“BUILDING A WINNING TEAM”

We are currently in a busy and exciting sports season. Playoffs and championships, the road to the Super Bowl, March Madness and events like this cause fans to go crazy. I enjoy watching sports as well. My teams have good years and bad years, but I still support them as a true fan should. The thing that I find so interesting is the components of a championship team. You see, you can’t buy a championship team; it can only be built. Even the great superstar athletes have to have teammates they are able to play well with. Finding strengths and weaknesses is part of that building. When each player is able to lean on one another with that kind of trust, they become even stronger. A player can excel in one area, but struggle in another. No one player can do it all, so you build a team that weakness doesn’t bring defeat, it ignites unity. A teammate should never become jealous of another player because that one is strong, where he or she is weak. You must recognize what you bring to the team, and that’s why you’re there. Don’t let your personal insecurities cause the team to be defeated.
 
Obviously, this is a big topic, and I could go on with the different elements of winning as a team. I would just like to ask you what your team is? Is it a church team, a business team, maybe a school team? Whatever it is, are you winning? Are you transparent with your teammates? Can you lean on each other? No matter what your team is and where you’re involved, you need to win. That’s what matters. You should be able to walk away from a project feeling like together, you won. There are many things I could talk about if you’re not winning. However, I will say this; if you are jealous of someone on your team that is strong where you are weak, you’re hurting the team. Please stop trying to be like them. Don’t talk bad about them. Don’t magnify their weaknesses and minimize their strengths. Your personal issue will inevitably become a team problem. Do you want the team to win, or do you wish you to be viewed as the winner? You might not realize that you could be keeping your team from winning.
 
Because winning teams are built, I encourage you to do whatever you can to help make the team you’re on a winning one. Be one of the reasons your team is winning, not why it’s losing. Be a unifier, not a divider. Cheer when your teammates are using their strengths, and be there to help them when they are weak. Walk away from reading this blog with a made-up mind that you are going to do everything you can to make sure your team wins.

21 DAYS OF FOCUS (DAY 4)

The ability to focus takes determination and commitment. There will always be things to do, something to think about, and things to fight for our attention. You have to be determined to block everything except what is most important at that time. During these 21 Days, choose daily the things you need to focus on and make them the center of attention. Divide them up blocks of time for your day so you can make the most of that day. Don’t just randomly pick from the list, be intentional. Use your time wisely. Open and close each day with a set and achieved goal. Decide for 21 days what are reoccurring things that you will continually focus on, and what are those unique things that need specific days to accomplish.

It’s my opinion that these 21 days can be the foundation for how we build the rest of the year. A year can be a crazy ride because you don’t know today what August is going to bring. You can’t predict your summer. All you can do is prepare now for the unexpected events in 2020. I’m not trying to be negative, but the truth is, both negative and positive things are going to happen this year. Get a head start on all of it by establishing 21 days of focus.

“21 DAYS OF FOCUS”

Today, our Church begins, what we’re calling “21 DAYS OF FOCUS.” The definition of focus is to bring something to the center of attention. It also means, having clear vision. I’ve heard a lot about 2020 being the year of vision, and I love that, but what good is a vision without focus? We don’t just need vision; we need a clear vision. We have to make sure we have the right things at the center of attention. So, for the next 21 days, that’s exactly what we’re going to do. In fact, it’s going to be a year of focus for us. We all get busy with other things in life, and before you know it, certain things start becoming blurry and out of focus. Here is a list of some things that we are bringing to the center of attention.

PRAYER
FASTING
BIBLE READING
FELLOWSHIP
RELATIONSHIPS (Marriage, family, and friendships)
FINANCES
YOUR GIFTS AND CALLING
MISSION AND EVANGELISM (Reaching out to the lost and hurting)
FAITHFULNESS TO THE HOUSE GOD

You are more than welcome to go on this journey with us. If you are a part of a Church that is doing something similar to this, that is great, and I am praying for you and your Church. Let’s set the pace for 2020 by joining together in unity and focusing on things that might have become blurry in our lives.

“WAIT FOR CLARITY”

We are three days into 2020. How are you doing on your goals? Remember, you have to maintain a consistent pace to last throughout the year. It’s not about how great you start, but how well you end. You will experience highs and lows as you strive to reach your goal. Don’t let the highs cause you to be overconfident, and don’t let the lows convince you to quit. No matter what you want to see happen in 2020, it will take daily commitment to achieve it. Things might look a little blurry now, but begin to focus and wait for clarity.

