Week 3: The Secret to Success

When the solution is simple, God is answering. Albert Einstein

The secrets to success are kept "secret" to most people for the simple fact that they are just too simple. When I was taking a college class a few years ago, I had a young man who was struggling in the class ask me to help him study for the final. I didn't have time, but told him if he would just copy his notes a few times and study them that he would do fine. "I know that", he said rather disgustedly, and then went away - apparently to find someone who had a simpler way of getting an A.

In investing, the secret is also quite simple: Buy low and sell high. The trick to this concept is careful research of your potential investments, a plan on how and when to take profits (or cut your losses) and the patience to carry out that plan. The problem is that when most people hear that the secret to investing is to buy low and sell high, their response is nearly always something along the lines of a disgusted, "I know that", prior to going away to find someone with a grander "secret".

In the past three weeks we have looked at the "secrets" to changing your life for God. They begin with the foundation of Christ and His sacrifice, God and His grace, and of faith. They continue with prayer and study and worship, and then move to things such as love and joy and peace. And... they seem too simple... so most people will simply never do them. This is why most people do not get "A's" in difficult classes, why most people lose money when investing, and it's especially why most people simply will never have the quality of life that God wants for them.

If you want have a change in the "outcome" of your life, you will have to make changes to the "inputs". These so called "secrets" are nothing more than first principles of Christianity, but they really will change your life if you are willing to commit yourself to the effort living for God will require. The concepts of commitment and effort are hardly "secrets". The real secret is that most people are simply unwilling to do them... so theyfail. Did you think it would be easy?

Now I commit you to God and to the word of His grace, which can build you up and give you an inheritance among all those who are sanctified. Acts20:32, NIV

Take Your Life Back

“Only you can control your future.” Dr. Seuss

Okay, let me state for the record that I know that God really controls our future, but we have a great deal of responsibility in this as well.

Do you ever feel that things have just gotten too far out of control? Is your schedule is jam-packed, your credit line extended, your nerves shot and your temper short?

Welcome to the club!

Now, what are you going to do about it? The following things have helped me:

• As soon as you wake up, pray

• Before you have a bite to eat, feed your soul with the Word of God

• Start your week in worship with the church of God’s choice – can’t find it? Here’s a hint: He describes it in the Bible – your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to find it

• Turn off the news – it’s mostly garbage, anyway

• Don’t turn on the TV without a plan to view only what you would watch if the Lord was present (and He is present, you know). Use the same standard with your computer usage and video games

• Eat your meals with your family, not your computer or TV or beloved video game

• Offer a prayer of thanksgiving before you eat those meals

• Don’t drink – alcohol will control your life. Don’t believe it? Try stopping!

• If you have small children, have a Bible story at bedtime

• Take a walk – if you are married, take a walk with your spouse. It will change your marriage

• Before you go to sleep, pray

Don’t have time for these things? Then make a prayerful list of your own that fits God’s will and your schedule. Can’t even do that? Then, you don’t get your life back!

“the upright give thought to their ways” Proverbs 21:29

“Be very careful, then, how you live” Ephesians 5:15

A Tribute to Mothers

May she who gave you birth rejoice!    Solomon

Mothers, I have learned, are very important. I had this truth driven home one Sunday morning while "helping" Carolyn get our three year old ready for worship. I dressed her from the skin out and did a dandy job if I do say so myself. The problem was that when we got into the worship, our daughter started to squirm - she was having a bit of trouble breathing. Turns out that I had put one of her legs through the waist opening of her underwear, and her waist through the opening for one of her legs. Anyway, the long and short of it is that I was not invited to help anymore with helping the girls get ready for worship.

I wonder sometimes how many of us would make it to the worship were it not for our wives and mothers. For that matter, without our moms, how many families do you think would pause to offer thanks for our food before meals? Without the influence of mothers, how many children would have a bedtime Bible story? How many would have someone to listen to their bedtime prayers?

Let's face it men, without the influence of our mothers we would still be barbarians, and without the influence of our wives, we would be raising little heathens. While our kids would know some important things like how to bait a hook and throw a football, they would, for the most part, be unwashed, unmatched, malnourished, and completely lacking in all things spiritual.

