THE PAUSE THAT REFRESHES

In the last few weeks I have been involved in an intentional “Pause That Refreshes.”
If you are as old as I am, you may remember an old slogan used by Coca-Cola.
They called Coke “the pause that refreshes”
Well, that is what I have been doing – pausing
And, that is not as easy as one may think because we live in a very busy world and have a large number of daily demands and obligations that need to be taken care of
iPhone, Facetime, Skype, Viber, Whatsapp, Messenger, iMessage, Emails
So, pushing the pause button on life is never an easy thing to accomplish and must be something we intentionally do once every while
In my life I have been taking time to let my ‘thinking catch up to my feelings’
That is the short season I am in currently as I adjust my life and grow into the challenges and changes that I will soon be facing
And sort through the changes and experiences and circumstances of the last three or four months
In these intentional pauses we settle things on the inside
For me it like I have all these things twilling around inside slapping me hard in the heart and mind as they go by and so the ‘pause that refreshes’ is a time to reflect, think, feel, sort, and assimilate (file things into my memory bank) so that they stop flapping in the breeze
Here is what I was taught many decades ago
Learning to pause allows growth to catch up with you
“Follow effective action with quiet reflection. From the quiet reflection will come even more effective action”  Peter Drucker
There are many different ways of growing and an infinite number of lessons to be learned in life
But to really learn ‘life lessons’ and thus grow  – a person must intentionally pause to allow the Holy Spirit to bring things together so that we gain wisdom from our experiences
And, not just have experiences for the sake of experiences
Bishop Bompas … Anglican bishop in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s, while travelling from the east to Athabasca to establish the Church was moving with his First Nations guides and helpers at a terrific pace day after day after day
From early morning to long after sunset every day.
One day he woke up and was ready to move out and the helpers refused to go…
When Bishop Bompas asked why, they replied, “We need to pause and let our souls catch up with us”
The “pause that refreshes”
There are many ways to grow and mature as people and as believers
But there are some kinds of growth that come to us ONLY if we are willing to stop, pause, and allow the lessons to catch up with us
Let’s talk about these intentional “pauses that refresh”
Here are my observations concerning the power of the pause and how taking time to reflect can help you to grow…
1> Reflection turns experience into insight
For over 2,000 years, people have been saying that ‘experience is the best teacher’
According to one expert, the earliest recorded version of this saying came from Roman Emperor Julius Caesar who wrote, “Experience is the teacher of all things.”
I disagree with that statement
Experience is not the best teacher. Evaluated experience is!
The only reason Caesar was able to make that claim was because he had learned much by reflecting on his life and writing about it … He had spent time evaluating his experiences in life
Let’s admit it, people have innumerable experiences every day, and many learn nothing from them
Because they never take the time to pause and reflect on those experiences
That is why it is so important to intentionally pause and let your understanding catch up with you
Personally, I am intentionally taking time to “let my thinking catch up with my feelings” so that I can gain fresh, new insights into myself, my relationships, my ministry (work) … and changes that I need to be making
2> Everyone needs a time and a place to pause
I have yet to meet a person who doesn’t benefit from pausing and reflecting
Stopping to reflect is one of the most valuable activities people can do to learn, to grow to mature, and to make positive changes in their life
Stopping to reflect is much more valuable than even motivation or encouragement
Pausing allows you to make sure that you are on the right track
If someone is going down the wrong road, he doesn’t need motivation or encouragement to speed up
He needs to stop, reflect, and change course getting back on the right track
I believe we need to identify or even create a ‘thinking place”
A place where you can get away from busy life and “pause to reflect” and be refreshed
If you create such a place and schedule time to use it – you are more likely to actually push the pause button and use it
Life Markers – Life Makers
Most people are fairly busy – even retired people often find themselves being busier than when they worked full-time
We rush from place to place, from event to event …trying to accomplish things
Along the way we have certain experiences that are life markers
You go to a place, are part of an event, meet a person, experience a major relational change that marks you for life – changes you because something important happened
These life markers identify for you a time of transition, change, or transformation
But, if we don’t take the time to “pause and reflect”, we can miss the significance of the event
“The Pause That Refreshes” allows those experiences to move from being life markers to life makers
If we pause to allow growth to catch up with us
If we stop for a bit to let our souls catch up with us
If we take time to let our thinking catch up with our feelings
We better understand what has really happened
We see what God is trying to teach us
We understand the significance of what has happened
We implement changes and course corrections in our journey
