Thursday, September 18, 2014

Speak Life

This week I have been reading the book, “How to Win Friends and Influence People” written by Dale Carnegie in the 1930s.  Dale Carnegie was an influential man himself who taught businessmen and professionals how to succeed. 

Although the book is a classic, we would do well as a modern society to put into practice the principles he suggests.   

The first principle is “Don’t criticize, condemn or complain.”  Maybe Mr. Carnegie received his inspiration from the Bible.   A number of scriptures deal with this same theme.

It’s so easy to express what we think another person should do.   I’m guilty at times.  This chapter convicted me.  I want to be a person who loves unconditionally those in my sphere of influence instead of putting them down.

How many people have you criticized that embraced what you said and changed anyway?   Most do not.  In fact, they justify their behavior and may even turn it back to you.  It also often breeds resentment.  The only exception I can think of is when in an accountability situation for the purpose of receiving input.  

There are times when we must confront certain things though.  I’m not suggesting that we stuff our feelings only to have them turn into bitterness.    

Here are some suggestions when you are tempted to criticize, condemn or complain:

1.             Don’t confront the issue immediately.  Take some time to cool down and assess the situation.

2.             Write down good qualities of the person you are dealing with.

3.             Examine your motives.
a.    Why do you want to bring this subject up?

b.    What will it accomplish?

c.     Will your suggestions be well received?

d.    Will the confrontation bring resolve to the situation?  

4.             Write down the things you want to discuss.

5.             Pray about the right timing.  Should you just vent on paper instead?

6.             At the right time, walk in unconditional love and acceptance.  

7.             Choose your words wisely.  Try to understand why the other person is doing what they are by giving them the chance to share too.  

As you follow these steps, it really will not be criticism, condemnation or complaining.  It will become communication which every relationship needs to succeed.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

God's Pathway

Zlrr[ pm Hpfd [syjz’

Can you read the phrase above?  It was supposed to say, “Keep on God’s Path.”   My fingers were just one key off on the keyboard.  Words can actually be understood when the fingers are properly aligned.  

God has a pathway for each of us to walk on.  Even when we are slightly off, it makes no sense at all.  By shifting just a little, the confusion disappears and things come into clear focus.

Do you feel you are where God wants you?   In cases when things seem a little off, here are some suggestions to get on track:

1.              Fast and pray.  Don’t continue down the road without stopping and seeking God for answers. 

2.              Read God’s Word daily and seek His face to be familiar with His voice.

3.              Ask God to reveal anything that might hinder you from hearing His voice.

4.              Repent if there are things God reveals.  

5.              Search your heart to see if there are instructions from God you have ignored.  If so, obey. 

6.              Keep doing all you know God has shown you, and wait for His answers. 

7.              Once you get the go ahead, move forward to get on track. 

God wants to keep us on His path.   Sometimes we don’t hear His voice because we don’t take time to listen.

This week I read a story of the Israelites in Judges 9.   Many heard of the Israelites conquering their enemies, and were filled with fear.  One such nationality was the Gibeonites. 

The Gibeonites lived close by but lied to the Israelites by telling them they were from a far off country and asked to enter a treaty of peace with them.  They played the part well using worn out sacks, cracked wineskins and dry, moldy bread.  The Israelite leaders listened to the Gibeonites and looked at the circumstances instead of seeking God to see if their story was true.  

Joshua 9:14-15 says, “The men of Israel sampled their provisions but did not inquire of the Lord.  Then Joshua entered into a treaty of peace with them to let them live and the leaders of the assembly ratified it by oath.”

Joshua's instructions from the Lord was to destroy all the enemies in the Promised Land.  And now they found themselves off track.   I believe if they had sought God, He would have shown them how to handle this encounter.  

Before we judge them though, we should look at our lives and see how many decisions we make without inquiring of the Lord.  It’s easy to do.  I’ve found myself often following the steps above to get back on track. 

To stay on God’s path, it’s important to seek Him first and foremost.  It will keep us from having to backtrack on this journey of life. 

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Answered Prayer

This past summer I have traveled a little more than usual.  It’s been nice to get away but I always love returning home.

Last week at this time I was in Utah for a mountain retreat for my business.  It was beautiful there, much cooler than Arizona, and a very enjoyable trip.

My friend, Sunny, and I rented a car and drove two and a half hours up the mountain.  It was a beautiful drive. 

Early on Thursday morning we left to take an early afternoon flight.  The fog was intense and hard to see in front of us.  We just endured it for a while, driving carefully.  Then it dawned on me although we prayed for a safe trip, we had not specifically prayed for the fog to lift.  Aloud I asked God to lift the fog so we could see.  Immediately it lifted and the sun came out.  It never returned.

I love when God answers prayers immediately.   However, there are times when praying for days, weeks, months or even years are necessary.  God is not on our time table, but has a divine plan that is much better than our own.

It is these long seasons in between answered pray that keep me on my knees and seeking Him for the answer.  It’s in tough times when waiting for the answer that I see spiritual growth in me. 

Would I like to have an answer to prayer immediately every time?  Yes, but it’s just not possible.  Sometimes God has to line up circumstances or work on other people’s hearts. 

I waited for a year and a half for my marriage to be restored many years ago.  Was it worth it?  Absolutely.  It was the best and worst time of my life all in one.  I learned of the faithfulness of God.  I thought I knew Him before, but this season gave me the opportunity to get to know Him more intimately.  Even though the big answer took a while, there were lots of little prayers He did answer along the way. 

Whether God has answered your prayer immediately or after a while, one thing is for certain, He has our best in mind and His ways and timing are always best.