Invest in People

Find one or two people that you know could use a friend and give them your time, your love, and most importantly your sincerity.

Be Yourself

Be yourself. Quit comparing yourself to others. Just STOP. You are UNIQUE. You are RARE. You are SPECIAL. THERE IS, NEVER WAS AND NEVER WILL BE ANYONE LIKE YOU. God has a plan and a purpose for you. And His plan for this world has a job that NO ONE can do except YOU!

Quit focusing on what others ARE doing and what you’re NOT doing. Start focusing on what God IS doing.

Relax. Take it easy. Slow down. Wait.

Wait.

If you’ve been struggling with comparing yourself to others, or trusting that God has a plan for you, why don’t you pray this simple prayer right now:

Father, I love you. I only want what you want for me. Guide my every step down the path You have for me. Pour Your peace over me as I learn to trust in you completely. Amen.

A Dangerous Prayer

“Almighty and eternal God, so draw our hearts to you, so guide our minds, so fill our imaginations, so control our wills, that we may be wholly yours, utterly dedicated to you; and then use us, we pray, as you will, and always to your glory and welfare of your people; through our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.”

A very dangerous prayer from ‘The Book of Common Prayer.’ Be careful not to take it to heart, unless you’re ready for the consequences. A life exactly like you’ve just prayed.

You Can and Should Buy Influence

In this world, anyone can have power and influence if they’re willing to spend enough money.

Here’s a statement that may shock you. I believe that you can buy someone into the Kingdom of God.

Ok, I don’t actually think you can pay someone’s way into Heaven or into a relationship with Jesus Christ. I do believe you can buy your way into a person’s life to influence them and point them to Christ. And all it will cost you is a little time and money.

Here’s what you do:

1) Pick one day a week that you’re going to CONSISTENTLY pursue this venture. Remember, ministry to others is a marathon, not a sprint. Like anything of great value, influence takes time to build. So you’re going to have to commit.

2) Pick a restaurant. Someplace you like to eat, but it must be a place where you get waited on at your table. No fast food.

3) Pray. Before you go for the first time, pray that the Lord leads you to the person He wants you to meet. Once you’ve prayed, go to the restaurant, be seated and KNOW that the person waiting on you has been put in your life by God. This is your mission. This is a moment of destiny.

4) Be nice and keep quiet about God. Don’t talk about church, God, or Jesus. Don’t even ask to pray for them. In fact, don’t even pray for your food when it comes. The goal is about actions, not words. The only thing you should do is walk in grace and be nice. NO MATTER HOW THE SERVICE IS. They may not be a great waiter or waitress, but God loves them as much as He loves you. So treat them that way.

5) When the bill comes, tip NO LESS than 50%. I told you this was going to cost you something. The cost doesn’t matter, the mission matters. You’re buying the right to point this person to God. How much is a soul worth to you anyway? (if you can name a price it’s too low.)

6) Do the same thing every week. On the same day, go to the same restaurant and ask for the same server. Be as friendly and be generous.

7) Watch what happens.

Here’s a little glimpse into what could happen from personal experience.

By the 5th or 6th visit, you know a little about the person waiting on you. You know if they go to school or if they’re in a relationship. You may know something about where or how they grew up. The point is your getting to know THEM. And they’re getting to know you. And the three major things they know about you are you’re kind, you’re generous, and they love it when you show up.

Now you’re in a position to speak into their life. You can ask to pray for them. You can invite them to church or share the gospel with them. Why? Because you’ve invested in them. You’ve spent your time and money on them. You’re not carpet bombing them with the Gospel, shoving it down their throat. You’re being the Gospel. You’ve become the Good News to them. And If it’s not good news when we show up in someone’s life, how in the world are we going to convince people that it’s Good News when He shows up in their life?

I know that this might sound manipulative. But I don’t think it is. Manipulation is selfish. Manipulation is getting what you want even if it hurts others. What we are talking about is the opposite of that. You are sacrificing your time and money for a perfect stranger. Your only motivation is for them to know how much God loves them, and you’ll do whatever it takes to accomplish that goal.

That’s not manipulation. That’s ministry.

Fact vs Opinion

“If you have facts, present them and we’ll use them. But if you have opinions, we’re gonna use mine.”
— Jim Barksdale, CEO Netscape

I love this quote and the clarity that this mindset brings. So many times we believe in something so passionately that we begin to consider it “fact” or “truth” when it is not. What’s worse is when we base decisions on what other people have presented as “facts” but are not.

Clarifying statements like this are necessary for wise decision making.

Be careful what you pray for… Seriously

I began this year asking God to teach me about humility. That may have been a mistake.

God is more into transformation than He is into information. And for some reason I expected Him to give me some deep revelation from His Word that I could study. I didn’t expect Him to enroll me in the school of humility where each lesson doesn’t enter your mind but gets engraved in your heart.

One thing I am discovering about this process of God working on my heart is that this kind of work tends to be the most uncomfortable when He is working on the areas of the Heart that may be a little tough*.

