CHRISTIANS PRACTICING WISHCRAFT

CHRISTIANS PRACTICING WISHCRAFT

Dream Upon A Star

In 1979, Barbara Sher published her book Wishcraft, in which she shares advice on setting and achieving our highest goals. I learned about Sher’s book recently while reading Write It Down, Make It Happen, by Henriette Anne Klaus. Klaus once took a class from Sher and has since developed her own philosophy of achieving goals through a system of writing them down.

I guess writing down our goals is one way of achieving them. But wouldn’t it just be easier if God showed up one day and promised to give us our greatest wish, Aladdin style? Yeah, right! Fat chance!

I dream of genie

You might be surprised to learn that this actually happened. In fact, one man did have this exact experience. Solomon, the wisest and wealthiest king to ever reign in Israel, was asked by God what was his greatest wish. Here’s how it went down:

7 That night God appeared to Solomon and said, “What do you want? Ask, and I will give it to you!”

sheepish genie

Forget 3 wishes. God goes straight for the big one. Can you imagine? How wonderfully scary! Was God testing Solomon? Or did God just like Solomon so much He wanted to give him something out of love? What would you have wished for? Notice what Solomon asked:

8 Solomon replied to God…10 Give me the wisdom and knowledge to lead them (your people) properly, for who could possibly govern this great people of yours?”

Evidently, Solomon’s request pleased the Lord. Notice how God responds:

11 God said to Solomon, “Because your greatest desire is to help your people, and you did not ask for wealth, riches, fame, or even the death of your enemies or a long life, but rather you asked for wisdom and knowledge to properly govern my people— 12 I will certainly give you the wisdom and knowledge you requested. But I will also give you wealth, riches, and fame such as no other king has had before you or will ever have in the future!” – 1 Chronicles 1:1-12 (NLT)

I call this “Practicing Wishcraft”. Not Witchcraft. Witchcraft is when a person serves Satan in exchange for the ability to use the devil’s evil power to manipulate people and circumstances on earth for one’s personal benefit. Witchcraft is strictly forbidden as a practice by God. Believers are not to get involved with it. But Wishcraft is different.

Wishcraft is when we bring God our wishes and wait for Him to grant them…or not, depending on how God decides to answer.  Wishcraft takes real trust. To submit our dreams, ambitions, and deepest desires to God and then wait expectantly upon Him to either grant them or deny them, is a true test of faith. 

To be clear, I’m saying  Wishcraft is good. To bring all of your heart’s desires and lay them down at God’s feet and then trust Him that whichever ones He wants you to have or not have will be best, is true faith in action.

“Delight thyself in the Lord and He will grant thee the desires of thine heart”, says the Psalmist.

When our heart wishes this way in prayer: “Thy Kingdom come and thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven”, God can trust us enough to say to us the very same thing He said that night to Solomon, “What do you want? Ask, and I will give it to you.”

Can God trust you enough to grant you your greatest wish?

 

IT’S HUMPDAY AND YOU’RE IN A FUNK…WHAT DO YOU DO?

IT’S HUMPDAY AND YOU’RE IN A FUNK…WHAT DO YOU DO?
Limburger Cheese Funk Smell
Life Stinks When You’re In A Funk!

                       John Maxwell writes about the grandfather who was pranked by his grandchildren in his bestseller, Developing The Leader Within You.

One afternoon, as grandpa lay napping on the couch, his 2 grandkids decided to play a joke on him. They stole into the kitchen, secretly raided the refrigerator, pulled out the item they’d been looking for, then quietly returned to the living room where grandpa lay snoring fast asleep. Quietly, the two of them tip-toed up to grandpa’s face, managing to slip a piece of Limburger cheese under his nose onto grandpa’s mustache, and ran away giggling. An hour later, when grandpa woke up, he started sniffing a pungent foul smell. He stood up, and said, “Something smells awful.” He looked around, then walked into the kitchen. “Oh, my! It smells terrible in here, too!” he muttered, as he moved back towards the bedroom. Every where grandpa went, the bad smell seemed to follow him. “Why, it even smells horrible back here!” he said bitterly. At that point, grandpa decided to go outside to try to get some fresh air. But when he swung open the front door and smelled the foul lingering odor, he exclaimed, “My goodness! The whole world stinks!”

