Why It’s More Blessed to Give Than Receive

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With the holiday season in full swing, so many of us are clicking away at the keyboard or rushing from store to store to find that perfect gift, or maybe we’re scurrying to this volunteer event to that one. Do you sometimes wonder why you keep doing it?

Well for the answer, we need look no further than the book of Acts 20 verse 35 in the Bible:

” And I have been a constant example of how you can help those in need by working hard. You should remember the words of the Lord Jesus: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’” Acts 20:35

Is this really true? I mean we hear it quite a bit, especially this time of year, but does it really resonate with us?

Well, look at Jesus’ command in Matthew 7:12

“Do to others whatever you would like them to do to you. This is the essence of all that is taught in the law and the prophets,” Matt 7:12.

This is basically the third greatest commandment. When you treat others the same way you want them treat you, a chain-reaction of positive energy just flows! And it doesn’t have to be a physical gift. It can be you donating your time to those in need. It’s especially rewarding when you get that heartfelt “thank you.” Knowing you truly helped someone or made a difference in their life is so meaningful.

It’s really important to check your motive for giving. Are you doing it because you feel a certain obligation or you feel like you’re supposed to? Maybe you get a good feeling out of giving?

Here’s the essential question:

Are you giving to change your life, or to impact someone else’s life? You see, giving is never about you. The sooner we understand that, the easier it will be to recognize our rewards, and cheerful givers know that those rewards are many.

It is true that you get what you give. Whether it’s a little or alot. But the amount you give doesn’t matter as much as the size of your heart you give. So give with a grateful heart filled with love, and you will get back WAY more than you give!

Oh, and there are at least FIVE  reasons why giving is GOOD FOR YOU TOO! 

1/Giving makes you feel happy.

2/Giving is good for your health.

3/Giving promotes cooperation and social connection.

4/Giving evokes feeling of gratitude.

5/Giving is contagious!

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How A Little Love Can Change a Life

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Most of us here in the South love college football. One of my favorite things to watch every Saturday in the fall is “College GameDay” on ESPN, which is a 3 hour pre-game program previewing all the big games, broadcast live from a particular college football town that will host one of those games. One of the main reasons I love the show so much is that it highlights some great heartwarming “behind the scenes” stories. Stories that touch your heart because they spotlight the universal humanity behind the players and coaches.

I’m not sure if “College GameDay” ever featured this story, but they should have. I was reading this morning about a little girl, Jesse Sloan, who is a big fan of the Mississippi State Bulldogs. After one game during the 2015 season, when she was three years old, she was waiting after the game to give the players what she called “five fives”, or high fives to you and me. One of the players, Donald Gray, gave her a high five, said she was cute, and then asked for a hug. The little girl obliged by reached out her arms.

Ever since then, the two formed an incredible bond. Donald couldn’t wait to see her after every game. He started calling her “his best girl” and she started wearing a little jersey with his number and the words “Donald Gray’s Best Girl” to every game. As he wrapped up his senior season this fall, he had to say goodbye to little Jesse. It was a moment that left all who witnessed it in tears. The two vowed with a pinkie promise to remain best friends.

Now you can read the FULL STORY HERE, but what I want us all to take from this story is this: Opportunities like this happen all the time in our lives. Whether it’s an encouraging word, a hug, a kind gesture, or whatever you feel led to do, we can all “be the reason someone smiles today”. And that is one of the main reasons we are here on this planet. To touch lives, to make a difference, and in some cases, form a life long bond with a pinkie promise.

So, look around you for an opportunity to be the reason someone smiles today!

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5 Little Joys of the Holiday Season!

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I think one of the many reasons we all love the holidays so much is all the simple joys that permeate the entire season. I came across a book a few years ago when I was doing my morning show, and it excited me so much, I had to interview the author (and get a few free copies to giveaway) for my show. His name is Neil Pasricha and book is called “The Book of (Holiday) Awesome”.

It’s chock full of so many simple holiday joys like “when the Christmas Tree gives the only light in the room”, or “Getting a Christmas Card from someone you thought you lost touch with” or even “Pulling out that old box of Christmas ornaments from when you were a kid”. Each chapter re-captures the joy of these little holiday delights, many of which take us back to our childhood. I love this book so much because (besides being a very short book that’s easy to read), you can pick and choose the little holiday joys that you relate to the most.

If you really sit down and think about it, you could go on and on with all the little holiday joys you love. Fact is, you could do this for every other time of the year too. Maybe that’s why Neil has written a sequel called “The Book of Even More Awesome.” Life presents us with so many daily joys that are there for us to appreciate them, if we just take the time to do it. In fact that’s a good little exercise for you today. Grab a pad, or type into your favorite device all the little joys YOU love about the holidays.

Here are my Top 5:

1/When I finally find Peppermint Ice Cream in my local grocery store.

2/When I get my first Christmas card in the mail.

3/When we start singing Christmas carols as part of Sunday morning worship.

