“Mediocrity is the height of selfishness.” Brian Klemmer
What does the word commitment mean to you?
From the time the world was created, people have seen the earth and sky and all that God made. They can clearly see his invisible qualities — his eternal power and divine nature. So they have no excuse whatsoever for not knowing God. (Rom. 1:20; NLT)
What if you could only use one of four responses to any question that you were ever asked–yes, no, I have no excuse, or I do not understand? According to a book released earlier this year by Brian Klemmer, The Compassionate Samurai: Being Extraordinary in an Ordinary World, that is the case for underclassmen during their first year at West Point military academy. Of course, military academies are known for their “extreme” discipline.
But back to you and me…what if we applied some of that extreme discipline to our own lives? To our children’s lives? Would we be living different lives today? I suggest it would make an incredible difference. Excuses are seen as the easy way out of a commitment. If we’ve committed to be somewhere at a certain time and we’re late, we usually can come up with a pretty good reason (excuse) why we were late. But basically we’re being dishonest. Maybe we feel better for having a reason (excuse), but bottom line is that if we had truly been committed to keeping that appointment on time (or any other commitment that we made), we would have left earlier or done whatever it takes to achieve that result (i.e., keep our commitment). Offering an excuse does no one any good and simply moves one from being responsible (which most hate) to being the victim (which unfortunately, most are very comfortable with).
Klemmer writes, “The average person doesn’t care about keeping his commitments, and the value of his word has become so cheap that he breaks it almost every day. Average salespeople promise things they can’t deliver just to make a sale; average parents promise their children that they’ll tuck them in or take them to the park, yet feel no remorse when they fail to follow through. Too many home-based entrepreneurs make unrealistic promises just to get clients–and as a result, the reputation of the whole industry suffers…. Commitment is the basis for trust, which is the foundation of all relationships. Therefore, breaking it equates to destroying trust.”
Were you created to be ordinary? To be mediocre? To be average? I think not. I am convinced that God had much larger plans for each of us that would embrace an extraordinary destiny, way beyond ordinary. How do you begin to reach out for that goal? The place to start is with commitment. If we will all just commit to keep our words, the results that simple step will produce major changes in our lives and the lives of all those around us.
Lord, it has become so easy and so acceptable to make excuses. We make excuses to each other, make excuses to ourselves, and even make excuses to You. Forgive us for a character that places convenience over commitment. Grant us the grace to begin to reach out for our true, God-given destiny.
Blessings on you as you commit to keep your word.
“Every moment is a choice, and every choice has consequences–both costs and benefits.” Brian Klemmer
When was the last time you felt like a victim?
If you listen to these commands of the LORD your God and carefully obey them, the LORD will make you the head and not the tail, and you will always have the upper hand. (Deut. 28:13; NLT)
Most people in today’s culture seem to have accepted the notion that life happens to them. As I’ve said in countless DGs before this, that is the stance of a victim. When you’re being a victim, you’ve given up all control because others are in the driver’s seat. Therefore, you have given up any potential to create a different outcome. What a sad way to live your life.
As I wrote Monday, I’m reading Brian Klemmer’s latest book, The Compassionate Samurai: Being Extraordinary in an Ordinary World. From the looks of things, you may be hearing a lot about Klemmer and his book for the next several weeks. As I was reading it over the weekend, I ran across a fascinating list of five benefits of being a victim. I thought I would share those with you today.
First, being a victim exempts us from having to take action. How utterly freeing!!! After all, if life just happens, why should we push against the inevitable? Just sit back and let it happen. Makes life pretty cushy. BTW, has anybody seen the remote? My favorite TV show is about to start and I wouldn’t want to miss it.
Second, if we’re victims, people feel sorry for us and will probably have pity parties for us–and doesn’t that make us feel good, wanted, accepted, and loved? Wow! This is really incredible! How much better can it get than feeling good, wanted, accepted and loved?
Third, as victims, we’ll never have to make tough decisions. Making tough decisions is hard work and never any fun. Now that we understand that life is going to happen anyway, why bother with all that dastardly hard work? Did you find that remote yet?
Fourth, as victims we are free from any obligation to do anything great in life. Obviously, the “thing” that happened is responsible for the way we are. It’s not our fault. This just keeps getting better and better doesn’t it?
Fifth, for the rest of our lives as victims, we can comfortably believe that our failures are directly connected to what someone else did to us. Wow! That means it’s their fault! We get to blame them. Personal responsibility is a total waste of time and effort. I wonder why bad things happen to good people.
Well, that’s it folks. As Klemmer said in the above quote, “Every moment is a choice….” Which do you choose — being a victim or being responsible? As for me and my family, we choose to be responsible. See you Friday!
