If you have never traveled or been out of the country, I highly recommend it. We are so comfortable in North America. We have everything, or at least we think we do. Our homes are crammed with this, yet we are unsatisfied. My wife and I are currently on a plane heading to Santo Domingo in the Dominican Republic. We are sitting next to a lady who is leading a group of medical students to do humanitarian health work. We are heading down to prepare for a mission trip in the fall. There are at least two other groups on this plane that are also heading down to help others.
I have not been to Dominican Republic before but from the sounds of it they need help. We are coming from a culture in which it's embarrassing to need help, yet we are going to an area that will probably be a blessing to us. As we interact with the people we will find that they have something that we in North America need: a reliance on God for their daily survival. We can learn so much from cultures that are in need. Something I have found in all the humanitarian trips I have been on, when you know you need God, when you are not comfortable, you can still be happy, you can still be rich, you can still be blessed. Why? Because it is very crucial for us to know that we cannot make it on our own. It is important to realize our dependence on God. Travel, and you will find that happiness does not come from stuff but from recognizing your need for God, and being filled by Him.
Pray that God will help you see your need for Him, and other need for your compassion.
Read Luke 10:25-37
Journal: Put yourself in the shoes of the injured man, what does he feel? Put yourself in the place of the Samaritan, why did he help? Who in the parable would God be compared to? Who would you be?
What is your main goal? I used to have several, one was to climb the 7 summits, (That is the seven highest peaks on the seven continents) but that dream changed, it's still in the background. It's not as much of a priority. As my kids grow, as I draw closer to God I notice that my goals become less selfish, and more Christ and people oriented. My goals become more about family, church and personal walk with God. I still dream of racing in an Ironman. I still dream of learning to surf, and scuba dive. However as I have set goals, the goal that has become the most important to me, and has become the most essential and impactful goal, has been to grow closer to God every day. This goal has been crucial for me. It makes me a better man, husband, father, pastor, and person. It actually helps me achieve my other goals. To me the most important goal is Jesus. This week we have been talking about how to set goals. I strongly encourage you to be faithful, develop a habit of daily writing out your goals and working toward them. But if you take anything from this last week, take this: the true and most important goal is to live your life daily with Jesus.
Read John 15:1-11, Matthew 6:33
Pray that God will guide you in your goals, but most importantly pray that He will guide you to have a heart that seeks Him first.
Journal: Ask God today to show you who He is? Ask yourself, why is this important? What is so essential to know God?
My wife and I are blessed. I say that not because we have a lot financially, and certainly not because we have a lot of things. I say it because we have each other. We are blessed because we have a great marriage. Sadly not everyone has that. In our world marriages seem to struggle and fall apart to often. We are very lucky, and I don't believe in lucky. We are privileged because God brought us together. Two people who have both been influenced by parents who are still together. That is rare. I believe that was a big influence, we have been blessed to be raised in the presence of two people who were willing to work together at their marriages. That made us lucky, we got to see what a successful marriage takes. I got to witness a marriage that succeeded through two things, hard work, and communication. In the first church, I pastored in, I worked under a great man that told me something very important. "Love is a choice." he said, "Make that choice now and you will stay in love." My wife and I wake up and make the choice every day to love each other and to work at our marriage. We work at communication. We work at loving each other. What does this have to do with goals you may ask? It has everything to do with goals. You see my goals is being married to my wife until we die, and it is coming true because we work at that goal every day. Goals take daily commitment and diligent focus. Goals are accomplished daily. You see the goal in the future, and you work at it, a little bit as often as you can. Soon you will achieve that goal.
Daily work at your goals.
Read: Philippians 3:14-15, Proverbs 6:6-11, Luke 14:25-35
Journal: Notice that these verses talk about determination and focused persistence. What does this tell you about setting your goals daily? What goals can you focus on today?
You have made a list of goals, every day you should write down the things you need to do that day. You should make sure that in that list of things you are working towards accomplishing your goal. If your goal is to loose five pounds in the next month, your daily goal should include diet change and exercise. If you want to get closer to God, include in that daily devotional and prayer time.
