Do You Have What It Takes To Accomplish The Goals You Have Set?

My wife and I have been earnestly working on getting out of debt and we are currently down to the last loan. During this time we have been listening to a various outlets seeking advice on what is the best way to become debt free. One of those outlets has been Dave Ramsey. 

If you are not familiar with Dave Ramsey, he is well known for helping people all over the United States gain financial freedom. Although he can be a little intense his methods, when applied properly, have proven to be successful over time. 

One thing that I have taken from Dave Ramsey was what he pointed out in these obscure verses in Proverbs. The verses say “Allow no sleep to your eyes, no slumber to your eyelids. Free yourself, like a gazelle from the hand of the hunter, like a bird from the snare of the fowler.” (Proverbs 6:4-5 NIV) At first glance, these verses don’t seem like they make much sense but the lesson that can be learned from them will help in accomplishing your goals in life.

If you have ever watched National Geographic or the Discovery Channel, you would have probably come across a scene where a group of gazelles are grazing in an open field. What the gazelles don’t know at the time, lurking off in the distance is their main predator, the cheetah. But all of a sudden, like clock work, one of the gazelles heads pop up and senses that their is imminent danger. Then the gazelles take off running as fast as they can in order not to become prey to the cheetah. 

The verse in Proverbs tells us to “Free yourself, like a gazelle from the hand of the hunter.” The gazelle has to run with everything it has in order not to fall prey to the cheetah. In order to free itself, the gazelle can’t become passive in its attempt to escape. It has to be intense in its pursuit of freedom.

Now Dave Ramsey uses this example, what he calls “Gazelle Intensity,” when talking to people on how to get out of debt. But I believe this example can be applied to anything we do in life. If we want to accomplish something in life, we can’t be passive about it. We need to attack it with intensity. Just like the gazelle running from the cheetah. If we want to reach our goals in life, we can’t just go at them half-heartedly. We need to put everything we have into the pursuit of them.

So what is it in your life that you are trying to accomplish? What goals have you set for yourself that you’re trying to reach? It could be becoming debt free. It could be getting your Masters degree. It could be becoming a home owner. It could be starting a family. It could be being able to retire. Whatever it is don’t be passive about it. Attack it head on. Don’t hold anything back. Be gazelle intense.


What I Learned About God’s Love From A Squirrel 

My father-in-law has a couple bird feeders in his backyard. For a while now he has had an issue with a squirrel getting into the bird feeder and eating all the seed that is meant for the birds. My father-in-law wasn’t willing to accept the squirrel eating all the bird seed, so he went about trying to put a stop to it. He did what every true American does nowadays when you have a problem needing solving, he Googled it and he watched some YouTube videos. The solution: hanging a slinky around the middle pole of the bird feeder so that the squirrel couldn’t climb up it. This worked for a little while. The squirrel would try getting up the bird feeder but would grab on to the slinky and fall back down it. But as relentless as my father-in-law was to put a stop to the squirrel, the squirrel was more relentless in getting to the bird seed in the feeder.

This somewhat silly story of the war between my father-in-law and a relentless squirrel reminded me of God’s relentless pursuit in loving us. Probably the most famous verse of all of scripture, John 3:16, shows just how far God was willing to go because of His love for us. God was willing to sacrifice His only son because of His relentless love for us. The apostle Paul writes about the extent of God’s love in the 8th chapter of Romans where he says “For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” In other words, nothing can keep God’s love from getting to us.

Just like the squirrel wasn’t willing to give up its pursuit of the bird seed no matter what my father-in-law threw in its way, God’s love for you cannot be stopped. No obstacle, no hinderance, no barrier can prevent God’s love from getting to you. No matter how you may feel, God’s love never fails. No matter how many times you may have failed, God’s love for you remains constant. God’s love is not based upon the condition you are in, because God’s love has no conditions. God’s love never fails, never gives up, and never runs out on you. God’s love is relentless.

The Way I Talk

There is a new country song on the radio today called “The Way I Talk” by Morgan Wallen. The whole message behind the song is about being authentic. It’s about being you no matter what others may think. There is a lyric in the song that stood out to me. It says “The man upstairs gets it so I ain’t tryna fix it.”

So many things we do today, we do in an effort to receive the approval of others. We go out of our way in an attempt to gain the praise and adoration of people we don’t even know. We wear clothes that aren’t comfortable in order to receive the comfort of others. We buy cars we can’t afford in order to impress people we haven’t even met. Our decisions in life revolve around capturing the attention of others. We constantly strive in vain to seek satisfaction in the sights of everyone else.

I love the message of this song by Morgan Wallen because it’s the message of our Heavenly Father. We see this in the life of Jesus. Before Jesus performed any miracles. Before Jesus died on the cross. Even before Jesus rose from the dead. God was proud of him. (See Matthew 3:17) Even Jesus couldn’t do anything to win over God’s approval. So why do we think it would be any different for us? 

God isn’t proud of us because of what we do, but because of who we are. Any parent out there can attest to this. You want to see your kids be successful. But whether they succeed or fail in life doesn’t change the fact that they are still your kid and that you still love them and are still proud of them. God is a perfect father and he loves you and is proud of you not because of your status in society but because of your position as His child.