“YOU CAN’T GO UNTIL YOU LET GO”

Well, this is it. Today we will perform our last acts of 2019. What did you complete, what’s left unfinished, and what are your goals for 2020? There are probably some things you’ll need to carry over to make sure they get done, and not abandoned. However, you might have a few things you keep hanging on to each year that should be released. Only you know what those things are. I can promise you this, letting go of hurt and bitterness will free you for your greatest year ever. Whatever you’re holding on to, is keeping you from where God wants to take you to. It’s not worth it. You might ask, how do I let go of what happened to me in the past? It’s not easy, but here’s what I would say. You have to be more excited about where you’re going versus where you’ve been. You’re passion for your future needs to be stronger than the pain of your past. God’s calling on your life will never be behind you, only in front of you. Your purpose is in where you’re going, not where you’ve been. The bottom line is, you can’t go until you let go.

“START THANKING THEM”

Don’t let anyone cause you to doubt who you are. You know you better than anyone does. You’ll always deal with critical opinions about what people think you are, but stay true to yourself. The change in you is the better version of you, and don’t let what others say cause you to revert. The goal is to keep growing, and believe it or not; they’re helping you do that. I know that might sound crazy, but it’s true. If you let it, their words can challenge you to work even harder. It’s not that you’re trying to prove anything to them, it’s just pushing you to keep going.

Do you want to hear something wild? The next time you find out someone is criticizing you, tell them, thank you. Really? Absolutely! Let them know; hey, you helped me work harder, try harder, and climb higher. Your negative view of me let me know that I’m doing something right. You can’t stop me, keep me down, or hold me back. I don’t know what you thought you were doing by spreading false reports, but I want to thank you because it made me work even harder.

Get your head up, stop complaining about who’s talking about you, and start thanking them.

“BE THAT ONE”

One of the most important things you can do is also one of the hardest to achieve. Be quiet. Being right doesn’t always mean being loud. The loudest one in an argument is not necessarily the winner. I’ve also discovered that helping someone doesn’t mean you give them tons of advice. Sometimes listening to someone is more important than talking. Don’t get me wrong, having something to say is valuable, but what you say, how you say it, and how long you say it is an excellent act of wisdom.

I think you will find in the Gospels, that even though Jesus spent a lot of time teaching, He also spent a considerable amount of time listening. Nobody had more to say than Him, but we find Him sitting down with people and listening to them. He taught His disciples, but He also let them talk as well — what an incredible example for all leaders to follow. You don’t just lead people by talking; you can also influence them by listening.

So, practice it and achieve it. Let it be a goal of yours to listen more the next time you’re in a conversation with someone needing help. Be slow to speak, but in a hurry to listen. Somebody needs someone to talk to. Be that one.

“HERE’S WHAT YOU FORGOT”

So, you remember that mistake in your past. You can’t seem to get it out of your mind. Maybe you remember a particular storm that almost cost you everything. Perhaps you even remember a broken heart from someone you thought would never hurt you. Honestly, when you start going down that road, your memory can be your worst enemy. You don’t want it there, you’ve asked for it to leave, but for some reason, nothing will cause it to get out.

As bad as some things are in your past that you’re remembering, here’s what you forgot. In spite of your mess-up, God never gave up on you. His grace was greater than your failure…you might have forgotten that. Yes, you suffered a heart-break, but no one has ever loved you more than Jesus. You remember who walked away, but you might have forgotten who stayed. I know that the storm was terrible, and the details make you cringe even now, but guess what? YOU MADE IT! You remember being in it, but you might have forgotten that you’re out. Even if things are still challenging, you could be failing to remember who’s holding your hand.

So, if you’re going to remember the sorrow, don’t forget the joy. If you’re going to think about the hurt, don’t forget the healing.

He was there in your error and didn’t forsake you. He covered you with His love while you mourned from grief. Here’s what you forgot; He was there, He’ll always be there, and He is here now.

“IN YOUR FACE MARRIAGE TALK”

It only takes one glance or a response to an inappropriate comment or text. One-click of the mouse and you’re trapped. That curious website and that friend request is nothing more than a tool of the enemy to start breaking down your marriage, brick by brick. Oh, we’re just cutting up with each other. He’s like a brother to me. I could never think of her that way. Do you know how many counseling sessions I’ve had with married couples where I’ve heard this junk? With the attack on our families, I think it’s time to have some IN YOUR FACE MARRIAGE TALK. Guys, get your ego in check. Ladies, don’t entertain those risky comments.

