An Olympic Attitude for Life

The 2018 Winter Olympics from Pyeong Chang, South Korea, are in full swing. We are witnessing amazing athletic feats, records broken, and intense competitions as athletes from around the world go for the gold and the title of being the ‘best in the world.’ It is fun to root on the various countries and to celebrate their athletes’ accomplishments with them. We are amazed at the skill these Olympic athletes have developed through their dedication. They have worked hard, sacrificing much, and surrendering their will to their coaches, mentors, and to the rigors of intense training.

 

It takes a great deal to be a world-class athlete. Malcolm Gladwell, a journalist, speaker, and author, in his book “Outliers: The Story of Success”…talks of a ‘10,000 hour rule.’ Gladwell reports that studies show when a person willing sets their mind to practice and perfect a craft or skill to the extent of 10,000+ hours, they will achieve a world-class expertise. Ten thousand hours is 8 hours per day, 5 days per week, 44 weeks per year, for 5 and half years. Now, speed that up a bit and someone can be an Olympic contender in 4 years! What is behind all this is the attitude of change. These athletes want to get better, they want to see progress, they want to grow, and they want to change. They realize that what got them to one level of achievement will not get them to the next level. They must change and grow and take on that Olympic attitude of change.

 

This Olympic attitude of change is also a wonderful attitude for life. Life requires change. We grow and change as we mature and if we want to achieve anything in life, change is a must. If we want to learn a skill, get better at our job, be a parent, have a marriage, or be a friend, it all necessitates change. However, change is not as easy as we would like, so we tend to avoid change, put off change, even ignore change. What is even more confusing about our human nature is we want to grow and improve by doing the same things the same way, but expect different results. What? Is that not the definition of insanity? Albert Einstein is claimed to have said, “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, but expecting different results”. Yep. That describes my work out routine. I do the same thing most every day and wonder why I don’t see change!!

 

It is the same way for life. If we want to improve at school or work, it will involve change. If we want to be a better friend, spouse, mom, dad, or family member, it demands change. If we want to enhance a skill, be healthier, or learn a sport, it entails change. Change is the willingness to grow. God encourage us to grow.

1 Corinthians 13:11 When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways.

Change is a choice. We can either choose to stay the same or we can choose to do things differently and change.

Proverbs 1:5 Let the wise hear and increase in learning, and the one who understands obtain guidance.

This Olympic attitude of change is a choice to learn and gain guidance.

 

God calls us to make changes – to grow – and learn more about Him.

2 Peter 3:18 But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory both now and to the day of eternity. Amen.

2 Peter 1:5-7 For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love.

The words ‘make every effort’ mean to supply at your own risk. It other words, to take on the attitude and grit of change and seek to improve in being good (virtuous), knowing more about God and His way of life, and practicing self control, perseverance, godly living, being a good friend, and loving like Jesus. It all takes change.

 

It is insanity to think we will improve or be better without change. What small or even great changes could you make to take on this Olympic attitude of change?

 

One good change for life is the choice to attend church or be more consistent in attending church. If you do not already have a church where you attend, we would like to invite you to Cypress Church or any of our branch churches. Our website has all the information you would need www.cypresschurch.net. It would be fun to connect with you.

 

Seeking to practice an attitude of change along with you,

 

Mike

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An Olympic Trait for Life

Yes, the Winter Olympics are here, the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat. (Some of you will remember that phrase from ABC’s Wild World of Sports TV show). We love the tension of competition, the art of athleticism, the excitement of triumph, and yes, the anguish of an epic fail. The Olympics bring all that sports competition to an even greater dynamic, being these athletes are the best of the best volleying for the prestigious title of best in the world! It truly is thrilling.

 

In addition, there is an excitement to cheer on the country of your birth, ancestry, or choice. In these 2018 Olympic Winter games there are over 92 countries represented, with a few making their Winter Olympic debut this year: Ecuador, Eritrea (East Africa), Kosovo, Malaysia, Nigeria, and Singapore. I hear the Nigerian woman’s bobsled team is one to watch! What countries are you rooting for? Being I have Canadian roots, and Canada certainly shines in the Winter Games, I love to see them do well.

