Tag Archives: success

The most advanced fighter was made by crashing

success through failureWhen my dad was young, he made a model plane. It crashed on its first flight. He went home discouraged.

But he kept tinkering with planes and eventually became and engineer at Lockheed’s secret skunkworks working on the F-117 Nighthawk stealth fighter. The project was dubbed “hopeless diamond” because fly-ability was made extremely difficult by the separate small faces of its surface that didn’t reflect enough radar to register on a screen.

The non-streamline surface made it so un-fly-able that it crashed on its first flight. I remember my dad couldn’t sleep for like a week from the stress. At the time, I of course had no idea about the ultra-secret project.

On this Thanksgiving, I’m thankful for my dad’s example. How is success achieved? Through repeated failures. Failure is a stepping stone.

‘Through’ is the operative word

through failures and disappointmentsWe face innumerable failures and disappointments in life. Youth sometimes can’t see beyond the momentary difficulties and turn to cutting. It’s important to conceptualize a brighter day ahead.

Maybe you’ve been down and out for years and years. Maybe it was not all your fault, or maybe mostly it was. No matter. God has a brighter future for you. Seek Him and wait patiently.

Failure and disappointments are NOT a final destination. They are the waystation towards success. Don’t stay there. Keep moving. Bonanza lies ahead.

The importance of moon shots

from Wired.com

from Wired.com

Larry Page, the leader of Google, tells his employees that every product they make must be 10X better than the competition. Next on the list of things for Google: self-driving cars, wearable computers, mapping the human race’s DNA code. He’s eternally dissatisfied, and that drives him to pursue greater heights. Mediocrity and modest gains be damned. Shoot for the moon.

As Christians, we should have vision and dream big. What is keeping us from bigger things? Many times our own scaled-down vision. Read more about Larry Page. It inspired me.

Truly I tell you, if anyone says to this mountain, ‘Go, throw yourself into the sea,’ and does not doubt in their heart but believes that what they say will happen, it will be done for them. — Mark 11:23 NIV.

Prepare to prevail

prepare prevail

There’s no monkeying around. If you want to win, you have to work at it. No matter what you do. Don’t practice until you can do something. Practice until you cannot fail at something.

Inertia

inertiaThey were tired. So they didn’t finish conquering the Promised Land.

The new dominant force was content to allow a vestige of Canaanite population, now subjugated, in Israel. Some would call it humanitarian compassion.

Others would call it laziness.

Whatever you call it, the unconquered idolaters were the bane of Israel. Centuries later, both Israel and Judah were carried off to exile because Joshua’s generation was unwilling to fully carry out God’s plan.

Once you make a decision, then you face the toughest job of all: actually doing it.

Just look at gym memberships. The success of the gym business model depends on people NOT coming. If all who paid fees, the gym would be overrun with clients. The fact that your membership costs are low depends on nine others not coming.

Good intentions must lead to action. It is not enough to think.

Whether it’s getting your career on track or your spiritual life, your worst foe is not the economy or the devil. It is inertia.

Break out status quo today.

Here you can read about the other sins of this series: greed, stubbornnesscomplaining, deceit, despising, cowardice, unbelief jealousy, pride. Even if you’re not a Christian, you’ll be inspired to be a better person.

 

If you want to fly, you have to try

If you want to fly, you have to tryYou have to believe you’ll fly if you’re going to leap out into the open space at height.

Those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles.  – Isaiah 40:31 NIV.

Only the brave meet success. For fear of falling (failing), some become chickens, turkeys and penguins.

Don’t be ground-bound. Try to fly.

Put your failures behind you

I don't own the rights to this photo, and I'm not making any money on it.

I don’t own the rights to this photo, and I’m not making any money on it.

Chilean Mauricio Pinilla commemorated his World Cup failure — a late strike that would have defeated Brazil had it not bounced off the bar — with a tattoo on his back titled: “One centimeter from glory.”

Why would he immortalize a painful memory? It’s on his back.

I don't own the rights to this photo, and I'm not making any money on it.

I don’t own the rights to this photo, and I’m not making any money on it.

As Christians, we must be forward-looking (I don’t think Pinilla is Christian). We must put our failures behind us and strive for better things in the future.

 

Partnerships

Saved gang member

Mario and Alex at the Liceo Bilingue La Puerta today.

When it was his turn to kill in a dark alley, Mario demurred and concocted some excuse. Still, he was a hardcore gang leader.