Lord, help us to see ourselves as masters over our own destiny. Help us to see ourselves as fearfully and wonderfully made. Help us to see ourselves as the head and not the tail. Help us to see that we were created in Your image to be masters over all life. Lord, help us to see ourselves as You see us…as You designed us to be.
Blessings on you as you take personal responsibility for every aspect of your life.
“We never know what strengths and revelations might be on the other side of our fears until we face them and feel them all the way through. True positive thinking is the mental stance of surrender, simply trusting the process. We learn to accept what is.” Jacquelyn Small
Have you every felt validated? How did that make you feel?
Then the angel of the LORD came and sat beneath the oak tree at Ophrah, which belonged to Joash of the clan of Abiezer. Gideon son of Joash had been threshing wheat at the bottom of a winepress to hide the grain from the Midianites. The angel of the LORD appeared to him and said, “Mighty hero, the LORD is with you!” (Judges 6:11,12; NLT)
Validate — “To mark with an indication of official sanction; To establish the soundness of; corroborate,” according to the American Heritage Dictionary. This is not a word often used on people, but those of you who are coaches or have been coached know that this is one of the marks of a good coach…to validate, i.e., believe in and encourage, their client.
What would the world be like if we all took a purposeful intent to be more validating of others? What if we went out of our way to see others as God sees them? As real people with real gifts and talents (albeit latent or dormant in some cases), but with unique and magnificent capabilities that have been suppressed? Can you imagine such a scenario?
Well, a friend of mine circulated a video via email a couple of weeks back, and I’ve just been waiting for the right time to pass it along to our DG readers. When Adam Greer sent me the video, he appended, “As I watched this video this morning I felt that the message needed to be spread. Yes, it’s a 16 minute video but well worth your time. It will bring a smile to your face and quite possibly change the life of another.”
Thanks, Adam! I couldn’t agree with you more. Take someone to the movies this weekend…it’s only 16 minutes long…”but well worth your time.”
Have a magnificent weekend!!!
Lord, put it in our heart to slow down and validate others more than we do. Give us clear opportunities to genuinely appreciate someone else for who You made them to be.
Blessings on you as you validate someone who would least expect it sometime this weekend.
“We make a living by what we get. We make a life by what we give.” Winston Churchill
What impact has the state of the economy had on your giving?
Give away your life; you’ll find life given back with bonus and blessing. Giving, not getting, is the way. Generosity begets generosity. (Luke 6:38; MSG)
Today, I’m taking you back to Brian Klemmer’s latest book, The Compassionate Samurai: Being Extraordinary in an Ordinary World. Friday, I felt a compulsion to break stride and treat you to the Validation Movie. I’m sure glad I did, because I learned that the site that hosts that movie is shutting down on the 17th. Why? I have no idea, but I urge you watch that movie while you can. I’ve had a couple of testimonies come in about how that video ministered to a depressed spirit. Catch it on our blog at Power of Validation. Only for another week and a half.
In Klemmer’s book, he lists ten codes that a compassionate samurai lives by. If you’re like me, you tend to think of warrior when you hear the word “samurai,” and that’s appropriate because the samurai were indeed an hereditary warrior class in feudal Japan. However, Klemmer points out that the true meaning of the word samurai is “to serve.” The particular samurai code I’m focusing on today is serving by contributing or giving.
Klemmer appears to have an engineer’s mind as he seems to be drawn to write around lists. Like the list of benefits of playing victim I featured last week (Benefits of Playing Victim), this time he has a list of six benefits of giving and another of five primary reasons people don’t give. I especially found the reasons why people don’t give to be the most interesting, and what I’m pulling from today.
At the top of the don’t give list is that people believe that there isn’t enough. They live with a scarcity mindset always having to make a clear-cut decision between two options because of the belief that there’s simply not enough to go around. (He’s not just talking about money here.) Such thinking creates the belief that the more they give away, the less they have.
Fortunately, there are some natural laws (which I’ve covered from a couple of different perspectives in previous DGs) which literally make it impossible not to gain when you give. And to make it even more interesting, it is also virtually guaranteed to come back multiplied. The proper understanding of that counter-intuitive phenomenon virtually compels one to give even more during hard times. Don’t ask me to explain it, because I can’t. But I’ve seen it work in my life and in the lives of others enough that I now firmly believe it.
We’re living in an incredible time of opportunity right now — opportunity to put this upside down law to the test and verify its veracity for ourselves. I urge you to not miss it, because once you get it, your life will never be the same again.
