Archives for posts with tag: Success

Are you at the end of your rope?  Are you stuck in a rut?  Does if feel like you’ve plateaued and that your best days are behind you?  What if I told you that I have five simple steps that could change the trajectory of your life?  Interested?  Keep reading!

 

They say that the definition of insanity is doing the same things over and over and expecting different results.  If that’s true, then we all have a touch of madness.  Over the past year, I found myself chasing my tail in an infinite circle.  I guess that was kind of redundant as circle are, by definition, infinite.  Nonetheless, I was going full-throttle at 360 degrees.    I found myself repeating the same question in my head: “Is there some grand lesson that I am supposed to learn that I have not yet grasped?”  My prayer became, “God, let me learn my lesson and move on.”  It was in that moment where I received a revelation about what it was that I needed to learn during that season in my life.  What I’ve learned is exactly what I am about to share with you.

 

Lesson 1:

Renew your mind.

 

“Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind,” (Romans 12:2, NIV).  Albert Einstein said, “We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.”  In other words, when our old ways and patterns of thinking have failed to produce the desired outcome, we have to adopt a new perspective.  Renewing our minds is probably one of the hardest things that we could do.  When contemplating change, some might argue that their old ways of thinking has gotten them to where there are.  While that might be true of the past, it isn’t always a valid argument if we want to continue to grow.  Growth require being stretched in new dimensions.  Growth requires conquering new situations.  So how do we renew or mind?  One way is to increase our knowledge.  Read.  Study.  Take classes.  Meet new people.  Sometimes, renewing our minds requires us to change our circle of influence—finding people who could speak life into our dreams and desires.  While the path to the renewal of the mind might differ from person to person, it’s an important step in the pursuit of happiness.

 

Lesson 2:

Speak life into your life.

“The tongue can bring death or life; those who love to talk will reap the consequences,” (Proverbs 18:21, NLT).

One of the most difficult questions to answer when we are in the midst of our trials could simply be, “How are you?”  During our darkest moments, it is often difficult to find the median between transparency and wisdom.  How do we truthfully say that we are “fine” when we feel as if we are being immersed by the storms in our lives?  During those moments, we don’t feel fine.  Sometimes, it feels as if our walls are closing in and that we are suffocating. What do we say then?  I was thinking about that very question the other night.  I thought about how God spoke the world into existence with His words.  The Bible says that when God had completed creation, He looked over all that He had done and said that it was good.  That revelation reminded me of Romans 8:28, “And we know God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them,” (NLT).  Sometimes, we just have to look at our lives, despite all the difficulties and trials, and remember that “it’s all good.”  Maybe the next time we are going through a trial and someone ask us how we are doing, we could honestly say, “It’s all good.”  Maybe, in doing so, we could speak life into our future.  This suggestion is not to minimize our pain, but simply to create a new perspective.  It’s to remind us that storms do clear, and sometimes, there is even a rainbow at the end of a downpour.

 

 

Lesson 3:

Stop being a people-pleaser.

“It is better to take refuge in the LORD than to trust in people,” (Psalms 118:8, NLT).  Life is a journey, and we are all in different stages of our voyage.  In other words, we all have issues and baggage, most of which are shaped by our personal experiences.  One of the greatest lessons that we have to learn when dealing with each other is:  Not everything is personal.  We can’t always internalize other people’s behaviors.  Colossians 3:23 encourages us to work as if we were working for the Lord rather than for people.  As long as we do what we believe to be right in the eyes of God, then that is all that we can do.  We can’t please everyone.  There will always be people who are disappointment in us and by us.

 

Lesson 4:

Take inventory of those who champion around you during seasons of difficulty.

“One who has unreliable friends soon comes to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother,” (Proverbs 18:24, NIV).  Every single one of us will face moments in our lives where, when the chips are down, the only person left standing in our corner is Jesus.  He is the one true friend that sticks closer than a brother.  While that is true, we need to also realize that we were never meant to go the distance alone.  Ephesians 4: 9-12 says, “Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor: If either of them falls down, one can help the other up.  But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up.  Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm.  But how can one keep warm alone?  Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken,” (NLT).  Good friends are important.  The problem is that many of us have clutter our lives with “stand-ins,” but we lack the real thing.  Times of difficulty are usually the best opportunity to see who is really in our corner.  It’s also a good opportunity to start purging toxic relationships.

