Yes! or no?


reading the gospel of matthew

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YES!

If words were objects, I believe the word “yes” would be an ignition switch and the word “no” would be a parking brake.

Albert Einstein said, “Nothing happens until something moves.” My personal life experience would rewrite his quote to read, “Purpose doesn’t happen until someone says yes.” Movement in humans often begins with agreement and acceptance. When we say yes to something, we put plans into motion. When we say no to an opportunity, we stay put.

Pick Someone Else More Qualified Please!

Many times we feel ill equipped, unworthy, inexperience and just plain scared to death when life confronts us with a challenge. Yes? or No?, life asks.

To say yes often means we will risk or suffer failures and setbacks. Saying no offers the security of the status quo.  I would rather possibly fail spectacularly in pursuit of my life’s purpose, than fail certainly and thus suffer a lifetime of regrets for never having tried. Our fate and destiny all hinge on our yes and no answers to life’s questions.

Courageous? Yes!

Saying yes requires courage. There are few guarantees in life. Saying no seems safer at first, but leads to the slow death of stagnation. Serenity comes from accepting the things you cannot change and having the courage to change the things you can and the wisdom to know the difference between the two. Wisdom is key in deciding when to say yes and when to say no. Ultimately, we each have the freedom to choose.

Faith to Say Yes!

The Bible is filled with stories of ordinary people who said yes to his/her calling from God and served out his/her purpose for being. Not all the stories turn out worldly well, but they all turn out perfectly as planned, if you have faith and believe in the purpose of the overall story and its ultimate author.

Richness, excitement, challenge, satisfaction, meaning and purpose  are all found on the path that opens behind the door marked yes. The question is when is it wise to say yes and when is it wise to say no? I’ll leave that up to you to decide. As for me, I have discovered an internal GPS device that I have learned to trust for guidance. Maybe it’s the pilot in me. My GPS is not a Global Positioning system, but rather it is God’s Purposeful Solutions. I stay connected through a free high-speed network called prayer.

I have experienced many opportunities to trust in God’s plan for my life and for His purpose. I have learned to have faith in God even when I have no faith in my understanding or talents. Proverbs 3:4-5 says, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understandings; in all your ways acknowledge him and he will make your paths straight.” Later in verse 27 we read, “Do not withhold good from those who deserve it, when it is in your power to act.” This to me means that one should  say yes to helping when one can do so. 

I have some more guidance from the following:

James 1:2-5 “Consider it pure joy,  my brothers, whenever you face trials of any kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him.”

James 1:12 “Blessed is the man who perseveres under trail, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him.”

Say Yes! Even When It Hurts 

Recently, a terrific young father of two young boys began attending our small church and the men’s Bible study group that I am blessed to lead.  I quickly got to know and like him. I learned that he was facing many life challenges including mental illness. I am grateful to say that our church family said yes to God’s challenge to love this newcomer. We welcomed him with open hearts and open arms and tried our best to show him God’s love and grace.

We were devastated to learn this week that his illness had claimed his life.

Through grieving and caring for those who were impacted by this tragic loss, we experienced the grace of God’s comfort. We came to understand personally what is meant by “Blessed are those who mourn, they will be comforted.”-Matthew 5:4. You see through all the pain of loss and sadness for his family and friends, I felt God’s voice saying, “Well done good and faithful servant!”-Matthew 25:23. “I’ll take over from here.”

When you say yes to a calling, an assignment or an opportunity to serve, you are not expected to perform perfectly. You are expected to say yes and to do the best you can with what you have been given to work with. God will take care of the rest. I believe that God doesn’t need us to do His work, but that he allows us to share in His work because He knows it gives our lives meaning.

I do not enjoy the sense of loss that I feel for my new friend. But through my pain, I contact my humanity which says to me that I would rather risk experiencing this pain than to live with the regret of having never taken the time to get to know my friend. 

On the morning of the day my friend’s life ended, I sent him an e-mail to check up on him. He, another member of my men’s group named Dan and I had shared about an hour’s conversation after our Sunday worship service.  He had shared his pain.  We became present with him in his suffering. We tried to offer him hope, understanding and unconditional love.

His response to my How are you doing? message was, “Hang’n in there. Thanks for talking with me. It really helped.” Late that same night, his mental illness took his life.

Dan and I did what we could do to help our new friend. We knew that he was also receiving professional mental health care. None of it was not enough to save him, but I believe it was all that we could have done and that is enough for God.  One of the people I follow on Twitter tweeted a quote that sums this thought up well, “Nobody made a greater mistake than he who did nothing because he could do only a little. – Edmund Burke”

If presented with the same circumstances in the future, I will say yes again. The price for saying  no is too costly for my soul.

What’s Your Answer?

