When Sin Isn’t What it Promised…

We’re going to take a walk on the lighter side on today’s musing. Let’s start with a few questions for your self-reflection:

  • Have you ever made a bad personal choice and knew right away it was not going to end well?
  • Have you ever been tempted in some way to do something you knew was wrong but you did it anyway?
  • Have you ever found yourself in a situation and didn’t really know how to get yourself out of it?

This “musing” post is dedicated to every, single one of us who ponder these questions and can immediately relate to them personally.  I found a video recently that perfectly portrays these situations and made me laugh – all in a 40 second video clip…

I struggle to know exactly what advice to share on this topic but perhaps my own takeaway is simple – we all have an infinite number of choices to make each day – choose well and you’ll never regret your choices.

I always appreciate your comments and I pray this was a fun and introspective 1-minute diversion in your day!

Posted in Faith, Inspirational | 1 Comment

40 Years With Devonie

Devonie and I just celebrated our 40th wedding anniversary – is it even possible we’ve been married that long? 

It’s not an exaggeration to say that I am the luckiest man alive to have been blessed with Dev as my bride and I couldn’t be more grateful to God for this blessing.  In case you want the “Cliff Notes” version of our journey – here we go:

  • We met 44 years ago when I was a freshman in college and I played Water Polo for her Dad (my college coach) at Cal Poly Pomona.
  • She was (and is) strikingly pretty – and I can genuinely say that I was a long-shot to catch her eye – especially since she was dating the baseball team’s starting shortstop at the time.
  • We came from different faith-traditions (I was raised Catholic, Devonie was Baptist) and this was one of the early challenges as we raised our three daughters.  We struggled to reconcile our backgrounds and how we’d share our faith with our three daughters.  Ultimately, we unified on the core belief that Jesus is non-denominational and found a great church here in Alpharetta that taught this same foundational principle.
  • I was excessively career and success-driven for too many years and Devonie had the challenge of being patient with my career zeal while she handled a large portion of the family-duties as the CEO of the home-front including 6 relocation moves in the first 9 years of our marriage.
  • I know I’m anything but objective but Devonie is the best mother and grandmother I have ever witnessed – the love, the patience, the creativity, the constant focus on serving – it’s nothing short of inspiring to me.  Dev and I are both eternally grateful that all three of our daughters are thriving, self-sustaining adults who, most importantly, love Jesus.
  • Over these many years, Dev has grown in so many ways – personally, emotionally and, perhaps especially, spiritually.  In some of my more self-reflective moments, I have a genuine peace that if God were to take me from this planet before Devonie, she would thrive in all regards.
  • We’re very different – she’s relaxed about schedules and “to do’s” and I’ve never met a list I don’t like.  She’s not prone to worry and fretting and I’ve fret enough for both of us.  Devonie loves gardening and I’d be delighted to outsource gardening duties to people far more skilled than I will ever be. 
  • Over these four decades though, we’ve both learned that just because we’re different in our skills and interests it doesn’t mean either of is right or wrong.  It just means we’re different.  We’ve also made the conscious choice that we can choose to be happily incompatible in spite of our differences!

I used to think I could never love Devonie more – I don’t believe that anymore.  The truth is that I have come to love her more each year and I’m convinced that God has done this supernaturally in my heart.  Perhaps it’s a testament to how sweet a committed marriage can be, even one with two fallible people like us. 

I know Dev will be uncomfortable with this short tribute to her but in the scheme of what really matters here on earth – she is the center of my universe.  There’s something really special about moving past the early years of chasing careers, raising children, paying debts, etc. and arriving at this age/stage that allows us to renew ourselves, renew our marriage, and to have the time and the resources to enjoy them fully with the love of my life…thanks for that Devonie.

Posted in Faith, Family and marriage, Inspirational | 6 Comments

We Can’t Just Believe, We Have to Act Like We Believe

If we’re not careful about how and what we think about, our minds are almost naturally preoccupied with negative fears and worries.  We’re our own worst enemy in this regard.  Worry is so natural and prevalent in today’s world that it seems almost normal.  We worry about the past – which we can do nothing about.  We worry about the future – most of which will not actually occur.  We even worry about what others think about us and quickly fall prey to the comparison trap.  So much of our preoccupation with worry is focused on things we actually have very little ability to control.