Quit striving after the praise of others. Rest in the satisfaction of knowing God is already proud of you. Quit seeking the recognition of people. You already have the attention of God. Quit trying to look good for everyone else. You already have the approval in the sight of the only One who matters.

You Can’t Always Get What You Want

Two of the most known and famous scripture verses are often vastly taken out of context. The first being from probably the most famous psalm written by David saying “The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.” And the second being a well known verse in Philippians written by the apostle Paul that says “And my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.” 

Both verses referring to God as our protector and our provider. But if we are not careful, when taken out of context, these verses can seem like God is going to give us whatever we want. On the contrary, when we take a closer look at these verses, we will see a quite different meaning. God is not a genie that is going to grant our every wish and want at our beckon call, but He is a loving father that is going to make sure we have everything that we need in life.

Louie Giglio, the pastor of Passion City Church and the founder of the Passion conferences, made an interesting observation when talking about the first verse of Psalm 23 in his message at the Code Orange Revival at Elevation Church last year. He said that when David says “I shall not want” it’s not because God is going to grant his every wish and therefore he won’t want for anything but it’s because he trusts that God knows better than him on what is best for David. David knew that God being a good shepherd would know what David would need in his life and therefore he would lack nothing. He knew if God didn’t give it to him than he must not have needed it.

Just like David, Jesus tells us that He is the Good Shepherd (See John 10:11). When our desires align with His, we will have everything we need. When we trust that He knows best for our lives, we will lack nothing. When we believe that if He didn’t give it to us than we don’t need it, we will be content. 

When we think like that we might not get what we want, but we will have what we need.

What’s So Good About Good Friday?

Maybe you’re like me and have wondered why today is referred to as “Good Friday.” Have you ever thought to yourself why it’s called that? Why would a day that was full of so much bad be remembered as good? Like I could understand if we called Sunday good, but Friday. It just doesn’t make much sense. How could a day where Jesus was falsely accused, brutally beaten, and shamefully put to death be considered good? 

Recently I was listening to a message called “The Thirst Trap” by the pastor of Elevation Church, Steven Furtick. He started out the message with this bold statement “Favor flows from unexpected places.” It got me thinking. How many times do we miss out on a blessing in our lives because we aren’t expecting it to show up in the way it did? How many times have I missed out on something God had for me because it didn’t look how I expected it to be? Like, for example, I asked God for a tree and He gave me an acorn. Or how the Israelites asked God for water and He told Moses to hit a rock?

You see if we are not careful, we will end up missing out on God’s blessings because they come wrapped inside an unusual container. We will miss out on the gift because we were expecting it to look much differently. 

Forgiveness flowed from an unexpected place, a hill known for death called Golgotha. Salvation flowed from an unexpected place, a cross. Redemption flowed from an unexpected place, a pierced side. Life flowed from an expected place, death.

Friday is remembered as good because of the gift of God that was freely given. The work of God was finished by Jesus on Friday. On the exterior it didn’t look so good because of the circumstances. But the favor of God flowed to us in the most unexpected place. And because of that Friday is good.

A Model Of Consistency 

Success isn’t always about greatness. It’s about consistency. Consistent hard work leads to success. Greatness will come. ~ Dwayne Johnson

In the book Outliers, author Malcolm Gladwell says that it takes roughly ten thousand hours of practice to achieve mastery in a field. That is a lot of times of constant repetition of the same thing over and over again. That’s why it’s fascinating and mind boggling to me that people show up to the gym for a week, maybe even a month, and are disappointed because they haven’t yet seen the results that they expected. You can’t show up to the gym for a few months and expect to look like the guy who has been showing up for years. Olympic Gold medalist, Apolo Ohno, said it this way “One thing guys have to remember is consistency… You can’t make up for three years of eating poorly in just one workout.” In other words it took years being a model of consistency to get you in the shape you’re in, why would it take any less to get you out of it?

I probably won’t get many likes or shares or comments on this post because this language of consistency isn’t very sexy. Everyone today wants to see results instantly. They want to become successful overnight. That’s why there is Instagram. And instant messaging. And even instant coffee. Because we’ve reached a day and age where waiting for a fresh pot of coffee to brew is too long. Today, being labeled a model of consistency is almost like putting a black mark on your record.

The truth is success in life comes from being consistent. Yes there are people who become overnight sensations, but the overwhelming majority of successful people are persistently consistent. Only 8% of American millionaires inherited their wealth. Compared to 67% of high-net-worth Americans who are self-made. 

You see whether you like it or not, the main ingredient to being successful in any area of life is being consistent. So if you want to accomplish something, don’t just pick it up and put it back down. Stick with it! Become a model of consistency.

