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Category: Principles of Success

27 Jun

Life Lessons Worth Remembering.

Lessons by Omer B. Washington I’ve learned- that you can do something in an instant that will give you heartache for life. I’ve learned- that it’s taking me a long time to become the person I want to be. I’ve learned- that you should always leave loved ones with loving words. It may be the last time you see them. I’ve learned- that you can keep going long after you can’t. I’ve learned- that you cannot make someone love you. All you can do is be someone who can be loved. The rest is up to them. I’ve learned- that no matter how much I care, some people just don’t care back. I’ve learned- that it takes years to build trust and only...
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23 Jun

“Do Not Fear the Work.”

          Have you ever felt that your dream is too big?  The task feels so monumental, the job so impossible that you begin to wonder if the one thing God got wrong in all eternity was calling you to do it?             King Solomon certainly wondered.             Back story: King David had always wanted to build a temple for the Lord, but God told David that he would not be the one to build it; rather his son Solomon would build it.  Not surprisingly, Solomon was somewhat intimidated by the importance and scope of the task.             It is at this point that David tells Solomon: “’Be strong and courageous, and do the work. Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the Lord...
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16 Jun

“The Light is Green Until It’s Red.”

Green LightHave you ever wanted to follow a dream so you asked God about it – and then waited? And waited. And waited.  There was no angel Gabriel appearing with a message in the dead of night.  God didn’t give you a prophetic word – even though you hit 7.5 prophetic meetings (you know you did).  And then there was the fleece: you said something like, “Okay, God, if the sun rises tomorrow, I’ll know You’re saying ‘yes,’ and if it doesn’t, it’s a ‘no’.  Got it.”  And then the sun didn’t rise so you kept asking because that wasn’t what you wanted to hear.

Ever been there?

Jesus told a parable about a rich man who had three servants to whom he announced that he would be going away for an extended period of time. But before leaving, the master gave each of the servants talents ($) to invest, saying that when he came back, he would expect to see a return on his investment.  Then he gave a different number of talents to each servant according to his abilities.  But it’s not the number of talents that’s important; the way the servants invested them is the point.

The key thing in this parable is that the master distributed the talents – and then left. The servants weren’t able to call him on his cell or message him or email him to ask what they should do.  The master gave them the freedom to do whatever they thought was best with their talents – as long as the results benefited his kingdom.  So what did they do?  The best they knew how to do.

Except for one of them.

When the master returned, he was pleased to find that two of the servants had invested their talents and produced a return. But the third had not; he’d simply hidden his talent and then handed it back.  The master, not pleased, asked him why.  The man’s response?  “I was afraid.”  Unfortunately for him, that was not an acceptable excuse to the master.

Want a message from God?  He’d much rather have you try and fail than never to try at all.

As Pastor Andrew put it, “The light is green until it’s red.”

In other words, go.

The fact is that God wants us to move forward and if we’re headed in the wrong direction, He’ll throw up the road block or close a door (or something). Recently, I had an interesting experience to prove that very point.

Last week, I decided I wanted to take a reputable on-line writing course but it was a little pricey. S0 – should I or shouldn’t I?  I checked in with the Lord (in case He had any thoughts on the matter) but really didn’t hear anything and registration was about to close.  So I made an executive decision: believing the course to be a benefit, I registered and paid for it.  By the next morning, however, I still hadn’t received any links to the course or even a receipt for payment, so I emailed the folks in charge and asked about it.  Someone emailed back, saying that they had no record of my registration or payment.

Red light.

Though they invited me to re-register, I took the hint from the Lord and decided that now was evidently not the time. I believe I probably will take the course at some point but, in the meantime, I keep moving.  As Pastor Paul Wagner used to say, “God can’t steer a parked car.”

“But,” you argue, “what if I try and fail?” You probably will.  Everybody does (it builds character).  But then you get back up and try again. 

Over the years, I’ve seen people move forward and follow their dreams – regardless of failure. My family once moved to another state after my father retired from the military because he’d had a job offer.  However, it didn’t work out and we moved back to NY.  No harm, no foul.  I tried a business one time and discovered it really wasn’t what I thought it would be and while I lost some money in the process, it was an “acceptable loss.”

The “acceptable loss” principle is huge when making a big decision and can often make clear whether you should move forward with a dream or not.

