Passion for Your Life in Christ

How to have delight in the Lord and experience His providential guidance

What really counts for achieving the success, the goals, aspirations and dreams that God has put in your heart for your life?

“Without passion, purpose and persistence, no amount of confidence talent and ability will lead to outstanding success.”

Hilton Johnson, business Trainer

The only thing I might add to that statement is the phrase, “in anything.”

King Solomon wisely advised,

“Whatever you do, do it with thy might.”  That means, put your strength into it.  Put your passion and heart into it.  My father taught me one of my most memorable impressions, saying: “If you’re going to do anything, do it well.”

Remember that the Apostle Paul also said:

“Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men.”

Colossians 3:23

Does that mean, “with all your heart?”  Do you think that suggests we should do what we choose to do with ‘gusto’ and vitality as well as with vibrancy and energy?  Where are you going to get that?  It’s vital for us to identify what the deep-down desire in our heart from God really is.  When you know there is something bubbling up from your inner most being, that God is giving you a passion to do, and if you pursue that, it will make all the difference in the world.  And that’s the key to provide the energy that will make a difference in your daily work.  Whatever it is that you do, find something in it that will give you delight in doing it.  Even if you’re in a difficult situation, just think of others in the world you may have heard about who face difficulty.  Is it possible for them to have Godly passion and delight in the midst of their trying circumstances?  If it weren’t we would understandably tend to be hopeless.  But I’m reminded of the story of Viktor Frankl.  He reported after he was released from a Nazi concentration camp for Jewish people during World War II that he discovered there was one thing his captors could not take away from him – the freedom to exercise his own attitude.  Here are some of his quotes.

  • Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of human freedoms – to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.
  • When we are no longer able to change a situation – we are challenged to change ourselves.
  • There is nothing in the world, I venture to say, that would so effectively help one to survive even the worst conditions as the knowledge that there is a meaning in one’s life.

The Bible gives us a lot of guidance in how to have a right attitude, doesn’t it?  It will reflect a right standing with our Lord and Savior.  So if we’re going to be truly effective in anything we pursue, the passionate approach is going to make the difference between truly outstanding and mediocre.  The choice is ours.

Remember the passage in Psalm 37 where it says that “He will give you the desires of your heart?”  When will God do that?  It’s when you decide to absolutely delight in Him.

“Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart.”

Psalm 37:4

And that means abandoning all your excuses and all your fears, making the determined commitment that you’re no longer going to settle for a half-hearted attitude toward whatever you do in your life.

Those deep-down positive and good desires in your heart are from God, your Heavenly Father.  Think about it.  The word ‘desire’ is made of two parts; “sire” meaning to father and “de” meaning ‘derived from.’  When it says ‘He gives you the desires of your heart’ think about how your heavenly Father is actually placing those righteous desires in your heart when you are one who ‘delights’ in Him.

If it’s worth doing at all, you may as well enjoy the ride and do it with all your might.  He made you with the capacity to enjoy all the gifts and opportunities in life.  You may as well discover the passion in those opportunities that gives you the energy to accomplish the results that will really make the difference in your journey toward your goals.

Even if parts of your life seem boring or disturbing, ask God to help you find some fleck of purpose that can give you a special passion for finding delight in whatever you have the opportunity to do.  When I decided to focus on the needs of others, a turning point happened for my whole life.  A friend brought to my attention that what I discovered was right out of the Bible in Isaiah chapter 58 where it reveals God’s ‘chosen fast.’

“And if you give yourself to the hungry, and satisfy the desire of the afflicted, then your light will rise in obscurity and darkness and your gloom will become like mid-day; and the Lord will continually guide you and satisfy your desire in scorched places, and give strength to your bones, and you will be like a watered garden and like a spring of water whose waters do not fail.  And those from among you will rebuild the ancient ruins.  You will raise up the age old foundations and you will be called the repairer of the breach, the restorer of the streets in which to dwell.”

Isaiah 58:10-12

When we decide to make God’s purposes our purposes, and put His priorities ahead of our priorities then all these other things will be added to our life.

“Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.”

Matthew 6:33

Jesus said that when He goes away that He would send another Comforter to His followers.  He will guide you into all the truth.  The Holy Spirit – the Comforter – is here with you right now.  He’s operating in your life right now.  He wants the inroad to your heart so He can make the things that are most important to your life able to give you passion and purpose.  When you do that it starts to make a difference in your choices.  You’ll make choices every day.  What are you going to do with your time?  What are your priorities in life?  Who are you going to spend your time with?  How are you going to use your time wisely or unwisely?

I discovered that God was doing exactly as His Word describes, “at work in you both to will and to do of His good pleasure.”  (Philippians 2:13).  He’s doing the same thing in you right now.  He wants to perfect in you the good works that He has prepared for you to work out as you serve Him (Ephesians 2:10).

 

 

 

 

Thanksgiving to our Maker

The Fear of God = Trust in God’s Complete Word

There’s probably no better way to realign our hearts and attitudes in our perverse generation than to enter God’s presence with thanksgiving on our lips.

Why should we all give thanks to God?

Psalm 95:2 tells us: “Let us come before His presence with thanksgiving…”  But why?

(more…)

Why We Celebrate Thanksgiving in America

by Stephen McDowell - article on the Providence Foundation website

Did you know that Thanksgiving is a uniquely American holiday?  Other countries, like Canada, may have another holiday they have given the same name, but the concept originates with the heritage of America before there was ever a nation called the United States and continued on as a profound tradition through its formative years.

Did you ever discuss with your family exactly why we have such a day devoted entirely to the idea of such a noble activity as the “giving of thanks?”

We’ve been giving thanks to God in private and public from the foundation of the nation. In fact, national and state governments in America regularly issued official days of Prayer and Thanksgiving from the planting of the first colonies up until the present. Over 1400 Days of Prayer, Thanksgiving, and Fasting were proclaimed by colonial, state, and national governments from 1620-1815, and hundreds more have been issued since then.

(see the reference at the end of this article and visit the website of Providence Foundation. The excellent worldview resources found there will bless your studies and change your life forever, as they have mine. DP)

“Enter His gates with thanksgiving, and his courts with praise. Give thanks to him and praise his name. For the Lord is good and his love endures forever; His faithfulness continues through all generations.”

(Psalm 100:4-5)

Concerning the blessings on America, President Lincoln wrote: “No human counsel hath devised, nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God.” President Lincoln went on to set apart the last Thursday of November as “a day of thanksgiving and praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the heavens.”1

While President Lincoln established America’s official Thanksgiving holiday in 1863, it was the Pilgrims who first celebrated a day of Thanksgiving in this land in 1621 and who set an example that many followed in the succeeding years.2

As the Pilgrims gathered their harvest in the autumn of 1621 and looked back over the preceding year, they had so much for which to be thankful that they decided to set aside a day of Thanksgiving unto God, Whom they acknowledged as the Giver of all blessings and the only reason for their survival. It was indeed a miracle that they did survive their first year in the wilderness of New England and had a good harvest. Desire for a home where they could freely worship God, and the desire to “propagate… the Gospel of the kingdom of Christ” and be stepping stones for others to do the same, motivated a band of Christians later called Pilgrims) to set out on a hazardous voyage to plant a colony in the new world of America.

“We ought to give thanks for all fortune: if it is ‘good,’ because it is good, if ‘bad’ because it works in us patience, humility and the contempt of this world and the hope of our eternal country.”

C.S. Lewis

After 66 terrifying days at sea, where the storms were so great that they were blown unknowingly hundreds of miles north of their intended destination, they reached Cape Cod. The captain attempted to sail south to Virginia, but the weather forced them (providentially) to settle in New England. They later learned that the site they chose for a settlement – Plymouth – had been the home of the Patuxet Indians. Had they arrived a few years earlier, there would have been no place for them to settle, but a plague had mysteriously wiped out the Patuxet tribe in 1617, and no other tribe would settle in the area for fear of the same thing occurring to them.

Winter had already set in as they started to build houses to protect themselves from the unrelenting cold. Scurvy and other diseases began to infect the settlers due to the long voyage, lack of provisions, and unaccommodating conditions.  People began to die so rapidly that in two or three months’ time only half of the original 102 persons remained. While this was quite a tragedy, they still fared much better than the early settlers at Jamestown, who saw nine out of ten persons die in the first years of colonization.