Meanwhile, Alex got his kicks throwing curve balls that baffled batters in the big leagues of Guatemala. With his young Nicaraguan partner, together they were forming a life with not much direction.

On separate days, both got radically saved by Jesus Christ. They processed through discipleship and became leaders of the Iglesia Cristiana La Puerta. They worked tirelessly, giving their all, everyday. Mario still teaches art in our school. Alex still is assistant pastor and coordinator for the school.

Missionary school Guatemala

With the big smile, teacher Banner with 5th and 6th graders. His life too was touched by God. He too has become a key partner in the ministry.

If you want to achieve great things, you’ll need to partner up with other, similarly-minded human beings. Partnership, in the world, maybe conjures the ideas of corporation profits. On the team, it speaks to supporters who help the stars win.

But in the kingdom it means much more: exponential impact and sweet friendship.

Now that I was forced to abandon Guatemala, they carry on the work. I left, Jesus did not.

Liceo Bilingue La Puerta

The lighting was bad, the smile good. My joy is to see kids in a safe harbor school growing up free from pressures to “grow up” too quickly. There is an innocence on these kids.

Partnership in the gospel is one of the greatest blessings in life. Don’t believe the myth of Rambo, one man single-handedly decimating entire armies. With God, it doesn’t work that way. God describes the church as the symbiosis of differently-gifted individuals who benefit each other and achieve vastly more together than any would alone.

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Success?

Success

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Depend on God

NeedGod

Goals

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Passion with Compassion

passion

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Patience

patience

Plodder’s prayer

  • How to pray?
  • Bible prayers
  • Persevering in prayer
From It's a Beautiful World on Tumblr

From It’s a Beautiful World on Tumblr

I’ve long lamented being a plodder: lack of panache, short on genius, without the glut of talent and personality that some people have.

From Grandmas Dreams

From Grandmas Dreams

Last night I learned the plodder wins the day. The IQ-overflow, overconfident swashbuckler doesn’t want to work. He expects everybody to do everything for him just because their enthralled with his personality. Persistent Igor blindsides him. Whoop!

The plodder goes to prayer. He patiently, persistently, perseveringly goes to God, day after day, not making “vain repetitions,” but continually assailing the throne with desperate needs until the glorious answer materializes. If you’re slogging through the mud, rejoice! The answers coming!

tumblr_m6y94ugees1qgk0bho1_500Everybody loves the heroic moment: David downs Goliath, Elijah makes fire from Heaven, Moses opens the Red Sea. The special effects are exciting. But we must realize that hours, days, weeks, months and years of prayer go into the making of that moment.

While the disciples slept, Jesus prayed. (While Jesus slept, the disciples fretted.)

Famine? It’s YOUR moment

from I am Yoga

from I am Yoga

 

Don’t worry about the famine. It’s your chance to shine.

Joseph was rotting in the jail. If it weren’t for the famine, he wouldn’t have gotten the chance to show his strengths before Pharaoh.

If you are passing through a time of famine in your life,

  • don’t quit your strengths
  • don’t despair and give up
  • don’t give in to hopelessness
  • don’t lose patience
  • don’t stop believing in God and in yourself

Joseph was wrongly sold into slavery (by his brothers!?!!). Then he was falsely accused and thrown in jail. But he kept a good attitude and worked hard. As a slave, he was put in charge of all Potiphar’s household. As a jailbird, he made administrator of the prison.

150px-Sandboarding_in_DubaiSo when God sprung him, he was named vice president of all of Egypt. He kept his relationship vibrant with God and was able to interpret Pharaoh’s dream. In his new post, Joseph prepared the nation for a coming 7-year famine that catapulted Egypt into world dominance and paved the way for the launching of the nation of Israel (with Egypt as its incubator).

What Joseph’s brothers intended for evil, God turned into good. Joseph instructed his brothers to not be overly angry at themselves for having sold him into slavery: God sent me ahead of you to preserve for you a remnant on earth and to save your lives by a great deliverance – Gen. 45:7 NIV.

Choose today faith

Horse Swimming, MaltaIn Joshua’s day, it was a choice between Baal or Jehovah. In our day, it is a choice between doubt or belief.

Step up in your faith!

Step up in your faith!

But if serving the Lord seems undesirable to you, then CHOOSE  for yourselves THIS DAY whom you will serve, whether the gods your forefathers served beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the LORD. — Josh. 24:15 NIV my caps.

