Out of This World

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Ocean water’s; Victoria, B.C.
Photo taken by the author

“The invisible realm is superior and far more real than the visible realm.”
– John Paul Jackson

Author and speaker, John Eldridge, reminds us we have been born into a world at war. Even so, most of us are not aware of this and often do not live our lives within this context. If we did understand this, and what it meant for us, it would do a great deal for us in our daily living. It would clarify a lot in our understanding of what is going on around us, as well as to us. In his book, “Love and War”, he writes: “Things are not what they seem…There are larger events unfolding around us, events of enormous consequence…Moments of immense consequence are taking place all around us.”

A few summer’s ago I had the opportunity to travel to Africa for six weeks to help out with an NGO. The last ten days of my trip I travelled to Northern Ethiopia to do some sightseeing on my own. When I was in Gondor, Ethiopia, I got to take a tour of the ruins of the castle complex. While there, I learned from my tour guide that the word “emperor”, as it relates to Ethiopian kings means, “king of kings.” I was shocked to learn this and my eyes were opened to this new-found revelation I had just learned. Do you see the connection?

Jesus is referred to as our “King of kings and Lord of lords.” (see 1 Timothy 6:15, and Revelation 17:14, 19:16.) King Jesus is really Emperor Jesus. He is the emperor over all other kings, and every other earthly king that has ever reigned, or will ever reign, on the earth. Jesus is reigning right now and will be reigning forever, as well as for all of eternity. Eternity is a big number and it represents a very large number of years. So much so, that the greatest mathematicians, of our day and of the past, can not quantitatively assign an actual number that equals eternity; in other words, infinity. All they can think of is that number eight symbol, turned sideways. His reign and his kingship is superior to any and every king before him. It was Jesus who created those earthly kings, after all. This just goes to reinforce that His kingdom is not of this world and it is literally “out of this world.”

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That’s My King!

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Harvard Yard, Harvard University; Cambridge, Massachusetts
Photo taken by the author

The great Baptist preacher of the 20th century, Dr. Shadrach Meshach Lockridge, once perceptibly preached a message entitled, “That’s My King!” Here are the words to the famous sermon he preached in Detroit, Michigan. The year was 1976.

 

“The Bible says my King is the King of the Jews.
He’s the King of Israel.
He’s the King of righteousness.
He’s the King of the ages.
He’s the King of Heaven.
He’s the King of glory.
He’s the King of kings, and
He’s the Lord of lords.
That’s my King. I wonder…
Do you know Him today??

My King is a sovereign King.
No means of measure can define his limitless love.
He’s enduringly strong.
He’s entirely sincere.
He’s eternally steadfast.
He’s immortally graceful.
He’s imperially powerful.
He’s impartially merciful.
Do you know Him?

He’s the greatest phenomenon that has ever crossed the horizon of this world.
He’s God’s Son.
He’s the sinner’s Savior.
He’s the peak of civilization.
He’s unparalleled.
He’s unprecedented.
He is the loftiest idea in literature.
He’s the highest personality in philosophy.
He’s the fundamental doctrine of true theology.
He’s the only one qualified to be an all-sufficient Savior.
I wonder if you know Him today.

He supplies strength for the weak.
He’s available for the tempted and the tried.
He sympathizes and He saves.
He strengthens and sustains.
He guards and He guides.
He heals the sick.
He cleanses the lepers.
He forgives sinners.
He discharges debtors.
He delivers the captives.
He defends the feeble.
He blesses the young.
He serves the unfortunate.
He regards the aged.
He rewards the diligent, and He beautifies the meager.
I wonder if you know Him.

He’s the key to knowledge.
He’s the wellspring of wisdom.
He’s the doorway of deliverance.
He’s the pathway of peace.
He’s the roadway of righteousness.
He’s the highway of holiness.
He’s the gateway of glory.
Do you know Him?

Well, His light is matchless.
His goodness is limitless.
His mercy is everlasting.
His love never changes.
His word is enough.
His grace is sufficient.
His reign is righteous,
and His yoke is easy
and His burden is light.
I wish I could describe Him to you.
Yes, He’s indescribable.
He’s incomprehensible.
He’s invincible.
He’s irresistible.
You can’t get Him out of your mind.
You can’t get Him off of your head.
You can’t outlive Him, and you can’t live without Him.

