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Finding Freedom

Here is a valuable truth from my college basketball coach, Dean Smith.  He used to say all the time, “The disciplined man is the freest man of all.”  Over the years, I’ve learned how right he was.

It’s the disciplined man who can say “no” to temptation.  It’s the disciplined man who can overcome hurts, hang-ups and habits that so often derail us.  It’s the disciplined man who can stay focused and not chase after rabbit trails.  It’s the disciplined man who knows how to stay away from distractions that can cause defeat.

Are you a disciplined person today?  Does your body control you or you control your body?  Do your appetites control you or do you control your appetites?  Can you say “no” to anything that keeps you from doing the urgent in your life.

If so, you are a person greatly blessed.  That means you are a disciplined person.

That means you are truly free!

Rubbing Off

I’ve been thinking a lot recently about valuable truths different people or resources in my life have taught me, ones I want to pass on to my kids.  Perhaps they will help you too.

The first piece of advice comes from 1 Corinthians 15:33.  It’s been invaluable advice for me.  It reads: “Bad company corrupts morals.”  It’s as simple as that.  “Bad company corrupts morals.”

But how powerful it is!  You become like the friends you have.  Friends are like elevators.  They will either take you up, or bring you down.

Therefore, it’s essential you be very careful with choosing your friends.  You need to make sure they have your best interests at heart.  They are your friends because they just love you for who you are and don’t want anything from you.

It’s a truth for kids, teens and adults.  No one is immune from this teaching. Bad company corrupts morals.  We become like the people with whom we hang around.

Therefore, choose friends who encourage you, desire the best for you, will dream your dreams with you, won’t give up on you and will always be there for you.  They are friends for a lifetime.

Plus, they help you produce the best of morals!

Friend Or Treasure?

How do you know if you have a close, meaningful friendship?  Here are a few thoughts I’ve discovered through the years that help signify a very close, meaningful friendship:

1. If you’ve been separated for a while, when you come together, everything seems to be the same.  It’s as if you’ve never been away from one another.

2. You really work hard to remove any obstacles between you.  The friendship is more important than anything else.  You want to make absolutely sure you are best friends forever.

3. You love to travel together.  When you have the opportunity to go to a new place, see new environments and cultures, the first person you think of traveling with you is your close friend.

4. The longer the friendship, the more time you want to spend with your friend.

Do you have a friend like this?  If so, you are greatly blessed.  You are a person who has the richest treasure in the world.

The Forever Friend

There is nothing better than to have a close friend. We all need people who will stick to us no matter what. We need people with whom we can share our lives and no the other will always be there when we need to talk and share our lives.

I’ve discovered that the test of a real friend is when life becomes difficult. When something stresses the friendship, does it still last? Does it still continue? Is your friend still there for you? Does the “glue” of friendship still hold when challenged?

They sharpen your thoughts and decisions. You are a better person simply because this person is your friend.

Acquaintances come and go. But friends stick closer than a brother or sister in your own family. They will never leave you or forsake.

Do you have forever friends? You are a person who has been greatly blessed. Enjoy them to the full…every day!

Fight Fatigue

Someone once said that fatigue makes cowards of us all.  How true!  When we are tired, we feel things, say things, do things, commit to things that otherwise we’d never have done.  Fatigue drains our mental and moral acumen like nothing else.

Therefore, we must all learn how to fight fatigue.  How?  Here’s one simple solution: take a day off every week.  In the Bible, it’s called a Sabbath.  It means one out of seven days is set apart for rest, relaxation, renewal and worship.  Interestingly, from the standpoint of Jewish law, it’s not a suggestion but a commandment.  It’s one of the big ten!  God must have known something very important for us all to follow!

One day out of seven for total rest to prevent becoming a coward.  That sounds like wise advice to me!

The Furnace

Do you have pain in your life today?  All of us do.  You can’t live life in this world and not experience obstacles, hurts and pain.

Today, as you approach your pain, try something different.  Instead of your pain controlling you, you decide to control your pain.

How?  Believe that God is trying to teach you something in your pain.  C.S. Lewis once said, “God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our conscience, but shouts in our pain.”  The pain could be a place where God forces us to deal with obstacles that have prevented us from moving forward in life.

But also remember that if we are in a furnace in life, God is with us in the furnace.  If the odds seem impossible, remember that God has limitless power.

And the way you live your life amidst your pain could very well be the most powerful sermon those watching you will ever hear.  It will speak more powerfully than the most eloquent word of an faithful preacher.

Your pain could be for your gain…if you’ll just trust the God who controls all, yes, even your pain!

Part Of A Whole

People ask me from time to time, “How can I have hope in God” There are 7 billion people in the world? How could God care about my problems today?” I then ask them how many spots a pin could prick their bodies. Could there be perhaps millions? Maybe a billion? Yet no matter what part of their body is touched by the pin, their brain feels it.

I think that’s like God. All of us are parts of His created order. We are His children. Whenever we hurt, He hurts. He feels every part of His creation’s pain.

If you believe this, as do I, that means when I hurt, God hurts. When I feel despair, He feels despair for me. If I’m in the valley of the shadow of death, He is there with me. I can face every problem in life, knowing that God is there too. I am not alone, I have one with me who not only understands the pain, not only feels the pain I’m feeling, but is committed to walk through the valley with me.

That gives my heart great hope today & forever.

Bursting Bottle

This may seem like a simple piece of advice for you today.  But it could also be profound. Most all of us need to remember it, especially if we’re not practicing it.

What is it?  If you’re having a tough time, don’t keep it all bottled up inside. Find some people you can really trust.  Share your hurts and hang-ups with them.  Talk things through.  Openly sure your feelings.  If you have a close friendship with your spouse, that’s a great place to start.  Or maybe a close friend would work.

Eventually, if things stay bottled up, our hearts pay the price.  The acid emotions of worry and resentment boil over and can affect everything from our moods to our physical health.

And if the problems are just too big for a friend to handle (and they can be!), be willing to seek professional help.  Go to your clergyman or a trained counselor.

Your problems can’t stay bottled up forever!  Talk them through today with someone who cares.

It’s a path to peace for us all.

Firm Foundation

One of my heroes in life is Mahatma Gandhi. He transformed an entire nation by nonviolence. He is a wonderful study in how to live life. He said that seven things will destroy us. Notice that all of them have to do with social and political conditions.

  1. Wealth without work.
  2. Pleasure without conscience.
  3. Knowledge without character.
  4. Commerce without morality.
  5. Science without humanity.
  6. Worship without sacrifice.
  7. Politics without principle.

Gandhi’s seven deadly things may help all of us realize what’s most important in life, loving other people and giving ourselves away. In that and that along will we find life.

God Is Bigger

Worry.  It’s a useless emotion.  It saps today of necessary strength to live.  It saps tomorrow of necessary strength to live!

Corrie ten Boom once said, “Worry does not empty tomorrow of its sorrow; it empties today of its strength.”

All of us need must recognize the danger of worry.  The beginning of worry is the end of faith.  And, too often, this is true: Today is the tomorrow we worried about yesterday!

Today, to combat worry, you must realize, as Dr. Billy Graham said, “God is bigger than your problems.  Whatever worries press upon you today, put them in God’s hands and leaven them there.”

If you have faith, you realize that true faith is the end of worry.  People of faith understand that worries just don’t matter.  We trust that everything really is in a better hand than ours.

Trust God today.  Put every single worry in his hands.  Trust all will work together for good.

Then watch worry flee!