 

Competing from all these amazing countries are some 2,952 Olympians. They will be competing in events like Bobsledding, Luge, Skeleton (sliding down a twisty-turny course at break-neck speed on a small sled with only a helmet as protection!!), Ice Hockey, Figure Skating, Speed Skating, Curling (Go Canada, eh!), Alpine and Freestyle Skiing, Snowboarding, Biathlon, Cross-Country Skiing, Ski Jumping, and Nordic Combined (ski jumping and cross-country skiing). What is your favorite event?

 

Whatever the event, these amazing athletes have gone through the rigor of intensive training, sat under the instruction of expert coaches, listened to the input of qualified mentors, spent hours upon hours upon hours of honing their skill. In all of this they demonstrate an Olympic trait we could successfully use to live the life God created us to live. This trait is not some exclusive attribute bestowed on the gifted. This quality is not reserved for the wealthy, though it does come with a cost. This characteristic is not only available to the strong, but does require a personal strength that will at times command an inner power found in the depth of soul. This trait is available to every person and most use it on a regular basis. Some moments and occupations require more of it and it is essential to faith.

 

Now many of the best athletes will not call this trait by its name, but simply say they made choices, choices to do some things and choices not to do others. Choice is the essence of this trait, the vehicle of this quality. This characteristic could be defined as choice to give up something of value, in other words, to sacrifice. Each athlete at these Olympic games made many sacrifices to get where they are. They made sacrificial choices each day to improve, to get better, to extend beyond. We can make sacrificial choices as well to improve, get better, and extend beyond.

 

Quite honestly, to be the amazing people God created us to be takes sacrifice. We live in a world and wrapped into our DNA is a tendency to seek personal power over God’s purpose, immediate desire over The Lord’s destiny, and self-focus over the abundant and significant life God has for each of us. It takes sacrifice to choose God’s best and His way of life.

Philippians 2:3-4 Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.

Matthew 16:24 Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.

Hebrews 13:16 Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God.

 

Sacrifice does not just happen. It is a choice of the will, where we give up something to gain something greater. If we want to enjoy the blessing of knowing God more, it’s going to take some sacrifice to read the Bible and attend church. If we want to love our neighbor as Matthew 22:39 says, or help out at church or in our community, to do the good works we were created to do Ephesians 2:10, it will require sacrifice of our time. To be generous as 2 Corinthians 9:7 and Proverbs 11:25 says will take the sacrifice of maybe going with out so we can give. Yet each of these opportunities of sacrifice creates an opportunity for us to become the wonderful people God created us to be. Why not make some sacrificial choices to where you sense the pangs of giving up so you can be who God has created you to be? It could change your life.

 

Church can be a great opportunity to learn about sacrifice. You might actually enjoy your time and learn a few things. If you do not already have a church where you attend, we would like to invite you to Cypress Church or any of our branch churches. Our website has all the information you would need www.cypresschurch.net. We would love to connect with you.

 

Seeking to make some sacrifices along with you,

 

Mike

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The Heart is the Matter

 

Proverbs 4:23 Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life.

 

I saw something interesting this past week at a coffee shop my wife and I frequent. One worker seemed to have just taken a triple-shot of espresso, she was on fire! She was making drinks with gusto and flair. She was singing as she swirled caramel, with a swish and a flick, and a loud, “YES!” She did a little dance as topped another drink with a mountain of whipped cream. All the while she was affirming each cup as a masterpiece with their destiny to bring pleasure and joy. She would then hand the drink to the lucky recipient with a huge smile and some words like, “Great choice! This is going make this night even better!! Enjoy.” To each customer she had affirmations, compliments, and fun sayings that brought on a smile. One customer, who had been watching her as he waited for his drink, said to her, “You must really love your job.” She immediately stopped in mid-dash of chocolate flakes that she was adorning her latest drink-work-of-art, and looked at that customer and with a growing wide smile and said, “Yes I do, I love our team, you wonderful guests, and (she kind of giggled) I really love coffee!” And with a squeal she looked down at that drink, took a breath with a confident smile, and placed a final dash of those chocolate flakes to finish of the drink. It was obvious; her heart was in this job!