Well, the Pharisees couldn’t stand Him
but they found out they couldn’t stop Him.
Pilate couldn’t find any fault in Him.
Herod couldn’t kill Him.
Death couldn’t handle Him,
and the grave couldn’t hold Him.
Yeah! That’s my King!”

He always has been and He always will be.
I’m talking about the fact that He had no predecessor and He’ll have no successor.
There’s nobody before Him and there’ll be nobody after Him.
You can’t impeach Him and He’s not going to resign.
That’s my King! That’s my King!

Thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory.
Well, all the power belongs to my King.
We’re around here talking about black power and white power
and green power, but in the end all that matters is God’s power.
Thine is the power.
Yeah.
And the glory.
We try to get prestige and honor and glory for ourselves, but the glory is all His.
Yes.
Thine is the Kingdom and the power and glory, forever and ever and ever and ever.
How long is that?
Forever and ever and ever and ever. . .
And when you get through with all of the ever’s, then . . .Amen!”

 

My favorite part is: “He is the loftiest idea in literature / He’s the highest personality in philosophy / He’s the fundamental doctrine of true theology.” I like this because it really speaks to my intellectual mind and my desire to know the true truth.

 

On Becoming

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Breathtaking beauty in the heart of the Rocky Mountains – in Canmore, AB
Photo taken by the author

“The greatest thing about tomorrow is, I will be better than I am today. And that’s how I look at my life. I will be a better golfer, I will be a better person, I will be a better father, I will be a better husband, I will be a better friend. That’s the beauty of tomorrow.”
– Tiger Woods

Becoming is what we are all after. To become a better person, son or daughter, friend, husband or wife, father or mother – a family member. It could also mean to become a better worker, more skilled at our craft, more excellent in our hobbies, and more graceful with our free time. The search of life is just that: a search. Nothing more and nothing less. It’s really one big search over the course of a number of decades, which defines our lifetime, with lots and lots of other searches in between. In other words, it is a lifelong search in discovering and really understanding who we actually are – our individual selves. Once we’ve discovered that, it becomes about having the courage to live that out in the public forum of who we truly are.

Of course this doesn’t come naturally or easily for anyone who has ever walked the earth. It’s a process, after all. Like all great searches, and any search for that matter, it takes time and it gets unveiled over a sequence of time, in many different ways. This is easier to write, much less live out, let me tell you. Becoming who you are doesn’t take place in the blink of an eye or the click of a finger, even though we would all wish to have our own personal genie, with a lot more than three wishes to be granted. Instead, it takes place in layers. As one layer is removed, or unearthed, we gain a greater, deeper, and more insightful understanding of who we are; thus, becoming more of, well, you. The goal of this process is to be as complete of you as you can possibly be during your lifetime.

“Every day I become a better person. Not for anyone, but for myself.”
– Author unknown

The 2016 Summer Olympic Games in Rio has come and gone. The 100-yard dash is without a doubt one of the most premier events to watch as the winner who crosses the finish line first is declared “the fastest man on earth.” The champion holds this distinct title for four years until the next Olympic Games comes around. For those who recall this highly anticipated event, Usain Bolt, who runs as fast as a lightning bolt, became the bearer of this prestigious gold medal title three times in a row, which is a first in Olympic history in this event.  Over the past 12 years Bolt became all he could be as a sprinter and rose to the upper echelon in his area of expertise. This is one such example of a person becoming and reaching all of who they were (in this case, athletics.) Perhaps you could be the next example in becoming all of who you can be.

Learning From a Quilt

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The beginning of the autumn season in Calgary’s exquisite Bowness Park
Photo taken by the author during a recent rollerblade

“Our lives are like quilts – bits and pieces, joy and sorrow, stitched with love.”
– Author unknown

Life in general, and our lives in particular, is a process of being put back together again. Things have been lost in our life I’m sure you’re acutely aware of. Yet, despite this loss there is a fierce determination within each of us that wants all of it – all of you – back. Think of your life as a quilt of patterns, and through the various ways your life has come to be, some of those squares have been lost or have fallen off the once interwoven patchwork. The arrangement and assortment of each multi-layered textile was originally hand-sewn by someone who knew what they were doing when they made you. Sure, parts of the fabric have been misarranged or mishandled, but is not restoration a process any master craftsman would be committed to for each of their own?