What's fueling your funk
Ask, “What’s Causing My Funk?”

WHAT’S FUELING YOUR FUNK?

FUNKS ARE FUELED BY FEELINGS OF FAILURE…Do you feel like a FAILURE? Ask yourself, “Is the reason for my funk, because I feel that I have failed at something or failed someone, or that I will fail if I try? Am I telling myself that I’m a failure?” 

FUNKS ARE FUELED FEELINGS OF PRESSURE…Do you feel UNDER PRESSURE? Ask yourself, “Am I unclear or undecided about what I want or think I should do in a situation? Do I feel uncertain or anxious about the way something is going to turn out? Do I feel under pressure to be or do something with high stakes attached to it?” 

FUNKS ARE FUELED BY TOO MUCH LEISURE…Do you feel BORED? Ask yourself, “Am I too idle or not busy enough? Do I feel a strong sense of urgency or am I apathetic?” 

What have you found helpful in getting yourself out of funks? Personally, I recall an ancient proverb that helps me fight out of a funk. Here’s what it says:

“People ruin their lives by their own foolishness and then are angry at the LORD.” – Proverbs 19:3 (NLT)

In other words…

  • We stick a cigarette in our own mouth and then whine, “God, why did you give me cancer?”
  • We get drunk, decide to drive, then grumble, “God, why did you let me get a DUI?”
  • We choose to marry a person and then protest, “God, why isn’t my marriage better?”
  • We accept the job position and then complain, “God, why did you stick me here?”

Your funk isn’t God’s fault, your spouse’s fault, your children’s fault, your boss’s fault or your neighbor’s fault. Until we “own” our funks, our funks usually “own” us. Face your funk to fix it. Own your responsibility and get your power back. You don’t have to stay in a funk. You CAN fight out of it…if you’re willing to face it! 

 

 

IT’S HUMPDAY…AND. YOU. LOVE. THE. GAME! (Thanks Taylor Swift:)

ARE YOU WINNING?
ARE YOU WINNING?

Life has been compared to a game; “The Game of Life” we sometimes call it. At times, we may refer to office politics we’re facing at work as “playing a chess game” with our co-workers or bosses. Game analogies abound. When we really do well on a presentation or make that sell we may exclaim, “I knocked it out of the park!” or “Touchdown!”. However you choose to look at it, games are often helpful metaphors to make sense of what we experience in our lives.

I want to share three suggestions with you to help you “win the game of life” that you’re playing this week, even today, this moment. Keep these thoughts in mind:

BRING YOUR “A” GAME…BE PREPARED!

Whether you are launching a new project at work, interviewing for a new job, writing a routine report, raising kids, or just trying to maintain a packed schedule of life demands: bring your “A” game! What do I mean? I mean, do your best. Always. Make the effort. Go all in! How? Focus your reason, emotions and actions onto the task in front of you.

1. Use Your Reason. God has given you a good mind. Do your best and work with your mind. Plan. Project. Ask questions. Figure stuff out. Think! Speak up when you see something. Stand up for what is right. Don’t wait for others to do your thinking for you and don’t be afraid of making mistakes. As Immanuel Kant said:

“Dare to know! Have the courage to use your own intelligence.”

2. Program Your Emotions. Be like Hans and Franz from Saturday Night Live and let your own positive words “pump you up!” By telling yourself what you can do, your emotions will follow through. Speak affirmations such as:

  • I can do it and I know I can!
  • I’ve got it and everyday I get more it!
  • I am winning at the game of life!

3.  Plan Your Actions. Bringing your “A” game means starting out with “a game plan”. In real estate, it’s all about “location, location, location.” But in the game of life, it’s all about “preparation, preparation, preparation.” A person with a plan is a person with power! So, make one and then take action on it. Discipline yourself so others won’t have to.

LET THE GAME COME TO YOU…BE PATIENT!

As you are “working your plan”, be patient with the process. In sports, coaches often tell a player who’s not playing very well to “let the game come to them.” In other words, don’t undo your own success by “trying too hard”. As David Allen has taught, “Your ability to generate power is directly proportional to your ability to relax.”