173177548140880392_SOA4TQPh_bIf you doubt, the hordes of naysayers will applaud you and show you the path of reckless abandon. If you believe, it will be a lonely, hard, uphill road.

The results of doubt are disaster. The much-admired atheist Frederick Nietzsche died insane (brought on by syphilis?), fighting against a carriage driver who was whipping his horses. A tree is recognized by its fruit — Matt. 12:33b NIV.

226868899950361526_1irBNNtn_fAside from total doubt (atheist, agnostic) there is partial doubt. This is the “believer” who does not believe for healing or for answers to prayers. This is a midroader, neither an unbeliever, nor a total, radical, Bible-believing Christian. I find myself constantly trying to wrestle my way out of this quandary.

The addict struggles to believe he can be free. The failure struggles to believe he can be a success. The sick struggles to believe for 841761873_W9nRPOpy_lhealing. The pioneer pastor struggles to believe for people and finances. Write your circumstance here: ____________ struggles to believe.

Belief is a daily choice. It requires effort. To not believe, requires no effort. That’s why prayer and Bible-reading in the morning is such a good idea: it fills you with faith. Choose to believe today.

When you overcome fear, you become dangerous

tumblr_m6ulm3TT8U1qa7gx5o1_500

Rob Scribner then

Rob Scribner then

My pastor, Rob Scribner, tried out for professional football to prove he couldn’t do it.

He just liked it. But he thought he wasn’t good enough. Because of hard work, he wound up on the team, playing for the then-LA Rams from 1973 to 1976. A lot of other guys didn’t even try out because they thought they wouldn’t make it.

Fear of failure is a major problem. Whatever you long to do but are afraid of doing, that is what you should do.

Pastor Rob Scribner now

Pastor Rob Scribner now

If we all did the things we are capable of doing, we would literally astound ourselves. – Thomas Edison

The explosion of “fantasy” — sports, Second Life, etc. — is illustrative. People want more but are afraid to live it.

Christian, when you overcome fear, you become dangerous to the devil.

Keep working towards the masterpiece

carmen-herreraFor sixty years, Carmen Herrera painted without selling a single item. Then at 89 years of age, she cashed in her first painting. Now aged 95, she’s exploding in popularity and her paintings are fetching previously unimaginable prices. Critics imagesspeak of her as monumental, iconic of a Latin American minimalism.

In anonymity, she  pursued her passion for decades. Among artists, failure is common. Supporters joke that her recent eclosion was orchestrated from images-1above by her recently-deceased husband. At hearing such jests, she retorts peppery, “I worked really hard. Maybe it was me.”

Don’t feel like a failure. You’re just casting about for your legacy. The world may call you a failure, but YOU don’t have to accept any stigmas into your heart. It may take decades to strike gold, so keep digging. As attractive as the child prodigy is the story of the late bloomer.

Don’t be a late adapter

from Steamboat Friday

from Steamboat Friday

My cousin got in early with E-Bay. At the time, all the relatives were abuzz with the risk. He shouldn’t put his money with such a highly speculative, unproven venture, they said. We couldn’t get our heads wrapped around tech, so it sounded crazy. Of course, he is now wealthy. We are all kicking ourselves.

from Dump a Day

from Dump a Day

I’ve always been a caveman, a late adapter, among the last to use new technologies. I FINALLY got an i-phone, an onsale, outdated one, but nonetheless an i-phone. Handy little device.

Among Christians there are those who won’t be convinced about the efficacy of prayer. They hold out with a wait-and-see, anything-but-prayer-must-work attitude. Only after years of flailings, after so much frustration, do they try what they should have picked up from the very beginning of their faith. (Or at least that’s the way it was with me.)

141159769539998123_owU32Nss_cSo I’m twice the believer. I believe in Jesus as my Lord and Savior. And I believe in prayer. The more I practice it, the more good benefits I experience. Don’t be a believer only in Jesus and NOT in prayer. Don’t be a late adapter, even though prayer is not a new and unproven technology.

Small victories

Rob Ashcraft poses with Elijah Symonds, who provided the assist.

Rob Ashcraft poses after the game with Elijah Symonds, who provided the assist.

Saints soccer continues to rock and roll.

The Lighthouse Christian Academy entered the Christmas break with its third victory – a scrappy 1-0 win against Wildwood. A handy piece of footwork by Junior Luis Secaira confounded defenders and stunned the goalie, who watched woefully as the ball slotted on the near post.