During this dark winter in America, the Christian character of the Pilgrims shone brightly. At the time of greatest distress, there were only six or seven persons strong enough to move about. With the sick they “spared no pains night nor day, but with abundance of toil and hazard of their health, fetched them wood, made them fires, dressed them meat, made their beds, washed their loathsome clothes, clothed and unclothed them; in a word, did all the homely and necessary offices for them which dainty and queasy stomachs cannot endure to hear named; and all this willingly and cheerfully, without any grudging in the least, showing herein their true love unto their friends and brethren. A rare example and worthy to be remembered.”3

A God-prepared Messenger named Squanto confirms the providential guidance of America’s Pilgrims

Though half of their number survived, the prospects of the coming year looked very bleak – they were surrounded by Indians, some hostile, they were short of food and supplies, and they knew little of how to survive in the American wilderness. But to their astonishment, and gratitude to God, an English-speaking Indian named Squanto came among them, took them under his care, and taught them how to survive in the new land.

He showed them how to plant corn, assuring its growth by setting it with fish; he taught them how to catch fish and the times when they could find the creeks stocked with fish (for the Pilgrims had only caught one cod in the preceding four months); he taught them to stalk deer, plant pumpkins, find berries, and catch beaver, whose pelts proved to be their economic deliverance.

Squanto was also helpful in securing a peace treaty between the Pilgrims and surrounding Indian tribes, which lasted over fifty years. In the words of William Bradford, “Squanto… was a special instrument sent of God for their good beyond their expectation.”4 His life story is amazing in itself.

In 1605, Squanto, a member of the Patuxet Indian tribe, was captured by an English explorer and taken to England. He remained there nine years, during which time he learned to speak English. In 1614, Captain John Smith took him back to New England, but shortly after this he was again taken captive and sold into slavery at a port in Spain. Providentially, some local friars bought and rescued him.

From Spain, he eventually went to England where he remained until 1619, when he obtained passage back to his home in New England. As Squanto went ashore at what was to become Plymouth, he found his entire tribe had been killed by a plague. He was the only survivor of the Patuxet tribe. Joining himself to a nearby tribe, he remained there until the spring of 1621 when he joined himself with the Pilgrims, determining to see them survive at the place where his tribe had not.5

Thanks to God, his instrument Squanto, and the character and determination of the Pilgrims, half of them had survived an unimaginably difficult first year. Moreover, they harvested a sufficient food supply for their second winter at Plymouth. Even though there was no surplus food, things looked much better than the preceding winter.

Governor Bradford appointed a day of Thanksgiving and invited the nearby Wampanoag Indians (Squanto’s adopted tribe) to celebrate and give thanks unto God with them. Chief Massasoit and ninety of his men came and feasted with the Pilgrims. They ate deer, turkey, fish, lobster, eels, vegetables, corn bread, herbs, berries, pies, and the Indians even taught the Pilgrims how to make popcorn. The Pilgrims and Indians also competed in running, wrestling, and shooting games. Massasoit enjoyed himself so much that he and his men stayed for three days.6 It is easy to see where the American tradition of feasting at Thanksgiving began.

While many people today follow the Pilgrim’s example of feasting at Thanksgiving, they too often ignore the entire reason that the Pilgrims set aside a special day – that was to give thanks to Almighty God and acknowledge their utter dependence upon Him for their existence. While many today take ease in having plenty, never seeing a need to cry out to God, the Pilgrims relied upon God in their lack and thanked Him in their abundance. Their trust was in God and not in their abundant provisions. This was seen even more fully in the two years following their first Thanksgiving.

Shortly after their Thanksgiving celebration, thirty-five new persons unexpectedly arrived who planned to remain and live at Plymouth. These being family and friends brought much rejoicing, but when they found out they had no provisions it also brought a soberness. Yet their reliance was upon God, so they gladly shared their food, clothing, and homes. With the new additions, their food, even at half allowance for each person, would last six months at most.

Their provisions had almost completely run out when they spied a boat in May of 1622. They hoped the English Company who had sponsored their colonizing Plymouth had sent provisions; however, this boat not only did not bring any food (nor the hope of any), but seven more hungry people to stay in Plymouth. In their extreme hunger, as in times of plenty, they put their complete trust in God to provide.

No one starved to death yet, it would be over a year before famine was completely removed from their midst. During that time there were many days where they “had need to pray that God would give them their daily bread above all people in the world.”7

That spring and summer of 1622 God miraculously fed them, even as the ravens fed Elijah in the wilderness. He provided because the Pilgrims had determined to walk in the way of their Lord Jesus. This was most evident in early summer when sixty “lusty” men (as Bradford called them) came to them for help. Even though these men showed no gratitude, the Pilgrims still gladly took care of them, for many were sick. They gave them housing and shared their meager provisions. This they did for almost the entire summer until the men left.

Like the year before, the harvest of 1622 proved insufficient to meet the Pilgrims’ needs. Outside help appeared doubtful, so the Pilgrims considered how they could produce a larger harvest. Through God’s wisdom they chose to replace the collective farming they had practiced the two preceding years (being imposed upon them by their sponsoring company) with individual farming, assigning to every family a parcel of land.

Bradford wrote: “This had very good success, for it made all hands very industrious, so as much more corn was planted than otherwise would have been by any means the Governor or any other could use… and gave far better content. The women now went willingly into the field, and took their little ones with them to set corn, which before would allege weakness and inability; whom to have compelled would have been thought great tyranny and.”8 As they were freed from economic communism and entered into individual enterprise, abundance began to come upon these people.

The Pilgrims learned the hard way that communism doesn’t work, even among a covenant community. Bradford wrote that “the experience that was had in this common course and condition, tried sundry years, and that amongst godly and sober men, may well evince the vanity of that conceit of Platos & other ancients, applauded by some of later times; – that the taking away of property, and bringing in community into a common wealth, would make them happy and flourishing; as if they were wiser than God.”9

The Pilgrims’ hard work, resulting from them being able to directly benefit from the fruit of their labors, caused them to plant about six times more crops than the previous year. While labor certainly increases our prosperity, there are other factors. God wanted the Pilgrims to never forget that it is the Lord that gives men the power to get substance or wealth (Deut. 8:18).

The Pilgrims had great hopes for a large crop, yet as Bradford wrote, “the Lord seemed to blast, & take away the same, and to threaten further & more sore famine unto them, by a great drought which continued from the 3rd week in May, till about the middle of July, without any rain and with great heat (for the most part) insomuch as the corn began to wither away.”10

In response to this, “they set a part a solemn day of humiliation to seek the Lord by humble & fervent prayer, in this great distress. And he was pleased to give them a gracious & speedy answer, both to their own & the Indians admiration, that lived amongst them. For all the morning, and greatest part of the day, it was dear weather & very hot, and not a cloud or any sign of rain to be seen, yet toward evening it began to overcast, and shortly after to rain, with such sweet and gentle showers, as gave them cause of rejoicing, & blessing God. It came, without either wind, or thunder, or any violence, and by degrees in that abundance, as that the earth was thoroughly wet and soaked therewith. Which did so apparently revive & quicken the decayed corn & other fruits, as was wonderful to see, and made the Indians astonished to behold.”11

An Indian named Hobamak who witnessed this event said to a Pilgrim: “Now I see that the Englishman’s God is a good God, for he hath heard you, and sent you rain, and that without storms and tempests and thunder, which usually we have with our rain, which breaks down our corn, but yours stands whole and good still; surely your God is a good God.”12

The harvest of 1623 brought plenty to each person, with the more industrious having excess to sell to others. From the time they started a biblical economic system, no famine or general want ever again existed among them.

That autumn of 1623, the Pilgrims again set apart a day of Thanksgiving unto God. They had much to give thanks for and knew Who to acknowledge.

Each year when we celebrate Thanksgiving, let us remember the heritage of that day and why the Pilgrims, as well as President Lincoln set aside a day of Thanksgiving. In the words of Lincoln, proclaiming the second National Thanksgiving Day: this is “a day of thanksgiving and praise to Almighty God, the beneficent Creator and Ruler of the Universe.”13

By Stephen McDowell, www.ProvidenceFoundation.com

Find and print the complete article at: http://providencefoundation.com/?page_id=1914

End Notes

  1. A Compilation of the Messages and Papers of the Presidents, Vol. 8 (New York: Bureau of National Literature, Inc., 1897), p. 3374.
  2. Some colonists in Virginia actually observed the first Thanksgiving celebration in America. This occurred at the Berkeley plantation in 1619. It is the Pilgrims, however, who provide us with the tradition of a Thanksgiving celebration. Lincoln’s proclamation for a day of thanksgiving was certainly not a new event in our history, for various colonies, congresses, and presidents have made many such proclamations throughout our history.
  3. William Bradford, Of Plimoth Plantation (Boston: Wright & Porter Printing, 1901), p. 111. Spelling has been changed to modern usage in this and the other quotes from Bradford.
  4. Ibid., p. 116.
  5. Peter Marshall and David Manuel, The Light and the Glory (Old Tappon, NJ: Fleming H. Revell Co., 1977), pp. 130-132. See also, Bradford, pp. 116-117; and Mourt’s Relation: A Journal of the Pilgrims of Plymouth (Plymouth, MA: Plymouth Rock Foundation, 1985), p. 48.
  6. Mourt’s Relation, pp. 72-73; Marshall and Manuel, pp. 135-136; see also, The Pilgrims and Plymouth Colony, by the editors of American Heritage (New York: American Heritage Publishing Co., 1961), pp. 102-103.
  7. Bradford, p. 164.
  8. Ibid., p. 162.
  9. Ibid., p. 163.
  10. Ibid, p. 170.
  11. Ibid., p. 170-171.
  12. Nathaniel Morton, New England Memorial, pp. 64-65.
  13. Messages and Papers of the Presidents, Vol. 8, pp. 3429-3430.