Lesson 5:

Smile!

“A glad heart makes a happy face; a broken heart crushes the spirit,” (Proverbs 15:13, NLT).  In spite of it all, sometimes, the best thing we could do is smile.  Earlier today, I was watching an Internet video about a woman who was elated about purchasing a Star Wars mask.  She was excited about her purchase—I mean really excited.  She was beyond giddy.  She laughed throughout the entire clip.  However, as silly as the video might have been, I could not help but laugh with her.  Her joy was infectious.    That’s because joy is contagious.  Smiling can impact our mood, our spirit and our outlook.  Our live might not be perfect, but sometimes we could soften our blows by greeting them with a smile 🙂

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“The tongue can bring death or life; those who love to talk will reap the consequences,” (Proverbs 18:21, NLT).

Oftentimes, we forget just how much power our spoken declarations have over our lives. Recently, I read a story about an athlete who, as a child, told his mother, who had been affected by breast cancer at the time, that he would purchase a pink Cadillac with pink rims for her when he “grew up.” Years later, he was able to fulfill that promise. A few years prior to that story, I heard about a famous actress who, as a child, had promised to buy her mom a diamond ring when she became rich and famous. She too was able to fulfill her childhood promise to her mother. I doubt that as children either of those two individuals knew that they were “prophesying” over their lives. Impregnated in that young girl’s promise to her mother was the declaration that she was going to become a famous actress. The reflection of those two stories made me think of my own life. There have been times where I too have spoken in “jest,” and my “declarations” have come to fruition.

Today, I want to challenge all of us to prophesy over our lives. We need to go back to the days of our childlike faith—a time where we thought any and everything was possible. We need to speak over our lives and declare and proclaim our futures.  We need to live in bold faith like Abraham did.

16 So the promise is received by faith. It is given as a free gift. And we are all certain to receive it, whether or not we live according to the law of Moses, if we have faith like Abraham’s. For Abraham is the father of all who believe. 17 That is what the Scriptures mean when God told him, “I have made you the father of many nations.”This happened because Abraham believed in the God who brings the dead back to life and who creates new things out of nothing.

18 Even when there was no reason for hope, Abraham kept hoping—believing that he would become the father of many nations. For God had said to him, “That’s how many descendants you will have!” 19 And Abraham’s faith did not weaken, even though, at about 100 years of age, he figured his body was as good as dead—and so was Sarah’s womb.

20 Abraham never wavered in believing God’s promise. In fact, his faith grew stronger, and in this he brought glory to God. 21 He was fully convinced that God is able to do whatever he promises. 22 And because of Abraham’s faith, God counted him as righteous. 23 And when God counted him as righteous, it wasn’t just for Abraham’s benefit. It was recorded 24 for our benefit, too, assuring us that God will also count us as righteous if we believe in him, the one who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead. 25 He was handed over to die because of our sins, and he was raised to life to make us right with God, (Roman 4:16-20, NLT).

The Revolution Will Not Be Televised is a poem/song by Gil Scott-Heron (1949-2011), in which the title phrase has been cemented into modern-day vernacular.  Scott-Heron’s influence has transcended cultural, economic and regional borders.  In The Revolution Will Not Be Televised, Scott-Heron challenges our apathetic despondence, which fuels our inclination towards complacent mediocrity.  He calls us to take action in a world of unpredictability.  The Revolution Will Not Be Televised asserted that our inaction is an action of dire consequences.  The poem also suggests that our call to action should not be precipitated by the possibility of fame or pursuit of grandeur.  It further states that the greatest revolutionaries are the ones who go unsung and unrecognized.  They are the ones who are willing to go into the battlefield with no guarantees of victory.  They are the ones who are willing to take a chance—to lay it all on the line.  They are usually the ones who truly make a difference.  They are the Esthers, the Daniels, the Davids, the Josephs and the Abrahams.