Why are we so prone to allow our mind to engage in counter-productive thoughts and worries? Why do we obsess about outcomes with which we have very little control?  Is it our excessive self-reliance?  Or could it be our lack of genuine faith and trust in God and His sovereignty? 

One of the biggest paradoxes for me relates to trusting God with our worries.  Does this sound at all familiar to you: you’re pre-occupied by a major concern/worry – perhaps you’re worried about whether a loved one will recover from a serious illness. 

Many of us are familiar with the admonition to take our concerns to God because He can be trusted.  The challenge is not taking our concerns to God; the real challenge for most of us is that once we’ve taken this concern to God and go back to the rest of our lives, we tend to carry this concern on our back (and our heart) when we do.  We haven’t given our concern to God, we just let Him see it for a few minutes.    

What God invites us to do is to leave our burdens with Him and trust Him with the outcomes so that we can live with a genuine sense of peace that regardless of the outcome, He is trustworthy.  Sounds really simple – yes?  Not so fast…

Our faith…or lack thereof

You might assume that a faith-filled person doesn’t struggle in experiencing a genuine sense of peace and happiness.  But if our faith isn’t translated into our conscious, day-to-day activities and relationships, it’s become more theoretical than ‘applied.’  

Why else would a person with a strong faith not experience plenty of peace and happiness?  Perhaps in part because we tend to compartmentalize our faith as separate from the rest of our life ‘compartments.’  “Yes, I believe in God, but I still have bills to pay and God doesn’t write the checks!”  Or, “Yes, I go to church every week but I don’t really know how to integrate God into my relationships, my financial decisions, and certainly not into my other daily priorities.” 

We’re all prone to being faith-filled people who still fall victim to endless worrying, the trap of comparing ourselves to others, and making choices and decisions that all contribute to us feeling as though something is profoundly missing in our life.  Author Dallas Willard makes this point better than anyone: “We don’t believe something by merely saying we believe it, or even when we believe we believe it.  We believe something when we act as if it were true.”

Jesus made it clear in John’s Gospel that He wants us to live life to the fullest and with a genuine sense of peace, joy, and purpose.  He called it the abundant life: I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly (John 10:10).

If we truly aspire to this ‘abundant’ life, how do we close the chasm between these often-elusive aspirations and our current reality?  The answer is found in our mindsets.  We literally get to choose how we think (our mindsets) and how we respond to our circumstances.  And it’s these choices that will make the biggest difference in our ability to experience the abundant sense of joy, peace, and purpose to which we all aspire. 

If you’re intrigued by these principles, I’d invite you to read more in my new book on healthy mindsets.  The book is entitled: 3 Truths & 7 Mindsets: Changing the way we think to experience Jesus’ promise of ‘abundant’ peace, joy, and purpose. Kindle and paperback link

I always appreciate your comments!

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What is Your Ministry?

I’m guessing that the average person who reads the ‘title’ of this blog post will have a confused reaction to the question posed: “What is your ministry?”

You may immediately conclude, “I don’t have a ministry.”  Or, “What kind of ministry are you talking about?”

Let me clarify the premise: I’m pretty convinced that each of us has the ability to contribute in small or even significant ways to other people whose path we cross.  We’ll call that your ‘ministry.’

For some, your ability to help others comes from your unique set of skills and/or gifts that you choose to share with people in your personal orbit.  Maybe it’s your gift of hospitality; or the gift of encouragement; or perhaps even the ability to teach someone a new skill – like playing the piano, or learning a new language, or helping someone learn to dribble a basketball.    

For others, our ability to serve others emerges from the trials and tribulations we have faced at some point in our past.  These trials give us the insights and perspective that equips us to help others who are facing the same trials today.  A simple example: Gary and Elvira Delaplane are friends whose son tragically took his own life as a teenager many years ago.  None of us can fathom how painful that loss could possibly be.  But, since that tragedy many years ago Gary and Elvira have been able to minister to countless other families who have faced similar circumstances.  In essence, God tends to make a ministry out of our messes…if we’re open to that possibility.