* I use the word “tough” because it makes me feel better than admitting my heart may be harder in this area than I first thought. I’m sure that will be a future lesson I will learn.

A Common Question

Why do bad things happen to “good” (“Godly”) people?

The answer?

They don’t. Bad things happen to everybody, “good” or “bad.”

“…rain falls on the just and unjust alike.” (Matt. 5:45)

A better question might be, How should “good” (“Godly”) people respond when bad things happen?

Unresolved Issues

I was shocked by a conversation I overheard between two women. They were talking about a divorce one of them was in the middle of. It was a messy, painful divorce between two people who had been married for over 25 years. (I’m not sure how long exactly, but she kept using the term “25 plus year marriage.”)

The part of this conversation that got my attention was when the women going through the divorce said, “We’ve been arguing about this since we were dating. We just can’t take it anymore.”

WHAT!?! REALLY?!? The reason behind this divorce was an issue that went unresolved for over 25 years! Since before they were married!?! It’s almost hard for me to believe.

This couple, who I’m sure at one point were madly in love, let something negative in their relationship fester for over 25 years, and it eventually ripped their marriage apart.

I’ve been thinking about this conversation and here are a few thoughts that I had…

1) Marriage is NOT the answer.

If you’re single, dating or maybe engaged and planning a wedding, please listen to me. If there is a problem in your relationship, an issue that just won’t get resolved, GETTING MARRIED WON’T MAKE THE PROBLEM GO AWAY. Before going one step further in your plans or your relationship, you need to have the hard conversation. Put everything on the table and work it out. And if you can’t work it out on your own or you can’t find another Godly person to walk and pray you through it. DON’T GET MARRIED! Period.

2) If you’re already married, QUITTING IS NOT THE ANSWER.

I believe marriage is a covenant. A covenant not just between a husband and wife, but between a husband, a wife, and the Lord. Your willpower to stay and fight, backed by God’s divine power, CAN and WILL restore ANYTHING. Get that thing you’re dealing with out in the open. Expose it to the Light. Get people around you who will pray for you and counsel you. FIGHT.

3) YOU CAN’T IGNORE THE PROBLEM! Anything left to itself will fester and DIE.

If I had 100 million dollars and used it to build the most magnificent house anyone had ever seen, but then, when construction was over, I locked the doors and never did a thing with it, eventually that house would rot and fall.

True of a house, true of a marriage.

We can’t allow negative issues to go unresolved in our marriages. God is the redeemer. Not just of our lives, but of everything, including your marriage. A problem ignored will not go away, it will grow, and, over time, it WILL hurt you and possibly destroy you.

These were just a few of the thoughts I had while thinking about this conversation. I’m sad for that couple. I’m praying for them. I hope that God works a miracle in that marriage, and in yours.

Choose to Forgive

I’m amazed at how many people I meet that are missing great opportunities because they can’t bring themselves to let old things go.
 People that are holding on so tightly to an offense that they don’t have a hand free to grab on to something good that might be coming there way.

Unforgiveness is a prison. It traps you at the moment in time when the offense occurred. I know you know people like this. They talk about hurts they experienced five, ten, twenty years ago like it happened yesterday.

Some people are lucky; when they hold on to unforgiveness, it only affects one area of their life. For other people, unforgiveness takes over.

They become bitter, hurting, mean, and unhappy. They don’t know how it happened. They use to be normal. They use to be happy. They use to be unafraid. They use to not feel so alone.

The offense was real. The pain you felt was real. The pain you might feel right now is real. But the odds are, the only one who is hurt by it now is you.

To hold onto an offense, to not forgive, to live any part of your life in the past only hurts you.

You may be spending so much time looking at the past, that you’re missing a great future.

Don’t let what happened to you in the past affect what could happen to you today.

Your spouse may have cheated and left, that doesn’t mean your next one will. Your parents may have hurt you, we all make mistakes, we all say things we shouldn’t. Your kids may not be speaking to you, call them again. Your old business partner may have stolen from you. Start a new business.

Every day that you wake up is a new day, full of new possibilities and great opportunities.

Don’t hinder yourself.

Choose to let go. Choose to forgive.


Originally published at Niles Holsinger.

Repentance

“Will not He that raised Lazarus, already four days dead and fetid, far more easily raise you? He who poured out his precious blood for us will free us from sin. Let us not despair, brethren; nor give ourselves up for lost. For it is a grievous thing not to believe in the hope of repentance.”

-Cyril, Archbishop of Jerusalem (AD 315–386)

I’ve been thinking a lot about repentance.

Repentance is such a powerful thing. Making a decision, turning your back on the sins of the world and realigning yourself with God.

To me, the picture of repentance is a picture of me in an alley surrounded on both sides. In front the world, and all it offers. Behind God, and all the peace, joy and love He gives.

I can’t have it both ways. A decision has to be made and I’m the only one who can make it.

My natural instinct is to head for the world. That’s what I was born into. That’s what I know. That’s where my nature is calling me. But I choose to REPENT. I turn my back on the world and head straight into the arms of Christ, “The hope of salvation.”

