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short, sweet, and to-the-point — by Keith Elder

Archive for the category “Motivation”

“Psalms…Up Close and Personal”

Psalms have always been special to me. Maybe because they came out of the gut of the writer—David for the most part. David and Psalms are a little like Billy Joel and “New York State of Mind” sung in Central Park, or Whitney Houston hitting the key change in, “I Will Always Love You.” Soul stuff.

Decades ago, I read that Billy Graham went through Psalms every month—all 150…five per day. That’s commitment—particularly when Psalm 119 rolls around. It may have been the original praise chorus as it goes on and on…and on. (Being a little ADD, I appreciate the short ones. 🙂 )

I tried the “five a day” approach for a while, but for me it was just too much goodness to savor at one sitting.  So I adjusted and have for many years now, read just one psalm a day—a sort of spiritual vitamin. But that one psalm a day has become the most meaningful reading I do. As my little quartz guitar tuner helps me tune my guitar to a standard “A=440” tuning, Psalms helps me tune my heart to God.

A couple of tips that, for me, have multiplied the power of Psalms.

1) Take it personally!  Read the verses as though you were the writer—not David or some ancient, at-a-safe-distance somebody else.  Yes, psalms were written about Jerusalem, or David vs. Goliath, or a monumental blunder with Bathsheba, or processing up Mount Zion to worship on holy days.  But for your devotional purposes, the psalm is all about you. Take it personally.

The second tip has to do with a sort of spiritual geography.

Assume “Jerusalem”–that all-important, center of the Hebrew universe, the Holy City–is your life, and  that “the Temple” is your heart..your soul.  “The wilderness” and “Babylon” would be those times and places you feel furthest from God–desperate times and lonely places.

And what about “the enemies”?  Well, for now, the enemies are not some invading army or an angry King Saul trying to destroy David.  For now, the enemies  are those real life forces that are out to do you in.  Fear… lust… loneliness… financial pressures… addiction… anger,… shame… grief… greed… pride… a physical malady.  The enemy may be real life attackers like terrorists or political adversaries, or perhaps, social ills such as racism or injustice.  

Has that devotional time been a little lacking of late?

Try reading Psalms “up close and personal” for thirty-days…or thirty years.  Just one-a-day. It might just be “the cure to what ails you.” 

Keith

4-11-2015

http://keithelder.com/

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“Tony Robbins, Dog Training, and Saving Yourself”

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I’m new to Twitter. Just beginning to know some of what I don’t know I don’t know. I do know I need to tweet more. I need to learn about hashtags (#duh).

Mostly, I’m learning that not everything you read can be read lightly.

For instance, Tony Robbins tweeted a Michael Hyatt link entitled, “What my Dog Trainer Taught Me About Leadership.” (http://buff.ly/1j3vMI1, but don’t go there just yet.)  It offered a few good insights, but there was a quote that, as I mentioned, cannot be read lightly.

“The Russian saint, Seraphim of Sarov (a household name, I’m sure), once said, ‘Save yourself, and thousands around you will be saved.’”

I don’t think that the 18th century saint and wonder worker, celebrated January 2nd in the Russian Orthodox Church, was nixing Jesus’ words, “He who wishes to save his life must lose it.”  (Matt. 16:25)  I can’t imagine that he was tossing out most New Testament writings about laying down one’s life in service to others, taking up our cross, etc.

My bet is that he was talking along the lines of securing your air mask before securing your child’s in case there is a loss of cabin pressure on the plane. I mean, if you pass out, your kid’s a goner.

Maybe Seraphim was talking about coming to grips with our issues—be they addictive behaviors, bad habits, painful pasts, broken relationships, or even something as simple as not showing up on time for meetings. Maybe he was trying to say that if others see us overcoming and succeeding, it just might stir the hope in them that they can overcome and succeed too.

Not to put words in a Russian saint’s mouth (you know that’s not sanitary), but maybe that’s what ol’ Seraphim of Sarov was trying to say to people in positions of leadership.

