Tag Archives: daily life

Time for a Reboot: 5 Reboot Tips

reboot your life

You don’t need me to tell you how to order your life. At your age, you’re pretty good at it, right?

Maybe not.

Life is like a two-year-old computer that’s so loaded down with data that it doesn’t work as well as it used to. I’ve been there – with the computer and with life. Sometimes it helps to reboot.

There was a time when everything flowed smoothly. But new adventures, chapters, and people can crowd out the most important things.

So, with a view toward cleaning up your life’s computer, here are 5 tips to reorder and reboot your life.


1. Re-prioritize your priorities


The Christian must be anchored in Jesus. His walk with the Lord always takes priority over everything else. [bctt tweet=”The Christian must be anchored in Jesus. His walk with the Lord always takes priority over everything else.” username=”Preachers_Study”] “Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness…” (Matthew 6:33). That’s pretty clear. Put God first in our lives. Assess the place of prayer, devotion, worship, study, and service. If it is not first, make the change.

Next, reinvigorate your relationship with your spouse. When everything else in life crumbles,  they will be the one standing beside you. Take a day away from work and spend it doing whatever he/she wants to do.

Now, invest in your children. It need be nothing big; just some time spent talking and hanging will pay dividends.

Finally, you can then think about work. We need to work, and Christians should be the best workers in the building (1 Timothy 5:8; 2 Thessalonians 3:10). But many give work too high of a place among their priorities.


2. Redraw your schedule


Schedules are great if you use them!  We all have calendars built into our phones. Use them!

The more you schedule, the more your life will be ordered. Make sure to include daily time for prayer and devotion. Block out family time too. That way, when someone asks, you can honestly reply that you already have an appointment at that time.


3. Revisit your responsibilities


It’s important to be a person of responsibility. To have that kind of reputation, accept all responsibility for your actions. When you stumble, say so. When you fail, admit it.

People do not like those who shirk responsibilities and blame others for their own failures. The only job I ever walked away from was when I worked for a boss who always blamed others for his shortcomings. People don’t like that. Step up and be responsible.


4. Remember to be thankful


Life is so fast, and we are in such a hurry, that thankfulness has disappeared.

Notice how often Paul expressed his gratefulness for the Christians he knew and especially for his Lord (c.f. Romans 1:8; 1 Corinthians 1:4; Ephesians 1:16 et al.).

Your kind, grateful words are the oil that lubricates every interaction. [bctt tweet=”Your kind, grateful words are the oil that lubricates every interaction.” username=”Preachers_Study”]


5. Remember humility


Here’s a little secret: You’re not the best. I know, your kids think you are (especially if they haven’t started school yet), but we are just average. The only useful comparisons are to those proclaimed as humble by the Lord.

Moses was humble. John the Baptist was humble. Jesus was more humble than all (John 13:1-20). And even if we were as humble as Moses, John or Jesus, or humility would prevent us from thinking it!

When I accept the reality of my feeble life, I will no longer demand to be first or to have my way with everything. I will be far more accepting of others and much more grateful for the grace that saves me.

Here is the point. It is always helpful to stop and reconsider life and our place in it. Most of the time, what we need most a quick reboot, don’t you think?





How Should Christians Think of ISIS?


ISISHorrific acts of violence by terrorists have become a daily news report. Beheadings, crucifixions and rape top the list of hideous crimes perpetrated by radical terrorist groups like ISIS. Reports of terror plots and terrorist cells in America are frightening. International travel, already stressful, is now fearful.

Americans generally, and Christians particularly, are angry. We no longer feel safe within our own borders. We want to lash out at the terrorists and destroy every last vestige of them and their hideous ideology. A recent presidential debate featured terms like “carpet-bombing” and making the “sand glow in the dark,” a reference to nuclear assault on the deserts. The angst is palpable; people are angry.

Christians must be different, right? We are people of God, people of love and mercy, right? But we are frightened and angry. Don’t we have a right to vengeance?

Vengeance is Mine

Moses says of God, “Vengeance  is mine” (Deuteronomy 32:35). The act of repaying an act of evil belongs to God. We are all “wretched” before the Lord and unable to act out of pure thoughts and motives. God alone is the one arbiter of justice that can be trusted to always judge righteously.

