Building People. Spreading Hope.

Friday, December 30, 2011

Set Goals, Plan and Prosper

Nelaton, the great French surgeon, once said, “If I had four minutes in which to perform an operation on which a life depended, I would take one minute to consider how best to do it.”  The scripture says, “The PLANS of the diligent lead surely to plenty.”  Proverbs 21:5.  Friend, do you have a plan to prosper in your life?  And more importantly, are you putting any action behind those plans?

One of the keys to success is to take time to set goals (spiritual, relational, financial etc.), drawing up an action plan and pursuing the dreams we believe in.  Mediocrity will keep you focused on the daily grind all your life but a man with a plan will prosper.

You may have suffered a few setbacks in life.  Some of your plans may not have worked out.  But don’t let that keep you from pursuing the dreams God has given you.  This is a new day.  You have new ideas, you have fresh motivation.  You can plan in confidence!

Did you know God has a plan for your life?  If we want success in our lives, we must believe in the plan God has for us; a plan to prosper, a plan to give us a bright future (Jeremiah 29:11).  We must believe in God’s goodness and we must make some plans.

But it is not enough to just believe and set some plans.  We we must put some ACTION behind our plan.  Just like an expecting couple, we must plan and prepare for that great day of “delivery.”  King David said, “The STEPS of a good man are ordered by the Lord.”  Psalm 37:23-24.   God expects us to take some steps -- specific steps that He can bless. 

For example, if we want to pay off $5,000 in debt.  Our plan can be: #1 Cut back on grocery by 10%.  #2 Eat out only once a month.  #3 Take lunch to work and use that saving to pay off debt.  Allocate a time frame to achieve this goal; say one year.  As you can see, the goal is very specific.  We can measure the progress.  And we also have a timeframe that motivates us to achieve the task.  Whatever goals we set, our strategy must be designed to take us in that direction.  A combination of our efforts and God’s favor will ignite our plans for success.

Practical Steps You Can Take:

1.  Sit with God and take time to plan your day, week, month and years.
2.  Write down your specific plans.  Hab. 2:2-4
3.  Set a daily, weekly and monthly goal to monitor the progress of your plans.
4.  Share your plans with people who will keep you accountable and help you achieve your goals.
5.  Expect God to bring super-natural favor and breakthroughs.
The plans you set today will determine the quality of your life both now and in the future.

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Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Stretch Yourself to the Next Level

Jesus said, “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.” (Matthew 5:6)  Generally we apply this verse to our spiritual life.  But God wants us to hunger and thirst in every area of our lives.  He wants us to experience increase in our relationships, finances, health and in our walk with God.  Like a rubber band, He wants us to stretch our capacity for twice as much as we have today.
One of the most inspiring stories we read in the Bible is about Caleb (Numbers 13).  When he was young, he was one of the twelve spies who went out to spy the land God had given them.  While ten of them brought negative report, Caleb and Joshua said, “We can overcome the enemy at once!”
After a long series of battles, the Israelites finally entered the promised land.  It was a place of God’s abundance!  But Caleb did not stop there.  He stretched himself to the next level.  At the age of eighty-five, he went to his leaders and said, “Give me this mountain.”  In other words, Caleb was constantly stretching himself to do more for his family, his community and for God.  He pushed himself and believed God for greater miracles in his life.  Caleb possessed a new mountain at eighty-five (Joshua 14:6-15)!
Friend, how are you stretching yourself?  If we want God to bless us, it is imperative that we set new goals and expectations.  No matter where you are in your life right now, God wants you to go higher.  He wants us to develop our gifts and talents.  You may have the lowest job right now, but do not plan to stay there.  God wants to advance you, so you can take care of yourself and have plenty left over to bless those around you.  If you want to leave your mark on the earth, you must take steps to learn, grow and call His favor upon your life every day.
Do not be satisfied to remain where you are.  The entire world is waiting for your next adventure!
I am sure God has already done many great things in your life.  But always remember, your best is yet to come.  That means your best is still in your future.  Do not stop hoping, dreaming and believing.  Plan your next project, start writing that book, educate yourself, save to buy that tool that will increase your income.  When you do your part, God will command His blessing on the works of your hands. (Deuteronomy 28:8).
Get rid of low expectations and have a high confidence in God.  When we do our best and put our trust in God, He will outdo Himself.  He wants to bless you so you can be a blessing to others.  Others may not understand you, but God does.  He will promote you.
He planted seeds of greatness in you.  Dream big dreams.  Write down specific goals and plans.  You have everything you need to fulfill your God given destiny.  There is a champion in you waiting to be released.  Like a rubber band, you have the capacity to stretch yourself more than you think.  If you take the limits off of yourself, God will do great things.  You are intelligent, creative, disciplined, and full of God’s favor.  You have what it takes.  Rise up and stretch yourself, and you will have the abundant life God has for you.