Pray: that God will help you establish healthy habits that help you accomplish His goals for you.
Accomplishing your goals takes dedication, not procrastination. If you are not accomplishing your goals chances are it's because you have not made them a priority. We never put off the things we really care about. I think to a story from the Bible about ten virgins Matthew 25:1-13, 5 had enough oil, and 5 ran out of oil. A take away that you can get from this story is that five of the woman had not prepared properly, they did not plan ahead. The other five, those that got into the wedding feast were well prepared. They were ready. We can learn a lot from this parable. One point being that we need to be ready for God's soon return. But for the purpose of goal setting, let's focus on a lesson of prioritizing. The five virgins that were left out in the darkness, we not ready. When does this happen? When we don't plan ahead when we don't make something a priority. When we don't really care about something. When we are excited about something or when it is our passion, it is rare that we are unprepared.
Read: Matthew 6:33, Deuteronomy 6:5, Luke 10:38-42
Journal: What do these verses tell you about your priorities? Is it important to order your life?
Goal Setting: Look over your list from the previous days on Goal setting. Have you narrowed it down? Now it is time to prioritize it? Ask yourself today and every day. Which of these goals is the most important for today? And arrange them in order. #1 is you're absolutely priority and has to happen today. As you go down your list you can lower the priority for each day. For example, my first priority today and every day, as a Christian is to spend time reading scripture and praying. This is crucial and in my eyes my #1 every day. Your other priorities can vary depending on the day. Some days you may have to pay bills. or go to the dentist. You may have a deadline at work one day that is very high on your priority list. Each day you should be working toward achieving your goals these need to be on your priority list. (We will expand on this concept tomorrow.)
Pray: Spend time today in prayer specifically asking God to order your life and your priorities.
If you want a little more on priorities you can read my previous blog entry.
In the first decade of this millennium, I had developed a love for rock climbing. It was exhilarating to climb up the walls of rock, to see views that few had seen. Every time we would go on a long climb we would plan ahead for it. I had several climbing guidebooks, that would describe the routes and how to get up them. One particular day my two friends and I decide to climb a popular old route on the prominent face of mount Yamnuska, a peak visible from the Hwy as you would drive into the Canadian Rockies nearing Banff national park, in Alberta Canada. The route was not a particularly hard climb, however, it did have its dangers as it was covered in loose rock, and so a repelling decent was not possible. The level of difficulty was easily within our climbing abilities, and my two friends were both better climbers and had more experience than I. As we enjoyed the relaxed climb and light pace we noticed that there was a party of two a few hundred feet above us. We thought nothing of it but quickly caught up to them. Several times we had to wait for them, but we were in no rush. After about 800 ft, we realized that the team above us was stuck. There was no way they could get up the hardest part of the route (known as the crux). The guy trying to lead it was getting frustrated and was swearing due to fatigue and I am sure fear. No one wants to be stuck 800 feet off the ground with no way down. My friend jumped up the wall, making it look easy and then I and our other friend followed. We left a rope for them and were able to pull them off of the climb. I remember as I belayed them up the chimney several times having to pull with all my might just to get them up the climb. There was no way they would have made it up. Later we found out that several people had been rescued off of this particular climb. To say the least, the two men, were very thankful we were climbing there that day. In listening to their story, they told us that they had decided last minute to get on the climb, and with little to no planning figured that it was within their abilities.
This is how goals work. If you jump in without preparation you can get in trouble and think that there is no way you can accomplish them. However, with a little planning, you can take on even the toughest of challenges.
This is true if your goal is something as hard as quitting smoking, or as easy as setting a goal to run a half marathon. I say easy, not because running that distance is easy. But if you plan and prepare, even the hardest challenges become manageable.
Read: Philippians 4: 8-13 today, yes you read it on Monday, but read it again.