Good mothers love their children with all of their hearts. They hurt when their children hurt. They worry when their children are not doing well. They sacrifice so that their children won't have to do without. And they pray - countless prayers that their children will be faithful to the Lord, for they know that these same children will someday no longer be children. More importantly, they know that their children will surely kneel before the Master and hear their final judgment. They want their children to be with them in Heaven, so they do everything that they can, today, to make sure that happens. And... though we don't tell them nearly often enough, we love our mothers for all that they do.

Her children rise and call her blessed... Many women do noble things, but you surpass them all. Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised. Give her the reward that she has earned, and let her works bring her praise.    Proverbs 31:28-31, NIV.

 

Tearing Down Walls & Building Bridges

"We build too many walls and not enough bridges."

Sir Isaac Newton

 

One of the most natural things that we humans do is protect ourselves from possible dangers. So, we put up six foot privacy fences around our yards, buy multiple and various insurance policies, and add to our savings accounts. These things, in proper measure, are reasonable and prudent. However, there are other things that we do in our natural inclination towards protection that are neither reasonable nor prudent - specifically, when we set out to protect ourselves from those who should be closest to us.

 

How many times have we had a loved one suggest something that we might could be doing better, but instead of welcoming their suggestions that were bred by love and concern, we immediately throw up walls of protection? In fact, how often do we become defensive against the very things that could improve our lives, simply because we are feeling personally attacked?

 

I wonder how many marriages have become battle grounds because one spouse suggests that the other might have a drinking problem, or that the other is looking at things on television or the internet that Christians simply shouldn't be looking at? How many times has a close friend had to bring up a difficult subject because they love their friend and are afraid they might be lost? How many times have religious differences become a battleground instead of an opportunity for frank and honest study in an attempt to find what God wants us both to do?

 

Instead of welcoming the words of concern in these situations, we are much more prone to become defensive (or offensive), and we shut out the very ones who loved us enough to bring up these thorny issues. Then, instead of being grateful that someone loved us enough to warn us of potential danger, we become argumentative and offended.

 

And we start to build walls.

 

Not against our enemies, but against those we love the most. 

 

And we drift apart.

 

Before we know it, we can't even see our friends anymore because of the very walls we built for our defense, but instead of defending ourselves from danger, we have walled ourselves in with the harmful sin, and have walled ourselves out from the very ones who could have helped us best in escaping from those sins.

 

If you have had words with a loved one that have resulted in your having built walls of separation, then maybe it is time to tear down those walls and begin building bridges in their place. And, if you have found yourself "walled out" from your Lord and Savior because you did not like the changes that He says are best for you then, for sure, it is time to tear down those walls.

 

And you won't even have to build a bridge to get back to Him... He has done that for you. It's on the other side of the wall. You simply have to use it!

 

When he came to his senses he said... "I will set out and go back to my father and say to him: Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son, make me like one of your hired men."

So he got up and went to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him...

the father said... "this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found."

So they began to celebrate.

Luke 15:17-24

Lessons of a Happy Marriage

“Marriage is a wonderful institution… but who wants to live in an institution?”

Groucho Marx

I have been blessed to have been married for 32 years, and in those 32 years I have learned a few lessons. Here are my pearls of wisdom:

If you win an argument, you lose.

Questions you must never ask:

“What is this stuff?”

What did you do to your hair?”

“Do you think I’m stupid or something?”

Things you must never do:

Never spit out your wife’s cooking.

Even if you honestly think there is something in the food that shouldn’t be there.

Even if you think it might be poison.

If it isn’t poison, you will soon wish it was. If it is poison, she’s going to get you eventually, so you may as well take it like a man.

Your wife is smarter than you are. I’m quite serious about this lesson, and you must never forget it. Ever!

Things you must do:

Take frequent long walks together.

Have frequent long talks together.

Read your Bible and pray every day.

Put Christ at the center of your marriage.

Sound too simple? It’s worked for me for 32 years. And, by the way, I am the happiest man I know! I love my wife!!

“He who finds a wife finds what is good, and receives favor from the Lord.”

Proverbs 18:22

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