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Monday, September 29 2014

Setting goals is the first step in turning the invisible into the visible.

Tony Robbins
Good morning, friends!  I hope this day has begun well for you.  Can you notice a difference in this e-mail?  Two amazing changes.  First, I did it in g-mail for the first time; this was no small change to make.  Second, I prepared this note Sunday night and scheduled it to go out Monday morning.  Did it work?  If you have any problems with it please let me know so I can make corrections as I go along.  Thanks.
Now, to the encouragement!  When was the last time you set a goal and achieved it?  I'll bet it felt, better than good...great!  It takes courage to set goals, to be honest.  None of us likes failure, so better not to risk it with goals.  But when you do set a goal, and reach it, boy does it feel great!
Rarely do great things happen in life without goals.  I'll bet your greatest life accomplishments included goals, so what do you want to accomplish now?  There are steps between right now and that goal that can make it, however seemingly impossible, become really possible.
Try it.  Think of a dream, or a desire, or a desperate hope, or maybe simply what you want to accomplish today.  What is the next best step to move you in that direction?  Let that step be your itty bitty goal, and then do it!  Then do another one, and another one, and keep going, until tonight, next week, or next year you realize you did something amazing, and all because you set some goals.
I have my goal in mind.  Do you?  Set it today, right now, and get going!  I have great faith you'll do great things!  Have a wonderful week.
Mark 1:17
Posted by: Pastor Thomas AT 07:53 pm   |  Permalink   |  Email
Monday, September 22 2014

Encouraging Word from Pastor Thomas

Ironically, the more thoughts we cram into our brains, the more mindless and less effective we become.
— Debbie Woodbury

Good afternoon, friends!  I hope you had a wonderful weekend and have started the week with energy and excitement.

I recently was made aware of the biological inability of the human brain to “multitask”.  It was a fun game to play, but it revealed that the brain can only focus on one thing at a time.  The same truth exists with the eyes.  Did you know that our eyes do not actually scan?  Eyes can only focus on one specific point, and when we move our eyes across a span we are creating discrete points of focus, more akin to eating bites of food, not drinking water.  So when we fill our brains with more and more and more, we are actually becoming less and less effective holding all those balls in motion, juggling as we go.  If you want to be effective, practice focus, and learn that the more you focus the more effective you become.  I see and hear this truth in sports all the time. Basketball coaches tell their players to think less and do more.  Golfers learn that the best shots come from relaxed bodies and arms.  And preachers like me learn that the best sermons come from the overflow of preparation, not the repetition of it.  How can you relax into the success you desire?  What minutia and excess is blurring your focus on success?  How much ballast can you shed to achieve success?  I’ll bet you have a dream of success already in your mind.  Get focused on it, and I know you can make it happen!  Have a wonderful week.

Psalm 46:10

Posted by: Pastor Thomas AT 07:54 pm   |  Permalink   |  Email
Tuesday, September 16 2014

Encouraging Word from Pastor Thomas


Once we begin to perceive our struggles as opportunities for divine guidance, the struggles become opportunities to strengthen your faith even deeper in that particular area.
― Christine Gutierrez

Good Tuesday morning to you, friends!  I know I’m a day late and a dollar behind, but such is the life of ministry.  I ask your forgiveness and grace.

So much of my recent attention has focused on life between the extremes of happiness and struggle.  Even a simple observation of social media demonstrates the fluctuations of personal awareness; people are up and down with amazing regularity.  What about your life?  Do you struggle physically, emotionally, spiritually, and/or psychologically more than you’d like to? Regardless of what pop-psychology teaches these days, we have very little, if any, control over the ups and downs of our lives.  What we do have the potential to control is our understanding, awareness, attitude and mindfulness.  Nobody thinks about understanding when things are great; we just ride the wave!  But what might happen if we take control of our understanding when we struggle?  We do get to choose how we actually experience life, even if we surrender that choice.  How do you choose to experience struggle?  If seen as opportunities to grow (what a counter-intuitive idea!) how would your experience of struggles change?  Ironically, all organic growth is the result of struggle, yet we strongly resist struggle in our lives.  If we ride that wave too, the struggle wave, and look for the areas of growth, struggle becomes as important to our lives as times of happiness.  How can a new understanding of struggle help you?  What areas of your life can be strengthened through a new approach to struggle?  What success would you like that can only be achieved through the growth that comes through struggle?  Ride the waves of your life, the ups and downs, and become stronger even as you appear weak!  I know you can do it.  I have great faith in you.  Have a wonderful week.

