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Success: It’s a Lot More than Good Genes

1 Apr

Delve into the area of “genetics jokes” and you’ll find some doozies! (I have to admit, I didn’t understand most of them.) But here are two:

Question: Where would a person find genes that are retired from the human genetic pool?

Answer: In an old folks genome.

Question: Why did the geneticist go to dental school?

Answer: He was looking for an oral high gene.

I know. Silly.

But speaking of genes . . .

Entrepreneur Darren Hardy, an author, speaker and former publisher of SUCCESS magazine, once said, “DNA has nothing to do with success. Turn your genes into overalls and get to work.”

People have some strange ideas about success. Most are surprised it seldom happens automatically.

Success has more to do with faithfulness and perseverance than our genes and even exceptional gifts.

History is full of people who failed and later succeeded. Here are only a few examples among many:

  • Abraham Lincoln “failed” in the military, in business, as a lawyer, and initially, in politics. but he went on to become President of the United States.
  • Inventor Thomas Edison, labeled as “stupid” as a child, made 1,000 unsuccessful attempts at inventing the light bulb before his invention was deemed a success.
  • Henry Ford went broke five times before he succeeded in building a productive car manufacturing enterprise.

Failure is often the training school for success.

As in the business and scientific world, in the Christian life, success also has more to do with faithfulness and perseverance than genes and gifting.

Faithfulness is steadfastness. It’s being reliable, unwavering. God is faithful (Psalm 89:8; Hebrews 13:8), and He wants us to learn faithfulness.

We see examples of faithfulness in the Bible in Tychicus (Ephesians 6:21), Epaphras (Colossians 1:7), Onesimus (Colossians 4:9), Moses (Hebrews 3:2) and Silvanus (1 Peter 5:12).

Though they are not well-know to us, they made the “faithfulness headlines” with the Lord.

Faithfulness will always be rewarded (Luke 19:17; Matthew 25:23). Why?

Faithfulness is God’s definition of success.

God wants us to be faithful to read scripture and pray; and to live by faith in every aspect of life (Habakkuk 2:4b).

Combined with perseverance, faithfulness allows us to serve the Lord in powerful ways. Perseverance makes us overcomers. We can become people who are holy and above reproach (Colossians 1:23).

It’s like pulling on spiritual overalls and getting to work for God and His Kingdom!

We work and persevere not to earn right standing with God, but rather out of our secure position with Him. We are already redeemed and accepted in the Lord (Ephesians 1:3-14).

It is the Lord who begins and completes His good work in us (Philippians 1:6); but believers–especially those in leadership–must also persevere in godliness and sound doctrine (1 Timothy 4:16; John 8:31; Romans 2:7); because, again, there is great “reward” (Psalm 19:11).

There may be many walls and hurdles to overcome in our walk of faithfulness–including deep persecution and afflictions–but the Lord encourages us to stay faithful and persevering, and the Holy Spirit will help us. Those who persevere in suffering, James says, will receive a “crown of life” (James 1:12).

Be faithful to the Faithful Father, and don’t give up pursuing His purposes for your life.

Put on your spiritual overalls!

Can you think of an area where you are not being faithful? Not persevering? How can you turn that around today?

 – Dawn

Graphic: Overalls are from Sears

 

Missing God’s Signs

5 Oct

StoveNoteA busy, often distracted mother sometimes accidentally left pots and pans on the stove with the burners on. Concerned about the possibility of a fire, she resorted to posting this reminder on the kitchen door: “STOVE?”

One day her daughter, just back from college, noticed the sign.

Beneath her mom’s note, the daughter taped her reply: “No, it’s a DOOR! (Trust me. I went to college.)” *

Some signs in life are obvious. Others can confuse or misrepresent.

But there are some signs we might miss entirely.

God gives us signs every day that declare His love, His goodness, His grace, His mercy, His wisdom, His faithfulness and so much more. The enemy, Satan, wants us to DontMissGodsSignsmiss those signs. The devil wants us to miss all the signs of the glory of God in our lives.

If we have doubts about our Father in Heaven, it’s often because we’ve read some of the enemy’s misleading signs about God. We look at our current circumstances and “read into them” something that simply isn’t true.

For example, if our finances suddenly take a downward turn, the enemy would like us to believe this is a sign of God’s unfaithfulness. And we may give a nod to this lie because we tend to be proud and selfish, and we don’t like inconvenience or difficulty.

But if we took a moment to REFLECT on all that God has done in our past to show His daily faithfulness (Lamentations 3:21-23) and love (Ephesians 3:18-19), we might RECOGNIZE God’s presence in our lives. And when we recognize His presence – and all that comes with that (God’s power, provision, peace, etc.) – we can REJECT the enemy’s lies.

Just because we can’t see God’s purpose in allowing inconvenience, difficulty (and even suffering) in our lives, this doesn’t mean God stopped loving and caring for us – any more than a parent stops loving a child when it’s time for that child to get some tough medical care or experience situations the parent knows will bring growth and maturity. Our loving God may be allowing a tough time simply to strengthen us (James 1:2-4).

We need to look outside our current circumstances to the signs of what our loving, all-wise Father God has done for us throughout our past … how He brought us through tough times, how He answered prayer, how He met a need, how He displayed His power and glory. God wants to help us, but we need to learn His ways (Proverbs 3:5-7).