Become your best you, and there is no telling how many others will be inspired and empowered to become their best them.

Twead–i.e., read tweets–carefully.

Keith

5-13-14

 

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https://twitter.com/keitheldermusic

 

 

“Wake up Leroy!”

Joe was a long-time, long-haul trucker. With several million miles in his log, he found himself having to apply for a new job with a new freight line.  On the oral exam, the interviewer lays out a scenario:

“You crest a mountain in your rig and begin easing down a long, steep grade.  As you try to shift to a lower gear, for whatever reason, it won’t engage, so you begin picking up speed.  After a minute or two, your brakes begin to fail. To your right is a guardrail, then a 400-foot drop. Ahead, you see two 18-wheelers coming toward you—one in your lane trying to pass the other. To their right is a sheer granite mountainside. What would you do?”

After a moment, Joe leans forward and responds, “Why, I think I’d wake up Leroy.”

The interviewer asks, “Leroy?  Who’s Leroy?”

Joe explains, “Why, Leroy’s my driving partner. And you see, if I’m driving, Leroy’s probably back in the sleeper catching a few winks.”

“I don’t understand,” said the interviewer. “Why, wake him up?”

“Well, you see, Leroy is a young fella—just 20 or so.  And he comes from a really small town, and I guarantee you, Leroy ain’t NEVER seen a wreck like the one that’s about to happen!”

“Wake up Leroy!”    It might make for a pretty great battle cry…

…for those who’ve been waiting on life to come to them.

…for those who’ve “let themselves go,” physically, morally, spiritually

…for those who’ve been shaming and blaming everyone else for their problems

…for those who have been in a self-imposed exile due to past failures

…for those who are waiting for all of the lights to turn green before they start whatever.

“Wake up Leroy!”…not to watch a big wreck, but to avoid it!  Joe might have been in an impossible situation, but you’re not—and I’m not.

The Apostle Paul wrote, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” *

…and I can too,… if I will.  And you can too,… if you will.

Otherwise, you “ain’t never seen an accident like the one that’s about to happen.”

Keith

5-1-14

*  Philippians 4:13

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“It’s Friday, but Sunday’s Coming’”

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Shadrach Meshach Lockridge, better known as S.M., was pastor of Calvary Baptist Church, a prominent African-American congregation in San Diego, California, from 1953 to 1993.  He was known for his powerful preaching across the United States and around the world. Most recently, I heard his sermon, “That’s My King,” and was re-mesmerized.  But the sermon I think about on this Friday before Easter is his Good Friday message that has jump-started the hope in many a heart.

The title?… “It’s Friday, but Sunday’s Coming.’”

I loved what Martin Luther King, Jr., had to say about the rhythmic, dramatic dynamics of much preaching in the African-American tradition.  Asked why he preached what he preached the way he preached it, MLK responded something to this effect, “Yes, the preacher’s job is to speak the truth, to confront sin and injustice—but his job is also to delight the people.”

Wow. When’s the last time you were delighted—I mean, truly stirred in church?  When’s the last time you were compelled to do something about it—whatever “it” the pastor happened to be preaching on?

To me, this three-minute, forty-second sermon, “It’s Friday, but Sunday’s Coming” is, perhaps, the greatest Good Friday sermon ever preached—second only to Jesus suspended on a cross.

Some sermons need no words.

I’ll just let you click on the link and listen to S.M. Lockridge–and hope the words hit pay dirt.

http://www.bing.com/videos/search?q=It’s+Fridan+but+sunday’s+coming&FORM=VIRE3#view=detail&mid=F3A1491F05BC78FEBFA9F3A1491F05BC78FEBFA9

Keith

4-18-14

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“What Inspires You?”

Shiane Hawke--X-Factor

This morning, as I sipped my standard cup of non-gourmet coffee and spent my allotted fifteen minutes scrolling down the facebook newsfeed, I stumbled across a post that inspired me.