 

 

95 Reforms for Reformation, Then and Now

Does the number 95 mean anything special to you… Especially in the light of the month of October?

When you think about what happened just 500 years ago in Germany – 95 points of discussion were posted on the community bulletin board, a church door – a lowly monk unintentionally set in motion a sequence of events that changed the world more than any other single action by a human being since the resurrection of Christ. 

 My missionary friend in South Africa, Dr. Peter Hammond, has provided for us profound insights that can impact our priorities for generations to come if we’ll take them to heart. 

Unprecedented

Western civilization has been blessed with the greatest freedom, productivity and prosperity ever known in history. The liberty, standards of justice and creativity enjoyed in Western civilization is a direct result of the Protestant Reformation of the 16th Century.

First Things First

Our Lord Jesus Christ taught:

“But seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things shall be added to you.”

Matthew 6:33

The Question of Authority (more…)

Why Halloween Reformation Day was a Transforming Day in History

By Dennis Petersen

Do you know what October 31st is besides Halloween?  Hint: it’s one of the most important days in the history of the Christian church and it affects everything about your life today.  Everything!

It was on the 31st of October 1517 that a Catholic monk named Martin Luther nailed his famous 95 Theses to the door of the castle church in Wittenberg, Germany. By God’s grace, Luther’s courageous act of challenging corruption and unbiblical heresies launched the Great Reformation.  But why is this legacy worth recalling and how does it affect us today?

On Reformation Days – October 31st   – most American Christians seem more conscious of Halloween than of the Reformation. It appears that more of the children in our churches are celebrating pagan and dark, grotesque symbols for Halloween than the great spiritual Revival that led to the birth of the Protestant Reformation.

Halloween

Halloween is celebrated by millions on October 31st each year with costumes and candy. Despite its Christianized name, Halloween stems from an ancient pagan Celtic religion that started nearly two centuries before the birth of Christ.  The tribal Druids of Ireland and Europe offered end-of-harvest sacrifices at this beginning of winter to appease a Celtic demon they called Samhain (SOW-in), the lord of death, and of evil spirits. The early Gaelic Celts apparently believed that Samhain sent evil spirits into the world to attack humans, who could escape only by assuming disguises and looking like evil spirits themselves.  Catholic Christians tried to form an alternative tradition by moving the celebration of “All Hallows’ Day” that celebrated the lives of Christian martyred saints from May to November 1st.  So November 1st is referred to as “All Saints’ Day.” In medieval England that Catholic festival was known as All Hallows.  The evening before (October 31st) was thus named “All Hallows’ eve” which became Hallow-een.

Reformation Day

Reformation Day (October 31) commemorates Luther’s posting of his 95 Theses on the door of the Castle Church in Wittenberg, Germany on October 31, 1517. This one act triggered the Protestant Reformation because Luther’s challenges to the church’s practices were immediately translated and distributed all across Germany in a matter of weeks. The Protestant Reformation was the rediscovery of the doctrine of justification—that is, salvation by grace alone, through faith alone in Christ alone, like we read in Ephesians 2:8 and 9: “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God, not of works, that no one should boast.”  It was also the protest against the corruption within the Roman Catholic Church. The century before the Reformation was marked by widespread dissatisfaction with the corruption of the leaders in the Roman Catholic Church and with its false doctrines, biblical illiteracy, and superstition. Monks, priests, bishops, and popes in Rome taught unbiblical doctrines like the selling of indulgences, the treasury of merit, purgatory, and salvation through good works.

All Souls’ Day

All Souls’ Day or the Day of the Dead is normally celebrated, primarily by Roman Catholics, on November 2. This is a day dedicated to prayer and almsgiving in memory of ancestors who have died. People pray for the souls of the dead, in their hopeful belief to hasten their release from purgatory to heaven by being purged and cleansed from their sins.

Treasury of Merit

Spiritually sincere people were taught to redeem themselves by charitable works, pilgrimages, and all kinds of religious rituals. They were persuaded to acquire this “merit,” which was at the disposal of the church, by purchasing “certificates of indulgence.”  This left them wondering if they ever did enough or paid enough to appease God’s righteous anger and escape his judgment. That was the popular mindset that prompted Luther’s desire to refocus the church on salvation by grace through faith on account of Christ by imputation of Christ’s righteousness to us.

Think of it.  Almost 98% of medieval people couldn’t read.  They were spiritually oppressed by indulgences.  They had no assurance of God’s grace.  Doctor Luther proclaimed the grace of God’s acceptance for true saints.

Instead of the treasury of merit that was for sale, Luther protested, “The true treasure of the Church is the Most Holy Gospel of the glory and the grace of God”

Life in Europe and England (not to mention the rest of the world) has changed drastically since 500 years ago.  For both Christians and unbelievers, the time of the early 16th Century when Martin Luther lived was radically different and desperate.  It’s obvious that modern technology’s conveniences were absent, but even common things we take for granted like clean water and comfortable housing were unknown.

Think of Productive Prosperity

Western civilization has been blessed with the greatest freedoms, productivity and prosperity ever known in history.  The liberty, standards of justice and creativity enjoyed in Western civilization are direct results of the Protestant Reformation of the 16th Century.  Don’t miss why these amazing results occurred.

Our Lord Jesus Christ taught:  “But seek first the Kingdom of God and His Righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.” Matthew 6:33

Think of Peace with God.

 Martin Luther was passionate about finding peace with God.  He studied the Bible so intently that it led him to challenge the unethical fund-raising tactics of the papacy.  That’s what ignited the Protestant Reformation.  Luther’s love for the Word of God and his dedication to truth led him to challenge the entire ecclesiastical and political authority of the Roman Catholic Church and the Holy Roman Empire.

Can we imagine a society without Freedom of Conscience?

Sometimes I think we miss the huge gravity of some things.  Luther’s courage to stand against the political and religious might of Europe was one of the most incredible acts of conscientious defiance in the history of the world.  He argued for freedom of conscience based upon the authority of Scripture.  Until then the fear of man was preeminent.  Luther feared God.   All religions and cultures on earth bowed to a monarchy, aristocracy and authoritarianism.  The formal Roman Catholic institution was corrupt.  Luther and the Reformers were convinced that man without God is hopelessly depraved and no human authority could be trusted as absolute.  He rejected ecclesiastical totalitarianism and championed the principle of Sola Scriptura – the Bible alone is our ultimate authority.

Education for All

Luther translated the Bible from the original Greek and Hebrew into the common tongue.   Everybody could now have access to it; both nobles and peasants.  Luther championed education and literacy for everyone.  He defended the Priesthood of all Believers.  And what Revolutionary concept did that one biblical principle lead to?

Constitutional Authority

Jesus Christ is the King of kings and the Lord of lords.  Everyone is under God’s Law.  The reformer’s principle of Sola Scriptura broke down ecclesiastical and political totalitarianism.  The Protestant emphasis on the Priesthood of all Believers led to the concept of representative government and constitutional authority as the supreme law of the land.

What results from convincing society of the truth of Religious Liberty?

By emphasizing the Biblical doctrine of Faith as a gift of God, Luther undermined the Catholic Inquisition and provided the theological foundations for religious liberty and freedom of conscience.  Religious liberty and freedom of conscience led to freedom of speech, freedom of the press, freedom of association and all the other out-workings of political and social freedom.

The Reformation gave us the Bible – available in our own languages.

Few people today realize that the first Bibles printed in English had to be printed in Germany and smuggled into England in bales of cotton from Holland.  The first Bible translator, William Tyndale, was executed by strangulation and his body burned at the stake for the crime of translating the Bible into English.  Seven mothers and fathers were burned alive at Coventry for teaching their own children The Ten Commandments, the Lord’s Prayer, and the Apostles Creed – in English.

Courage and Sacrifice for Believers today?

The sacrifices made by the Reformers and the far-reaching impact of their courageous application of the Word of God to every area of life, needs to be rediscovered.  The Christian Church has made more positive changes on earth than any other force or cause in History.