And thus we have ‘life makers’ and we experience life and experience it in abundance because we took time out, paused, and reflected
Life Markers (major experiences) can become Life Makers if….
3> Pauses with intention expands and enriches thinking
As I read biographies and autobiographies of people who have had an impact on the world
Political – – business – – cultural – – spiritual world
Virtually in every case, they spent a considerable amount of time alone thinking and reflecting
Solitude – exploring their feelings and thoughts
Solitude – exploring their ideas and experiences
Time alone allows you to sort through your experiences, put them into perspective, and plan for the next steps in life that you need to take
I encourage you to find a place to think and to disciple yourself to pause and use it
It has the potential to change your life
It will help you to sort out what is really important and what isn’t
4> When you take time to pause, use your I’s…
When you take time to pause and reflect – to let your thinking catch up with your feelings – there are really three basic directions your thinking can go…
A> Investigation
There’s a corny old joke about two guys who have been given the job of cleaning out the stable
They are up to their ankles in horse manure, and one says to the other, “There must be a horse around here somewhere.”
Yes. There must be a horse…
Some things are obvious and don’t require a pause to reflect and figure things out
Others require a person to play detective and investigate
The great scientist Galileo said, “All truths are easy to understand once they are discovered. The point is to discover them. That takes investigation.”
Pausing means more than just slowing down to smell the roses
It means stopping and really figuring them out
That means asking questions .. .we will look at them in a few minutes
The thing to remember is that continual growth from experiences is only possible when we discover insights and truths within them
That takes investigation
B> Incubation
Incubation is taking an experience of life and putting it into the slow cooker of your mind to simmer for a while
It is very similar to meditation
When you meditate, you listen to God’s Word and listen for His voice
When you incubate, you are listening to your feelings and your thoughts
Listening and learning and thus changing
Sometimes experiences and feelings remain in the slow cooker for a length of time before you reach the next step
C> Illumination
I spend time each day – usually late in the evening – playing back the events for the day
What did I accomplish?
How am I feeling?
Did I do my best?
Who did I speak with?
Who did I connect to?
Did I possibly wound anyone during the day by my words or actions?
Is there some follow-up required?
What did I learn about myself?
What do I need to change?
I am settling things down, thinking them through, sorting and filing – assimilating them into my “life experience” file folder … a small, daily pause that refreshes
This is what  “illumination” is all about –
But remember, some events and “life markers” need to sit and soak for a longer time … the intentional “pause that refreshes” … before they become “life makers” in time
So more than a one night thought flashing through your mind or a quick feeling remembered in your emotions
These longer “pause that refreshes” lead to “aha” moments in your life
Those epiphanies when you experience deep realization or insight
It is when the proverbial lightbulb turns on
Few things are more rewarding than such moments
I find that I experience moments of illumination only after I spend time investigating an idea and then allowing it to incubate for a period of time
And, it is always worth taking the time to pause and reflect because then the lights turn on
Good questions are the heart of reflection
When you take “the pause that refreshes” you need to ask yourself questions
Whenever I am thinking and reflecting and I feel like I have hit a roadblock, it is time to ask myself questions
If I am spotting an insight into myself and can’t quite grab hold of it, I ask myself questions
If I am seeing something that needs to change in my life, I ask myself questions
I spend a lot of time  in my life asking myself questions and that is a good thing
If you want too experience regular and steady personal growth – I cannot overemphasize the importance of asking good questions during your times of pausing and reflecting
Only you can know which question to ask
The question to ask must be tailored to the situation
The question to ask will be unique to your personality
The question to ask will be connected to where you are at currently
The key to asking good questions is to have a great grasp on who you are > self-awareness
To be personally aware of your strengths and weaknesses
To know yourself well so that your “pause that refreshes” becomes valuable and useful
So, let’s end this teaching with a series of questions I have asked and answered that helped me to develop personal self-awareness …
1> What is my biggest asset?
In my life, the learned ability to take one day at a time and not worry or be anxious
Jesus said, “Refuse to worry about tomorrow, but deal with each challenge that comes your way, one day at a time. Tomorrow will take care of itself.”  (Matthew 6:34 – The Passion Translation)
KJV “Sufficient are the evil of today for today”
Maybe for you it is your “attitude” towards life…
2> What is my biggest liability?
In my life, I believe in people too much and that leads me to expect too much from them that then leads to disappointment and frustration
I see the potential and focus on that … and am often (usually) disappointed
Maybe for you it is that you don’t believe in yourself
