What should we do now?

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There is no doubt that we are experiencing some very troubling times in America and throughout the world today. While there are many that believe that we may be in the last days, including myself, the question is what should we now do? How would Christ direct us to act?

Before I share my heart on that question, I want you to know that I am a retired State Trooper from Florida. I have been deeply affected by the recent events in Dallas, Texas as five of my brother Law Enforcement Officers lost their lives while defending the constitutional rights of Americans. But, I also know that there are communities and families that have also been impacted by the loss of their loved ones involved in incidents with Law Enforcement Officers. Their pain is just as real as those who lost loved ones in Dallas and we should all mourn for everyone that has lost any family member. My blog today is not to debate these issues but call us to a greater issue.

You see, I really don’t believe the ultimate answer to our situation is more debate and argument. It only leads to more polarization and lack of understanding between everyone. Does anyone remember the days when politicians of opposite parties actually liked each other? I think we have had enough of the great divide. Most everyone has grown tired of the current debates and arguments as they have done little to actually change our society for good. Today more than ever, we need God! What would Jesus instruct us to do if he were standing right in front of us at this very moment? I will go back to the late Dr, Martyn Lloyd-Jones and what he did when he took the pulpit in a church called located in Southern Wales called Sandfields.

The year was 1927 and the country of Wales was in great distress. The area that Dr Jones was in, Port Talbot, was particularly hard hit as there had been labor disputes for many years and the economy was as bad as it could get. There had also risen a steady decline in spirituality in the area as many believed that both the government and the church had failed them. It was a time when crime of every type was on the rise. People had abandoned the church and now they were abandoning the laws of society.  Add to that the rise of the Communist party that was looking to take advantage of this void and before long it was becoming hopeless.

While many of Dr. Jones contemporary Christian leaders were trying to bring change through the avenue of politics and social change, Jones took a different approach, one that I believe that we need to revisit today. As many continued to push for reform in the government, seeing that as the solution, Dr. Jones exclaimed that the greatest need wasn’t government reform but reform within the hearts and souls of men.

In an article written by Dr Paul M. Elliott titled Can God Change a Nation Through One Local Church? the following is stated about Jones and how he planned to approach the problems of his day.

He believed that the crying need of the hour was not reform in government, the school classroom, the economy, or even in public morality. The greatest need, he said, is spiritual rebirth among the unconverted and revival among God’s people. This can only come by the work of the Holy Spirit through the preaching of the Bible. All else flows from this, he said. There can be no genuine change in the externals of society without genuine change in the hearts of men. And that change must begin in the church.

The changes that came after Dr. Jones took this position were dramatic. Many say that as the church was revived and used to change the area of Port Talbot, that God used that one local church to actually change a Nation. In fact Dr, Jones, this preacher from a small community in Wales, is actually recognized as one of the two men most responsible for saving his country from Communism. You can read Dr Elliott’s entire article here through Teaching the Word Ministries  at this link: Can God Change a Nation Through One Local Church?

Today more than ever, we do not need more debate and arguments about the issues we are all faced with. There are plenty of people doing that for all of us.What we do need is more people calling for the Power of God and a genuine revival in the church. I really believe that now is the hour for all of us that call ourselves Christian, to enlist and let our lives count for God.

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Baptism at Felinfoel, Wales

 

There are three things I believe every Christian should do during this difficult time.

  1. Turn to God. He is our answer in our time of need. Lets pray as Dr. Jones prayed, for God to save the lost and bring revival to the church.
  2. Return to Our Roots. Prayer, Bible Study and sharing the good news of Christ through word and deed. There is nothing wrong with other activities that reach and serve the community, in fact they are good works we were created for, but they can not substitute for God’s power to change lives, beginning with our own.
  3. Be Humble and Kind. Tim McGraw may have sang it but Jesus modeled it. No one wants anything from an angry or proud Christian. “It doesn’t cost anything to be kind but it really pays off” Bear Bryant. Let’s be kind, even to those we disagree with.

I really believe that one local church or even one local person can make a difference if they will start with God. Will you join me in praying for our country and the church during the month of July? Let me know if you will. I don’t know what will actually happen, only that I must do what He is leading me to do.

Blessings,

Coach Don.

 

 

 

What are you looking forward to?

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As you look at other people throughout the day, try to notice those that either look happy or content. Now, if you dare, and if you feel comfortable, ask one or two of them what are you looking forward to today? You might even phrase it as “What are you looking forward to this year or in life in general?”

In almost every instance, you will find the most content individuals will have something that they are looking forward to, either that day or somewhere in their future. What is it about having a positive future vision that causes us to be happy in our current situation?