Now, understand the patterns of your life are coming back to form one elegant quilt again. Each one of those exquisite and colourful patterns represent the uniqueness of who you are and what you have to offer (that no one else can, by the way.) Just as no one person is the same, so also no one quilt is identical to another. Essentially, a quilt can be likened to one’s own fingerprints. They are commonly used as a security practice in identifying an individual’s identify; thus, representing one of the key ways of determining a person is who they say they are.  A person’s fingerprint is a unique identifier of their personhood. Likewise, the unique tapestry of patterns on a quilt shows that no two quilts are the same; rather, each array of design is entirely different.

“Remember, people will see your quilts long after you are gone.”
– Author unknown

Here’s the point: everyone encounters setbacks and difficulties from time to time. There is no escaping this; yet, it does not have the final say. As Winston Churchill wisely once said: “Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.” So I urge you to have courage through each tough situation you face. Doing so is one of the ways in putting the pieces back together again – becoming whole. Wholeness to me is freedom. It’s one and the same. The key here is finding and discovering areas of your life that are freeing for you, what you do well, and what you are gifted at. A clue to one’s wholeness, or freedom, are the strengths one has been given. We all have them. They are those things we do very well, perhaps even better, than other’s around us. Our strengths are those tangible qualities that come to us and out of us naturally and effortlessly. Our strengths are what form our own extraordinary quilt.

The Art of Communicating Well

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Opening tee shot at Lynx Ridge Golf Course; Calgary, AB;
Photo taken by the author

“The art of communication is the language of leadership.” – James Humes

Here is a situation we have probably all encountered: a person you’re conversing with has boundless energy and enthusiasm, and like a thoroughbred racehorse, their message charges forth out of the gates and they are able to cover immense territory in a timeless fashion. However, their words seem to travel at the speed of light, making it much too fast for the human brain to understand, much less, comprehend. It feels as if the brain is experiencing “information overload”, in its highest form.

This approach to communicating can be hard to listen to and understand. In my experience, I have found that it simply is not effective in most settings, whether at work, socially, or otherwise. This is so because what was said often has to be repeated, further explained, and is unclear to the listener.

This brings us to the point of this piece: When speaking, is your goal quantity and efficiency or quality and effectiveness?

If it’s the first one, then you’ll probably reach a new record for the amount of words spoken (quantity) in a two-minute timeframe (efficiency), but the clearness of your message may be hampered. You’ll observe this by noticing people will ask you to repeat the words you just spoke, or question’s will be looming in an effort to sort out what was actually meant, or you may see a glazed look on other’s faces as you could tell the info went in one ear and out the other, like a whirlwind. All in all, this approach doesn’t lend itself to being considerate of the other person, whether it’s one-on-one or in a group setting.  A tip here would be to breathe a couple times, slow down the pace of one’s speech, with emphasis on the words being clearly articulated and enunciated.

“Write to be understood, speak to be heard, read to grow.”  – Lawrence Clark Powell

If, on the other hand, your intent is the second part, your words will be clearly understood with no question’s arising (quality) and this style of approach will be greatly received and appreciated (effective). It is this approach, aiming for both quality and effectiveness, that I am suggesting is the best communication method. As has been said before, it’s often not what is said but how one says it that matters most which leaves a graceful and lasting impression on those to whom you are communicating with. In other words, your message will be welcomed by other’s; thus, creating a win-win scenario for everyone involved. When you encounter someone who talks in this manner, don’t you just want to keep listening to them, no matter how boring the topic of discussion may be?

Essentially, everyone wants to be heard for this is the reason we talk in the first place. Even in small talk, such as the mundane talks about the unpredictable local weather, our voice longs to be heard and noticed. Which of these two approaches will you choose when you next communicate?