Maybe you have unrealistic expectations of others or even of yourself
Maybe you are passive and lethargic
3> What is my highest high?
In my life, I get the greatest kick seeing people reach for their potential and fulfilling the prophetic words spoken over them
Romans 4:17 “… calling things that are not as if they were”
Maybe in your life it is leading someone to Christ
Maybe it is finally defeating a bad habit or truly forgiving someone
4> What is my lowest low?
In my life, it is watching family members making mistakes and knowing I could have helped them avoid the mistake IF they had only asked
Maybe in your life it is your family members not walking with Jesus
Maybe it is when you disappoint yourself doing or not doing something when you know better
5> What is my most worthwhile emotion?
In my life, it is commitment. You would know it as love.
We live at our best when we love what we do, love our friends and family, even love our enemies … and, of course, love God with our whole heart
Matthew 22:37 “Love the Lord your God with all of your heart…”
In your life maybe your most worthwhile emotion is satisfaction from a job well done
Maybe it is feeling understood by those who are closet to you
6> What is my least-worthwhile emotion?
In my life, the least attractive emotion is feeling sorry for myself (self-pity)
Happens when I am really tired and can’t have the food being served
Happens when I am tired and feeling used and abused in a ministry situation
In your life it might be being misunderstood
7> What is my best habit?
In my life, it is the habit of reading books and the Bible daily regardless and recording what I am learning in an electronic journal
Maybe in your life it is eating correcting and exercising daily
8> What is my worst habit?
In my life, it is impatience with people who know better and still do stupid and even harmful things to themselves and to relationships … Repeating the same thing over and over again hoping for different results
Maybe in your life it is being the center of your own universe with no room for others in your heart
9> What is most fulfilling to me?
In my life, the thing I enjoy doing most is teaching and leading people who are really hungry and willing to pay the price to grow
Mentoring people who are called of God to accomplish big things for theKingdom – and who know it and are actively pursing it
Maybe in your life…
10> What do I prize most highly?
In my life I value nothing as highly as I do my faith – it forms my values, guides my actions, it is foundational too my teaching ministry, it is my source and my security
Having faith and knowing its value in my life helps me to have a divine perspective every day otherwise I easily get off course
Maybe in your life…
These ten questions are ones I actually ask myself to prompt myself to reflect and to help me to grow in the area of self-awareness.
They help me to pause, focus, and learn about who I am and what changes are happening or should be happening
They help me in my ‘becoming” the person God created me to be
Conclusion:
All of this probably sounds like a lot of steps and a lot of trouble as well as a lot of work
You are right, it is
That is why most people never do it
But it is worth every bit of effort you put into it
The farther you go in life, the more critical it is that you take the time to pause and reflect
The older you are, the less time you have to stay on purpose and do the things you were created to do
But the good news is: If you have been diligent in your efforts to grow along the way, you will be better equipped to fulfill that purpose, even if it requires you to make significant changes or course corrections
Never forget that your goal is personal self-awareness and personal growth to fulfill God’s plan and purpose for your life
The purpose is to reach your God-given potential
To do that, you need to keep pausing, keep asking questions, and keep growing every day
Extra material:
You can ask questions of yourself in any area that you are examining and wanting to change…
For example, if you want to grow in the area of relationships, you could ask the following questions …
Do I value people?
Do people know I value them?
How do I show it?
Am I a ‘plus’ or a ‘minus’ in my most important relationships?
What evidence do I have to confirm my opinion?
What is the love language of the people I love?
How can I serve them?
Do I need to forgive someone in my life who needs to be given grace?
Who in my life should I take the time to thank?
Who in my life should be receiving more of my time?
Or if you want to pause and think about where you are in the area of personal growth, you could ask yourself the following:
Do I know what areas of my personal life that I need to focus on and grow in?
Which one should I work on first?
Is there someone who can help me to grow in this area? (friend, author, family)
Am I growing daily?
What am I doing daily to grow?
How am I growing?
What are the roadblocks that are keeping me from growing?
What are the breakthroughs I need to keep growing?
What were the potential learning moments I experienced today, and did I seize them?
Am I passing on to someone what I am learning?
What you want to accomplish in this stage of your life… And, where you are in your journey
Will determine what areas you most need to pause and think about today, asking the questions that need to be asked
And, you should write down both the questions and the answers! Why?
Because you will discover that what you think after you write the answer is different from what you thought before you wrote it
Writing helps you to discover what you truly know, think, and believe and record it for future reference

