Archives For Faith

There is a difference between hustling really hard and getting into works of the flesh. I am sure that like me you want to not only include God in your dreams and aspirations, but you want to do what He has for your life. It is quite simple to slip into works of the flesh and try to do things on our own strength. Heck it’s not just easy, but natural to operate in the works of the flesh. What feels unnatural to us is being led by the Spirit. Although this feels unnatural it is the only way to have true peace.

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photo by: KCNewman Photography

Getting into works of the flesh is a common problem for all of us. It is not cut and dry because you can be Spirit led and work really hard and can also barely work and be into works of the flesh. To help you on your journey here are 4 signs you’re into works of the flesh.

1. Out of priority. The moment we get out of alignment is a sign that we are into the flesh. Your priorities should be God, then spouse, kids, the body, and then your career. This is a life priority, not a time allocation. When you notice that you are out of priority quickly realign your life back into “balance.”

2. Jealousy/comparing. Both of these go hand in hand with each other. We compare to show how we are better than someone else or we compare to show how we are more “spiritual” than someone else. Comparing your hustle or work to others is a sure-fire sign that you are operating in the flesh. It is hard for me to not get into comparison and jealously. I often struggle with the thought of, “What does he have that I don’t?” When I have a thought like this, I am focused on myself and not on Christ.

3. Loss of peace. One of the attributes of being plugged into Christ is peace. No matter what the storm is in your life you can have peace. It is overwhelming and passes understanding, however, it is ever-present when you are plugged into the vine. It is an impossible peace to describe until you encounter it when everything around you is falling apart.

4. Mental weariness. When you are operating in the flesh you are trying to figure things out and rationalize life. The ways of God will not always make sense. Mental weariness comes in when we try to “figure it out.” Trusting God is moving when He says move and not going around and around in your mind. Get off the mar-a-go-round in your mind and trust God!

Galatians 5:19-21 19 Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery,[a] fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, 20 idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, 21 envy, murders,[b] drunkenness, revelries, and the like; of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.

In the end, the moment we start to get frustrated is the point at which we move from working in the Spirit to working in the flesh. You can be working 100 hours in a week and be working in the Spirit or you can be working ten hours a week and be working in the flesh. Being led by God will have fruit that is of God. Not fruit of strife and confusion. If you are off the path get back on with Jesus.  Be blessed on your journey.

How do you recognize when you need to readjust? 

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We have a great divide inside of us. This divide is what stops us from doing what we know we should do.

I already know that, I was sitting there thinking. Already I had felt myself not fully engaged in the conversation. After all, they were repeating something I already knew. If a book or a blog post repeated information I had already heard, it lost my full attention. However, if I knew, why was I not doing it?

There is a difference between knowing and doing. Seems common sense enough, but what causes one person to hear something and act and another to keep living the same way and never take a step? I believe that it is a lost connection.

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Next time you hear something again, ask God what you need to hear this time. This simple step will change your life. Instead of assuming you don’t need to listen, you will enter in with a different expectancy. Sometimes we need to go deeper or just need encouragement that we are doing the right thing. Sometimes we are not ready to hear what we need to hear. Our eyes become opened when we are ready to change. God will illuminate new things to you in the right time if you listen. What can you learn this time around to come to a certain and true knowing and abiding?

Has the information hit your heart? A lot of times we know something in our heads, but we have not let it sink into our hearts. The bigger the mask you wear, the further disconnected your heart and mind will be. So the more you are trying to hide something, the harder it is for you to receive anything into your heart. Separation between our heads and our hearts leads to a life that is counterfeit. One that is pharocitical and constantly comparing. Your heart is what you need to pay the most attention to. Information does not become transformation until information becomes revelation in the heart.

Your heart is what Jesus spent His entire ministry trying to reach. He encountered a people so focused on the outside and bankrupt on the inside. Is that you? Pause and think about that for a second. Don’t just skim through, but truly ask what part of you is consumed by external validation. Are you consumed with appearance or do you want true change from the inside out?

Focus on revelation and the power of the cross instead of strain and effort. Allowing God to change you is a life that is heart focused. Information needs to travel into our heads then into our hearts, which leads to change in action. Not externally focused on doing the right things, but internally focused. When the internal is healed, the external actions become a byproduct.

