I Never Thought of That

Several years ago John Maxwell wrote a great book titled, Thinking for a Change. I know that this implies many of us don’t think very often but I wonder if Maxwell is right?

When I first read his book several years ago it made me stop and really question the last time that I took deliberate time to think. How about you? When is the last time that you scheduled time in your calendar just to think. We all get so busy with the routine tasks that we seldom think about strategy…about the future. Instead of thinking about where we are headed with our lives we find ourselves tied up in meetings, handling the daily emergencies, and putting out the daily fires in our lives and businesses.

So…how do you change your thinking process? First, schedule time just to think. Some folks believe that unless they are physically doing something they aren’t working. May I say to you if you aren’t taking time to consistently think you probably aren’t doing the right things anyway. Block off time every week where all you do is think. If you don’t schedule this thinking time I guarantee you won’t do it.

Second, Maxwell recommended something I have done and it really helps me. I have a special thinking place. It’s a chair that I use just to think. I try not to use it for anything else…just thinking. If I neglect my thinking time the chair just seems to call out to me asking me where I have been. This works for me but do whatever works best for you. Go for a walk. Find a place where you will not be interrupted and then just let your mind think about your personal goals, business goals, personal improvement ideas, solutions to problems you are facing, business strategies for the future, you name it.

Remember what William Arthur Ward said about thinking. Here it is:

Nothing limits achievement like small thinking; Nothing expands possibilities like unleashed thinking.

So…change the way you think and expand your possibilities.

Surprise!

It seems as though I am constantly hearing people talk about change.  Folks usually talk about change as though it is some gradual event that we need to just ease into.  Frankly, most changes that I have observed have not been gradual.  The change has come as a surprise.  A frightening diagnosis from the doctor, a spouse who wants a divorce, a death in the family, a child caught in the trap of sin…there is nothing for any of us to just ease into here.  No time to sit back and get ready for it.  One word sums it up…surprise!  So rather than talk about being ready for change, I sometimes wonder if it would be better if we just said what we already know.  Some difficult surprises will come into your life.

Now, how will you react to your surprises?  Will you get angry, depressed, anxious, perhaps even start to question God’s faithfulness?  How many of you will start singing praises to God?  Maybe that one isn’t at the top of your list but let me take you to Acts chapter 16.  Paul and Silas had just cast out a demon from a young girl and suddenly found themselves standing before city officials surrounded by a large crowd. Both men were beaten with wooden rods and then thrown into jail.  Surprise!

The jails in this point in time were horrible places.  A man by the name of Apablaza conducted a study called Conditions of Prisons in the First Century.  Here are some of the things he found about prisons like the one Paul and Silas were in.

  • Prisons were often packed beyond capacity resulting in unbearable heat and dehydration of prisoners.
  • For security reasons the prisons had no windows often resulting in lack of air sometimes at a dangerous level.
  • Most prisons had no light and the psychological impact on prisoners was tremendous.
  • Prisoners were chained by their arms, legs or both.  Each chain weighed about fourteen pounds and the weight would become debilitating.
  • Many of the dead would be piled in a corner of the jail to be taken away at a later time.

Yet, Paul and Silas are sitting in the dark, suffering the pain of a beating, chained, and they were singing hymns to God.  As they are singing God performs a miracle that ultimately releases them from prison.

What are the lessons here?  Surprises are coming.  Don’t ever lose hope in God.  He does have a plan for you.  Whatever you are facing today, trust in God and like Paul and Silas your miracle might be right around the corner.