 

Now on down on the other end of the counter was a different story. The worker preparing these drinks was not so chipper. Their face was almost blank as they slowly, s-l-o-w-l-y went about their tasks. They seemed confused as other workers had to remind them, “This was non-fat, not soy. No, see here it says ‘no whip.’ Sorry but this is supposed to be an iced coffee, not hot.” This not-with-it worker was also checking their phone at most every opportunity and kept looking at the clock. When they called out the names for a customer to receive their drinks this worker said it so softly most everyone one around the counter asked what they said. The worker just ignored the questioning and turned away. It was obvious; their heart was NOT in this job.

 

It matters where our heart is. If the core of our being is happy, joyful, at peace, secure, content it’s going to show. So will the opposite. As Proverbs 4:23 says the center of our being matters. Now a great truth of humanity is we can choose the condition of our heart. We can choose to forgive and melt away bitterness. We can choose to be content and push back that insatiable wanting. We can choose to enjoy the moment and ignore the ‘what-ifs.’ Our choice affects our heart. Jesus put it this way…

Matthew 6:21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

What we treasure and value will shape the center of our being, which in turn influences our actions. It was obvious what that first worker treasured. I’m not sure what that other worker valued, but it was not the job at hand. What do the actions of your life say about your heart?

 

Now what make things a bit difficult is we were born with some heart issues (see Jeremiah 17:9, Romans 3:23, Romans 7:15-20). Yet God wants to give us a new heart if we so choose.

Ezekiel 36:26 And I (God) will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.

That’s why King David of ancient Israel, after making a mess of things when his heart got him into all kinds of trouble, prayed this…

Psalms 51:10 Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me.

Turning to God in prayer is key for us experiencing this transformation.

Philippians 4:6-7 do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

 

That amazing worker inspired me to think about my heart and what I treasure. I know I need God’s work on my heart because it’s all too easy to treasure things that influence my heart in a not-so-great way. Here’s a challenge from God’s Word…

Philippians 4:8 Finally, brothers (and sisters), whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.

 

Church is a great place to be open to God’s work on our heart. If you do not already have a church where you attend, we would like to invite you to Cypress Church or any of our branch churches. Our website has all the information you would need www.cypresschurch.net.

 

Making good heart choices along with you,

 

Mike

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Let’s Give Back!

I heard a story a while back that rocked my thinking. Maybe it will challenge yours. I am not sure if this happening was true, but enough of it sounds believable that it could have happened. It’s a story about a storeowner who built up quite a good business as a small town hardware store. It was one of those stores that had everything and if they did not have the unique piece of hardware you were looking for, they knew how to find it. The employees were both young and old and very helpful, having a great customer service attitude. Many of the students in the town worked at the store and were considered family. The storeowner had a heart for his community: sponsoring local teams, helping his employees with college expenses, giving service time and finances to local charities and town projects, and also giving back to the community with discounted, and many times free, items to the town’s public works and maintenance shops.

 

Well, the recession hit and the business was moving along at a very slow pace. The storeowner had to dip into his personal savings to keep some of his most needy employees working. Regardless, he kept giving back as he was able. One day, when one of his friends, who was fairly unscathed by the recession, promoted in his company with hefty bonuses, and able to buy a new, bigger house on the other side of town, came in to the hardware store. This friend and the owner went through the whole store, bringing more and more stuff up to the checkout counter: new faucets, new doors and matching hardware, new light fixtures, new outdoor lighting, even a new lawn mower! The storeowner was ecstatic! He could finally make payroll. This purchase would bring in much needed revenue.