We need to turn to the scriptures, which can dispel our doubts and encourage our faith.

The truth is:

Armed with this truth, we can praise God and give Him glory for His faithfulness (Psalm 71:8; 103:1-2). We can look to scriptures about what He will accomplish in and through us in the future (1 Corinthians 2:9).

Be encouraged! If God gave Jesus to deliver us, we know we can depend on Him in all of life’s circumstances (Romans 8:32).

A good example of this is the life of John, the beloved disciple (Matthew 11:1-6). We know Jesus loved him, but can you imagine how John might have felt sitting in a jail cell. Satan surely brought him signs that said, “You’re all alone” or “God has forgotten you.” Just as Jesus encouraged John to look beyond that Jail cell by faith, He encourages us to look past the darkness in our lives to His light.

Jesus ends with these encouraging words – “… ‘Blessed [Happy] are those who don’t doubt me'” (Matthew 11:6, The Living Bible).

Are you struggling with doubt in a tough circumstance? Cast away any thoughts that rise up against God as He truly is (2 Corinthians 10:5).

Reflect on how God has been faithful to you in the PAST, and His promises for the FUTURE; and use these signs of His love and care to encourage you in the PRESENT.

* Humor adapted from Cybersalt Digest Issue #3730, 8/23/11

PHOTO of Sign: Image courtesy of scottchan at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

— Dawn

Movin’ Too Fast? (Six Ways to Slow Down)

28 Sep

God’s creativity is sometimes the blueprint for our inventions. Think about it … Long before human beings imagined modern technologies, tortoises and turtles had streamlined bodies, hard tops, retractable landing gear and mobile homes!

Think of the word “slow” and you’ll likely think “tortoise.” This sounds like Tortoise humor my granddaughters would love:

Question:  “What do you get when you cross a tortoise with a porcupine?

Answer: “A SLOW POKE!”

Tortoise_SlowDown_smallerI grew up in the era of Simon and Garfunkel, and one of my favorite songs was “The 59th Street Bridge Song” (better known as “Feelin’ Groovy”). You may remember the words:

     “Slow down, you move too fast. You got to make the morning last.

     “Just kicking down the cobble stones. Looking for fun and feelin’ groovy.”

It was a song that always made me smile. When I heard it, I slowed down and “smelled the roses,” so to speak.

As a Type-A+ woman, slowing down is hard for me. It’s easy for me to forget the “Tortoise and Hare” fable – that rushing through life does not equate to effectively “winning” life’s race, and certainly not to meaningful living.

With maturity – and frankly, after a season of illness complicated by stress – I’ve learned to slow down. To intentionally halt swirling activities and say, “Enough!”

Some time ago, Jeff Goin challenged his readers to slow down, and I smiled as I read his challenges. They were exactly the points God has led me to embrace since 2007, when my life spiraled out of control.

I’m still discovering in this process of “slowing down,” but wanted to share six things I do know that help. (And I’d welcome your tips for pulling the plug too.)

1. Be Intentional. Slowing down doesn’t just happen (unless we’re sick, dying, or lazy). We need to make the choice to slow down – to choose with purpose.

2. Reflect and Meditate. Today may be all we have. Reflection and meditation will help us use our time wisely, understanding the will of the Lord (Ephesians 5:15-17). Slowing down doesn’t mean we veg in front of a television all day or cop out from our responsibilities. We seek God in prayer and the scriptures, and examine how we are living. Then, in all our planning for tomorrow, we don’t miss what God is doing this day.

3. Focus. Multitasking has become the norm in many of our lives (I am such a multitasker!), but sometimes we need to weigh the benefits of doing many things at once with the blessing of focusing on one thing at a time. We can ask God where our focus should be today … this hour … right now.

4. Stay Steady. Remember that tortoise. He faithfully plodded down the road and got to the goal. If God has blessed you with a quick and ready temperament, praise Him; but don’t discount times when it’s wise to slow down, stay steady, and see the Lord work on your behalf.

5. Learn to Rest and Wait. With all the input in modern society, the tendency is to feel we must move quickly to use what we’ve just read, heard or learned; to be a part of the forward-moving crowd or to not miss out on another great idea or “opportunity.” Sometimes, God just wants us to sit and stew on things for a while, to take time to let new information soak in. Then we can go forward in His strength (Proverbs 3:5-7a; Psalm 27:14). While it’s important to move ahead quickly to make some decisions, resting in God and waiting for marching orders is usually wise counsel. It’s not passive; it’s active trust.

6. Savor Your Life. Taking time “to smell the roses” is the common metaphor for slowing down with greater sensitivity toward life. We take time to enjoy God’s creation. We notice the people around us and take time to build relationships. We enjoy a meal, sitting down, rather than rushing through a meal or racing through yet another fast-food line. We examine our closets, shelves and possessions, and then we appreciate the good gifts our Father has already given us, rather than racing off to the mall to get “more.”

Are you movin’ too fast? I encourage you to relax and slow down.

You’ll likely add years to your life and accomplish more.

These are the principles that are changing my life, helping me to slow down. Can you share some other helpful tips?

Tortoise Photo: Image Courtesy of Danilo Rizzuti at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

— Dawn

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