Usually we skip the most important step which is knowing something in our spirit and heart. To really KNOW changes everything. You stop focusing on self-effort and ruined New Year’s resolutions and start focusing on abiding and fully knowing. Focus changes to the cross and what Jesus died for; a life that is full and overflowing. One that is transformative, powerful, God breathed. God has more for you than you could ever imagine. Be blessed on your journey as you KNOW the love of Christ.

How can you listen more this week?

Photo by: Moyan Brenn

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To have an enjoyable life it is imperative to have fulfillment now. Not at a distant future date, rather this very hour. No matter what pain and struggle is going on, you can enjoy the journey. Often we associate comfort and happiness and they really are not synonyms. Not only can we enjoy the struggle, but really we need the struggles of life. We need that tension of where we are and where we want to be.

3 things to bring joy back to the journey

One thing that is hardwired in us all is the need to grow. The need to expand to new places and hit new milestones. In these places of growth, the struggle is real and we can spiral into depression even though tension is needed. On this life long growth journey you will need to be proactive to enjoy the journey. These 3 things help bring delight back to our journey.

1. Works for good. The thing that will help us enjoy the journey more than anything else is to believe that God has our back. That if you follow Him and His will, everything both good and bad are working together for you. In Romans 8:28 it states, “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.”

2. Celebrate. When is the last time you celebrated a milestone or an achievement? I tend to move on to the next thing too quickly. We need to take time to celebrate both little and big milestones. This is a way to remember when things are hard and a way to build confidence when it looks like there is no way possible. Celebrate and commemorate those times that you pushed through the struggle to give you strength and enjoyment in your current trial.

3. Measurement. Measurement improves performance, but even more than that it shows proof of traction. When working really hard it helps me to have goals as well as movement toward the goals. Write down progress. Make this visible and in a place you will see often to give you extra oomph. Getting one step closer always helps me to enjoy my journey.

These three things will help you to enjoy the process. I find that most often when I am in worry, I have lost my trust in God and His plan. If I am not having fun on the way, I am lacking celebration and measurement. Restore fun to the process and realize you are blessed on your journey.

How can you enjoy your life more today?

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Life moves by at the speed of light and I have played the role of the busy martyr way too often. In owning my own business it means the to-do list never ends. Add in being a husband, father, son, and friend and I often feel stretched and guilty. Dropping the ball in one sense or another, I find myself apologizing for forgetting, being tardy, or having a wandering mind. I feel like I am robbing Peter to pay Paul with my day, thus someone is always getting the short-end of the stick.

Hurried and rushed, I have lacked the truth about time. That time is not money, but life and I am not fully living. That time should be cherished and savored. That we should live fully in the present, fully intentional, and fully alive.

Time is not money but life

Stop wasting it.

We spend a lot of our lives waiting for the future, fretting about what may be or waiting for happiness. We waste time by fixating on the future and ignoring what is right in front of us. Ignoring this very second because tomorrow we are going to start living. Trying to make a life, we never have a life.

What foolishness, for tomorrow may never come. Both good and bad we may never see what we are fixated and enamored by. We are merely wasting what has been entrusted to us. We are called to steward our time to the best of our abilities.

Keep living it.

Intentionality means fully living. We are called to live abundantly and overflowing. Not wasting it and not devaluing what we have been given. Full intentionality for me means start with God and do what He would have me do for the day. When God is silent, it means doing what I know He would want me to do according to His Word. It means loving my wife like He loves me. It means being the father I should be. It means to move in the direction of our dreams and to lead with excellence while living an uncommon life.

Start enjoying it. 

Drawing in every breath, taking in every moment, being fully and authentically present. Enjoying the moment. Why does this feel so strange to us? Why does a wandering mind and dissatisfaction feel so normal? The only way to enjoy this life is to be present. To live in the now is an acquired skill that I am praying for. As I attempt this feat I realize how far I have to go. At work I think about home and at home I think about work. That is not enjoyment and those around me know they are not getting all of me. I am short-changing those I love the most. No more. We must take a stand. We must try and try again for the stakes are so high and we never get another chance. For this very moment will never happen again.

We need to treat this very second with the awe that it deserves. Move in the direction that God is calling, for tomorrow may never come. Do not stand still and waste today, but enjoy the journey and you will be blessed.

Are you living?

