Category Archives: LeaderSheep

Confession and Forgiveness


The following is an excerpt from the upcoming book and training series "Prayer School" For more information or to book a Prayer School training seminar write to the Matthew 5:5 Society here and subscribe to the blog for regular updates and release dates as they become available.
Chapter 6 – Confession and Forgiveness

And forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors. [Matthew 6:12]

Depending on your translation this verse could read either, debts, sins or trespasses.  I originally learned it as trespasses and still say it that way today, but the sentiment is the same no matter how you say it.

The apostle Paul reminds us in Romans 3:23 that “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”  Sin separates us from God’s glory. It’s been that way since the very beginning.  Ever since the original sin God and mankind have been separated.  At times God has broken down the barriers and come to his people but mankind has had to create elaborate rituals designed to cleanse sinfulness from himself before he can approach God.  The entire sacrificial system of the Old Testament was designed to provide this cleansing and remind mankind of his sin and unworthiness to approach God.

Jesus, as the final sacrifice blows that whole system up but not before giving us a hint of how we can maintain our intimacy with God long after he is gone here in his prayer.  Forgiveness of our sins is available to all of us, all we have to do is be willing to give forgiveness as freely as we have receive it.

But you can’t receive forgiveness if you don’t first confess.  And you can’t offer forgiveness if you don’t first examine the motives behind the wrong act.

This is very hard.

As we go through the list of wrongs that we have both committed and endured we must think about the people we have hurt and those who have hurt us.  While we don’t have to forgive their actions, we must be willing to look beyond the act itself and see the person behind it.  In the case of our own forgiveness we must examine our motives and resolve to find better ways to express our needs and desires without causing harm to anyone else.  And in the case of the wrongs committed against us we need to look deeper at the motivations of the perpetrator before we can forgive the person.

We can still hold people accountable for their choices, as we will likely be held accountable for our own.  We can expect to be asked to pay some form of restitution before we can fully restore a relationship so asking for restitution in return is generally acceptable but that cannot prevent us from freely forgiving the person who committed the act.

Forgiveness is not tied to restitution.  Even between us and God, when we ask for forgiveness God may still require us to do something before we are fully welcomed back into community and that’s okay.  We are still freely forgiven simply by confessing our sin and offering the same kind of forgiveness to those who have wronged us.

At this point in the prayer we break it down into it’s two component phrases and pause while we list off both our sins for which we need forgiveness and the wrongs which have been perpetrated against us.  If you find it too difficult to forgive the act that was done to you, focus instead on the person who committed it.  We may never be able to excuse some of the wrongs we have endured but we also can’t carry a grudge against a fellow image bearer of the divine.  God’s loving nature demands that we see the humanity in everyone, even those who commit unspeakable crimes.

It’s been said “Love the sinner, hate the sin.”  When we start by examining the person forgiveness gets a little easier.  It’s also been said “There but for the grace of God, go I.”  When we start by examining the person, we sometimes start to see ourselves in a different light.

This is perhaps the hardest part of the entire prayer.  Confession and forgiveness requires a level of self-examination beyond anything we’ve done so far.  Don’t skimp on this aspect of prayer.  We are all sinners in need of a relationship with the savior.  The more honest we are with ourselves at this stage, the deeper that relationship will be.

 

 

 

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Why I’m Seeing a Shrink


It’s true but technically she’s called a psycho-therapist.

I decided to make an appointment with her because I sensed my life was starting to go off the rails a few weeks back.  I was sleeping in longer, having trouble concentrating and feeling a general sense of dread and malaise.  I woke up one morning and rather than go to the gym as I had planned, sat nearly catatonic in my kitchen for 45 minutes, unable to move.

I honestly think that everyone, at one time or another should see a shrink, or at least some type of counselor to help gain some perspective and keep their life on track.  Your friends are too close, and mentors tend to be too distant and focused on just one niche of your life.  When things start to go off the rails, you need to take a holistic approach under the guidance of a professional.  It helps too if they share at least some of your personal values.  In my case I sought out a counselor who also shares my faith so that there wouldn’t be any spiritual conflict.

High octane entrepreneur types like me tend to ignore the signs and end up crashing with spectacular speed and maximum destruction.  I didn’t want that to be me!  So how did I know it was time to see a shrink?  After I broke out of my catatonic state that morning I did a survey of my life and found at least seven signs that I was headed for a crash.