Perhaps the third type of ministry that comes to my mind is one that was described by Regi Campbell, a friend of mine who is now with the Lord and who I initially met 17 years ago.  I can remember our first coffee meeting when I asked him the innocent question, “what do you do for a living?”  His answer was thought provoking – “I have the ministry of availability.”  Consider Regi’s perspective for a moment – he captured and wholly embraced the biggest gift that any of us could have: the time, energy and resources to be ‘available’ to anyone that God’s providence decides to intersect in our day.   

I suppose my point in all of this is that we humans are designed to be better together than any of us are alone.  And that manifests itself in the countless ways we can love others with our skills and gifts.  When we do, we feel an extraordinary sense of purpose and fulfillment – it’s the way we were designed to thrive!

You may argue, “but, I don’t have any unique gifts that constitute a ministry!”  Or, “I don’t have time or capacity to create a ministry because I’m so preoccupied with work, my family, or other competing priorities.”

The good news…you don’t need a lot of time or capacity.  As renowned Pastor and Author Henry Blackaby is often quoted as saying in his book, Experiencing God: we don’t have to create or make things happen; just look around and watch for what God is doing and orchestrating in your midst and you’ll find plenty of opportunities to minister to others who will benefit.  When you do, it will likely be the most important and fulfilling thing you accomplished that day. 

One last time, what’s your ministry?

…I always welcome your thoughts!

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Choose Forgiveness…sooner than later

If you follow this blog you know that I’ve been “heads down” for this past year writing a book on healthy mindsets that can provide us the best opportunity to experience Jesus’ abundant life.

The book is entitled: 3 Truths & 7 Mindsets: Changing the way we think to experience Jesus’ promise of ‘abundant’ peace, joy, and purpose. Kindle and paperback link

Here’s another excerpt on a topic, ‘forgiveness’ that has been more painful for many people than I might have predicted.  Specifically, we often struggle to forgive those that have hurt us deeply in the past and unforgiveness has the power to rob us of our joy. 

There’s little doubt that we’ve all been hurt by someone’s actions or words in numerous ways throughout our lives.  It’s worth noting though that this goes both ways and we’ve no doubt hurt others in similar fashion.  It’s also easy to predict that we’ll hurt others and be hurt again in the future because we’re all imperfect, self-interested people and conflicts are inevitable.  It’s often those we’re closest to that hurt each other the most! 

In a perfect world, you’d get everyone around you to agree that we won’t do anything to hurt each other going forward.  Forgiveness won’t even be necessary!  This is far easier said than done of course.  Instead, let’s accept the reality that we’re going to cause hurt and we’re going to experience hurt – whether we like it or not!

And when we are hurt by others, we have two starkly different choices: 1) hold on to the hurt and anger at least until the other person says they’re sorry – which may take a while and impact you negatively in both the short and long-term; or 2) embrace this Mindset #6 and choose instead to forgive them… sooner than later.  The first choice is most common.  The second is unquestionably the most beneficial for you and ultimately for others as well.     

An author who is gifted on this crucial topic is Lysa TerKeurst who wrote the book, Forgiving What You Can’t Forget.  Her story of hurt and betrayal and the subsequent forgiveness and healing has educated and inspired countless people who struggle with this common challenge. 

Her perspective is fairly simple and yet powerful.  An immature version of forgiveness, in her view, argues that forgiveness should only be given once we know that the person who has hurt us has apologized and asked for forgiveness.  This ‘reconciliation’ is ideal…in theory. 

Practically speaking though, this version is most difficult and damaging to you because often the other person is no longer in your life, doesn’t realize they hurt you, or worse yet, doesn’t even care about your lingering hurt.  When we hold onto our hurt while awaiting an apology and reconciliation, we’re mostly hurting ourselves in that process.  With this approach, you can’t really forgive someone who doesn’t seek our forgiveness and our healing is dependent on someone else’s actions.

TerKeurst describes the ‘mature’ version of forgiveness as a process that sweeps the hurt in our heart clean because we don’t make our healing dependent on another.  “We have to decide that we’ve suffered enough and unhitch our ability to heal from their choices,” explains TerKeurst.  “I have carried the weight of suffering and unforgiveness way too long!” 

