Archives for the month of: April, 2011

So, when’s the last time you had your annual physical?  You know that “special time” of the year when we get poked, prodded and stuck to see how we’re really doing against the benchmark of acceptable physical standards or being measured against the baseline of the results from our last physical.  Not sure about you but I’ve yet to find a single person that actually looks forward to this annual pilgrimage where we get to experience the height of privacy invasion.  Most in fact distain it and go not of their own volition but go because they know the value of predictive and preventative medicine.  For those of us who would choose to forget we get that winsome reminder card in the mail that states, “It’s that time again!” Oh, joy. 

At any rate, I was thinking the other day about what we could learn by looking at the parallels of the physical examination to the examination of our inner self, to get at that soul level assessment of our “whoness.” Interestingly, the comment of a friend (who happens to be a doctor) came to mind that I believe sheds some invaluable light on this for us.  He says, “You can’t examine a fully clothed body.”  Wow, just think of the parallel.  In order to get a good look inside ourselves we have to disrobe, take off the veneer that “it’s all good” and put on the nakedness of transparency and invite others in to have a look.  Not an option but a requirement! Maybe this is why the all too familiar quote from Socrates has stood the test of time; “An unexamined life is not worth living.”  Certainly when we face the examination of our innermost self by others it seems no less invasive. Doesn’t it so often feel just like we’re being poked at and prodded as we wrestle with coming clean with others on how we’re really doing on the inside?  Just like the annual physical it too is something that we would most likely put off as long as possible given the option.  But just think how important it is for us to gain a healthy understanding of our inner condition and apply the appropriate principles of preventative care to our emotional and spiritual well being as well. We all know that research shows that there is a direct correlation between our physical and emotional/spiritual well being and vice versa.  No doubt we are apt to be much healthier for much longer within our whole being if we are purposeful to submit to life’s regular examinations.  I think it could be just what the doctor ordered.  Peace.         

So, when did the “drop by” become the “drive by?”  For years our family ventured multiple times a year to the mountains of western North Carolina.  Though most of our trips were with the kids there was one particular trip where my wife and I found this quaint lodge nestled in the pristine mountainside known as the Millstone Inn.  Over the twenty years or so since our discovery of the Millstone we, along with many of our friends, have shared some incredibly special times as this retreat became an oasis amongst the noise and distractions of life.  Thinking back I can even remember on many of our trips we would anticipate with great affection rounding the last corner down the mountain as we proceeded towards the roadside sign that would announce whether or not there were rooms available.  Curiously, even when the sign indicated there was “no vacancy” we would still elect to drop by instead of driving right on by.  The very fact that there may not have been room for us didn’t deter us from still dropping in to see the owners and reacquaint our senses with the good memories and good times that we had shared there.  Recounting this fond memory from my past has caused me to realize that this isn’t the way it is for me at home.  Perhaps you can relate.  Why is it that we have forsaken the “drop by” choosing instead to drive by the homes that contain the friendships that have meant so much to us over the years?  Why do we turn our back in a sense on the countless hours that each person has invested in the well being of the other?  Is it that we don’t treasure the depths of relationships that we once had?  Is it that the fondness of the memories have become more like lost dreams?   Have the colors of our life become so subdued and clouded over by having “no time” for one another anymore?  There sure seems an abundance of answers and excuses we could claim as the reason with many being legit.  Perhaps though we need to rethink how we use our internal GPS.  Rather than program it to find the quickest way home so we can find the comforts of escaping to our nest we need to reprogram it with the addresses of our friends.  Then perhaps we can reacquaint ourselves with the timeless comforts found in friendship.  Let’s each remember that with authentic friendship, that friendship born out of the crucible of doing life together the sign should always read “Vacancy.”  Peace.              

So, how full are your garbage cans?  Go back for a moment and think on your days of yesteryear.  Can’t you just hear those resounding words heard around your house at least twice per week…”Johnny/Susie, take out the trash.”  If you were like me then (and much like my son today) you had to be told over and over again to do this simple task.  It seems like from the earliest of ages we have been encouraged to “get rid of the trash” but just like when we were little kids we resist and/or procrastinate choosing instead to allow the garbage of our lives to overflow until the stink sets in. Rather than rid ourselves of the stuff that can foul up our lives we tend to hang on to or recycle our trash instead of getting rid of it. Think about this.  Don’t you find yourself listening to the continual rerun of the lies that have been written on your heart over the years?  I do at times.  These lies have a way of keeping the lid on our lives and the trash in.  This essentially relegates us to a sort of bondage from becoming the very people we have been created to be, infinitely worthy, immeasurably valuable.  So how do we rid ourselves of our trash once and for all?  Where do we find the keys that unlock the doorway to freedom from the lies?  The answer is simple but taken to heart and put in to practice is profound.  In short, it is the truth.  Not just any truth but the “Truth,” the very word of God.  Once there you’ll find two amazing promises amongst the thousands to behold.  First, the Truth will set you free and secondly, there is no lie in Truth.  Dwell on that for a bit, embrace it and live in it for a lifetime.  I bet you’ll find, as will others, a life-changing, fragrant aroma to your life.  Peace.  