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One of the most valuable skills we can have is to listen to others. To empathize and connect with others is a skill and an art. This act of listening will help you to propel your personal and professional life. I really struggle to fully listen. Usually I am thinking about a response or something else going on. This is embarrassing to admit, but it’s the truth. Unfortunately my wife can attest that my head is somewhere else often. I have made excuses, but the fact is I need to improve in listening.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer

In all reality we all struggle to truly listen to each other. The more technology amps up, the harder it is to listen. This has major consequences within our families, businesses, relationships, and our spiritual lives. Listening is a skill you and I need to work on and like any new skill I want to encourage you to be patient with yourself as you give focus to listening. These 4 things will make you a better listener.

1. Practice. Like any skill you need to practice. As I started to work on my listening I became tired because now that I was focusing on listening it was requiring new effort. Active listening does require more effort and energy and that is why most never really listen. No matter how small the conversation is, practice listening fully to the person. Build that ear and brain muscle through practice.

2. Care. You need to care. This is foundational; if you don’t care you won’t listen. You need to know why it is important to listen. Whether it is caring for the person or what they are saying, you need to care. Most of the time we don’t. If we did, we would take better attention to engage in listening. Get your mind off of you and on to the person speaking. Build a foundation of listening by increasing how much you care. I have prayed that God would help me to get my eyes off  myself and increase my heart for others. He will be faithful if you ask Him.

3. Present. Are you in the moment when others are talking? Don’t let your mind wander. Keep your eyes focused on the person you are talking with. Don’t think about what you are going to say in response, rather be silent in your mind. Most of the time I am thinking of what I am going to say next instead of listening to someone. If you are doing this make sure and catch yourself. It will take time to develop the new habit of full presence.

4. Wait. Allow time to pass between one person talking and your response. This time needs to happen because this is when you are going to think about your response. Sometimes it will feel like an eternity, but it really isn’t. It is the pause between notes that creates music and it is the pause between talking that reveals a meaningful conversation.

The main thing with listening to others is to remember that connection is what we are after. To truly connect with others is rare and sets you apart. You will have greater relationships and businesses if you listen, care, and empathize with others. In a world of false connectivity we are called to something greater. Start today and build that muscle. When you fail, get back up and try again. Be blessed on your journey.

 What helps you to fully listen?

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Jolted awake, my mind was running a million miles an hour. The only light in the room was the slight glow of my alarm clock. I looked over at it and saw that it was 3:30 in the morning. I lay there not trying to think so I could go back to sleep, which was ending up in a futile matter.

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Photo by: KCNewman Photography

Are you sure you are making the right decision? What if you’re wrong? These thoughts were soon replaced by, you are going to ruin your life!

On the edge of the “promise land,” the fear gets the loudest.

It is in these moments of time that I realize I am no better than the Israelites in the Bible. I often look at the passages of scripture where they wander in the desert wanting to go back to slavery and think, you guys are idiots! Then further ahead on their journey on the edge of the promise land they have been waiting and again they say no to God and yes to their fear. Then I think, what a bunch of faithless people!

I am no different from the Israelites. I say yes to my negative thoughts and circle them in my mind. I focus on the giants ahead instead of the land flowing with milk and honey. I think slavery and bondage sounds better than freedom. On the edge of the great unknown the familiarity of the chains sound peaceful.

That is what it comes down to, isn’t it? We don’t know! We worked toward something for so long that we forgot there would be giants there. We don’t know what war will be like so we would rather go back to the familiar chains of slavery.

Have you thought of that before? That even in the “promise land” there will be war. I think two things amplify fear on the edge of greatness. We realize that it won’t be all sunshine and rainbows in the promise land. Second, we don’t know for sure it’s what we are supposed to do. The promise land ends up being one option and we end up frozen in fear.

Frozen in fear is right where the devil wants to keep you. Sitting, weighing the options of Egypt or the promise land.  Weighing if it’s worth it to step into the unknown with an unknown enemy. Playing out all the terrible options, fear magnifies our giants to be even bigger!

Comfort

There is comfort to us. God promises to be with us. He doesn’t say, “I will be with you IF you pick the right option. If you pick the wrong one you are on your own buddy!” God is more than enough for whatever giants are in front of us. With God all things are possible. The creator of the universe has your back. Don’t fall victim to the fear in the shadows of your mind.

Action

Faith in action is what we are after. To move in spite of fear. To at any moment pick up faith and say no to fear. So, pray over what you should do and move in the direction you feel God is calling you to. Seek the Lord and move with confidence and He will take you places you never thought possible. He will be with you and you will be blessed on your journey.