Faith-Fueled

This past weekend I was in Manitoba ministering

I went on faith, not feelings – did not feel like going
Spiritually – emotionally – mentally not in the best space
Working through big picture ‘life’  … 50 years to the day of the first time I preached
Normally the trip involves 6 or 7 days
Boiled it down to two days removing everything else
I went “by faith” because God told me many decades ago, “Never ask for a speaking engagement, never say no when asked”

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THE FOUNDATION OF FAITH

Hebrews 11:1-2, 6 “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. For by it the people of old received their commendation … And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.”
Last week we looked at:
Having faith
Being faith-filled
Being faith-fueled

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Is It The Right Time?

Over a decade ago I heard a prophetic word from a recognized international prophet that I was to write a book. I was busy pastoring and church planting. So, I put the word to one side and thought that I would do it later, probably much later. Several years after that the same prophet was back in the network of churches I relate to and prophetically spoke a number of things over my life – including that I was to write books. That’s ‘book’ but plural. My reaction? I went up to him and said, “What do you mean books?” I don’t have the time to write even one book – the one you first prophesied over me. Now you are saying ’books’.” I was not happy. 

Did I start writing? No! I was busy ministering. Then a few years later as I was flying home from overseas the Lord spoke to me at 36,000 feet above the Atlantic Ocean. He said that writing a book or books was not taking time away from my ministry. Writing books was part of my ministry and He would make the time for it to happen. I made the decision right then to begin preparations to write books. The desire to write was released. I decided to write the books.

Did it happen? Not yet. You see, often we miss God’s best for us because we think “it is not the right time to begin.”

John Maxwell tells the story about his childhood. His father’s favourite riddle to them went like this: Five frogs were sitting on a long. Four decided to jump off. How many are left? John goes on to say, the first time his father asked him that, he answered “one.” His father responded, no, there were still five. Why? Because there’s a difference between deciding and doing!

So, I had decided but that is not the same as actually doing it. I just kept thinking, “It is just not the right time. I am so busy…”

Then I read this the other day. “The longer you wait to do something you should do now, the greater the odds that you will never actually do it.” Oh, how true! At least in my life.

So, now is the right time to start growing and developing in this new field of work and ministry. I have done more than decide. I am now intentionally doing.

Maybe you have something you know you need to do or should be doing. And, the pressure is building. But, you are still making excuses including suggesting that it is not the right time to begin. Well, it is time to stop procrastinating and move forward in your life. Now is the time to accept the next challenge and start growing even if you feel that you are not ready. Don’t wait until tomorrow. 

Author and professor Leo Buscaglia asserted, “Life lived for tomorrow will always be a day away from being realized.” The reality is that you will never get much done unless you go ahead and do it before you are ready. If you are not already intentionally growing, you need to get started today. If you don’t, you may reach some goals, which you can celebrate, but you will eventually plateau. Once you start growing intentionally, you can keep growing and keep asking, “What’s next.”

It is always the right time to be intentional about accepting the next challenge and growing into it as you move forward in faith.

A Sense Of Direction

Do you have a sense of direction? Any person who wants to grow as a person but doesn’t know himself will fail to accomplish any growth as a person. To grow you must know yourself: your strengths and weaknesses, your interests and opportunities. You must be able to gauge not only where you’re been, but also where you are now. Otherwise you cannot set a course for where you want to go, And, of course, every time you want to learn something, you must be able to take the new thing you’ve learned today and build upon what you learned yesterday to keep growing. That’s the only way to gain traction and keep improving yourself.

To reach you potential, you must know where you want to go and where you currently are. Without both of those pieces of information, you’re liable to get lost. Knowing yourself is like reading “You Are Here” on a map when you want to find you way to a destination.

I have observed that there’re really only three kinds of people when it comes to having direction and thus purpose in life.

1> People who do not know what they would like to do

These people are often CONFUSED. They lack a strong sense of purpose. They don’t possess a sense of direction for their lives. If they are growing, they are unfocused about it. They dabble. They drift. They can’t reach their potential because they have no idea what to shoot for; what direction to go in.

2> People who know what they would like to do but don’t do it

These people are usually FRUSTRATED. Every day they experience the gap between where they are and where they want to be. Sometimes they aren’t doing what they want because they worry that it will cause them to neglect other responsibilities, such as providing for their family. Sometimes they aren’t willing to pay the price to learn, grow, and move closer to where they want to be. Other times fear prevents them from changing course to pursue their passion. No matter what the reason, they, too, miss their potential.

3> People who know what they would like to do and do it

The third kind of people know themselves, possess a strong sense of passion, are focused on purpose, grow in areas that help them move closer to their purpose, and do what they were created to do. The word that best describes them is FULFILLED.

Most people fall into the first category. They don’t know what they want to do. I believe the main reason is that they don’t know themselves as well as they should, and thus remain unfocused in their growth – if they grow personally at all. 

Knowing yourself isn’t necessarily an easy thing for everyone to do. What makes finding themselves and growing to their potential difficult for some people is that it can be a bit of catch 22. You have to know who you are to grow to your potential. But you have to grow in order to know who you are. So what’s the solution? Explore yourself as you explore growth.