So, relax. Be patient. The world will unfold and release its treasures only to the patient person. All things can be mastered by one willing to submit to a process of disciplined-waiting. Adopt Arnold H. Glasow’s philosophy: “The key to everything is patience. You get the chicken by hatching the egg, not by smashing it.”

WIN OR LOSE, PLAY THE GAME WITH HONOR…BE PRINCIPLED!

Author Stephen Covey wrote, “…there are principles that govern human effectiveness — natural laws in the human dimension that are just as real, just as unchanging and unarguably “there” as laws such as gravity are in the physical dimension.” He went on to say:

“Principles are like lighthouses. They are natural laws that cannot be broken.”

You’ve heard the saying, “It’s not whether you win or lose, but how you play the game that matters most.” In other words, don’t lose yourself in the pursuit of success. Maintain your personal standards. Keep your integrity. Remain honest. Show respect. Don’t lie, cheat or steal. You know…all the stuff your mom taught you:)

Friend, this is how you bring your “A” game, every day in every way. At least this is how I try to do it. I often fail. In those moments I try to remember that even when I give a “F” performance, at least I can give a “A” effort!

 

INDUSTRIOUS…Am I getting things done?

INDUSTRIOUS PEOPLE GET THINGS DONE
INDUSTRIOUS PEOPLE GET THINGS DONE

Someone once told me “Brad, you get out of something what you put into it.” Now that I’m 41, I can’t say I agree 100%. Sometimes, I actually can’t control “what I get out of something”.

In our fallen world, everything’s broken. Nothing works right, at least not for very long. My car stalls out. My heater breaks. My microwave fizzles. 1+1 doesn’t always = 2. Does that make sense?

For example, If you’re a person who works in the sales industry, you can usually control what you personally “put in” to a relationship with a new client, in terms of caring, time, expertise and helpfulness. But you can’t control whether that client will “buy” from you or your company in a way that “equals” your sacrificial input. Sometimes, 4+1= 2. It can be frustrating to say the least.

But while we can’t always control what we get out of something, we can always control what we put into it. Here’s the good news: although we can’t always directly control outcomes, there are three elements of our work that we can control. You can decide to be industrious no matter what. For example, YOU CAN CONTROL…

1. Your Work Ethic…How you view and feel about the work you do.

You can “take this job and love it” or you can “take this job and shove it”! It’s up to you! And your boss, eventually:) How do you feel about your work? Do you like it? Loathe it? What?

Your work ethic is what you believe about work itself. An “ethic” is another word for your basic philosophy or belief system. Your view of “work” will determine your behavior in relation to it. For example, is work a blessing or a curse to you? Is it something you avoid at all costs or dive into as often as possible? A second element you can control is…

2. Your Work Habits…When and how you discipline yourself to do your work.

I’m always fascinated to learn the daily routines and schedules of famous people. The book Daily Rituals by Mason Currey, for example, examines the daily work habits of 161 of history’s most famous creatives: men like Mark Twain, Ernest Hemingway, Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Edison; along with women such as Gertrude Stein, Georgia O’Keefe and Sylvia Plath. In this book he writes about their work habits. He asks and answers questions such as: What time did they get up in the morning? Where did they do their work? When did they sleep? How many breaks did they take?

What we learn is that different people had different levels of discipline. “Discipline” says Bob Proctor, “is the ability to give yourself a command and then follow it.” Each of us has daily rituals that constitute our work habits. For the most part, these are under our control. We also have a certain level of self-discipline with which we carry out our tasks. We decide these things. We get to choose. And each of us can choose to be industrious every day. You can also choose to control…

3. Your Work Rate…How much effort you give to doing your work.

We’ve all heard the cliché’, “Work smarter not harder”. It’s catchy, but not totally accurate. No matter how “smart” you work, effort is still required of you to accomplish goals and plans. It may or may not be “manual labor” but it’s almost always “mental labor”.

Dr. Joel Fuhrman, NY Times best-selling author of Eat To Live and Super Immunity reminds us: “Things that have huge value require effort…great success means a significant effort is usually required.” 

Unfortunately, the word “effort” itself gets a bad rap. For many, it connotes “blood, tears, toil and sweat”, all things unpleasant to give at times. Gandhi saw it another way: “Satisfaction” he wrote“lies in the effort, not in the attainment. Full effort is full victory.” 

