Thursday, 9 June 2016
10 Principles of Faith Did you hear about the farmer that decided to buy a chain saw? A logging foreman sold him one that he guaranteed would cut down 15 trees in a single day. A week later, a very unhappy farmer came back to report that the power saw must be faulty—it averaged only 3 trees a day. The foreman grabbed the saw, pulled the cord, and the saw promptly went “Bzzzzzzzz.” “Hey” demanded the startled farmer, “what’s that noise?” It’s one thing to come to church, but it’s altogether another thing to live by faith. Do you know you have a saw? Do you know how it works? Have you fired it up? Today, I want to fire up your faith by sharing some important principles of faith. The Children of Israel had just been released from 430 years of Egyptian bondage, but God did not lead them the easy way to Canaan—which would have been through the land of the Philistines (Ex. 13:17). Instead, God lead them down towards the Red Sea. Why did God want them to take the long way to Canaan? He says. Exodus 13:17 When Pharaoh let the people go, God did not lead them by way of the land of the Philistines, although that was near. For God said, “Lest the people change their minds when they see war and return to Egypt.” God took them towards the Red Sea instead of the easy way because, if they had gone towards the land of the Philistines, they would have been in for a war and God knew they weren’t ready for a fight. They had weapons, but…they only thought they were ready. Principle #1: God Knows What He’s Doing There was a man who got lost in the desert. After wandering around for a long time his throat became very dry, about that time he saw a little shack in the distance. He made his way over to the shack and found a water pump with a small jug of water and a note. The note read: “pour all the water into the top of the pump to prime it, if you do this you will get all the water you need”. Now the man had a choice to make, if he trusted the note and poured the water in and it worked he would have all the water he needed. If it didn’t work he would still be thirsty and he might die. Or he could choose to drink the water in the jug and get immediate satisfaction, but it might not be enough and he still might die. After thinking about it the man decided to risk it. He poured the entire jug into the pump and began to work the handle, at first nothing happened and he got a little scared but he kept going and water started coming out. So much water came out he drank all he wanted, took a shower, and filled all the containers he could find. Because he was willing to give up momentary satisfaction, he got all the water he needed. Now the note also said: after you have finished, please refill the jug for the next traveller.” The man refilled the jug and added to the note: “ Please prime the pump, believe me it works”! We have the same choice to make, do we hold on to what we have because we don’t believe there are better things in store for us, and settle for immediate satisfaction? Or do we trust God and give up all that we have to get what God has promised us? I think the choice is obvious. We need to pour in all the water, trust God with everything. Then once we have experienced what God has to offer, the living water, we need to tell other people, “Go ahead prime the pump, believe me it works”! God knows what He’s doing. Let’s continue. We next read that they took the bones of Joseph with them as they left Egypt. Exodus 13:19 Moses took the bones of Joseph with him, for Joseph had made the sons of Israel solemnly swear, saying, “God will surely visit you, and you shall carry up my bones with you from here.” Principle #2: Following God to the Future Doesn’t Mean Forgetting the Past We must take “Joseph’s bones” with us wherever we go. Sometimes we don’t respect the past like we should. A little girl called out, “Mommy, you know that vase china cabinet, the one that’s been handed down from generation to generation?” Yes, dear, I know which one you mean, what about it? ”Well, Mommy, I’m sorry, but this generation just dropped it!” What are the “Joseph’s bones” you need to take with you as you move forward? -Experiences -Lessons -Wisdom -Heritage–Heritage gives us 1) Strength; 2) Purpose; 3) Identity An investigation into the famed 18th century revival preacher Jonathan Edwards (1703-58) showed that, of the 1,394 known descendants of Jonathan Edwards, 100 became preachers and missionaries, 100 lawyers, 80 public officials, 75 army and navy officers, 65 college professors, 60 physicians, 60 prominent authors, 30 judges, 13 college presidents, 3 United States senators, and one a vice-president of the United States. Another man of that era, Max Jukes, had 310 descendants who died as paupers, 150 criminals, 100 were drunkards, 7 were murderers, and more than half of the women were prostitutes. What are the “Joseph’s bones” Journey needs to take with us as we move forward? -Our heritage of loving our community. -Our heritage of love for God’s word. -Our heritage of respect for the family. -Our heritage of love for each other. -Our heritage of courage in the face of “steps of faith.” -Our heritage of passionate worship. -Our heritage of reaching out with the gospel. Next we read that the Lord went before them in a pillar of cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night. Exodus 13:21,22 21And the LORD went before them by day in a pillar of cloud to lead them along the way, and by night in a pillar of fire to give them light, that they might travel by day and by night. 22The pillar of cloud by day and the pillar of fire by night did not depart from before the people.