A shy fourteen year-old from Darby, England, Shiane Hawke (pronounced Cheyenne) walked onto the “X-Factor” stage without the stereotypical superstar look—whatever that looks like.  (Note: if you are famous or popular or rich simply because you look a certain way, it doesn’t say much for you or fame or the popular intelligence and soul.)

Shiane is just Shiane—she’s bright and winsome, but she was on the newsfeed this morning because the girl can sing!  She stood alone before a live audience of thousands and a television audience of millions and blew their socks off with a spot-on (only British I know) rendition of “Mercy.”

Bottom line, I was inspired.

I watched the clip not once, not twice, but three times! I was stirred, motivated, moved—again, inspired.  It wasn’t a “spiritual” post, but somehow it was.  It made me want to get better at what I do… to be a better person… to try, try again… to take chances… to forget about my limitations and fears-due-to-perceived-limitations—and just go for it.

What inspires you?  What makes you want to do better and  be better?  What puts the life-breath back into your life?

A particular artist?… a writer of great songs or fiction?… a motivational speaker?… a visual artist?… a coach or teacher? …going to a certain  place?  …being around a certain group of people?

Maybe you are inspired by someone who has struggled against all odds and found their way to great success.  Those stories are my favorite.

Be inspired, friends.  There is inspiration at every turn.  God, inviting you to come-out, come-out from wherever you are.  There’s life and hope and love and joy–as the saying goes, “There’s gold in them thar hills!”

Assignment:  Look in the obituaries this morning.  If your name is not listed, assume this is your day.

Go for it.

And now for the clip…

http://blog.petflow.com/they-all-made-fun-of-this-girl-until-she-opened-her-mouth-wow-you-have-to-hear/

Peace and Passion

Keith

4-10-14

“Facebook, Betty White, and The Debul!”

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I try to limit my facebook time. On break from other projects, I will open facebook, glance at the clock, and promise myself, “OK, you get fifteen minutes, then it’s back to work.”

An hour later, I will have checked messages, opened and scanned various articles and links to those articles, opened one person’s posted photo and been drawn into their other photos which, in turn, open other tagged people’s photos. Being a songwriter, I will have listened to numerous posted songs and been drawn into the Youtube related video column.

While I am browsing, someone will inevitably pop-in via the online chat feature, and I will have to at least acknowledge their e-presence. Depending upon the chat-er, the chatter can go on for a while.

By the intervening grace of God, I never got started playing the games.

Remember the scene from the Batman movie where The Riddler (Jim Carrey) created an insidious machine that sucked the intelligence out of people via their TV screen? Welcome to facebook.

Friends, if time is our greatest of all mortal resources, facebook can be—to quote “the Waterboy (Adam Sandler) and his swamp Momma (Kathy Bates)—THE DEBUL! (i.e., the Devil).

Asked if she was on facebook, 92 year-old Betty White replied, “No. I don’t really even know what it is—but it seems like a terrible waste of time!”

When you get to the age when you don’t even buy green bananas, time gets precious. But then, time has always been, precious.

Facebook can be a great connector. I wrote a blog entitled, “Zuckerberg for the Nobel Peace Prize” pointing to facebook’s value as a means of bringing people together. But fb can also be a terrible waste of time–time that would be better spent writing that book or painting that picture…or giving your employer an honest day’s work for an honest day’s pay.

If you’d like to read my blog posts without going on facebook, just subscribe and new posts will go directly to your e-mail.

Wow… I just noticed that I haven’t posted since February….

Must have been on facebook.

Keith

4-3-14

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“Steve Seskin… and Feeding the Dream”

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I am not usually one to say, “I am stoked!”… but I am stoked!  In few minutes, I’ll be making the short drive from Franklin to Nashville and Douglas Corner Café to hear one of my songwriter heroes, Steve Seskin, in a 9:00 PM show.

