Wednesday, September 16, 2009

The Art Of Success

Proverbs 3:1-3 (New International Reader's Version)

1 My son, do not forget my teaching. Keep my commands in your heart.
2 They will help you live for many years. They will bring you success.
3 Don't let love and truth ever leave you. Tie them around your neck. Write them on the tablet of your heart. 

Isn't it amazing the number of programs that are out there claiming to have the key to success?

The majority of these programs tout a secret formula that you can obtain, for a price, allowing you to unlock the door to success beyond your wildest imagination. Usually the only successful result is the money that the author earned from their book royalties and your wallet is a few dollars emptier. This may sound rather cynical on my part but these get rich quick schemes rarely work and usually require some sort of moral compromise on the part of the user to achieve its intended monetary goals.

Success is defined as: the achievement of something desired, planned, or attempted.
Art is defined as: skill arising from the exercise of intuitive faculties.

There are actual keys to success that are already available to you and you may even own the book. The main difference from the other type is that these require a dissimilar set of goals and attitudes before we can even begin to apply them. The book that I'm referring to is the Bible and the process is better described as an art because we practice it rather than instantly receive the wisdom behind it. The most unusual aspect is that we benefit from their initial application and the results are eternal.   

If I were to derive a description of the art of success from the above definitions, it could be written as:

The skills learned from applying the commandments of God in our lives to achieve His desired goals for us.

This could never be accomplished without the love of God and truth of His Word, which we should always carry with us. He writes it on the inside, through the Holy Spirit, so that we can wear it on the outside. People should see God's love in us, it should be apparent, especially to those who are around us every day, our families.

I don't believe that I'm covering any new ground here, but we often overlook the obvious when it's right in front of us. God has already painted the picture, now it's time to admire His artwork.

The art of success.

Let's give the Artist His due.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Would You Tell Them to Their Faces (What You Would Say Behind Their Backs)?

 Proverbs 26:20-23 (Contemporary English Version) 

20 Where there is no fuel a fire goes out; where there is no gossip arguments come to an end.
21 Troublemakers start trouble, just as sparks and fuel start a fire.
22 There is nothing so delicious as the taste of gossip! It melts in your mouth.
23 Hiding hateful thoughts behind smooth talk is like coating a clay pot with a cheap glaze. 

Isn't it amazing how little we really know about a situation that we believe we have an expert opinion on?

We have a natural tendency to judge things based on they way they look or by what we have heard about them. The less we know the more we want to support our opinion so that we can remain the experts that we appear to be. We've seen this behavior countless times and the term know it all comes to mind when we see it in practice. Irritating, isn't it? It's not only that, it's wrong!

All lies are developed this way. The first example occurs with Eve and the serpent. God said, "You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat of it you will surely die."(Gen 2: 16-17) The serpent told Eve, "You will not surely die, for God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil." (Gen 3: 4-5)

You can argue that God told Adam about the tree before He created Eve but she still knew that she shouldn't eat the fruit of the tree. The serpent supported its opinion by lying and covering it up. "Hey, Eve. Did God really say you can't eat from any tree? You won't die, you'll know what He knows." Eve said, "It looks good to me." Then she shared it with Adam.

Now what does this have to do with gossip, you may ask? The serpent started trouble. It fueled the fire by telling a lie and concealing it in a pretty package, selling it by presenting it as something that it was not. This is the process that is used when gossip forms.

"Have you heard about Mr. X's new car, I don't know how he can afford it with that low salary that he makes? I heard that he may run drugs because Ms. Z saw him take money from someone she didn't know last week, when she was at the diner eating. I'm just looking out for the community." or  "I never liked him anyway because he yelled at my kids last year and I think he beats his wife, but she's nice, she has a lovely smile, poor thing, etc."   

It's over the top, I know, but it happens very easily and the damage is hard to repair. You can say it as nicely as you want to, and even give a good reason for saying it, but it was never part of God's plan for us.

Facts are not speculation, don't say what you don't know. Think before you say anything. Does what you say hurt or does it heal? Everything the serpent said was meant to hurt, no matter how good it looked. Don't be like the serpent, don't put new paint on an old lie. Think on the truth of God's Word.

After doing all that, remember this question:

Would you tell them to their faces, what you would say behind their backs?

Think about it, God does.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

What Part Of Know Don't You Understand?

Philippians 3:8-11 (Contemporary English Version)

8 Nothing is as wonderful as knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. I have given up everything else and count it all as garbage. All I want is Christ
9 and to know that I belong to him. I could not make myself acceptable to God by obeying the Law of Moses. God accepted me simply because of my faith in Christ.
10 All I want is to know Christ and the power that raised him to life. I want to suffer and die as he did,
11 so that somehow I also may be raised to life.

Have you ever met a person who said that they knew something or someone yet the more they spoke about it the more you realized that they had no idea what they were talking about?

