a vow; my life will always honor You, Christ.

Whether I live or die, I belong to Him

He bore my sin; I owe this life to my saving King.

Hallelujah, I am not my own. You are in control, Hallelujah!

For me to live is Christ and to die is gain.

No matter what price I pay, I choose to give this life away (X2)

Only by the cross I am saved.

Hallelujah, I am not my own. You are in control. Hallelujah!

For me to live is Christ and to die is gain.

No matter what price I pay, I choose to give this life away. (X2)

Only by the cross I am saved. (X3)

YouTube Video – To Live is Christ – Youth Alive NSW

Lyrics to Youth Alive’s To Live is Christ

Worship Wednesday – Breathing In Your Grace, Breathing Out Your Praise – Your Grace Finds Me by Matt Redman

What’s Your Wall? – Lessons on Leadership & the Marketplace Through Nehemiah

Blog - Nehemiah - thestorehousesweden.filesPhoto Credit: thestorehousesweden.files.wordpress.com

When I heard these words, I sat down and wept and mourned for days; and I was fasting and praying before the God of heaven. I said, “I beseech You, O LORD God of heaven, the great and awesome God, who preserves the covenant and lovingkindness for those who love Him and keep His commandments, let Your ear now be attentive and Your eyes open to hear the prayer of Your servant which I am praying before You now, day and night, on behalf of the sons of Israel Your servants, confessing the sins of the sons of Israel which we have sinned against You; I and my father’s house have sinned.”Nehemiah 1:4-6

Nehemiah was a Jewish exile and a highly placed official of the Persian king Artaxerxes (445 B.C.). Word came to him through a brother that the exiles who had returned to Jerusalem were in a bad way. The walls of the city were destroyed, the gates were burned, and the people were disheartened and vulnerable to attack. That news was so devastating to Nehemiah he felt deeply compelled to action. So what did he do? He prayed…for months.

Out of that season of prayer, Nehemiah acted in a remarkable way – not as a single agent for change, but a man moved by the heart of God Himself. Read Nehemiah again. I did this morning, with the workplace in mind, and came away with what follows:

1) News (whether it’s sweeping changes at work, downsizing, cultural or technological shifts) does not defeat us or define us. God is always at work. We are in the midst of the working out and recording of history (“His Story”). Just as Nehemiah recorded a first-person account of the rebuilding of the wall (and a people), what will we record as we work through our current situation?

2) Walls are providential. What we see as barriers or obstacles to how we see work should be done may be the very vehicles through which God will show Himself most powerful…through those in the workplace, maybe most affected by the obstacles and most available to Him to show Himself through us.

3) Who is the enemy? Make sure it’s not you. Nehemiah, released from his duties to the king, led the people in rebuilding the walls around Jerusalem. During that work, there were the enemies of the project, the naysayers, and those who would see it done a very different way. We always think that sort of coworker is someone else. A check of your own heart to make sure it’s not you is wisdom.

4) Where is God in your situation? Who is God in your situation? You can be sure that God is in your situation because He loves you, He loves your work (even when it’s hard to imagine), and He is at work forging a future. Never lose sight of that. In fact, like Nehemiah, be fueled by that hope. God is completely able to do His will in any situation. There are no barriers, no enemies, or even no frailties on your part that alter the beautiful course of almighty God. Keep your eyes fixed on Him.

5) What is our station in the sovereignty of God? The biggest question of all: What will you do given your place in the out-working of the will of God in your situation? Nehemiah prayed…and prayed a lot…and kept praying. He acted bravely, wisely, and definitively. He humbly, as needed, and he acted boldly, as the situation demanded.

Nehemiah was a cupbearer to a Persian king, and he was a leader and builder of a broken wall…and a broken people. You can be, too.

So the wall was completed on the twenty-fifth of the month Elul, in fifty-two days. When all our enemies heard of it, and all the nations surrounding us saw it, they lost their confidence; for they recognized that this work had been accomplished with the help of our God.               – Nehemiah 6:15-16

Nehemiah: A Leader and His Wall – Bible Study at workmatters.org

Broken Down Gates of Our Cities

Four Leadership Lessons from Nehemiah

Nehemiah: An Awesome Leader 1: A Leader Who Prayed and Prayed and Prayed

Nehemiah: An Awesome Leader 2: Building More Than a Wall

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Waiting

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I would have despaired unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the LORD In the land of the living. Wait for the LORD; Be strong and let your heart take courage; Yes, wait for the LORD.         –Psalm 27:13-14    

Waiting. Most of the time we take it as part and parcel of life. Waiting for the first tomatoes of summer. For the call to board the plane. For just the right moment when you pull the brownies out of the oven. For…and this is the best waiting of all… the phone call that the baby is on her way.

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Other times waiting is hard. Like waiting for the diagnosis. For the announcement of whether or not you still have a job. Waiting for the “I love you” or “I forgive you” or “Everything’s going to be alright.” Or the non-communication screaming that maybe everything is not all right. Waiting is hard.

We fill our calendars with work and play, appointments and dates. We don’t want to lose a moment of life to the unplanned. On this summer Saturday, the fatigue of a full week caught up with me, and I lost a gorgeous afternoon to sleep and sleepy reflection.

That’s when the waiting surfaced in my thoughts.

I don’t know about you, but for me, when life gets quiet, the waiting gets the loudest. With it are the answers my brain creates in the face of non-answers. I was at a conference this week where Brené Brown talked about this very thing.