Blessing the Nations

Most of the languages of the world were developed into a written system by Christian missionaries.  More schools and universities have been started by Christians than any other religion, nation or group.  Christian Reformers and missionaries have succeeded in bringing about the abolition of slavery, cannibalism, child sacrifice and widow burning.  Those countries that enjoy the most civil liberties, are those lands where the Gospel of Christ has penetrated the most.

Transforming Nations

The Gospel of Jesus Christ is life-changing, history making and nation transforming.  If it doesn’t change your life and the lives of those around you, then it’s not the Biblical Gospel.

Checks and Balances

The Reformers understood God’s Sovereignty. They courageously proclaimed that Scripture alone is our final authority.  Christ alone is the Head of the Church.  Justification is by God’s Grace alone, on the basis of the finished work of Christ, received by Faith alone.  The Reformers’ teaching on the depravity of man, the New Covenant in Christ, and church government, have influenced positive political and social developments in liberty throughout the Western world and beyond, establishing checks and balances, the separation of powers and constitutional authority.

Faith and Freedom

All of us are beneficiaries of this tremendous movement for Faith and Freedom.  If you love liberty, you need to re-examine the history and principles of the Reformation.

The Reformation took the Church out of gross ignorance and spiritual darkness.

Before the Reformation the church had no Bible. And a church without a Bible is as useless as a lighthouse without light, or a car without an engine. The priests and people knew scarcely anything about God’s Word or the way of salvation in Christ.

Now think of this:  Our current generation of believers… not to mention the world learning corrupted revisionist history … is in danger of losing the profound legacy of courage that preserved Bible truths that are much forgotten.

The 16th Century was the pivotal generation of martyrs who willingly laid down their lives to preserve the scripture for us.  That was providential!  Why?  Because the truths in the Bible are eternal and essential for communicating the heart of God and regenerating lost souls to gain eternal life.

Deuteronomy 7:9 says: “Know therefore that the Lord your God is God; He is the faithful God, keeping His covenant of love to a thousand generations of those who love Him and keep His commandments.”

The second commandment contains both a severe threat and a most incredibly gracious promise.

“You shall not make for yourself an idol in the form of anything in Heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generation of those who hate Me, but showing love to thousands who love Me and keep My commandments.”

Deuteronomy 5:8-10

A Solemn Responsibility

Parents have an awesome responsibility. We are to bring up our children “in the training and instruction of the Lord.” (Ephesians 6:4)  We are to “train a child in the way he should go …” (Proverbs 22:6)  According to 1 Timothy 3:4, we are to manage our own family well and see that our children learn to obey with proper respect.

Psalm 78:4-8 tells us to…

 “tell the next generation the praiseworthy deeds of the Lord, His power and the wonders He has done … so that the next generation would know them, even the children yet to be born, and they in turn would tell their children. Then they would put their trust in God and would not forget His deeds, but would keep His commands. They would not be … stubborn and rebellious … (like previous generations) whose hearts were not loyal to God, whose spirits were not faithful to Him.”

The Bible tells us to not just raise God-fearing sons, but sons who will become God-fearing fathers, who in turn will raise God-fearing sons to become fathers who will love, honor, trust and obey God. We are to raise disciples who raise disciples so that God’s generational blessing is passed down and the chain unbroken.

Invitation

I invite you to visit our website www.ReclaimYourLegacy.com and share our resources with your family and friends.  And if your church or group would like to have us minister in person, just contact me.  I truly trust we can help you and your friends strengthen your life’s purpose and reclaim your legacy.

Martin Luther said:

“If I profess with the loudest voice and clearest exposition, every portion of the truth of God’s Word, except precisely that point which the world and the devil are at that moment attacking, then I am not confessing Christ, however boldly I may be professing him. Where the battle rages, there the loyalty of the soldier is proved; and to be steady on all the battlefront besides is mere flight and disgrace – if he flinches at that point.

Compromise and cowardice hurts everyone It’s short-sighted.  The Word of God commands us not to be afraid of any man (Deuteronomy 1:17). We are warned that the fear of man will prove to be a snare (Proverbs 29:25).  It is cowardice for us to remain silent when we should speak up. To be passive and inactive when we should fight for what is right. Isaiah 51:12-13 says:

“Who are you that you should be afraid of a man who will die, and of a son of man, who will be made like grass? You forget the Lord your maker, who stretched out the Heavens and laid the foundations of the earth…” 

The Bible tells us that God seeks “Godly offspring…” Malachi 2:15. It is the first priority of parents and teachers to ensure that children are taught to love God and His Word. Secular humanist education is attempting to kill God by eradicating Him from the classroom and from the minds of the next generation. By eliminating the Bible as the basis for all knowledge, humanists are removing the very foundation of truth. They are prohibiting the only objective standard by which reality can be evaluated.

“See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world, rather than on Christ.”   Colossians 2:8

Martin Luther wrote:

“I am much afraid that schools will prove to be wide gates to hell, unless they diligently labor in explaining the Holy Scriptures, engraving them on the hearts of the youth. I advise no one to place his child where the Scriptures do not reign paramount. Every institution in which men are not constantly occupied with the Word of God must become corrupt.”

In this culture war, it is vital that we understand the war between Creation and the theory of Evolution. Science textbooks and Museums are strategic battlegrounds in the world war of worldviews.

We need to know the Word of God and we need to know the God of the Word. We need to know God and to make Him known.  It is vital that we know what we believe, why we believe it, and to practically know how to defend it in argument. It is also vital that we become effective soul winners.

Christians must recognize that we are involved in a world war of worldviews. There is a war against God and against His Word – The Bible. In this battle for the mind, classrooms and cinemas are battlefields. Education is a battleground. The textbooks and the teachers are frequently promoting evolutionism, situation ethics, sex education and values clarification. Reality is being rearranged by selective focus and in what Karl Marx declared “the first battlefield – the rewriting of history.” By twisting perceptions, secular humanists hope to steal our children and hijack our culture and country. Much of the entertainment industry has been so subverted as to glamorize evil, popularize profanity, and celebrate ugliness. It is the duty of Christians to support excellent Christian media.

The philosophy of Evolution that is called a theory is a vile attempt to get rid of God from society’s thinking.  Evolution destroys all meaning, purpose, direction, justice and hope in life. The Scriptures declare: “The fool says in his heart, ‘there is no God’. They are corrupt, their deeds are vile; there is no one who does good.” Psalm 14:1

We are called to be the light of the world. All the darkness cannot put out the smallest light. “For the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the Glory of the Lord as the waters cover the sea.” Habakkuk 2:14

Young people have a far greater capacity for spiritual and social maturity than we give them credit for. Young people should be encouraged to go deeper, further and higher for the Lord.  The recent phenomenon of age-segregated Sunday morning worship should be re-evaluated in the light of Scripture. The youth are not the Church of tomorrow, they are part of the Church today. The Church is one body. “For as the body is one, and has many members, and all the members of that body being many are one body; as also is Christ.” 1 Corinthians 12:12

Parents should be raising up their children in the fear of God, in fellowship with all believers. Church social events should involve families. Youth ministry should be returned to where it belongs – to families and fathers. It is a sad fact that many youth groups are doing more harm than good. “Those who walk with the wise become wiser still, but the companion of fools suffers harm.” Proverbs 13:20

Many mainline denominations have been infiltrated by secular humanists, who have gutted the churches of the Biblical Gospel and produced generations of spineless quasi-believers. (Dr. Hammond calls them evangellyfish). Many churches are filled with pseudo-saved, semi-saved, half-saved, un-saved, pew-warmers who have never been truly converted, nor have they come into any real relationship with our Lord Jesus Christ.

What are we going to do about all this?

Is there not a cause?

By Dennis Petersen

“Is There not a cause?” asked the shepherd David in Israel 3,000 years ago, when he witnessed the fear of Goliath among his fellow countrymen.

 

It’s bad enough when the enemies of your own life overwhelm you with fear.  But when the enemies of your whole culture, indeed of the very kingdom of your God, are openly hostile to the absolute values and objectives of life itself, do you think we might possibly be encouraged by this memorable ancient landmark recorded so specifically for us in our Bible?

 

I’m reminded of the Apostle Paul’s insight in Romans 15:4, telling us that:

 

“whatever was written in earlier times was written for our instruction, that through perseverance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.”

 

Do you think that our generation could use some hope?  Do you sense that Christians and non-Christians alike are feeling overwhelmed by the “Goliaths” that threaten our very existence in today’s world?

 

Take a little time to personally review the story of David’s encounter on the battlefield with the giant Goliath in first Samuel 17.

 

There are lots of Scriptural encouragements. We must continually reflect on them when facing fearful conditions.  Those causes may make us faint or recoil from the calling of God on His people and on us individually.  We need strength that comes from His Word.