 

As an enthusiastic cashier rang up the order and was just about to announce the grand total, the friend reached over to the storeowner and said, “Hey Buddy, how about the old ‘friends and family discount’?” The storeowner was stunned, and little befuddled. If he gave him a discount, much of his profits would be gone. The storeowner answered back, “Well, Bill, this has been a tough year. You know how bad it’s been.” Bill looked a bit stunned, but smiled back and said, “Awe, come on Frank. What about just 10%?” Frank took a firm stance, looked Bill in the eye and said, “Why not give me the ‘friends and family blessing’ and pay 10% more!” Wow! That makes us think!

 

How would you respond if you were Bill? The reality is, it is so easy to be just like Bill, looking to get a deal or a discount over giving back. We rarely think of giving back to the companies that have blessed us with their good service, good products, or good merchandise. Now, we may not have to volunteer to pay 10% more, but we can leave a good tip, refer people to their store, or show a little customer loyalty. The notion here is to shift from getting to giving back. To give back to the businesses we frequent, but also to the cities, churches, schools, and other organizations around us. To give back, not get, not volunteering to be seen or for what we get out of helping, but to serve just because that’s what good people do. The Bible challenges us to give back.

Proverbs 3:27 Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due when it is in your power to do it.

Galatians 6:10 So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith.

2 Corinthians 9:7 Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.

 

Now yes, there is a blessing in giving back. But the blessing comes from God in His way.

Matthew 6:3-4 But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.

Luke 6:38 give, and it will be given to you. Good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap. For with the measure you use it will be measured back to you.”

 

So let’s give back. Let’s be generous. Let’s serve, looking to purely help rather than to get or push our power around. Let’s give back and bless our communities and neighborhoods. How could you give back this week?

 

Church is also a great place not only to learn about giving back, but we can give back there as well. If you do not already have a church where you attend, we would like to invite you to Cypress Church or any of our branch churches. Our website has all the information you would need www.cypresschurch.net. We would love to connect with you.

 

Seeking to give back along with you,

 

Mike

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You Matter!

I am amazed at how much I learn from my grandkids! I was out walking with one of them and he was noticing everything, “Papa look at the trees with all their leaves.” “Papa there’s a birdie.” “Papa” he said as he pointed to the sky with great enthusiasm “a plane”. “Papa, look, ants.” This discovery time was great and all, but it was impeding our trek to the park. As I reached for his hand to help guide him to the park he pulled away towards the ants and said, “I have to help the ants.” He was worried because they were crossing the sidewalk and he did not want them to get stepped on. He found a leaf and gingerly brushed them towards the grass. I tried to persuade him with all the fun he would have in the park, but he was determined with his rescue efforts. He handed me a leaf and asked me to help! I tried again to pull him away, but he was intent on completing his mission. So I joined in. Within a few minutes we diverted the ants back to the safety of the grass. My grandson got up and with a big satisfied smile, reached out for my hand and said, “Let’s go to the park now, Papa.”

 

As we were walking towards the park I was mulling over my grandson’s intensity to care for ants and that these ants really mattered to him. His care was greatest for what most people would call the least or insignificant or even pests. I did not even notice them, but he did and he helped me to see them and help them. My thoughts brought me to us as people and I wondered how many people feel insignificant, invisible, and even like pests? I’m sure many do. Yet, that is not how God sees us. He notices. He stops to rescue. We matter to Him. The Bible is jam-packed full of God’s truths about how we matter. Here are a few:

Psalms 86:15 But you, O Lord, are God merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness.

Isaiah 54:10 For the mountains may depart and the hills be removed, but My steadfast love shall not depart from you, and My covenant of peace shall not be removed,” says the Lord, who has compassion on you.

The word ‘steadfast’ is a Hebrew word meaning loyal or committed love, not based on a condition or circumstance, but on God’s choice to love. In other words, we matter to God because He chose to love and esteem us. It’s a faithful and trustworthy love we can count on and rely on. God’s love is not something we earn, nor does He love us more if we act a certain way. That’s amazing love! You matter to God.