 1 – My Gym Bag was dusty

I had gotten up that morning fully planning to go to the gym but I hadn’t made it there in 5 days and the longer I waited the worse it got.  Physical health is paramount to mental health and when your commitment to exercise starts to slip that should be the first sign that you are about to go off the rails.

2 – I was self medicating

Junk food is my Achilles heel.  It’s not the worst vice there is, I’ve never self medicated with drugs or alcohol but mindlessly eating potato chips and cookies still only provides temporary relief and is not a cure for anything.

3- I had a squirrel brain

I was struggling to stay present even when there was nothing pressing going on, constantly checking social media, and email trying to make sure I didn’t miss anything.

4 – While at the same time I was ignoring important things

Leaving people hanging, not responding to questions or requests for information that were going to take more than a few minutes to answer.  Completely avoiding tasks that were going to be hard and possibly stressful.  Screening calls from colleagues and clients and ignoring emails.

5 – I hadn’t taken any time off in over a year

Not even a long weekend.  I was working 6 days a week and thinking about work 18+ hours a day.  It was exhausting.

6 – I had a short fuse

The gap between action and reaction was almost non-existent.  I wasn’t taking time to thoughtfully respond to anyone.  I was just snapping back as quickly as I could.

7 – I was snarky

I mean, I was resentful of other people’s joy.  Seeing pictures of vacations, family fun times and other relaxing moments on Facebook and Instagram was making me angry and I couldn’t look away.

 

So that’s when I sought out a shrink.

I now have professional help to give me perspective and get me back on track.  If you see yourself in any of the things I described above, please do the world a favor and seek help too.  There is no shame in admitting that you can’t do it on your own.  Your mental health is too important to leave unattended and your friends and mentors, while an important part of maintaining balance, aren’t qualified to fix you when you are broken.

 

 

 

 

Daily Bread


The following is an excerpt from the upcoming book and training series "Prayer School" For more information or to book a Prayer School training seminar write to the Matthew 5:5 Society here and subscribe to the blog for regular updates and release dates as they become available.

Chapter 5: Sustenance

Give us today, our daily bread [Matthew 6:11]

In the beginning mankind had access to everything we needed in abundance.  No one went hungry or needed to work for anything.  It was all there in the garden for the taking whenever and whatever our hearts desired.

That all changed at the so-called fall of man.  Theologians have debated the meaning and cause of the fall for centuries, but I believe that at it’s core it was about doubt, pride and arrogance.

Adam and Eve doubted God.  They doubted his love for them and his desire for their well-being. They took maters into their own hands and as a result they were forced to leave the garden and begin to work for their survival.

When God turned Adam and Eve out of the garden he told them what awaited them out in the world.

Cursed is the ground because of you;
through painful toil you will eat food from it
all the days of your life.
It will produce thorns and thistles for you,
and you will eat the plants of the field.
By the sweat of your brow
you will eat your food [Genesis 3:17-19]

But because this toil for survival was not part of God’s original design and because God’s love for his people is go great, we can see time and time again how he intervenes against nature itself and provides for our needs.

The most obvious example of this comes in Exodus 16 where God provides literal bread from heaven to feed his people in the desert.  Elsewhere, the prophet Elijah, while on the run from the evil king Ahab, received bread and meat delivered to him by ravens (1 Kings 17).   And who can forget the feeding of the 5000, (John 6:1-15) where a young boy offers Jesus his meager lunch and it miraculously turns into enough food to feed upwards of 10,000 people.  (Remember, in Jesus day only the men would have been counted so by the time you add in women in children the crowd could have been easily double that number).

These and numerous other examples show how God cares enough about us to make sure we have what we need to survive.  Therefore; when we pray for our daily bread we are reaching back through history and reminding ourselves that God is our great provider.

The words themselves should conjure up all of theses stories from scripture as well as instances from our own lives where God stepped into the narrative and circumvented the natural order of things so that we could go on living.  If God had not stepped in and dropped bread from heaven on the Israelites they would have died, plain and simple.  While not quite as dramatic, there are instances from my own past that can only be explained as a supernatural intervention made a just the right time to insure my survival.  Contracts that got signed and money that got transferred the very day a large expense came due or just in time to prevent an eviction notice or disconnection of utility services.  These things have happened to me and similar things happen to God’s people every day.  They’ve maybe even happened to you.  These Godly interventions are the manna of our modern times.

Don’t ignore the fact also that this is daily bread.