 

“The battle is the Lord’s”

1 Sam. 17:47.

 

And that declaration emboldened David to proclaim to his enemy that God “will give you into our hands.”

… Let’s read the whole passage beginning after Goliath’s cursing of David, at verse 45.

 

“ Then David said to the Philistine, “You come to me with a sword, a spear, and a javelin, but I come to you in the name of the LORD of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have taunted. 46 This day the LORD will deliver you up into my hands, and I will strike you down and remove your head from you. And I will give the dead bodies of the army of the Philistines this day to the birds of the sky and the wild beasts of the earth, that all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel, 47 and that all this assembly may know that the LORD does not deliver by sword or by spear; for the battle is the LORD’S and He will give you into our hands.”

Read Psalm 2.

Why are the nations in an uproar
And the peoples devising a vain thing?
2 The kings of the earth take their stand
And the rulers take counsel together
Against the LORD and against His Anointed, saying,
3 “Let us tear their fetters apart
And cast away their cords from us!”
4 He who sits in the heavens laughs,
The Lord scoffs at them.
5 Then He will speak to them in His anger
And terrify them in His fury, saying,
6 “But as for Me, I have installed My King
Upon Zion, My holy mountain.”
7 “I will surely tell of the decree of the LORD:
He said to Me, ‘You are My Son,
Today I have begotten You.
8 ‘Ask of Me, and I will surely give the nations as Your inheritance,
And the very ends of the earth as Your possession.
9 ‘You shall break them with a rod of iron,
You shall shatter them like earthenware.’”
10 Now therefore, O kings, show discernment;
Take warning, O judges of the earth.
11 Worship the LORD with reverence
And rejoice with trembling.
12 Do homage to the Son, that He not become angry, and you perish in the way,
For His wrath may soon be kindled.
How blessed are all who take refuge in Him!
“For the eyes of the Lord move to and fro throughout the earth that He may strongly support those whose heart is completely His.”

2 Chron. 16:9

 

Let’s not forget what is the promise of God to those who chose the Lord’s true fast in Isaiah 58:10:

“If you give yourself to the hungry and satisfy the desire of the afflicted, then your light will rise in darkness and your gloom will become like midday.”   And look at verse 12: “And those from among you will rebuild the ancient ruins; you will raise up the age-old foundations; and you will be called the repairer of the breach, the restorer of the streets in which to dwell.”

Does that remind you of the work of Nehemiah in ancient Israel?

“When I saw their fear, I rose and spoke to the nobles, the officials, and the rest of the people; “Do not be afraid of them; remember the Lord who is great and awesome, and fight for your brothers, your sons, your daughters, your wives, and your houses.”

Nehemiah 4:14:

 

In times of crisis the urgency for followers of Jesus to “Abide” in Him could not be more absolute.  Read John 15:4-11

“Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in Me. 5 I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing. 6 If anyone does not abide in Me, he is thrown away as a branch and dries up; and they gather them, and cast them into the fire and they are burned. 7 If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. 8 My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit, and so prove to be My disciples. 9 Just as the Father has loved Me, I have also loved you; abide in My love. 10 If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love; just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love. 11 These things I have spoken to you so that My joy may be in you, and that your joy may be made full.”

We all need to be reminded daily of the message of Galatians 6:2-10:

“Bear one another’s burdens and thus fulfill the law of Christ.”

And we dare not forget about the warning of 1 Peter 5:8:

“Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.”

With all the negative and seemingly hopeless conditions surrounding our generation, do you think God, the Holy Spirit, might be speaking to us to “encourage one another day after day?”  Read Hebrews 3:7-19.

“Therefore, just as the Holy Spirit says,
“TODAY IF YOU HEAR HIS VOICE,
8 DO NOT HARDEN YOUR HEARTS AS WHEN THEY PROVOKED ME,
AS IN THE DAY OF TRIAL IN THE WILDERNESS,
9 WHERE YOUR FATHERS TRIED Me BY TESTING Me,
AND SAW MY WORKS FOR FORTY YEARS.
10 “THEREFORE I WAS ANGRY WITH THIS GENERATION,
AND SAID, ‘THEY ALWAYS GO ASTRAY IN THEIR HEART,
AND THEY DID NOT KNOW MY WAYS’;
11 AS I SWORE IN MY WRATH,
‘THEY SHALL NOT ENTER MY REST.’”
12 Take care, brethren, that there not be in any one of you an evil, unbelieving heart that falls away from the living God. 13 But encourage one another day after day, as long as it is still called “Today,” so that none of you will be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. 14 For we have become partakers of Christ, if we hold fast the beginning of our assurance firm until the end, 15 while it is said,
“TODAY IF YOU HEAR HIS VOICE,
DO NOT HARDEN YOUR HEARTS, AS WHEN THEY PROVOKED ME.”
16 For who provoked Him when they had heard? Indeed, did not all those who came out of Egypt led by Moses? 17 And with whom was He angry for forty years? Was it not with those who sinned, whose bodies fell in the wilderness? 18 And to whom did He swear that they would not enter His rest, but to those who were disobedient? 19 So we see that they were not able to enter because of unbelief.”

Today’s poorly taught Christians need to rediscover the implications of what is written in several places like Hebrews 10:12-13 about the cause to which we are assigned.

“but he, having offered one sacrifice for sins for all time, sat down at the right hand of God, waiting from that time onward until his enemies be made a footstool for his feet.”

Who does the world belong to?

“…who did Abram tell the king of Sodom about God?  Genesis 14:22 says: “But Abram said to the king of Sodom, “I have raised my hand to the LORD, God Most High, the Possessor of heaven and earth…”

Psalm 24:1-6

Is God able?

“Behold, I am the LORD, the God of all flesh; is anything too difficult for Me?”

Jeremiah 32:27

When you think about the enemies of God in the world today, do you have your hope in God or in man to deliver the righteous children of God by the grace of our Savior Jesus Christ?

The Devil may be “the god of this world (system)” the idol of people who ignore God Almighty, but that does not mean that Jesus has revoked the authority and jurisdiction that was validated by His resurrection.

“Wherefore he saith, When he ascended up on high, he led captivity captive, and gave gifts unto men.”

Ephesians 4:8

When Jesus decreed from the cross, “it is finished” what remained yet to be done?

Colossians 2:15 says:

“He disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in him.”

When does the end come?

“then comes the end, when He hands over the kingdom to the God and Father, when He has abolished all rule and all authority and power.  For He must reign until He has put all His enemies under His feet.  The last enemy that will be abolished is death.”

1 Corinthians 15:24-26

Are there enemies yet to be abolished besides the last enemy of death itself?

Read on to the last verse of chapter 15:

“Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your toil is not in vain in the Lord.”

 

Godly Success Knows No Excuses

By Dennis Petersen

The Scriptures give us many emphatic directions on how to achieve success with God’s help in our daily lives

Everybody’s heard Proverbs 3:5-6

“Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.  In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.”

…but the first part is equally important and perhaps especially needed when motivation is waning because of the many discouraging conditions around us.  Here’s what it says:

“My son, do not forget my teaching, but let your heart keep my commandments, for length of days and years of life and peace they will add to you.  Let not steadfast love and faithfulness forsake you; bind them around your neck; write them on the tablet of your heart.  So you will find favor and good success in the sight of God and man.”

And the classic ‘success’ passage in the Bible is God’s commission to Joshua in Joshua chapter 1:

“Only be strong and very courageous, being careful to do according to all the law that Moses my servant commanded you. Do not turn from it to the right hand or to the left, that you may have good success wherever you go.  This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success.  Have I not commanded you?  Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.”

I have some questions for you today about your success and your future.  Let’s talk about them and see what we can do to improve our situation – not only for own sakes but for the sakes of the people around us …the community … and ultimately the society we live in.  Why?  So that we can be a testimony of God’s goodness and blessing – bringing others to a closer relationship with Him.

Here are the key questions you really need to ask yourself:

Do you really want to be successful?

Do you think it’s okay with God if you’re successful?

Are you willing to do what it takes to achieve more of what you were created to be and to do?

What are the excuses that have prevented you from moving forward?

It’s time to become the type of influential person who eliminates excuses and takes responsibility for their actions. It is time to become the rare individual that others can look up to as a model of accountability and purposeful results.

Establish your purpose.  Specify your Goals.  Determine what you want.  It’s within you to achieve great things.  Taking personal responsibility for where you are in life is a wonderful first step… so learn to fess up to your excuse-making and decide now to stop making them in the future.

He that is good for making excuses is seldom good for anything else. ~Benjamin Franklin

Use your mind to make money… and not to make excuses. ~Robert Kiyosaki

If you don’t want to do something, one excuse is as good as another. Yiddish Proverb

“Excuses are tools of the incompetent, and those who specialize in them seldom go far.”