The response of some is to repay the terrorists with a dose of their own medicine. Yet the Bible says, “Do not say ‘I will repay evil’; wait for the Lord and he will deliver you”  (Proverbs 20:22). And Paul writes, “Repay no one evil for evil…” (Romans 12:17). He repeats the same thought in 1 Thessalonians 5:15. Peter also prohibits evil repayment, “Do not repay evil for evil” (1 Peter 3:9).

The Words of Jesus

The words of Jesus are plain and  impossible to misunderstand. The reader is encouraged to study the Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount, especially Matthew 5:38-48. In this passage, Jesus highlights two sayings, anchored in part from the Old Testament. One taught repayment in the form of “life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, burn for burn, wound for wound, stripe for stripe (Exodus 21:23-25). The other taught to love your neighbor (Leviticus 19:18). The Jews added “and hate your neighbor.” Of course the Bible never taught that.

Building on these two ideas, Jesus teaches not to seek recompense but to “turn the other cheek” (Matthew 5:39). He adds that we ought not to hate our enemies but to love them! Surely the people were stunned with such teaching. Surely people today are stunned to hear the same thing. Are we really saying we should love the terrorists? I’m not saying it. Jesus is.

The Example of Jesus

A man can talk all day; it is his actions that really teach. Jesus was a meek, humble man who never resisted those who hated him. Prophetically, Isaiah describes him this way:

“He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth; like a lamb that is led to the slaughter, and like a sheep that before it’s shearers is silent, so he opened not his mouth. (Isaiah 53:7)

Reading the gospel accounts of his arrest, trial and crucifixion, one is struck to discover that Jesus never resisted the angry Jews or Romans. When Peter made a feeble attempt to prevent Jesus’ arrest, the Lord stopped him and repaired the severed ear of the man attacked by Peter. Given that Jesus was the most innocent man ever and given that his divinity gave access to the full power of the Godhead, Jesus could certainly of defended himself. He did not.

For one who wears the name of Christ, we are hard pressed to discover a single example of violence the Lord directed against those who sought his life.

The Example of the Original Christians

Those who knew Jesus and his apostles were likewise men and women of peace who left vengeance to God. We should note that the first Christians were facing an immediate threat to their lives. Yet,  they did not show hatred and anger toward their opponents.

Paul was repeatedly beaten and left for dead but he did not respond violently. Peter faced persecutions and often warned his readers of troubling days ahead. John was imprisoned, tortured and banished but never repaid his captors with evil. Even among those who came later, they went to their death without vile recriminations against their persecutors.

Are We Powerless to Defend Ourselves?

God has provided for our protection. As we said, God will bring ultimate justice in his own time. ((Consider the saints of Revelation who cried for justice – Revelation 6:9-11. Notice, however, that justice came on God’s schedule, not theirs.)) But God has also given the government responsibility to defend the populace. Paul says that the government does not “bear the sword in vain” and is an “avenger who carries out God’s wrath on the wrongdoer” (Romans 13:4). The context here is probably best suited to police actions but it does not damage the text to expand our thinking to defensive actions of the state. Soldiers were never rebuked for their occupations and a soldier, Cornelius, was chosen as the first Gentile convert. This warrior was described by inspiration as a “devout” man (Acts 10:2).

Christians are defended through the God-ordained functions of government. The purpose here is not to discuss the pacifist position, but to remind Christ-followers to conduct themselves gently in the public square and to ensure a godly frame of mind in all things. We trust God’s promises that whatever happens here, He will handle for us.

So How Should a Christian Think of ISIS or Terrorists

ISIS must be stopped. Our government has a duty to protect its citizens from attack. Christians, like all Americans, expect to be protected at home and when we travel. To ignore ISIS is to jeopardize the church and her mission of evangelism. The individual Christian allows the state, through a dispassionate approach, to protect against the onslaught. While the government fulfills its responsibility, we have a task to do also.

