What is Courage

Courage starts hereCourage is not the absence of fear, but rather the judgment that something else is more important than fear. ~~ Ambrose Redmond

Have you any idea just how important and true that quote is? Have you ever really considered what courage is, and whether or not you possess it?

If you were to do a poll, I believe many people would say that they don’t have courage. The reason for this is that most people have a misguided idea of what courage is. They think it’s this larger than life bravery.

Most of the time we attribute courage to those soldiers who charge onto the battlefield. We see firemen and police who lay their lives on the line daily and say, “Now they have courage”. And both
of those statements are true, those who lay their lives on the line do have courage. But, is that the only form of courage?

It is curious that physical courage should be so common in the world and moral courage so rare.
~~ Mark Twain

What in the world could Mark Twain possibly be talking about? Could it be that there are other areas of life that call for one to have courage? What does it take for a teen, who wants to be accepted, to turn down drugs or alcohol from his or her peers?

What does it take for an employee to say no when asked to cheat a customer, or falsify some records by his employer? What does it take for a man or woman to follow their dream to better themselves when everyone around them is saying, “you can’t do that”, “you’ll never make it”, “you don’t have what
it takes? The answer to all of these is courage.

Courage is never to let your actions be influenced by your fears. ~~ Arthur Koestler

Courage is doing what you’re afraid to do. There can be no courage unless you’re scared.
~~ Edward Vernon Rickenbacker

Courage is not simply one of the virtues, but the form of every virtue at the testing point.
~~ C.S. Lewis

Who isn’t afraid of being rejected by others for not following the pack? Who isn’t afraid of trying something new, or going in a different direction then one is used to? Who isn’t afraid when taking a risk where there is the possibility of losing or failing? I don’t personally know anyone who isn’t afraid, to a point, when doing things they’re unaccustomed to.

To dare is to lose one’s footing momentarily. To not dare is to lose oneself. ~~ Soren Kierkegaard

Progress always involves risks. You can’t steal second base and keep your foot on first.
~~ Frederick B. Wilcox

Yes, risk taking is inherently failure-prone. Otherwise, it would be called sure-thing-taking.
~~ Tim McMahon

I hope you’re coming to understand what courage really is.

You see, if you understand that courage isn’t the absence of fear, it is much easier to see yourself exercising courage. If on the other hand you’re under the false assumption that courage is the absence of fear, you will never step outside your comfort zone, you will never take risks, you will let fear hold you back; and thereby surrendering yourself to a life of mediocrity.

Without risk there is no growth, there is no advancement, there is no bettering oneself.

If you look at the lives of people like Colonel Sanders, or Thomas Edison you will see lives that were full of failures. These men were not men who didn’t have fears, but they were men who didn’t let fear stop them in their pursuits.

There is a book I bought and read some years ago when I first decided to join a speech club. This book’s title itself really helped me to understand that courage was not the lack of fear.

The book is by Susan Jeffers, Ph.D. and is called “Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway”. That is a mantra that I have kept in my mind and have repeated to my children. Don’t let fear stop you from doing or seeking the things you want in life.

There are times when courage has serious consequences; like on the battlefield, or when charging into a burning building. That is why we call these people heroes, because they are willing to lay it all on the line for others, or for a noble cause. Most of us will never be required to exercise that kind of courage.

For most of us the risk is much more forgiving; we might lose some time, some money, and maybe some pride; but not our lives. Our courage is shown by pressing toward our goals without looking back, and by not letting failures or fear stop us.

Take risks: if you win, you will be happy; if you lose, you will be wise. ~~ Author Unknown

You see, showing courage is a win win situation. If you don’t succeed at something you’re going for, you’ll have learned a way not to do that thing. If you do succeed, you will have taken a big step in the betterment of your life.

But don’t stop there, keep stretching yourself, keep challenging yourself. Never accept mediocrity in your life, you need to Feel The Fear and Do It Anyway.

What has God said in His word about courage?

Deuteronomy 31:6 Be strong and of good courage, do not fear nor be afraid of them; for the LORD your God, He is the One who goes with you. He will not leave you nor forsake you.”

Joshua 1:9 Have I not commanded you? Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.”

Psalm 31:24 Be of good courage, And He shall strengthen your heart, All you who hope in the LORD.

