Saturday, September 20, 2014


There is a painting that hangs in my office and in my study at home that symbolizes the temptation of Jesus in the Wilderness.  It is one of the few pieces of art I have ever purchased for myself.  I was so enamored of it that I bought two copies of the same painting to hang in the places where I spend a large majority of my time.

I think what so intrigued me about the painting is the sense of solitude and reflection that I see in it.  Christ is pictured sitting alone in the foreground of a backdrop where nothing else is present but desert and sky.  There are no other human beings, no animals, no plants.  Christ sits alone with His thoughts.  I always wonder "what is He thinking, did He know what He was about to face?"

In the final verses of Matthew Chapter 3 Christ has just been baptized by John the Baptist.  God's Spirit had descended upon Christ from the Heavens "as a dove descending and lighting upon Him".  God pronounced "This is my Son, in Him I am well pleased".  My sinless, blameless Son is here and I am announcing it to all who are present.

So in a supreme moment of revelation from God Christ is exalted.  And in the very next scene Christ is alone with Himself and His thoughts and immediately challenged by Satan.  As Matthew Chapter 4 opens Christ has left the River Jordan, the site of his Baptism, and entered the wilderness alone.  There He is confronted by Satan with a series of temptations in an attempt to lure Jesus into a situation where He would commit a sin.

Three times Jesus is tempted by Satan to sin against God and each time Jesus refuses, quoting Scriptures from the Old Testament to defend His actions and Himself from Satan.  Jesus knew the Scriptures well and He knew the power they have over temptation and sin.  Jesus was victorious over Satan in part because of His knowledge of and faithfulness to Scripture.

Isn't it often like that with us?  After a significant joyful event in our lives, such as a Baptism or marriage, doesn't it seem like almost immediately there are new found temptations all around us.  An invitation to a party we know we probably shouldn't attend or an inappropriate advance from an acquaintance.  The self confidence we feel during milestone events in our lives can sometimes serve as an intoxicant, numbing our senses to the danger of the temptations that are always present around us.

Satan loves those moments - they are moments of opportunity for him.  Satan relishes in attempting to destroy the most successful and obedient of God's children.  So when "life smiles on you" in a big way and success seems to be around every corner, temper your celebration somewhat with the knowledge that Satan may be among those in the crowd cheering you on.  Immerse yourself in prayer and Scripture to guard yourself from what may be "lurking in the wilderness".  And always remember, WE NEED GOD JUST AS MUCH IN THE GOOD TIMES AS IN THE BAD.

Saturday, February 1, 2014


Whether you are a soccer Mom or a busy executive, adopting these two tips into your life can change your personal effectiveness for the better.


This is probably the single most important step in bringing control and focus to the chaos that is your life sometimes.  The way your brain works is like this...if you have something you need to accomplish and you don't define the next step you need to take to accomplish that task, your brain is going to continue to remind you that it needs to be done.  It's just the way your brain functions (medical research proves it!).  You will be sitting somewhere trying to focus on what you are doing and all of a sudden that unsettled/unplanned thing you need to accomplish is going to pop back into your mind causing you to lose focus on what you're working on.  Next thing you know there's another one popping up.  And pretty soon you're not getting anything done but thinking about all the things you need to do.  It happens to most of us frequently!

So here is TIP ONE.  When you think about that "something" you need to accomplish simply ask yourself "what is the next thing I need to do to accomplish it?".  If you can complete that next step in a few minutes - just do it.  If it takes longer than a few minutes to accomplish it write down the next action you need to take on your "To Do" list .  For example, if on Monday the reminder in your car tells you the oil needs to be changed, the next thing you might do is decide you are going to accomplish that on Thursday at the Jiffy Lube.  Simply write down "Change Oil in Car at Jiffy Lube on Thursday" on your "TO DO" list.  That decision has been made.  You'll be amazed at how this keeps all those nagging things you need to do from continually popping into your head and stressing you out.


So you've captured all these next steps or "TO DOS".  Now your thoughts are not continually being bombarded by all these things you need to accomplish.  That's because you've decided what to do about them and have those actions captured on your "To Do" list.  Your brain is happy that you've done that and is not bothering you with it anymore!

Well a list by itself doesn't get anything done, right?  So here is TIP TWO.  Each day should be preceded with a review of the things that need to be accomplished on your list that day.  You can do that review the night before, the morning of the day or whatever works best for you.  But the main thing to remember is to keep marking things off that list each day so the list doesn't continue to grow faster than you are completing things.  You can also use a calendar to help you track time driven "to dos" if that works better for you.  If the bills need paying by the 26th and you've decided to pay bills on the 24th simply write down "Pay the Bills" on the 24th in your calendar.  You're done.  Simply reviewing your list and deciding what you can get done that day will work fine for most of us.  By staying on top of your "to do" list you'll feel a sense of accomplishment that leads to the peaceful feeling that you are in charge and on top of the things in your life.


There are many resources out there to help you improve your personal effectiveness.  Author David Allen has a particularly helpful book entitled "Getting Things Done" which can be purchased from the author's website, at online retailers such as or in most large chain book stores.  It is packed full of ideas, practical approaches and research backed methods to improve personal effectiveness.  It has tips that work in the home as well as in the workplace.

If you'll just work at these TWO TIPS TO IMPROVE YOUR PERSONAL EFFECTIVENESS your productivity will increase, you'll see an improvement in your anxiety level concerning the things you need to accomplish and you'll feel a much greater sense of confidence as you mark things of your "TO DO" list.