Archives For zechariahnewman
When I was a young boy I tried to use a magnifying glass to start a fire. The lessons I learned from this have helped me when applied to my own life. Our lives should be well-rounded, but when an area of our life is extremely deficient we need to apply these 4 rules of the magnifying glass.
1. Sunlight: When starting a fire with a magnifying glass the sun has to be out, not hidden behind the clouds. The magnifying glass simply directs and focuses some of the rays of sunshine. We should be the same way and merely reflect the Son. We are not to create the light but rather reflect the light. If we don’t reflect the Son by asking God what we should do first, we will be wasting a lot of time and energy.
2. Focus on the right objects: If the light is put on cement it will not get hot enough to start a fire. If the light is shining on dry grass it will eventually ignite. If you are trying to become debt free you need to either raise your income or lower your expenses. No amount of lowering the interest will get you the desired goal in a reasonable amount of time. Focus where you can and you will get ignition the quickest.
3. Be still: When trying to light a fire you need to keep still so that the area of light reflection heats up enough to catch the object on fire. It will then continue to burn with minimal effort. Same is true in life. Often we need to stay extremely focused to create momentum. When I was in bad physical shape I had to spend much more time exercising. Now that my physical shape is better I can take less time exercising. It now requires less of my focus.
4. Time: Not fun to hear, but the truth. The focus of the light needs to be over a period of time to ignite the fire. Creating momentum for change takes time. The bigger the life change the longer the amount of time is usually required.
So to spark a fire for change, take a lesson from the magnifying glass. Ask God for direction, be still, focus on the right change, and expect some time to go by. As John Maxwell says, “People do not decide their future; they decide their habits and their habits decide their future.” Decide today to be used in a mighty way. Change your habits and focus with intensity over time. Be blessed.
Was there a time that you had to use the rules of the magnifying glass?
Loosing weight, paying off debt, better marriage, proper parenting; all of these things are not as much information as revelation. There are books every where on any subject we can literally study anything that we want to. It is not what we know but more will we sacrifice are immediate gratification for long-term payoff? We as humans over compensate what we can do in the short-run and discount the long-term act of compounding! In Darren Hardy’s book, The Compounding Effect he says, “We’re a “rational” species at least that’s what we tell ourselves. So why are we so irrationally enslaved by so many bad habits? It’s because of our need for immediate gratification can turn us into the most reactive, non-thinking animals around.” I’m 100% convinced that we, in the moment, don’t fully count the cost of our actions. These 5 things will help us to remember the cost.
Pause and think: I posted on this in The Art of TIVO. It’s extremely important to pause at certain points in the day. Don’t fall into the trap of rushing into a decision; life can wait. Jesus did not rush anywhere. We should take a good look at that and pause and think. Especially as Americans we tend to rush everything instead of analyzing decisions and counting the full cost. Everything costs something or it is worthless.
Pray: God will open any door that needs to be open. He will also shut any door that needs to be shut. Ask God for an eternal mindset. The creator will be faithful to do so.
Ask the right question: We often get stuck on surface questions instead of asking the correct question. The book, QBQ! by John G. Miller is a great book that discusses this in further detail. Spend the time to come up with the right question.
Get good counsel: Get good counsel from people who achieve in the area you are about to make a decision in. Don’t take advice from your broke friends about money. Find someone with good character achieving in that area and ask them. Have questions written out, ask, listen and avoid the mistake of talking too much.
Journal daily: Again I blogged on this in Life In Color. Journal the Bible. The Bible has answers to all of life’s questions. It reveals what we need when we need it. God is faithful every morning to meet me in the still and quiet and give me what I need. Transforming me from glory to glory.
These 5 things will help us to count the cost and live a life that reaches our full potential. Remember how life compounds! Few things happen quickly, but everything happens in God’s perfect timing.
What helps you to count the actual cost?
Beep! Beep! Beep! Wham! I rollover and hit snooze. It’s 6am and time to start another day. My little girl wakes up at 7:30 am and my wife and son get up around then also. It is at this moment at 6am my flesh is already fighting, “Just one more press of the snooze and then I will get up.” This moment in time will set the tone for my entire day. Will I ignore my body and get up or press snooze a million times? I would like to say I wake up every morning bright-eyed and bushy-tailed but that would be a lie. These 5 steps help me to get that peace and still every morning; a time to be alone with my thoughts and God.