An “acceptable loss” is simply an assessment of what, if anything, you can afford to lose if a situation doesn’t work out. For example, if you invest money in a dream, is it an amount you can afford to lose if it doesn’t happen?  If not, then don’t do it.  If you take a new job, are its requirements something you can deliver?  If not, red light.  I once turned down a job because I found out that it would require evenings and weekends (as well as days) and with a baby and a toddler at home, I decided that their well-being was not an acceptable risk.

Red light.

What college should you go to? Any one you want – if you can afford it.  Don’t risk going to a college where you’ll rack up 100K in debt for a major that won’t allow you to make enough to pay that debt.  Not an acceptable risk.

Should you marry a particular person? Not without considering Biblical principles such as being equally yoked and seeking wise counsel.  And if you consider marriage an “acceptable risk” (meaning divorce is an option), then that’s a red light.  A really bright one.

6 Jun

THE Most Important Vision You’ll Ever Have

           What do you call a man who, when asked for food and drink by an army of 400 warriors, deliberately refuses them and then insults them? 

            How about “fool”? Sierra Exif JPEG

             Coincidently, that was the meaning of the name of Abigail’s husband, Nabal. Backstory (I Sam. 25): David and his mighty men, hungry and thirsty, had come upon Nabal’s men shearing his hundreds of sheep (Nabal was rich) and asked them for food and drink.  Since David and his men had often protected Nabal’s herdsmen from danger, it wasn’t therefore asking too much for David to make such a request of Nabal.  What was unusual was for Nabal to refuse David – especially considering that Nabal was plenty rich enough to provide food for David and his men.  And most especially considering that it was – well, David and his men.  Four hundred of them.  With swords.

             But – was Nabal’s foolish behavior really so coincidental?

             Perhaps not. It’s difficult to imagine the impact of growing up and hearing yourself called “fool” every time anyone mentioned your name.  Consequently, Nabal might simply have become convinced that that’s all he would ever be – whether he tried otherwise or not.  So (I’m speculating), consciously or not, Nabal began to imitate other fools.

             That’s what’s known as a “word curse”; we tend to become what we’re told we are. Jesus referred to such words as “idle words” and said that we’ll be held accountable for every idle word we speak.  Why?  Because people believe what they hear about themselves – for better or worse.

             Take Jacob, for example, who was born grasping his twin brother’s heel (Gen. 25). His parents named him Jacob, meaning “one who takes by the heel” or “supplants”.  They must (I speculate) have jokingly surmised that, at birth, Jacob was trying to pull his brother back so he could be the first out the door, the firstborn.  Thus, he was trying to “supplant” his brother, which means “to trip up or overthrow”.  Now, imagine Jacob hearing that story his whole life; possibly he came to feel that one day he would, in fact, supplant or replace his brother.  By the time he did deliberately set out to steal his brother’s first-born status, was it really a surprise to anyone?

             So – what are you saying about yourself? About your goals and visions?  Are you saying, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me”?  Or are you saying, “I’m not good enough or smart enough or attractive enough or financially stable enough or experienced enough or – whatever enough?”

WHAT ARE YOU HEARING YOURSELF CALL YOURSELF?

             Is it fool? Or liar/deceiver?  How about stupid? Ugly?  Loser?  Worthless?  Evil?  Failure?  Hopeless?  If so, you need to get a new vision of yourself.

            “Yeah,” you say, “been there, heard that. But I just can’t.” 

            Why? Jesus died to give you a new vision of yourself. And if His death isn’t powerful enough to re-write your identity, then Christ died for nothing. 

             Of course, you don’t believe that. So do you really believe then that there is any “case” too impossible for the Lord to re-define, to make new?  Of course not.  But you have to believe that that power applies to you.  Is that always easy?  No – as Jacob proves.

            I should point out here that Jacob was not a nice person. Not only does he deliberately deceive his father and steal his brother’s birthright (Gen. 27) but, after a nasty conflict with his father-in-law over wages, he decides to take all his wives and children and return to his homeland.  Fair enough.  However, on the way, he’s afraid of running into his brother Esau (!) and so packs up a bunch of presents for him and sends all of them, along with his wives and children, across the river ahead of him.

            Not exactly a model of integrity.

             But what happens next always kind of baffled me.