Psalm 23

Posted by: Pastor Thomas AT 07:44 pm   |  Permalink   |  Email
Monday, September 08 2014

Encouraging Word from Pastor Thomas

Just like we become the five people we hang out with most in life, the way we operate on a daily basis is our life.
— Tamara Star

Good morning, friends!  I hope your weekend was wonderful.  Mine was busy, but sometimes that’s wonderful, too!

Years ago when I was in high school I realized that my behavior closely reflected the behavior of the people with whom I most frequently associated, and likewise my grades tended to approximate the norm of the group.  I made the smart decision to associate better to perform better.  Rarely has a realization more powerfully impacted my life.  Consistency is a powerful change agent in our life, one we all use each and every day.  To wit: how much lack of exercise in your life is began as a day on the couch, or chair, and became a habit, then a lifestyle?  All life activities began this way, as an action that became a habit, then finally a lifestyle.  Clearly the key is to wisely choose our actions and activities.  To be sure not all bad habits are easy to break, and not all desired outcomes are easy to achieve.  But today you can choose to either repeat habits of the past or begin habits of the future, all based on the actions you take today.  What one thing can you do differently today that will improve your life?  What one activity can you practice today that can grow in to the life you seek?  Whatever it is, you are creating the life you accept today, so choose wisely the actions you make.  I will pray for your strength and courage to take positive, healthy, life-affirming actions.

Luke 10:25-28

Posted by: Pastor Thomas AT 08:28 pm   |  Permalink   |  Email
Tuesday, September 02 2014

Encouraging Word from Pastor Thomas

There is so much we carry around that we simply don’t need. So, what are you willing to leave behind on the boat? I say, leave your grievances and complaints and fault-findings and need for excess and comparisons.
— Jennifer Pastiloff 

Good Tuesday morning, friends!  I know you wondered where your encouraging e-mail was yesterday (I hope!), but I beg your forgiveness.  It was Labor Day, the office was closed, and my family went hiking.  It was refreshing, mind and body.

Years ago when I was in seminary I traveled with some of my classmates on the first school trip to Israel.  I had to borrow money to afford to go, but I was so excited!  On the Thursday we traveled to Tel Aviv I drove to Raleigh and began the usual pre-9/11 flight schedule.  At the front desk I checked my one piece of luggage, carrying my backpack onto the plane.  When we landed in Newark to transfer to El Al Airlines I waited at the baggage carousel for my luggage.  I waited while other people got theirs.  I waited until all other luggage was gone.  I waited until I was the last person standing at the carousel.  I waited until I was over the fear that my luggage was lost! This was the beginning of my trip to Israel, and I boarded the plane expecting the worst.

I noticed as we worked our way through airports and buses and hotels that my trip was suddenly easier and better than my friends’.  They struggled, I breezed.  They lugged, I laughed.  They grumbled, I grinned.  Truth be told I had to make do with clothing issues during the week, but I was fine, clean and in good form.  Yes, they had their chosen clothes, designer looks, and “comforts”, but they paid a price for it.  I was free.  Later that week I learned that my luggage had taken a detour to Germany and was headed to Jerusalem.  After a week of freedom I was once again encumbered with luggage after 7 days.  I had what I thought I needed when I packed but had learned I was freer without.  I fell back to the pack.  Freedom was gone.

What are you carrying around, emotionally, that you think you need but can really live better, freer, without?  You may think you can’t live without it (them), but I promise you all will be better without anything negative in your spirit.  The comforts you think you are afforded by “grievances and complaints and fault-findings and need for excess and comparisons” are really poisons and anvils.  Leave them on the boat of your life and get on with the free journey you want.  And don’t let the airport call you to tell you they found that worthless luggage!

Have a great week!

Ephesians 4:31-32

Posted by: Pastor Thomas AT 07:33 pm   |  Permalink   |  Email
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