4/When I see a new Christmas light display in my neighborhood.

5/Watching “It’s A Wonderful Life” on Christmas Eve surrounded by family..

See, it’s pretty easy.

Why don’t you write one of your favorites below, and use that to kickstart your own little personal list of “holiday awesome”. I guarantee you when you finish, you’ll find your own slice of the joy that this wonderful season brings!

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WHY It’s So Important to Have A Purpose in Life!

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We all ask ourselves this question at one time or another…what am I here for? What is my purpose in life? Well, I can’t tell you what your particular purpose is, but I can tell you this: if you are reading this, that means that you are definitely here on this planet for a reason. And living life with real purpose is essential, for a number of reasons. Now, science has given us one more…for our physical health!

That’s right. According to a new study, having a purpose in life may help people maintain their function and independence as they age. People in the study who reported having goals and a sense of meaning were less likely to have weak grip strength and slow walking speeds: two signs of declining physical ability and risk factors for disability.

The authors of the study said: “These findings suggest that sense of purpose may play an important role in maintaining physical function among older adults.” Bottom line is that people tend to age better if they have a sense of purpose. Read all about the study HERE

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What’s more, purposeful living has already been linked to other aspects of well being, like a longer life, lower risk of disease, better sleep and healthier behaviors. So there’s lots of scientific proof to suggest it’s a great idea to have a sense of purpose in life.

So, how do you FIND your purpose? Well, again, science can help us here too. Other studies have suggested that people can increase their sense of purpose in life by cultivating hobbies and relationships, helping others and practicing mindfulness, which is just focusing your awareness on the present moment.

Fact is, we are all endowed with certain gifts, abilities, and talents. When we are mindful to identify and then USE those gifts, abilities, and talents to help and impact those around us, we find a real sense of purpose.

So, what do you do well? What do others say are your gifts? What is your passion? The answers to those questions can help you to identify your purpose. So, find your purpose, and then spend each day living it out!

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5 Ways to Bless Others Around You

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I read a story this morning where “Harry Potter” star Daniel Radclifffe came to the aid of mugging victim who had been knifed in London. Read the story HERE

Granted, we are not all “Harry Potters” ready to lend our celebrity helping hand at a moment’s notice, BUT we all have opportunities to bless others….if we just take the time to look around us.

I used to do a regular feature on my radio show (and I’ll probably start it here soon) called “The Good News”. This segment focused on people making a difference in the world around them. 99 percent of the time, these people were no different than you and me. They had no special skills or abilities. They didn’t have a huge bank account. They weren’t world famous. They were just regular people who took the time to look around them and see where they could positively impact the lives of others. We ALL have that same opportunity. If you want to use the Bible as an example, God didn’t call men of extraordinary talent or skill to be his disciples. They were just ordinary people who were willing to be obedient and observant to opportunities around them to bless others.

With the world we live in today, opportunities to positively impact others are ALL around us. Here’s at least FIVE:

*While we’re driving, we might see someone in need.

*While we’re at the drive through of a fast food restaurant, we might be able to “pay it forward” by paying for someone’s meal.

*While we’re on the job, we might lend a listening ear to someone who’s going through a difficult time.

*While we’re online, namely social media, we see plenty of opportunities to bless others through prayer, encouragement, time, money, etc.

*At home, we have opportunities to bless our family and friends. The opportunities are endless…IF we just take the time to look around us.

I really believe we weren’t put on this earth for ourselves. We are here to impact the lives of others. When we die, people aren’t going to dwell on our accomplishments, or our nice  homes or cars. No. They are going to remember the good we did. They are going to remember how we made them feel. They are going to remember the impact we had on others. When it’s all said and done in this world, we are going to be measured on the difference we made in the lives of others, and what we did with the opportunities we had to bless those around us.

Those opportunities are all around you today. What are you going to do with them?

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How To Create Lasting Happiness

The Power of Gratitude

Do you know what two of THE most powerful words in the English language are? Thank you. Yes, thank you. Do you know why? Because when you are genuine in saying “thank you”, you unlock a powerful thing…gratitude. When people feel that gratitude, they feel blessed. And is there any greater feeling in the world?

The incredible thing about this is that we ALL have the ability to unlock this amazing power! All it takes is three little words…stop, look, and listen. Remember when you were little and you arrived at the school crosswalk? They always told you to “stop, look, and listen” and then you can go. Well, the same holds true for gratitude. All you have to do is STOP and realize ALL there is to be grateful for….the very fact that you’re here now reading this is something to be grateful for. Each moment is a gift. And each moment contains within it opportunities. Opportunities to bless others. Then of course, you LOOK. Look around you for ALL you have to be grateful for. If you live in America, you are richer…much richer…than 90 percent of the world’s population. Things we take for granted, things they would LOVE to have…fresh running water, air conditioning, electricity….just to name three. Look at the sunshine, nature, your family…you are literally surrounded by visual reminders of your blessings. Then LISTEN. If you stop and look, then you can really listen….listen to the birds singing praise to their creator, listen to the rain, listen to the washing machine cleaning your clothes.  How poor would your life be without those and SO many other things?

