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Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Get your eyes on the prize

by Pam Roth
What keeps us from finishing what we start?  Some may say, “It’s just the way I am...it’s part of my personality...I’ve always been like that.” Or maybe you don’t feel like you have the support you need to accomplish your dreams or goals, so you become discouraged and quit.  

Whether it be yourself or others that keep you from completing a goal, how could you overcome the cycle of not finishing and instead, press on?  

Often as an analogy, those trying to inspire us “to finish” will use examples of athletes finishing a race; but, today, I want to use an illustration from nature that was provided for me in my own backyard.  

We have a bald spruce in our yard and the cardinals love it.  Often, we see the cardinals flying in and out of that big beautiful tree - hiding and building nests.  A few years ago, we decided to hang a bird feeder near that tree, so that the birds in our yard could have a bed and breakfast of sorts.  

We had a finch feeder and some seed in our garage, so we hung it up.  Unfortunately, that only frustrated the cardinals because they could not get the seeds from the smaller holes in the finch feeder; so, instead, they would fly directly to the ground to eat the leftovers provided by the other birds.  

After a few days, we decided to hang a bird feeder specifically for cardinals.  Well, do you know what those silly birds did?  You guessed it - they kept going for the leftovers.  But why?  

If only you could have seen me standing in front of my kitchen window encouraging those cardinals to “get their eyes on the prize.”  I would literally say out loud, “Come on...look up.  Get focused....you just flew past the bird feeder.  It’s yours, go for it!”  

Perhaps some of us are like those cardinals - we don’t believe that there is another option, so we quit or settle for something less.  Or maybe we convince ourselves that we don’t deserve anything better.  


So, what is it or who is it that is keeping you from finishing?  

Philippians 3:12-14 encourages us to finish, “Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me.  Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it.  But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” 

 

  • How could you apply the lesson of the cardinals to your life?  
  • What do you need to do differently to “get your eyes on the prize?”
  • And, who is it that could come alongside you and encourage you by providing the support that you need?  

Feel free to comment.

Click for Relevant Ministry Coaching and
The Nehemiah Response Model

Relevant Ministry Inc.
Training future leaders - Building healthy ministries - Serving on the Gulf Coast

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Staying on task and finishing

by Nelson Roth
To finish is challenging.  It takes confidence and the will to never give up.  
We get distracted, side-tracked, afraid, or consumed by counter-productive activities. Is finishing a challenge for you?  What causes you to get off task?  What does it take to have the confidence to never give up?
    
Paul was a finisher.  In II Timothy 4:7, just before his death he said, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.”

Paul’s secret to finishing may be discovered in another passage that he wrote.  Philippians 1:6, “Being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.”

Paul was a finisher because God is a finisher!  And, that is what Paul put his confidence in.

This is a promise you can count on.  The Message paraphrases Philippians 1:6 like this - “There has never been the slightest doubt in my mind that the God who started this great work in you would keep at it and bring it to a flourishing finish on the very day Christ Jesus appears.”

In the movie, Soul Surfer, Bethany Hamilton’s story inspires confidence to be a finisher.  At thirteen, Bethany was attacked by a 14-foot tiger shark while surfing - losing her left arm. Within six months, she was surfing again competitively - and winning, with one arm!  In 2004, she was named ESPN's Comeback Athlete of the Year.

What do you have to finish and what can be your next step in the right direction?  
What goals have you set; but, have never finished?

I’d be interested in hearing from you about how you’ve learned to stay on task and finish.

Feel free to leave a comment.

Click for Relevant Ministry Coaching and
The Nehemiah Response Model

Relevant Ministry Inc.
Training future leaders - Building healthy ministries - Serving on the Gulf Coast

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Overcoming fear so you can finish

by Pam Roth
A couple of weeks ago, I was reminded of something that happened while I was in London with my youngest daughter.  I was a rookie to the Underground rail system; but my daughter had traveled to other cities where she had used subways and train systems to get around, so she was the one in charge of navigating us through the web of the Underground when we were out sightseeing.