My favorite verse is Jeremiah 29:11 For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope. This verse makes the point that God has thoughts that He thinks about us and those thoughts are focused on a hope and a future. So what is it about having something hopeful to look forward to you that has the power to change who we are today?

  1. Having a future hope helps us endure a current negative situation. No doubt about it, having something wonderful in your future can help you endure a current situation. If you knew that the dream job was just around the corner and you were to going to get there soon, come “Hell or High Water”, you would feel different about the job you are enduring today.
  2. Having a future hope helps us see other people differently. If we have trouble seeing our own future and our own situation ever changing, we will really struggle to believe others have the ability to change as well. The optimist not only believes that they can change and become better, but also they believe others can as well!”
  3. Having a future hope helps us to do the hard work. No doubt about it, it takes hard work to change and create a new future. Having something to look forward to in the future can inspire us to work hard and pay the price for that new future. Take the summer vacation that becomes your driving force to lose weight. No matter what it is, the vision is the fuel for the journey.

The bible states in Proverbs 29:18 Where there is no vision, the people cast off restraint. Vision for tomorrow provides power for today. Zig Ziglar used to say “Treat every day like it’s the day before vacation, and you will get more work done!” The reason that is true is because people that are getting ready to go on vacation are happy because they are looking forward to being off and being in a place that is going to be fun. The next time you have a friend or coworker that is getting ready to leave for a cruise or for a week at the beach, just ask them how they are doing?

Today you should get your calendar out and start marking some dates to look forward to. Even if you are marking dates of events that you will have to work toward or save for, just do it! Much better to fill your life with future hopes and dreams then past mistakes and current concerns. For a Christian, the future is nothing to worry about it, it is actually something to look forward to with great anticipation.

Look Forward! It will take you somewhere!

Coach Don

How to pick your battles? The real secret to setting and achieving goals!

 

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Over time I have discovered that setting and achieving goals is not a to do list, but rather a personal decision to enter into a battle. That’s right, I said battle. Most of the times those battles I am talking about are solely with myself and my own will, but there are times it involves others or outside obstacles.

Today, if you have things in your life that you want to change, you will have to decide between doing something or doing nothing. That decision alone will be your very first battle on the way to your victory.

If setting and achieving goals is like going to war or entering a battle, then the question we must all ask is “How do I choose my battles or how do I plan my attack? Here are some points to consider in helping you to decide what you should attack first. I call it the LAP Method.

LIST

List everything that you want or need to do.  Your battle plan has to begin as a list and for some people the courage to even write the list is the very first battle. Think of this list as your “Declaration of Independence” or your “Articles of War.” Research consistently proves over and over again that those who write their goals down have a much greater chance of achieving them.

ASK

Ask great questions. Every great General will ask lots of questions before they enter into a battle. Once you have declared your goals you will need to ask questions to develop your battle plan. Here are just a few questions you should ask…

  • Are your goals achievable? Simple question to ask yourself to make sure they are really achievable. No one goes to battle without first counting the cost and making sure they can win. Fighting for your marriage or life is different from trying to become the center for the Orlando Magic. Some battles you are going to engage in no matter what the outcome is.
  • Is there one goal or “Battle” you must choose first? “Sometimes it’s not about you choosing the battle simply because the battle is choosing you.” Is there a battle that you must fight first before you can engage in other campaigns? I remember when I was trying to get hired a State Trooper and the only thing blocking me was my weight. I had to lose several pounds or I was not going to get hired. That goal easily became my first battle.
  • Which goal are you most passionate about? Sometimes it is easy to pick your first battle because there is one clear objective that matters most. You might think it would be fun to travel or learn a new language, but if your heart burns for starting a ministry for homeless people then you can easily choose your first battle. You will always battle harder and longer for something that you really want and desire.
  • Are there any similarities in any of your goals? Look to see if you can group any into a common category. If you want to lose weight, start an exercise program, then you can move them all into one campaign titled “Getting Healthy”. After you have put them into groups you will need to ask yourself which group is most important? Once you know that answer then you will need to develop your battle plan.
  • Are there any “Hidden Snipers”? It could be the food in your refrigerator or the late night show you watch every night that keeps you from being able to get up early to write or train. No matter what it is, it just keeps causing you to fail. If there are any, get rid of them and eliminate them!

PLAN & PROCEED

Start with a plan and then start your plan. Once you have a list of what is most important, whether that is one single goal or a category, it’s time to think like a General. It’s time to look at the objective and make a plan of attack and then it’s time to attack. Here are three keys on how to make a plan that will move you forward.

