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Finding the margin

Mar·gin noun the edge or border of something. 

Today, on this somewhat hot and humid day in southeast Texas, we are at peace. We are in the beginning of fall and the end of spring, or at least I am. We are finding a moment in time that will set us at ease. Not just any kind of moment. This is a special kind of moment where we aren’t bombarded with emails, texts, social media feeds and other peoples stories of what is more important than the present time, my time, your time, and the time to go beyond the noise. The margin is a place where we can think and relax beyond the story of our lives. The margin is the place where we allow our soul to be transformed by the renewal of our minds. The margin is a place on the edge of our actions being played out. Today we will go on an adventure of thoughts and hopefully find ourselves at a destination that I like to call, “The Margin.”

If we are not careful, then we will find that we do not have control of our lives because of our thinking. We lean one way or the other and our emotions are chaotic. For this reason, it is imperative that we go beyond the busyness of our lives and jump into the edge of the margin. With so much going on in the busyness of life, how could we ever find a moment that is just for us and nobody else? We have kids, work, school, friends and just SO MANY THINGS that ALL tell us what to do with our time. However, if we are to operate at a high level of effectiveness, then we MUST find the margin.  I know I know, I can hear your doubts:

  • Is it even important to find something like this?
  • Why should I even try to find a moment like that?
  • I DON’T HAVE TIME FOR A MOMENT LIKE THAT!!!

Like I mentioned earlier, if we are not careful then we will not have control of our lives because of our THINKING. The margin is that space of time where we control our thinking by INFLUENCING it. We do not allow our focus to be on anything else in the margin besides what we WANT to think about. We do this by allowing our minds to be filled up to the max with life-giving thoughts and affirmations. I want you to ask yourself these questions honestly:  Do I find myself stressed often? Am I stuck in a rut? Do I have good intentions but my actions don’t line up right with my intentions? That last question is especially important as our good intentions without intentional actions, is one of the biggest things holding us back from achieving the greatest of goals in life. Our actions are a result of what we think about constantly. You can have the absolute best intentions BUT if you are not in control of your thinking, your actions will not line up….That last sentence really deserves some extra thought. Are other people and the many aspects of your life controlling your thinking?

Take for instance your cell phone or computer. For our technology to work the best, they must be constantly updated or upgraded to the next operating system. My phone needs a new update almost 1-2 times a month if not more. They need updates because of bugs and glitches in the operating system. What are your bugs and glitches in your thinking? If you want to get the BEST out of life then you need to take action on your thoughts. I implore you, find the margin and take control of your thinking. There is so much more we could get out of life if we took advantage of this little moment in time called the margin.

In conclusion, you have the freedom to live the life you have always wanted to live. Unfortunately, many people are stuck in an prison of thinking that they have never took the time to challenge. The freedom from this prison of thought is directly linked to your willingness to seek the truths and guidance all within the space of the margin. Will you choose the space of the margin and allow the influences on your thinking that you prefer by renewing your mind? OR will you keep the glitches and bugs that come with living life on auto-pilot and allowing people-places & things tell you how to live your life? We can truly create the life we have always wanted by controlling our thinking. 

“We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.” Albert Einstein.

 

Learning Without Practicing

       What is your position on practicing? What drives you to devote time to getting better at your craft? Is it passion to see your goals and ambitions to come to life? Is it an inner competitive edge that you must get better than the competition to win? Whatever the reason, there is a mindset that inspires and motivates the drive to constantly improve your talent and to grow in your gifting. It starts with an attitude that practice, is something more than just a routine. To learn how to play any instrument without practicing, you must change your attitude on what the word practice actually means. If practicing for you means hours of pointless hard work, doing boring homework and just making a teacher happy, then maybe you need a different perspective. If, however, your idea of practicing is an escape, a devotion, a necessary discipline, committing to the process, a peace and serenity, then you are thinking more like the great musicians who pioneered before us and well on your way to learning any instrument. With the right attitude you could find yourself practicing more than you even thought was possible. However, having a negative attitude can set you up for never wanting to even consider the thought of practicing at all.  “Your attitude colors every aspect of your life. It is like the mind’s paintbrush. It can paint everything in bright, vibrant colors–creating a masterpiece. Or it can make everything dark and dreary. JOHN C. MAXWELL, The Maxwell Daily Reader
 