Can I be honest with you? In my life, this is almost a daily decision. Every day I’m presented with an opportunity to follow the world. And some days I do, others I don’t. Thank God for grace. Thank God for the power of repentance. And thank God that I’m not alone.

Even the apostle Paul had this problem:

Romans 7:19–25

“19 I want to do what is good, but I don’t. I don’t want to do what is wrong, but I do it anyway. 20 But if I do what I don’t want to do, I am not really the one doing wrong; it is sin living in me that does it. 21 I have discovered this principle of life — that when I want to do what is right, I inevitably do what is wrong. 22 I love God’s law with all my heart. 23 But there is another power within me that is at war with my mind. This power makes me a slave to the sin that is still within me. 24 Oh, what a miserable person I am! Who will free me from this life that is dominated by sin and death? 25 Thank God! The answer is in Jesus Christ our Lord. So you see how it is: In my mind I really want to obey God’s law, but because of my sinful nature I am a slave to sin.”

Paul knew his nature. He was honest with himself, and that drove him to live a life of repentance.

If it’s good enough for Paul, it’s good enough for me.

The daily choice to repent.

This Is Not The Real World. This Is A Fantasy.

Photo by Ben Weber on Unsplash

Social Media is not the real world. It is a fantasy.

A fantasy built on the pieces of our lives we believe others think are the best parts of us. (Or what we want them to think are the best parts of us*.)

These platforms were created by corporations that spend millions of dollars to manipulate and program our thinking. Companies that then make billions of dollars off of our insecurities and addictions, most of which they created and feed. (I wish this was just my opinion, but it’s not. Look it up.**)

Social media is fun. There are some good things about it. But don’t be deceived into believing these platforms are here for our benefit. We are not the beneficiaries; we are the product. They are selling us and our information to other big companies which again want nothing more than to use and manipulate us.

Our ignorance is their advantage.

* The truth is, the best parts of us are the parts we usually never show on social media. The real you is better than any fantasy.

** I know that this may make me look like a conspiracy theory, paranoid nut, but I’m just a Father/Husband/Human who sees way more negative things happening then positive coming from these platforms. (Did you know that depression and suicide rates among elementary age children are higher than ever and it has been directly connected to the way their brains have become wired for “likes”?)

Be Generous

True story, a man walked into a Starbucks in Tulsa Oklahoma, ordered his coffee, and then paid for his and the strangers coffee behind him. This one act started a chain reaction of generosity that concluded with 185 people buying coffee for the stranger behind them.

For one afternoon in a Starbucks in Tulsa Oklahoma, the reality of 185 people changed. 185 people began considering the stranger standing behind them before they considered themselves.
One stranger, with one cup of coffee, changed the world for 185 people, for one afternoon.

Be generous. Not just to the people you know, but to everyone you come in contact with. You never know what you may start.

Respond Don’t React

The difference between the two is time. It’s the ten seconds you take before responding to criticism. It’s stopping to think before you speak. Because sometimes our quickest reactions are the ones we regret the longest.

*This is very rarely easy… at least not for me.


Originally published at Niles Holsinger.

Stray Words

I’m not sure we understand the power of our words. One negative, hurtful word, said out of hand or without thought, is like a seed that gets stuck deep into a person’s soul. You might think that what I’m saying is extreme but think with me a minute. Go back to the earliest memory you have of someone saying something hurtful to you, and tell me how it STILL feels.

OUR WORDS ARE POWERFUL.

We get angry and strikeout. An off-handed comment, a verbal jab said without thinking. And that word sinks in. It begins to grow. It feeds on self-esteem, and its fruit is insecurity. Over time the person’s spirit grows weak, brittle, then broken.

Most of the time the only thing left is BITTERNESS.

Now a person who was once full of joy is nothing. Destroyed by a stray thought, a word spoken out of a flash of emotion.

A PERSON IS DESTROYED BECAUSE WE DON’T UNDERSTAND THE POWER OF OUR WORDS.

But all is not lost. If this is what we can do with a thoughtless word spoken, imagine what we could do if we learn to speak words that BUILD. Those kinds of words bring LIFE.


Originally published at nilesholsinger.com on April 11, 2018.

Simple Advice Before You Post Online

Think of your favorite social media platform as a place you go in real life. Maybe it’s a coffee shop, church, a park. Somewhere you go to spend time with people face to face.

Now, before you post anything online think about this, if you were at that favorite spot, surrounded by people, some you know and some who are strangers, would you say out loud what you were about to post online?

If what you were about to publish was about someone else, if they were in the same place, within earshot, would you say what you were about to post? (Would you say it to there face?)

If the answer is no, you probably shouldn’t post whatever it is you are thinking about posting.

Sidebar: Posting a selfie is like being in that favorite place surrounded my people and yelling out at the top of your lungs, “Hey everybody, look at me!!! Look what I’m doing! Aren’t I amazing!” (No one wants to be that guy.)


Originally published at Niles Holsinger.