Posts Tagged ‘intention’

Pray With Intention And Trust

September 1, 2016

It was just a simple movement. Stretching across the driver’s seat to put some stuff on the passenger seat before I left for a business meeting in Cleveland. In that instant, my quadriceps muscle popped. I was on my back in the garage with the greatest pain I’ve ever felt.

Six years ago today. My first ambulance ride. First stay in a hospital since I was born.

You know, the pain was terrible. I remember being in pain. I don’t really remember the pain. Remarkable thing, our memories.

Thus began a series of unconnected events over the ensuing three years where stress affected my heart and I walked away from a couple of good-paying jobs.

An acquaintance told me sometime back there to pray with intention. Pray that God will open doors. Pray that people will come into my life when I or they need it.

And trust in God.

It’s amazing.

When I need some income, a project comes my way. When I was looking for a ministry, one came my way. People come into my life at just the right time.

The key must come from living life with intention. We don’t want to drift from situation to situation at the whim of whatever current swirls by. Choosing our intention is an ultimate freedom. Otherwise we are a slave to others’ suggestions or to our own emotions and desires.

Pray with intention and trust in God.

Everything In Its Place

June 2, 2016

You just had an important thought. Go to the desk for a pen and paper. Can’t find either.

You’re gathering ingredients for a recipe as dinner time approaches. Can’t find a spice you’re sure you had. And where’s that favorite knife?

Getting ready to study. The desk is cluttered. Can’t find the Bible. Favorite pen is not in its place. Oh, where’s my journal?


I talked yesterday about my vacation reading–The Simple Leader: Personal and Professional Leadership at the Nexus of Lean and Zen.

Let’s look at a Lean concept called 5S. It stands for five English words roughly translated from the Japanese: Sort, Straighten, Shine, Standardize, Sustain.

Meyer defines each one:

  • Sort: Review each item, ensure it has a purpose, remove what isn’t needed.
  • Straighten: Find a defined location for what remains, preferably as close to where it will be needed as possible.
  • Shine: Clean and polish the newly uncluttered area.
  • Standardize: Create a checklist or other method to ensure the area doesn’t revert back to how it was.
  • Sustain: Create a habit, routine, or daily activity to keep the area clean and neat, and to audit that it has stayed that way.

You’ll notice that this is also a method of simplifying your life. Get rid of stuff cluttering your living and working space. Organize. Your mind will thank you. It can settle in on a task with few if any distractions.

As you sit to study, pray, meditate, or even converse, you remain calm and focused reflecting the environment you’ve created.

Spiritual formation requires intention. Organizing workspaces and our lives intentionally is a step on the path.

Just Showing Up

May 18, 2016

I’ve heard it said that half the battle is just showing up.

Well, I’ve showed up today. There’s a lot on my mind, and yet not much.

We are taught about Sabbath. Taking a rest. That may not show up in the list of disciplines. But it probably is. After three weeks full of energy and commitment, I took two days with just a minimum of work and a lot of rest. It’s a good thing. You come out on the other end refilled with energy.

Rest is an essential component of refueling energy.

Another is proper eating. When I eat too heavy a meal whether for lunch or dinner, I can feel it dragging me down. I know better, but it just sounds so good at the time.

Appropriate exercise is another. An hour of Yoga refreshes the body and soul. As you stretch and work, energy is released. As the mind focuses on the body, day-to-day stuff is forgotten. You spend the hour residing in just the moment.

Relationships can be energizing. Just stay away from those people who suck energy out of you like a giant vacuum cleaner. A good conversation refocuses you.

Time alone. Just you and a cup of coffee or tea. Intentionally relax and listen for God’s whisper.

Vacations, paradoxically, may not be that refreshment if you stress over where to go, trying to see one more sight, organizing all the people around you, worried about money. If you are planning a vacation, make it a vacation. Intentionally allow spaces for relaxing, talking, reading. Leave the go-go world behind.

What gives you energy? Cultivate it.

Having Civil Discussions In A Church Setting

June 30, 2015

Someone says something in a church setting. Someone else gets upset. Angry even. Threatens to leave. Or, worse, starts spreading misinformation in an attempt to put the other at a disadvantage.

Or a church or non-profit organization beginning to discuss a business item. Emotions rise. Lines are drawn. Feelings are hurt. Totally lost in all the non-discussion is one of the last commands of Jesus to his followers–This is how they will know you, by your love.

I’m in the middle of reading a leadership and creativity book. More will come later. The book talks about the creativity process at Pixar studios. “In a healthy culture, all constituencies recognize the importance of balancing competing desires— they want to be heard, but they don’t have to win.”
People discussing in a healthy culture focus on the problem. Not on people. Not on theology or philosophy. The discussion is how do we fix what is broken, or how do we solve the problem. An attack on a person is quickly silenced.

Reading this book, Creativity, Inc., brought back memories of when Dave, Jane and I sat in the conference room in the 24th floor of the IBM building in Chicago discussing what a new magazine with the title, “Automation World” would be. The discussion often was loud and full of energy. The magazine developed from the discussions was born, grew, and led the industry for several years. 