Her principles give us the freedom to separate the act of forgiveness from the act of reconciling the relationship.  When you embrace your freedom to forgive without reconciliation, when necessary, there’s nothing (and no one) precluding your ability to forgive except perhaps the misplaced belief that your lack of forgiveness is somehow harming the person that hurt you – and that’s not at all likely.   

Forgive others so your Father in Heaven may forgive you

There’s another profound and spiritually-significant reason to generously offer forgiveness.  The scriptures are consistent as captured in Mark’s gospel: Forgive him so that your Father in heaven may forgive you (Mark 11:25).  Consider the implication of Jesus’ words – if we want to be forgiven for our sins, we’re called to forgive others.  Notice he doesn’t include a qualifier about whether or not they deserve our forgiveness!

Even the Lord’s prayer reinforces this principle: Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us (Matt 6:12). Once again, there is no qualifier or contingency for forgiveness (i.e., only if they deserve it)!

I pray this is helpful to you and I always value your comments and feedback!

Posted in Faith, Family and marriage, Inspirational | 2 Comments

Jane Jackson – A Life Well-Lived

My wife, Devonie, and her family have recently helped their mother, Jane, move into a senior living facility after having lived independently in one house for more than 60 years in Southern California.  It was a difficult decision for all but after moving in this past week it appears to be a great move for a great woman.

I’ve known Jane since Devonie and I started dating nearly 44 years ago and I can testify that there are few people I know who have been more self-sacrificing than Jane.  She raised 6 children (all born within a six-year timeframe) with a husband who worked hard and traveled extensively.  She’s a grandmother of 16 and now a proud great-grandmother to a few dozen more (I couldn’t even count the precise number).

She has been a true matriarch of the Jackson clan and is loved and respected because of her character and for the love she has shared so deeply with this entire family.  I can remember multiple times when our three daughters were young and we were living in many different cities around the country because of my career moves.  We’d invite Jane to stay with our kids while Dev and I went on a vacation or a business trip together.  I would mistakenly assume we were doing her a favor to fly her to our home so that she could be with her ‘beloved’ grandchildren.  That is, until I became a grandfather 20 years later and finally realized that 50+ year-olds (like me) don’t have the stamina that a 25-year-old has to manage 3 young children.  I finally apologized to Jane 10 years ago for being so presumptuous and ungrateful in those days for the sacrifice that she had made for our benefit.

This transition to a new home for Jane has made all of us pause and reflect on what a gift she’s been to each and every one of us.  Her care for others, her cooking, her quilting, and her counsel make her special.  Her devotion and care for her husband Stan until he passed away a few years back and her love for Jesus is a model for all and inspiring.  She has lived an exceptional life and is now in a great place and will be able to finish her life well amongst new friends in a great, new environment.

Too often we assume that those who are a generation or two ahead of us can’t really add much value to our lives but 80+ year-olds like Jane convince me that nothing could be further from the truth.  Here’s a 13-minute Ted Talk from Gary Turk that emphasizes the great contribution that our parents and grandparents can make…if we let them!

The Secret To A Happy Life – Listen To Those Who Have Lived It TEDxNewcastle

 Jane – you are deeply loved and respected.  We’re grateful for you and your life well lived!

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What Makes This Country So Great?

We observed Independence Day this past weekend and it’s  always been a great celebration of our country – our history, our accomplishments, and our freedoms for that matter.  It’s especially significant as we see the news headlines about the citizens of Cuba protesting against their communist regime and draping themselves in American flags as a symbol of the freedoms that they desire for their homeland.

There are two simple questions I enjoy pondering that tend to provide clarity and conviction about how fortunate we are to live in the United States:

First, if you could be alive at any time in history (including now of course) – what year would you most like to have been born?  And second, if you could live anywhere in the world, where would you live?  Take a few minutes to consider your own answers…

For me, there is nowhere I’d rather live than in the U.S.A. and there’s no other time in history that I’d prefer to be alive than right now.  Regardless of where you land with your answers, I’m convinced that it’s a healthy mental exercise because without pondering the question, we’re all likely to take for granted things that seem ‘normal’ to us.  But is our ‘normal’ really normal to other countries and cultures around the world today?

