“To Thine Own Self Be True”

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At this point in the year we are about five month’s away from our most recent new year’s resolutions.  Where are you with those resolutions?

A number of people will say that they stopped making new years resolutions.  When asked why, they will tell you that they do not like setting themselves up for failure. The question: is not having a goal easier than pursuing a goal and not reaching it?   At that point, mediocrity has been embraced!  We are guilty of being poor stewards of that which has been given to us. “Well done, good & faithful servant” becomes elusive.

When I was young my parents sent me to Camp Miniwanca, in Shelby, Michigan.  At this camp I had an opportunity to meet kids from all over the country and engage in activities that I had only dreamed about.  This camp has a motto that is compelling: “My own self, at my very best, all the time.”

Now, fifty years later, I find myself reviewing that input and how it relates to my personal commitments.  If I believe that I am really called to be my very best, all the time in the context of being me….then I charge into life with a different intensity and a different focus.

Resolutions can become those destination points on a map that orient our journey & provide a sense of direction.  They become a grid that empowers us to move forward.  Just as easily they can  become a measuring stick that is used to inflict inadequacy and shame.

Often times we see resolutions through the lens of success & failure.  When we waffle on the performance of a resolution, we allow that to define us & we confirm our worst fears. We toss in the towel with one defiant, all or nothing, sort of gesture. We let go of the resolution and we give up.

There is another way.  It is the way of those who catch a vision and keep moving in the direction of that vision.  It is the way of those who hear a call and respond to it. It is  the way of those who run, walk, crawl….those that keep moving forward.  It is the way of those that keep the promises that they make to themselves.  After all that is the core of personal integrity & that is what wins the day.

These people grasp onto their goals & resolutions in order to become the people that God has designed them to be.  They are the people who understand:

“The essential thing in heaven & earth is that there should be a long obedience in the same direction; the results…… something which has made life worth living.” (Nietzsche)

So the question this day: Will you reengage with your resolutions?  Knowing that your success or failure does not define you.  Know that you have been called to keep the promises you make to yourself and to your Lord.  Ultimately, maintaining a long obedience in the same direction, will win the day and you will glorify Him!

How are you choosing to engage this day?

Please share your thoughts with all of us!

Embrace the Adventure!

-Dick

Be Encouraged!

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Sitting in deep leather chairs that seemed to swallow the occupants, the question was asked: ” Who uniquely encourages you?”

The silence was deafening.  Slowly, as if from another life time, the leader said: “I am not sure there is anybody that uniquely encourages me.”

That seems to be the dilemma of the ‘corner office’ occupant.  They are responsible for many….at home and at work, but no one seems to have the courage to care for them.  Or if they have the courage, they do not think they have the ability.  And in the vacuum the individual feels alone and often, quite isolated.  But this isolation is not reserved for the corner office….it exists for all of us.

What does it take to permeate the cloud that speaks of loneliness?  The first lesson is learned as we examine those who uniquely care for us & encourage us.  What goes on that makes us feel uniquely important & valued in the eyes of another?  I would suggest that how we engage speaks volumes.  When a ‘true friend’ walks into the room their whole countenance seems to activate and to speak of the great pleasure they are experiencing as they encounter us.  They are excited to see you, to see me!

They are genuinely interested in what you have been up to.  How your life is going and what you have been doing that has put a smile on your face.  They are interested in you!

They are not asking you about you so that they can tell you about themselves.  It is ok, with them, if they never talk about themselves, because they are so interested in you.  And they are not only interested in what you have been doing but they want to know about your heart. They want to know about your joy, your sorrow, your excitement, your frustration and everything in between.  They understand that the events of life are one component of the story and they understand that how we feel about those events is the other key component!

It is in the knowing and being known that we experience true intimacy, great encouragement and significant caring!