ISIS are God’s children too. Like us, they are sinners separated from God. While their sins seem more heinous, we are also separated from God by our sins. Their sins may have greater damage and greater consequences in this life, but otherwise they are like us. These are “cousins” to the Jews, both coming from through Noah’s son Shem. Religiously, they hail from Abraham and his first son Ishmael. They are wrong, but they are still God’s children just like every other group on earth today.

ISIS needs our prayers. These men and women do not know Jesus. They do not know Jehovah and they worship a false God (Allah) through a false faith (Islam), given through a false prophet (Mohammed). Unless something happens to change the preceding sentence, they will be lost. Salvation is found in no other (Acts 4:12) and Jesus alone is the way to the one true God (John 14:6). Christians should make terrorists a part of their daily prayer plans. Jesus told us to pray for our enemies did he not (Matthew 5:44)? We do not pray for them to be saved in their sins, but to be saved from their sins through the powerful working of Scripture. We should pray for opportunities to teach them of Jesus.

ISIS Needs the Golden Rule Too. Jesus taught that we should treat others as we would want to be treated ourselves (Matthew 7:12). Now stop and consider what you would want if you grew up in a dismal place with few opportunities and no knowledge of peace. What if your entire worldview were shaped by hatred? Would you want bombs or Bibles? Grenades or grace? Missiles or mercy? It is a challenging question but the answer is simple. Let us apply the golden rule to our enemies too.

ISIS Includes Children. Children are always the losers in every war. You cannot carpet bomb or “nuke a nation back into the Stone Age” without slaughtering thousands of children. If we allow our hatred to boil over, we will surely be left to regret the outcome. We must find a way to stop the violence, not to increase it. We are seeing precious little leadership from our politicians. They seem to race to be the most hawkish. What a shame!

Christians cannot descend into the same cesspool of hatred and madness that our enemies now occupy. We must be different! We are a priesthood a chosen and different people (1 Peter 2:9, 10). It is by love, not hatred, that we are to be known (1 John 4:7, 8)

This article will anger some readers. I do not write to provoke anger but thought. In your responses, please anchor your thoughts in God’s word. That way, we will enjoy a common ground of discussion. My argument is simple: Hatred has no place in the life of the Christian.


God! Fix My Mess!

dark portraitI often find myself in predicaments of my own making. I get in a mess and cannot figure out how to extricate myself. I also feel a little odd about asking God to fix a mess I made. Why bother the Creator with a problem that would not exist had I listened to him. I suspect I am not the only person with those thoughts.

God promises to help and hear the prayer of his children. He promises to give all that we need in any circumstance (Luke 11:5-13; Ephesians 3:30). But it just feels a bit hypocritical to foul things up and then say, “God, fix it!”

Fortunately, God doesn’t look at it that way. I think of King David, the beloved psalter of Israel who may have headed the most dysfunctional family in the Bible. Almost every problem David faced after becoming king was directly related to some flaw or shortcoming in his own life. For example, when the child born to the adulterous union of David and Bathsheba was dying, David gave himself to constant prayer (2 Samuel 12:15-23) in hopes the child would be spared. David was not afraid to take his self-created problems to God.

Indeed, all sin is of our own making. None is without sin. Yet, we beg for forgiveness for our own misdeeds. We know that God forgives those who seek his face. Sometimes, consequences still occur in this life, but the important message is that eternally we are forgiven and have hope of everlasting life. Our God is rich in mercy (Ephesians 2:4) and yearns to hear from his children. Don’t keep him waiting!

Bryant Evans may be reached at bryant at bryantevans.com. You can follow Bryant on Twitter @jbevans.

Jars of Clay

Mielera_parrón_CataluñaI enjoyed sitting in the pew last night and listening instead of preaching. We had a fine message from Philip Goad of Heritage Christian University. He spoke from 2 Corinthians 4:7-10 on the topic of “jars of clay.”

“But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us. We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair;  persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies.”

Philip noted that the “treasure” of verse 7 is, of course, the gospel of Jesus Christ. The “jars of clay” speaks of the frail, fleshly body of men into which the gospel is entrusted. According to Paul, that body is beaten, persecuted and driven to despair, yet it persists for the glory of God and the spread of  his message.

