Lead Well: 5 Ways to Best Face the Challenge of Life

My son, if sinners entice you, do not consent. If they say, “Come with us, let us lie in wait for blood; let us ambush the innocent without reason; like Sheol let us swallow them alive, and whole, like those who go down to the pit; we shall find all precious goods, we shall fill our houses with plunder; throw in your lot among us; we will all have one purse”– my son, do not walk in the way with them; hold back your foot from their paths [Proverbs 1:10-15]

Life is a challenge. I would go as far to say that life is one long test. Things go well, things don’t go so well. Good days and other days.

I have made big mistakes which have had little or no impact on me, while other smaller, daft ones, have had the potential to cause major consequences. You just don’t know sometimes.

The challenge then becomes about protect yourself. To protect your future. To protect the God-given future. It doesn’t mean doing nothing and taking no risks. Verses like these in Proverbs have helped me to create some non-negotiables for how I travel, make decisions and walk with God through life.

Do not consent. Stay strong. Learn to say NO. There are some things which I should just not agree to.

Be alert to ambush. Keep an eye out for what’s going on around you. Call them boundaries, guardrails, whatever. Put them in place, they will keep you from getting caught out.

Stay away from the place of danger. Don’t go to those places where temptation may be too strong. It’s too easy to justify our behaviour sometimes but ultimately it only hurts us.

The crowd is not always right. This may be the message of the world but we are not meant to just go with the way of the world. It doesn’t matter everyone else is doing it or even that society says it’s ok. Do what is right because it is the right thing to do.

Hold back when appropriate. Take a moment. Look. Really look. Fools do rush in. It can be difficult but learn to wait for Gods lead.

All with the power of the Holy Spirit helping you too. This is the adventure of leading well in life. Go for it!

Would you add anything else to the list of non-negotiables?

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For When You Are Feeling ‘Off’

I am feeling a little off today. The words of this Psalm then are the necessary uncomfortable reminder that is sometimes needed.

Am I making too much out of nothing?
Am I so focused on myself that I am forgetting to focus on the one who made me?
Am I forgetful of the friendship of God?
Am I allowing troubles to become enlarged in my heart?

Am I truly trusting God in everything?

I can reason one way or another but I don’t think that’s the point. It’s too petty and too selfish. I think I’m made to be bigger and better than that. One thing I do know is that I don’t know so much. Both I and others are often wrong, isn’t it how we respond in those times that matters most.

In You I trust Lord, don’t let me be put to shame [v2]

Maybe that right there is my fear, above all others. Never really thought of myself as insecure person, yet this might just be it. I don’t want to be put to shame. To be misunderstood. To be thought wrong of.

I trust God, despite myself. Perhaps I get in my own way when it comes to complete trust, no one else can, unless I afford them that opportunity. After all, if I am shamed, God has me.

In the midst of this strange feeling I look to the Lord. It is always the best place to go. When I am stuck and confused on how to find release or when the melancholy grows and the puzzle only becomes larger, I am earnest in my seeking Him, leaning on Him, and remembering my life verse in Matthew 6:33 ’Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.’ 

So hear is my prayer, maybe a little like David wrote…

Don’t let me be put to shame. Instead Lord, make me know Your ways. Teach me Your ways. Lead me in Your ways. Forgive me. Help me stay humble. Preserve me.

My eyes are ever toward the LORD, for he will pluck my feet out of the net. Turn to me and be gracious to me, for I am lonely and afflicted. The troubles of my heart are enlarged; bring me out of my distresses. Consider my affliction and my trouble, and forgive all my sinsOh, guard my soul, and deliver me! Let me not be put to shame, for I take refuge in you. [Psalm 25:15-18, 20]

What Has My Attention?

How easy it can be to focus on the wrong things. Stuff catches our attention and then before we know, it has a hold on us.

Those recurring thoughts don’t have to be very big to feel big.

The small situations in life can easily become massive obstacles that seem insurmountable.

A little word can become large in the imagination if given room to grow.

The challenge for us all is to ensure we give focus to the good in our lives. I know and understand like the rest of us how difficult this can be when we are in tough times, have issues to work out, are feeling lonely, hurt or confused.

All I can do is encourage you that even though all these things may be happening, we should be doing our utmost in the midst of them to keep looking up, to keep looking to the Lord and to hone in on the best of all that God is doing in our life right now.

I know it can be easier said that done but here’s the reminder that sometimes we need ~ don’t give the devil any room, to tell you that things will never improve, that this is as good as it gets, that God isn’t really interested in you and your future. Remember he is the father of lies and that all he is about is wanting to deceive us.