How do you say yes to action and no to fear?
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My grandpa went to Heaven and the funeral was this last weekend. Watching him in his latter days reminded me of the preciousness of life. Our lives are finite here on Earth and there is no greater reminder than watching someone you love deteriorate until all strength is gone. What a great grandpa I was privileged to have.  He taught me so much in his life and the lessons continued watching him pass. I learned these 4 life lessons in his death.

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My Grandpa

What love looks like. My grandparents exhibited a sweet love for each other. My grandma cared for my grandpa all the way until the end. I watched her struggle as she watched the love of her life laboring for a breath. I watched as she sponged his mouth so he could get some water. I watched the way she still looked at him and the way her eyes still light up talking about their life together.

Love is shown on the hard days. It is built over time. Love is shown when it can’t be fully returned. I hope to love those in my life with the fullness and vigor that I saw my grandma loving my grandpa. This week let’s love a little deeper and be a little less dependent on the actions of others.

Memories is all we have. I don’t remember one gift my grandparents ever got me. They did buy me gifts, I just can’t recall them. I do, however, remember all of the memories. My grandparents made holidays so much fun. It was an event every Christmas, Thanksgiving, Easter, and even the Fourth of July. I remember playing games with my grandpa while he wore his usual red socks.

Too often we focus on giving gifts when we should be focused on making memories. Take time today to carve out some memories with those you love. With a little thoughtful effort, you can make memories that your loved ones will hold with them forever.

You won’t see your full impact. My grandpa will never see the full impact he has had and will have. He spent his whole life serving others.  His legacy lives on in my kids and will travel to their children. I also know he left a positive impact on the lives of several others.

Don’t focus on what you see with your eyes. Focus on how you can positively affect the world and the ripples of your life will continue through time.

Don’t wait to speak words of love. I am ashamed to say that I didn’t tell my Grandpa enough how much he meant to me. In his latter days when he wasn’t able to respond, I told him how proud I was to be his grandson. I told him what a good job he had done. I know he could hear me even if he couldn’t respond, but why did I wait until now?

Today and every day let’s speak words of love. Encourage someone in your life today. Every person no matter how young or old needs to hear how great they are doing. They need to hear what they mean to you. Speak life into others.

Serve others, love deeply, live fully today and every day. This journey of life will take you places you never thought possible when you live a life of service. Be blessed on your life’s journey.

How can you love those in your life more deeply?

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Life changes in the little moments more than the big tragedies and mountain top experiences. The massive scars and glorious mountain tops are what I and I am sure you remember. However, what has really shaped my life is the little decisions, habits, and choices that I have made and continue to make every day.

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Photo By: KCNewman Photography

As an outsider to someone else’s life it often appears that big shiny moments just happen. That it is smooth and easy for them and hard for you. That somehow they’re born with something you’re not. Humility for me turns into self-loathing. I have wished to be more intelligent, harder working, confident, fearless, loving, patient, and more articulate. If I could just be a little more _____, then I would get my dreams. Then I would increase my business and be a better husband, father, and son. Wishing and waiting for God to magically change me into something better.

These 4 truths have given me peace and helped me to change slowly over time.

 1. You will never be enough. Recently on a cold, crisp morning I was running with my mentor and pouring my heart out to him. As I did, he stopped me and said, “Zech it sounds like you are a man who has not arrived. This is not the problem. You also sound like one that thinks that he will.” His words hit me right between the eyes. It is quite simple to get into faulty thinking that someday we will be enough. That perfection is attainable. Well, at least we think and act like it although we would never say it. So let me ease your mind like he did mine. You are never going to be enough on your own. No matter how many positive changes you make, you will still need a Savior.

2. God will always be enough. I am so thankful for the simplistic truths. No matter how unworthy and sinful we feel, God will always be enough. It is always God that makes us worthy and upright. It is Him, His death and resurrection. He atoned the deepest darkest things we are scared for others to find out. Every weakness He makes strong. He will always be enough and is way bigger than any shortcoming you think makes you unworthy.

3. Think big. My thinking and I suspect yours needs to increase. Whatever you think is capable for your life, you will unconsciously aim at. With God all things are possible so why not aim higher? I thought I was unworthy to write for large sites so I didn’t even try. Now I am a contributor for Addicted2Success, Entrepreneur, and just found out Fast Company later this month. All that changed was a strategy tweak and belief. For every post that has gotten accepted, many have been rejected. But it’s possible! What have you not even tried? What goal do you dare not aim at because it scares you to death?