The way to start is to pay attention to your passions. In my life my passion is to teach and mentor young men, raising them up into the calling that God has on their lives and releasing them to accomplish their purpose in the Kingdom. This involves four areas represented by the word REAL: relationships, equipping, attitude, and leadership. My passion led to my growth. But then my growth led to my passion as I discovered my love for and ability to mentor the next generation of apostles and prophets. That continues to be a major focus of my life and ministry even today after 40 years. 

So, self-awareness is the key to growing, changing, finding one’s passion and purpose, and then moving from where you are to where you should be and need to be to live fulfilled and on purpose.  

A Good Mentor

A major theme in my life is the desire to add value to people and make a difference in their lives. One of the ways this happens is in a mentoring relationship (see yesterday’s blog – “Christians Can’t Be Passive). A mentor can be a great encourager when the person they are mentoring is wanting to grow and develop in the Christian faith and in their calling. In other words, they are not passive but are willing to invest time, effort, and even money to move forward in their knowledge, understanding, and application of biblical principles. To mature as a believer and minister.

In our world today we often substitute other words for “mentor.” The most familiar and common is the word “coach.” A coach is someone who carries a valued person from where they are to where they want to be. The key is ‘they want to be.” Otherwise, as I mentioned yesterday it just ends up in frustration… like pushing a parked car with the brakes on uphill by yourself. Not interested. 

In an article called, “A Coach By Any Other Namer” Kevin Hall describes what it means to be a coach. He writes,

      • In other cultures and languages, coaches are known by many different names and titles.
      • In Japan, a “sensei” is one who has gone further down the path. In martial arts, it is the designation for master.
      • In Sanskrit, a “guru” is one with great knowledge and wisdom. “Gu” means darkness, and “ru” means light – a guru takes someone from darkness into the light.
      • In Tibet, a “lama” is one with spirituality and authority to teach. In Tibetan Buddhism, the Dalai Lama is the highest ranking leader.
      • In Italy, a “maestro” is a master teacher of music. It is short for “maestro de cappella,” meaning master of the chapel.
      • In France, a “tutor” is a private teacher. The term dates back to the fourteenth century and refers to one who served as a watchman.
      • In England, a “guide” is one who know and shows the way. It denotes the ability to see and point out the better course. 
      • In Greece,. A “mentor” is a wise and trusted advisor. In The Odyssey, Homer’s Mentor was a protective and supportive counsellor. 

All these words describe the same role: One who goes before and shows the way. No matter what word you use to describe them, coaches make a difference in others’  lives. They help them grow. They improve their potential. They increase their productivity. They are essential to helping people effect positive change. 

Andy Stanley in “The Next Generation Leader” states, “You will never maximize your potential in any area without coaching. It is impossible. You may be good. You may even be better than everyone else. But without outside input you will never be as good as you could be. We all do better when someone is watching and evaluating … Self-evaluation is helpful, but evaluation from someone else is essential.”

John Maxwell states, “In my opinion, good coaches share five common characteristics. They…

      • Care fort the people they coach
      • Observe their attitudes, behaviours, and performances 
      • Align them with their strengths for peak performance
      • Communicate and give feedback about their performance
      • Help them to improve their lives and performance 

We all need at least one mentor in our lives. 