       You are simply only as good as the time you have spent in the art of practice.Your musical performance will especially reflect the time you invest in your practicing and there is no way around that truth. If you look at it mathematically, spending five hours practicing your instrument makes you five hours better than you were before. But practicing is almost seen as a bad thing to some. It is seen as a chore and another monotonous routine. When in fact, it is the very thing that brings your playing to heights that wouldn’t have otherwise existed. Here are some reasons we don’t practice: Our demanding schedule, not seeing results fast enough, wasted time, or even pointless efforts. Life will always be demanding and we live in a fast paced society that wants everything without waiting. This is why it is so important to have a clear vision of the importance of practicing. The most brilliant musicians throughout history have understood this concept of practicing, it’s the secret that kept their playing smooth and pleasant to the ear. Their vision with practicing is why they devoted so many countless hours to refining their gifts and talents. Their vision with practicing is why they made so many sacrifices and even isolated themselves in order to put more time into their instrument. You see, the fuel that burns the fire is practicing. It is the gasoline that keeps the engine running and the alternator that keeps the car battery going. “A word to the wise,” let practicing, “energize,” your playing and keep it going, and going, and going. It is easy to see the importance of practicing but how do we get energized to do it?

     We have to look further into the depth of its importance. Practicing is to an instrument, as breathing is to living. Your passion with music is found in the art of practicing and it is at the heart of your commitment to growing with your instrument. If you take out the practice element from the aspiring musician then you send the heart beat of their song into cardiac arrest. Sure, people can get away without practicing for a little while, but this will ultimately show that their heart is not fully in it and their music will be stuck in a rut. However, if you commit to practicing, then it properly pumps the blood to every other area of your playing. It enhances your technique, versatility, style and diversifies your as a musician. The importance of practicing is that it is a necessity far greater than routines and habits, even though that is a part of it.

       There is much hope for those of you who are looking to save time and get results faster. I have found that practicing can be a blessing to people in the world we live in. It is an expression of who you are as a person. It expresses that you are complex, challenge driven, focused, determined and productive with your time. Having this kind of attitude will show you that you are not spending countless hours to no end, even if you aren’t always seeing immediate results. It can serve as an escape from the routines of life and it is very much an outlet. For instance: there is nothing quite like sitting in a rocking chair in the morning and playing softly; looking at a beautiful still pond or mountainous view and strumming chords; serenading someone to sleep; creating compositions and orchestrating symphonies to add to the atmosphere of Gods brilliant creation. Make practicing more than just a habit but more of a lifestyle. The lifestyle of practicing creates in you a deep connection to your instrument that is contagious to other people. It invokes passion in your playing and leaks out in your performance, captivating an audience into utter amazement. It can be an inspiring thought to know that practicing is more than just another habitual discipline. Aligning the way you see practicing to something far greater than routines and habits is key. So I challenge you: Continually learn and grow, while going on a journey far greater than you thought was possible with your instrument.

Worship

Sometimes we want God to speak to us to give us the answers. We want him to tell us what to do or where to go but all we hear is nothing. Either that or we just simply hear, “worship me.” You see, he is the answer. When we choose to worship him we are saying to our situation that he is in control. We are saying that we don’t know what it is going to look like but he who, “makes all things work together for the good,” is working on our behalf. He is already at work within us and in our situation. You are taking a step of faith by just simply worshipping him. Just let that sink in. He loves you. He wants this situation to work out for your good. All those insecurities are making you stronger. Thanks be to God because you have the final victory in Jesus over every situation. You’re the light of the world, he is raising you up. Let your light shine to show his glory. “Worship me!” he says, “set your focus on me!” he says, “stop dwelling on your situation but rather dwell in me.” If you dwell in him, if you keep your mind on him, if you focus on Jesus and simply whisper, “Jesus I love you,” you are speaking Gods language. You see, this is a love affair. God wants us to worship him and acknowledge him above all the other things in this world. Above all the other distractions and idols in this world. He wants our love and affection. He wants to be our obsession.

Although you feel like the whole world is on your shoulders that qualifies you for Gods power to work in you. His power is perfected in this very weakness. He is strongest at our lowest points in life. Focus on him. Dwell on him. He who is in you is stronger than he who is in the world. He who dwells in the secret place of the most high shall abide under the shadow of the almighty. He has plans to prosper you, not to harm you. “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness for they will be filled.” Focus on the kingdom and all these things will be added to you. This reminds me of a scripture that drew me to God when I was completely lost in my own ambitions in the world. to have a hunger for God is what gave God a chance to change my life. We must continually pursue a hunger to want more of God. This is absolutely foundational in our life as a Christian. You can see it in the Psalmist’s life, Moses, Paul. Your walk depends on this hunger and thirst for God. “Whoever pursues righteousness and kindness will find life, righteousness, and honor.” Prov. 21:21