“Never let effort be the issue” says former NY Jets coach, Herman Edwards. Exert yourself. Leave a piece of yourself in your work. Even if you are afraid of failing, remember these words from philosopher Francis Bacon:

“There is no comparison between that which is lost by not succeeding and that which is lost by not trying.”

FINDING HAPPINESS…WHAT REALLY WORKS AND WHAT DOESN’T

HAPPY YOU YEAR

Dr. Phil often counsels people in conflict by asking, “Do you wanna be right or do you wanna be happy?”. He’s assuming, of course, that as humans we get to choose; that our own happiness is largely under our personal control. Know what I’m learning?

Happiness isn’t so much about the position you’re in but the disposition in you!

Just like Hugh Downs once quipped, “A happy person is not a person in a certain set of circumstances, but rather a person with a certain set of attitudes.” 

Jesus once taught on how people can truly find lasting happiness. He gave 8 hints about happiness. I want to share in my next 8 blog posts what these hints are. The only question is…can you and I take the hint? Let’s see if we can…

HINT #1: “Blessed (HAPPY) are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” – Matthew 5:3

To be ‘poor in spirit’ means to be humble. Happy are the humble, Jesus says! Why? For 2 reasons:

HUMBLE PEOPLE ARE HAPPY BECAUSE OF WHAT THEY CONFESS!

Some people give testimonies, others give bragimonies! You know what I mean. They’re annoying. You know one or two, I’m sure. I’m referring to people who boast, brag and basically carry on about their life dramas and accomplishments in a “better-than-you” tone.

Humble people don’t behave this way. It’s not that humble people are losers and proud people are winners. As C.S. Lewis taught, It isn’t that humble people think less of themselves…they just think of themselves less!  Humble people don’t over-estimate their own goodness or importance.

Jesus wasn’t saying that you and I don’t have enough goodness in our lives, He was saying we don’t have any without God helping us. Humble people are happy because they’ve come to terms with the fact that they themselves are not the center of the universe and God is. That’s their happy place.

HUMBLE PEOPLE ARE HAPPY BECAUSE OF WHAT THEY POSSESS!

Jesus says that ‘the poor in spirit’ receive as their possession the ‘kingdom of heaven’, a.k.a. Eternal Salvation!

The door to God’s kingdom hangs low and stands narrow and those people whose heads get too big can’t fit through it. “God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble” Saint Peter taught us.

To be happy or blessed, you have to become humble enough to admit to God that you need Him. Most people’s prayers revolve around their greeds not their needs. We may want that shiny new car…but what our soul really needs is God’s presence to fill it and give it joy.

If you can take the hint and humble yourself before Him, then you can be happy!

Will you take the hint?

IMITATION…Who are you following?

 

Who Do You Look Up To?
WHO ARE YOU FOLLOWING?

I asked my 7-yr. old daughter, “Emma, who do you want to be like when you grow up?” She answered, “Gabby Douglas; and mommy. And you a little bit”:)

If there’s one thing I’ve learned in my short leadership journey so far, it’s this:

EVERYONE FOLLOWS SOMEONE!

Regardless of who you are, I believe every individual looks for and finds a person to help inspire them toward growth and achievement. For some, it’s their parents. For others it’s a favorite athlete or musician. Still, for a few, it’s a teacher or a coach. Everyone needs someone to follow!

Paul, a 1st century terrorist-turned-Christian evangelist, once made this statement to a group of Christ-followers living in the ancient city of Corinth:

“And you should imitate me, just as I imitate Christ.” – 1 Corinthians 11:1 (NLT)

It’s been said, “Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery”. I also believe it is the truest form of growing. After all…

A true leader isn’t looking to be flattered but to be followed.

It’s the nature of leaders to gather followers. But did you know that even leaders need someone to lead them?

John Maxwell has a great quote which says, “It’s hard to lead if you only have yourself to follow.” For example, every great player needs an equally great coach. Michael Jordan needed Phil Jackson. Tom Brady needs Bill Belichick. And Ben needed Jerry:) Every great leader, or ice cream maker, needs other leaders to follow.

Since everyone follows someone, it’s important to make sure that the person you’ve linked up with is worthy of your following. What qualifies a person to serve as your model for patterning your life after?

Ask yourself these 3 questions and see if your hero passes the test!