Confrontation –  Speaking the Truth in Love

Paul writes to the Ephesian Church and tells them that, as believers, we are to “speak the truth in love” (Ephesians 4:15). Most people I relate to see this as “confrontation.” And, worst still, they see confrontation as negative and difficult. So, let’s look briefly at this whole area of speaking the truth in love.
The question we always need to ask: Do I care enough to confront the right way?
When working with relationships we instinctively know the following:
1> Conflict is unavoidable
Perhaps we ought to add conflict to death and taxes as one of the things we can count on in this life. The only way to avoid conflict is to isolate ourselves from all other people on the planet. So, we need to learn to deal with issue that cause conflict because they are inevitable.
2> Conflict is difficult
No one likes confrontation, so almost everyone avoids it. And those who do like it have their own psychological issues! Why is it difficult to confront? We fear being disliked, misunderstood, or rejected. We fear the unknown. We are not use to sharing our feelings. And we worry that we will just make things worse. Let’s face it: few people have been taught healthy confrontational skills.
But this I know: How we handle conflict determines our success in tough relational situations
So, how do you handle conflict in your relationships? Did you know that conflict always compounds when confrontation is not done quickly and correctly? That’s why your approach matters. Here’s a sampling of harmful strategies that we see people using when they deal with conflict:
Win at all costs. It’s like a shootout at the OK Corral. It’s quick, brutal, and destructive.
Pretend it doesn’t exist. If you hear no evil, see no evil, and speak no evil, evil will not exist.
Whine about it. Winners aren’t whiners and whiners aren’t winners. Playing the victim doesn’t cure conflict. It just irritates everybody.
Keep score. People who keep a record of wrongs can’t ever start over fresh. And nobody can ever get ‘even.’
Pull rank. Using position never really resolves conflict. It merely postpones it.
White flag it. Quitting is a permanent solution to a temporary problem.
None of these approaches will give the help a person needs to resolve conflict in a healthy way.
Conflict resolution isn’t complicated. Intellectually it’s simple. But emotionally it can be difficult. It requires honesty, humility, and dedication to the relationship. Let’s look at the first two points of what is a six-step plan to help you tackle the task of confrontation.
1> Confront a person only if you care for that person
In rare instances people must confront someone they don’t care about, such as in legal trials or when abuse has occurred. But there are not typical relational conflicts. In nearly all relational situations, it is most productive to go into a confrontation keeping the other person’s interests in mind.
In the past when you attempted to resolve conflict with another person, what has been your goal? Sympathy? Quick relief? Victory at all costs? Next time try to go into it with the goal of making it a win for both parties. And if you attempt to ensure that the other person wins first, then you know you have the most beneficial perspective.
2> Meet together as soon as possible
When conflict arises, we are tempted to avoid it, procrastinate dealing with it, or ask someone else to resolve it for us. But the truth is that anytime you let conflict go – for whatever reason –  it only gets worse. If people are put in a position to start speculating about another person’s motives to figure out what might have really happened, they often think their worst. Putting off confrontation only causes the situation to fester.
So, don’t store up issues. It is never a good idea idea to save up a bunch of stuff and then give a person a history lesson during a confrontation. Instead meet together right away, face-to-face. If that’s absolutely impossible, then consider a conversation by phone. But under no circumstances should you confront a person via e-mail.
3> First seek understanding not necessarily agreement
A significant hindrance to positive conflict resolution is having too many preconceived notions going into a confrontation. There’s a saying that the person who gives an opinion before he understands is human, but the person who gives a judgment before he understands is a fool. So, go in prepared to listen and don’t pre-judge.
United States President Abraham Lincoln was well known for his tremendous people skills. He remarked, “When I’m getting ready to reason with a man, I spend one-third off my time thinking about myself and what I am going to say – and two-thirds thinking about him and what he is going to say.” That is a good rule of thumb. You cannot reach understanding if your focus is on yourself.
As engineer Charles F. Kettering said, “There is a great difference between knowing and understand; you can know a lot about something and not really understand it.”
4> Outline the issue.
When it’s your turn to speak and to make yourself understood, it’s important that you take a positive approach. Here is what I would suggest:
Describe your perceptions. In the beginning, stay away from conclusions and/or statements about the other person’s motives. Just tell what you think you see, and describe the problem you think it’s causing.
Tell how this makes you feel. If the other person’s actions make you angry or frustrated or sad, express it clearly and without accusation.
Explain why this is important to you. Many times when a person finds out that something is a priority to you, that is enough to make him want to change.
Engaging in the process without emotional heat or bitterness is essential. You don’t have to turn off your emotions; you just need to make sure you don’t verbally assault the person you are confronting.
5> Encourage a response.
Never confront others without letting them respond. If you care about people, you will want to listen. Besides, “One of the best ways to persuade others is with your ears – by listening to them.” (Politician Dean Rusk).
Sometimes simply having the discussion helps you realize that your perceptions were wrong. Other times you discover that you need to take extenuating circumstances into account. Encouraging a response helps you better understand the person and the problem.
It also gives the other person a chance to process the issue emotionally. Most of the time when you confront people, they will have an emotional reaction. They may be shocked or get angry or feel guilty. They may want to share those feelings with you, or they may not. But no matter what, you should encourage them to give you a genuine response. Why? Because if they don’t have their say, they won’t be able to move toward a resolution to the problem. They will be so focused on their response that they can’t hear anything else.
When confronting people, you will discover the following:
50% of the people don’t realize that there is a problem
30% of them realize there was a problem, but didn’t know how to solve it.
20% realized there was a problem, but didn’t want to solve it.
The bad news is that one out of five people doesn’t want to seek a positive solution. The good news is that 80% of the time there is great potential to solve the conflict.
6> Agree on an action plan.
Most people hate confrontation, but they love resolution. And the only way to achieve resolution is to take positive action. By developing and agreeing to an action plan, you place the focus on the future, not on the problems of the past. If the person you’re confronting wants to change, they will gravitate towards the possibility of making things better.
A good action plan should include these points:
Clear identification of the issue
Agreement to solve the issue
Concrete steps that demonstrate the issue has been solved
An accountability structure, such as a time line and a responsible person
A deadline for completion
A commitment by both parties to put the issue in the past once resolved.
If your confrontation is formal, such as in a work setting, then put the action plan in writing. Then you can always go back to that document if resolution doesn’t go as planned.
Successful confrontation usually changes both people, not just one. Positive change is the first measure of success when resolving conflict through confrontation. The second is the ongoing growth of the relationship. Any time you truly do resolve conflict in a relationship, it doesn’t hurt the relationship; it actually strengthens the bond between the people.
But it all starts with genuine concern for the other person. President Abraham Lincoln summed it up when he said, “If you would win a man to your cause, first convince him that you are his sincere friend … Assume to dictate to his judgment, or to command his action, or to mark him as one to be shunned and despised, and he will retreat within himself … you shall no more be able to pierce him than to penetrate the hard shell of a tortoise with a rye straw.”

