Poetry Saturday—If All My Days Were Sunny

If all my days were sunny, could I say,
“In His fair land He wipes all tears away”?

If I were never weary, could I keep
This blessed truth, “He gives His loved ones sleep”?

If no grave were mine, I might come to deem
The Life Eternal but a baseless dream.

My winter, and my tears, and weariness,
Even my grave, may be His way to bless.

I called them ills; yet that can surely be
Nothing but love that shows my Lord to me!

—Anonymous

7 Tips For A Better Night’s Sleep

Psalm 4.8It’s no secret that being tired can lead to a lot of not-so-nice consequences. Everything from automobile crashes, to poor work performance, to foot-in-mouth statements, to giving in to temptations, to health issues are all traced back to not getting enough peaceful sleep.

But did you know that sweet sleep is something God wants to give you?

Psalm 127 says, “God grants sleep to those He loves.” Guess what? God loves you, and wants you to have a peaceful night’s sleep!

Here are some benefits to getting solid sack time:

  1. Muscles are repaired—the body “turns off” muscles during sleep so they can repair themselves.
  2. The hormone leptin, that regulates your appetite, is adjusted.
  3. Your blood pressure is lowered.
  4. Your heart rate is lowered.
  5. The energy-producing cells we all need are restocked.
  6. Your immune system is re-energized.
  7. Memories are consolidated from short-term memory banks to long-term memories.
  8. The hormones that allow you to concentrate are replenished.
  9. Your “database” of decision-making options is re-calibrated.
  10. Bottom line—you get healthier physically, mentally, emotionally, relationally, and spiritually.

All of this God wants to give to those He loves. “God loves me, so I’m going to sleep peacefully tonight!”

The problem is we often sabotage God’s blessing of sweet sleep by our own poor decisions during the day. So here are seven things you can do to cooperate with God’s blessing of sleep:

  1. Reduce stress. Stress causes your body to release cortisol, which prepares your body for fight-or-flight. This means when you’re trying to quiet down for the night, your body is still screaming, “Go, go go!” Stress is mainly triggered by worrying over things outside of our control, so check out what Jesus said to us about not worrying—Matthew 6:25-34.
  2. Reduce late-day caffeine. Caffeine has a half-life of six hours, so if you are pouring it into your body late in the date, you might fall into bed exhausted but the caffeine is keeping your brain buzzing. As a result, you don’t have the normal deep sleep patterns.
  3. Eliminate emotional caffeine. Arguments with other people release cortisol and adrenaline in your bloodstream. If these disagreements are happening later in the day, your body is fighting against God’s plan for your tranquil sleep. So take care of any disagreements quickly (Ephesians 4:26).
  4. Exercise. Getting some movement into your daily routine flushes cortisol and adrenaline from your bloodstream.
  5. Go to bed and get up at the same time. There’s a reason God made the sun to rise and set at predictable times. Your body also functions best on a predictable schedule.
  6. Reduce “blue lights” close to bed time. The blue light waves of dawn tell our bodies to stop releasing melatonin, the sleepy hormone. The red light waves of dusk tell our bodies to increase melatonin so we can go to sleep. But when we’re staring into the blue light of our phones and tablets, our body is being sent a conflicting signal.
  7. Pray. Two great passages you can pray before bedtime are Psalm 4:8 and Proverbs 3:24. Claim those promises of sweet sleep!

God loves you. He wants to give you the blessing of peaceful sleep. If you’re going to sleep peacefully tonight, make sure you are not sabotaging what God wants to give you.

Notes From The Global Leadership Summit

I had an amazing time last week at the Willow Creek Global Leadership Summit. Every year I came away with some many thoughts, and a brand new passion for the various leadership roles in which I get to serve.

Below are just a few of my notes that I jotted down during an intense two days.

Hybels - everybody winsBill Hybels—The Lens Of Leadership

“Everybody wins when a leader gets better.”

“Armed with enough humility, leaders can learn from anyone.”