1. Is their lifestyle worth emulating?

Does the person you are attempting to “be like” make choices that command your respect? I’m really thankful my daughter said she wanted to be like Gabrielle Douglas and not Marilyn Manson. Both are famous. Both are looked up to by a certain group of people. But both do not necessarily make equally good life decisions.

2. Is their message worth sharing?

Everyone has a message they’re sharing whether they know it or not. Each of us is communicating constantly through verbal and non-verbal cues, gestures, postures and movements. So, what message is the person you’re trying to imitate sending by his or her words and actions? Some messages are more worthy than others. All ideas are not created equal. You’ve got to discern and decide which ones are healthy, true and worthy of your attention.

3. Is their legacy worth remembering?

Each of us is leaving behind a ripple effect, a wake in the water of our existence, that will be remembered for good or bad. Is this person that you are trying to “be like” living for values that you share deep down? I’m talking about values that last far beyond the grave, that last far longer than our short earthly life. Shared values makes for a powerful Leader-Follower connection.

As you seek out mentors, leaders, and sponsors to help show you the way…ask yourself these 3 questions to make sure you’re following a worthy leader.

IMBALANCE…Am I maintaining a balanced perspective?

DO YOU HAVE A BALANCED PERSPECTIVE?
DO YOU HAVE A BALANCED PERSPECTIVE?

I’ve discovered that the greatest danger to a balanced perspective is perfectionism. You know what perfectionism is, right? It’s that little invisible cloud hovering above your head called “Never good enough”. It hides the sunshine and keeps the light from getting in. It rains on your parade and stifles your enthusiasm. Even when you earn a hard-won victory it’s negativity seems to overshadow the good things in your life.

PERFECTIONISM IS CAUSED BY EXTREMISM

Whenever I feel myself obsessing over perfectionism, I often hear words like, “Never! Always! Everything! Nothing!” As in…

  • I NEVER get it right!
  • He/She ALWAYS messes things up!
  • EVERYTHING is horrible right now!
  • NOTHING ever turns out good for me!

These are extreme words. Extremism is one of the causes of perfectionism. Extremism is “All-or-Nothing” thinking. Extremism looks at things from an unbalanced perspective. Such as, “If everything isn’t perfect, then nothing is going well.” Or, “If this doesn’t go right, then nothing else will either.” A little extreme, wouldn’t you agree?

These extreme kinds of thoughts matter. Proverbs says, “As a man thinketh in his heart, so is he.” Extreme thoughts lead to extreme emotions which cause extreme (unbalanced) perspectives.

PERFECTIONISM CAN LEAD TO ESCAPISM

What is escapism? Escapism is the desire to retreat into a fantasy world of stimulation: pornography, narcotics, alcoholism, sleeping too much, staring at the t.v., endless all-night video game playing, and gambling can all be forms of escapism.

Personally, I believe that perfectionism causes much of this. If I tell myself that I must succeed or I must not fail, then if I fail, it follows that I might just stop trying altogether, give up and back-peddle into a shadow world of sensory stimulation hoping to forget about my own imperfections.

Escapism is really just the desire to stop feeling pain. Failure is painful. Even the prospects of failure can be painful. So, to avoid facing that pain, people are often tempted to do anything to numb it, even indulging in things that are at worst, harmful to them, and at the very least, counter-productive to their goals and desires.

PERFECTIONISM IS CURED BY ESSENTIALISM

Greg McKeown, in his book Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less, says that the answer to breaking through to the next level in our lives is the disciplined pursuit of less, but better.

Perfectionism can quite literally cause us to try to “be perfect” in so many areas of our lives that we experience “brain-fry”. Our emotional system gets fried and breaks down, in much the same way that a robot’s system shuts down when it’s wire-system gets overloaded.

Michael Hyatt, in his article The Paradigm Shift That Helped Me Defeat Perfectionism Once And For All, agrees:

“Perfect is the enemy of the good, but so is distraction. If you have too many irons in the fire, you’ll get burned out. It’s better to focus on what matters now and see it through. Then you can turn to the next thing.” – Michael Hyatt

He encourages us to narrow our focus in order to defeat the perfectionism trap. As you focus on “the essential”, you more easily maintain a balanced perspective; something each of us needs to stay healthy emotionally.