God’s sustenance is never meant to be hoarded.  There is always, plenty to go around and there is plenty more coming tomorrow, and the next day.  The Israelites learned that lesson quickly.  They could not keep manna, it spoiled within 24 hours of being gathered.  This is because, when God steps in and transcends the natural order of things he does so firstly to provide for and show his love to each of us individually, but he also does it to glorify himself.  You cannot hoard God’s glory, it MUST be shared.  Failure to acknowledge and share God’s glory with the world will result in the spoilage of the manna and the end of the blessing.

This is what some theologians refer to as the concept of mixed up grace.  God often provides blessings that are not meant for us alone, they are meant to be shared with others.  In this way he brings the community together and spreads his love far and wide.  We are directed by him to share our resources and redistribute his blessings through our relationships with one another.

So, when we pray “Give us today, our daily bread,” we are asking God to provide for our needs yes, but we are also asking him to help us to share our blessings with those around us and spread his grace more evenly throughout the world.  At this point, pause and make specific requests for the provisioning of your needs and the needs you see around you.  Thank him for the blessings he has already provided and ask him to direct you in the redistribution of his grace to others in need.

 

 

 

Thanks in Advance


I’ll be honest.  I hate that phrase.

Most of the time when someone says to me, “Thanks in Advance” it feels as though they are making assumptions about my completion of a task or compliance with a request without waiting for me to agree in the first place.

More than once I’ve been tempted to respond with:

“Bite Me! – Thanks in Advance.”

I am happy to say that my cooler head usually prevails, and I am much more charitable with my responses.  I recognize that offering gratitude when making a request is a good idea, please just don’t use the phrase “Thanks in Advance”.

When you go to restaurant, or work with any kind of customer service agent do you give a tip?  Of course you do!  But did you know that originally the tip was given at the start of the interaction, not the end?

The origins of the word “tip” is an acronym that stands for “To Insure Performance” and it was often broken into two parts.  “Here’s $5, there’s another $10 in it for you when we’re finished if you do a good job.”

That kind of proactive gratitude can change the interaction between parties profoundly.  But it is far more than just dropping a few dollars and saying thanks in advance.  Gratitude is not something that can be done cheaply or sporadically, it needs to become part of our constant attitude.

Cultivating an attitude of gratitude (I hate that phase too, not because it’s wrong it just sounds cheesy), starts with saying thank you but when it becomes a part of who we are it leads to level of graciousness, that people will remember forever.  And people want to do things for other people when they feel like they are appreciated.

So make gratitude a part of your daily life.  Be thankful for everything.

Rather than saying “thanks in advance”.  Drop little thank you bombs into the conversation every chance you get.  Start a meeting with “hey, thanks for meeting with me.”  When you make a request for something say; “thanks for considering this, or thanks for taking the time to review my proposal.”  As the relationship moves forward don’t forget to say thank you at every completed stage.

Don’t be afraid to say thank you in public either.  Giving a seminar?  Thank the organizer for inviting you right from the stage.   Sign a big contract?  Thank your client on twitter or facebook, just be careful not to reveal anything that might be considered confidential.

I thanked a client on twitter once and they retweeted it to all of their followers.   It was a great way to increase my own exposure and generate even more leads.  So I thanked them for that too!

People love to be thanked and being gracious always pays dividends.

Thanks to Darren Hardy (@darrenhardy) for giving me the idea of this post.

Thank you for reading it.

Who do you want to thank today?  Tell me in the comments below or forward this post directly to them, I will be super grateful if you do, and I’ll make sure you know it…

 

Praise – Part 1


The following is an excerpt from the upcoming book and training series "Prayer School" For more information or to book a Prayer School training seminar write to the Matthew 5:5 Society here and subscribe to the blog for regular updates and release dates as they become available.
Prayer School – Part Three

hallowed be your name. [Matthew 6:9b]

Prayer is an act of worship.

The Lord’s Prayer is a praise sandwich.  It begins and ends in worship.

Here in the very first verse of the prayer, after acknowledging God’s position as head of the family we begin with praise.

When we pray we are in conversation with “Ultimate Reality”.  The personal deity that took on flesh and walked among us.  It would be disrespectful for us to begin a conversation with the creator of the universe, the most all powerful, God, Love incarnate without at least acknowledging that fact.

Praise, therefore is an essential part of prayer.

Jesus taught that when we pray we are to begin by addressing God as nothing less than our holy father.  God’s very name is holy and worthy of praise.

Dictionary.com defines holy, among other things as being “entitled to worship or veneration.”