4. Act small. Big hairy goals happen by small minuscule changes in our daily routines. For a week record everything you do. Don’t try to change everything at once. Just record your day and pick one thing you are going to stop doing and one thing you are going to replace that with. That’s it! For example, I am going to cut out thirty minutes of television and write for thirty minutes each day. Just carve out a little time to chase that audacious goal and you will get there. It will take a long time, but it will be worth it.

So that is the simple formula. God makes you enough, so think big and make small steps toward your dream and He will take you places that you thought were not possible. When we come from a place of abundance in Christ our small journey will be radically blessed. Be blessed on your journey.

 Do you need to aim higher?
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What if you woke up today and the dreams you cry out for were handed to you? What if everything you petitioned to God for came about instantly? Sometimes we wish this was the case. In all reality, we wish this was the case all of the time. Let’s face it, most of the time we want to be playing God. We wouldn’t use those words, but that’s the truth.

beautiful sunrise

Photo by: KCNewman Photography

I have been thinking about this and really repenting in my posture toward God. A great example of people being handed their desires are lottery winners. Buying a ticket and winning sometimes multiple millions of dollars instantly. Researching this, several studies show that 70% or more of lottery winners are broke. It doesn’t matter how many millions of dollars they win, the result of losing it all is the same. This blessing ends up being a cursing.

I have judged these people with a lack of intelligence. However, I don’t believe intellect is the reason for these lottery winners to lose their fortune. Contrary to this, many self-made millionaires who have earned their way financially have lost everything and regained their wealth and beyond at a rapid pace. Here is the huge difference. The lottery winners didn’t change. They were handed money and didn’t have to become anything new.

Your dreams and mine are the same way. Your knowledge, skill set, relationship with Christ, and so much more needs to expand, grow, and change. You have not achieved your dream because you need to grow! If we were handed it today it would be a curse, not a blessing. God needs to chisel and change us into something new.

The process is painful and I don’t know about you, but I have shed many tears. I have struggled to trust God through the process at times. I have almost given up because it didn’t come in my way and my timing. For me chasing my dreams is a transforming process. It is a chance for me to practice faith and hope while growing the muscles of persistence. Will you submit to God and allow Him to change you?

Growth is the key to your dream. What skill do you need to grow? Do you need to hire a coach in an area? How about a course or a book? In what ways do you need to submit your will to God’s? Each time you ask growth questions instead of complaining about where you are you will make progress. If you complain, you will remain. Each time you lay down pride and choose humility you will advance. Submit to God’s will while doing all that you can today. His plan and timing is perfect. Trust your whole life to Him and not just the bits and pieces. Be blessed on your journey.

How do you need to grow?

 

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Calling and Attack

Zechariah Newman —  March 2, 2015 — 4 Comments

There is an enemy waging war on our souls. As we follow what God has for us, our souls always come under attack. Following God’s plan puts us on the edge of light and darkness. It is where we need God the most and He is the most present. If we sit passively the devil leaves us well enough alone, however, when we move and act our lives will come under opposition. This ground that we are taking back is not taken back easily and it can feel like we are wasting our time.

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photo by: KCNewman Photography

You are a dangerous warrior as you pursue and live out your calling!

As I sat in my quiet time this morning, I felt God speaking to me, “Did you really think it would come easy? Did you think that when you are following what I have for you it would be smooth? Did you forget what the great men and women of faith went through?”

God never asked us to figure out when and how, but when I get discouraged this is what I go to. I believe the devil does three things to get us off of the path God has us on. I think he tries to distract, discourage, and dissuade us from moving. Where we have potential impact, the devil wants to keep it in just that form because potential doesn’t change anything, only action will.

Here is where I get confused sometimes. I get DISTRACTED by the wrong actions. The first actions that need to be taken by all of us is to focus on God. In Mathew 6:33 it says, “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” We need to begin with our seeking and focus on the Kingdom of God. It is only when we seek His Kingdom that our actions come out of this place of eternal, not temporal focus.

When we come from an eternal focus the world looks and feels different. It becomes about others, not self-focused and empty. We need to be reminded constantly that the works of our hands are about others and not about ourselves. Our vocation is not our identity, our lives are not our own, and our business is not ours but God’s. To push through distraction, discouragement, and dissuasion focus on God. Focus on why you were on this journey in the first place. Live today with passion, dedicating even the smallest actions to the glory of God. Overtime this life of purposeful, dedicated action will lead to a life you could only imagine. Be blessed on your journey.

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