Here are some of the attributes of our great country that I most appreciate when I take the time and energy to ponder them:

  • The freedoms we enjoy – freedom to worship, freedom to marry someone we choose (even that’s not a given elsewhere), freedom to choose our education, freedom to choose the professional career we prefer.
  • The technology that is available – including our ‘smart’ cars, our ‘smart’ phones, our ‘smart’ home appliances, and even our ‘smart’ TV’s.
  • Our safety and security – although there are some exceptions, the vast majority of our country is safe to walk, ride bikes, and/or drive through with no little risk to our safety and security
  • The ability to travel freely – consider for a minute how simple it is for any of us to fly or drive to any other part of this country without a passport, without a check point and without anyone else even knowing, if that’s how we choose to travel
  • The beauty – although I’ve only seen a small fraction of the countries on planet Earth, I am hard pressed to believe that there is a country that has more beauty, diversity, and evidence of God’s glory on display for all of us to enjoy.
  • Our people – all colors, all shapes, all sizes and all unique attributes – I would put the spirit of our U.S citizens against any other country in the world and we’d compare favorably!
  • Even our government – which has been sustained for 250 years and whose only apparent threat today is a handful of politicians on both sides of the political spectrum who lost sight of the original intent of being governed by and for the citizens of this country – not by career politicians

What about you?  What did I miss on this list?  After you consider your list of why you appreciate this country, does it make you re-think the questions I posed at the start of this blog????

I always value your comments and input!

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Sam Berns’ 3 Rules of a Happy Life

Sometimes it’s just nice to consume an inspiring story of a young man without any controversy or tension.

Let me introduce you to the story of Sam Berns who delivered a Ted Talk a few years back that has been viewed by more than 50 million people because his message was so simple and so inspiring.

Sam was born with a genetic disorder called Progeria which causes those with the disease to age far more quickly than the rest of us.  Sam died 7 years ago at the age of 17 but his gift to the world continues on…

He delivered a talk entitled: 3 Rules for a Happier Life.  His message was not sophisticated but was definitely compelling:

  • Don’t worry about what you can’t do because there are so many things you can do
  • Surround yourself with people you want to be around
  • And, keep moving forward (I like to call that – “do the next right thing”)

You can watch Sam’s presentation first-hand at this link:

3 Simple Rules For A Happier Life | An Emotional Speech With Sam Berns – YouTube

And here’s a profile ABC news did on Sam that will give you a sense for he and his family (his mother, BTW, has been part of a team that is working hard to identify the gene and therefore potential therapies to treat Progeria):  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fekab9Pu2us

I don’t know what else you are obligated to accomplish today or even this week but do yourself a favor and spend 10 minutes with Sam Berns.  Sam couldn’t afford to get caught up in the life-long pursuits we all fall victim to – accomplishing more, earning titles, and chasing the dream.  He didn’t have that luxury.

Maybe we could all learn some life lessons from a 17-year-old who knew his life would be shorter than most – but who committed himself to living happily.

I always appreciate your comments…

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Will College Enrollment Continue to Drop?

Those of you who follow this blog know I’ve been fairly critical of the U.S. higher education system.  It’s broken today and is ripe for changes, mostly because:

  • The tuition costs have risen far beyond the value they deliver – driven in large part by a student loan system devised by the government to encourage students to take on huge amounts of personal debt to fund a college degree.  These are often degrees that aren’t specialized enough to allow them to make a reasonable income post-college.
  • Parents are frustrated because they have invested 18 years of their lives to instill values in their children and are increasingly finding these values are unwound in 4 years at college by “woke” professors and administrators.
  • Many corporations (including Google, Apple, and IBM to name three notable examples) have now determined that a college degree is not necessary to join their teams with countless more companies to follow in the coming years.
  • And last but not least, Covid has made all of us re-evaluate almost everything – from where we work and commute, to how we consume entertainment to whether our children should really go to college in order to thrive (or even survive) in the world.