What are you being asked to say yes to? You have been and are continuing to be equipped to complete the next step of your purpose for being here. Will you say yes? I pray that you will. The more we say yes, the more we can make a difference, even in what might seem to only be a small thing to us. You never know if saying yes to listening to someone who needs to talk instead of going out to lunch might make a difference to someone and to you.

The world awaits your answer. What will it be? Yes! or no?

As for me, I’m trying to be God’s Yes! man.

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What Unanswered Questions Are Holding You Back?


Questions

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Who are you? Why are you the way you are? Is this all there is? Which way is up?

There are plenty of people in this world willing to prescribe their perfect answers to your imperfect life.

How many of our problems, worries, fears and wasted potential are a result of our failure to honestly answer our own questions?

Questions are more powerful than suggestions. A question is designed to make you think of an answer.

What questions are you aware of that you are currently ignoring answering? Are you afraid to answer them truthfully?

How would your life change if you chose to answer these questions honestly in a way that is uniquely your own creation?

Great questions beg great answers.

If you need some help, I try to tweet a life question daily on Twitter.

Follow me on Twitter for some questions that might help you answer once and for all:

Why am I here?

Who am I really?

Who do I want to be when I grow up?

What great questions do you need to start answering today? How will your life be different if you do? What’s holding you back?

Ask and you shall receive. Knock and the door will be opened for you. Seek and you shall find.

Does opportunity knock most often in the form of questions?

Is it possible for you to live your life fired up?

Your life and our world are anxiously awaiting your answers.

Is Perception Reality?


17th century representation of the "third...

Image via Wikipedia

Your Unique Perspective

Perspective:
1) the state of one’s ideas, the facts known to one, etc., in having a meaningful interrelationship: You have to live here a few years to see local conditions in perspective.
2) the faculty of seeing all the relevant data in a meaningful relationship: Your data is admirably detailed but it lacks perspective.
“perspective.” Dictionary.com Unabridged. Random House, Inc. 08 Jan. 2011. <Dictionary.com http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/perspective>.

One Perspective

Imagine a world where everyone shared the same perspective. We would truly see things through the same set of eyes. We would all agree that black is black, white is white and grey is grey in every situation. We would universally agree on right and wrong. There would be no need to argue. We would all agree on everything. Heaven or Hell? Utopia or boring beyond belief? The totalitarian and fascist track records are not pretty on this account.

I don’t believe we have any chance of a universal perspective sweeping like a virus through humanity any time soon.

Your State of Mind

We each experience a unique state of mind or perspective. Let’s begin with a closer examination of our first definition of perspective, “the state of one’s ideas, the facts known to one, etc., in having a meaningful interrelationship.” When we try to blend our ideas and what we know as “facts,” we risk forming  mis-perceptions.  Are our ideas really valid? Are our facts truthful? Do we have enough information to have confidence in our conclusions?  Can we trust our perspective? Flat-eathers, conspiracy theorists, and UFO-fringers come to mind as possible candidates for mis-perception.  But who really can tell?

Is Perception Reality?

Is one’s perception one’s reality?  I would tend to say that yes it is from the perspective of the person experiencing the situation as real.  How we experience a moment is what allows us to process our sensations and manufacture ideas about the situation and blend it with what we believe factual in our situation.  A difficult question to answer is, what really is reality? Is so-called reality separate from one’s perception? A psychotic person experiences a much different reality than the non-psychotic person and the non-psychotic community judges the psychotic’s perceived reality as fictional.  But does this non-psychotic judgement make the psychotic’s perceived, even if delusional, reality any less real to him/her? 

Our perceived definition of reality is formed when two or more people can agree that their perceptions of a moment are similar. The more similar their perceptions, the more real they will judge their experience of the moment.  They confirm their ideas and facts against the other people’s ideas and facts and begin to trust their perceptions as reality.

Is Perception Relevant?

Our second definition of perception, “the faculty of seeing all the relevant data in a meaningful relationship” is also problematic.  Is it ever possible for someone to see all the relevant data in a meaningful relationship prior to forming a perception?  Who can objectively and accurately decide what qualifies as relevant data in a given moment?  Yet we all do it all the time without giving it much thought. We know what we saw.  We believe it when we see it. It just sounds right to me. These are the things we tell ourselves to make a judgement on our perception and to move on.

Living In Our Own World

I have come to understand that we each live in our own world of our uniquely created perceptions. Our ideas, facts, experiences, emotions, senses, and even biological makeup all contribute to how we perceive each moment we live. I do not believe that any two people process all of the inputs that are generated by experiencing a moment in the same way, so it is nearly impossible to expect that any two people will perceive a moment totally the same way.  We might agree on some similarities between our perception, but on close examination, there would be differences as well.