Therefore, when we pray we must remember to praise God. After having worked through the rest of our prayer we will return to praise in chapter 8.  By that point our praise will have taken on deeper meaning and carry additional weight in the context of what we have just prayed but for now our praise is focused on the personal essence of God.

As I have already stated God is Love incarnate.  But this is a concept that I have found a lot of people have trouble articulating at first.  Therefore, to praise God we must work through what this means and how to address him.

Addressing the Person of Love

When you love someone, you want to be with them, you want to spend time with them and you want to converse with them.  Being in the presence of love should never feel awkward or forced.  Conversation among intimate partners is different.  It’s usually slower, quieter and less pointed than conversations with people who are not your partner.

While it may take time to develop this kind of a relationship with God, your prayer language should reflect this loving relationship.  Take your time with it, approach God like you would a loving life partner because in many ways that’s what He is.

Acceptance

God loves you just the way you are.  There is nothing we need to do to gain His approval.  Safe in the knowledge of our eternal acceptance we can approach God in complete security and submission.

Whenever I think of God’s acceptance of me I remember the parable of the Lost Son, [Luke 15;11-32].  God, the loving father, is so overjoyed at the presence of his lost son that he doesn’t even let him speak before showering him with full acceptance and love.

That’s what it means to be accepted by God.  All we have to do is receive it, we can’t add anything to what God has already done for us.  [Luke 12:29-34]

Thanksgiving

It’s human nature though to want to give something back.  In this case, the only thing God wants is your love and thanks in return.  The story of the bible is in many ways a story of mankind’s attempts to set up rules and rituals designed to curry favor from and give back to God.  But God wants none of it, he simply wants your love and your thanks. [Micah 6:8]

When we say, “hallowed by thy name”, we are coming to God in reverence, accepting his love and thanking him for every blessing that He is continually pouring out over us and the entire world.  The only appropriate response to all this blessing is praise and then to get down on our hands and knees and drink it up like a deer at an ever-flowing stream.  [Psalm 42:1]

Grind it Out


 “Success is extracted from the grinding of mundane work” – Darren Hardy

I hate to sound like a broken record but there really is no substitute for hard work.

I’ve written on this topic before.  Here,  and I even made a video about it, here.  But I can’t say it enough because when I tell people how hard I work and the disciplines I practice people are always astonished.

And quite honestly that astonishes me!  What did they think I was doing all this time?

I’m certainly not sitting around waiting for the phone to ring.  I’m out there, grinding and if you aren’t working at least half as hard I am this is your one and only warning.

I’m coming to eat your lunch!

The greatest divide in business (and in life) exists in the fantastically dull, every day, day in and day out grind.  I love the mundane tasks of my business!  Making phone calls, sending emails, mining the internet for new leads.  I can’t get enough of it.

Is it exciting?  Hell No!

Does it pay dividends?  You bet your ass it does!

I have learned to master the mundane tasks, even made a game of it to prevent boredom and drift.

I’m going to let you in on the secret to my success.  I don’t mind telling you this because I know from experience that there are very few people who will even come close to the intense focus that I bring to my work.  And those of you who do are likely in a slightly different industry or geographic area so have at it – if you think you can.

Ready?  There are four parts to it.  Here they are.

1 – Start work at the same time every-day.

2 – Work on what you say you are going to work on when you say you are going to work on it.

3 – Work all the way to quitting time.

4 – Guard your down time like it’s the holy grail, you need your rest, you deserve it.

For me, my day starts at 5:30 am with a trip to the gym and ends at 7:00 pm, Monday to Friday.  At 7:00 pm on Friday I turn of my computer and silence the alerts on my phone until Monday morning!  If I can’t address an issue in the 67.5 hours a week that I am “on”.  It’s not worth it to me.

But there’s way more to it than that.  You need to develop a set routine and follow it like a monk!  Set aside time for prospecting and all the other hard and mundane tasks in your calendar each and every week and if someone wants to meet with you and make a million-dollar purchase during your set prospecting time you must have the discipline to say no and offer an alternative. (Of course if that’s the only time your prospect can meet you then you make an exception but this has never happened to me)

It’s simple – If you don’t control your time, you time will control you.  This is the only way you’ll get ahead.  It’s all about the grind!

L C Sheil writes regularly about, spirituality, life and business coaching.  He is the founder and director of The Matthew 5:5 Society (formerly The Meekonomics Project) where he coaches ministry and business leaders to Live Life to the Fullest in Complete Submission to the Will of God. 