Remember, courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the judgment that something else is more important than fear.

Wishing you courage and success in every area of your life!

Is Your Reticular Activating System Programmed for God?

brain illustrationFirst off, what exactly is the Reticular Activating System?

The Reticular Activating System (RAS) is made up of a group of cells that run from the base of our brain to the central cortex. It is the job of the RAS to block out all sensory information that’s non-essential to you and me right now. While letting in the information we consider important.

I’ve heard is said, that if it were not for the RAS we would probably go insane due to sensory overload. So its ability to filter things out is as important as its ability to let things in.

Keep in mind that it is you and I who decides consciously or unconsciously what is allowed to come in, as well as, what is filtered out. And the RAS is going to filter out anything we have not taught it is important.

Now, the two main things the RAS lets through are things of value to us, or things we consider dangerous.

I’ll give you an example of the RAS working in my wife. When we lived in Chicago and had our first child there could be sirens wailing across town, traffic rumbling down our road, thunder from a storm, and she’d hardly stir.

But, if our daughter coughed or cried even a little, she instantly wakes up. That is the RAS at work

Now you might be saying to yourself that’s all very interesting, but just what does that have to do with me and God. I’m glad you asked!

Let me ask you, is your RAS currently programmed according to biblical principles?

Let’s look at Philippians 4:8 and see what we should be focusing on, “Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things”.

Is our RAS programmed to focus on the things we just read about, or has it been trained to focus on other things? Do you spend a lot of time focusing on edifying things, or have you unconsciously trained yourself to focus on a lot of the bad stuff in the world?

Look at Psalms 63:1-11

1 O God, You are my God; My soul thirsts for You; My flesh longs for You in a dry and thirsty land Where there is no water.
2 So I have looked for You in the sanctuary, To see Your power and Your glory.
3 Because Your lovingkindness is better than life, My lips shall praise You.
4 Thus I will bless You while I live; I will lift up my hands in Your name.
5 My soul shall be satisfied as with marrow and fatness, And my mouth shall praise You with joyful lips.
6 When I remember You on my bed, I meditate on You in the night watches.
7 Because You have been my help, Therefore in the shadow of Your wings I will rejoice.
8 My soul follows close behind You; Your right hand upholds me.
9 But those who seek my life, to destroy it, Shall go into the lower parts of the earth.
10 They shall fall by the sword; they shall be a portion for jackals.
11 But the king shall rejoice in God; everyone who swears by Him shall glory; But the mouth of those who speak lies shall be stopped.

This was written in a time when David was going through trials in the wilderness, David’s focus and mediation was on God, he did not stay focused on his problems, he acknowledged them and moved on.

How can we let our light shine when our minds are cluttered with negative thoughts?

We must focus on the good things of God. — What He has done for us, the great opportunity that lies before us.

We must keep God in our focus and not filter Him out through our RAS while focusing on all the other distractions of life; which is what so many of us do.

It seems a lot of the time our RAS wants to focus on everything but God. We’re all so busy living life and putting out fires. We forget to stop and smell the roses.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard people say, I just don’t have time to pray, or read the bible, etc.

My feeling about it is this is, you will never find time for God, because were all too busy, WE MUST MAKE TIME FOR GOD. The only way to do that is to train your RAS to see your relationship with God as your top priority.

One way to start doing this is to place index cards all around your house reminding yourself to pray, read the Bible, to think about God.

Look at David’s focus in Psalm 119:10-16:

10 With my whole heart I have sought You; Oh, let me not wander from Your commandments!
11 Your word I have hidden in my heart, that I might not sin against You.
12 Blessed are You, O Lord! Teach me Your statutes.
13 With my lips I have declared all the judgments of Your mouth.
14 I have rejoiced in the way of Your testimonies, As much as in all riches.
15 I will meditate on Your precepts, And contemplate Your ways.
16 I will delight myself in Your statutes; I will not forget Your word.

We must make a conscience decision as to what we are going to focus on. We must train ourselves to quit focusing on the negative and carnal things in life. We must stop letting life dictate what we focus on and make God and His Will our focus.

In order for God to use us, we must have our focus in the right place. We all need to train our RAS to start working for us and not against us.

Let’s look at Philippians 4:8 one more time as a reminder.

Philippians 4:8 “Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things”.