Different=Bad, Wrong and Crazy

Our innate need to feel connected to others and to confirm our sanity, drives us to form relationships with like-minded people.  Spend anytime on any online discussion board and you can experience this natural phenomenon in action. We validate each other’s perceptions and then happily live our lives viewing each moment as a true reading of reality based on the fact that others share a similar perception, so ours is correct. 
A potentially dangerous environment is created when we come across someone with a different perspective. We are  immediately shocked that someone could hold a different perspective than our own. (We are totally right afterall.) In trying to support our sense of correctness and sanity, we immediately judge and dismiss the other person’s different perspective as being bad, wrong and possibly crazy.  Afterall, how could any rational thinking human being perceive something differently than me we think.  It’s fight or flight time. Let the arguments, coercion, influencing and preaching begin…

My Way or the Highway!

Our judgements of other’s perceptions are lightning fast. When other’s perceptions conflict directly with our cherished perceptions called beliefs and values, we tend to react on a more emotional level than in a logical way.  We defend our perception and try to persuade the other person to see things our way or prove ourself to be right and them wrong.  If that doesn’t work and we believe our way of thinking is threatened, we can become frightened, frustrated and angry.  This is a toxic emotional cocktail that we instantly drink and can result in pronouncements such as “I cannot believe you feel that way!” We issue ultimatums such as, “it’s my way or the highway,” “damn you to Hell,” or worse, “condemn you to death.”  Our response to a radically different perspective that we judge as threatening to our perceptions becomes a battle of wills or a war for mental self-preservation.

Different is Different, Not Bad by Definition

One short line of logic has the power to form a mental circuit breaker that can keep us from drinking our toxic judgment cocktail.  That statement is: “Different is by definition different and is not automatically bad.”  Difference has no innate evaluation of good or bad.  Difference requires a judgement of our perceptions for us to think of a difference as being bad or wrong for our existence and perceived reality.  Me must accept as fact that people perceive reality differently than we do, because we have enough evidence to suggest that it is fact.

If we can add this mental circuit breaker to our rational, logical thinking process, then we have to potential to deploy our most powerful weapon in our intellectual arsenal, our curiosity.

Curiosity as a Safety Valve

If one can learn to become masters of one’s  curiosity, then one can subdue one’s natural, emotional tendency to leap to conclusions and quickly  judge other perceptions.  Curiosity has the power to defuse potentially explosive perceptual differences.  If one can view perceptual differences as opportunities to learn something new or as positive challenges to solidify and confirm our own perceptions, then one does not have a need to judge others’ perceptions as invalid or wrong.  One can disagree with a different perception, but one can stay curious to try to decide what differences exist in how the other person has processed information, formed values, ideas and beliefs that resulted in a perception that is different than one’s own.  In short, one might learn something beneficial and learn to appreciate a different perception, even if one disagrees with it.   Since we all have  evidence that we have made mistakes in our perceptions, why not always assume that our perceptions are incomplete and subject to change with more information?  By asking oneself, “what if I’m wrong?” one can stay curious and at least attempt to fully understand a different perspective without rushing to judgement.  One can use one’s curiosity as a safety valve to diffuse one’s own visceral response to a difference and seek first to understand the difference before trying to become understood for maintaining one’s true perspective.

One can adjust one’s intellectual honesty by asking oneself, “Do I really have enough true information to be 100% confident in my perception?”  If one can imagine a single potential piece of  information that might change one’s perception, then one must logically conclude that one does not have enough information to be certain of one’s perceived conclusion.

All Perceptions Are Subject to Change With New Information

If all of our perceptions are subject to change with other information, how can one function? As one remains curious to the potential revisions to one’s perceptions, one tests one’s perceptions more often and can decide that they are true or false from one’s perspective.  The more often one confirms one’s perceptions, the more one can increase one’s confidence in them.  Confidence and certainty are not the same thing much like faith and fact are not the same.  By remaining open to at least evaluating different perspectives by using one’s curiosity, one can avoid many fears, frustrations and angry or violent conclusions. Why fight over something that there is a good chance that one holds an inaccurate perception about it?

Time Will Tell

Which perceptions are right and wrong?  Time will tell. Additional experience is the magnifying lens that allows one to see 20/20 in hindsight if one is willing to reflect and to revise one’s perceptions. By learning to stay curious, one increases the chances of a much more interesting and rich journey through this series of experiences called life.

There are some truths that I believe have withstood the test of time. When in doubt, I have my faith.

My perceptions may ultimately prove to have been totally wrong, but in the end, I will have lived a better life as a result of my faith either way.  Time will tell if I was correct.  I am confident in my faith enough to live on curiously.

Seeking and finding truth is not easy and may be a major purpose of our life’s journey.

Time will tell. One must wait and see for oneself.

 I wish you a wonderful adventure!

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