Steve is behind such hits as “Life’s a Dance” (John Michael Montgomery) and “I Don’t Know Why They Say Grown Men Don’t Cry.” (Tim McGraw). For the most part Steve’s songs are pretty substantive and life-affirming (no mud flaps, sweet ice tea, cut off jeans, Jack Daniels). He lives in California, but travels to Nashville a few times a year to write.  He comes once a year—this weekend—to lead an intense songwriting workshop. Two very full days at the Bluebird Café, talking songwriting with participants and industry pros.

The workshop is not cheap. And a 9:00 PM show is late for me.  And Saturdays and Sundays are pretty precious time.   But we are talking about a dream here.

You see, somewhere deep down, I have this sense that I could be pretty good at this songwriting thing.  It’s a fire that won’t go out. May be a call of sorts—and I can’t help feeling like it’s my duty to work it out.

I have writing goals.

I write something everyday “to keep the pencil sharp for that day when the hit comes along.”  (Harlan Howard)

I finish at least one song a week.  (This week I’ve finished four and started several others—but then, I am stoked…J)

Besides playing weekends, I play in writers venue almost every week, and always perform at least one new song.

I listen to great songwriters, in live venues or via youtube—classics like James Taylor and Guy Clark.  Newer acts like Mumford and Son, The Lumineers, John Mayer.

I am a member of a songwriter association (NSAI) and go to local workshops on Thursday evenings or catch their pro teaching via archives or live streaming.  I read lots on the subject.

Why all the fuss?  Got to feed the dream.

What’s your dream?…  and what are you doing to feed it?  Most dreams die of starvation, you know.

Keith

1/24/2014

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“The Naturals… you and me and Roy Hobbs”

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If you had to list your ten all-time favorite movies, what might they be?  The elves of your subconscious are probably already running to the stacks and bringing titles up to the checkout counter of your mind.  Given time, you might come up with dozens, but there’s a good chance the first eight or ten were first for a reason. They bump into your story.

One film that jumps out for me is, “The Natural,” a baseball story starring Robert Redford and Glenn Close.  Close has one immortal line, addressing Roy in his maternity ward bed (long story).  “I believe we have two lives,” she says, “the one we learn from, and the one we live with after that.”

It’s another scene, though, that came to mind today, It’s a dugout scene where Roy (Redford) and Pops (Wilford Brimley) have a life-altering confrontation.

Roy was “The Natural”–a phenomenal young baseball talent destined to be “the best there ever was.”  Unfortunately, as is often the case, Roy’s dream got sidetracked by life.  He reappears as a late 30-something who still has the swing and the passion, but the clock’s ticking—loudly. The Knights, are a losing major league ball club managed by Pops. To say that he was frustrated with his players is an understatement. But he was further frustrated when one of his scouts sends him a middle-aged rookie—Roy Hobbs.  Pops refuses to play Roy or even let him practice.  Roy literally and figuratively rolls his eyes as he watches the team lose again and again. Tension between the rookie and the manager finally comes to a head.

“Hobbs,…I’m sending you down—to Triple-A ball,” Pops says. “I set the rules and you haven’t been playing by them.”

“I came here to play ball,” Roy shoots back, “…not to listen to some two-bit carnie (a joke of a sports psychologist).  I won’t do it, Pops…. I can’t.  It’s taken me too long to get here.”  Roy walks away—but Pops follows.

“Hobbs! Come here!… Batting practice…tomorrow… Be there!”

“I have been,” Roy says without a smile, “…every day.”

From then on, it’s a story of Roy knocking the cover off the ball and inspiring a team on to win the pennant.

As a fifty-something who knows he’s never touched his true potential—that unique something I know I coulda/woulda/shoulda done—”The Natural” stirs my hope-er. Maybe it stirs yours too.

Fellow Baby Boomers…now hear this: you aren’t dead and you aren’t done.

“Batting practice… tomorrow…be there.”