“Difficulty on the way to victory is opportunity for God to work”. Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

When you ask a six year old why they didn’t do their chores, they might respond with “I forgot.” When you ask your employee or co-worker why a project isn’t completed they may respond with, “I didn’t know it was a priority” or “I have not had enough time.” When you ask your congressman why the government is a mess you’ll likely get a long-winded excuse about why it’s everyone else’s fault but theirs. Excuses are like air, they constantly surround you wherever you go.

Most excuses are just answers about why you didn’t do something.  “Why were you late?”  If you are like most people your answer will be something like, “my alarm clock didn’t go off” or “an unexpected phone call held me up.”   With a life filled with expectations by other people we naturally tend to get defensive about our lack of meeting those expectations.  People want answers.

What about the larger life-altering questions?  It seems that we’re just too polite to ask the difficult questions. “Why aren’t you successful?”  “Why haven’t you lived up to your potential?”  “Why are you so unhappy?”  We might go our whole life without hearing questions like these.  But we all know that, deep down, we’re bothered by them… and we’re making all sorts of excuses to ourselves that keep us stuck.

When we’re not successful, maybe we’ll blame our parents.  Or maybe it’s the education system, the boss, our co-workers, our spouse, or countless other individuals who stood in our way or didn’t contribute to our success.  Do we really want to continue being like the 90% of the people out there who blame faceless institutions for creating rules that specifically would not let them succeed?   Have you heard the “lack of time” excuse?  You’d think some people were only given 16 hours a day to work instead of 24. Most of us seem to blame everything under the sun except our own actions for why we haven’t achieved success.

Have you ever thought about the difference between being interested in something and being fascinated by something?  Interested? Or Fascinated?  Which will it be?  When you’re truly fascinated with something you’ll dig deeper to find out all you can about it and make appropriate choices and actions that reflect the input you received.  When you are only ‘interested’ in something you tend to look for the slightest excuses to not take action and continue missing out on the benefits of life-changing discoveries.  Status quo rules and progress or success is stifled.

Why you have not achieved success in life is not due to your intelligence, your situation, or opportunities that have been given to you. Countless individuals started life with less and have achieved more than most others. If you have not achieved what you want in life, then look no further than the choices and actions you’ve made up to this point. If you’re thinking “Yeah, but my circumstance is unique” or “Yeah, but I don’t have…” or “Yeah, but (whatever other excuse you want to name),” then you’ll just continue on the path that brought you this far.

What time is it?

It’s time to become the type of individual who eliminates excuses and takes responsibility for their actions. It’s time to become the rare individual that others can look up to as a model of accountability and performance. It’s within you to achieve great things… and taking personal responsibility for where you are in life is a powerful first step on a life-changing journey.

As you move forward with the goal of being excuse-free, ask yourself a few questions:

Do You Really Want to Be Successful?

First you have to believe that your Creator made you to reach for and accomplish all that you were made to do.  Achieving success takes drive and determination.  Somebody else can’t make you have drive or motivation.  You have to decide for yourself.   It takes a strong inner determination to grab hold of inner initiative. It’s there… inside you … courtesy of your Creator… but almost everybody would rather take a winning lottery ticket than determine to do what it takes to achieve their own success.

Almost everyone claims that they want success but few are willing to put in the time, the energy, and the sacrifices needed to reach success. What do you want to accomplish in life? What are your goals? If success truly isn’t something you want, then don’t expect that it’s going to drop from the sky.

Who and What Have You Blamed for Past Failures?

Answering this question honestly will take a level of self-awareness that might make you uncomfortable. Have you constantly – inwardly or outwardly – complained about a lack of time? Have you thought to yourself that if you had a different boss, or business partner, or a more supportive spouse that you would be more successful?

What are the things in your situation that make you feel discouraged?  Maybe you’ve complained that they are the hindrance to your success.  If you will identify what you have blamed in the past, you’re taking an important step to dumping that excuse in the future.  If you catch yourself in the future making that same old excuse, just give yourself a little slap on the hand.  Smile outwardly and compliment yourself on the fact that you no longer are the type of person that blames others and situations for your circumstances.

What are the Excuses that have prevented You from Moving Forward?

There’s a good chance that you have a business idea or some area of interest that you have hesitated to take action on. Perhaps you’ve known that your area needs a new type of business that isn’t now available. Maybe you’re interested in real estate and know you can be successful but haven’t taken that next step.   Or maybe you just want to find a proven business you can get excited about that can be profitable for you.  Whatever the objective is, there have likely been excuses that you have told yourself to prevent you from moving forward with your ambition.

You know the common excuses: lack of time, lack of resources, and lack of money… maybe you just don’t know where to start and you need to attend some seminars to meet people and get ideas.  When you catch yourself making any of the countless excuses tempting you to put off action today…

Think about this.  There really shouldn’t be much mystery about your personal future.  Afterall… your actions today (or lack of them) have a huge impact on your consequences tomorrow (or 5 years from now).

There’s a reality check we all need to make once in a while.  There will never be the perfect time when you have unlimited time and resources.  You will never have performed all of the perfect planning, and learned all you need to know.  So just grab hold of your idea and run with it. Replace excuses with action and you will be amazed at the transformation that begins in your life.

 

 

Keys to True Success in Challenging Times of Change

By Dennis Petersen, Adapted from: True Success in Times of Change By Tom Morris Nightingale-Conant Corporation

The Bible teaches followers of Jesus Christ to ask God for wisdom when you realize that you lack it, and trust that He will give it to you. How do you think that wisdom is found?   Can we really believe that there is practical wisdom available for the way forward from where we are right now?  When the seemingly overwhelming crises of the world are swirling around us, how can we find a well-lighted path into some sort of sustainable future that we all want?

Joshua chapter one sets the stage after 40 years in the wilderness, facing one of the most challenging times of change that any people has ever faced.  They were facing constant conflict and stress.  In Joshua 24 Joshua summarizes that “we will serve the Lord.”

At the start of the years-long project to conquer the Promised Land God says in Joshua 1:8:

“This book of the law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it; for then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have success.”

If we are honest, we all want success.  When discouragement is all around us, God promised Joshua success when he kept his eyes on God and His Word.  Could it be that God’s wisdom for those who are asking for it can come from a message like this that is delivered in a timely season?

Tom Morris put together a list of seven conditions for success that are strikingly universal and basic to practically any situation.   These keys serve to lay a foundation for the most deeply satisfying and sustainable successes in life.  We should apply them to every challenge, opportunity, endeavor, or relationship.

The 7 Cs of Success

 (1) A clear CONCEPTION of what we want, a vivid vision, a goal clearly imagined.

(2) A strong CONFIDENCE that we can attain that goal.

(3) A focused CONCENTRATION on what it takes to reach the goal.

(4) A stubborn CONSISTENCY in pursuing our vision.

(5) An emotional COMMITMENT to the importance of what we’re doing.

(6) A good CHARACTER to guide us and keep us on a proper course.

(7) A CAPACITY TO ENJOY the process along the way.

There are, no doubt, other key concepts associated with success, but they can almost all be listed as components of one or more of these 7.   These 7 Cs give us a logical and comprehensive framework for success.

Let’s take a moment to look at each concept. Start with our basic need to identify a goal or set of goals. What are the applications for each of the seven keys?

1 – A clear CONCEPTION of what we want, a vivid vision, a goal clearly imagined

No matter where we live or what we do or who we are… every facet of our lives that anticipates successful achievement of something needs us to think as clearly as possible what we want to accomplish and what we’d like to see happen.

It’s not enough to say “I want a job.”  We must target what kind of job and where we want to work.

I’m reminded of the advice given to Alice in Wonderland (by the Cheshire cat – wasn’t it?).  If you don’t know where you’re going it doesn’t matter which way you go.  You’ll surely get there.  But it may not be where you’d like to get.

True success starts with an inner vision.  Sure, it’s incomplete at first.  But the vision for your goal will grow once you define it.  Just as Adam was given a defined goal to care for and develop the Garden of Eden, our world (as we find it) is just the raw material for what we can make of it.  God created us to use our creative energies to bring unique expression to the world He made.  It’s part of the condition of man to be made in the “image” of God – to be creative.  It’s part of His nature and our nature to be creative, artistic and expressive.  When we have clear goals in our minds and express them with our words and actions (like writing them down) then we start to develop structure for our actions.

So what do you want?  Get creative and think about where you want to go and what you want to be.

Did you know that if you choose to delight yourself in your Creator, He expressly promises to actually GIVE you the desires of your heart?  That’s in Psalm 37.

“Delight yourself in the LORD; And He will give you the desires of your heart.”