The word know by definition means:

1. To be convinced of the truth of; to be fully assured of; as, to know things from information.
2. To be acquainted with; to be no stranger to; to be more or less familiar with the person, character, etc., of; to possess experience of.

In order to know someone or something you have to convinced of the truth of it by the information that you have of the subject or be acquainted on a personal level.

If you don't have either one of these things going for you then you don't have knowledge of the subject.

I don't believe that Paul had that problem.

Here was a guy who had many reasons to brag about his accomplishments. He did all the earthly things that the Pharisees told him to do in order to satisfy the organized Hebrew faith. Paul worked hard to show them that he was worthy.

When he met Christ those things didn't mean anything to him. Paul only wanted to know Jesus and nothing more. That takes more than words, it takes a spiritual rebirth. God saved Paul through his faith in Christ, not because of the works that he did. Paul was willing to suffer as Jesus did and die for what he believed in. He was convinced of the truth of Jesus and acquainted with Him on a personal level, he took the time to get to know Him.

What's stopping you?

Nothing, I hope and I think you know what I mean.

From My Bookshelf

A Review:
The Hole In Our Gospel by Richard Stearns

This is a personal story about one man’s journey from the top of the business world to the feet of Jesus. Richard Stearns shares his account of what it is like to “have it all” and still not have enough. We experience, with him, the process that led him to become the head of World Vision which in turn leads us to his compelling case for our involvement in real Christianity.

I felt that this book was a reminder that we practice what Stearns calls the Great Omission. Our personal success oriented gospel doesn’t work well when we are charged to be our brother’s keeper and the Church as a whole suffers greatly for it. This book will both make you think and motivate you to do something with the Gospel of Jesus Christ. I offer two challenges, read this book and then do something about it.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

A Shifting Shadow?

James 1:16-18 (New Living Translation)

16 So don’t be misled, my dear brothers and sisters.
17 Whatever is good and perfect comes down to us from God our Father, who created all the lights in the heavens. He never changes or casts a shifting shadow.
18 He chose to give birth to us by giving us his true word. And we, out of all creation, became his prized possession.

Isn't it ironic how little people think of God when things are going great in their lives, when the real reason things are going great is because of Him?

People seldom think about where the good comes from because they get preoccupied with the bad.

Over our lifetime it is possible to develop a "waiting for the other shoe to drop" mentality from personal experiences. We get the feeling that, even though something good happened, something bad will always follow. Studies have also shown that it takes several good experiences to overcome one bad one. This information could only disturb the already disturbed, however, things aren't always as they seem to be from our human perspective.

Of all the things that God created, He made us His prized possession and that never changes. What He gives us is good, whole, perfect and can't be bad, because He doesn't change. If it is whole and it came from God, than it can't be part bad either. He gave us a new birth through His Word and made us good through Him, so how can that be bad?

When will we stop looking for the bad part of things? If we look for God in everything, our eyes will be on the right things. He never changes and He wants us to realize that when He saves us, He keeps us. He is the reason.

Every day is a great day when we see it through God.

A shifting shadow? No.

A Glorious View.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

My Bad, Not!

Proverbs 21:23 (Contemporary English Version)

Watching what you say can save you a lot of trouble.

Simple advice, big dividends.

How many times have you said something, without thinking, and immediately saw the damage occur?

You let the bombs fly and didn't think about the aftermath. The results were not good and the rebuilding took time. Kind of like a war only with words.

Much of this thinking comes from the school of "it's better to ask for forgiveness than to ask for permission". Just do it and hope that there are no consequences. Now that really sounds like God, doesn't it?

Being sorry is another difficult part of this formula. There is no sorrow because it's just "my bad" and that's enough. My bad _______ (you caught me, you didn't look the other way, you were offended, etc.) you fill in the blank.

Solomon made a great observation, "think before you speak, it will save you a lot of problems". I'm sure it came from his mistakes.

How about you?

The time to practice it is,


Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Hope Is A Three Letter Word

Hebrews 11:1-3 (New Living Translation)

1 Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see.
2 Through their faith, the people in days of old earned a good reputation.
3 By faith we understand that the entire universe was formed at God’s command, that what we now see did not come from anything that can be seen.

Have you ever wondered why some things seem worse for you than they do for others, even when they are good things?

Hope: To place confidence; to trust with confident expectation of good.

Hopeless: Destitute of hope; having no expectation of good; despairing.

Our thoughts have a lot to do with the way we perceive things. Even a blessing can seem like a curse if we have the wrong point of view. This is the difference between hope and despair. There doesn't have to be a crisis to prove this out.

All the people that are mentioned in this chapter had the best outcome in mind even when they went through hardship. When times were tough they made it through because their viewpoint was not tainted by their trials. We judge things by what we see and what we see may not always be true. They lived for something that they couldn't see and believed that there was always something better for them.

Every day is a blessing and should be viewed that way. We accumulate them over time and that mounting quantity should make us realize how large a blessing that we have. I may be an eternal optimist but our expectation should be that there are always better days ahead.

After all,

hope is a three letter word...