Five Ways to Get Wisdom James 3:17, 18 The wisdom that comes from above is pure, peaceable, kindly and considerate; it is merciful and shows itself by the good it does, nor is there any trace of partiality or hypocrisy in it. I love it when someone knows exactly what to do. They speak words that hit the target. They act and get the result. They invest energy and before long they have made a real and positive different. I love to be in the presence of wisdom. What is wisdom for? This, it seems to me, is the first question. How to get it comes second. James has seven suggestions for the purpose of wisdom (James 3:17, 18). Purity. Wisdom will remove dross. It will clarify, simplify and elevate value. A pure action or idea is, like any precious metal, worth more than a mixed alloy. Peaceable. It will calm things down. Kindly and considerate. Wisdom will leave other people feeling heard and understood. Its purpose is to build community. Merciful. It will forgive. It doesn't catalogue failure. It accepts people and gives second chances. Shows itself by the good it does. It is about outcomes. Impartiality. Wisdom will honour difference. It will get value out of diversity. No hypocrisy in it. Wisdom is the real deal! It isn't trying to make a hard sell or hoodwink anyone. It is just trying to do the right thing. I notice that wisdom, in James' mind at least, has a lot of similarities with love in Paul's writings (1 Cor 13). How can I get wisdom? Be worthy of it. Do I still want wisdom, now that I know what it is for? Do I want to be a peacemaker and a community builder? If I just want to have more and be applauded more the wisdom I find will turn to dust. Want it enough to ask for it. Solomon did (1 Kings 3), so I will. I do it repeatedly each day. I pray: "God help me to know what to do, help me prioritise, help me make a difference". Sit at the mouth of wisdom's river. If the source of wisdom is "from above", it doesn't make a lot of sense to look only "below". I love to read books and blogs and to follow wise people. This helps. But each time I am in the presence of real spine-tingling-wisdom I sense what James is getting at. This wisdom has the aroma of heaven about it. If we want to learn wisdom, look up (Prov. 15:33). I find my regular Bible reading and reflecting helps me do this better than anything else. Get up every time I fall down. Life is a teacher. There is more opportunity to be wise at 70 than at 17. There is more opportunity to be bitter and twisted as well! The difference is surely in the attitude each time I start again. Did I learn? Did I fail forward? Wait for it. James says "it comes". While I may ask for it and live towards it, I can't take wisdom by force. It has to come to me. Wisdom is butterfly-like. It floats towards those who are worthy and flits from those who are not.
