In this economy, you don’t have to have a good product to sell it, you need good marketing. If you’ve got a great website, or a bunch of ads, you can sell just about anything to anyone.
Even a schmoe like me.
I’ve got a hog of a vehicle that sucks an enormous amount of gasoline, and currently these gas prices are not fun for me. So of course, in times such as these, the people who sell the gas reducing, flow increasing, mpg increasing snake oil come out of the woodwork. You can google and find a bunch of items that will claim that they can increase your mpg for your car, by just installing some little thingamajig that’s made of plastic.
I’m initially very intrigued by products such as these (because of my situation) and then immediately skeptical (because of my intellect). Like the old saying goes, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
I’ve never met one person ever who has used a product like that and it worked. If it did, they would be talking about it on the 6 o’clock news and everyone would be using it.
Here’s part of the problem with things such as this- we learn to be skeptical about anything and everything, and sometimes that can backfire on us.
We get hurt in a relationship so we don’t ever go into another one. We got bad service at the restaurant so we never go back. We get hurt at a church and stop going to church. We meet someone nice and think they are trying to manipulate us.
Its human nature to be skeptical, but there has to be point at which you decide to move forward anyway. You can’t spend your life as a skeptic thinking that everyone and everything thing is bogus and that you’re going to be the one who can say “I told you so” on the sidelines one day.
More than likely, you’ll never experience all that life has to offer because of your skepticism, and in the long run you’ll be less likely to have a full rewarding life because of your strong emotions of self-preservation.
What do we do? You move forward understanding that sometimes you may get hurt, you may get taken, and its okay.
Why? Because you’ll never experience all that God has for you if you’re a person that never fully engages life. I can appreciate that you may have been hurt, or that you don’t want to trust, but God calls us to be people that trust. People that move forward. People that engage.
He never intended us to live life half way.
Engage today. Take a risk. Do something you’re not sure of. Expect to get taken or hurt, and say its okay- here’s the ultimate guarantee though- He will be with you through it all.
Rest in that today.
I’m not a guy who loves exercise. I see it mostly as a necessary evil. I don’t want to be out of shape and have long term health effects of a sedentary lifestyle, so I force myself to exercise. If I could have a body like a Greek god and know I’d stay healthy with never moving around, I’d probably do it. My wife gets me to the gym a few times a week and I go begrudgingly, because I know in the long run, I’m going to be better off for it.
Why am I telling you this? Yesterday I bought a used bicycle for 60 dollars off of the Internet, and I’m really excited about it, which is odd to me. Seeing how I usually don’t like exercise, the thought of buying a machine that is going to make me exercise more, would probably not be a good day, but this time it was.
Here’s what’s been going on with me and the Lord- he’s been challenging me to spend more time with my kids doing stuff that doesn’t include watching television or spending loads of money. Forgive me if you’re already on this boat, I’ve been sitting at the shore watching.
For the longest time in my life I’ve been a guy who likes the PLR- the Path of Least Resistance. If there is an easier way to do something, that’s the way I want to do it. I don’t like to be inconvenienced, I don’t like to wait, I don’t want to walk when I can drive. Typically, its because of my lack of patience and my need for instant gratification, I admit that
This doesn’t work well in the world of spiritual development or parenting.
For some reason, the God of this universe has set up this system that we have a role to play. That we’re challenged to interact with one another, and through that process learn more about God and each other. He develops us through our experiences.
Again, for an impatient guy, this isn’t the greatest process.
Oh yea, the bike. So anyway, I’ve decided this year that our family is going to do some outside together stuff with bicycles, and here’s the victory blog nugget for the day- if you’ve made a decision in your mind to do something, it means absolutely nothing if you haven’t put any action towards the goal. Yesterday was step two in the goal of outside with the family- get a conveyance that is human powered. The first step was getting rid of cable TV.
I don’t think I’m grandstanding here, I’m proving a point- goals are reached when you put action behind them. Talking isn’t doing. Taking one step isn’t the end its the start. Buying the bike wasn’t the goal, time with the family is. I’ve still got a few more steps to achieve to get to it, but I’m progressing.
Hopefully you’re encouraged with that today. Maybe there is something you’re trying to change that you’re struggling with. Here’s my advice- take the first step to get to the next one and then go on to the next. Take it from this impatient guy who is often satisfied with the PLR and work towards a God inspired goal that will benefit yourself or your family. I think you’ll be pleased.
Share a goal in the comments!
I love Disneyland. Have I told you this before? I can’t fully explain it, but for some reason, I love 6 dollar churros and waiting in line. It makes me feel connected to the world around me.