And then GO. With a heart full of gratitude, you can bless others. Speak words of encouragement. Perform a kind act. Take time to listen to someone and make them feel valued. See, gratitude unlocks joy. It’s the ultimate attitude adjustment. Gratitude is a gift. It’s one of the biggest gifts we have. Each moment is a gift, and each moment contains within it opportunity for gratitude, and opportunity to SPREAD gratitude. Because when we spread gratitude by sincerely expressing our thanks, what are we doing? We are conveying appreciation, validation, and respect to others. Who doesn’t want those? Those are some of THE most cherished gifts we can give. Everyone wants to feel appreciated. Everyone wants to feel validated. Everyone wants to be respected. And we have the power to give them those things…if we can have that “attitude of gratitude”

You might think that it’s the happy person who is grateful, but I would counter that it’s the grateful person who is happy! So, give THANKS right now, and spread some happiness!

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3 Ways to Strengthen Your Marriage During The Holidays

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We all know the holidays is a very busy time. Maybe it’s THE busiest time of the year for you. However, I’ve learned one thing. Your most important relationship here on earth is your relationship with your spouse. Remember them? The one who you vowed before God, family, and friends to “honor and cherish till death do you part”? So, they should get your BEST during the holidays and for that matter, any time of the year. The BEST of you, not the rest of you.

So, how do you do that during the crazy holiday season? By including and prioritizing them in all you do during the holidays? Here’s 3 ways:

1/Make your holiday shopping lists together, and then divide and conquer. You know your gift gifting list is lengthy. So, make a master list (maybe a spreadsheet if you’re so inclined) of all the people to buy for. Then, divide that list up equally, and do your part. Maybe when you’re done with “your people”, you can help them shop for theirs!

2/Start One New Tradition, and ditch one obligation. Remember, nothing about the holidays is mandatory. The customs you want to keep, ditch or make your own are completely up to you and your partner. Do you  love wearing tacky sweaters and listening to the Charlie Brown Christmas album while mulled cider simmers on the stove? Cool. Do you want to skip the presents, go out for Mexican food, then watch “It’s a Wonderful Life” in your pj’s on Christmas Eve? Awesome. Forget the imposed obligations and just enjoy doing whatever the heck you love doing together.

3/Schedule at least one night on the couch together, just the two of you. The holidays are supposed to be a time of togetherness, but too often that togetherness extends to everyone but your one-and-only. We know from experience that if you don’t schedule things in advance, many times they won’t get done. So pick out a night, and put it on the calendar, and order takeout, sit on the couch and do absolutely nothing…except maybe watch a little Netflix. It’ll give you both a chance to relax and reconnect. Otherwise, before you know it, you’ll blink and it’ll be 2018.

How do YOU put your marriage first during the holidays? Leave a comment below and let us know. Merry Christmas!!

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How To Play To Your Strengths

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I just read where an entrepreneur named R. Michael Anderson said one of the keys to his success as a business owner is to to do one or two things really well. There’s really a lot of wisdom to that concept, and here’s why.

Think of some really successful businesses you know. Do they do multiple things really well. Probably not. Chances are, they do one or two things really well. Take fast food. “Five Guys Burgers and Fries” is one of the most successful burger joints out there. Why, because they intentionally do one or two things…burgers and fries…really well. They don’t sell pizza, wings, subs, or anything else. Just burgers and fries…and some amazing milkshakes that rival only Steak ‘n Shake in my humble opinion. Do you know how McDonald’s started out? If you don’t, I encourage you to check out “The Founder” starring Michael Keaton as Ray Kroc, the founder of McDonald’s. In the movie, we learn that the McDonald’s brothers wanted to do a burger joint like no one else, because most other burger places were drive-ins, and they were not very efficient. So the brothers figured out how to produce a great tasting burger and fry combination in a record amount of time. How did they do this? By focusing on doing one or two things really well.

I’ve worked for three decades in radio. I was always told that it’s difficult to be an effective, successful morning show personality AND be an effective program director, or manager because both jobs are full-time jobs and come with their own inherent issues that consume a lot of your time. Most of the time when I was on the air doing my morning show, I was thinking about my job as program director. When I was doing my job as program director, I was thinking about my job as morning show host. Granted, this might have something to do with my Attention Deficit Disorder, but I think you get the point. Focus on one or two things, do them really well, and you’ve got something.

It’s great to try to diversify and do many different things, but if you don’t do them well, what’s the point, right? I’m really starting to believe that two of the big keys to success are intentionality (doing what you need to do even if you don’t want to do those things), and focusing on doing one or two things really well.

What do YOU do well? Chances are, there are one or two things you do really well. Look for opportunities to do those things to benefit yourself and others!