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Wednesday, December 21, 2011

How to Enjoy a Peaceful Family Get Together

A family get-together can be one of the most contentious times. What should be a time of togetherness, bonding and celebrating one another becomes a time of conflict, chaos and strife. Instead of wasting another reunion dreading your family, extended family, guests and neighbors visiting your home, let me share a few tips that will not only keep your celebration contention free but allow you to make memories that will last for a lifetime!
1. Accept the fact that you cannot please everybody. No matter how hard you try to maintain good relationship with others, you cannot please everybody. If they do not criticize your children, they will complain about your carpet, the food, or the show on TV. Stop trying to please everyone at the expense of the peace of your family.
2. Become more agreeable. Nothing is more stressful than always feeling the need to prove yourself right. If you want peace, you have to be the peacemaker. You may have a strong opinion about doing something a certain way, but ask yourself, “Is this worth sacrificing joy in our family over this issue?” Consider others and their right to enjoy the celebration in their own way as well.
3. Lighten up with the rules. Every family has certain expectations in place in order to function in harmony each day. Instead of strictly imposing those rules during family get-togethers, allow family members to bend the rules a little. You have 364 other days a year to enforce your convictions. For kids, it might mean going to bed later, sleeping in late, having extra sweets. For adults, it might mean indulging in a favorite desert or allowing the house to be less tidy. Your family will forget about the rules one day, but the memories you make now will be unforgettable.
4. Have a relaxed, easy-going attitude. Don’t make mountain out of a molehill. If the kids spill a drink and spoil your most treasured tablecloth, do not yell, shout or lecture. Take it in stride and remember your children are the greatest treasure you will ever have. If the guests arrive late or the food gets burned, cut some slack. People would much rather have peace and tranquility than a perfect house in the middle of a perfect storm!
5. Adjust your expectations. One of the most common ways we get hurt is when we do not see things from the other person’s perspective. We place certain expectations on people and when they do not live up to those expectations, our feelings get hurt. Do not make the mistake of forcing people to fit your mold; instead, put yourself in their shoes. Some people are talkative; others are not. Some quickly step in to help; others need to be asked. Accept each person for who they are and you will have more fun.
6. Respect and honor each family member. Regardless of your personal convictions, try to value the other person. If Jesus was in the house (which He is), would you be so easily offended or do hurtful things? Be careful with your words. Do not always feel the need to reply to everything you hear. Curb the urge to snap back at each other.
7. Avoid sarcasm and hurtful comments. Most of us love a little fun at the expense of others. But what is dangerous is how it can affect the other person. We may say something in passing for a laugh, but people can carry the bitterness of the moment for months to come. Just like a burn, it takes only a second to say it, but the sting can remain months later! Use words to build up and not to tear down.
8. Communicate. If you are feeling your stress level going up, let your family know so they can extend you extra grace. Ask for help (in a nice voice). Don’t try to be a superhero. Assign jobs to different people, including to your guests. You will be amazed at how things can remain calm if you take the time to communicate.
9. Allow people to be who they are and act in the way they do. Accept that you cannot change everybody to behave according to your standards. That is part of what makes your family unit so different. Go with the flow and your guests just might leave earlier!
10. Make Jesus the Lord of your heart and your home. No matter how hard you try, life without Jesus is full of strife and disharmony. Jesus is the Prince of Peace! Would you allow Him to come into your heart and into your home? If you are living without His blessing, you are not living up to your potential. Let Him come in and open up a new world in a way you may have never imagined.
Go ahead… celebrate, enjoy each other, and make memories.
Merry Christmas and a Happy, Peaceful, New Year!