  1. Start with the easiest objective first. If your goal is to get healthy and run a marathon then you should maybe start with just buying your running shoes. Win the border battles before you try to attack the center of the city.
  2. Measure your progress. General’s have maps to track the progress of any battle. You see them on almost every movie that involves a war. You should make your own map so that you can map your progress and see the results as they happen.
  3. Move from strength to strength. Win one city and then win the next. Break your goals into smaller goals that you can win and secure.
  4. Celebrate every step of success. It is important that you stay in the battle for what you want. Celebration is a big key to keeping yourself motivated.

If you know it’s time to go to war and start taking territory that belongs to your dreams and destiny, I encourage you to begin with your own list, your own declaration of war. Go ahead and make the choice and watch what God can do when you get fully committed to moving forward.

Blessings,

Coach Don Newman

God’s Stop Sign: Two Ways to Stop Worry and Negative Thoughts!

Question! Have you recently had to battle negative or discouraging thoughts in your mind?

Live Periscope event coming in late March or early April of 2016. Read at the bottom of this article for details.

If you have, you’re not alone. Recently and in the past, I have had a few battles with negative thoughts of my own. Many times these thoughts come out of nowhere. You may know the kind of thoughts that I am talking about. Those thoughts that begin as you look at a problem or issue and before long you’re on the road of fear or worry. The thoughts begin with one single thought and then as your mind begins to turn it over, you begin to lose altitude, you begin to lose your joy. It something how your thoughts can go from being random to being filled with seeds of worry and fear. You may even find yourself beginning to get angry at someone, maybe even God Himself. Many times if these thoughts go unchecked, you will find yourself later in a pit of negativity that can quickly drain your soul of hope, life and energy. The question is, how do we stop those thoughts before they become an attitude or a mindset? How do we replace them with positive life giving thoughts?

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A few years back I was riding my bicycle on one of my longer rides. During that ride, I was having my own battle with my inner thought life. I can’t remember how it started, but before long I was in full-blown worry. It seemed the longer I rode, the more I was worrying about a situation that now I can no longer even remember. What is so crazy about worry is that probably 99% of what we worry about never comes to pass. It’s like paying interest on a loan we never take out. Well as I battling those negative thoughts that I can no longer remember I came up to the intersection pictured below.

 

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When you look at the picture what do you see? While the stop sign really sticks out, I want to take you through the progression of what I saw and how it taught me two things that would help me overcome the negative thoughts I was having.

First key: I could see that the road ended straight ahead. It was obvious that all the signs were there to keep me from continuing my current journey. If I would have kept going straight, I would have hit a tree or a stump, in short I would have been hurt. I needed to STOP!

 It doesn’t matter how you got on the road of negative thoughts, it just matters that you get off and get off as quickly as possible.”

Second Key: In order to actually get off the road of negative thoughts, you have to slow them down before you can totally stop and replace them. It is almost impossible to shift negative thinking in an instant. If you try to do that you may find yourself in a endless inner battle of trying not to think at all, which you will lose at every time. It will take time!

 

How to Stop!

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I stop them by talking out loud to myself. Not just any kind of talk, but talk that is in the direction that I want to turn my thinking toward. Self-talk that is almost always completely contrary to what I am currently thinking. I may quote a truth from the Bible or just say the opposite of what is being said in my mind. Sometimes I even have to lecture myself.

Why do I do this? I do this because I win the battle of my thoughts, not with other thoughts, but with spoken words. My mind can’t think when my voice is speaking, it has to listen. Great spoken words are the brakes to endless negative thinking.

Words override thoughts every time! Try it the next time your battling a thought that is taking you down the road of worry and doubt. Find a promise or scripture in God’s word and speak it out loud to yourself. While the worry may not go completely away, the endless thoughts that were feeding it will be hard to find while you are talking.

How to Turn!

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I begin new positive thoughts by choosing which direction to go. Look at the picture above. Turning to the left represented my positive past: those memories and reflections of past wonderful things that God had blessed my life with. Turning to the right represented my hopeful future, or things that I could look forward to and even dream about as a child of God. It was my choice! I could go left or right, but in terms of turning my thoughts, both ways would give me better thoughts to think on then the ones I was battling.

I literally chose left and with that I began to shift my thinking to a time where I could remember some huge victories that God brought in my life. I also found myself thinking of a wonderful vacation that I had that same year with my family. Then, I actually found myself not struggling with the worry that I had dealt with earlier, I actually started to smile. A smile is nothing more that just a stream of good and wonderful thoughts that have found a way to sneak outside!

All of us will have to deal with problems and issues where we need to think about it and work through it. It is important that we see the difference between sorting through an issue for a solution and choosing to just worry. Learn the difference and when your thoughts are getting out of control, learn how to stop them and replace them by things that are better to think about.