The central question, which Philip posed to the listeners, was whether we are more concerned about the container (our body – the jars of clay) or the precious treasure on the inside.

It is really a thought provoking question. We do so much to preserve our station in life, to secure our own stability and the stability of our families but do we do so at the expense of the treasure?

Do we avoid sharing the gospel so that we are not thought to be a radical?

Do we fail to stand for truth and morals so that we are not called a bible-banger?

Do we discount our worship so that we can grab one more shift at work?

We do so much for our own bodies; what do we do for the body of Christ? It’s worth a few minutes of your thinking.

You can follow Bryant on Twitter @jbevans.
Photo Credit: Milartino at Wikipedia Commons.

Where Is God?

Some days are harder than others. Some days Jesus seems so far away. Everyday life intrudes on faith and makes it seem impossible to draw near to God. Some are so busy with jobs and careers they cannot seem to find a few moments with the Lord. It’s not that they do not want  to be with Him, it is just that they cannot find the time. Others have time but have lost the desire. What’s happening and how can it be fixed?

Let’s keep in mind that God is not far from us. The Lord is near to all who call on him in truth, writes the psalmist (Psalm 145:18). He is a God that is near at hand (Jeremiah 23:23-24). So even on days when the world crashes through, God is not far. It may seem like he is far away but it’s really the busyness of the day that clouds our view.

Job thought God had forsaken him. His entire world crashed down upon him in a matter of hours. He lost his business, his belongings and even his children. Job was struggling. He asked, “Why did I not die at birth, come out from the womb and expire?” He complained more, “I am not at ease, nor am I quiet; I have no rest but trouble comes” (Job 3:11, 26). For Job, the man of patience, life had descended into swirling vat of pain and sorry.

What Job did not realize, and what we forget, is that God was never far. The Almighty was watching every move Satan made against Job. He heard every cry, every moan, from Job’s mouth. The Lord knew the grand outcome, he knew Job was growing and knew that he would remain faithful. The Lord knew Job’s struggles were a necessary part of his own divine plan. But still, Job was struggling.

It is important for us to see the Job story as a lesson for us. Just as Job did not know what was ahead, just as the days looked perpetually dark, God was near. Although Job, and we, think we are alone, we are not. Struggles are a part of the way of all men. For the faithful however, God is close at hand. But where  is he? How do we find him?

Eliphaz, a friend of Job’s, was roundly rebuked by God for his advice he gave Job during his struggles. But there was one thing Eliphaz said that was wise. In the midst of Job’ s struggles, Eliphaz said this: “As for  me, I would seek God, and to God would I commit my cause” (Job 5:8). This is a good first step in rediscovering the Lord of our heart. Pray, pray, pray. Don’t stop praying until you find that sweet spot before the Lord. Place your fears and your weaknesses before  him (1 Peter 5:7) and call on him for help.

When a child is born, mom and dad will carefully inspect every inch of their newborn. They will count fingers and toes, look for birthmarks and take note of every characteristic of the precious infant. God does likewise. But in his all-knowing power he even counts the hairs of our head (Matthew 10:30; Luke 12:7). You are loved beyond belief! The Father and Son want to be near and desire to be your friend. Where is he? He is near, only a prayer away.

Why I’m Done With Finebaum – And A Lot of Other Stuff

Paul Finebaum is probably the top expert on Southeastern Conference football. He’s been deeply involved in the sports since the 1980’s when he worked for the Birmingham Post Herald newspaper. Now he has a very sucessful, top rated radio call in show heard around the nation every weekday. He takes calls from throughout the nation and often hosts top tier guests. There is no one better at SEC football news and analysis than Finebaum – but I’ve listened to my last show.

Since the BCS National Championship game the nature and content of the calls have dropped sharply. While Finebaum does not control the callers, he does se the tone by allowing and even encouraging some callers to descend deeper and deeper into vulgarity and profane comments. The Finebaum show has a large community of listeners and most are probably good, upstanding, morally strong people. But the small percentage who do call are often embarrassingly crass.

Today, a caller objected to the light-hearted way many callers have viewed the post-game assault on an LSU fan. The caller was precisely correct but was forced to defend himself before the apathetic Finebaum. It seems that the constant degradation of society and more and more perverse actions are just not that big of a deal. He’s wrong.