1. Go to sleep: If I don’t get to sleep at a decent time, “6am me” wants to back hand “last night me.” I need 8 hours of sleep so I need to be in bed by at least 10pm. Simple, yet hard. I need boundaries like it doesn’t matter what happens on American Idol and the world does not revolve around Swamp People. Really the things I sacrifice for a good night’s sleep are pretty hilarious or sad; not sure which.
2. Have a reading program: Having a structured reading program takes the thinking out of it. I read through the Bible in a year with a Life Journal. It’s a simple 20 min. read for the day. In my Life Journal I write a scripture, observation of the scripture, application to my life, and a prayer. Knowing I have this to do gets me up. There will be men in my small group asking me if I read this week and what I got. I know if I don’t do it first thing in the morning, my chances of reading drop dramatically.
3. Coffee: I love coffee. Knowing I have a warm cup helps me get out of bed. You could put the coffee on a timer to wake you up. It does not have to be coffee, it could be breakfast, tea, a fire, etc. Have something you enjoy that brings something extra to the relaxation of being alone.
4. Note pad: I don’t do this like I should. A pad of paper by your bed will allow your mind to completely shut down. If something jumps in your mind put it on paper then let it go and deal with it in the morning. Some of my best ideas come to me when I am laying in bed at night or in the morning.
5. Heat on a timer: Wish I could do this, but we have wall heat. If you have central heating and air why wouldn’t you? Getting out of bed when it is freezing is not fun.
If you try these things, I guarantee you will have more energy for the day. Waking up before the household will make you much more productive. Spend time refueling yourself by getting alone with God. It will take you to a whole new level of freedom and productivity.
What are ways in which you carve out time to be alone with God and your thoughts?
We are all busy. Way too busy to connect with each other, let alone with our thoughts. I have a wife and two kids four and under with one more due in February. I’m an Elder at our church and own two pizza restraunts with about twenty employees. Now I have also started running marathons. Life gets pretty crazy. The last thing I feel like doing is stopping. “Keep up,” I think. From sunrise to sunset move and go. But inaction is actually the correct path sometimes. In John Maxwell’s book, The 15 Invaluable Laws Of Growth, he states, “Learning to pause allows growth to catch up to you”. He calls this the “Law of Reflection.” In sports it’s called a “time out.” Stop and think, “Am I traveling down the correct path or do I need to turn around?” So press pause on life and do these 5 things to make you more productive.
1. Breath: Breath out down through your belly. Under stress we take short shallow breaths. Breath full and slow. It will return more oxygen to your brain and you will feel your whole body relax. When your body begins to relax you will be amazed at where you are holding the tension. I clinch my jaw if I’m not paying attention. When you breath big slow breaths it will allow you to think more clearly and things that were hidden will now be evident.
2. Pray: This will be in almost every step. Not stopping and asking God is silly and prideful. I don’t sometimes and regret it often. Stop and ask for direction.
3. Write it down: Write down what needs to get done. Rank these items from 1 through etc. Start with 1 and work down. Do what is important and urgent first. Those things that are not important mark off the list.
4. Delegate: Take time to think of who can do some of these things. Delegating items to your team will free you up to focus on the important things. This may take longer in the moment, but will pay dividends in the future. This is the area that I have the biggest opportunity for growth.
5. Ask why: What are you doing and why? If you can’t give a good answer, you are doing the wrong thing. Because it needs to get done is not a good answer to the question. Stop and go the other dirction if you don’t know why.
These 5 things will lead you to a more efficient productive life. Try to pause and think for 10 minutes. It could cause your whole life to change. Let’s think for once!
What things do you do to pause and think?
Most of us struggle in one of two areas. We either conform to what others are doing or purposefully attempt to be different. Both positions are inauthentic and are exhausting to keep up. When we operate in either of these two areas we are robbing ourselves of the life that God has designed for us. We are operating out of fear of man instead of reverential fear of God. In the marathon of life we all have different paces, stride length, and natural ability. So we need to stop comparing our race to others and run the race we were made to run. These 4 ares help me to run my race.
1. Prayer: It all begins with asking my heavenly Father. I pray daily that God would focus my gaze on Him. That He would give me His eyes. That I would see myself and others the way He sees us. That He would lay the path before me that I should go. Prayer aligns my heart with His and puts the focus on my race.