This scripture comes to mind… ‘Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honourable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things’.  (‭Philippians‬ ‭4‬:‭8‬ ESV)

What has your attention? Let it be these things. It can take some effort, some digging on part when the other stuff is easier to see but God is always at work. The rewards of what may need to be a very deliberate choice will bring its reward. Peace. Harmony. God on your side. A place to flourish

What you have learned and received and heard and seen…practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you. (Philippians 4:9 ESV)

Don’t Go Under

We have always been patient, though we have had a lot of trouble, suffering, and hard times. We have been beaten, put in jail, and hurt in riots. We have worked hard and have gone without sleep or food. But we have kept ourselves pure and have been understanding, patient, and kind. The Holy Spirit has been with us, and our love has been real. We have spoken the truth, and God’s power has worked in us. In all our struggles we have said and done only what is right. (‭2 Corinthians‬ ‭6‬:‭4-7‬ CEV)

I like the picture that Paul paints in respect of his approach to life. He had a different perspective that helped him.

Trouble, suffering, hard times, beaten, put in jail, hurt, hard work, sleepless nights, going without food. His story was challenging to say the least.

BUT!!

Got to love a good BUT!!

It shows how Paul lived, despite difficult times. He had already decided he would not go under. Nothing was going to knock him off the path of living for Jesus since the day he was knocked off his donkey and met Jesus for the first time.

BUT in purity, understanding, patience, kindness, the power of the Holy Spirit, love and truth. This were the things already set as the governing values for his life, with Jesus at the centre.

Paul was not going under because he had a different perspective. He had prepared himself for what would come his way. He lived in the wide-open space, surrounded by the promises of God.

The best news is that if we live this way, we can have the same confidence and experience too.

Strengthen Yourself

King David knew what it was to experience anguish. In 1 Samuel 30 things are going horribly wrong, all their loved ones and belongings have been taken. Times were pretty desperate.

Two things I thought when I observed this scenario. Firstly – it’s alright to wail and weep to the point of exhaustion. Yet it doesn’t mean we stay there. In verse 6 we see a shift for David. It tells us that he even though he was distressed that he ‘strengthened himself in the Lord his God’.

Second thought – I have to know how to strengthen myself in the Lord our God. It’s my responsibility to stay strong in the Lord.

For me that means being aware, at all times, of who He is. It means positioning myself to hear the whispers from God. To learn to catch those words that bring light in to those darkest of moments.

How do you strengthen yourself?

Time to Switch Off?

I’m looking forward to my holiday very soon. Time to be with my family, to go to the beach, to refresh my soul, to read some books. It’s an important thing, taking a break.

But here’s the challenge. I need to switch off BUT not switch off.
It’s okay to turn the laptop off.
It’s expected that I will not respond to emails.
I may not even twitter.

So…one thing I will not switch off from is God. Lots of people do. Holiday mode kicks in so all the spiritual disciplines get switched off. DANGEROUS. Just because I’m holiday doesn’t mean I shouldn’t hang out with God too – in fact I might get more time. Plus it’s not NEED driven I can be with God…just because I can.

I’m so thankful that God doesn’t switch off for me.
That he doesn’t go on vacation but that He is ALWAYS there.
I will enjoy my time away, I will come back refreshed but I hope I keep that sense of God being with me.

I think this is more of a reminder to myself but please don’t switch off from God just because it’s holiday time.

How Strong Are Your Principles?

Interesting the words that Job uses during the dialogue with his ‘friends’.

He stands his ground.
He does not compromise despite their well-intentioned comments.
He certainly doesn’t blame God.
He will not admit to wrong that he knows he has not done.

Job 17:9: ‘But principled people hold tight, keep a firm grip on life, sure that their clean, pure hands will get stronger and stronger!’ (Message)

Hold tight – to your words, to your thoughts, to your principles. Easy to know God in the great times but faith enables us to hold tight through the tough times too.

Keep a firm grip – don’t let go of the knowledge that Jesus said he came to give us life, an abundant life. In circumstances like that which Job was experiencing, you need to be determined to ‘keep a firm grip on life’ and not give up.

Get stronger and stronger – staying humble before God, holding on to your principles, keeping hold of God will make you stronger even in times of weakness. ‘Let the weak say I am strong’, God is our strength in times of weakness…the challenge is remembering this.

Make Space for What God Can Do

Was reminded this morning that God needs us to make space for him to move. Isaiah 54:2 tells us to ‘enlarge, to stretch, to not hold back, to lengthen and to strengthen’. Believing God for BIG things usually involves all these.

The key is to LENGTHEN the cords and then STRENGTHEN your stakes.

Both elements are important.
If you do not strengthen then you might snap.
You were designed to lengthen, to increase your capacity in God but not without learning how to strengthen that growth. Establish it, make it good, make it long lasting not just for a moment.