If you’re struggling in your marriage, I can promise you; there is help. You have to want it and ask for it. I see men and women with degrees in all kinds of education, and significant investment into self-help subjects. I know men that can take a vehicle apart and put it back together. Some build and can create and repair any structure. How does this happen? It takes time and practice. So, husbands, how much time have you put into building your marriage? If it’s breaking apart, how hard will you work to put it back together?

Many women can manage and lead anything from a department to an organization. They can market, sell, and advise. Many have a vision for taking a room or a home, and completely redoing it and making it better than it ever was. How? Investing time in what they love and making sure a project is completed. So, wives, your vision for your marriage. How do you see it, or do you even have a glimpse of where it’s at currently? If you can organize your business, why not structure your home. You wouldn’t leave a room unpainted, so why walk away from a marriage that hasn’t been fulfilled.

I know this is a big topic for a three or four paragraph blog, but I feel so passionate, and burdened for our families that I want to do everything I can to help inspire them. You will work for years, and one day retire. In your lifetime, you might even change jobs or careers. But when you find someone to spend your life with, there is no retirement plan on your love and life together. Don’t start looking to change spouses; keep working on improving you. Do everything you can, and if it falls apart, you will want to walk away knowing you gave it everything you had: your love, your time, and without a doubt,  your all.

IN TUNE

Day 6

“IN TUNE”

Written by: Denny Livingston

As our 21-day journey continues, I couldn’t help but remember something I saw my dad do for many years. My dad was an amazing minister and musician, but he was also a piano technician and restorer. He could take an old beat up piano and make it look brand new in just a few weeks. Not only could he make it look new, but he could make it sound new. When dad would bring a broken piano into his shop and set it up, you would stand and wonder how this instrument could ever look and sound new again. You might even try and play it, but there would be no way you could make out what you were playing because it would be so out of tune.

You see, when an instrument is out of tune, the melody of a song cannot be established. Also, you’re not able to build harmony parts because harmony is based on melody. In fact, if just one note is either sharp or flat, it throws everything off, even if the other notes are on pitch. Some people might hear how bad it sounds and give up, but not my dad. An out of tune piano is where my dad’s greatest work would begin.

Dad would use a device called a strobe-tuner. He would set it on top of the piano, plug it into the wall and start the tuning process. The standard musical pitch is set at a frequency of 440 hertz. A strobe-tuner is set at that pitch and can detect when a note is not at the correct level. Dad would go string by string on a piano and find out if it was too low or too high. He would then start adjusting the string with an instrument called a tuning hammer. Dad would say, “Now you can’t move the string up too fast or the string might break. Just move it a little at a time and after a while, it will get there.” He was right, because, in a matter of 45 minutes or so, the out of tune piano would sound great and new again.

After thinking about the tuning process, it reminded me of why we are on this 21-day journey. Just like a piano, we are an instrument that over time can get out of tune. It’s nothing we planned on doing, it just happens. We can so easily find ourselves out of tune with God and off pitch from His Will. Just a slight move can cause us to be flat or sharp. God’s Will for our lives is set at 440 hertz and at times we need tuning to get back to that level.

Prayer, fasting and God’s Word are the tuning devices God uses to help us get back to where we should be. When we start to communicate with Him in prayer, He reveals how far we’ve drifted from the level where we once were. Fasting causes us to focus on God and not ourselves. As we overcome physical hunger, our appetite for spiritual things begins to increase, helping us return to a place of perfect harmony with God. The Word of God is like a two-edged sword, cutting out the things in our lives that have caused us to become out of tune.

Be encouraged on day 6, for little by little, we are getting back in tune with God’s Will and His voice. It won’t happen all at once, but over the next 21 days, we are being renewed in the Spirit of the Lord. You will start to feel a difference when you stand in the presence of God. You’re moving closer to Him, which means you’re moving further away from the things that have caused you to slip off pitch. Soon our melody will return and the sounds of sweet harmony will come forth. Dear Lord, help me to be sensitive to your Spirit by being in tune with your voice.

Psalm 51:12 (NKJV)
Restore to me the joy of Your salvation, And uphold me by Your generous Spirit.