I love what God has said in his word about our thoughts. One of my favorite scriptures is taken from Philippians 4: 8-9: It really sums everything up.

Summing it all up, friends, I’d say you’ll do best by filling your minds and meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious—the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse. Put into practice what you learned from me, what you heard and saw and realized. Do that, and God, who makes everything work together, will work you into his most excellent harmonies.

If you are battling a negative thought life, I want you to know that you can do this! You can break the cycle with God’s help! Please feel free to message me or post a comment if you would like for me to pray for you. I look forward to hearing your comments and praying for you as you overcome and win the battle!

Blessings,

Coach Don.

I will be doing a live Periscope event during the month of late March or early April on this very subject of how you overcome negative thinking. If you have periscope app on your computer or phone and can follow me for that event, I would love to know. Please email me a comment if you would like to know the date of that event and how to follow me. Please leave your email address so I can email you directly.

 

Word picture “Overcoming Negative Thoughts”

Take a look at the picture below. I will be using it later this week in my next posting as I talk about overcoming our thought life or winning the battle of the mind. Have you had any recent battles with negative thoughts? Has your mind been held captive by worry or thoughts of fear? Later this week I will be sharing on something I just learned about winning the battle of my own thought life. The picture that I posted below has a few clues to what I just learned. See if you can guess what they might be and how they can help us to win the battle. Look for the article to be posted later this week.972082_10152166987762923_1474452491_n

Trooper Tales-( Central Florida Tornadoes Feb 22,1998)

As I have watched the devastating news about the tornadoes in Oklahoma over the last few days, my heart goes out to everyone that has been affected by this tragedy. There is nothing worse than seeing families and especially children hurt or even killed by such a destructive force of nature. I encourage everyone who reads this blog to pray for and even give to those who are in need. There are all kinds of agencies that you can give to that will be there on the ground actually providing help to the victims and the community at large. If you don’t know who to give to, I would highly recommend the American Red Cross.

Looking at the coverage of this tragic event reminds me of when I went through the tornadoes that came through Central Florida on Feb 22, 1998. That will always be a night that I will always remember  There were 42 people who lost their lives as a result of the 7 different tornadoes that broke out that night. I will never will forget it. I was just getting off work from patrolling the Florida Turnpike when the line of storms arrived. I can still remember pulling into the median on my home to talk to a buddy of mine that was just coming on to work the midnight shift. We actually pulled into the very spot that one of the worst tornadoes would actually cross over the turnpike about an hour after I had left that spot and headed north. It was quite sobering to think that I was sitting where an entire trailer park was destroyed and partially blown over the turnpike just an hour before it had hit.

Ponderosa RV Park and Florida Turnpike
Ponderosa RV Park and Florida Turnpike

While that night will always be remembered as a very tragic night for many in Central Florida, the days after that event will always be remembered as days filled with giving, serving and volunteering. Sometimes it is when we see the worst that we also get to see the best! A lot of people from Central Florida and beyond showed their best after that storm by giving and volunteering. It was a wonderful sight to see so many people working to make a difference for those who were in need.

My fondest memory of that wonderful spirit of serving came through the Church I attended. We had made the decision that we were going to go into one of the hardest hit areas and bring both supplies and financial assistance. It was while we were reaching out to help the community that we met a precious couple who had major damage to their home. They became our project of love.

Their house had been partially destroyed from one of the 7 tornadoes that came through Central Florida that night. When we met them, they were currently living in the only livable part of their home,  with the other part having significant damage. They were very fortunate to have had only that amount of damage as the twister had gone directly over their house. In fact that were lucky to have survived, Just beyond their farm,  several people lost their lives as a result of the storm.

In all we spent several months helping the couple to rebuild their house and repair the damage caused by the storm. The wonderful thing is that we actually went further and made significant improvements to the house. In fact all of the work that we did actually made their house a whole lot better than it was before the storm had hit. They got upgrades in their kitchen, their bathroom, and there was some hidden termite damage that was completely repaired.  The storm actually uncovered somethings that would have eventually destroyed the house. I can still remember the couples comments on how they would have never known about the hidden termite damage,  without the damage that the storm brought.

While I know that nothing can replace the loss of a loved one or even a family home, I continue to see God rebuild things that seemed impossible to rebuild. While every tragedy does not necessarily have a happy ending like this one, there are many times that God will reveal or bring something good out of something bad. I pray for all of the families in Oklahoma, but I also pray for each of you. That no matter what you have gone through recently, that you will find hope and encouragement springing up around you.

I want to ask each of us in light of this recent disaster to consider doing the following three things.