Journal: Why is it that Paul connects verses 8 and 9 with verse 13? Is there a connection between focusing on good things and accomplishing good things? Over the last two days, we have been focusing on your goal list. Look over that list again. Today you need to categorize your goals into three categories.
1. Weekly goals. (goals you need to accomplish within the week or weekly.)
2. Short range goals. (Goals you will try to accomplish within the next 3 months or so)
3. Long range goals (Goals you will accomplish withing a period of months to years)
To categories these you could highlight these with different colors, or right codes next to them like LT for long term or W for weekly.
Pray: That God will equip you with the right heart to achieve your goals. Pray that you can have the focus to plan out your goals. Ask God to align your goals with His plans for your life. Pray through Jeremiah 29:11-13
Establishing Goals Part 2
I was reading the other day, which happens to be one of my daily goals and I came across this story.
"Thomas Carlyle had just spent two years writing a book on the French Revolution. He gave his only copy to a colleague, John Stuart Mill, to read and critique. Then the unthinkable occurred: Mill’s servant used Carlyle’s manuscript as kindling to start a fire.
As Mill reported the devastating news, Carlyle’s face paled. Two years of his life were lost. Thousands of long, lonely hours spent in writing had been wasted. He could not imagine writing the book again. He lapsed into a deep depression.
Then one day while walking the city streets, Carlyle noticed a stone wall under construction. He was transfixed. That tall sweeping wall was being raised one brick at a time. He realized that if he wrote one page at a time, one day at a time, he could write his book again. That is exactly what he did.
When faced with seemingly impossible situations, we often see the wall and not the individual bricks, but taken day by day, task by task, the load is more manageable. Jesus prayed for daily bread. He didn’t worry about tomorrow, next week, or next year. God’s help comes day by day."
— Rick Christian, Alive (Zondervan, 1995)
As we continue to spend the next week or so focusing on goals, it is important that you come to the realization you can achieve your goals and dreams if you tackle them one block, one step at a time. Today is the second step in your goal making process.
Read: Matthew 6:25-31
Journal: What does this tell you about Goals? How can goals become more manageable? Yesterday you made a "Dream goals list" a list of all your goals no matter what. Today look at the list again, pray about it. As you look over the list, look at each line and ask yourself, "Why do I have this goal?" If you can't answer the question of why you want to do something you should cross the goal/dream off of your list. There is no point chasing a goal if you don't have a reason or passion for pursuing it. This part of the process may take some time, do not be afraid to be thorough. This is an important step to setting and achieving your goals.
Pray: Today Spend your prayer time asking God to make sure that your goals are goals that will glorify God. Goals that He would be happy you are working to attain.
1. The first part of setting goals is to make a dream goal list.
2. Go over the list again and ask yourself why you want to attain the goal.
3. Pray that the goals are in line with God's plan for your life.
Something I have loved doing since I was a teenager is shooting at targets, and not just with a gun. I love to shoot for accuracy, with pellet guns, bows, rifles, handguns anything. However, I have never liked to hunt. I remember going gopher shooting and having bad dreams for weeks because killing just isn't in me. However to aim at a target and strive to hit is has always been thrilling. I remember walking into the woods with a pellet gun as a young teenager and shooting aimlessly at no target. I quickly became bored and distracted. I would start to look for things to hit, challenging myself. I walked around looking for old cans or bottles to put on a stump to shoot at. It was so much better to aim at something than to have no target to hit. You can't expect to hit a target if you don't have one. Philippians 4:14 says, "I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus." KJV
I have been talking with many people of late that seem to need to push toward some goals but have never had any kind of instruction as to how to reach their goals. This week we will be focussing on how to work toward goals. We all need goals, and we all need a plan to achieve them.
Read: Philippians 4
Pray: that God will guide you to have goals in your life and the strength you need to attain them.
Journal: Take one page in your journal and write down all the goals you would like to accomplish in your life. Any goals and dreams are fine. Make sure to include goals from all areas of life, recreational goals, family goals, financial goals, work related goals, spiritual goals, and social goals. Goals can be grand, like climb Everest, or make $100,000,000. Or they can be simple, like to read more or spend an hour a day with your kids.