Hybels discussed four leadership lenses:

1.   Passionate leader (depicted by vibrant bright red frames)

  • They understand unbridled passion in leadership.
  • “Passion is like protein for the team.”
  • A motivated worked will outperform an unmotivated worker by 40%.
  • People are more motivated by working for a passion-filled leader than they are by compensation or perks.
  • Passion comes from a mountain-top dream, or a valley-deep frustration of current settings.

2.   People leader (cool frames, but cracked lenses)

  • An organization will only be as healthy as the top leader wants it to be.
  • This world needs more pastors of businesses, factories, medical offices, military units, etc.

3.   Performance leader (self-adjusting glasses)

  • Leaders ask: what progress should be made? how do we measure this? what doesn’t need to be measured?
  • Every worker wants to know how they are doing. For the leader, it’s cruel to hire someone and never let them know how they’re doing. Every staff member should get an update at least every six months.

4.   Legacy leader (sunglasses with a rearview mirror [cyclist])

  • Every once in awhile we need to look behind to see what legacy we’re leaving behind.
  • Leaders should reflect on this annually.
  • If my leadership assignment were to end today, what legacy would I leave?

Mulally - overcommunicateAlan Mulally—CEO Boeing and Ford Motor Company

An average commercial airline has 4 million parts!

  • People first
  • Include everyone
  • Create a compelling vision
  • Present a workable strategy
  • Set clear performance goals
  • Relentless implementation
  • Share lots of data
  • “Over-communicate the plan and the current status against the plan.”
  • Instill a positive can-do attitude
  • Keep your emotional resilience
  • Have fun

 

Melinda Gates - hear the criesMelinda Gates—Gates Foundation

Melinda says of herself, “I am an impatient optimist. We are changing the world, but we need to change it faster.”

 

“At the end of the day, you have to hear the cries of those in need, let your heart break and act in courage.”

Jossy Chacko—Empart

“All of us have been entrusted with something. What are we doing to leverage it?”

In thinking about the parable of the talents … “To Jesus, faithfulness is not just sitting with what you have been given, but multiplying what you have been given. God’s mission is not maintaining.”

“Playing it safe is not enough for a follower of Jesus Christ.”

Three principles for expanding our leadership reach:

Jossy Chacko - faithfulness1. Enlarge your vision

  • “When people hear my vision, they should know the size of my God.”
  • “An enlarged vision should keep us driven.”
  • “Do not be confused about what people say about your vision; trust what God has said to you.”

2. Empower your people

  • “Leadership is about taking wise chances and giving people opportunities.”
  • “Your leadership reach will be determined by your empowerment choices.”
  • Three things to keep in mind: (1) Focus on building their character before empowering them; (2) Empowerment has to be through relationship; and (3) Make sure we have agreed on the right outcomes, and have the right way to measure them.

3. Embrace risk

  • Faith = risk. Without faith it is impossible to please God = without taking risks it is impossible to please God.
  • Paradigms to be changed: (1) See risk as your friend to love, not as your enemy to be feared; (2) See comfort and safety as your enemies; and (3) Increase your pain threshold.
  • “Your leadership capacity is in direct relationship to your pain threshold.”
  • “Don’t allow the fear of losing what we have to lose what God has in store for you.”
  • “By me not taking risks, who is missing out?”

Bradberry - EQDr. Travis Bradberry—TalentSmart

All inputs into the brain travel through the limbic system first (emotional center) before the inputs travel to the frontal cortex. The EI (emotional intelligence) center is in the front of the brain, just above the left eye.

Only 36% of people are able to accurately identify their emotions as they happen.

EQ (the Emotional Quotient that measures emotional intelligence) is not IQ.

EQ can be improved all throughout life.

Four components of emotional intelligence:

 1. Self-awareness: knowing my emotions, and knowing my tendencies. I need to lean into my discomfort if I want to improve.