Hammering Home Your Point

When I was younger one of the hit songs was “If I had a Hammer” by Trini Lopez. I know, I am dating myself. You can watch a live performance of the song at: https://binged.it/2oChE2H
I was thinking about that song a few morning back as I was thinking of some people I minister to who seem to use a hammer to solve all their relational issues. They enter into the situation and just hammer away at people, beating them down and, in some cases, destroying them.
It has been said, “Never use a hammer to swat a fly off someone’s head.” And often we enter into relational conflict to win the argument and not salvage or win the relationship. In other words, don’t put winning the argument over winning the relationship. Alexander MacLaren states, “If you would win the world, melt it, do not hammer it.” So the question we should ask ourselves and maybe others is: “Would others say I overreact to small things in a relationship?
We need to realize that having the right attitude is more important than having the right answers. We need to soften our approach, listen more, and stop making a big deal out of little things. In other words, put the hammer away.
To put the hammer away we need to consider four Ts…
1> Total picture
Do you come to conclusions long before the problem has been laid out before you? That is a common occurrence for most of us who have strong personalities. That is why we need to train ourselves to follow a process to keep ourselves from hammering people with answers before they are finished asking the question. When someone is sharing his point of view with you, try to:
Listen
Ask questions
Listen again
Ask more questions
Listen some more
Then respond
You will find that if you slow yourself down, see the big picture, you will be more likely to respond patiently and appropriately.
2> Timing
It has been said, “It’s what you do, not when you do it, that counts.” That’s not always true. If the general doesn’t order the attack at the right time, the battle is lost. If the parent doesn’t get the injured child to the hospital quickly enough, her life might be lost. If you don’t apologize to someone when you’ve wronged them, the relationship might be lost.
When you act is as important as taking the right action. Even knowing when not to act can be important. Someone noted: “The real art of conversation is not only to say the right thing in the right place, but to leave unsaid the wrong thing at the tempting moment.”
It seems to me that the most common cause of bad timing in relationships is selfish motives. For that reason, when little things bother us, our number one objective must be putting our personal agendas aside and building the relationship. If you have examined your motives, and you can be certain they are good, then you need too ask yourself two timing questions:
Am I ready to confront? That’s a pretty easy question to answer, because that’s really a matter of whether you have done your homework
Is the other person ready to hear. If you have laid a relational foundation and the two of you are not in the “heat of battle” then the answer may be yes.
3> Tone
People often respond to our attitudes and actions more than to our words. Many petty conflicts occur because people use the wrong tone of voice. The writer of Proverbs states, “A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.” Haven’t you found that to be true. If not, try this experiment. The next time someone says something to you in anger, respond with gentleness and kindness. When you do that, the person who spoke harshly is likely to tone down, if not soften, his attitude.
4> Temperature
As tempers flare, people are prone to dropping bombs when using a slingshot will do. And that can cause a lot of trouble because the size of a problem often changes based on how it is handled. In general…
If the reaction is worst than the action, the problem usually increases
If the reaction is less than the action, the problem usually decreases
That is why we need to follow a simple personal rule. Take thirty seconds to share feelings – and then it’s over. Anytime we let a little thing create a big reaction (one that lasts longer than thirty seconds), then we are using a hammer.
We looked at the four Ts of preventing a crisis when dealing with relational issues. Let’s talk about trading in your hammer and then treating people with dignity and respect.
Some people seem to think that a hammer is good for anything and everything. I guess you could say they take a hammering approach to life. This attitude is most often observed among high achievers. When they give something their full attention, they go at it full bore. That’s usually a good approach to tasks. It’s a terrible way to treat people, however. As psychologist Abraham Maslow observed: “If the only tool you have is a hammer, you tend to see every problem as a nail.” People require more judicious treatment than that.
If you desire to develop a softer touch with people, take the following advice to heart:
1> Let the past stay in the past
Resolve an issue when it occurs And once you have done that, don’t bring it up again. If you do bring it back up later, you are treating someone as a nail.
2> Ask yourself, is my reaction part of the problem?
When a person’s response is greater than the issue, the response is about something else. Don’t make things worse by overreacting.
3> Remember that actions are remembered long after words are forgotten
If you have a high school diploma or college degree, can you recall the message the commencement speaker delivered at your graduation? Or if you’re married, can you recite your wedding vows from memory? I’m guessing the answer to both questions is no. But I bet you do remember getting married and receiving your diploma. The way you treat people will stay with them a lot longer than the words you choose. Act accordingly.
4> Never let the situation mean more than the relationship
I believe that if I had not made my relationship with my wife a higher priority than always being right, we might not be married today. Relationships are based on bonding. The more important the relationship, the greater the bond.
5> Treat loved ones with unconditional love
Because ours is a society with lots of broken and dysfunctional individuals, many people never had good models of unconditional love. In “The Flight,” John Whit shared his perspective on where we fall short in our treatment of important people in our lives: “We gossip because we fail to love. When we love people, we don’t criticize them. If we love them, their failures hurt. We don’t advertise the sins of people we love any more than we advertise our own.”
6> Admit wrongs and ask forgiveness
Chicago mobster Al Capone reportedly said, “You can get farther with a kind word and a gun than you can with a kind word alone.” Despite the humour, I can tell you this: forgiveness is better. Admitting you’re wrong and asking for forgiveness can cover a multitude of sins. That approach is also one of the best ways to try to make things right when you find that you’ve used the hammer when you should not have.
The problem with most individuals who use the hammer all the time is that they may not know that they do it. If you might be one of them – let some people who know you well hold the mirror and tell you what they see. If you don’t believe them, do the same with your loved ones and friends. If you do that, you will find out whether you treat others as people or as nails. If you do the latter, then you need to make a change.