One day, we were out on an adventure…standing in the Underground, waiting on a train to come.  It was extremely crowded on the platform that day, so my daughter said, “We are going to need to move quickly, if we are going to get on this train.”  Everyone could see the lights of the train coming down the track, so they began pushing toward the edge of the platform.  The train stopped, the doors opened, and the automated message came on, “mind the gap.” The crowd began to pour out as those of use waiting on the platform began to work our way toward the doors of the train.  My daughter had finished the task of making it on to the train with the rush of people.  I was the next person to get on the train, when all of sudden, this man came out of nowhere – jumped in front of me and caused me to be pushed back into the crowd.  Within that moment of hesitation, everything changed.  When I looked up across the gap between the platform and the train, I saw the doors of the train closing.  There I was, standing on the platform; while my daughter was on the train.

As the doors began to close, my daughter realized that I was not on the train with her; but it was too late.  There was no way for her to work her way through the crowd and out the doors before they would close, and I had missed my opportunity to get on the train.  Pressing into the large glass window panes of the train car, my daughter could see the distress on my face.  When I saw her, I cried out, ANDREA, as I stood frozen on that platform.

The train slowly began to move down the track, and as I followed it on the platform, I could see my daughter trying to communicate to me.  Of course, I couldn’t hear her, but I finally figured out what she was saying, “Get on the next train.”  “I’ll wait for you at the next stop.”

Such a simple solution…why couldn’t I have figured that out?  The truth is I was overtaken by fear.  Fear that I was going to separated from my daughter and I didn’t know how we would reconnect.  Fear that I was now alone in a country far from home.  And, fear – that without her – I could not navigate my way through the Underground system.  Fear of the unknown was powerful that day and it paralyzed me.

Today, we laugh when we tell this story but the day it happened, it wasn’t so funny.  My daughter loves to tell people that she can still see the look of fear that I had on my face.  She describes it, “As a mother who just watched her daughter be loaded up on a train to go to a refugee camp -  separated forever.”  And, you know what?  She’s not too far off with that description.  That pretty much sums up how I felt that day – separated from someone I love, alone and scared.
So, let me ask you a few questions… “What are some of the ways that you are ‘minding the gap’ between the way things seem to be and reality?”  “Who or what is causing you to hesitate in taking the next step?”  “How much are you struggling with the fear of the unknown?”

Here are some practical ways to overcome fear so you too can finish what’s at hand:

  • Be mindful of your surroundings – through prayer and observation
  • Stand on a firm foundation – by getting in step with God
  • Get the facts – don’t operate merely on the way things seem to be
  • Don’t hesitate to move out when you know it is the right thing to do – even if someone tries to cut you off on your path
  • Keep fear in check – it can paralyze you

Feel free to leave a comment.

Click for Relevant Ministry Coaching and
The Nehemiah Response Model

Relevant Ministry Inc.
Training future leaders - Building healthy ministries - Serving on the Gulf Coast

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

One thing I do

by Nelson Roth
What does it take to finish what we start?  The lure of something else that looked better when he was almost finished was one of the major distractions that Nehemiah faced in chapter six.




(click this link if the video does not play in your browser or email)


What should Nehemiah do with this new offer?  What would you do?  Nehemiah was able to realize that this offer was a distraction and then say ‘no' by remembering what he had already said 'yes' to. From this, we learn that the best way to not be distracted is by being attracted to our 'yes'.

A.W. Tozer once wrote, "A great economizing of time and effort can be effected by learning what we should do and then sticking to it, quietly refusing to be turned aside from our task. Paul said, 'But one thing I do,' and by paring his activities down to an important minimum he multiplied his efficiency many times over."

The task of finishing is a challenge.  We can easily get side-tracked, off-focus and consumed by counter-productive activities. What is your one thing right now?

How consistent are you when it comes to finishing?
What goals have you set, that are not finished?


Feel free to leave a comment.

Click for Relevant Ministry Coaching and
The Nehemiah Response Model

Relevant Ministry Inc.
Training future leaders - Building healthy ministries - Serving on the Gulf Coast