You can train your RAS to focus on the things of God. I’ll admit it takes time and effort, but it can be done, and it is so worth the effort.

Stop Chasing Them Rabbits!

rabbit holesI believe a critical key to becoming successful at anything is singleness of focus. Now, I realize that singleness of focus, like anything else, can be taken to an extreme; like when you refuse to acknowledge anything in life other than what you’re dealing with.

What I’m talking about here is not letting yourself become easily distracted or let yourself go chasing after rabbits in every direction.

What do I mean by chasing rabbits? I’m glad you asked. Anyone who has ever clicked on a link in a newsletter, and found themselves on a webpage where a couple dozen other articles, links and offers are presented, knows exactly what I’m talking about.

From that point you find yourself following one link after another. Reading this ad or that article up until the next link and then you chase another rabbit. After a while you forget what you set out to do, and end up somewhere totally different.

Now, there is nothing wrong with noticing other things while studying or researching a topic. What you need to do is keep a pen and paper handy, and when you see something that interests you write down the link or URL, and leave that rabbit alone until later.

Now this doesn’t just happen in the cyber world, it happens in the non-digital world as well. I’ll give you a perfect example and see how many of you don’t experience this at home.

Have you ever started cleaning your kitchen, and a short time later found yourself cleaning the bedroom? Of course the kitchen is still a mess, but for some reason you ended up somewhere else.

What happened was you chased a rabbit out of the kitchen into the bedroom. How you ask? Let me tell you. You picked up a finger nail clipper or some other object off the kitchen counter or table that you or someone else set there earlier. Now, since you’re cleaning the kitchen, and you know this item doesn’t belong there, you bring it to its proper home.

Of course while you bring that item home, you notice the dirty laundry draped over the chair or at the end of the bed. So, you pick up those items and deal with them.

Now if you don’t see an item that belongs in the kitchen, there is a chance that you will continue cleaning the bedroom unless you chase a rabbit back into the kitchen or another room.

So it goes on and on. And if you think about it, you can see how this can be applied to any area of your life. The main problem is a lack of focus, and a lack of commitment to accomplish what we set out to do.

Now, I don’t care what it is you want to accomplish in life, what goals you’re shooting for or what level of success you desire to reach; without focus and commitment you will be hard pressed to accomplish much of anything.

So what can I do about it, you ask? You probably already know the answer, but I’m going to say it anyway; make lists, set goals, follow through.

As far as setting goals, there is not near enough space to totally deal with that issue here and now. If you are uncertain about how to set goals, there are many books and audio programs on the internet that can help; some are even free.

As far as making lists and following through, that is a bit simpler. What I do is take a white board, and section it into days of the week. Then I write down the items I wish to accomplish on my white board for each day of the week.

Sometimes I will prioritize them if I’m worried I won’t be able to accomplish them all, other times I just make bullet points and just go down the list.

Now, as will always happen, something will come up. A rabbit might jump up and beg you to chase it; DON’T DO IT!!! Keep a notebook handy, and when that rabbit jumps up, write down which direction it went in, what was so interesting about it, etc. and leave that rabbit alone until you have accomplished those things that have been prioritized on your list.

You might even add, chasing rabbits to the bottom of your list, or the number one priority for the next day.

If you’re cleaning the kitchen, stay in the kitchen until you’re done. If you must bring something into another room tell yourself, I will not look for the rabbits in here, and get back to the kitchen.

If you’re studying something or reading an article on a website and a rabbit jumps up, just write it down and keep going with what you’re doing.

If you really desire to become successful in life, you must learn to prioritize, follow through and focus, focus, focus.

Do you have problems with chasing rabbits?

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What Will Become of Your Tree?

treeI wanted to share The Tale of Three Trees with you today. It’s a parable that speaks volumes to how many of us just don’t realize our worth. We often look at ourselves as unworthy of great achievement or works. Instead of seeing ourselves like God sees us, we focus on all our short comings.

Where we view ourselves according to our past mistakes and failures, God sees our potential and the great things we’re capable of.

Enjoy the parable!

‘The Tale of Three Trees’

Three little trees stood high upon a mountain discussing their dreams for the future. The first little tree looked up at the dazzling night sky and said, “I want to carry the treasure of kings and queens. I want to be beautiful. I want to be filled with all the riches in the world.”