1. Pray for the people that have been affected by this disaster.

2. Volunteer for or give to the organizations that are making a difference in that community.

3. Tell your loved ones that you love them today and as often as possible. I am sure that there is more than one person involved in this disaster that would tell you to do the same thing. 

Trooper Tales-(One of the best decisions I ever made!)

While I plan on sharing a lot of funny things that happened to me during my time a State Trooper, I also want to share some of the other things that happened. There were a lot of things that happened during my time on the Patrol that were very impact-full, both to me and to others. Here is one of my favorite stories involving what I consider to be one of the best decisions that I ever made while serving as a State Trooper.

I was working an accident one day that involved two vehicles, one being driven by an older man and the other driven by a young woman who had a small child with her. This was an easy investigation, he ran a stop sign and hit her. I should be done with my paperwork and on my way in less than an half hour. Sometimes we overlook the easy or simple things as those that will either have the greatest difficulty or the greatest impact. This one had one of the greatest impacts I think I ever experienced as a State Trooper.

As I was collecting the necessary information, drivers licenses and registrations, I found that the young lady with the small boy did not have a license with her. When I ran her information to confirm that she a had a valid license, I found that instead it had been suspended for failure to pay a fine. The last suspension was simply for driving while it had been suspended. After I got the information, I went back to the investigation and completed the report. The man who ran the stop sign was cited and he was released to go with his copy of the report.

I then went over to the young woman and told her the results of the investigation and that the other driver was obviously at fault. She seemed like someone who had had a tough time in life, but at the same time she was really a very nice person. I looked at her and I said “Did you know that your license was suspended?” She quickly acknowledged that she knew that it was and she knew that she shouldn’t have driven to the store. Then as she tried to talk, she struggled as her eyes began to water.

In the many years that I was a State Trooper, I saw a lot of people cry. Men and women, it didn’t matter whether it was an act or real, I had seen a lot of tears. Her tears were different, they had a sincere humility and respect within them. When I asked her what happened, why did she not pay the original ticket when she first received it. Her story wasn’t unusual, she was a single mother who was getting no help from her ex-husband and she was broke and living on someones couch just trying to get her life back together again.The whole time that she was telling me her story, I could tell that she wasn’t trying to get out of going to jail or getting a summons for a court appearance. She wanted something more than just a quick way out, she wanted a changed life and I could see it in her eyes.

Standard procedure would have been to set at least a court appearance, for driving with a suspended license was a criminal offense. While we tend to like everything black and white and laid out for us, life needs discernment and judgement not based only on rules and regulations. I am glad that God created a way to get us out of the mess that we created for ourselves. He could have kept the old rules in play and we were destined for judgement, but he created another law, another rule and sometimes people need another rule, another chance.

I looked at the young lady and I said to her “You know what I could do?” “I could send you to jail or to court and it would cost you another $250 or even $500, but here is what I am going today.” “I am going to let you go and give you the chance to spend that $250 on getting your license back.” I can still see her face as she grabbed my hand and thanked me not with words, but with her smile and tears. I told her, “Here is your next chance to get it right, don’t blow it.” She said she wouldn’t! She had her sister come and pick her and her son up, and then she left. I went back to work and as I did I prayed that God would help her.

It was almost a year later. I was eating lunch with a bunch of my buddies after we had worked a detail checking drivers licenses. As usual we were laughing and just having a good time recalling some of the funny things we had just seen earlier at the checkpoint. All of sudden I saw the guys across from me look up at something just over my shoulder. As I turned around I saw that same young woman holding her son, looking 100 times better. In one move she held out her new license with her new “My new life has begun” picture on it. She didn’t go into a lot of detail but she very warmly and genuinely said “Thank you officer! “I didn’t waste the chance you gave me, Thank you!” I think I got teary eyed myself as I said to her “That’s awesome! I’m proud of you.” She left and of course everyone wanted to know what that was about. I can still remember saying “That was about one of the best things I have ever made while wearing this uniform.”

Today, as you look around your world, who’s life can you help change for the better. I know we all get tired of the people who never get it and who keep doing it again and again,but there are others who are ready for another chance to change. Today, there are others who will not waste the chance that you give or reject that opportunity provided to turn it around. Just remember that everything is not always black or white. Thankfully we don’t live in a black and white world or none of us would have a chance of every making a turn for good. I am so glad that I serve a God and Savior who loves me enough to give me a second chance. When I look into the heart of God and the decision that He made for all of us, in giving his son Jesus for our sins. I smile as I think He also believes that it was one of the best decisions that He ever made. Today, if you haven’t already, take that chance and make the most! Your “My new life has begun” picture is waiting to be taken!