2. Confidence: Confidence in the correct source is crucial. I am completely confident in God’s character and who He is. Being a born again believer He is in my heart. He has designed me for a purpose. He will complete the good work in me in His own timing and place. I will fail but He will never fail me.
3. Humility: This goes hand in hand with confidence. I am humble because everything I am is from God. All my strengths where God-given. My wife, kids, family, finances, and friends all are blessings from God. All are not from some deserving place but by His grace He has entrusted these things to me. Even as I write this I’m humbled by His grace and mercy. On my own I deserve nothing, but with God I have everything.
4. Trail and error: What makes you smile? What would you do for free? What energizes you? I love to be a part of the catalyst for change. I love to teach and see the light come on in someone’s eyes. The only way that I know this is by praying that God would direct me and then got off the bench and got into the game. Somethings I found I hated but I found I enjoyed other things and felt fulfilled. Certain things that are easy for me are hard for others and certain things that are a struggle for me are easy for others. I found all of this out by testing the waters.
I implore you to not worry about the races of others and run the race you were designed for. There is no other you that can run your race. Ask God to shine a light in the darkness, to direct your steps and He will be faithful in His timing to do so.
Ask anyone that has run a marathon, miles 20-22 are the hardest miles of the race. At this point your mind starts thinking what the heck am I doing out here. Your body is hurting and you are not thinking about the accomplishment of the 20 miles you have run and only 6.2 miles to go. You’re thinking with emotions. You’re thinking 6.2 miles feels like an eternity. All life’s goals and breakthroughs are that way. Just before you can see the sunrise it is the darkest part of night. These 4 things helped me to push through the barriers and finish the race.
1. Get out of emotion: Emotions are fickle; they are either high or low. When the race started my body wanted to go faster and I had adrenaline running through my body, it was key to slow myself down. At 20 miles my emotions where the opposite. 6.2 miles seemed closer to 6.2 years. I stopped asking how I felt and put one painful foot in front of the other.
2. Leave the drama: Why did my mind go to emotions? Drama, that ugly word everyone hates but we all have. Anytime we are not present we are in drama. I was thinking about how far I had come and how the race had affected my body. I felt like a victim. I had a cold, cramped legs, and it was hot. Poor me why oh why, wallowing in my misery. The key was to stop thinking about the situation or the mileage and just enjoy myself in spite of the aches and pain.
3. Replenish yourself: In a marathon about every two miles they have water and a snack of gummy bears or pretzels. Why? Because the amount of calories, salt, and water your body expends. Replenishing at least part of what you have burned is very important if you want to stand at the finish line. I try to read my Bible every morning and get time alone for the same reason. I need to be filed back up to pursue the race with a fire and energy to break through the hump in the road.
4. Remember the why: The why helped me remove the drama and emotion. With everything we need to understand the why behind the goal we are pursuing. The why makes us brave. Most of the time we don’t take the time to ask the why, but this is very important. I would be willing to even lose my life for the right why. For my faith and family are just two of them. The why in these two things are greater than life itself to me. The why is large enough to do what would be impossible without it.
If the road is tough you may be close to a break through! Remember the why, replenish your reserves and get your mind focused on the present. As it says in Philippians 3:14, “I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” So press on toward the goal today by understanding the greater why behind it all. Be blessed in the marathon of life.
I had trained for months for my first marathon in Portland Oregon on October 7 2012. I had a goal to run it in 3hrs and 30min. I had trained at that pace and was confidant I would get that goal. Unfortunately the thursday before the race I became sick. Race day came and I decided to change my goal to 4hrs. I began the race and 9 miles in I realised I needed to change my goal to just finish the race. At 5:12 I crossed the finish line tired but happy and accomplished. Because when outside circumstances changed I reacted and changed my goal.
Most of the times there are going to be unforseen outside circumstances the happen to us that make it impossible to hit short-term goals. We need to look at the long-term goal and recalibrate and set new short-term goals. This has 3 necessary benefits.
1. It refocuses us towards today: If I would have not been willing to move on my goals I would not have finished my first marathon. I would have gone to fast under the new circumstances and probably had to medical out. If you get laid off your going to stop your savings goal and switch to trying to get a job. We need to adapt and change. It will help us to get the most out of our day. Refocusing on the new goal instead of dwelling on the unattainable or already attained goal.