So, have you ever been blackmailed?  Chances are very few if any of us have faced such a life altering event.  That situation where someone or some group has taken something from you and is threatening to expose you to the world unless you pay up some huge amount of ransom in return for what’s been stolen.   A quick study of past and recent history would suggest that most of the time these types of cases seem to be reserved for the wealthy and famous people of our society. The good news is that this leaves most of us somewhat insulated from ever having to face the agonizing and debilitating effects of dealing with such a traumatic life event.  Sometimes it can be as devastating as a loved one being taken hostage while at other times it can be something as intangible as our reputation being called into question .  Yet in both cases the stakes are high and those involved are often left to deal with the paralyzing and suffocating threat of being exposed.   Could it be though the largest and most pervasive threat that looms over us is ourselves?  Could it be that we routinely engage in acts of self-extortion?  Here me out on this.  To the degree that we hide behind our weaknesses or those nagging irrational fears we are in effect blackmailing and holding ourselves hostage.  We are extorting our strengths and rational thinking in exchange for the ransom of a promise.  A promise that no one will ever find us out!  We take the best of ourselves and begin to believe the worst because we listen to the irrational lies that tell us we must be the only one who struggles with…name your weakness or irrational fear.  It’s as if we are trying to keep a secret from the world.  This is an oppressive posture to live under.  It too is suffocating, paralyzing and can be debilitating.  So what can we do about it?  Well I think we can turn to the “secret” for the answer.  Noodle on this for a minute.  If someone has a secret and lets the secret be known to even just one person there is no more blackmail.  The energy gets taken out of the secret as it goes from darkness into the light.  The value of the information being held no longer has a stranglehold on us because we’ve shared it.  So lead with transparency.  Let others know what you’re struggling with.  Invite them into your life.  Don’t let the enemy win by taking the rational and making it irrational in your mind.  Pursue authenticity. Live in the light of day. You’ll be stronger for it!  Peace.   

So, what’s your formula?  Can you think of how many times over a lifetime someone might ask you for your unique formula for…fill in the blank.  Whether it is success, raising good kids, sticking to a diet, etc. most people are looking for answers to life questions in hopes of finding the winning formulas for living in a complicated and complex world.  Certainly we would all agree that there is much to be learned from the successes as well as the mistakes of others. As I write this one of life’s most common clichés come to mind that seems to speak to this notion… “Why recreate the wheel?”  In other words, why redo the tried and true.  Well, I’d like to offer you a formula that was borne out of a difficult life lesson of mine from some number of years ago. Though I didn’t see the foundational and transformational power of the lesson back then I certainly have in the years that have ensued since that time.  Here’s the formula…P + I = V or Product + Installation = Value. Now you’re probably really wondering what on earth that has to do with living life in this crazy world.  You see, in my own experience I had been, like many, one of those to gather books, perhaps read them, only to put them back on the shelf and go on living life. The problem was nothing in me had been changed. So where was the value in that?  Was I simply accumulating more knowledge in my trek towards an intellectual ascent?  You see, it’s only as we begin to translate our knowledge (P) into understanding by way of application (I) that we find real and lasting value (V). I’ve even found myself saying, “The world doesn’t need another book it just needs people who will do something with what they already know.”  Ultimately I found I just needed to do something with (install) what I already knew.  The truth is the world does need more books and we all need to gather more knowledge but only if we are going to seek to “install” or do something with what we learn or even perhaps, what we already know. One could easily argue that there is even an inherent responsibility to use and give away the knowledge we have been given. This seems foundational to living a transformed life…whether you are the one being transformed or the one being used as the agent of transformation in the life of another.  So try the formula on for size and see what you think. Peace.  

So, how do you spend your time? Several weeks back we talked about the idea of how time had become one of our most precious resources.  We considered how beginning to view life in seasons of time might help usher in a shift in our thinking such that time, though elusive in one sense, might no longer seem like it is constantly escaping us. The thought of carving up the time continuum into more manageable and measureable pieces would certainly seem to help us see real progress, real life change being made in our lives and potentially the lives of others. But there seems to be more to this topic of time!  Being a self-professed “plate-spinner” I’ve continued to mull the characteristics of time over and over in search of what it might take for us to find more time in our day or if it was even a conceivable idea.  Well, the other day during my ride back to the office from lunch I may have found one of the keys that could unlock the doorway to having more time in our lives.  I must tell you though it comes from a very unlikely source, the 80’s rock band known as the Eagles.  With my radio tuned to the “classic” stations one of the Eagles more popular songs began to play…one that contained these lyrics, “You can spend all your time making money or you can spend all your love making time.”  Could it be that as we rightfully replace the preeminent pursuit of making money with an intentional purpose to love one another we might just begin to find more time in our lives?  If giving begets the receipt of blessing then it seems plausible that the blessing we receive from giving of a time that is motivated by a love for one another is an even greater capacity of time to love (and be loved).  Perhaps this is the origin of one of life’s most elusive clichés, “My cup runneth over.”  It certainly seems the more time we spend with one another; time that is motivated by love, the more we will experience the regenerative effect love has on our time.  So could the Eagles have had it right all along?  Is this yet another affirmation to persuade us to pursue one of life’s two greatest commands…to love one another? Do we have a decision to make?  Do we need to spend all of our time making money or can we spend some of our love making time? Peace.

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