   2. Self-management: what I do with this increased self-awareness. This is not “stuffing” my feelings. The biggest mistake is only trying to manage negative emotions; positive emotions need to be managed too.

   3. Social awareness: focusing more on others than on myself.

   4. Relationship management: using the first three skills in concert. Seeing how my behavior is affecting the other person, and then adjusting accordingly.

 

How to increase my EQ:

  1. Control stress—stress under control is healthy; chronic stress is unhealthy. Gratitude reduces the stress hormone cortisol.
  2. Clean up my sleep hygiene—sleep cleans up toxic hormones in the brain. To get better sleep: (1) Don’t take any kind of sleeping pill; and (2) Reduce “blue lights” in the evening.
  3. Reduce my caffeine input—especially after noon.

Ideal team playerPatrick Lencioni—Author

Three qualities of an ideal team player:

1.   Humble

  • Lacking self-confidence is not humility.
  • “Denying skills and downplaying abilities is not humility.”

2.   Hungry

  • Strong work ethic
  • Driving hard

3.   Smart

  • Not intellectual smarts, but people smarts = EQ

“To develop people, we have to have the courage to humbly and constantly talk to people about their ‘stuff.’”

McChesney - execution disciplinesChris McChesney—Franklin Covey

Rahm Charan asked:

  • Q: Do leaders struggle more with strategy or execution? A: Execution.
  • Q: Are leaders more educated in strategy or execution? A. Strategy.

“The hardest thing a leader will ever do is drive a strategy that changes someone’s behavior.”

There are four disciplines for making changes in human behavior:

1.  Focus

  • “Focus on the wildly important.”
  • If a team focuses on 2-3 goals, they are likely to get them done. But if there are 4-10 goals, momentum is killed. At 11+ goals, the team is going backward.
  • We narrow the focus by coming up with a WIG: wildly important goal (this lives at the intersection of ‘really important’ and ‘not going to happen’).

2.  Leverage

  • “What are the fewest number of battles necessary to win the war?”
  • “When you want to go big, don’t think big, think narrow.”
  • One WIG per team at the same time. Everything else is in sustainment mode.
  • Make goals like this—“From x to y by when.”

3.  Engagement

  • “The biggest driver of engagement is when people feel like they’re winning.”
  • “Do the people who work for me feel like they’re playing a winnable game?”

4.  Accountability

  • Everyone needs to answer: “What are the things I do that have the biggest impact on the WIG?”
  • After sharing the scoreboard, allow people to determine what they need to do next. The people need to determine their own next moves, not the leader. The leader pulls this out of people.

Erin Meyer - contextErin Meyer—INSEAD

On The Culture Map communication is divided into Low vs. High Context:

  • Low = feel we don’t have the same context or relationship. We feel we need to explain things very simply and explicitly.
  • High = we assume we have a larger body of shared reference points. We feel communication is more implicit or nuanced.

Anglo-Saxon countries are typically low context.

Latin American are mid-low.

Asian countries are usually high context.

In low context we tend to nail things down in writing, where in high context we leave things more open to later interpretation.

“Context impacts communication. … We need to read both the messages ‘in the air’ as well as the explicitly stately messages.”

“In a high context culture, repeat things less, ask more questions, learn to ‘read the air.’”

 

Maxwell - 3 questionsJohn Maxwell—Author 

“Good leaders lift.”

“You have to find the people before you lead the people.”

“The one thing leaders have to get right—they must intentionally add value to people every day.”

 

Five things that intentionally adds value to people:

  1. Value people—“God values people I don’t know; He even value people I don’t like.” “Are we going to spend our lives connecting with people, or correcting them?”
  2. Think of ways to add value to people—“Intentional living is thinking upfront on how to help people.”
  3. Look for ways to add value to people.
  4. Do things that add value to people.
  5. Encourage others to add value to people.

If you attended the GLS, please share in the comments below something amazing / challenging / paradigm-busting that you learned. Let’s all keep on learning!

Is Christ Real To Me?