2. It brings enjoyment to the journey: Life is supposed to be enjoyed as a whole. We should be stretching but if we are usually straining this is not good. Straining is an unhealthy life style that will shorten your life and probably make you pretty miserable. Be realistic with whats in front of you. Stretch to new levels but don’t strain daily.
3. Pride and accomplishment is returned: If I would not have reset my goal I would not have felt accomplished for running my first marathon. Because I did I have already signed up for my next marathon. We need a sense of traction a sense of winning. A quick win, not everyday but most days. If we get this sense of accomplishment it will be great confidence and fuel for the long journey of this life.
So if you have failed on some goals. Congratulations your humans. Instead of wallowing in misery reset goals and refocus your gaze on today. If you press the reset button you will be amazed at the new energy, focus, and passion that will return to you. Continue to be blessed on this journey of life as you stretch yourself.
When have you had to reset goals? How did that help?
There is an old indian fable that says there are two types of dogs in all of us; a black dog and a white dog. Whichever dog you feed more will become stronger and when they fight will win the fight most of the time. Success in finances definitely depends on which dog you feed.
Money is neutral; it is neither good nor bad. The person stewarding the money can do great good or make a wreckage of their life and of others around them. The scale of the money determines how much good or how quickly the wreckage can occur. As Dave Ramsey says, “Do rich people things and you will become rich people. Do poor people things and you will become poor people.”
So here are 5 ways to help motivate you to have the strength to say no to the pleasures of today. To pay now and enjoy later. To live like no one else so later you can live like no one else.
1. Pray for a proper perspective that matches God. Everything is the Lord’s. Psalm 24:1- 2 states, “The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it, for he founded it upon the seas and established it upon the waters.” Without this heart change there is no way to make the ultimate financial decisions.
2. Start with the end in mind. Why say no and why be disciplined? These are questions you need to be able to answer.
3. Decide what you want life to be like in 10 years and write it out. Decisions that are made today need to be made on a 10 year or longer mind-set. This is done when your goals and dreams are written out. Trust me when I say written out, otherwise they will soon be forgotten.
4. Post a picture of what you are aiming at. Giving in your community, big house, freedom… something that puts it in a picture. Visualizing is key if we can see what we are shooting at it. These visual reminders will give you motivation on tough days.
5. Listen to podcasts to inspire. I listen to Dave Ramsey, Joyce Meyer, Joel Olsteen, Michael Hyatt, and Zig Ziglar. All of these speakers or preachers help me to stay the course.
There are many more tools than this, but these are my main five. These are visual and auditory reminders of the goal that is greater than the want of today. These things help my wife and I stay motivated to dig out of debt and save for our future. With each passing day we have moved closer to our dream and I believe you can too if you do these things and set your mind on things above and not onthings of today.
What things have you done to make better long-term decisions with money?
We have no hope for a real meaningful life if God is not the first thing we start with. I have spent the last five days frustrated and tired. Having no true passion in the things that usually bring me great joy. There was only one thing wrong. I was letting life get in the way of my personal time each day with my personal savior. Not spending my mornings reading the Bible, rather choosing things that are not eternal. Not praying without ceasing changes a world of color into a world of gray. As king Solomon puts it in Ecclesiastes 2:11 “… it is vanity and grasping at the wind.”
We must carve out specific time each day to be alone and quiet reading a portion of scripture. It must be intentional or it will not happen. If you have a young family like I do, it usually requires rising early to get time to focus solely on God. I believe if we are faithful in this, it sets the tone for the day. Starting our hearts focused on God brings the world into true focus, changing our perspective into grateful hearts ready to serve.
Beginning in solitude with God the Father gives His dreams and visions for our life. For years I focused on my wants, however, the problem was I didn’t know what I wanted. I would want to be a police officer,business owner, pastor, farmer, real estate broker, writer, speaker, and teacher. I was out of focus with God. I focused on what I wanted to be instead of just focusing on being God’s son.
So if you have not done this, I suggest giving it a try. Sit with your Bible, highlighter, pen, and I use a life journal. Ask God to speak to you and He will be faithful. He will reveal your path for the day givng you hope for tomorrow and the strength for the day.
What are some ways in which you find time to put God first?