Truth is, I’ve learned a bit about the world through my Disney experience. What they do there, is special. They are perfect 100% of the time. Every employee has been trained to make every single persons experience great when they go there. I’ve never had a bad time at Disneyland.
There’s a lot of reasons why they do so well, but one of the biggest reasons I think they excel is the words they use. They choose their words very wisely.
Its not customer, its “guest”.
Its not a great time, its a “magical experience”.
Its not a ticket, its a “passport”.
Its not an employee, its a “cast member”.
Disneyland’s mission is to take you from your every day life to a different experience that you’ll remember and want to experience again. Sure, they are a profit making monster, but I truly believe that at the core, good ol’ Walt wanted to create an experience, and he understood that it started with words.
We are a creation of words. Its what sets us apart from the animals. We have the ability to be able to communicate through spoken and written and what words we use matter.
Do watch the words you say throughout the day? Are they painting the picture that you want portrayed in your life?
Are you really dying of hunger? or just really hungry?
Does it always happen? or just seem to happen frequently?
Do they never do it? or does it seem to not happen as often as you would like?
Can you really not make it through the week? or do you just feel overwhelmed today?
Words matter. What we speak matters. If it didn’t matter, we wouldn’t be able to speak. We’d walk around grunting and motioning with our hands. But we don’t do that, God gave us the gift of speech, and I believe he intends us to choose our words in a way that glorifies Him, and other people.
Proverbs 18:21 says that life and death are in the tongue, and that those who love it will eat of its fruit.
Are you choosing the right words? Are you watching what you say? Learn from Disneyland and the word of God this morning and try to describe your life they way it truly is. Watch what you say and how you say it. What you’ll find is that your life will look differently because of the way that you describe it. You’ll go from ‘have to’ to ‘get to’.
Don’t stay at a place, stay at a home.
Don’t go to work, walk in your vocation.
Don’t say “I can’t” say, “I’m struggling”.
Don’t say “I’ll never” say “currently I’m trying”.
Watch what happens.
My mother has infected me with this notion that its better to need it and have it than to not need it and have it. Its pervasive in my life. I’m constantly fighting it. Often I keep things past their usefulness and have a bunch of stuff that I keep thinking that I will need it one day, when I never do.
This passes into my professional life at church also. Sometimes I keep things far longer than I should. This last Sunday, before church I was cleaning up, tossing things out, cleaning up and I found a bag of magnets in a drawer.
Magnets? What are these things for? They were powerful magnets, but were just in a plastic bag, in this drawer, with a bunch of other equipment. The labels on the magnets said to keep away from electronic components and other media, so I walked around and asked a few people if they knew what they were, and what they were for, and no one knew.
Now people lovingly give things to the church all the time that they think we’ll need, and I thought that maybe this was such a time. I thought about it for a minute, and then I threw them away.
What do we need a bunch of magnets for?
So last night I’m sitting with this gal from church and she says “Oh, I got these great magnets we can use to hang stuff from the drop ceilings- they are amazing- they can hold like 25 lbs”.
My stomach sank.
“How much did they cost?” I asked sheepishly.
“oh, about 100 dollars” she replied.
Right then and there, I really really wanted to lie. I wanted to tell her that was great, not say a thing about the magnets and hope she never found out what I did, but I didn’t. I told her I threw them away.
Obviously she wasn’t pleased. But I thought that maybe they were still in the just removed trash, so her and another guy from church went out to the dumpster to go through the bag to find them, but to no avail.
Good ol’ Pastor Matt in his attempt to overcome his inability to throw away things threw away something that was valuable! That someone else needed! ( I know my Mom is going to bring this up to me in the future- grrrr). I felt horrible. I could hear my mother’s voice in my head!
Here’s the deal- we all have things that we try to overcome, things we try to change, and sometimes when we do it, we fail miserably. But that shouldn’t keep us from trying should it? If we stop our attempts to change, because they are marred by defeat and setbacks, we’ll never get to where we want to be.
Even though I tossed a hundred dollar bag of magnets- I’m still going to learn to get rid of things.
Be encouraged with that today. Maybe you’re a bit like me, that when you try to change, it comes back and bites you, and then you feel like not trying again. Don’t do that. Don’t give up. A set back is just a set up for a come back. You can change. You can improve. You can get to where you want to be.
You’re not alone- not only do I share with setbacks, but the Lord of the universe is with you also, helping you along the way. Rest in that today. Keep trying to change.
There was a Tsunami that hit Japan last week if you didn’t notice. It was pretty bad. Lots of people died. The country has nearly been destroyed. From what I read and see in the news, its total devastation.