Hearing God’s Voice

 

When I was born again I encountered and experienced God
This is what being born again means – a life-changing encounter with the living God
And, the beginning of a personal relationship with God called “eternal life”
Romans 6:23b “…the gift of God is eternal life”
John 17:3 “And this is eternal life, that you may know God the Father and Jesus Christ whom He sent…”
To have a healthy personal relationship with God (Jesus) you need, as in any relationship, to see, hear, and touch the person you are relating to

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I’m Out Of Here

A hero of the faith died a week and a half ago quietly passing from this life into the next. Cecil John Glover of Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan died at the age of 79. Although he passed from this life into the next quietly it was definitely not quiet in Heaven. All of Heaven broke into rejoicing as they welcomed one of their strong warriors into their presence. 

I met Cecil almost 40 years ago when he was sharing his testimony at a Full Gospel Businessman’s banquet. He often did share his testimony at their banquets in the many cities and towns where there was a group wanting to impact the business community with the Gospel of the Kingdom. Cecil would show up and just be himself. With guitar in hand he would lead worship, sing about his relationship with the Lord, share what the Lord had done for him as well as what Jesus was continuing to do through him.

For many years Cecil and his wife travelled extensively in Canada and the United States singing, preaching, teaching, and ministering. He had an amazing impact on many lives wherever the Holy Spirit took him. He was always sensitive to the voice of the Spirit and obedient to whatever he heard the Lord speak.

Cecil was an evangelist and a worshipper. But he also pastored a church in Moose Jaw for many years. A church that was a part of the network of churches that I founded and still lead. Many times Cecil would come to our church in Regina to minister, to teach, encourage, and to share. He was always upbeat, positive, and such a blessing to all of us. His music was amazing. Simple but amazing. A sample of his many songs is found in the link at the end of this blog – from his album “I’m Out Of Here.” I thought it appropriate as I remember this amazing man of God. For truly he is ‘out of here’ after having “fought the good (and long) fight of faith.” 

It was an honour to know Cecil, to have him minister to my people, and to minister on occasion to his people when he was pastoring. He was an amazing man of God and warrior for the Kingdom. Many people today are part of that Kingdom because of his sacrifice and ministry. As a result, he leaves a tremendous legacy behind. His funeral was help last Thursday and as I sat and listened it truly was a celebration of who Cecil Glover was and is. Enter into your rest Cecil. You of all people deserve it!

We will meet again …

Fight the Good Fight from Cecil’s “I’m Out of Here” album

            https://youtu.be/PAbyFIDdykg