After the vacation, the Saints have simply been outgunned by vastly superior teams. They lost to league leaders Lennox 0-8 and to New Roads 0-7. To the uninitiated, the defeats appear to spell out an uncommon nosedive.

In reality, the team keeps improving. It’s just hard to take on varsity teams with mostly senior and club players when you have half a team of girls and players from all grades. How are freshman girls going to beat senior boys?

On Monday, the Saints put a thump on the slump. Facing the impeccable Vistamar, the Saints scored in the last minute. Midfielder Elijah “Taz” Symonds chipped from the corner to Freshman Rob Ashcraft, who didn’t err with an unusual karate kick in front of goal.

It was the first time in the history of LCA soccer that the Saints scored against Vistamar, whose players are groomed for soccer from the cradle. With that goal, Lighthouse sent a message that it will not succumb to defeatism. It is no longer the whipping boy of the league.

Though much progress needs to be made, LCA can revel in solid – though incremental — improvement and press on to a glorious future.

“We won!” quipped Junior Tori Scribner, comprehending the significance of the goal, in spite of losing 1-8.

Remaining for the Saints are only four games, and Coach Mike Ashcraft thinks we stand a good chance to win against Rolling Hills in Palos Verdes on Wednesday.

Whatever your stage in life, celebrate the small victories. They lead to big ones!

Handling losing

From Smashing Photo

From Smashing Photo

That's me with the kids!

That’s me with the kids!

We lost Tuesday 8-0. We lost today 8-0. We are facing tougher teams; ours is absorbing injuries. Kids have skipped practices, and the results are manifest on the field. When Lighthouse Christian Academy tied our first soccer game, when won our second 9-2, when we won a

From Via Vigevano

From Via Vigevano: Read closely!

couple more, it was exciting, easy to want to play and put in the effort.

Now it is hard. Kids might want to bail out. But now is exactly the moment of character, the foundation of excellence. If we allow ourselves to become “losers” in our minds, then we will. If not, we will win again this season, and we will win next year!

The reality of life is that everyone loses more than wins. What you do when you lose makes you win.

Faith does not drag down with discouragement. It remains buoyant, hopeful, expectant of good. It persists. It constantly looks for the victory just around the corner.

Once a failure, always a…

72409506479213917_hXOrEUnr_cSeven failures in a row do not make you a failure.

Just ask George Washington. He lost seven successive battles but won the war. He was voted president of the newly formed United States of America. His revolution inspired freedom movements among colonies in both Americas (North and South).

imagesDid he kick himself for mucking up when he became famous for retreating? Did he grovel with feelings of inadequacy? I don’t know. What I do know is that he continued fighting until he won. Place no time limits on God. If things don’t work out well now, they may later. Don’t despair, just keep plugging away!

Every time you fail, you’re one step closer to the formula of success!

Prove ‘em wrong

Silence the naysayers. Pic from Pinterest

Silence the naysayers. Pic from Pinterest

I wanted to do a creative writing magazine in high school. One classmate told me I wouldn’t be able to do it. She didn’t believe in me. That piece of discouragement inspired me to carry out the project.

Every time I hit roadblocks and her got frustrated with lack of progress, her memory kicked in and gave me the energy to keep working. I had to prove wrong. Thanks for the demotivation!

Criticism hurts. But it can be turned into a help. The fact of the matter is doing good is taxing. It requires stick-to-it-iveness, boring hard work, and self-denial. What keeps you in the uphill battle? It could be someone encouraging you. And — strange as it may sound — it could be someone discouraging you.

Don't let them put out your fire! Pic from Pinterest

Don’t let them put out your fire! Pic from Pinterest

The human psyche is marvelously complex. Downers can pump you up. You can pull-off a fantastic reversal. You can’t stop people from mouthing off. But you can turn their poison into your passion.

I was very happy to see my couple of poems featured in that magazine. So were other kids. I didn’t hear anymore from the girl who didn’t think I would finish it.

The beetle curl

9360260-woman-smiling-showing-yellow-flowers-isolated-on-white-background-beautiful-fresh-young-mixed-race-aMy friend goes into a beetle curl. A search engine optimization genius, he nonetheless has not met with financial success — yet. There are so many things he could do to promote his business that he doesn’t know which to do. Failure has hounded him. Worse of all, it hounds him in his mind. Depression descends on him, and he gets in bed, unable to move.