We are living in revolutionary times.  More specifically, we are in the middle of a revolution, and it’s time that God’s people spring into action—get off of the sidelines and jump onto the battlefield.  We can’t afford not to.  Many Christians are governed more by fear, doubt and insecurities more than we are the Holy Spirit.  Oftentimes, we sit idly by as the World advances its agenda, because we are afraid to speak out, offend or interject.  We rather murmur than make a difference.  We use phrase like, “Who am I to say/judge?” and “To each his own” as spiritual clutches.  Let me be very clear, as Christians, we have every right to say.  We were called to say.  When Jesus issued the decree not to judge others, He did not mean that we should stand in passive agreement of sin, He meant that we should not condemn others because of it.  A society with no governing laws/standards is governed by anarchy, complete disorder, which by definition is contradictory to the nature of God, which is order.  We are called to make a difference.

Over the past few months, I have read various devotionals and books where the authors have suggested that we are in the final days; and we should pursue life passionately.  The truth is, no one but God knows when the final days are.  However, the fact that we do not know when the final days are should ignite a fire in our souls.  Imagine that tomorrow was indeed the last day.  Wouldn’t you want to make today count?  Wouldn’t you want to know that your life counted and that you gave it all you got?  If you answered yes, then you need to start living like you are dying!

The truth remains that despite whether or not tomorrow is indeed our last day, we are indeed dying.  We approach closer to death with every breath of life we take.  The more we live, the more imminent death becomes.  For many people, this topic of conversation is rather macabre.  Those individuals would rather talk about sunshine and rainbows.  However, the harsh reality is that during the time it took you to read this post, time has been withdrawn from your flesh and the withdrawal in non-refundable.    We know that time waits on no man, and that it does not stand still.  The fact that we only have one life to live means that we only have one lifetime to make a Kingdom difference.  So, why not give it all that we have?  Why not go for broke?  Why are we not pursuing our God-sized dreams?  Going for that business? That career goal?  That missionary work? That dream that only you and God know about?  Moving forward, let’s take back what the enemy has stolen and place it back into the hands of those who can properly steward it for God.  There is a revolution, and it has already started.  Where will you stand?

One of the things that I love most about working out is actually one of the things I “hate” the most.  It’s that sore feeling.  Feeling sore reminds me that my muscles have been challenged.  The soreness lets me know that what I am doing is actually working.  Sure I hate walking down stairs after have done leg exercises, but I love knowing that my legs will be toned.  Thankfully, that soreness is fleeting.  Those of you who have worked out for any period of time, know that the more frequently we challenge our muscles, the less likely they are to fatigue and ache the next time we do the same exercises or use the same amount of weight.  In fact, there comes a period in the workout regime when we have to increase the weight in order to get the same or better results.  With any workout routine, there is a tendency for our bodies to plateau.  Similarly, this plateau phenomenon is not just limited to our bodies.  Our spirits function in the same capacity as well.

There are times in our spiritual journey when we will experience a spiritual plateau phenomenon.  Just as muscling building requires a gradual increase of weights for deeper muscle penetration, spiritual building requires a heavier message for deeper spiritual penetration.  Here is what I mean.  There will come a point in our spiritual journey when superficial, anecdotal messages are not enough.  Sure, we might get the gist or receive an occasional word because God’s Word always provides revelation.  However, our spirits were designed to want more.  At some point, we will need to pack on the weight and increase the heaviness to challenge our spiritual muscles.  This might simply mean attending a new church, reading new books/devotional or even changing our circle of influence/friends.  Think about it this way.  When we first learned to read, we probably started with picture books and eventually graduated to chapter books.  While I’m sure that as an adult it might be fun to read an occasional picture book, and we probably could learn a fact or two, however, reading a picture book as an adult would not be as edifying.  Imagine if all we read as adults were children’s picture books.  Our growth would be stagnant and our knowledge limited.  The reason why as we progressed throughout our formative school years our curriculum increased in difficulty was because growth requires an increase in intensity.  So if we want to see an increase in our spiritual live, we have to turn up the proverbial fire.  We have challenge our spirits.