As a Christian I am not to love the world (1 John 2:15). I am to be different (1 Peter 2:9-10). So today, I declare my difference in a small way. I’ll not accept that which is little more than trash as “normal.”

Will this have any impact on Finebaum? It’s doubtful. I’ve emailed in the distant past when the show seemed to become less about sports and more about profane comedy. I expect nothing to change. But I do what I think I must.

What do you think?

What Christians Can Learn from Football

Football fans are teaching us a lesson about faith.

These early days of January are a football fan’s favorite time. This weekend saw NFL teams fighting it out in the playoffs and tomorrow night Alabama and LSU will face off in  the biggest game in recent memory. Fans are beside themselves. Their eyes are red from watching so many games and reading so many newspaper stories. They are fanatics.

Instead of bemoaning the fact that a football will get more attention this week than a Bible, I’d like to learn something. I’d like to know why football is more appealing than faith. I think I have found a few answers.

Football provides an escape from the daily grind of life.

When you sit down to watch a football game the cares of life seem to fade away. Whether it’s a Friday night high school game or an NFL game nothing else seems to matter for about three hours. For that brief time we escape.

Christians should be telling people that there is an escape from this world too. The word “church” literally means a group of people called together, out of the world, for a purpose. When we assemble together each week (Acts 20:7; Hebrews 10:25) we leave the world behind. For a few hours we meet with God and focus on Him alone.

Football is a common topic throughout the rest of the week.

We are better prepared to discuss the ins-and-outs of the sport of we have watched the weekend games. People will talk to complete strangers about the game. Here in the South, football is so big that almost everyone will talk about it.

Christians also have a common topic: victory in Jesus. Every person alive can enjoy that victory. All can win against Satan. Whosoever will  may come to know the Lord and their sins can be forgiven (1 John 2:2). With good news like that, we should be shouting the victory to all people, family and strangers alike. It is odd that we can talk to strangers about a football game but not about their souls.

Football showcases those who give their all on a field of battle.

When we see people like Trent Richardson run headlong into massive linemen we cheer for his strength and talent. These warriors perform at their best week after week.

Like football, Christians also cheer for those who laid it on the line for Jesus Christ. A reading of Hebrews 11 reminds us of all those of whom “the world was not worthy” (Hebrews 11:38); those who gave all they had. Unlike football, we are not simply spectators. We are now on the field and they are watching us (Hebrews 12:1).  Our competition lasts much longer than 60 minutes. We play for a lifetime. Our victory is not a crystal football trophy but a glorious crown which the Lord Himself will give us (2 Timothy 4:8).

There are similarities between football fans and Christians. But it is the differences that make our faith so rewarding. Let us worship like we have never worshipped before. Let us cheer for the spiritual victories like we have never cheered before. And let us live in victory forever as only God’s people can.


The Ups and Downs of the Christian Life

The Ups and Downs of the Christian Life

Wouldn’t it be great if our growth and development as a Christian were a straight line of progress? What if we could grow in such a way that we never made a mistake, never stumbled, never tired of doing the Lord’s will and always lived in the word of God? It would be great to be sure, but it doesn’t happen that way. Rather than a straight, always rising path toward heaven our lives are probably more like an old wood frame roller coaster. There are ups and downs as we go from stellar high points to deep lows. Along the way we are jerked to and fro and surrounding by a cacophony of distracting noises.

How do we stay on the highs while limiting the lows? Do we really have to come down after we have gone up?

Avoiding the Lows

One way to avoid periods of regression or poor growth is to be aware of what causes such lulls. Our lives are incredibly busy. Schedules are rigorous. Time is short and precious. A busy schedule for our children means a busy schedule for us as we transport the little ones from one place to another. Add to that our own work schedules and the need for mundane things like shopping, bill paying and home upkeep and you suddenly find little time for God. It’s not deliberate but it is reality.

To help, carve out early morning private time. Rise before others in the house and spend a half hour with God – alone – and you will find that you grow spiritually and that you day just seems better. The very idea of giving up a half hour between the sheets may seem  difficult but remember, even Jesus rose early to pray (Mark 1:35).