Tuesday, 7 June 2016
1 Imagine becoming successful. Einstein said that "Imagination is more important than knowledge". The more vividly and accurately you imagine your success, the easier it will be for the rest of yourself to follow through. The same way engineers first imagine a bridge and then build it, you can be the engineer of your success, too. Dedicate a few minutes every day to imagining your success. Imagine yourself in a movie in which you are successful. What are you doing in the movie? What is your success like? Savor the feeling of your success, and use it as motivation to stoke your fire. Cultivate a healthy motivation when imagining your success. Successful people all believe in themselves and their missions. At the same time, you do not want to alienate other people with extreme narcissism. Understand that other people want to be just as successful as you do; your goal should not be to trample over them to get what you want. 2 Find the purpose or goal of your life. Identify the things you love to do, the things that give you satisfaction. Once you identify what you love to do, use this information to find the purpose of your life or the objective of your life. Finding what you love to do will give you motivation along the way. Imagine being forced to do a triathlon when your true passion is chess. Pretty difficult, huh? Now imagine the opportunity to participate in a chess tournament. It's much, much easier to persistently chip away at your goal if your goal is something you enjoy doing.(Write what your motivations and goals for yourself How do you figure out a purpose or goal in life? It's different for everyone, and for some it's difficult, but there are several ways you can try to figure it out: Talk with a career coach or visit a good psychologist. Try out several different careers, remembering that even a less-than-fulfilling job can help you learn. Try making a career out of something you love. Whether it's brewing beer or advising on art, you're more l likely to be successful doing something you know you are skilled at.3Define the meaning of success as you see it. You cannot have success if you do not know what it means for you. Everyone views success differently and using someone else standard for success is like eating another person's lunch and expecting to love it. Set clear goals and be realistic. 3 How will you know when you have achieved your goals? Your standards should be quantifiable, or else you could spend your entire life chasing after a vague goal. For example, let's say you want to be good at your job. You get a promotion, you get a raise, but you still haven't reached your goal because you could always do better, right? You could always get promoted even further, or make even more money. Whatever you have will never be enough. Instead, create benchmarks: "My goal is to increase my productivity by 30% and only be late for work five times per year, at the most." These are quantifiable goals that when achieved, give you a sense of satisfaction and completion, making you feel successful and confident. 4 Selectively lower your confidence. You read it right: lower your confidence. It's a truism in business that you need to have high self-confidence to get things done. But some people think, and for good reason, that lower self-confidence makes people more successful, for these reasons: Lower self-confidence makes you pay attention to critical feedback and helps you be more self-critical. If you're convinced you're God's gift to engineering, you probably won't be receptive to feedback. Nor will you be able to criticize yourself effectively. Successful people do exactly that. Lower self-confidence makes you work harder and prepare more. If you're not convinced you're going to nail your presentation next Monday, you're likely to spend more time practicing and going over your numbers. This is a great habit. Lower self-confidence makes you less narcissistic. Less narcissistic people are respected more by co-workers, and happy co-workers make a more successful team. It's no secret that respect will make you successful. 5 Set a timeline for when you want to achieve your objective. If you don't know when you will achieve your objective by, then it's hard to know whether you have failed. Give yourself a timeline that is difficult but doable. Winning a Tour de France from scratch in two years is not reasonable, but booking a comedy gig in front of at least 20 paying customers probably is.