The nearby stream caught the second little tree’s eye. “I want to be a mighty sailing vessel,” he said. “I want to sail in the roaring oceans, roam the high seas, and deliver kings and queens safely to their destinations.”

The third little tree loved the mountaintop. “I want to stay right here and grow and grow and grow,” she said. “I want the people that pass by to look at me touching heaven and think of God.”

One day, many years later, three lumberjacks came to help the three trees with the next season of their lives.

The first tree, now beautiful, was cut down. “I will become the most beautiful treasure chest,” he thought. “I will get to hold all of the world’s riches.”

The mighty second tree was cut down. “I will now sail the roaring oceans,” thought the second tree. “I will be the mightiest of all sailing vessels.”

The third tree, with her branches stretched toward heaven, was also cut down. Together with the other two trees, she was taken down the lovely hillside.

The first tree arrived at a carpenter’s shop. The beautiful tree was aglow with excitement. But he wasn’t made into a treasure chest. The skillful carpenter made the beautiful tree into an ordinary feeding trough.

The second tree was brought to a shipyard. The mighty second tree thought, “Now I will be the most vigorous of vessels.” But the strong second tree was made into a simple little fishing boat.

The third tree was brought to a lumberyard. There she was made into beams and put aside. “Why did this happen?” thought the third tree. “All I ever wanted was to touch heaven.”

As the weeks passed, their dreams began to fade from memory. However, one magical night brought the first tree’s dream to life. A young mother put her newborn into the trough. “This manger is perfect,” said the mother to her husband. And the first tree knew he was cradling the most important treasure ever.

One night the fishing boat was used by a tired traveler and his friends. They quickly fell asleep, and the small boat floated out to sea. The sea became rough, and a thunderstorm was brewing. This frightened the second tree. If only he were a mighty vessel and could withstand the force of the storm! The traveler was awakened by the storm, and he stretched out his arms and said, “Peace.” The sea became calm and the thunderstorm vanished. It was then that the second tree realized he was carrying the Almighty King.

Then one morning, the third tree was taken by soldiers and carried through a hostile mob. She trembled with fear and distaste as a man’s hands were nailed to her. But three days later the sun rose. The earth was full of joy. She realized that everything had changed because of God’s love.

The first tree was made beautiful, the second tree was made mighty and the third tree made people think of God.

How does this parable make you view yourself? What will become of your tree

Pearls of Wisdom

city sign name wisdomDictionary.com defines wisdom as, “the quality or state of being wise; knowledge of what is true or right coupled with just judgment as to action; sagacity, discernment, or insight.”

Or simply put, wisdom is the proper application or use of knowledge in any given situation.

Let me share some pearls of wisdom with you today that are taken from scripture, some great thinkers, with a few of my own thoughts thrown in.

Colossians 4:5-6 “Walk in wisdom toward those who are outside, redeeming the time. Let your speech always be with grace, seasoned with salt, that you may know how you ought to answer each one.”

Speak in a friendly, courteous and encouraging manner to others. Be nice, and be a good example.

When angry, count ten before you speak; if very angry, a hundred. ~~ Thomas Jefferson

When you confront someone in your anger you cause them to become defensive and ruin any chance of resolving the conflict. Give it a little time, and you’ll have a much better chance of working things out.

Let no man presume to give advice to others that has not first given counsel to himself. ~~ Seneca

Unless you’re walking the walk, don’t go talking the talk.

Let everyone ascertain his special business and calling, and then stick with it if he wants to be successful. ~~ Benjamin Franklin

Find your passion and go for it. Don’t let anyone or anything discourage you or knock you off tract.

You should not live one way in private, another in public. ~~ Publius Syrus

You are who you really are when you’re alone.

Associate yourself with men of good quality if you esteem your own reputation, for ‘tis better to be alone than in bad company. ~~ George Washington

If you want to soar with the eagles, you’ve got to quit hanging out with turkeys. Choose your friends wisely. Make friends who lift you up and encourage you, and stay away from those that would drag you down to bad or base behaviors.

The scriptures say that the fear “or deep respect and awe” of God is the beginning of all wisdom. I would then suggest that the greatest source of wisdom would be found in the scriptures.

I know I always feel much wiser when I read through Proverbs.

How do you look at wisdom?

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