Sustaining the Highs

Have you ever gotten a real “rush” from worshipping God? It’s that feeling of excitement that makes you want to shout the gospel from the highest rooftop. It’s a confidence that no matter what Satan throws your way, you will overcome. It’s a not an emotional high but a solid, unwavering certainty that God cares for you and will provide for all your needs (Matthew 10:26-33).

Like most of us, those moments are too few. But you can make them last and make them more frequently. Observe the triggers that produce those highs. Were you with a certain friend or group of people? Were you in a worship service? Was there one particular verse or passage that really stuck with you? Maybe a song you sang in worship had some special meaning to you. Whatever the trigger, identify it and do it again and again.

There is no substitute for spending time in the Bible. Your spiritual highs must be built upon a knowledge of God’s word or they will always be shallow and short-lived (Romans 10:1-4). Daily Bible reading is essential.

Life is hard. Life is harder without God. Add him into your life in larger doses and you will find that peace and growth that may seem to elusive.


-Bryant Evans

5 Tips for Christian Goals

                Setting goals is critical to success. While great things sometimes happen unexpectedly most success in life comes from the pursuit of solid, realistic goals. A student sets a goal of graduating from college with a 4.0 grade point average or a salesman a goal of exceeding his own sales every year. An athlete runs faster because he set specific goals for his time in races. All of these are examples of goal setting in life.

Goal setting also works in the spiritual realm. Christians set goals of reading through the Bible in a year. Some read it through two or three times a year. In the Fishers of Men program participants are taught to set a goal of making a certain number of contacts every week. Churches grow when specific goals for growth are set before the congregation. Goal setting works.

Set Your Goal by Identifying Your Deepest Spiritual Need

                This is actually pretty easy for most people. The hardest part is being honest with ourselves. We reason that we are in pretty good shape spiritually so there is no real need to set any spiritual goal. But inside we know better. We struggle against a host of spiritual problems every day. Some are of our own making and others thrust upon us by an evil world. We know those problems and are intimately acquainted with  every spiritual obstacle thrust before us. We know our needs but sometimes we don’t want to admit our weaknesses.

Every Christian can become stronger, more faithful, more knowledgeable and more evangelistic. The writer of Hebrews speaks of “the sin which clings so closely” (Hebrews 12:1) and which must be laid aside. You have a sin like that don’t you? I do. It needs to go.

Set your goal by  Identifying your deepest spiritual need.

Choose goals That Can Be Reached – With Difficulty

Poet Robert Browning said, “A man’s reach should exceed his grasp.” I disagree, slightly. We  must be able to attain our goals else despair awaits.

For example, a person with on-again, off-again worship attendance might set a goal of attending every worship service for the next year. That may not be practicable for them. Illness or unavoidable work situations could easily wreck that goal. A more attainable goal might be to attend every worship service this month. Such a goal, when achieved would be a solid improvement and would build confidence for the next month. The key is to challenge yourself.

Choose goals that can be achieved with difficulty in improvement awaits. This applies to both physical and spiritual goals.

Be Very Specific With Your Goals

                “I will never sin again!” That goal is as admirable as it is unattainable. The Bible is clear, we have been, we are and will continue to be sinners (Romans 3:23; Romans 5:8; 1 John 1:5-10). So such a goal cannot be reached. But it is also vague. A successful goal must be precise. Instead we might say, “I will not gossip this week.” In fact, you may need to say, “I will not gossip with________ at lunch today.” This goal is very specific, well defined and very reasonable.

Sometimes we simply take larger desires and break them into smaller pieces. No one can eat a 16 ounce steak in one bite nor can we attain large goals at once. If a goal seems too big then it probably is. Break it down into smaller, specific goals. You will have greater success.

Be specific with your goals and you will greatly improve your odds of success.

Write Down Your Goals

                Someone has said, “Goals that are not written down are just wishes.”  Every Christian should write down their top 10 goals and keep them on their person every day. Remember God gave Moses the Law written on tablets of stone (Exodus 24:12). Writing your goals gives them permanence and importance. The act of writing them preserves the intent of the moment and will make it harder to change.