Song of Songs 2:4 He (God) brought me to the banqueting house, and His banner over me was love.

God’s sign over our lives is that we are greatly loved. You matter. The God of the universe has chosen to love you and me. Even though we are not very lovely at times and we have this genetic problem of sin (see Romans 3:23, Isaiah 59:2). Yet because of God’s love, He has even dealt with our issue.

1 John 4:10 In this is love, not that we have loved God but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins.

‘Propitiation’ means atoning sacrifice. In other words, God sent Jesus out of love for us to deal with our issue of sin because we matter to God. Jesus went through an awful ordeal to cure us of our sin disease because we matter to Him.

Psalms 119:64 The earth, O LORD, is full of your steadfast love; teach me your statutes!

Romans 5:8 but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

 

We matter to God, but also each of us matters in the reaching out to others.

1 John 4:11 Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.

Philippians 2:4 Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.

Ephesians 4:32 Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.

 

My grandson reminded me through this little moment with some little ants that we matter to God and our interaction matters to others. See, you matter!

 

One great place to be reminded of God’s great love and our calling towards others is church. If you do not already have a church where you attend, we would like to invite you to Cypress Church or any of our branch churches. Our website has all the information you would need www.cypresschurch.net. And yes, you matter to us!

 

Seeking to live in the truth that we matter along with you,

 

Mike

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The Strength in Hope!

We live around some amazing people! I am so impressed at the depth of character, the breath of kindness and humility, and their great strength in hope. They seem to have a never-ending supply of hope or huge emotional well of fresh hope to draw from. I was talking with a man a while back whose wife had been in a care facility due to her dementia and physical health. Despite the long daily drives, tedious feeding times, and the lack of communication that once was there, but was no longer and greatly missed, he had hope. Not hope she would be miraculously healed, though that hope was not excluded. His hope was a confidence that whatever the circumstance, however the difficulty or struggles, it would be all right!! I talked with another who lost their job and the though the job market seem bleak and after months of trying being overqualified and under-qualified, facing numerous rejection and hearing numerous times, “we went for the other applicant,” they still had hope. Not hope for an amazing job to appear, though that was part of the desire, but hope a drawn from a deeper well that gave them that peace that surpasses understanding.

 

I have seen the strength of hope empower the deflated, inspire the weary, comfort the downtrodden, revitalize the drained, embolden the discouraged, and renew the exhausted. Yes! Hope energizes, invigorates, exhilarates, pushes, rallies, refreshes, and gives courage! Drawing from the well of hope gives us strength to not continue the cycle of insults, hate, and anger but gives us the power to do good even in the face of evil.

1 Peter 3:9 Do not repay evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary, bless, for to this you were called, that you may obtain a blessing.

The deep well of hope is in the promise of God and from His Word, the Bible. The next few verses add to this well of hope…

1 Peter 3:10-12 For “Whoever desires to love life and see good days, let him keep his tongue from evil and his lips from speaking deceit; let him turn away from evil and do good; let him seek peace and pursue it. For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, and His ears are open to their prayer. But the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.”

 

Tapping into the emotional reservoir of hope gives us strength to not give up and keep going when we get sick, feel alone, things don’t go our way, or have set backs.

Deuteronomy 31:6 Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread of them, for it is the Lord your God who goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you.”

Our hope is in God who cares and loves us enough to be with us, and who will fight for us!

Deuteronomy 20:4 for the Lord your God is He who goes with you to fight for you against your enemies, to give you the victory.

 

What is your hope in? I know for me, and many others the deep hope-reserve of faith in God gives the emotional strength to make it through life. What about you? There is strength in hope.

 

Church is a great hope-filling place. If you do not already have a church where you attend, we would like to invite you to Cypress Church or any of our branch churches. Our website has all the information you would need www.cypresschurch.net.

 

Seeking to exercise the strength of hope along with you,

 

Mike

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