Interesting side note here- there has been little to no looting in the aftermath of the destruction tsunami by the Japanese people. Apparently they have some sort of societal norm of not taking things that aren’t theirs in times of emergency and chaos.
I can’t recall this being the norm here in the ol’ US of A. The first events that come to my mind are Katrina, Andrew and the LA Riots of the 90s. When things go sideways in America- there are typically thousands of opportunists that begin to break into stores and loot anything they can. Usually they are not just taking diapers and water but TVs and clothes and anything else of value they can get for free.
I’m scratching my head this morning trying to figure it out. In the Seattle Times this morning an article describes the Japanese psyche- “One is “shikata ga nai,” which roughly translates as “it can’t be helped,” and is a common reaction to situations beyond one’s control. The other is “gaman,” considered a virtue. It means to be patient and persevere in the face of suffering.”
My Friend Abraham told me that his Japanese father used to say “the tallest blade of grass gets cut”.
Not necessarily American ideals, are they?
Currently, America is more like the ideals of Ricky Bobby from Talledega Nights who said “If you’re not first, you’re last”.
I’m no social scientist. I don’t think we should become everything Japan is. But I do wonder- why is there no looting in Japan when there is always looting in America?
Listen, I love America. I’m proud to be an American. But I think that there are alot of selfish self serving people in America that have little to no regard for the thoughts, feelings and actions of other people and that’s not a good thing. Yes, we can’t be all things to all people, but for me, in my sphere of influence, I can choose to be nice to the people around me. I can follow laws and not take what isn’t mine. I can try to make someone elses day better by giving a bit of myself.
Think about it next time you’re in a situation that seems dire when you think you wont get what you want.
Because here’s the bottom line- people live in fear of not getting taken care of so they feel as though they must do it at the expense of others. This is not true. God knows that is going on. Matthew 6:8- “your Father knows what you need before you ask him”. Rest in that today.
Don’t be a looter. Don’t be a person that has to shove to the front of every line. Don’t live in fear of not getting yours.
Its March 2011, and gasoline prices have gone up about 15% in the last month or so. Its a bit of a jump. For us, because we own a gas-hog- it translates to about 60 dollars more per month for our gasoline bill.
I’m not really excited about it. It is what it is. There is nothing that I can do to change the price- all I can do is find a way to cut something else out of the budget.
I found it.
We ditched extended cable and the DVR yesterday and its going to save us about 75 dollars a month. Its not the only reason we got rid of it, but it sure will help. Frankly, we find that when we have less to watch on television, we watch less television. Interesting concept.
I want you to understand that I’m not saying that I’m not going to be watching the glowing box in my living room anymore, but what I am saying is that in addition to saving a bit of money, an added benefit is less watching of the box in our home.
I think that alot of the stuff that comes across that thing is pure garbage, and that’s just what I get from watching advertisements for shows I don’t even watch.
Listen, I’m not saying that you’re a bad person for watching TV or that you’re in danger of the pit fires of hell for doing so. I will say that like many things in our lives, even though it may be OK for us to do something, it may not be the most beneficial. Only you can make the call on that one.
There is something powerful in giving up something that you desire. When you do it, you begin to find what is truly important in your life and what things you value. Sure, maybe its not TV for you, maybe its something else.
Here’s the deal- God wants to be numero uno in our lives everyday. Anytime we allow something else to get between us and him its bad. The best thing that we can do to ensure our relationship with Him is to remove those obstacles that keep us from fully serving him.
Reflect on that today. Maybe there is something you need to give up. Figure it out and do it. Watch what happens.
If you read the blog I’ll assume you read the news. Over the past week or so you’ve probably caught a glimpse of Charlie Sheen and his apparent downward spiral.
I haven’t gone out of my way one time to read or watch anything about Charlie Sheen. I’ve just soaked it up along the way. I was running on the treadmill at the gym last week and they showed an interview on CNN.
Yes, that’s right, you heard it correctly. On CNN.
Now the breaking news isn’t upheaval in Libya, its the breakdown of a guy who pretends to be someone else for a living.
The whole thing is a bit perplexing. Why does this story even get on the news. It doesn’t even seem like news to me. Sure, the part about how he makes two million dollars an episode for some TV show that he’s on is a bit interesting, but past that, not much. I’ve never even watched the show.
Here’s what I think the draw is- most people do not want to even come close to facing inadequacies in their personality. Because of this, they are drawn to other people’s issues and problems as a means to minimize their own issues, and steer clear of any focus on their own need for change and improvement.
Did you get that?
Its the person that finds the person that is worse off than them to feel better about themselves. Its the “at least I’m not like them” syndrome.