These factors all conspire to challenge our previous assumptions about college being necessary to ‘get ahead.’  I found an article at Politico that chronicles the downward trend in college enrollment and they explain in more detail how significant this slide has been (and I’ll predict it will continue to get worse).  Here’s an excerpt:

This trend isn’t solely because of Covid. It’s the first edgeof a demographic cliff coming in 2025 and 2026 when the country will have fewer high school students, Pérez said. The decline arrived early this year because high levels of unemployment and underemployment pulled a lot of families out of the collegepipeline. “We’re worried – what will that look like this September?” he said. “And will the students ever come back?”

You can read the entire article here: Politico article – enrollment is down and dropping

All of this begs the question – “so what?”  Is this a scary trend from your perspective?  It isn’t from mine because the university system is failing our children.  Conventional wisdom used to be that you’d be wise to save $200,000 for your child’s college education in order for them to land a good job with a reputable organization and therefore have a bright future.    

That mindset is becoming far less conventional in today’s world and parents would be wise to re-evaluate their assumptions (and their finances) accordingly. 

So, what’s the solution and how does all of this apply to you and I (and especially our children and grandchildren)?  Here’s a few recommendations and I’m confident that many of you have additional ideas:

  • Don’t assume a traditional 4-year college is the answer for everyone – or even for the majority of our children.  Our world is changing rapidly and the tools, skills, and training required to thrive in a career are changing as well.
  • Look at specialized educational options/programs.  Some are offered by trade/technical schools that include training in technology, healthcare, accounting/finance industries, among others.
  • Don’t forget about the fast-emerging ‘gig’ economy and the endless entrepreneurial opportunities these represent.  The barriers to entry are very low to source and distribute products via the internet with very little capital and almost no infrastructure.  And there are a myriad of products, services, and other creative ways to make a living in today’s world – mostly because we can reach people (digitally) so much easier than ever before. 

It’s a whole new world today for our children and just like so many other assumptions are being re-assessed, it’s time for all of us to re-evaluate the prudence of sending our children to college and trusting that it will be money (and time) well spent. 

I always welcome your thoughts…

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Peter’s New Kindle Book: 3 Truths and 7 Mindsets

If you follow this blog you know that I’ve been “heads down” for this past year writing a book on healthy mindsets that give any of us the best opportunity to experience Jesus’ abundant life.

The book is entitled: 3 Truths & 7 Mindsets: Changing the way we think to experience Jesus’ promise of ‘abundant’ peace, joy, and purpose. Kindle Version link

Here’s the essence of my aim:

Each one of us desires to experience a deep, sustained sense of joy, peace, and purpose.  It’s how God designed us.  In reality though, these are elusive to most people, even those who are faith-filled and otherwise successful. 

Why do these attributes escape our grasp?  Is it because life is hard and not particularly fair?  Or because we have unrealistic expectations that often lead to disappointment?  Or regrets about our past and nagging worries about the future?  Or perhaps it’s that we don’t really trust God and His sovereignty? 

This book provides a simple, powerful set of principles to equip you to experience a deep and pervasive sense of joy, peace, and purpose regardless of your circumstances, your talents, your bank account, or even your achievements.  Your ability to experience them is less about what you know and far more about what you believe (our truths) and how you think (our mindsets).  

This is the journey I’ve been on for nearly two decades now – transitioning from the workaholic, Type “A” person who was intent to solve all of my problems by working hard and accomplishing everything I set out to do…to a Jesus-follower who embraces a small, healthier and more liberating set of truths and mindsets that are life-giving. 

Jesus’ invitation and promise is irresistible, Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest (Matt 11:28).

I’d like to invite you on the journey with me…

I’ve had a few trusted friends read the book and there is one principle that seems to resonate with people more powerfully than I would have predicted: “do the next right thing.”  At the risk that this musing is a bit longer than normal, I thought I’d share this excerpt in case it is helpful and it comes from a Chapter entitled, God’s in control…of the outcomes:

Let go…

My default mode for too many years had been to take control of any situation and to ‘make things happen’ in life.  Dependence on most anything was uncomfortable.  As I’m learning to embrace (and love) this mindset and become far-less ‘driven,’ my dependence on God and His Spirit working in and through me also becomes more attainable.  

