Follow Through

Sunday, January 30, 2011

When is the last time you heard or saw something that was really incredible? When is the last time you had a “jaw dropping” experience? Last week my jaw dropped when I saw the video of an accident that could have gone terribly wrong. During a performance by the acrobatic team Verve Sol Patrol at the Phoenix Suns game, team member Nick Corrales made the ultimate slam dunk. Not only did the basketball go through the hoop, but Nick accidentally did also. You have to see it to believe it! Click on the arrow in the video link above.

Nick’s training as a gymnast helped get him through the mishap and as a result, he was not seriously injured. He didn’t plan to go through the hoop, but he was in motion and moving at such speed that he allowed his body to follow his head. He credits his agility and quick thinking for his daring shimmy. He didn’t fight the direction of his motion. He didn’t change his trajectory. He threw himself in all the way. He stayed the course, and he came out the other side unscathed.
This illustration gives new meaning to “follow through,” doesn’t it!

What would have happened to Nick if he had fought the direction of his motion? What if he had changed his trajectory? What if he didn’t follow through? Would he have been injured? Would the next team member have collided into him? Nick’s follow through may have prevented injury.

How is your follow through? Have you ever started down a course in your life in full motion only to get sidetracked? Have you ever veered off the path of your life or changed your trajectory?

Christ calls us to keep our eyes fixed on him. He wants to be the focus of our trajectory. He wants us to stay on his path. We know that Christ wants us to follow him, but how is our follow through? The Psalmist advises us to be steadfast as we follow God.

Let your eyes look straight ahead;
fix your gaze directly before you.
Give careful thought to the[a] paths for your feet
and be steadfast in all your ways.
Do not turn to the right or the left;
keep your foot from evil.
Psalm 4:25-27 (NIV)

When we truly follow him, we’ll have good follow through!

Change with Benefits

Monday, January 24, 2011

Having served as a Change Coach for five years, I learned a great deal about the process of change. For many people, change is associated with loss. In order to bring about effective change, the coach must show the benefits of change.

Have you ever considered the change that many of the early Christians must have experienced? Many of them had been Jews, and Jesus introduced a change in nearly every aspect of their lives – their worship, their laws, their relationships, their daily living.

The Jews knew a distant, unspeakable God. Jesus introduced a personal God.
Jews referred to God asYahweh, yet they didn’t even speak his name. Jesus called him Abba, Father. Jews followed very strict worship instructions:
Bring only a spotless lamb to the tabernacle.
Do not touch the Ark.
Do not look at it or you will die.
Always let smoke cover the ark.
Never enter the Most Holy Place.
Only the High Priest could enter the Most Holy Place once a year. He would fasten a rope around his ankle with a bell on it. If he died, someone could drag him out. Jesus introduced a personal form of worship. He introduced an approachable God.

How do you think the Jews adjusted to the changes that Jesus brought? How do think their balance was affected?

The Jews followed the laws of the Ten Commandments and tenets of the Mosaic laws. They cited the wisdom of the rabbis who had gone before them. When Jesus, who had never attended a rabbinical seminary, came on the scene, he challenged the authority of the rabbis. He didn’t dwell on the hundreds of commandments found in the Jewish law. Instead, he offered simple principles for living. We read in scripture Jesus said, “You’ve heard it said…, but I say to you…”

Matthew 5:43-44
43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,

Matthew 22:37-40
37 Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

New followers of Jesus had to make many adjustments to the progress that Jesus brought. They established new priorities and as a result, many of them were imprisoned or stoned.

Those early Christians were what we call innovators or early adopters. How grateful we are for those men and women who embraced the change that Jesus offered! They took a risk. They trusted in Jesus and just think about the benefits of that change!

What can we learn about adjusting to change by studying the lives of these early Christians? When we fully give our lives to Christ, we too experience change. Are you willing to experience the change that Jesus brings? It comes with great benefits!

Feast of Blessings

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

I have hosted Christmas Dinner for my family for the last twenty-five years. It’s been a wonderful tradition that I love. I enjoy decorating the tables, coordinating the menu with the family, and creating a festive atmosphere. I get a kick out of creating games and word puzzles for us to experience during and after the meal.

This year was different. Our city experienced a beautiful white Christmas! Because I live in a hilly and curvy part of the city, driving was hazardous. We decided it would be safer for our family to have dinner at my parents’ home instead of mine. My mother and I scrambled to get everything ready and were able to pull off a lovely meal.

When I was able to return home, I saw my beautifully decorated tables ready to receive the family. Food was in the pantry or the refrigerator ready to be consumed. I experienced a melancholy moment. My disappointment can’t compare to the disappointment our Heavenly Father must feel when we don’t show up for the banquet he has spread for us. Jesus offers us a feast of blessings. He wants us to dine at his table and enjoy all the blessings he has in store for us. How many times do we just not show up at his table? Do we miss out on his blessings because we don’t make it to the banquet? Or do we not feast in his kingdom because there are barriers between us and God? Is a past hurt, an unforgiving spirit, a judgmental attitude, or sinful pride keeping you from feasting at his table?