Those discussions were all positive. We fed each other’s creativity.

Then we know of other types of people. They sit at the far corners of the conference room. They listen to enthusiastic people full of ideas. They like to shoot arrows at the ideas, and sometimes even at the person. From the book, “Negative feedback may be fun, but it is far less brave than endorsing something unproven and providing room for it to grow.”

I am by nature analytical. I can tell my level of engagement in the topic by my reactions. If I’m totally engaged, the N and P of the Myers-Briggs comes out, and I can bat ideas around with the rest. If I am less engaged, then the T part shows itself and I instinctively analyze and then look for holes in the argument.

I have to intentionally catch myself and change my thinking in these situations. 

In many meetings I’ve endured, my wish was for others to do the same!

How Is The Life You’re Living Working

April 30, 2015

What are you doing right now? Well, aside from reading this.

What are your plans for the day? The week? The month?

How much time do you spend watching TV or movies?

He comes home from work, slouches on the couch in front of the TV, and gets up only to eat and use the bathroom until time for bed.

She uses every available minute to turn on her phone and check up on what her “friends” are posting on Facebook. Maybe taking time to text message a few virtual friends.

He sits for hours with the computer playing multi-player games and “hanging out” with his virtual friends.

How easy is it for our lives to slip away into meaningless activities! You look up at the end of a month or a year or a life and wonder where it all went.

Living a life with intention means that we relax when we intentionally mean to relax. And we choose our activities wisely.

Ponder on this question for a while:

Is the life that you’re living worth the sacrifice that Jesus made for that life?

Jesus made time for dinner parties with his friends and acquaintances. But he also healed, taught, mentored.

Try this. Sit and think for a while. Write a list of things you’d like to accomplish. Not so much a goal as a result. Or a place where you’d like to intentionally spend your time. Perform a service. Write a book. Participate in youth activities. Be a better employee.

Write your daily to do list based on what you want to be or what you want to do (hopefully the same). Review every month. What have I done where Jesus would be proud? Has my relaxation and entertainment been just a mindless waste of time or has it been physically/mentally/spiritually renewing? Have I connected with real people?

Live a life intentionally honoring the sacrifice made for us. 

God Works Through Us

January 22, 2015

While I’m studying Paul through the scholarship of N.T. Wright, there was a thought so powerful that I stopped reading. Made a note. Then just paused and contemplated for a while.

Paul thought that God worked through us. God revealed his glory through Jesus. Jesus expected his work after his ascension to be done through us.

Hit pause. Hit rewind. Hit play.

What does that mean?

It surely sounds like an awesome responsibility, doesn’t it,

What have we done with our time? I have a lot of time to look back on. Some of you more. What use have we made of that time to do God’s work?

I was just listening to Andy Stanly talk about making a wise use of our time. Our time “keeps on slippin’, slippin’, slippin’ into the future.” (Steve Miller Band)

Our pastor is in the middle of a series on setting goals. Goals are OK. But really, what counts is our schedule. What do we do with that time?

Better than a goal of “I’ll invite 100 people to church this week,” would be, “I’ll set aside 30 minutes, and write it in ink on my calendar, three days a week to call people to invite into a relationship.” The key–write it, in ink.

Try getting out a calendar–paper, digital, whatever. Get the one-week view. Block out what you do each day in the week.

5:30, arise, fix coffee, get out my Bible
5:45-6:00, read Bible
6:00-6:15, pray, meditate
7:00-8:00, exercise/workout/run whatever
then, work, phone calls, planning, time with family

Take a look at where your week goes now. Then plan with intention to structure a week where you attend to your spiritual health, your physical health, your relationships, your God work, your community service.

Grab control of your time. Don’t let it slip away.

Ethics and Marketing–An Oxymoron

November 17, 2014

Christmas. Ah, that time of joyful giving. Celebrating the birth of Jesus. Christmas Carols. Hot chocolate with whipped cream.

Oops, it wasn’t even Halloween yet, let alone Thanksgiving. The stores were full of Christmas stuff. It is still two weeks before “Black Friday” (the day that retail stores go from red to black, or loss to profit for the year) and my email box has Wal-Mart ads for the day.

Everyone knows that retail stores depend upon Christmas sales for the year’s profits. This has been known for 100 years.

This is obviously bad management. But, we get what we deserve, I guess.

Business managers turned to a new thing called “marketing” a long time ago. The job of marketing people was to entice people into the stores.

Then we got TV. And TV needed advertising for revenues. Marketers needed advertising to get their message to the people. Before TV, there were newspapers and magazines. Note: I’ve made a good living from the magazine business, and even today I’d like some advertising on my other Website to help pay the bills.

But marketers weren’t as successful as they would have liked. It wasn’t enough to just use superlatives to promote their stores and products (have you ever seen ads from the 1920s?). They turned to the findings of that new academic discipline called psychology to figure out how people work.

So now, we have turned to manipulation. Create a need where none existed before and then offer to fill it. Muscles not big enough? Breasts not big enough? Kids may not make it into Harvard? We’ve got a solution.