Keith

1/11/2014

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“Jiminy Cricket, Charlie Brown, and Changing Your Stars”

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(A word: Friends, this blog is about four times as long as my usual posts. Very much the exception to the Shortbread rule.  But don’t think of it as a long blog… just think of it as a short book!  I could have chopped it up into several blogs, but I thought it would be most valuable to you as a unit.) 

All due respect, Jiminy Cricket, but wishing upon a star won’t—in the words of Larry the Cable Guy—“git ‘er done.”

If you have a piece of paper handy, draw a simple five-point star—a star representing your plan of action for 2014.  It is a star that you will look at each day of the year to assure that you are staying on task in order to get to where you say you want to be by January 1, 2015.

It’s an old question: “Can a person change his or her stars?”  In other words, can we, by changing our attitudes and actions, rewrite the way our life story will play out?… the way we will be remembered?

The answer: absolutely. 

What I offer today is a simple tool to help you change your stars.  It is an approach that can help you get a handle on that life goal or dream that has, eluded you to date.  I particularly have a heart for those who have struggled to find their highest and best. Like Charlie Brown, your kite keeps getting stuck in the tree, or Lucy keeps snatching the ball away just as you’re about to kick it.  I know those frustrations.  But the tool is not solely for those on the edges of the dance floor.  It is just as applicable for those in the middle and those near the top of the life-fulfillment ladder.  It’s for anyone who has something they sincerely want to accomplish over the coming months, in any give area of their life.

Now, let’s be clear from the get-go: if you won’t work, it won’t work.  If you are waiting on someone else to make your life happen, it won’t work. If you are a quitter, it won’t work.   This is a tool–not a magic wand.

And now, for the star.

The first point—the top point of the star—is INSPIRATION.  You’ve got to identify something you really want—or really want to be.  A clear target.  I believe that the best of our dreams and ideas come from somewhere beyond us.  Call it your destiny.  Call it the will of God for your life.  What are your primal dreams?  What do you want to be when you grow up?  What are those underlying desires, beneath the surface wants?

A meaningful vocation… a comfortable home… loving relationships…  an adequate retirement at a reasonable age.  I want to write a book… or a song….  I want to get my weight down to ___ lbs. in the name of being healthy and living longer.  I want a better relationship with my spouse.

What’s your INSPIRATION—i.e., your vision for you?  There will likely be several items–physical, spiritual, career, family, etc..  Which ones are on top of your list for this year?  Write them down! Cut out pictures from magazines that give you a visual of those dreams.  Put them on the refrigerator door or on the bathroom mirror to keep them before you and remind you that this is where you are going.  They are your INSPIRATION.

Move clockwise to the second point of this star. Tag it, EDUCATION.  You begin reading around the subject of your dreams. You take notes. You memorize quotes and devour training CD’s and videos. You immerse yourself in the topic.  You talk to people who know more about the subject than you do.  It is one thing to have a dream, it is quite another to do your homework so that you can score well when the test rolls around.  Jesus once said, “Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” Vice-versa, where your heart is, there will your treasure be also.  If you really want something, you will invest yourself in it—your time, your money, your energy.

How do I go about writing a book?  How do I play a G chord on the guitar?  What tools do I need to build a piece of furniture?  How do I mix paints and work brushes to get the desired effect?  The second point of this star-changing star is EDUCATION.

The third point of the star is MOTIVATION. You’ve gotten a spark or two, but how do you fan that spark into flame, and how will you fuel the fire over time?  Great coaches are motivators.  They have the gift of drawing out the best in their players.  Where do we find the motivation to keep after our dreams?   You might Google “motivational speakers”.  Besides books or programs you might purchase, there is an ocean of free material.   You stay motivated by surrounding yourself with like-minded, can-do, wanna-do individuals. To stay motivated, you will probably need to say a few holy good-byes to individuals or groups that drag you down and pull you in the opposite direction of where you need to go.  Sadly, there are people out there who do not want you to succeed, and, consciously or unconsciously, they will try to undermine your progress.  MOTIVATION is the third indispensable point on your star.