Lord, during this time of economic uncertainty, our inclination is to hoard and cut back on unnecessary spending. Help us to understand that giving is never unnecessary. Grant us the grace to “walk out” our faith and trust in You as our Jehovah-Jireh, our Provider.
Link of the Day
Giving During Hard Times
Blessings on you as you put feet to your faith and trust this week and sow seed in an uncharacteristic manner.
“Cranberries are an excellent source of vitamin C, a very good source of dietary fiber, and a good source of manganese and vitamin K.” George Mateljan
What one thing can you do to this holiday season to stay in good health?
My brothers, can a fig tree bear olives, or a grapevine bear figs? Neither can a salt spring produce fresh water. (James 3:12; NIV)
As many of you know, I recently experienced the loss of my Daddy. The last two weeks have been what many would call surreal. I’m now home in Virginia attempting to get back into the “swing of things.” Admittedly life will never be the same. Those of you who have suffered the loss of a parent, a spouse, a child, or other loved one have a clear understanding of that fact. But life does go on and so must I. In time, I may post some of my thoughts about what transpired and how we as a family stood together during that tumultuous time.
Last month I did a couple of crockpot recipes. We’re now into the Christmas season and thoughts (and taste buds) gravitate toward special holiday dishes. Today’s recipe originally came from our dear friend, Diane Chandler. I’ve made a few tweaks to the recipe along with using the crockpot to “steep” the tea and keep it warm for Christmas company.
The recipe is pretty and festive and smells great while heating. Cranberries and Christmas has such a nice ring to it. The peak season for the pretty red berry is between October and December. Don’t give up on the cranberry now that Thanksgiving is behind us. There are many ways to enjoy it even into the new year. A cousin of the blueberry, this bright red, tart berry can still be found growing wild as a shrub. When cultivated, it’s grown on low trailing vines in sandy bogs.
Cranberries have long been valued for their ability to help prevent and treat urinary tract infections. Now, recent studies suggest that cranberries may also promote gastrointestinal and oral health, and help to prevent the formation of kidney stones. There are many other benefits being attributed to this little red berry. When buying cranberries, I’ve noticed that organic berries have much more flavor and color than commercial berries.
When buying cranberry juice, beware of the popular brand of “cocktail.” Most commercial cranberry juices contain sugar, corn syrup, and high fructose corn syrup. If you want to drink cranberry juice to receive health benefits, buy organic, pure cranberry juice in a glass bottle. Knudsens and Santa Cruz are two acceptable brands. I’ve also added a small amount of cranberry concentrate in the recipe. This is also pure cranberry juice without any added sweetener. The last time I bought this, I bought it from Dynamic Health Laboratories. Other brands are found in the health food section of the grocery store. Enjoy your cranberry tea.
Father we thank You for this season and this time of year to be reminded of the birth of Your Son. May we seek Your perspective as we walk through these next several weeks.
Link of the Day
Blessings on you as you enjoy some holiday cranberry tea with friends and loved ones.
Tell me what you pay attention to and I will tell you who you are.” Jose Ortega y Gasset
How easily distracted are you?
As the time drew near for his return to heaven, Jesus resolutely set out for Jerusalem. (Luke 9:51; NLT)
According to Brian Klemmer, in his latest book, The Compassionate Samurai, “Focus is the ability to direct your attention, efforts, or activity at a desired direction or object without being distracted.” Life is full of distractions and most of us cannot maintain focus on one thing for very long at all. Klemmer writes, “phone calls disrupt work plans, work interferes with relationships, and problems in relationship interfere with our careers. Challenges with kids distract us from the romance in our marriage. A serious illness interrupts our plans.”
The sad thing is that most distractions tend to take our focus off of important things contributing to our effectiveness and instead cause us to focus on ineffective or unimportant things. For example, if you’re busy working on a project and the phone rings, your focus has been broken. It’s never just a matter of picking up where you left off when you get back to the project, you almost invariably have to re-do a significant portion of the thinking that got you to where you were when the phone rang. Depending on the complexity of the task, that could be minutes or it could be as long as an hour. Do that several times during a day and it’s no wonder that progress seems so painfully slow sometimes. Have you ever noticed that it’s usually easier to react to the urgent (e.g., the sound of a telephone ringing) than it is to focus on an important task until it’s completed?
One trap that most of us fall into is to spend way too much ineffective time focused on the past rather than focused on the goal. We tend to gravitate toward remembering how badly we blew it, or how we failed to do that or failed to do this, or how so many others have failed in their attempt to do what we’re trying to do. Klemmer calls it allowing the past to plague the future. “As long as you allow your past to haunt you, you’ll never be free to pursue your future. You won’t even be able to focus on your present.”