Keeping your goals with you serves as a great reminder of what you have committed to do. Of the Law of Moses the Hebrews were told to “bind them as a sign on your hand” (Deuteronomy 6:4-9) and to constantly teach the children. The Law was never far from them. Likewise, our goals ought always be close.

Write down your goals to reinforce its importance and permanence.

Pray About Your Goals Every Day

We can accomplish little in our secular life and nothing in our spiritual life apart from God’s help. When our goals are in tune with God’s plans and when we ask for His help, we can and will succeed. Remember the Lord’s promise, Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and it will be opened to you (Matthew 7:7). At the beginning of every day, take those written goals, read each and then seek God’s help to reach that goal.

This is not some magic ritual. You are asking for God to help you reach the goal. There is no expectation that he will do all the work. You have a part to play also. He is helping you. Make sure your goals are aligned with His plans and His way. Remember James’ warning, “You ask and do not receive because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions” (James 4:3).

Pray about your goals every day and discover a strength you never thought you had.

A month from now, or six months or a year, you will look back and be stunned at the improvements in your life because of goals that you set now. It will work. Give it a try!


Making Good Choices

arrowsYou have already made dozens of choices today, right? The decisions began as soon as the alarm clock sounded. Get up or snooze 10 minutes. From that point on the choices just keep coming. Most are fairly unimportant, like, should I eat oatmeal or Total cereal for breakfast. The answer really doesn’t matter that much. But some choices are far more important. For example, will I take my blood pressure medicine this morning or just skip it today? Will I make it to the gym for a good session this morning or take the day off. Those choices can make a huge difference in our lives especially if repeated over and over.

Other choices do not directly impact us physically. For example, will I save and pay cash for a new flat screen or will I go ahead and put it on the VISA card. Or maybe you are looking for companionship or a spouse. Where will you look? Will you find someone at church or someone in the local watering hole? Here’s another one – the most important I think: It’s Sunday morning, will I sleep in or will I get up and attend worship? These are all critical choices which will have an impact of some kind on your life sooner or later. Let’s think about choices for a few minutes.

Making Good Choices Requires Looking Ahead

Making good choices requires you to look to the future. Our culture demands immediate or instant gratification. We do not want to wait for anything.  Our parents scrimped and saved to buy the house in which we were raised yet we think our first house should be at least the size of theirs and without the scrimping and saving! We want to be made happy instantly. While instant gratification may be understandable it is crippling us!

Consider that new flat screen television. We’ll keep the numbers simple. Let’s say it is on sale for $500. You don’t have that much cash but you do have a credit card with enough limit left to buy it. So you pay for the TV, bring home and instantly start to watch your favorite shows. That is instant gratification. You are immediately made happy and satisfied. Life is good…or is it?

If you only pay the minimum each month it will take you 71 months to pay the full amount. That’s almost 6 years and probably well beyond the life of your shiny new TV. But here is the painful part. Over the course of the 71 months you will also pay back $270 in interest alone! Your new flat screen just climbed to $770. ((Assumptions are $500 financed at 17% APR with a minimum monthly payment of 3% or $10 per month.)) That hurts. But it get’s worse. Let’s say you took that $270 in interest and put it a retirement account earning a meager 10%. Leave it until you retire, say 35 years, and you get back a whopping $8812.44 without ever adding another penny.

That’s an extreme example but it demonstrates the point that looking beyond the moment often brings great rewards.

Sometimes people meet and decide to marry in a matter of weeks. I think that is unwise although it sometimes works well. But often it ends in divorce because the people do not really know one another. Instead of living happily ever after they spend months in family court fighting over the children who were born into a loveless union. The wise choice comes about over time and is more likely to produce the storybook ending we all hope for.

Good choices look ahead to future years, not days.

Making Good Choices Demands Thought

Have you ever made a snap decision and then regretted it? I have made many. Traveling to Atlanta once I stopped into a major electronics store and bought a new GPS. I didn’t research it I didn’t ask anyone about it and I didn’t read any reviews. I soon discovered that the maps were, in some cases 10 years out of date. I called the company to complain and was told that I should have checked it out better for my area. I was stuck. The problem was clear: I didn’t about what I was doing.