Is it possible that if we make a habit of pleasing and worshipping Him, He actually arranges things for us to think about goals and desires that originate from the heart of God Himself?  Isn’t it interesting to know the origin of the word “desire”?  Think of it.  “Sire” means “to father.”  “De” means “of”… so “Desire” means “of the Father.”  Could it be that our ability for creative expression — in dreaming about and planning goals — is a direct reflection of being created in the image of God?  If you are delighting yourself in the Lord He is promising to impart those heart desires and help you see them fulfilled.

[If you are interested in participating in our Legacy for Life Business/Ministry Team to help important ministry causes like this program to broaden their impact… and be well rewarded for your effort… I’m looking for a motivated self-starter who likes to empower people and lead others to discover solutions to many of life’s challenges in today’s world.  Call me to arrange a brief phone conversation at (866) 867-9943.  Let’s see if you might find a place on our leadership team.  This will open up new horizons for you as you see some things I’ll show you online.]

2 – A strong CONFIDENCE that we can attain the goal

Jesus tells us in Luke 12:6-7 that “you are of more value than many sparrows.”

If confidence is in any way related to faith, then how do we develop stronger confidence… stronger faith?  The Bible says that faith comes by hearing the word.  Let’s face it, the more we listen to and think about whatever we choose, the more knowledge about it we gain and the more confidence or faith we have in those words and concepts.  What’s our inside attitude?  It is absolutely the foundational key to outside results.

Are you launching a new enterprise?  Do you desire to seek a new direction?  You need upfront faith in what you’re doing.  Do whatever it takes to learn about your goal to have the faith, the confidence and the reassurance that you will arrive at your desired destination.   If we lack experience we may have to work hard to generate a confident attitude.   Is it worth it?  You bet it is.  Get the coaching and the education with someone who has been there before you.  In the process, you will raise your prospects for success. If you want confidence … then develop competence.  Let your natural curiosity urge you to dig deep in your study of the things that will help you achieve success in reaching your goal.  Will this guarantee success?  No… but your faith will compel you to take the risk anyway. And what if you fail?  You’re just one step closer to success.  You must fail.  It’s part of the pathway to success.  You will learn much and become stronger in the process.

3 – A focused CONCENTRATION on what it takes to reach the goal

The Bible tells us to do whatever we do with all our heart as a direct service to God and not just ourselves or other people.  Aim to please God no matter what you do… it’s the best thing you can do to assure success in reaching your goal.   Concentrate on your goal with focus.   When children are raised to succeed at little goals and then expand to bigger goals, they will be prepared to dream about even bigger goals as they grow up.  It’s important to understand that big dreams can lead to big disappointments if we don’t learn how to chart our way forward.

If we concentrate on the “what it takes” part of our vision, then our success at anything challenging will come from planning our path and then putting that plan into action.

It’s a well known Biblical principle that what you concentrate on (what you think about continually) is what you tend to become.  “As a man thinks, so is he.”   If you concentrate your thought and devote a lot of your energy into a new direction, two things will happen.  Your goal will become clearer and your mind will find new pathways of seeing things that you might have missed before.

New ideas and insights will come to your mind.  Providence has a way of guiding you to discover things you never noticed before and that relate to the goal you’ve set.  Focused concentration allows you to develop plans naturally.  Then you can act and adjust along the way.  Even a flawed plan can get you started and lead you to where you can discover a better plan.

4 – A stubborn CONSISTENCY in pursuing our vision

I discovered that the word consistency comes from two Greek roots — a verb meaning “to stand” and a particle meaning “together.” Consistency is all about standing together.

Now just think about it.  Ask yourself: “Do my actions stand together with my words?”

Go deeper.  Ask: “Do my reactions and emotions stand together with my deepest beliefs and values?”  This should cause some determination to rise up within our soul.  If it doesn’t then your heart isn’t in your vision in the first place.

But then the challenge gets a little harder.  Ask, “Do the people I work with stand together?”  You may have to deliberately find new associations who support the vision you’re pursuing.  If you want success, it’s important to hang around people who are supportive to your success.  This is what consistency is all about. It’s a matter of unifying your energy and efforts in a single direction. Inconsistency defuses power. Consistency moves us toward our goals.

5 – An emotional COMMITMENT to the importance of what we’re doing

Ever think about the difference between “interested” and “committed?”  Who would you rather have on your team?  Why should anyone bother pursuing something of value without commitment to the pursuit?  Passion is the core of extraordinary success. It’s a key to overcoming difficulties, seizing opportunities, and getting other people excited about your projects.

6 – A good CHARACTER to guide us and keep us on a proper course

Character inspires trust.  Nothing is more attractive to other people than trustworthiness, especially in a world where there is so much mistrust and suspicion.  And trust is necessary for people to work together well.  Good character is required for great collaboration.  Today’s world shows us that innovative partnerships are key to successful achievements. Collaboration and synergy are the new ‘currency’ of great accomplishments.  Excellence in moral character is foundational for working well together more than ever before.

And good character does a lot more than just promote trust. It truly has an effect on each person’s own inner sense of freedom and insight.  Bad character not only corrupts, it blinds. A person whose perspective has been deeply skewed by selfishness or dishonesty cannot understand what’s true as perceptively as someone whose sensibilities are ethical and full of positive moral character.  Good character makes sustainable success more likely.

7 – A CAPACITY TO ENJOY the process along the way

I’ve found that if we don’t enjoy the journey we probably can’t fully appreciate the destination.  The more you can enjoy the process of what you’re doing, the more likely you’ll have better results in the end.  It’s easier to set creative goals when you truly enjoy the process of your everyday activities toward those goals.  Confidence will come more naturally. Your concentration can seem effortless. Consistency will not be a battle. The emotional commitment will flow. And issues of character will not be as difficult to manage. A capacity to enjoy the process is inseparably part of every other factor of success.

These conditions of success are all intimately connected. They make up a fittingly designed framework that allows us to discover the most fulfilling forms of achievement in everything we do. They will help us to leave a legacy for the next generation that will truly be honored. They will energize and direct us to worthy accomplishments with a satisfaction that can be best characterized by the approval of our Maker when He tells us, “well done faithful servant.”

Why should we ever settle for anything less?

 

 

The Legacy of A Stress-free Life

By Brian Shilhavey

David, the second Jewish king lived a thousand years before Christ.  He was a man who faced tremendous stress in his life. Few of us today will face the kind of anxiety David experienced for more than 10 years of his life when he was constantly on the run from his enemies who were trying to kill him.  His psalms reveal keys that unlock powerful solutions even for today’s high stress world.

“Listen to my prayer, O God, do not ignore my plea; hear me and answer me. My thoughts trouble me and I am distraught at the voice of the enemy, at the stares of the wicked; for they bring down suffering upon me and revile me in their anger. My heart is in anguish within me; the terrors of death assail me. Fear and trembling have beset me; horror has overwhelmed me. I said, “Oh, that I had the wings of a dove! I would fly away and be at rest—I would flee far away and stay in the desert; I would hurry to my place of shelter, far from the tempest and storm.”

Psalm 55:1-8

One of the realities of life that our current physical science-based medical system has had to admit in recent years is that there are non-physical causes to poor health and disease. One widely accepted non-physical cause is “stress.” It’s quite well known today that the presence of stress in one’s life, and how one deals with that stress, has a direct impact on one’s health. Unfortunately, the solutions the medical system most often prescribes today for mental and emotional health are expensive drugs with serious side effects. So many people are “stressed out” that anti-depressant drugs have become a growing and prosperous business for pharmaceutical companies.

King David wrote in Psalm 55 that it wasn’t just his enemies that caused problems, but also his “friends” and fellow believers:

“If an enemy were insulting me, I could endure it; if a foe were raising himself against me, I could hide from him. But it is you, a man like myself, my companion, my close friend, with whom I once enjoyed sweet fellowship as we walked with the throng at the house of God.”

Psalm 55:12-14

Notice the signs of stress he wrote in that Psalm: “My thoughts trouble me and I am distraught… My heart is in anguish within me; the terrors of death assail me. Fear and trembling have beset me; horror has overwhelmed me.” If David confessed these feelings to a psychiatrist today, he would have been prescribed anti-depressant drugs immediately to try and stabilize his emotional condition. He had all the signs of “mental disease” including the temptation to try and escape from all of his problems by running away from them: “Oh, that I had the wings of a dove! I would fly away and be at rest—I would flee far away and stay in the desert; I would hurry to my place of shelter, far from the tempest and storm.” He was unstable, neurotic, and desperate. He would probably be labeled as “insane” today and be committed to a mental health hospital.

What was David’s solution to his enormous stress?

David did not seek out physicians in his anxiety. He appealed to God for help, trusting that God would hear his prayers and change his condition. If you read the psalms of David you will notice that David consistently took two approaches to dealing with anxiety and stress.  Both approaches involved prayer and a personal relationship with his Creator.