The fourth point of the star is PERSPIRATION. Folks, if it was easy to be great, everyone would be great. But the truth is, anything worth having will involve sacrifice and strain…blood, sweat and tears.  It’s going to mean studying when you’d rather hang out with your friends or watch TV.  It’s going to mean making yourself go to the gym even when your don’t feel like it or even when it’s nine degrees outside (like it is this morning.)  PERSPIRATION—physical, mental, emotional, spiritual—means pushing yourself through to the next level, then pushing yourself to the next.   Sometimes, it means saying no to those old habits that keep you in that downward spiral of failure and shame.  Anyone knows—breaking old habits is hard work, but you can cultivate new habits and a new future with a little PERSPIRATION.

The fifth and final point on the star is DETERMINIATION.  It is easy to be good for a day…to be committed for a week.  But without unwavering resolve, dreams will evaporate over time and in the face of adversity.  If you haven’t made up your mind ahead of time that you are going to stay the course, you are likely to run from the battle.  “Where there’s a will,” as they say, “there is a way.”  What determination does is galvanize the will.  I know what I want—more, I know what I am meant to do and beand I will get there…period!  Now, it’s just a matter of working out the practical steps from A to B, and following through.

The word, “determination” has two parts: “terminate” which means “to end”, and the prefix, “de”, which means “back” or “away from”.  To say that I am determined is to say there is no end to my resolve—that there is no going back.  DETERMINATION seals the star-changing deal.

In the middle of the star, I would just write the word, REALIZATION.  This is the pay-off for working the five points.  This is moving into the new home.  It is walking across the stage and receiving that diploma. It is stepping on the scales and seeing that you have reached your target weight.  It’s yelling along with Dave Ramsey, on live talk radio, “I’M DEBT FREE!!!!!”

There will come a point where you will find yourself enjoying this process. The late, great, Zig Ziglar’s wisdom comes to mind: “You don’t pay the price of success—you pay the price of failure.  You ENJOY the price of success.”

And you will.  I’d love to hear your star stories.

Keith

1/6/2014

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“Alex Trebek… NFL Stats… and Careful with the Coffee!”

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Alex: “The Final Jeopardy category is ‘NFL Stats’. The answer is ‘13.873.’ Good luck.”  Music starts, “Dum, dum, dum, dum….dum, dum dum….”  Maybe you’d feel smarter if they’d turn off that dumb-dumb music!  But as time runs down, it hits you.  That’s it!…as time runs down 

“What percentage of points is scored in the final two minutes!”

Wiki Answers reports that 13.873 percent of all NFL points are scored in the final two minutes of the game.  Two out of sixty.  Three percent of the game yields almost fourteen percent of the points!  What makes those two minutes so special? Do the players put on their magic shoes?  Does the coach sprinkle the quarterback’s arm with pixie dust? (Yeah, right—“pixie dust”.)  Do the defenders just run out of energy after 58 minutes?

No. They realize, “Hey, we’re about out of time…and if we don’t want to get traded to the Alaskan Malamutes, we’d better score!” And so they do.

Call it “The Coffee Ground Syndrome.”  When you first get that fresh can of coffee, you pop it open (pssshhhh!) and even as you do so, you spill a few grounds on the kitchen counter. You sweep them into your hand and toss them in the disposal.  No problem; you’ve got plenty!  This happens on numerous occasions. No worries!  But one day, you pick up the can and it feels lighter. Looking inside, you see the coffee is well below the halfway mark—as a matter of fact, you can see the shiny bottom of the can peeking through.  Yikes!  Immediately, your perspective changes and you become very careful. Why?… because you realize your coffee grounds are numbered!

Satan’s #1 strategy: “Tell ’em there’s no hurry.”

Folks, I don’t want to be an alarmist or create some false sense of urgency, but your coffee grounds are numbered…the clock’s ticking…and we don’t have the advantage of a two-minute warning.  Talk about “final jeopardy”.

Let’s just assume it’s the final two minutes…and live today accordingly.

Keith

12/12/13

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