Our body is made up of systems, it works together. The interesting thing is that those systems are also made up of smaller systems called cells. The cells are then made up of smaller complex systems called molecules, and them atoms, and them protons, neutrons, and electrons. In turn, they are made up of smaller things called quarks. We are the larger system made up of smaller systems. Yet all those systems that God designed are essential for things to work properly. If one piece of the system is broken, our body does not function the right way. Our system goes from tiny, to us. It all works well together. But we being big, are essentially the small part of a system that is bigger still than we are. You could call the next stage your spouse or your family. From there you community. If you are a part of a religious system you are part of that body. You are part of a nation, and together we make up the world and we are the children of God, part of His larger creation. So today I want to ask you if one part of that body is not functioning well, wouldn't it then make sense that things would not work right. Christ's body needs you to function correctly. You may not think you are important. However, God designed you to be a functioning and integral part of His body. So I want to ask you, what does that make you worth? How valuable are you to the body of God, and to His plan? It makes you crucial. You are important and necessary.
Read: 1 Corinthians 12:12-31
Pray today that God will help you identify your place in his body. Ask God to help you believe that you are essential to His work.
Journal about the Body, what happens if the body is missing a piece or one does not contribute? What can you do to help the body out?
Have you ever shopped at Aldi before, I love Aldi, its food is great quality and yet its prices are better than most every other store. I love that I can come out of the store with a cart full of groceries and it does not break the bank. Every time I shop there, I get out of my car, walk across the parking lot and get to the entrance of the store, my eyes peer to the shopping carts and I realize.... "really I forgot a quarter again?" Then I scramble back to the car, in hopes of finding a quarter. Finally, I get in the store get everything in need, head to the cash register only to realize I forgot my bags in the van, (yes I drive a minivan, and I love it!) This seems to be my life. Not just a trip to Aldi. Although it does happen at Aldi, it just seems to remind me of the chaos of our modern lives. We are so busy, so overwhelmed by everything we have to do, that it's hard to remember the simple things. Do you ever feel this way? Do you feel overwhelmed, forgetful, lost in the mess of life? There are some verses in the Bible that remind me that there is hope.
Pray as you read: Psalm 46
Pray: For God's guidance in your storm today, that you may find peace in Him.
Read Psalm 46 again. It's a short Psalm read it 4 times today. Each time read it a little slower. What is God saying to you?
Journal: What did you learn from this Psalm? Where can you find Peace?
You wouldn't just throw away your most valuable things, would you? You've heard the scam, a Nigerian prince is emailing you and says that they will send you a bunch of money, you are the named beneficiary in a will, to inherit an estate worth a million or more. Your personal financial information is needed to "prove" that you are the beneficiary and to speed the transfer of your inheritance. To some, this may sound like a good idea. But to most, we are careful not to just throw our personal, special, and protected info out there to be taken. God has given us minds to use wisely. Matthew 7:6 “Don’t give what is holy to dogs or throw your pearls to pigs. Otherwise, they will trample them and then tear you to pieces. In other words, think about what you are doing with your valuables. In the same sense, your mind is a valuable commodity, what you do with it bears results. If you invest your mind in trash, your mind will become trashy. Take care of what God has blessed you with.
Read: Revelation 3:14-22
Journal: Ask yourself if you have made a decision to completely follow Christ or if you are holding onto the things of this world. Come up with three things that you can do to help you surrender everything to God.
Pray: Ask God to help you invest your things, time, and energy in the things that really matter. Ask God to give you 5 people that you can invest in.
Further Reading: Matthew 7:24-29
How often do we wonder, "Where am I going? or What is my purpose?" In our day to day life, in our inner walk, many of us are looking for a purpose. You may be here because you want answers. You may be here because you truly want an Epic Walk. For whatever your reason, I am glad you are here. Read on. Enjoy our daily homework and hopefully, you can find more purpose, and begin an Epic Walk.