Pic from Pinterest

Pic from Pinterest

Pic Naokihan

Pic Naokihan

Yeah, I know exactly what he’s going through. I WAS a successful missionary. Not anymore. Now I can’t seem to hit the mark here in the United States. After 16 years of being out of the country, it would appear I am defunct. Sometimes, I just want to go into the beetle curl.

From Pinterest

From Pinterest

Here’s the lessons if you ever  feel like that:

1) Keep doing right things, even though everything screams to you that it’s not working.

2) Find someone who can speak encouragement to you. Shut out negativity.

rockettopad3) Confess positive words over yourself. Believe in yourself. (You might as well do it; no one else will do that in this pernicious world.) Proverbs 18:21 says: Death and life are in the power of the tongue. What you say about you becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy..

From Laurie Coombs

From Laurie Coombs

4) Drink coffee! No joking! Eat balanced diet. Exercise. Let sunlight in. Read uplifting material. Listen to uplifting music. Watch inspiring movies. Etc.

5) When all else fails, go ahead and go into the beetle curl. Sleep a bunch. Things will look better after rest!

Reinvent yourself

When you open your mouth, do you burn those around you? Change, this year. Art thanks to =Culpeo-Fox

When you open your mouth, do you burn those around you? Change, this year. Art thanks to =Culpeo-Fox

Has life been beating you up?

Has life been beating you up?

I was something of a Christian cop. I actually believed it was my job to ease people back to the right path if they took one false step. I wasn’t really popular. More accurately, people were riled, and they almost expelled me from ministry.

I needed to change, to evolve, to retool. I didn’t need some computer-aided enhancements; I needed major plastic surgery.

Bring peace to your life. Photo thanks to EcoGreen

Bring peace to your life. Photo thanks to EcoGreen

Politicians reinvent themselves if they lose an election and reformulate for another try. It takes a lot of gut-wrenching soul-searching. Basically, you look at yourself and — instead of justifying your actions, which comes natural to everyone all the time — you look critically in the mirror. You take out a machete and begin hacking away. Then you CHANGE.

This metamorphosis makes every tissue in your soul shudder. This coming year — instead jotting down flimsy

Time is rushing on! Do what you need to do, NOW! Photo thanks to gisell chanden project

Time is rushing on! Do what you need to do, NOW! Photo thanks to gisell chanden project

halffull“resolutions” that get jettisoned shortly after takeoff — go from worm to butterfly.

Your marriage needs it. Your ministry. Your kids need to see a totally different you. Your boss is giving you just one last chance. You’re going to be responsible. Patient. Kind. Unselfish. Not angry. Whatever. You CAN do it.

Well, my popularity rating has shot up. I don’t think I’m the favorite person in the church, but I’m no longer the Mr Scowlface. I encourage you for 2013, make drastic change.

Booker T. Washington

220px-Booker_T_Washington_retouched_flattened-cropIt’s easier to get freed from slavery than to free your mind from slavery. Just look at the 23 kajillion times the Israelite former slaves complained about being freed from slavery and wanted to go back to slavery in Egypt.

When you see that, you realize how extraordinary was the life of Booker T. Washington. He was born in slavery, but his mind soared far away from his oppressed beginnings to the launching of the  black higher institution of learning Tuskegee Institute. He literally built it out of bricks of clay made by the first imagesstudents.

Freed by the end of Civil War, Washington moved to West Virginia where he worked in salt furnaces and coal mines to cost his education. An indefatigable leader, he took the reins of the fledgling Tuskegee and drove it relentlessly into prominence. Thousands of blacks, who were tuskegee-instituterefused admittance at “white” institutions, graduated from Tuskegee.

A dynamic orator, resourceful, a master deal-maker, Washington wheedled and images-1cajoled finances and genius for his institution. The stand-out scientist George Washington Carver was persuaded to join Tuskegee and, when Thomas Edison would entice him away, to stay.

To overcome insurmountable odds, to triumph through wit, wisdom and work, to line up allies and disarm enemies all in the service of a greater cause, this is the remarkable legacy of the man who remains an inspiration for generations. To live only for self is such a waste when you could do so much good.

Get the doubt out

Ben Rogers Blog 14Rene Descartes said cognition makes the man:  “I think; therefore, I am.” Mouse in The Matrix defined the essence of man as his fleshly impulses. Researchers of the brain tend to reduce such complexities as love to electrical/chemical reactions in certain regions of the brain.