I’m usually not the best at reciting jokes, but this one I had to share.  A man went to God and said, “God, your power is so infinite and your resources are so limitless.  For you, a million years is like one second and a million dollars is like one penny.  Surely, you would have no problems giving me a million dollars.”  God looked at the man and said, “I sure don’t.  Just give me one second.”

The truth is God’s timing is not the same as ours.  When everything ceases to exist, He will still remain standing.  God has seen empires rise and fall.  He has seen generations created and destroyed.  He is the beginning and the end of time.  So, sometimes it does beg the question:  Could God truly sympathize with the fact that we are but a mist in the spectrum of time?  Even though He created us, does He really understand that our Earthly bones decay daily?  Does He truly understand that for us a million years is not the same as one second?  As I explored the answer, perhaps answers, to this question, I came across an interesting passage in Scripture.  It’s a little long, but just bear with me:

A Valley of Dry Bones

The Lord took hold of me, and I was carried away by the Spirit of the Lord to a valley filled with bones. He led me all around among the bones that covered the valley floor. They were scattered everywhere across the ground and were completely dried out. Then he asked me, “Son of man, can these bones become living people again?”

“O Sovereign Lord,” I replied, “you alone know the answer to that.”

Then he said to me, “Speak a prophetic message to these bones and say, ‘Dry bones, listen to the word of the Lord! This is what the Sovereign Lord says: Look! I am going to put breath into you and make you live again! I will put flesh and muscles on you and cover you with skin. I will put breath into you, and you will come to life. Then you will know that I am the Lord.’”

So I spoke this message, just as he told me. Suddenly as I spoke, there was a rattling noise all across the valley. The bones of each body came together and attached themselves as complete skeletons. Then as I watched, muscles and flesh formed over the bones. Then skin formed to cover their bodies, but they still had no breath in them.

Then he said to me, “Speak a prophetic message to the winds, son of man. Speak a prophetic message and say, ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: Come, O breath, from the four winds! Breathe into these dead bodies so they may live again.’”

10 So I spoke the message as he commanded me, and breath came into their bodies. They all came to life and stood up on their feet—a great army.

11 Then he said to me, “Son of man, these bones represent the people of Israel. They are saying, ‘We have become old, dry bones—all hope is gone. Our nation is finished.’ 12 Therefore, prophesy to them and say, ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: O my people, I will open your graves of exile and cause you to rise again. Then I will bring you back to the land of Israel. 13 When this happens, O my people, you will know that I am the Lord. 14 I will put my Spirit in you, and you will live again and return home to your own land. Then you will know that I, the Lord, have spoken, and I have done what I said. Yes, the Lord has spoken,’” (Ezekiel 33:1-14, NLT)!

This story should give each and every one of us great comfort.  You see, when the bones first came together, they had no life.  They were just going through the motions.  It wasn’t until God breathed His Spirit into them that they came alive.  This passage illustrates three really important principles.  First, it is quite possible that you and I can make plans absent of God.  Our plans might even create the illusion of success.  I am sure that had there been distant onlookers, the regenerating bone might have given the appearance of life.  But just like the bones, our plans do not experience true life until God breaths His Spirit onto them.  The second point is, regardless of how dead something is, God can bring it back to life.  The fact that those bones were dry throughout suggests that they had been there for some time.  The bones probably surpassed any memories of the individuals’ existence, but God was still able to bring them back to life.  To us, our dreams might appear dead and forgotten, but God can bring them back to life by breathing His spirit into it.  The truth is, our very existence is proof of that.  We were dead before we were born, and God breathe life into us and caused us to exist.  The third point is easily overlooked.  God could have resurrected the bones on His own, but he used Ezekiel to perform the works.   God commanded him to speak to the bones and the wind.  What is He commanding us to speak to in our lives?

I love the way this passage end.  Even though God had given this illustration as promise to the nation of Israel, we should know that our God is not a partial God, and that the promises He makes to one is applicable to all.  With that said, God promised the Israelites that He would open their graves of exile and cause them to rise again.  Wow!  How many of us are living, but we still have one (or both) foot (feet) in the grave?  The truth is, it does matter.  God has promised us that He can rescue us from the tomb and bring us back to life.