  1. David prayed to God, asking him to intervene in the circumstances of his life that were causing the stress:

“Confuse the wicked, O Lord, confound their speech, for I see violence and strife in the city… Let death take my enemies by surprise; let them go down alive to the grave, for evil finds lodging among them. But I call to God, and the LORD saves me. Evening, morning and noon I cry out in distress, and he hears my voice. He ransoms me unharmed from the battle waged against me, even though many oppose me. God, who is enthroned forever, will hear them and afflict them— men who never change their ways and have no fear of God.”

Psalm 55:9-19

As strong and powerful as David was, in many circumstances he was powerless against his enemies and the rulers of his day. But he knew first hand that God was not powerless, and so he appealed to God to intervene.

  1. David cast all of his worries and cares on God. He trusted in Him to take care of them all, and to sustain him with strength to endure everything.

“Cast your cares on the LORD and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous fall.”

Psalm 55:22

These two ways of using prayer to deal with stress are just as relevant to us today.  We are in the age of the New Covenant – Instituted by the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. The believers in the early church were often arrested and persecuted, suffering tremendous stress. The same two principles were used to deal with their anxiety and stress.

Principle 1 – pray for God to intervene in the stressful situation.

Here is an example of what was prayed after the believers were arrested and released for preaching about Jesus and miraculously healing a man (they didn’t follow the routine protocol for the healthcare of their day!):

“On their release, Peter and John went back to their own people and reported all that the chief priests and elders had said to them. When they heard this, they raised their voices together in prayer to God. “Sovereign Lord,” they said, “you made the heaven and the earth and the sea, and everything in them. You spoke by the Holy Spirit through the mouth of your servant, our father David: “‘Why do the nations rage and the peoples plot in vain? The kings of the earth take their stand and the rulers gather together against the Lord and against his Anointed One.’ Indeed Herod and Pontius Pilate met together with the Gentiles and the people of Israel in this city to conspire against your holy servant Jesus, whom you anointed. They did what your power and will had decided beforehand should happen. Now, Lord, consider their threats and enable your servants to speak your word with great boldness. Stretch out your hand to heal and perform miraculous signs and wonders through the name of your holy servant Jesus.” After they prayed, the place where they were meeting was shaken. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God boldly.”

Act 4:23-31

Principle 2 – cast all our anxieties and care on God, trusting him to take care of all our problems and to sustain us with his strength:

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

Philippians 4:6-7 – prescription for mental health

“Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that your brothers throughout the world are undergoing the same kind of sufferings. And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast. To him be the power forever and ever. Amen.”

1Peter 5:7-11

These are the two biblical principles for dealing with anxiety and stress, and they are the guiding principles for mental health. No drugs are needed but there is a requirement. It requires a relationship with God through Jesus.  And this is not just an intellectual knowledge about him. So the first step is the spiritual rebirth.  That’s something we need to seek and find for ourselves.

How do you deal with anxiety and stress? The two principles written about here are time-tested principles that have been used for thousands of years, long before modern-day pharmaceuticals came into the market place with our current medical system. They are backed by a guarantee from the Creator himself, the one who formed and fashioned you while still in your mother’s womb. Best of all, they are free!

“He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; by his wounds you have been healed. For you were like sheep going astray, but now you have returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.”

1Peter 2:24-25

“For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

Romans 6:23

Do you want a prescription for drug-free mental health?

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

Philippians 4:6-7

The Ant Philosophy… let’s teach our kids

I heard about how Jim Rohn, the well-known business trainer, taught about a very simple yet powerful concept – the ant philosophy.

The Bible teaches the wisdom of observing the humble ant and learning her ways.  Maybe we should all talk with each other from time to time about the characteristics of ants that should apply to our own lives as humans.

 

Do we value success?  Survival?  Community?  Progress?  Accomplishment?  Overcoming obstacles?  Endurance?  Resourcefulness?

What other values can you think of and why everybody should study ants?

Consider the simplicity of Four Basic Principles seen in the behavior of ants.

Principle Number One: ants never quit.

Can you think of some advantages of this kind of attitude?

If ants are going somewhere and you try to stop them; they’ll find another way, won’t they?  Working together or all alone, have you noticed that ants are determined to do whatever it takes to get where they want to go?  They’ll climb over, they’ll climb under, and they’ll climb around.  Nothing seems to stand in their way of finding the solution to every barricade you can throw at them.  They will find another way. Count on it.

Not a bad core value if you’re an ant or a person with a passion for living… is it?  Do you reckon this kind of persistence is worth brushing off and determining for yourself?  Never quit looking for a way to get where you’re supposed to go.

Principle Number Two: ants think winter all summer.

Now here’s a pretty energizing perspective.

You can’t be so naive to think summer will last forever.

Comfortable climate is no time to relax.  You know winter is coming.  The question is, “are you committed to do what it takes?”  Are you committed to the discipline of preparation?  Working hard in the summers of life will keep you from starving in the slow going winters when resources are sparse and conditions are more challenging.

Resist the temptation to join the partiers in their carefree summer flings.  Take some time for refreshment and pleasure but be careful not to overdo it.  Summer is no time to kick back.  The ants are showing us the way if we’ll only pay attention.

Be reminded that summertime can fool you.  If you’re not thinking ahead you’ll forget that “this doesn’t last.”  Be careful where and how you build your house, your business or your project in the summer when life is going fine.  Think how the landscape around you will look when the storms are upon you.  Be realistic. In the summer, you’ve got to think storm. You’ve got to think rocks as you enjoy the sand and sun. Think ahead.

Principle Number Three: ants think summer all winter.

That too is so important.

During the winter, when it’s cold and windy and wet, when you can hardly leave your cozy corner, you’ve got to remind yourself, “This won’t last long; we’ll soon be out of here.”  Do you think this attitude just might keep us hopeful?

And look what happens when the storm and cold lifts.  When things start warming up on an early day in springtime, the ants are out. If it turns cold again, they’ll dive back down,

but then they come out as soon as the sun rises on a nice warm new day. They can’t wait to get out.

And here’s the last part of the ant philosophy:

Principle Number Four – the “all-you-possibly-can” philosophy.

— How much will an ant gather during the summer to prepare for the winter?

All he possibly can. What a wonderfully ambitious perspective,

the “all-you-possibly-can” philosophy.

Can you seriously take that mindset and make it your own?

In just about anything you undertake, why not have the attitude that you’re going to DO all you possibly can, ACCOMPLISH all you possibly can, PRODUCE all you possibly can, EARN all you possibly can, SELL all you possibly can, INFLUENCE all you possibly can… in short… whatever opportunities life hands you you’re going to do like scripture says and make the most of every opportunity because the daylight is briefer than you think.  Before you know it, the night time comes when you can’t do much work.

Wow, maybe that is the makings for a great seminar to put on and invite everyone to attend – the ant seminar.  Think of it:  Never give up; Look ahead; Stay positive and Do all you can.

 

Did you notice how suddenly our lives can take a different direction?

It was a life changing discovery for me to realize that the purposes, directions and specialized career focuses of our lives are subject to change as we interact with people and circumstances that providentially come into our experience.

Now don’t miss this.

Since “change” in our world is so inevitable and adjusting ourselves to change is so challenging, could it be that the realization of your own dreams will be accomplished when you make it your goal to help some other people reach for their own dreams?  Why not discover the tools, the systems and the methods that can help you to help those you’re privileged to team up with?

Can you believe that there are people willing to be helped?  Can you believe that there are others who have the solutions and the systems to help you if you’re willing to open a new chapter of your life and see what you didn’t see before?

For some who hear me, this is just a generality… but for others it will lead to a specific and providential turning point.  Only those who are willing to test it will discover it for themselves.

Well, what if I told you that there are better solutions than you have known to accomplish the goals that you really want to reach?  What if I told you that there are relatively simple answers, but as yet undiscovered to many people… answers that can make significant differences in their lives.  Those who make the discovery for themselves with your help will even thank you that you took the time to think about them.

One way or another, you’re about to enter a new chapter of your life that may make only modest improvements for you… or you could find new solutions that are so life-changing that you’ll one day look back with gratitude that something so simple could finally dawn on you in such a way that you are now able to even multiply your discovery by helping many others who follow your steps.

Would you like to be part of a team that is passionate about making a difference and leaving a lasting legacy?  Do you have what it takes to help others improve themselves and be well rewarded for it?

Call me at 866-867-9943 to leave me a message and let me know when we can see if our Legacy Team might have a place for you.  I promise this won’t be a waste of your time.  Call 866-867-9943.  I’ll give you some web links to look at when we talk and you can discover for yourself if what I’m saying makes sense to you.

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