John WesleyJohn Wesley was deeply introspective about his faith in Jesus Christ. He once wrote—

“I did go thus far for many years…using diligence to eschew all evil, and to have a conscience void of offense; redeeming the time; buying up every opportunity of doing all good to all men; constantly and carefully using all the public and all the private means of grace; endeavoring after a steady seriousness of behavior, at all times, and in all places; and, God is my record, before Whom I stand, doing all this in sincerity; having a real design to serve God; a hearty desire to do His will in all things; to please Him who had called me to ‘fight the good fight,’ and to ‘lay hold of eternal life.’ Yet my own conscience beareth me witness in the Holy Ghost, that all this time I was but almost a Christian.”

To help keep himself on the right path, Wesley came up with this list of questions he regularly asked himself. This is a list any Christian would do well to read through regularly—

  1. Am I consciously or unconsciously creating the impression that I am better than I am? In other words, am I a hypocrite?
  2. Am I honest in all my acts and words, or do I exaggerate?
  3. Do I confidentially pass onto another what was told me in confidence?
  4. Am I a slave to dress, friends, work, or habits?
  5. Am I self-conscious, self-pitying, or self-justifying?
  6. Did the Bible live in me today?
  7. Do I give it time to speak to me everyday?
  8. Am I enjoying prayer?
  9. When did I last speak to someone about my faith?
  10. Do I pray about the money I spend?
  11. Do I get to bed on time and get up on time?
  12. Do I disobey God in anything?
  13. Do I insist upon doing something about which my conscience is uneasy?
  14. Am I defeated in any part of my life?
  15. Am I jealous, impure, critical, irritable, touchy or distrustful?
  16. How do I spend my spare time?
  17. Am I proud?
  18. Do I thank God that I am not as other people, especially as the Pharisee who despised the publican?
  19. Is there anyone whom I fear, dislike, disown, criticize, hold resentment toward or disregard? If so, what am I going to do about it?
  20. Do I grumble and complain constantly?
  21. Is Christ real to me?

Break Free From Porn—5 Quotes That Will Help You

The Porn CircuitThe Porn Circuit is a great book to make you aware of the dangers of pornography. You can read my full book review of this free downloadable book here, and check out the first set of quotes I shared by clicking here.

Here are some additional quotes specifically to help you break free from the hold pornography has on your life.

Your #1 strategy … LEARN TO HATE PORN!

Hate what it does to you, to your relationships, and to those involved in sex trafficking because of the porn industry.

#2 … Create some positive activities you can do when you’re tempted to look at porn.

“The prefrontal cortex is the decision-making logical part of the brain, and each time that a person resists temptation and each time a positive habit is reinforced, the prefrontal cortex gets stronger. That means a person’s willpower grows and the cues and cravings for porn use grow weaker.”

“This approach (of introducing positive habits) makes plastic sense because it grows a new brain circuit that gives pleasure and triggers dopamine release which, as we have seen, rewards the new activity and consolidates and grows new neural connections. This new circuit can eventually compete with the older one, and according to use it or lose it, the pathological networks will weaken. With this treatment we don’t so much ‘break’ bad habits as replace bad behaviors with better ones.” —Dr. Norman Doidge

“Whatever rewarding activity is pursued, it needs to be an activity that is reoccurring. Building new rewarding neural pathways requires time and ongoing repetition:

  1. Neurons that fire together wire together. Repeating a pleasurable activity instead of the compulsive activity, such as porn use, forms a new circuit that is gradually reinforced instead of the compulsion.
  2. Neurons that fire apart wire apart. When a person refuses to act on a compulsion, like porn and masturbation, it weakens the link between the activity and the idea that it will provide relief.”

#3 … Start using the 3-second rule.