The “essence” of man is none of these. His essence is “doubt.”

Mouse in The Matrix

Mouse in The Matrix

It is easier to doubt than believe. In many circles, doubting is seen as sophisticated. The pessimist is congratulated for his superior view of reality. Scoffers are popular. The human being becomes so easily discouraged. Feeding doubt comes natural.

George-Washington-Christmas-300x186George Washington lost seven consecutive battles before he scored his first victory, on a Christmas day when he surprised the celebrating (drunk) enemies. Thank God there were people who believed in (his superiors and his subordinates) enough to support him.

imagesHanukkah is a holiday remembering the dedication of the temple after the Barbarians had desecrated it. Let us honor this season by “dedicating” ourselves to believe more in God. Victory comes only to those who believe. To achieve anything worthwhile, you must believe.

Photo thanks to British Columbia ROCKS!

Photo thanks to British Columbia ROCKS!

Even I struggle to overcome doubt. What helps me? Christian friends and fellowship, hearing testimonies of what God has done, reminding myself of miracles, reading the Bible, praying. Neglect a bit the hubbub of Christmas and get alone with God. May the time we use to praise Him for His birth be not so much a time of commercialism but of faith-building.

 

Scheduled victory

Enjoying In-N-Out afterwards is a Lighthouse sports tradition. Nate (rt) proved his Fall injury has not hampered his bursts of speed on defense.

Enjoying In-N-Out afterwards is a Lighthouse sports tradition. Nate (rt) proved his Fall injury has not hampered his bursts of speed on defense.

Rob and Adrian were decisive

Adrian and Rob were decisive

Tex cut surgically through their defense.

Tex cut surgically through their defense.

People are congratulating “my” 9-2 win last night. I just shrug. The truth is that “I” didn’t win with Lighthouse Christian Academy soccer.

The AD did.

The AD — Athletics Director, for those who don’t know the lingo — won the game. She scheduled it.

Pretty much all I did was shuffle our lineup so as to NOT score any more goals. In the first 20 minutes — one-fourth of the game — we had made 7 goals. So to lessen the humiliation for the other team, I pulled off good players and threw on beginners. I pulled attackers back into defense.

The lopsided victory was no coaching genius. It was guaranteed even before we started simply because we had superior players.

It felt like the gospel. God as AD schedules us trials that we are destined to win. We may celebrate on the field, but it was God who ordained everything to begin with.

To be sure, God schedules defeats for us too. To teach us humility, patience, effort, dependence on Him, etc.

You can have your cosmovision of universal randomness. I like being a Christian.

It’s pouring out!

Thanks Deviant Art for the stunning photo!

Your life is being poured out.

On what? Paul poured his life out for others… for something of eternal value. But even if I am being poured out like a drink offering on the sacrifice and service coming from your faith, I am glad and rejoice with all of you – Phil. 2:17 NIV.

Today many are pouring their lives out on the pursuit of material goods. Others on the pursuit of health. For partying. For sport. For pleasure. For enjoyment. Lives are constantly being poured out.

Each man chooses to pour out his life on what he esteems most valuable. The number of days are finite. Through improved health, we may extend our lives. Even so, it will eventually end. When you are done, what will your life have been poured out on?

Will it be something worthwhile? Nobody wants to think about the last drop. But wisdom is to think about it before we get there.

Get into the habit of faith

To form a new habit, willpower is more important than self-esteem. In his book Willpower, Roy Baumeister demonstrates that willpower is key to success in college, success in life, longevity and health. The possessor adheres to an unshakeable determination to achieve his goals.

If you’re accustomed to a dreary day of negativity, make some practical changes: Introduce or lengthen prayer time. Sprinkle your day with the Word of God. Arrest negative thoughts and force yourself to assume the best. Audibly confess the opposite of what gets you down. Continually go up to sit on God’s lap and tell your loving Father your struggles.

It’s amazing that willpower is akin to faith. They’re overlapping circle graphs with a significant shared region. This is the overcoming spirit of which the Bible speaks.

Is it possible to go from pessimism to belief? I am one who emigrated from the country of unbelief and unhealthy depression. I journeyed to the land of faith. Transforming my outlook has transformed my life. So I encourage you to get off your “but” and become a person of faith.

Setback? Step forward!

Why do they call it a “setback” if in reality is a necessary step to move forward?