The current trend in magazine advertising is to write advertising that looks just like the editorial content of the magazine. The idea is to trick the reader into reading the ad. They may even think that the claims made in the ad are from the supposedly unbiased editors of the magazine. The more respected the editorial, the better the success with this form of advertising.

By the way, I hope you know that for many years, advertisers in women’s magazines have had a clause in their contracts that the magazine may not run an article that is in any way critical of makeup or other products including the way they test makeup. All articles in women’s magazines must be promotional of the types of products that will be advertised.

But even in business-to-business which is my market, marketers and publishers want things to be just as great and happy as possible. I have a friend who just left his magazine job and is trying to sell a subscription-based newsletter. “I don’t take advertising, so I can be honest,” he says.

Well, I hope I’m honest too. 😉

What’s the reason for this season (actually following Thanksgiving, which is also a good thing to celebrate)? Let’s keep this in mind. Don’t let marketers convince you that you need things you don’t. Keep your head. Buy presents, sure, but buy with intention not under the influence of artificially inflamed emotions.

Tricks Our Minds Play on Us

April 2, 2014

Why is it that we hold some beliefs so firmly in the face of overwhelming evidence against them?

I notice this in religion, where people are convinced of the truth of a passage in the Bible, except that there is no such passage. Take a look at political discourse, that is, if you can with a measure of objectivity. Mostly it’s just a parroting of a mixture of opinion and fact–usually with precious little fact–held firmly as fact.

Pondering this question years ago led me to study brain science–at least from the standpoint of an educated layperson. My favorite works were by Antonio D’Amasio.

The current book open on my Kindle reader is Mastermind: How to Think Like Sherlock Holmes by Maria Konnikova. One chapter on deductive reasoning really delves into findings on how our brain tricks us. It is well known in many circles that the mind will believe anything we tell it to believe. Well, it can also tell us we saw something that we never saw with our eyes. It is now legendary in legal trial circles that the worst evidence is eyewitness evidence.

I try to remember this research often as I trust my memory. Sometimes the memory is good. I interview many people for my day job. I’ve only had one instance where I misquoted the intent of my source in the past 16 years.

The secret is focus, paying close attention to the speaker, concentrating. The conversation comes back with only a few notes for important points.

There are things that happen where you didn’t have such focus. You thought you read it, when maybe you only heard it somewhere. You thought you saw the incident, when maybe your attention was elsewhere and only diverted over to the incident and then returned.

This means that we need to intentionally sharpen our awareness of what is around us. Be mindful of what we see, do and read. Go back and read again. Question our assumptions and test them.

Live with intention, not as if in a dream.

What Was Your Intention

March 25, 2014

There is s guy I know who often talks about living with intention—pray with intention, decide with intention, live with intention.

While driving home after a weekend get-a-way Sunday, I rather absent-mindedly set the cruise control on my car. A scenario flashed through my mind in an instant:

Stopped by a Highway Patrol officer, “what was your speed?” “I don’t know. I set the cruise control.” “At what speed did you intend to set it?”

Intention. That was the word.

I shouldn’t just push the button to set the speed when I sort of felt like it was time. I should have given the matter a little thought and then set the speed with intention. OK, so it was 7 over the speed limit…

When you leave home today, is it with intention? Do you intend to meet new people? Help someone? Be kind? Be loving?

My friend suggested praying with intention for things to happen. I once listened to a teacher on a podcast (I think it was Bill Hybels) who said to pray spcifically and with expectation. Pray intentionally that God willl lead the right people into your life.

Sometimes I see people. Look at their demeanor. Look into their eyes. They are lost. Not just in the salvation sense, but just lost. No direction. No motivation. No intention. Just drifting through life. Lost.

Then I see people with living with intention. Living with purpose. Friendly, helpful, doing good.

Choose life with intention, or wind up lost.

Be Intentional About What You Want

March 3, 2014

“Do you want to be well?”

Jesus asked the man with an unspecified illness at the edge of the Pool of Bethesda at the Temple that question.

We would expect the man to answer, “Yes! Of course! Please!”

Instead, the man whined and complained. “There’s no one around to help me into the water when it stirs and other people get there first.” (There was a superstition that when the water stirred in the pool an angel caused it and was there to heal the first person who dipped into it.)

Jesus evidently ignored the whining. He told the man to stand up, pick up his mat, and to go and sin no more and he would be well.

There is so much we don’t know. What was his sin that caused his illness? Indeed, what was his illness? Why did Jesus pick him? Why did Jesus ignore his whining and heal him?

None of this is the point of the story that John tells in his Gospel. But that’s OK. It’s worth contemplating.

How do we answer?

If someone walks up and offers help, what is our response? Thanks? Or some sort of whining excuse?

A guy I know uses the term “intentional” often. Pray intentionally for things, he’ll say. Pray intentionally for God to bring people into your life or bring the right circumstances into your life.

I thought about that word as I contemplated this story. Are we intentional about seeking healing? Are we intentional about seeking help for our challenges? Do we even know what we want?

Self-help gurus talk about goal setting. That can be a useful activity. However, being intentional about the kind of person we want to become or about healing us of our problems (physical, mental, emotional or spiritual) is really our first step toward a life in the Spirit.