There is another ingredient that they bring to the encounter.  They bring a good memory.  They seem to remember who I am and what my interests are.  They remember what we talked about the last time we were together and they ask me how my world is going from the reference point of our last conversation.  It is almost as if they had been praying for me.  And if they say…..”you have been in my thoughts and prayers!” There is an authenticity to their words.  Their memory and their words speak volumes.  I am important enough for them to remember.

In the Gospel of John 4:7-21, we encounter a story of significant care and encouragement.  Jesus meets a women in a life situation and cares for her and encourages her in ways that are transformational.  We are called to care & encourage others in significant ways. Do not hold back!

Realize that you have little competition when it comes to being a care giver….therefore, excel in how you care & how you encourage!!

I believe the journey will transform you!

Embrace the Adventure!!                                          Please share

your thoughts!

Grasp the Silence

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Words, they are every where and they seem to bombard us in every possible way.  Our technology allows us to be connected to one another & to our culture, every hour of every day.  The din and the noise, the wordiness of our world seems to boil up into a raging cacophony that can over whelm, disorient and disconnect us from ourselves, our world and our God.

So, what happens when we turn off our technology…..all of it? What happens when we encounter the ‘sound of silence’. When was the last time you drove your car and you did not listen to the radio?  Where did your mind take you? Were you surprised by your thoughts? Did you encounter your inner noise?  What did it tell you, about you? Often I turn on the technology & embrace the noise because it helps me to escape….what am I escaping from….Me!?

When we encounter silence, how do we understand it? When there is silence in a relationship, what do you do with it?  Often we label it as an ‘awkward silence’ and we fill the void with our own words.  But as we fill the silence with our words, we can easily forget that silence is a profound form of nonverbal communication.  We often interpret the silence through the lens of our own insecurity. At that point I start to wonder if you heard me? did you understand me? did you agree with me? did I upset you? do you like me? am I ok? do you think I am stupid?  My conclusion…..I upset you! I should have kept my mouth shut! You do not like me, I am not ok!

I turn on the radio, I increase the volume…..I cannot handle the messages in the silence!

What happens if we start to embrace silence and we see it as a gateway to connection?  If we sit quietly with another, can it be a form of transcendent intimacy that is transformational? Can our presence be an affirmation?

God calls us into silence & solitude.  As we encounter Him in that place….how do we interpret His silence?  If we interpret it out of our insecurity we might cower & hide.  I would like to suggest that we interpret His silence through the lens of His incredible love. I need to focus on the fact that He made me, He called me, He empowers me, and He allows me to be an agent of His reconciling love in a hurting world.  The messages in the silence do not mean He does not care.  They easily can mean that he cares and he wants to be with me in the intimacy of solitude.

This day, I challenge you to turn off the technology. I challenge you to meet Him in the intimacy of silence.  Allow His love to surround you!

Please journal about your journey into silence & solitude, that you might record what you have learned and experienced.

It would be a courageous blessing, if you would share your insights with us.

Embrace the Adventure!

Yours and His, Dick

True Adventure? Really?

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Not too long ago someone inquired: “Tell me about your greatest adventure.”  I think they wanted to know about far away places and ‘daring do’, that which put me right on the edge of life and death.  Quite quickly I mentally indexed a list of such events and I did not mention one of them.  Why not mention them? Because, I started to think about the dynamics involved in a good adventure and that is where the intrigue lies.  If we just look at events, without understanding dynamics…..one person’s adventure can be another person’s walk in the park.  And this, quite quickly devolves into one story trying to out do another story…. male macho banter.

A good adventure lives at the intersection where excitement and uncertainty/fear meet.  There is something about the situation that challenges us to engage with the totality of who we are….we are totally present to the given moment.  Therefore, we are focused and fully alive!

We also know, deep down, that we may or may not successfully negotiate the situation. We might be a raging success or we might be a total failure.  The potential for success and the potential for complete failure is a significant part of what makes an event an adventure.  It is living into the risk of failure and/or rejection that invites the grandest of all adventures.