The king of setback is of course Joseph. He dreams of greatness and leadership. Instead, he narrowly escapes death and winds up a slave. If that weren’t bad enough, he then is thrown into prison. He spends some 20 years in forced labor and then as a convict.

But the dude never stops dreaming. In fact, he interprets dreams. Overnight, he’s freed from jail and set upon a throne second only to Pharoah. He orchestrates a seven year famine survival for nations and brings the fledgling nation of Israel down the the Egyptian incubator. Four hundreds years later, they’re a few million, ready to take possession of the Promised Land.

Every step was necessary. Any one of them could have caused moaning. Discouragement could have overpowered the poor kid’s heart. But Joseph maintained perspective! They shackled his hands but never his heart.

Don’t despair with today’s setbacks. In reality, they are steps towards tomorrow’s successes.

Daniel’s secret

Anybody who attains wild success these days, writes a book and explains the “secret.”

The Prophet Daniel was second in power in the Persian empire, trusted like no other counselor. More than just competent administration drove him to the top. His secret was prayer.

Three times a day, he neglected his insanely busy schedule to make time for God. This is an important reminder to us Christians who are trying to advance the kingdom of God. A recent survey found pastors pray on average only seven minutes a day.

King David, likewise, sought God’s face as a #1 priority. When he failed to do so, he fell into

sin. Christ also needed time alone with God. The busier they were, the more the Biblical heroes found time to pray.

This is difficult because it is counter-intuitive, especially here in America, where we are barraged by the message that time (working time) is money. Make (more) time for God today.

 

Just pull the plug — don’t

Success depends on putting up with interminable outrages.

Dash the the notion that success is 99% perspiration, etc. — hackneyed axiom.

People fail at marriage because they can’t take it anymore — only to remarry and have similar or new intolerable problems. People quit church because of ill-treatment  — only to find new roughness at another, or worse, stop going altogether.

But success at personal relationships — which accounts for probably 90% of our true happiness — depends on the ability to overlook and/or forgive offenses. This life ability is not taught in our schools or lauded in our culture, which values only genius and has the patience of a subatomic particle.

The Bible, widely discredited in today’s world, has incredible wisdom for us nevertheless that, if we could open our minds enough to ignore the nay-sayers for just a little, would help us in the area we most need. The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, PATIENCE… – Gal. 5:22 NIV. After these greats (love, joy, peace) comes the much-maligned, oft-overlooked quality of patience. If we could have more patience, we would stop blowing up our lives.

Calling it quits is no solution. It’s running away. It doesn’t solve any thing. We need to recover the stick-to-itiveness of previous generations. America became great in part because of perseverance, not the current-day cry-baby syndrome.

So what do you call a person who doesn’t put up with trash from anyone? Answer: lonely.

Slavery success

Since when is slavery a path to riches?

God made the Israelites into slaves for 400 years — and this was His plan to make them rich! After enduring 10 successive plagues, the Egyptians were all to eager to be rid of their slaves and so they sent them off with loaded with gold and bedecked with jewels.

God prophesied to Abraham about this: After (the period of slavery) they will come out with great possessions — Gen. 15:14 NIV.

Well, ministry is not a six-digit career. But God can make the riches gush out of the unlikeliest places. He makes water come out of the rock, gold coins come out of fishes mouths — and wealth out of slavery! Ministry is NOT as bad a slavery, so don’t be afraid to fulfill your call for monetary fears.

And, when you pray for finances, it’s never a problem for God, though we fret needlessly. He can even make slaves into millionaires!

Not big nor difficult

For God, it’s…

Whether big or small, any miracle is equally easy for God. Just because your petition is “big” or “difficult” doesn’t mean it is any harder for God. Since he is all powerful, nothing is beyond His capabilities.

The reason why “small” miracles seem “easier” is a matter of us — not God. WE believe because it is small. We DON’T believe because it is “big.” But the size of the miracle is irrelevant to Supreme Power.

Let’s move some mountains!

Therefore I tell you, WHATEVER you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours – Mark 11:24 NIV (caps mine). Not every saying of Jesus appears in all the Gospels, but this one features throughout — and it even gets repeated in some of the Gospels. It’s as if God really wanted to underline the truth that WHATEVER or ANYTHING is possible for Him.

So today, pray and believe.

Measure of greatness

Greatness in the world is vastly different than greatness in the Kingdom of God. In fact, the two outlooks are in direct conflict.

My pastor once was a college football player. At that time, greatness was the privilege to tread the turf of a Rose Bowl Tournament.