Therefore, one of the keys to an ability to focus on effective things is to become better at forgetting. Sounds almost paradoxical, doesn’t it? (Here is a time when having a poor memory is a blessing.) Let me encourage you to become more and more aware of what you’re focusing on. If you’re focused on something you can’t do anything about (like the past), you’re wasting valuable time.
Lord, we’re told over and over how important it is to forgive. Help us see that the ability and willingness to forgive ourselves is just as important as the willingness to forgive others.
Link of the Day
Motivation: More on the Power of Focus
Blessings on you as you purpose to spend less time focused on your past and more time focused on your preferred future.
“We can see a thousand miracles around us every day. What is more supernatural than an egg yolk turning into a chicken?” S. Parkes Cadman
How familiar are you with the real truth about eating EGGS?
Is tasteless food eaten without salt, or is there flavor in the white of an egg? (Job 6:6; NIV)
I know I’ve written about the health benefits of eating eggs before. However, a recent conversation with a friend prompted me to address this issue once again. The friend actually said that they ate “Eggs Beaters”, thinking that was a good thing. I flinched and began my discourse on why eating whole eggs is good for us and that they don’t cause high cholesterol levels. As Dr. Diana Schwarzbein says in her book, The Schwarzbein Principle; The Truth About Losing Weight, Being Healthy and Feeling Younger, “You can eat eggs every day, as many as your body wants.” How’s that for a show stopper?
Dr. Joseph Mercola says that “most people generally don’t eat enough protein, and organic free-range eggs are one of your best sources. Remember, you can easily eat one dozen eggs per week, as they will NOT cause your cholesterol to increase.” Eggs are one of the highest quality sources of protein along with being a very good source of iodine, a necessary nutrient for healthy thyroid function. Eggs yolks contain lutein, an important nutrient for eye health.
Today’s link is from The Weston A Price foundation. It’s an excellent article (pun intended) on “Good Egg, Bad Egg, How to Know?” It gives some good tips for purchasing eggs. Dr. Mercola also offers articles on his site about what eggs are the best ones to buy. Use eggs for your healthy holiday baking and enjoy some homemade eggnog!
Father, we are so grateful to You for all of Your wonderful creations. We thank You for creating chickens and eggs…which ever came first.
Link of the Day
Good Egg, Bad Egg — How to Know?
Blessings on you as you enjoy some eggs during this holiday season.
“The hurrier I go, the behinder I get!” PA Dutch saying
What’s your personal “haste makes waste” story?
Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth! (Psalm 46:10; NKJV) [NAS reads “cease striving…”]
From time to time I get newsletters from John Miller at QBQ! I’ve passed along his newsletter before, so you probably remember that QBQ stands for Question Behind the Question and is derived from the title of John’s powerful book, QBQ! The Question Behind the Question.
The message in the latest newsletter is particularly relevant to the holiday season. If you’re like most of us, you have so much on your plate that you can’t take the time to enjoy the season, let alone reflect on the reason behind the season. My colleague, Dr. Randy Peck, likes to remind me that since love and hurry are incompatible, to be spiritually healthy, you must ruthlessly eliminate hurry from your life. I have to confess that when I hear him say that, I usually think, “Yeah, sure! That sure sounds great but how do you do it?”
Well, the QBQ newsletter gives us one place to start in order to ruthlessly eliminate hurry. In a nutshell, John says we all need to draw some reasonable boundaries in order to take care of ourselves, resulting in “an abundance of joy, improved mental and physical health, and greater peace of mind during a season that is all about Peace on Earth.” Sounds like heaven to me!
Read John’s newsletter below and make it a magnificent, unhurried weekend…taking care of yourself with some reasonable boundaries.
Lord, teach us to s-l-o-w d-o-w-n! Help us see that not all the things that we think we need to do are really all that important. Help us choose wisely.
Link of the Day
QBQ! Boundaries: Saying No
Blessings on you as you s-l-o-w d-o-w-n this weekend and spend some time just reflecting on several reasons to be grateful.
“When wealth is lost, nothing is lost; when health is lost, something is lost; when character is lost, all is lost.” Billy Graham
When is it acceptable (or strategic) to be a little less than honest?
Good people are guided by their honesty; treacherous people are destroyed by their dishonesty. (Prov. 11:3; NLT)
Yes, I’m honest, but…. And that’s where the dishonesty begins. Sometimes the person saying it doesn’t even see the discrepancy. Most of us have mental filters when it comes to honesty. Brian Klemmer, in his new book, The Compassionate Samurai, uses as an example the quote of a crook: “Of course I’m honest! I tell people that I’m going to steal from them, and that’s being honest.”