I can hear your objections from where I’m writing: It’s easy to say, “let go and let God” but it’s close to impossible for most of us to put this pithy principle into practice.  How does a human, even a Jesus-follower, who is taught from an early age to be independent and self-reliant in life genuinely take his or her hands off the steering wheel of life and let God ‘take the wheel’?  It’s just not our natural inclination!

And yet, when we get this right, it’s amazingly liberating because we aren’t just relying on our own strength to accomplish whatever we set out to do in life.  Instead, we’re plugging-in to where God is working and trusting him to equip us to help accomplish His purposes.  Paul’s words in Philippians are encouraging and reinforce the notion: I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me (Phil 4:13).

Best-selling author Sarah Young, in her devotional, Jesus Calling: Enjoying Peace in His Presence echoes this encouragement to the reader from Jesus’ perspective: 

Follow Me wherever I lead, without worrying about how it will all turn out. Think of your life as an adventure, with Me as your Guide and Companion. Live in the now, concentrating on staying in step with Me.

When our path leads to a cliff, be willing to climb it with My help. When we come to a resting place, take time to be refreshed in My Presence. Enjoy the rhythm of life lived close to Me. You already know the ultimate destination of your journey: your entrance into heaven. So keep your focus on the path just before you, leaving outcomes up to Me.

Try loosening the grip of your hands and invite Jesus to live in and through you.  Once you’ve chosen to embrace the three core Truths outlined in the previous section, you’ll have the confidence and assurance that God can be trusted with the outcomes.

Do the next, right thing

In case you misinterpreted this first mindset to say, “I don’t really have to do anything – just give it all to God” – that’s not the message!  We still have to be diligent and responsible.  We’re still on a journey of learning, discovering, and growing so that we’re well-equipped to be used by God at work, at home, in church, and in our communities.  But we can pursue all of these things with a genuine sense of peace that God can be trusted with the outcomes in our pursuits and in our lives.

And yes, there are times in our lives when we get overwhelmed.  We may have more priorities than we can possibly manage; a serious illness that prevents us from doing our work effectively; a semester of difficult courses in college that are challenging and seemingly beyond our capabilities; or perhaps even the pressure of a struggling business or a lingering job search as our bank account dwindles to dangerously low balances.

When there are more alligators in the pond-of-life than you can possibly manage – don’t endeavor to accomplish everything at once.  This strategy tends to paralyze even the most capable people. 

Instead, there’s a simple, game-changing principle that’s effective amidst overwhelming circumstances: just do the next, right thing!  You may be tempted to ruminate on your regrets about how you got into this situation, but you can’t change the past.  You also can’t influence the future much at all, even if you endlessly fret about it.  Consider one question that most matters: what’s the next, right thing I can do to make progress today?  And then pause long enough to invite God to give you clarity in identifying your priorities and next steps.

Eventually, as you make progress, you’ll pause long enough to poke your head up and realize just how far you’ve come and how many things you have accomplished – by simply doing the next, right thing.  And very often, the best way we can see our progress in the face of difficult circumstances is by looking backwards at where we have come from instead of being daunted by the enormity of what lies ahead.  Keep things simple – focus on doing the next right thing and learn to trust God with the rest. 

When we get this right… 

We wake up each morning, put our feet (or knees) on the floor and humbly pray, “Lord, I don’t know entirely what lies ahead, but I trust you with this day.  I’m trusting and grateful that today’s activities – my appointments and even the people I meet – are in your care.  I’ll choose to trust that good will come from whatever may transpire and I pray more than anything, that Your will be done.  Help me to see the world as you see it – to celebrate what you celebrate and grieve what breaks your heart.  And finally, Lord, I pray that you’ll equip me to be a prayerful and peace-filled observer of what you orchestrate and that I have the privilege of witnessing.  I will rest well embracing the knowledge that you are sovereign and I am not, thankfully!”

If you do decide to download the Kindle version of the book I’d appreciate you taking an extra minute to rate the book (honestly).  Thanks for taking the time to read this excerpt and I always value your feedback and thoughts!

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