Mr. Sheil has authored two books and is available for public speaking and one on one coaching in the areas of work life balance,  finding and living your core values  and financial literacy.  Write to The Matthew 5:5 Society here for more information or follow L C Sheil on twitter and instagram.  

The Community


The following is an excerpt from the upcoming book and training series "Prayer School" For more information or to book a Prayer School training seminar write to the Matthew 5:5 Society here and subscribe to the blog for regular updates and release dates as they become available.

Prayer School – Part Two

This then is how you should pray:

Our father in heaven, [Matthew 6:9a]

The opening line of the Lord’s Prayer makes it crystal clear that prayer is not to be done in a narcissistic manner.  The very first word of the prayer points to and acknowledges the fact that the spiritual life is not a life of isolation but a life that must be lived out in community.

When we pray to God as our father we are simultaneously acknowledging that He is my father, your father and the father of all who call upon His name.    It is at this point, after we have spent time in meditation preparing our hearts for prayer and getting close to God that we begin by recognizing His sovereignty over our lives, the lives of the people in our community and the lives of all those who call Him father.

When we begin our prayer this way there are three phases to these opening moments.

Our father in heaven, thank you for blessing me.

Around the beginning of this century, as the tech bubble burst, the phrase Ponzi Scheme hit mainstream media and was used to describe the world’s largest energy conglomerate and terrorists flew airplanes into two of the world’s tallest office towers, there was a movement within some religious circles to re-examine an obscure prayer from deep inside the genealogical records of Israel.  The prayer of Jabez, as it is known, appears in 1 Chronicles 4:10:

Jabez cried out to the God of Israel, “Oh, that you would bless me and enlarge my territory! Let your hand be with me, and keep me from harm so that I will be free from pain.” And God granted his request.

I first learned of this prayer and this movement at a particularly low point in my life.  By praying specifically for God to bless me, enlarge my territory, (which in modern terms would be to pray for prosperity), for protection and comfort, my mind was also drawn to instances when God was already doing this for me.

It’s okay to pray for your needs.   It’s even okay to pray for the desires of your heart.  God granted Jabez his request because he asked.  Some commentators have also suggested that the last line in the Hebrew suggests that not only will Jabez be free from experiencing pain but also from causing pain to anyone else.  Therefore; God granted his request because it contained some other centeredness.

Our father in heaven, thank you for blessing them.

The term intercessory prayer is used to describe a prayer meant to intercede in the lives of others.  When you say to someone in your community that you will pray for them what you are really saying is that you will leverage your time in conversation with God to intercede on their behalf.

I always begin this portion of pray by thanking God for bringing certain people into my life and for the blessing that they have been to me.  I then ask specifically for the fulfillment of whatever needs they have, those that they have brought to my attention and those that they have kept private.

Jesus modeled this for us in John 17:6-26 when he prayed for his disciples.  He begins by thanking the father for them.

Yours they were, and you gave them to me, and they have kept your word. [John 17:6]

He then goes on to describe the troubles they will experience because of him and requests that God give them protection and strength.

Holy Father, keep them in your name, which you have given me, that they may be one, even as we are one. [John 17:11b]

By turning my focus outward, to my community I become both thankful for the intimacy of my interpersonal relationships and aware of my role in the lives of others.  I am now ready for the last phase of the opening of my prayer time.

Our father in heaven, thank you for blessing us.

The world-wide community of believers is a family.  God is our spiritual father and through our relationship to Him are all connected.  It is through this familial connection that I can thank God for the blessings in your life and intercede on your behalf, even when I don’t know you personally or have any knowledge of your specific needs.

Jesus modeled this too in John 17 when he prayed:

I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, that they may all be one, [John 17:20-21a]

This also sets us up for a deeper prayer for God’s heavenly kingdom which comes later.  For now I simply pray thankfully for the world-wide community of believers and ask for blessing and intercession into the lives of my brothers and sisters whom I may never meet.  I pray for their safety, their health, their prosperity and the impact of their ministries on their local communities.

**************************************************************************

So here in the opening phrase of The Lord’s Prayer we have thanked God for all that he has already given us, requested blessing and provision in our lives, thanked God for the people he has brought into our circle and interceded for their needs and thanked God for the world-wide family of believers and interceded for the needs of those half a world away whom we my never meet but with whom we share a connection few outside the faith will ever comprehend.