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How to Overcome Loneliness

Loneliness is a universal problem. No matter who you are or what you have, every person is susceptible to loneliness. It robs many people of vitality in life, yet the ugly face of loneliness can be overcome. If you are reading this and this applies to you, be encouraged. Nothing is impossible for you to overcome.

Holidays and special events can be a great source of loneliness. When we see others surrounded by joy, acceptance, and loving people, our inner being longs to have the same unconditional love and fulfillment.

One of the greatest causes of loneliness is the feeling of betrayal, loss or death. In each case someone has left us. It could be an emotional, mental or physical departure. When we feel betrayed by a friend, family member or even our own spouse, it is a cause for emotional havoc. Sometimes it can be so powerful it affects our physical health. This pain is very real and cannot be dealt with flippantly.

So, is there any hope for us to come out of loneliness and live a fulfilled, satisfied life? Yes; and the answer is a resounding yes!

There are many who have lived before us and overcome loneliness with a great success. Let’s start with our Lord Jesus. One of His closest friends, Peter, betrayed Him. Joseph was betrayed by his own brothers and King David’s own men wanted to stone him to death! Yet, they overcame the challenges of loneliness. They went on to make history and their choices continue to inspire us today. You see, there is nothing wrong feeling lonely every once in a while. On the other hand, there is nothing right staying lonely. You have the power to choose where you want to dwell.

Let me share a few practical steps to overcome loneliness:

1. Stay occupied. Intentionally create a daily “to do list” that leaves little room for time in your hand. I am not suggesting mindless “busy-ness” but rather meaningful interaction and activities that add up to enrich your life or that of someone else.

2. Be with people. If you are prone to loneliness, you must look for opportunities to be with people. Don’t wait for others to call you. Pick up the phone, put on your handsome clothes and be with others. It can be a great incentive to break the bondage of loneliness.

3. Become a giving person. When you are overwhelmed by the feeling of loneliness, force yourself to think of others. Bake a cake or cookies for the elderly, visit someone who is sick or at senior care, or reach out to a person in need. When you help others, God will assist your own needs.

4. Exercise. When you walk, jog, run, or play your favorite sport, you are being proactive against loneliness. When your body sweats, it releases “happy hormones” called endorphins. This naturally lifts your spirit and affects your mood in a positive way.

5. Understand your value. Guilt, shame, and failure all contribute to the feeling of loneliness. If you struggle with any of these (which we all do at times) the best remedy is to accept God’s forgiveness and unmerited favor. When you realize how much God loves you, you will be more secure to accept yourself and others around you.

6. Forgive. Unforgiveness holds people prisoner by their own action. The best thing you can do with your own mistakes is to forgive yourself and move forward. The best thing you can do when people have wronged you is to forgive them and know you are setting a prisoner free – and the prisoner is you!

7. Meditate on the positive. What you take in is what you will pour out. Music, TV, movies, and books can have a great influence in your life and attitude. Do not give in to tear-jerking, sad, melancholy influences. Intentionally give your heart, soul and mind to uplifting, inspiring and positive deposits in your life.

King David, in his greatest moment of despair and loneliness, is quoted in the New Testament, “I will pitch my tent in the land of hope!” Acts 2:26 (The Message). Friend, hope in our God brings joy, purpose and fulfillment. Nothing and no one in this world can fill the God-shaped void in your life. You were created to enjoy life to the fullest. You have something deposited in you that the world craves. Do not get locked in to thinking how lonely you are; instead focus on how you can lift others up. Accept the way God made you. You are His favorite. People who have left you do not determine your destiny – God does. Throw away the garment of heaviness and put on the attitude of royalty. You are awesome and you were created to do great things. You are not alone; you are amazing!

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