Today, we should be encouraged that regardless of where we find ourselves, we should know that God has the ability to rescue us.  He sees us.  There is nothing that can separate us from His love.  He has not forgotten about us or given up on us.  Many may say that it is too late.  The doctor might have predicted when someone will draw his final breath, but only God breathes life.  Critics might say that our dreams have an expiration date and that we are too old to achieve God’s plan, but God gets the final word!  In fact, He has also shared that final word with us.  We need to speak life into our situation today!

Repeat after Ezekiel (via God):

“‘Dry bones [FILL IN THE BLANK WITH YOUR OWN CIRCUMSTANCES], listen to the word of the Lord!  This is what the Sovereign Lord says: Look! I am going to put breath into you and make you live again! I will put flesh and muscles on you and cover you with skin. I will put breath into you, and you will come to life. Then you will know that I am the Lord….Come, O breath, from the four winds! Breathe into these dead bodies so they may live again….‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: O my people, I will open your graves of exile and cause you to rise again. Then I will bring you back to the land of Israel. When this happens, O my people, you will know that I am the Lord. I will put my Spirit in you, and you will live again and return home to your own land. Then you will know that I, the Lord, have spoken, and I have done what I said. Yes, the Lord has spoken, (NLT).’”

In today’s society, success is usually thought to be determined by degree or pedigree.  I am here to tell you that neither of those things are absolute qualifiers for success.  When Paul spoke to the church in Corinth, he reminded them that few of them were wise in the world’s eyes or powerful or wealthy when God called them.  He further went on to say that God often chooses the “things the world considers foolish in order to shame those who think they are wise. And he chose things that are powerless to shame those who are powerful,” (1Corinthians 1:26-26, NLT).  Now, this is not to say that there isn’t a value to education, for we know that God honors those who seek knowledge, counsel and wisdom.  It is simply to say that our circumstances do not disqualify us from being great.  Look at Gideon.

Too often God places a dream on our heart, and we erroneously think that we need an ensemble team to bring the vision to fruition.  We are inclined to decline opportunities because we think that we lack the skills needed to accomplish the task.  In the Old Testament, Moses tried to hand over the opportunity to lead the Israelites out of bondage to Aaron because he thought that being a successful leader was directly correlated to an ability to speak well.  Fortunately, God is more interested in using those who can walk the walk rather than those who talk the talk.  So how does that tie into the story of Gideon?

God had called Gideon to defeat the Midianites.  Like many of us, Gideon doubted that God could really use him to do something so extraordinary.  Thankfully, what Gideon soon came to realize was that his weakness was inversely proportional to God’s strength.  In other words, he realized that when he was weak, God was strong, and it was that epiphany that allowed him to grow in strength.

Prior to battling the Midianites, Gideon had 32,000 men.  God told him to send home those who were fearful.  Twenty-two thousand men left.  Gideon was left with an army of 10,000.  Still God was unsatisfied.  He ordered Gideon to bring the men to the stream and “[d]ivide the men into two groups. In one group put all those who cup water in their hands and lap it up with their tongues like dogs. In the other group put all those who kneel down and drink with their mouths in the stream,” (NLT).  There were three hundred men that drank from their hand.  Finally, God was satisfied.  With a total of 300 men, God delivered the Midianites into the hands of the Israelites (Judges 7).

The story of Gideon serves as an amazing demonstration of God’s ability to elevate us above our circumstances.  In the natural, there was no way that Gideon could have defeated an entire army with only 300 men.  However, God reduced the size of Gideon’s army so that He would receive the glory.  The first lesson that you and I should learn from Gideon is that when we are called to do the impossible with only a skeletal crew, it’s not because God is punishing us.  It’s simply because He wants us, and others, to know that success is not based on a formula, but is predetermined by God.  The second lesson to be learned from Gideon is that not everyone in our camp is destined or willing to fight.  Know that the dream that God gave us was given to us.  Not everyone in our camp is meant to go with us to battle.  In order to achieve victory, sometimes, we have to get rid of those who are stumbling blocks.  In the case of Gideon, had God not gotten rid of those who were “timid or afraid,” it might have cost them the battle.  Under pressure, those eliminated individuals might have surrendered or betrayed their camp.  The third lesson to be learned from Gideon is that when God gives us a dream, it’s better to have a faithful few than a lazy bunch.  Those who drank from their hands proved to be hard workers and go-getters.  They didn’t just kneel at the stream and waited for the water to flow into their mouths.  They took the initiative.  We want people in our camps that take initiative.  The last lesson that we learned from Gideon is a little off topic, but equally important. 