The problem with this should be abundantly clear- but let me help you out. Pointing out someone else’s smelly breath when your breath stinks still leaves you with stinky breath. If the issues is the eradication of stinky breath, then all who have stinky breath should be encouraged to brush, floss and rinse. Not only those whom we think should. Everyone should.
Where are you at this morning? Are you the type that gets more joy out of watching someone else’s troubles or are you the type that constantly reflects on your own life and figures out things to work on. I hope and pray you’re the second one.
If you read my blog at all, you can guess that I’m a guy who emphasises personal choice. It would be odd if God held us accountable to our choices if we were not the ones making them.
So what to do? We must choose to not spend our lives trying to feel better about ourselves by finding other people that are worse off than us. God bless Charlie Sheen. He needs prayer and help, but I don’t need to spend my days watching ‘news’ stories about this guy.
Reflect on that today. Pray- “God reveal to me what I need to work on” and watch what happens.
Who doesn’t like to win? We all do- right? If given the choice to either win or lose, I would say 99% of us would choose win, and the other 1% would be lying. No one likes to lose.
Its a common societal norm here in America, to want to win. We teach our kids at a very young age to attempt to win at sports, in school, at board games. Winning is an activity that we pride our selves on. We love to win.
Here’s an interesting flip-side to the winning equation- someone has to lose. Either indirectly or directly, when we win, typically someone else loses. Because we know that- often we begin not by trying to win, but by ensuring that our opponent will lose. We know if we can avert their win before the competition, our chances to be victorious increase.
Take this chap from Philly
he decided to insert mice into his rival pizza competitors shops to try and put them out of business.
I can picture it now- He and his fellow conspirators sitting around thinking about the next big move for the pizza shop. One person suggests extra cheese, one chimes in and says to offer bread sticks. “No way” The owner says. “we’re going to infest their shops with mice”.
The truth is that many of us can identify with the mouse man. We too have wanted to win so bad we have thought of less than honorable ways to achieve the win. Either in sport or in pizza, we too may have thought of ways to ensure our victory at what ever cost.
This should not be so my brethren.
Winning is what it is. But when we want to win so bad we are willing to break established rules, we dishonor ourselves and God. The Bible talks some about sport indirectly with verses such as 1 Cor 9:24 “Do you not know that in a race all the runnersrun, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize”.
Prizes are good. Winning is good, but winning at the expense of breaking the rules, or being dishonorable is truly not a win at all.
Reflect on that today. Push to win, but realize that those who consistently win are those who work harder, have more discipline and don’t quit. Its rarely the people that for a way to go around or over. Like they old saying goes- winners never cheat and cheaters never win.
Win today. But do it the right way. You don’t have to infest your opponent with mice to win.
I typically don’t like to use the blog as a means to grandstand my kids, but indulge me for a minute today. This is good stuff.
My daughter is 7. She’s a wonderful little child. She’s kind and warm. She loves people. She’s obedient. She’s everything that you would want in a daughter.
She’s probably like a lot of other kids. She likes Hannah Montana. She likes to draw. She rides her bike. She bounces on her pogo stick. She’s a ton of fun.
I take great pride in being her father. I’m proud of who she is and what she does. Its my hope and prayer that she continues to grow into who God is making her. So far, its pretty wonderful.
I was amazed at her yesterday.
I can’t recall where I was coming from or what I had been doing, but I came up the stairs, and she was sitting on the couch in the living room reading the Bible. Not a kids Bible- the comparative study bible I have that is 4 inches thick.
“What are you doing?” I inquired.
“Reading the Bible” She said, not even looking up.
I was impressed. She’s only been reading for a few years and here she is engrossed in the most profound book in the history of humanity.
I couldn’t help myself- I asked her why she was reading the Bible and she said “I decided I want to try to read the whole Bible in a year”.
Now I’m not sure if she’ll do it. My guess would be that she’ll get into Leviticus and give up like we all do. But this is what impressed me the most- she was attempting something great and something that wasn’t easy. It made me question my own apathy and lack of motivation in certain areas of my life. If my 7 year old can start something, shouldn’t I?
I’m sure you struggle with motivation sometimes. We all do. But here’s why I’m sharing this today- I want you to understand that if my 7 year old can venture to do something great with no one pushing her, I think we can too.
The problem is not the idea. Its the putting of the action behind it.
Don’t allow yourself to succumb to laziness and apathy today. Fully engage in those motivations that come into your head. Don’t allow doubt and disbelief to keep you from greatness.
If a 7 year old can get it done, I think we can.
ps. I asked her later what she read and she said Genesis 1-4. She was able to articulate the story of Adam and Eve with great accuracy!