“Blessed is the one who will eat at the feast in the kingdom of God.” Luke 14:15.

Let us enjoy all the blessings he has for us by “coming before his presence.”

Wheel of Life

Monday, January 10, 2011

The Wheel of Life gives you a vivid representation of the way your life is currently, compared to the way you'd ideally like it to be. It is called the "wheel of life" because each area of your life is mapped in a circle, like the spoke of a wheel. The Wheel of Life helps you consider each area of your life in turn and assess what's off balance. Each "spoke" is important because it represents one of the core aspects of every human being: mind, body, and spirit. When we find balance in all areas of life, then we can truly experience the peace of God.

Now may the peace of God make you holy in every way, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless until our Lord Jesus Christ comes again. I Thessalonians 5:23

View and print the Wheel of Life by clicking on the following link:

Do the following exercise to determine how balanced your life is. Find a starting place and ask yourself these questions.
How satisfied am I in this area of my life?
Are my activities in this area fulfilling?
Rank the aspect on a scale between 1 and 10.
"1" means you are not at all satisfied or fulfilled in this aspect.
"10" means you are satisfied or fulfilled in this aspect.
Place a dot on the line corresponding to each aspect. "1" is at the center of the circle. "10" is on the outer fringe of the circle.

Follow the same procedure for each "spoke." When you have marked each "spoke," draw a circle by connecting each dot.

How does your wheel look? Is it a balanced wheel? If your wheel were on a bike, how would it ride? Would it be wobbly or smooth?

The goal is to bring all the areas to about the same level, so it is in balance.

Which "spoke" needs some attention to reduce wobbling?

There are a lot of considerations when we start to balance our lives.

  • figure out what is NOT working.
  • determine how it got that way.
  • work on how to fix it.
Developing a balanced life is a process that takes PLANING and INTENTIONAL living. Learn the power of one. To get started, select one area that is out of balance and decide on one intentional act to move your toward your goal of balanced living. For example, if you're out of balance in the "contribution" aspect, select one act of kindness to perform this week. If you're out of balance in the "friends" aspect, invite someone special to lunch next week.

God wants us to live a balanced life and will show us how to live abundantly if we let him be our guide!

Let you moderation be known to all men. Philippians 4:5a.

Balanced Wheels

Monday, January 3, 2011

Have you ever driven a car when the wheels were out of balance? A clue that you have a balance problem is vibration. In fact, when my wheels were out of balance, the car vibrated so much, I thought the tires were going to fall off! It was hard to steer the car and keep it going toward my destination. It’s good to know some symptoms of a wheel that is out of balance:
• Vibration in the steering wheel when the car reaches certain speeds.
• Vibrations in the seat or floorboard at certain speeds.
• Wear patterns on the tires.

When wheels are balanced, the tires and wheels spin without causing any vibrations. To balance the wheels, mechanics check for heavy spots on the tire and place measured lead weight on the opposite (balanced) side of the heavy spot.

Do you ever feel so out of balance that your wheels are going to fall off? We experience vibrations of another sort. If a "spoke" of your wheel of life is out of balance, you'll have a hard time reaching your God-given destination. What are the symptoms of a life out of balance?

Are you too busy?
Have you put off planning for your future?
Do you struggle with time management?
Are you battling stress?
Do you suffer from low self-esteem?
Do you have a sense of hopelessness or despair?
Are your finances out of control?
Have you given up on developing your mind or intellect?
Are you living without the benefit of friends and community?
Is your health affected by bad choices?
Is your prayer or devotional life shallow?
Are you suffering from lack of intimacy in any of your relationships?
Have you gone for an extended time without a vacation?
Have you forgotten to take time to “smell the roses?”
Are you underutilizing your potential?
Are you overindulging in any area (eating, spending, etc.)?
Are you ignoring good nutritional or fitness practices?
Have you given in to worry?
Have you failed to contribute to others through service, volunteering, or financial donations?
Are you more consumed with self than others?
Have you left prayer, meditation, and Bible reading out of your daily practice?

If you answer yes to any of the following questions, your have a "spoke" out of balance.
Developing a balanced life is a process that takes planning and intentional living. To get started, use the power of one. Select one area that is out of balance and decide on one intentional action to move you toward your goal of balanced living. If you’re out of balance in the area of “contribution,” select one act of kindness to perform this week. If you’ve neglected your devotional life, make a plan to read one meditation each day.

God wants us to live a balanced life and will show us how to live abundantly if we let him be our guide.

Now may the God of peace make you holy in every way, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless until our Lord Jesus Christ comes again.
I Thessalonians 5:23

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