The Bible says that God will make our enemies our footstool (Luke 20:43).  We should know that oftentimes, God will use our very enemies to announce our victory.  In the case of Gideon, God used the Midianites to announce the Israelites’ victory:

The Midianite camp was in the valley just below Gideon. 9That night the Lord said, “Get up! Go down into the Midianite camp, for I have given you victory over them! 10 But if you are afraid to attack, go down to the camp with your servant Purah. 11 Listen to what the Midianites are saying, and you will be greatly encouraged. Then you will be eager to attack.”

So Gideon took Purah and went down to the edge of the enemy camp. 12 The armies of Midian, Amalek, and the people of the east had settled in the valley like a swarm of locusts. Their camels were like grains of sand on the seashore—too many to count! 13 Gideon crept up just as a man was telling his companion about a dream. The man said, “I had this dream, and in my dream a loaf of barley bread came tumbling down into the Midianite camp. It hit a tent, turned it over, and knocked it flat!”

14 His companion answered, “Your dream can mean only one thing—God has given Gideon son of Joash, the Israelite, victory over Midian and all its allies!”

15 When Gideon heard the dream and its interpretation, he bowed in worship before the Lord. Then he returned to the Israelite camp and shouted, “Get up! For the Lord has given you victory over the Midianite hordes,” (Judges 7:8-15, NLT)!

Know today that God has called each and every one of us for something great.  If God can use flawed individuals such as Moses, Gideon, David, Ruth, and Esther, imagine what He could do with us.

royal-crown

The recent addition to the Royal family has created a hailstorm of media frenzy.  The birth of Prince George of Cambridge has sparked many online discussions of lineage, descent and succession.

The English throne is regulated by both descent and Parliament.  Prince George is third in line for the throne.  In the absence of Parliament that means Prince George could someday reign as king following the eventual deaths of his great-grandmother (the Queen), his grandfather (The Prince of Wales) and his father (the Duke of Cambridge).  The life of Prince George made me think of my own life.  It made me realize that I too am royalty.  However, my reign is now.  You see, in the natural, Prince George may never be king.  It is quite possible that those who precede him could outlive him.  If that be the case, he would never experience the power of kingship.

In the Kingdom of God, God gave reign of the Earth to Jesus Christ, and as such, the children of God became co-heirs with Christ when he died.  Romans 8:17 says, “Now if we are children, then we are heirs–heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory,” (NIV).  As children of God, we do not have to wait for death to reign because Christ, the King, has already died, and our reign as royalty is now.  The problem is, many of us have not embraced our position as royalty.  We are still living a peasants.

Even though Prince George might never be king, we could safely assume that he will enjoy the benefits of being an heir to the British throne.  As a prince, he will be exposed to and experience a premium lifestyle.  Neither will he want nor lack for anything material.  Furthermore, as prince, he will probably possess a sense of entitlement, and rightfully so.  As Christian, co-heirs with Christ, we should possess the same confidence.  We should walk in the knowledge that our Father is the King of kings and the Lords of lords.  “On his robe and on his thigh he has this name written: king of kings and lord of lords,” (Revelation 19: 16, NIV).  As Christians, we should find solace knowing that our Father owns the cattle on a thousand hills (Psalm 50:10).  Not only does our God own the palaces on Earth, He owns the palaces in heaven as well.  In John 14: 1-4, Jesus said,

“Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me. My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. You know the way to the place where I am going.”

Today, I declare that we know who we are and whose we are.  We should walk in the knowledge that as co-heirs with Christ, we are royalty.  As royalty, we are the heads and not the tails.  We are above and not beneath.  We are lenders and not borrowers (Deuteronomy 28:13-14).  Today, I declare that we remember that we are king and queens along with our ruler Jesus Christ.  In Jesus’ name we pray, Amen!