If God Can Use A Donkey, Then He Can Use You

There is a story of this man named Balaam who was being paid to curse God’s people, the nation of Israel. You can read the whole story in Numbers 22, but for the purpose of this blog, I’ll give you the “Spark Notes” version of the tale. Probably dating myself a little bit here but for those of you who don’t know what I am referring to when I mention “Spark Notes” these were the abbreviated versions, notes per say, that gave the recap and pointed out the main points and characters of books that I, and many others out there, were forced to read in our English classes in high school. Without these notes, I’m not sure how I would have passed those English classes. But I digress. Now back to our story. So Balaam was going to curse God’s chosen people, the Israelites. But God had warned him not to. So while Balaam was on his way, God sent an angel to stop him. The donkey Balaam was riding on kept veering off of the path and eventually came to a halt. Balaam didn’t know why his donkey was acting so strangely because he couldn’t see the angel. God opened the mouth of the donkey and it started talking to Balaam. Now I don’t know about you but I would have found that really weird if a donkey was talking to me, probably be like Doctor Dolittle or Shrek, but apparently not Balaam because he responded right away to his donkey. Anyhow God finally opened Balaam’s eyes so he could see the angel. Balaam ended up blessing the Israelites instead of cursing them. God used Balaam’s donkey that day to not only save Balaam’s life but also to save the nation of Israel.

The morale of the story here is that it doesn’t matter who you are, what you’ve done, what skills you have or don’t have, God can and will use you to accomplish great things in this life. If God can use a donkey, He can surely use you. God doesn’t call the qualified, He equips the unqualified. The greatest ability is your availability. I know that is true because if it wasn’t, I wouldn’t be writing this blog right now. I’m not the most qualified and I definitely didn’t have the ability, but I made myself available and God equipped me to do it. If you would have polled all my English teachers and asked them which student in their classes would most likely end up writing a book, I guarantee I would have been the last person on the planet they would have picked, in fact they probably wouldn’t have picked me at all. But I did it. Not because I had the ability, because God knows I didn’t, but because I made myself available. Not because I was qualified, heck I have a degree in Mathematics, but because God equipped me to do so.

So the next time those thoughts of doubt begin to creep into your head that you can’t be used to do great things in this life, just remember if God can use a donkey there is nothing that can hold Him back from using you. He can use anything! So He most definitely can use you.

Making Your Dreams A Reality 

I am a pretty big fan of MMA, Mixed Martial Arts, particularly the UFC, Ultimate Fighting Championship. One of my favorite fighters to watch is The Notorious One, Conor McGregor. 

Conor Mcgregor came from nothing. He grew up in a blue collar family in Ireland. Through hard work and determination, he went from the bottom of the working class to the top of the upper class. He went from an unknown plumber to the most well-knowned fighter in the world today.

When asked how he did it, this is how McGregor responded “The distance between your dreams and reality is called action.” In other words, your dreams will never become a reality if you don’t act upon them.

Before Jesus’ first miracle could ever take place, the servants had to first fill up all the water jars (See John 2:1-11). This was an extremely tough and grueling task in those days. They didn’t have in ground plumbing back then like we do today. They couldn’t just go turn on the water spicket, go to the refrigerator, or to the store and get water like we can today. They had to go all the way to the well, pump out the water, fill up the jars, and carry them back to the house. Needless to say this was a very time consuming endeavor.

There is a story of a man who prayed to God each day that he would win the lottery. Every morning the man would wake up and ask God that today would be the day he won the lottery. Days went by. Weeks went by. Months went by. Still the man hadn’t won the lottery. Finally the man cried out to God “Why haven’t you answered my prayers?” God responded back to the man “Son, you at least have to help me out and buy a ticket.”

Too many times in our lives we are just like that man, we cry out to God then we sit back and wait for God to do something. James, the brother of Jesus, tells us that faith without works is dead (See James 2:17). God is not going to reward us if we are not first willing to take a risk. In order for God to fulfill our dreams we must first act. If we want to move the hand of God, we must first move ourselves.

So quit sitting on the sidelines of life waiting for something to happen. Get up, get in the game, and start making something happen. If you truly want to see your dreams become a reality then start acting like it.

In Case You Didn’t Know

The other day I was driving in my truck listening to the radio and the new hit song by Brett Young called “In Case You Didn’t Know” came on. The song revolves around a guy reminding the woman in his life that he loves her just in case she didn’t know that he did. He wants to make sure that she truly knows how he feels about her.

I was reminded that this is how God feels about us. He wanted to make sure we knew how much he truly loves us. So much so that He sent His only son to die for us. God loved us before we loved Him. His love is unconditional. And He wants to make sure we know that.

So why do we have to be reminded of God’s love for us? Because sometimes the circumstances and situations in our lives cause us to have short term amnesia. Our attention gets focused on what we are experiencing and we quickly forget all God has done, all He is doing, and what He is going to do. We look at how big our problems are and we lose sight of how big God’s love is for us.

So in case you didn’t know, nothing can separate you from God’s love (See Romans 8:38-39). In case you didn’t know, God doesn’t condemn you (See Romans 8:1). In case you didn’t know, you are a masterpiece (See Psalm 139:14 and Ephesians 2:10). In case you didn’t know, God’s love never fails, never gives up, never runs out on you (See Psalm 136 and Psalm 57:10).

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