“When watching TV, walking through the mall, or driving past billboards, temptation can strike when least expected. Many therapists recommend using the 3-Second Rule, which involves three steps:

  1. Alert: Realize that you see something inappropriate. It may only take a split-second to recognize a tempting situation.
  2. Avert: Close your eyes or look away. These first two steps should be instantaneous.
  3. Affirm: Give yourself a mental high-five to congratulate the effort. Say to yourself, ‘I saw that by mistake, and I quickly looked away. I’ve been clean for (xx number of days) and I’m going to stay that way.’”

3-Second Rule

#4 … Don’t forget to watch out for H.A.L.T. times.

“Physical care is vital to vigilance. HALT is the acronym often used by therapists to remind people of when they can be most vulnerable it stands for: hungry, angry, lonely, tired. Simply going to bed on a regular schedule to get a good night’s rest can help one’s brain be more focused on positive habits and more alert to fight temptations. Not only eating but also eating well can improve mood and feelings of well-being. Regular exercise keeps the mind more focused, the body feeling great, and improve sleep.”

Links & Quotes

link quote

“The world has put a little letter before the word ‘musing,’ and these are the days, not for musing, but for a-musing. People will go anywhere for amusement; but to muse is a strange thing to them, and they think it dull and wearisome. … Now there is much virtue in musing, especially if we muse upon the best, the highest, and the noblest of subjects. If we muse upon the things of which we hear and read in sacred Scripture, we shall do wisely. It is well to muse upon the things of God, because we thus get the real nutriment out of them. A man who hears many sermons, is not necessarily well-instructed in the faith. We may read so many religious books, that we overload our brains, and they may be unable to work under the weight of the great mass of paper and printer’s ink. The man who reads but one book, and that book his Bible, and then muses much upon it, will be a better scholar in Christ’s school than he who merely reads hundreds of books, and muses not at all.” —Charles Spurgeon

“Patients do not serve their physicians. They trust them for good prescriptions. The Sermon on the Mount is our Doctor’s medical advice, not our Employer’s job description.” —John Piper

“Every time I open my Bible I will read it as the Word of ‘God, that cannot lie;’ and when I get a promise or a threatening, I will either rejoice or tremble because I know that these stand fast.” —Charles Spurgeon

I can use this: 25 habits to get a better night’s sleep.

Rev. Tim Dilena has an amazing reminder of God’s perfect timing in sending Jesus to earth—He Couldn’t Have Timed It Any Better.

“Given the Greek and Roman acceptance of homosexuality, it is difficult to overstate the courage and conviction required by the early Church to write and speak out on behalf of a biblical, sexual ethic.” Read more in the article When Christians Rejected Homosexuality.

Eric Metaxas shares some good news from Baltimore.

Links & Quotes

link quote

“Think lightly of hell, and you will think lightly of the Cross. Think little of the sufferings of lost souls, and you will soon think little of the Savior Who delivers you from them. God grant we may not live to see such a Christ-dishonoring theology dominant in our times.” —Charles Spurgeon

I share a lot of quotes from Charles Haddon Spurgeon, but perhaps you may not be as familiar with him. Here is a real short biography on a man called The Prince Of Preachers.

“From the moment a creature becomes aware of God as God and of itself as self, the terrible alternative of choosing God or self for the center is opened to it. This sin is committed daily by young children and ignorant peasants as well as by sophisticated persons, by solitaries no less than by those who live in society: it is the fall in every individual life, and in each day of each individual life, the basic sin behind all particular sins: at this very moment you and I are either committing it, or about to commit it, or repenting it.” —C.S. Lewis

If you are feeling tired, perhaps this will help: 9 Factors That Can Enhance Or Hinder Your Sleep.

David Wilkerson says, “God has given us a powerful weapon to use against any attack on our faith. ” Read more in his post The Great Cloud Of Witnesses.

Science becomes scientism when it is more speculation and theory than it is facts. Here is a case in point: this article about climate change talks about trying to get people to not just look at data, but tries to sell its model/simulation.

I love this! Stop trying to perform for God. It’s holding you back.

[VIDEO] Kids tell us what love is―

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