Now, greatness is sharing the Word of God over breakfast at Fromin’s Delicatessen in Santa Monica with a few early risers. It is a privilege.

If greatness for you is money, your goals may bring you into conflict with God’s word. You may call yourself a Christian but the majority of your effort is, in fact, not to advance His kingdom.

Your view of greatness is your vision for life.

Christ the builder of the church

 

And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it. — Matt. 16:18 NIV.

Blood has been shed needlessly over this verse. Contention is so sharp wars have been waged. Was the rock Peter? Catholics say so in their argument for Papal succession. Was the rock his confession or revelation of Jesus Christ? Evangelicals say so.

I wish to sidestep the debate completely and focus on the main point. The central idea here is that Christ will build his church, not man. When you are a ministerial leader, you get the sensation that you are building your ministry. That sensation is strong until you fail. When you are fighting a war of attrition, then you want to reach out and find some sort of help. You remember that it’s God’s ministry, not yours. He will build.

Prayer focuses the True Builder of his church, although we humans wrongly feel we are building. In other words, get more involved the Guy who really does, and get yourself less involved (I was a ministerial work-aholic). Pray more.

 

American success gone sour

If you have a lot of money, you’re a success. This American premise spills over into the church. With its inverse: if you are struggling for finances, you’re a failure.

But God doesn’t measure success by finances. He measures success by souls — and just ONE SOUL is incredibly important to him. Now as far as finances go, if you have barely enough to scrape by — and you are ministering to at least one soul — then by Bible standards and by God’s standards, you are a success.

So stop bumming over worldly comparisons that intrude and impose on the church. Jeremiah certainly didn’t have a lot of “members in his church.” And Paul knew how “to be in need… I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want” — Philippians 4:12 NIV.

Cheer yourself up! As you pray for finances, believe and wait. God will provide enough — maybe just enough — in His timing. As long as you have one soul in your church, you are providing a valuable service, and you’re a hero for Heaven. May scoffers shut up. God doesn’t measure by worldly (American) measures.

From losing to winning

When you’ve got a winning team, it’s easy to keep it up. When you’ve got a losing team, it’s easy to keep losing. But how do you go from losing to winning? This is one the most difficult feats. Probably 98% of ministers and businesses would like the answer.

Too many books promising success are written by successful people! They promise the secret to success but, in fact, often miss it themselves because, as I said, once you have success, it’s too easy to maintain. Those who enjoy success don’t really know what the key is. They just enjoy it. They write books without knowing. We think they know, but they don’t. We buy the book looking for the key and don’t find the key. Not enough has been written about turnarounds.

I had a winning team in soccer. At the same time, I was coaching a losing team. With the losing team, we worked the defensive line so hard that they actually starting blunting the opponents’ attacks. And the team started winning!

Two secrets: Identify what is deficient and work on that until it is corrected. Secondly, as Jim Collins says, remember that the worst enemy of “excellent” is “good” — not “bad.” In other words, if you are doing good, it is too easy to congratulate yourself and desist from improvement. Break up your status quo and don’t settle for anything less than “excellent.”

As Christian leader, a good place to start changing may be prayer. How much time do you pray? What is the intensity of your prayers? It’s not some marketing trick or cutting-edge ministry that’s going to draw in people. It’s God. So a back-to-the-basics approach may be best. Of course, I can’t address every situation in this short blog. But I can address the heart of a leader who longs for greater things. Keep longing, because that is part of the solution. Pray and let God guide you to the solution.

The worst year

We spent almost 16 years in Guatemala as missionaries. There were good and hard times. But it´s easy to remember the hardest year. It was the year I scrimped on prayer. No coincidence at all: I prayed less, and God moved less.

Somehow, I decided that I would help the kids with their homework during morning prayer. Bad decision.

What was once an hour of prayer because a few minutes. I thought I was doing a good thing helping my wife help the kids with their homework. But my priorities were wrong. I should have found ANOTHER time to help my kids without cutting down on prayer.

At the year´s end, things looked bleak. In hindsight, I scanned the shambles and assessed the problem: prayerlessness.

In later years, I wound up adding to my prayer times. Those were bumper crop years.

So are things not going well for you? Maybe you´re overworking —  to little or no avail. Keep in mind that when God works, things work. I know He works all the time, but it sure seems like He works MORE for us when we are praying. You might shoot me down in the realm of theology, but no one can shoot me down in the realm of practice.