Brown said in the face of non-communication, or being disconnected, our brains are wired to come up with the conversation that we haven’t had…our version of what that conversation would be. How those conversations (in our heads) go depend on how waiting has taken its toll on us.

We wait on that phone call, text, or email…and the longer it takes to come, the more we think ill of what’s happening with that person or our relationship or our work situation. In the waiting, we may panic, or we decide proactively that it doesn’t matter, we don’t care, he/she/it is not worth it.

The sooner I can move the waiting on a person or life situation to a different object, that being God, the faster peace is restored in my thoughts. That’s what happened for me this afternoon….

In the midst of my struggle, with waiting on so many things…God broke through. He helped me rein in my stampeding thoughts, through the quiet of our back yard…and the writing of Andrew Murray. 

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“The only difference between nature and grace is this, that what the trees and the flowers do unconsciously, as they drink in the blessing of the light, is to be with us a voluntary and a loving acceptance. Faith, simple faith in God’s word and love, is to be the opening of the eyes, the opening of the heart, to receive and enjoy the unspeakable glory of His grace. And just as the trees, day by day, and month by month, stand and grow into beauty and fruitfulness, just welcoming whatever sunshine the sun may give, so it is the very highest exercise of our Christian life just to abide in the light of God, and let it, and let Him, fill us with the life and the brightness it brings.” – Andrew Murray, Waiting for God

“Let waiting be our work, as it is His. And, if His waiting is nothing but goodness and graciousness, let ours be nothing but a rejoicing in that goodness, and a confident expectancy of that grace. And, let every thought of waiting become to us the simple expression of unmingled and unutterable blessedness, because it brings us to a God who waits that He may make Himself known to us perfectly as the gracious One.   My soul, wait thou only upon God!”   Andrew Murray, Waiting for God

“Father, teach us all how to wait.”   – Andrew Murray, Waiting for God

Teach me to wait on You, O God…and everything else will order itself in Your kind and loving hands. I determine to rest in You.

Goodreads Quotes from Andrew Murray’s Waiting for God

Waiting on God by Andrew Murray

The Waiting is the Hardest Part by David Mathis

5 reasons God Makes us Wait by Eric Speir

Waiting on God – How Do We Wait? – by Sylvia Gunter

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Courage – Putting Off Cynicism and Giving Up Control

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Be strong and courageous! Do not fear or tremble before them, for the LORD your God is the one who is going with you. He will not fail you or abandon you! – Deuteronomy 31:6

When I am afraid, I will trust in You. In God, whose word I praise, in God I trust; I will not fear. What can man do to me? – Psalm 56:3-4

Couragethe strength of mind to carry on in spite of danger or difficulty; old French meaning: “from the heart

Courage comes with time or necessity. When I was a child, Chicken Little (from the children’s story Henny Penny) could have been my modus operandi in dealing with life. The world seemed a scary place. If there was any way I could control it, I would (people-pleasing, saying what I thought people wanted to hear instead of the truth sometimes, circling up with friends who preferred me). Me, me, I, I. Being afraid centers on self…it keeps truth out and generates a “reality” that keeps walls up. To break out of that, courage was a necessity. With time and growing up, the world become smaller (and God bigger), and courage was born.

In my twenties, I read a little book shared with a me by a brave friend who had herself broken out of her own self-imposed walls. The book was Hannah Hunnard’s Hinds’ Feet on High Places*. The heroine was called Much Afraid. It is an allegory of a Christ-followers who struggled with fear and yet desired to know God in the high mountains of joy. The book tells a story of how she lost her fear over her journey of faith and devotion.

Courage comes with focus, focusing up and out. It won’t come with focusing on self and being in control. It comes with turning our focus on God and others. Simple as that. If we want to control our situation, we can rein in our circumstances and relationships such that we are not threatened. Occasionally someone or something may break through our fortress, but with determination, we can quickly rebuild. Circling tightly around our own selves, and only those people and things that matter most to us. Trumping any reality we choose to ignore or avoid. Or so we think…Blog - Courage 2 from bpnews.net photosPhoto Credit: bpnews.net

Courage takes risks and lets go of control. As I got older, I realized that life is so much more precious than the bits that I try to control. A long time ago, a little saying, “Let go, and let God” settled into the hard drive of my mind. I don’t always surrender myself to fullness of life and depth of relationship that God has for us…but when I do…well, worth the risk. Worth giving up my paltry control. Worth it.

Courage keeps me from cynicism. Paul Coughlin said it best: “Cynicism drains our lives of hope, optimism and creativity—raw material that help build our foundation of courage. Men are especially seduced by cynicism’s ability to look like you are on the playing field of life, committing deeds that are useful and powerful. But in reality the cynic is comfortably anchored on the cushy sidelines of life, lifting no burdens, creating no light & being no salt. This ability to always see the worst in people and situations is often a hiding place for fear, timidity and indifference. It allows us to be invulnerable observers rather than participants at risk and of sacrifice. Worse, the cynic often justifies his lack of redemptive and courageous action. Ultimately, cynicism is the language of self-preservation, which drains us of courage and shrivels our souls.”**

Take courage, Dear Ones. Leave off cynicism. Give up control. See what God will do when you show up, ready (in Him) for whatever comes your way today.

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What Does the Bible Say About Courage?

Bible Verses About Courage

*Hinds’ Feet on High Places Quotes

** What Drains Us of Courageous Faith?

YouTube Video – Courageous – final scene

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