Forgiveness sets you free. You benefit immensely when you choose to forgive and so does everyone around you. Whether you need to forgive others, or need to forgive yourself, doing so sets you free from the past and enables you to fulfil your true potential. Forgiveness allows you to break free from limiting beliefs and attitudes. It frees up your mental and emotional energies so that you can apply them to creating a better life. Forgiveness helps you achieve even your most practical and immediate goals. Perhaps you want a better job, to earn more money, have better relationships, or live in a nicer place. Forgiveness helps you achieve all of these. If you have not forgiven then a part of your inner life energy is trapped in resentment, anger, pain, or suffering of some kind. This trapped life energy will limit you. It it like trying to ride a bicycle with the brakes partly on all the time. It slows you down, frustrates you and makes it difficult to move forward. The choices you make and the things that you believe are possible will all be influenced by the ways you have not forgiven. As you learn to forgive the energy which was going into unhappy thoughts and feelings gets liberated and can flow into creating the life you want rather than limiting you, or creating more suffering. If you do not want to learn to forgive to benefit yourself; then learn to forgive so you can benefit others. As you learn to forgive you benefit everyone you are in contact with. Your thinking will be clearer and more positive than before. You will have a lot more to give and you will more readily enjoy sharing what you have. You will naturally and easily become kinder, more generous and more caring of others – without having to struggle to achieve this. You will have a happier and more positive attitude to the people in your life and they will respond more positively to you in return. Is a forgiving person easier to be around than an unforgiving one? Yes, of course they are. A forgiving person is always much easier to be around than an unforgiving one. The quality of your life depends on the quality of your relationships. Every aspect of your life will change for the better as you learn to forgive; whether in your family, your work life or your social life. Learning to forgive will improve all your relationships, because your attitude will improve. As your relationships improve, then all aspects of your life will also improve. If you want to move up to the next level of financial abundance and success, Forgiveness will help you achieve it. For example, if you want more money in your life you need to make sure that you do not resent people who have more money than you. People with more money than you are the ones best placed to help you have more money too. If, as some people do, you resent “people with money” then they will not be able to help you, because you are not open to them while you are busy resenting them. Likewise, if you have a positive attitude to people who are more successful than you (you smile at them rather than glower at them) they will see you as approachable and will more likely want to work with you, or socialise with you. If you want a better job, and to earn more money, then having a positive attitude towards the place you work, towards your boss, towards colleagues and towards clients or customers, helps immensely. People who have a positive, helpful attitude stand out in any situation. You can never succeed in an organisation which you do not want to succeed, because you will not give of your best. If you do not give of your best, by doing the best job you can, then you will not receive the best that can come to you. Forgiveness will help you have the kind of attitude which will make you very successful at your job. Learning to forgive yourself is vitally important too. Hurting yourself, by refusing to forgive yourself, hurts others also. If you do not forgive yourself then you will punish yourself by denying yourself the good things in life. The more you deny yourself the less you have to give. The less you have to give the less you can benefit those around you. When you stop limiting what you receive then you stop limiting what you can give. Everyone benefits when you forgive yourself as you then allow more good into your life, and have a lot more to share. When you forgive; you become a better husband or wife, you become a better student or teacher, you become a better employer or employee and you become a better parent or child. When you forgive you are more open to success in whatever ways are meaningful to you. As you learn to forgive, what seemed impossible not only becomes possible, but can even become easily achievable. If you are a religious, or spiritually minded, person then learning practical ways to forgive will enhance and deepen your experience of your religion or spiritual practice. It will help free you from guilt about not being as “good” as you feel you should be, because it will help you become the type of person you would like to be. Practising forgiveness strengthens the goodness within you so that it becomes more active in your life. You will naturally feel less inclined to do the things you know you should not do, but have not been able to stop yourself doing. You will start to do more of the things you know you ought to do, but have not been able to get yourself to do. Learning to forgive can only help you; it cannot hurt you. Forgiveness is immensely practical and helpful. There is nothing vague, or impractical about it. Forgiveness sets you free. As you learn to forgive many problems (possibly even health problems) will gradually disappear. It will be as if you can view your life from above and can see the easiest way get to where you want to be. Life will open up in front of you. New opportunities will emerge as if from nowhere. Happy coincides will occur where you meet just the right person at just the right time. Ideas or answers will come to you just as you need them. A friend may make a comment, or you flip open a book or a magazine, or you may overhear a conversation which gives you just what you were looking for. Why is this so? It is because by practising forgiveness you become more open to the goodness of life, so that goodness is more able to find its way to you. As you learn to forgive, abilities which have been dormant within you will emerge, and you will discover yourself to be a much stronger and more capable person than you previously imagined. Parts of yourself which could not thrive in the frigid soil of unforgiveness will start to grow. You will begin to let go of struggling and striving. You will find more of an easy flow and life will be a lot more pleasant and a lot more enjoyable. If this all sounds like exaggeration, then let that be for now. Simply practice the Four Steps to Forgiveness that you will find within these pages and you will be very glad that you did.