A lack of clear and deliberate thought mark many of our choices. We act quickly and soon regret the decision. Grocery stores learned long ago to place certain items at the checkout counter to encourage “impulse” buying.

The solution? Slow down! When dealing with sales and purchases determine ahead of time your acceptable price and do not be moved. When the salesman comes at you with a price that is “good for today only” just smile and walk away. The price will be there tomorrow. Avoid being forced into a quick buy before you have considered the options.

When making decisions about relationships deep thought is even more important. While you may not be able to decide exactly who you will wed you can have a good idea of the kind of person you are looking for. What are the qualities you seek in a mate? Honesty? Hard work? Devotion to the Lord? Once you have identified those characteristics you are then prepared to start looking. Where would you expect to find such a person? At a casino? Maybe a club or bar? Would you expect a person who cannot hold a job to meet those characteristics? No, of course not. Relationship standards should be set high and kept high.

It may actually be good to drag your feet a bit when it comes to relationships. If there is true love then it will be there next month or even next year. But sometimes we mistake lust for love or the physical for the spiritual. Take your time and think. Here are three quick questions to ask yourself before getting deeper into a relationship.

  1. Does this person improve me? It’s nice to help others and try to improve them but marriage is not the place for such benevolence. Remember, people rarely change once in a relationship.
  2. Very specifically, what are the traits that attract me the most about this person? Once you have an answer then ask the next question, are these traits ageless or temporary? Looks fade and beauty is fleeting but the inner traits have greater permanence.
  3. Am I prepared for the responsibilities this relationship will bring? Love is vital but you cannot pay the light bill from a love account. You can’t buy groceries with hugs and kisses. Remember that beneath the love lie many long term responsibilities that affect other people. Are you ready?

Take your time and think!

Making Good Choices Demands Discipline

Children aren’t the only ones who need discipline. Adults need discipline. But what is exactly is discipline? Discipline is saying “no” when you want to say “yes”; it is saying “yes” when you want to say “no.”

Once you’ve given good and honest thought to your decision; once you have looked into the future to understand the implications of your decision; its time to act. Do you have the strength to walk away? Do you have the power to accept your own good decision? Not always, at least I don’t have that kind of power – yet.

Discipline is like exercise. It becomes easier with use. Once you muster the strength to discipline your wants just one time you will find greater strength for the next occasion. The hardest part is taking that very first step. Walking away without the $500 flat screen that you want so badly seems impossible but you can do it. Here are a few tips to help.

  • Take a trusted person with you when you shop. They must themselves be stronger and wiser than you. They must also have the courage to stand up to you.
  • Don’t say “No,” say “later.” Instead of telling yourself that you cannot have the flat screen, just tell  yourself that you will come back tomorrow. Sleep on it. It’s funny how quickly the need fades as you step out of the store.
  • Keep a list of victories. Keep a running total of how much money you saved by walking away. It’s a huge encouragement.
  • Learn from your past. Good choices require that you look ahead but you should also remember the past. Do you remember that last relationship that went so badly? Why? What did you learn?

Maturity is a house built with broken blocks and shattered bricks. We learn because of our mistakes. Discipline grows because of determination and hard work.

Making Good Choices Demands Prayer

Of all the things we have mentioned this is most important. It steps beyond our own abilities and takes us to One who truly has the answers. The Bible pictures God as out Father and attributes to him the characteristics we look for in a good father. Consider Luke 11:11-13

“What father among you, if his son asks for a fish, will instead of a fish give him a serpent;  or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion?  If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!”

Many who read this are parents. Did you always give your children what they wanted? Of course not. We shouldn’t expect God to give us anything and everything we ask but he will give us our needs. Here’s another passage from Romans 8:28

“And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.

God promises a good outcome for those who trust him. Not everything that happens will be good but it will all work out in His divine plan. So let us accept his offer of wisdom (James 1:5) and then apply that wisdom and prayer to our own lives.

Making good choices is possible with a little work and dedication. Give it a try and you will be pleased.