At this point, climbing a frozen water fall might be much easier than walking into an AA meeting.  Floating the Grand Canyon might be a paddle on a pond compared to working on your marriage. Helicopter skiing in British Columbia might be a gentle swish in the park compared to teaching a Sunday school class.

So, what allows us to dare greatly? to risk significantly? to embrace life fully?

We must come to realize that our success and/or our failure does not define us.  What defines us and what allows us to live into the adventure of being vibrantly alive is the God who made us.  You see, He made me in His image. He called me into a relationship. As I respond to that call, he indwells me with His spirit. I become an agent of His incomprehensible grace in a hurting world.  I can risk greatly because my inner self is wrapped up in Him!  It is not wrapped up in my performance!

What grand adventure have you been called to undertake?  Does it wake you up early and command all of your attention?  Does it engage you so that you are vibrantly alive?  Are you compelled to dare greatly!

Go for it!!

GIGO: Garbage In/Garbage Out?

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This is a delightful acronym that comes to us via the computer programing world.  It references the concept that the out comes from any computer program are only as valid as the input data.  If we put garbage in, we can only expect that we will be getting garbage out.

As I have contemplated this truth, I have started to see that it applies to all of life. As I look at every aspect of my life, I see this principle at work.

My body is a very sophisticated machine and if I want it to operate well, I need to think about the things that I am putting into it and the things I am doing to it. Today, I am keenly aware that the food I eat, the exercise I do and the sleep I get all affect my energy and my quality of life.  But this truth not only applies to the physical aspect of this machine called; me.  It also applies to the mental, emotional and spiritual aspects of my life and therefore, my well being.  The quality of my life is greatly dependent upon the inputs that I allow into my system.

We have been provided with a growth paradigm.  In Luke 2:52, we are told that Jesus grew in wisdom and stature and in favor with God and man.  As I think about what it means to grow in these four quadrants, I realize that my growth will be dependent upon what I put into my system.  We are encouraged to not allow the world to squeeze us into its mold but to let God remold our minds from within.  How does that happen?  It does not happen without healthy inputs.

To be successful in my growth plan I must learn to edit my inputs.  I must learn to say no to that which will slow me down and keep me from being the person I have been called to be.  I must choose to focus on that which will allow me to move toward excellence, to move toward being vibrantly alive.

Maybe, the critical question for each of us this day: What are we putting into our system?  With what you are putting in, is it reasonable to think that you will be living life to the fullest? What do you need to say No to?  How will this allow you to say yes to the critical inputs that will transform your life into a Hallelujah?

You and I are called to live a life that is a hallelujah, from head to toe.

Go For It!

Dick

toes & knees

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We had not talked in a couple of months and so the conversation started with the standard: “HOW THE HECK ARE YOU DOING?”  For the next 12 minutes he told me about his adolescent kids, his wife’s health, his resigning from his job and  the decision to start a new business. As he took a breath I replied with a “wow, one has to be on their toes to keep up with you.”  His response was classic: “My mother always said she needed to be on her knees to keep up with me.”

Maybe that defines the two positions that we need to master if we are going to deal with life.

“Being on our toes” seems to have its roots in the athletic world.  In order to engage in most athletic endeavors we need to be in the ready position.  A  position of crouched anticipation, with our weight lightly on our toes.  From this stance we are able to move quickly in any direction as we respond to the requirements of the game.  In contrast, to be caught ‘flat footed’ is to be ‘out of position’ and unable to respond to the stimuli of the game.  Life seems to require a nimbleness and agility as we respond to a constantly changing landscape.  In a sense, we always need to be ‘on our toes’.

Yet, ‘being on my knees’ might be the most important position of all.  Being on my knees is the classic position of prayer.  Being on my knees is a position that recognizes at least two critical truths.  One: there is a wonderful, awesome, majestic God who is worthy of my honor and praise.  Two, I am in need of His love and direction.  Without Him, I am nothing.  Yet, with Him I am able to do more than I ever dreamed or imagined.  “I can do everything through him who gives me strength.” (Philippians 4:13)

My conclusion, this day, being on my toes and being on my knees are both very important.  Yet, there is a critical sequencing.  First and foremost, I need to be on my knees so that I can  respond to His leading.  As He leads, I need to be on my toes so that dynamic response might be possible.

