I never had any idea that the little lesson God taught me would one day become a best selling book. When God showed me that the key to advancing in life was learning to respond to difficulties instead of just reacting to them. For example, you get fired from your job and you have a choice; you can react in fear and anger or you can learn to respond.
If you would like to learn the secret to responding instead of reacting take time today to check out my newest book. Check out Respond Up
You also can check out my new website here at Coach Don Newman
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.
There are three things I believe every Christian should do during this difficult time.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
I love Barney Fife! I mean he just has a way of helping us to remember to laugh at ourselves and to not take life so seriously all of the time. The Andy Griffith show is full of laughter and life lessons that will preach today, just as well as they did in 1960. By far it still remains as one of my favorite television shows. The following story is a true story that happened to me when I was a State Trooper. It very much illustrates some of the humor and life lessons that I experienced as a law enforcement officer. It kind of made me feel like I was having my own individual Barney Fife moment in time. I just needed Andy there to have the full effect!
One night when I was working an off duty job on Orange Blossom trail I had the following experience. At the time I was parked in a lane closure, while a construction crew tore up the roadway in front of me to fix a broken pipe that was under the road. All I had to do that night was just sit there in my patrol car with the lights on and make sure traffic went around the closure. It was around 10PM when I decided that I was hungry and needed something to eat to conquer my hunger and my boredom. I decided to order a pizza from a guy that I knew that had a pizza shop on that side of town. Within 30 minutes I had a very large pizza sitting in the front seat of my patrol car. It was exactly what the doctor ordered! I can almost smell it now!
Even though I tried to eat the whole thing, I could not even eat half of it. I mean this pizza was huge. Like some of you that are reading this blog now, I couldn’t stand the thought of wasting the other half of this gourmet pizza. I quickly thought “I know what I will do, I will share it with the construction crew.” I then called out to the crew just in front of my car “Hey guys, do I have a treat for you.” I then pointed to the pizza knowing that they would soon be running over to my car. I called out again “come and get it guys.” Again, they just stared at me like they didn’t understand me. Finally one of them came over and asked me what was I saying. When I told of him of my offer, he informed me that they all were on diets and while they appreciated the offer, they would have to refuse. I was shocked! I thought this was a joke. To find that they all were on a diet, well I have never ever seen this happen before or since.
Since the health conscious road crew did not want any of my delicious pizza, I started looking around for someone else that would appreciate a pepperoni pizza with extra cheese. I spotted the perfect person! A man had just walked out of the conveyance store across the road and he was carrying a cold six pack of beer. I thought “What goes better with beer than pizza.” I got out of my patrol car and yelled out “Hey Mr, come over here, I got something for you”, “It will go great with your cold beer.” I then picked up the box of pizza and started walking toward him and all at once he dropped his six pack on the ground and ran off into the darkness. I couldn’t believe it! Here I was, trying to share my food with a total stranger and he rejects my offer and then he leaves his cold beer that he just purchased on the ground outside the store. I was starting to get a complex at this point, I mean I really had to just laugh. I was determined more than ever to give this pizza to someone who wanted it. I never found out if the man was drunk or wanted or just hated pizza.
As I got back into my patrol car, feeling a little defeated, I saw the perfect candidate for my pizza. A young couple that was obviously homeless or hitchhiking. I thought “They have to be hungry.” As they came walking by, I rolled my window down and asked them to come over. Yes, they looked hungry! I was now sure that I had finally found the people who needed my pizza. As they approached the window I pointed to the pizza and explained that I had only had a piece or two and that I couldn’t eat the other half. I went on to explain that it was delicious and it was still hot. I mean I was not giving the pizza away, I was selling it away. I then went to hand it to them and as the young girl reached to get it, the young man stopped her said “Thanks ,but we’re alright.” I remember saying “But its free and it’s hot and its delicious.” “Did I already tell you that it was free?” They thanked me again and walked off into that darkness.
Now I’m not going to lie about it, at this point I was having some serious feelings of pizza rejection. I thought of how hard I had tried at doing something nice and no one would cooperate with me. I was just about to walk over to the trash and just throw it all away when I saw two guys walking by. I thought “What do I have to lose at this point.” This time I didn’t try to sell it. I didn’t talk about the wonderful cheese or the buttery crust or why I thought they would like it. I just said “Guys I got a pizza here and if you want it, its yours.” The one guy walked over, looked inside my car and took the box of pizza out through the open window. I then watched as he split that whole half in two giant pieces. He then gave the other half to his friend and they both made giant pizza sandwiches. I then watched those guys walk off into the darkness. They yelled out to me as they walked away “Thanks Man.”
The lessons I learned from the pizza no one wanted.
“The construction crew didn’t need or want what I offered”
“The man with the cold beer didn’t trust me or believe in what I offered”
“The young couple had too much pride to accept what I offered”
“The two guys were so hungry that they couldn’t refuse what I offered”
Through the lessons that I learned that night in trying to give away a pizza, I came away with this final point. You can never force anyone to take what they are not willing to accept, no matter how much you think they need it. As a Christian, I learned that In sharing the good news of God’s Kingdom, we really don’t have to sell it. In fact we really do not have to try to make people believe or accept the wonderful gift that God has freely given us. Instead, what we really need to do is just live it, pray for those who can’t accept it and work very hard to find those that are truly hungry and ready to accept it. My brother Robert taught me a saying as he taught me how to sell. We are not looking for those who won’t do it, we are looking for those who will do it!
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?
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.
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!
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!
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!
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.
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!
- When your life becomes an open book, you can no longer hide behind excuses that you have you used in the past. It’s amazing; sometimes when we ask for help from others we are really saying “I want you to help me when I want to follow the programs, but when I am weak I want you to turn your back and cut me some slack.” For real accountability to work, you have to be transparent.
- In accountability you may get upset, offended and even get your feelings hurt, but God knows what you need to get moving in the right direction. Real transparency or intimacy can be dangerous at times. When you are allowing someone to hold you accountable and speak into your life you have to be ready to be vulnerable. Personally, I hate that word. When you hear the word intimacy, I want you to think of this: “intimacy ” is “into me see.” That means you are willing to let someone look inside your life to hold you accountable. Sometimes God will allow you to get your feelings hurt, but it is for your ultimate good. Don’t be afraid to be vulnerable.
- Being open will force you to be truthful about what is really stopping you from moving forward, instead of making the same excuses which have kept you bound to the same things again and again and again. Think of people you know who would never have made some of the fatal choices they’ve made if they would’ve had real accountability. Those choices cost them and others dearly. Accountability forces the real reasons behind those choices out into the light.