Processing the Idea of Process

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Photo taken by the author
Entrance to Pinebrook Golf & Country Club

“In the process
In the waiting
You’re making melodies over me
And your presence
is the promise
For I am a pilgrim on a journey”

– “Shepherd”, Bethel Music

I like what leadership expert, John Maxwell, has to say about process. In his book, “The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership”, his third law is devoted to what he calls, “The Law of Process.” As he writes, “Leadership develops daily, not in a day.” It’s the idea that any type of progress occurs over a long, gradual, and steady process in a person’s life. Think of someone whom you regard as being successful. When you chart their success backwards, you realize the little steps that person made each day, to the type of person you see in them today.

Let’s face it: I’m a millennial – part of Gen Y. What this means is, at times, I can be allergic to The Law of Process, as we seem to want things instantly. I believe that by my generation cultivating this timeless virtue that prior generation’s have modelled and lived, one of process or being steadfast towards something, we will be making a step in the right direction towards implementing this into our lives.

I love this song, as quoted above, that Amanda Cook sings. The other day, I woke up with this song in my head and I knew it was my song for the day. I’m a words-kind-of-guy, so I’ll write some words about the words of this word-ful song.

“In the process” – Ok, I get it, it’s about process. That is, everything about life, and to do with life, from our deepest longing’s to those areas we would prefer not to go.

“In the waiting” – In the process room in the house of our life, there is apparently a waiting period for us all to enter and go through, as we wait for those desires on our heart to be fulfilled and to come to full fruition.

“You’re making melodies over me” – For me, this is a reminder of grace and how it unfolds throughout my life, in a variety of ways, like a perpetual waterfall. As well, God actually sings (rejoices) over me. In the language of sports, God is cheering me on, is for me, and is my #1 Coach.

“And your presence” – That’s right, God is with me, all of the time, 24/7/365. Immanuel, “God with us”, or better fitted, “God with me.”

“is the promise” – God is the only one qualified to make promises, as He can not lie. He is the one whose promises we should listen to, as He has lots and lots of them for us.

“For I am a pilgrim on a journey” – God sees me as a pilgrim (a traveler or wanderer, especially in a foreign place) travelling along one of life’s toughest and greatest journey’s, life itself.

Quest Element’s

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Photo taken by the author
At the newly-renovated Bowness Park lagoon; Calgary, AB

“If you want to build a ship, don’t drum up the men to gather wood, divide the work and give orders. Instead, teach them to yearn for the vast and endless sea…”

– Antoine de Saint Exupery

In any search we encounter, I have noticed there seems to be different elements to it; three to be exact. They are stages that are staged along each stage of our journey – signposts, if you will – that are helpful in navigating our path along it. Like any great story, there is an enticing beginning, an intriguing middle, and an engaging ending.

The first element is motivation. Simply put, we need it to get going and to get started at something. What’s the spark, the trigger, or the idea to begin that thing on your mind? To start at something means we are motivated to do it in the first place. For without a sense of motivation, why bother at all? There has to be a desire to do the thing we have set out to do. Did someone inspire you to do it? Is it an inner prompting? A goal you’ve set for yourself? A long-awaited “bucket list” item? To break the word down, ‘motivation’, what is your motive for doing it?

Next, is inspiration. Once you have gained the motivation you then need the inspiration to keep going. That is, the determination, perspiration, and persistence to keep on going, throughout the process. Challenges will come and with it the need to keep plugging along. What inspires you? Is it a picture, a quote, or a belief? If so, write it out and put it in front of you so you can see it while you work away. We all need proverbial carrots out in front of us to get us to the next point, and the next one after that. Recognize this and recognize what your’s are.

“Instead of sailing off into the sunset, he hopes to sail into the next century.”

– Dave Anderson

The final element is hope. When you’re inspired by something you have a reason to keep doing what you’re doing. In other words, hope propels you forward, no matter what obstacles you encounter along the way. Hope is one of life’s greatest gifts, for it is the engine that fuels the aliveness of one’s heart. When you have hope, nothing will stand in your way. When you receive hope, take it in for all that it is – for as small as it may be, it becomes the rudder that charts your ship where it is purposed.

In summary, any decided journey that is so dared undertaken is secured by the bookends of motivation and hope, with inspiration being the glue holding it all together.