I am curious, would your life experience validate the knees>toes sequencing?

Where are you most flat footed in the journey?

Have an awesome day!

In His Grip,

-Dick

Positive Charge=Energy Enhancement

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Who and what are the energy enhancers in your world?

You know them, but maybe you have not identified them.  They are those people that bring a smile to your face and a bounce to your step.  When you see them walking across the parking lot, you quicken your pace to catch them and discover how they are doing and what they are up to.  Invariably, what they are doing is a bit outside the norm and every inch of them seems to be vibrantly alive.  Or, maybe it is a situation/event, that enhances your energy.  A view from a mountain peak,  the sound of rain on the roof, a spectacular sunset, the smell of a wood fire, holding a hand or saying a prayer might be the event that triggers memories and allows you to sense that you are alive & not alone.  Once we start to understand the dynamics of energy enhancement……then we go out of our way to experience the richness of life that comes with such enhancement.

Yet, this raises the question: are you an energy enhancer?  Are you vibrantly alive?  Do you radiate energy?  Are people encouraged because they have encountered you, this day?

I have been wrestling with these questions.  I am convinced that I am called to be a blessing in the lives of others.  I have been blessed in order to be a blessing.  I am convinced that I am called to live with vibrant energy so that I can give that energy away as I encourage others to come alive.

At this point I need to take a serious inventory of my life.  I need to look at my personal disciplines and ask some difficult questions.  Does my personal life style facilitate my being vibrantly alive?  Am I keeping the promises that I have made to myself (personal integrity) and to God?  Am I moving outside my comfort zone so that the Giver of all Gifts might be pleased with my choices and with how I bless others?

Jesus said that he came in order that we might have life and that we might have it abundantly (John10:10).  Do my choices & my attitudes reflect my value system?  Am I an energy enhancer because of the life and energy He has given me?  Do my personal choices amp my energy, for His glory?

Maybe, all of this gets summarized by a bumper sticker that said: “If you feel the joy of the Lord in your heart, why don’t you notify your face?”

Today I choose to give joy!  Today I will enhance the energy of others!

In His grip,

- Dick

Alpine Touring: Climbing with Skis & Skins

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       It was 5:30 in the morning as we unloaded the truck.  The only illumination came from our headlamps as we checked our gear and clicked into our skis.  Quickly we were moving forward and upward with our poles in our hands and our skis on our feet.  It was very cold but we knew that quite soon we would be warm as we ascended from our 9600 ft. starting point.  Uphill, on skis, at this altitude can quickly tax one’s aerobic conditioning and this day was no different.  Yet, as the sun started to lighten the darkness into early morning shadows, we settled into a rhythm that was sustainable and that spoke of progress.  And before too long we were at our 12,500ft. destination.  From this vantage point we could look out over many snow covered peaks and we could bask in the beauty of a new day, in the middle of the Colorado Rockies.

Now all we had to do was take off our climbing skins and descend back down to the valley below.  We had earned out turns!

Later, back in the warmth of a comfortable home, I reflected upon the mini adventure that I had enjoyed.  I reflected upon the incredible playground called the Rocky Mountains & the good health that allowed me to get out and enjoy a morning and I said Thank You!  I also reflected upon  the climbing skins which I had attached to my skis.  These allowed me to slide my skis forward and they kept me from sliding backward.  With these skins on my skis I could take healthy steps forward and I could gain new heights with reasonable safety.

What is it in life that allows us to keep moving forward and moving higher?  What allows us to move to the high ground and gain perspective on the valley below?   I believe it is wrapped up in John 14:20.  It is about Him being in me and my being in Him.  It does not mean I won’t slide backwards, at times.  But it does mean that I can keep moving ahead.  That I can celebrate life!