But with honesty, as with many character traits, there is no gray area–no buts. You either are, or you aren’t honest. Admittedly, the challenge is often made greater when we don’t even know ourselves well enough to understand what is really the truth.
Sometimes we choose to not disclose the whole truth. Sometimes we do that to protect our position. Sometimes we do that to protect the other person from harm. But in both cases, it’s being dishonest. Honesty is the whole truth, period! Now this is not to say that you should feel free to “blast” someone in the name of honesty. Check your intentions. Be honest with yourself. Is your goal to help the other person or just make them feel bad? There is a right way and wrong way to handle such a situation. Purposely hurting another to make you feel better is never the right way.
We’ve all grown up hearing, “honesty is the best policy.” Yes it is–in the long run. Sometimes there are short-term costs to pay for being honest. That’s what causes many of us to choose to be less than honest at times. However, Klemmer documents the long term cost of not being honest as “the loss of intimacy, efficiency, and aliveness. First, lying destroys the trust the other person has in you. Once you lie, the veracity of everything you say is in doubt. Relationships and businesses are based on trust….Second, every time you violate your own principles, it’s like taking a knife and cutting yourself. A piece of you dies. It doesn’t matter what principle you violate. You become less whole; you compromise your integrity.”
This series of character traits of a Samurai as gleaned from Klemmer’s new book will continue for the next several DG’s, only interrupted from time to time when something timely appears. I would like to think that the series will be helpful to you as we stand at the threshold of a new year. it’s a great time to examine ourselves and make selective adjustments. Improvements to character is always a fruitful activity. If this is resonating with you, I encourage you to get Klemmer’s book. See the Amazon link in the 12/3/08 DG, “Benefits of Playing Victim”.
Lord, often the person we’re most dishonest with is You. We make excuses for our lack of fellowship with You rather than just being honest about our true motives. How foolhardy! Do we really think we can deceive our Maker? Grant us the grace to overcome those tendencies.
Link of the Day
Yes, Integrity Matters!
Blessings on you as you purpose to avoid all temptation to be less than honest.
“Because eggnog is a holiday staple, it just wouldn’t be Christmas without it.” Eggnog.ws
When was the last time you enjoyed some homemade eggnog?
She lays her eggs on the ground and lets them warm in the sand. (Job 39:14; NIV)
I really didn’t know much of the history behind this pleasurable holiday beverage. Growing up on a dairy farm meant that eggnog was a common treat though. We raised our own chickens, and of course, had our own milk and cream from those black and white beauties in the barn. One memory that still stands out in my mind about eggnog revolves around my cousin Butch. Butch was much older than I was and he lived with us at various times while working as a hired hand on the farm. One morning he cracked an egg in a glass. Poured in some milk, a little sugar and a smidge of vanilla extract. He stuck a fork in the glass and gave it a few stirs. Then he handed the glass to me and said, “Drink it straight down and don’t stop.” Even that experience has never deterred me from drinking eggnog.
By the way, I’ve found it spelled eggnog and egg nog. Not sure who’s right on that front. Various stories abound around the inception of this winter toddy. However, the consensus says that eggnog is a tradition that was brought to America from Europe. Eggnog is related to various milk and wine punches that had been concocted long ago in the “Old World”. However, in America a new twist was put on the theme. Rum was used in the place of wine. In Colonial America, rum was commonly called “grog”, so the name eggnog is likely derived from the very descriptive term for this drink, “egg-and-grog”, which corrupted to egg’n’grog and soon to eggnog. At least this is one version…
Others say that the “nog” of eggnog comes from the word “noggin”. A noggin was a small, wooden, carved mug. It was used to serve drinks at the table in taverns. The true story might be a mixture of the two and eggnog was originally called “egg and grog in a noggin”. That was a term that required shortening if there ever was one.
Most eggnog recipes call for some form of liquor. We never had liquor in our house so I have never used it when making eggnog. There are various ways of making this creamy beverage too. Some recipes say to separate the eggs, beat the yolks with the cream and sweetener and then beat the whites and fold them in. I’ve never done that but I tried it last night and did not like it. It was too frothy and foamy. Most all recipes call for sugar but I’ve developed a recipe using honey. The organic ice cream is optional but adds a nice twist. And yes, eggnog uses raw eggs. Since I buy organically raised eggs from free-roaming chickens, I have no concerns over using raw eggs. However, if that’s not something you’re comfortable doing, by all means have a cup of tea instead.
Father, thank You for the incredible, edible egg. May we all continue to remember the reason for the season is Your son, Jesus.
Link of the Day
Blessings on you as you enjoy some holiday eggnog.