The Heart Rate Monitor

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The modern heart rate monitor is a wonderful tool. It can tell us how fast our heart is beating at any given moment.  This information can help us to get in the best physical condition of our life.   Knowing our heart rate allows us to monitor our level of physical exertion and this helps us to know if we are training and living in a healthy and wise way.

People normally wear a heart rate monitor when they are trying to get in shape, in order to engage in an athletic endeavor that requires cardio vascular exertion. What is really good about these monitors is that a person can set them to beep when they are below or above their ‘ideal’ training zone.  Therefore, if they train ‘in the zone’ they can make progress with out burning out.  There is another benefit that comes with being in ‘the zone’ for a decent amount of time.  The body starts to create endorphins and endorphins provide a natural high.  This endorphin ‘rush’ can help a person get out of bed and go for it, one more time!

The heart rate monitor, with all of its benefits, has made me wonder, is there a spiritual equivalent?  The Wesleyan believers would always ask one another; “How is it with your soul?”  The answer to that question might reflect the gauge on the Spiritual Heart Rate Monitor (SHRM).  As we try to understand our own SHRM it seems that we need to understand our own sense of joy and our own sense of inner peace.  Yet, these two indexes are very hard to read in the bright lights and noisy environment of our modern culture.  In order to read the index of joy and the index of peace we need to create pockets of silence & solitude.  Silence & solitude is antithetical to our culture and it can be quite unsettling.  Yet I believe, silence & solitude is the only place where we can get the answer to the question: “How is it with your soul?”  It is the only place where we can hear the beep of our personal SHRM and experience the natural high of being in step with Him.

Once we have entered into silence and solitude and we have encountered the question: “How is it with your soul?”, then we are ready to encounter more challenging questions.

The Transforming Center has created this questionnaire and it is quite helpful in helping us dissect and formulate our answers.

www.transformingcenter.org/in/transforming-resources/assessment.shtml.

As you look at your answers, what have you discovered about you and your heart?  How is He leading you to grow your heart and become the person He has designed you to be?  Developing a personal, dynamic, spiritual growth plan might be your most critical project, this day!  Go For It!

The Bumps in the Trail

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What Mountain Bikes can teach us about the Journey of Life

If there is anything I’ve learned living in the great outdoors of Breckenridge, Colorado, it is this: bicycles are fun! Now, you head to a bicycle mecca like Moab and you soon realize that mountain bikes are outrageously fun!

What makes these machines so much fun? You can take them anywhere and roll over most anything. The mountain bike releases the inner child! It puts a smile on anyone’s face.

A significant ingredient in this funfest is the bicycle’s front shock absorber. The front shock smooth’s out the terrain allowing the bike to swallow up obstacles in its path.  A good shock allows the rider to even set the dampening, which determines how quickly the fork absorbs the bumps. It also allows one to set how quickly the fork rebounds, or returns to normal after enduring a bump. These settings stabilize the front of the bicycle and keep the tire in contact with the earth. Contact with the earth allows us to steer a straight line.

It seems that all of us need the help of a good front shock absorber. We need the ability to dampen and absorb the irregularities and bumps of life.  We need the ability to rebound in a way that allows us to maintain control, perspective and traction as we steer through life.

God has given us community, hope, Himself and His word to act as our “front shock.” Life is bumpy; it is unpredictable and often jarring. But with the right shock, we can maintain control. We may still feel the bumps, but our course is not disrupted.

Victor Frankl, writing from a Nazi concentration camp, said, “everything could be taken from a person except their ability to choose how they will respond to the present moment.”

How we respond to this day will be dictated by the belief system we embrace. Our beliefs become the shock absorbers that allow us to navigate life and put a smile on our face.

This day, I would like you to test-drive the belief found in Romans 8: “Nothing can separate us from the Love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

Have an awesome day! May you absorb, rebound and stay on the path.

In His Grip, 

Dick