Hot Topic: Successful Outcomes!!

” . . . . and the Lord brought about a great victory.” 2Samuel 23:12
I read this morning about some dude, Shammah, defending a field of lentils. Initially, a lentil field doesn’t sound like something to get really upset about, let alone turn into a major military engagement. But alas, Shammah picked the lentil field & that was his “line in the sand.” This verse also says that Shammah took his stand in the field, defended it & struck down the Philistines. After Shammah’s three actions, taking his stand, defending the field & striking the Philistines, God gave him a great victory.
It seems like we often want to know that God will give us a great victory before we make the commitment to a lentil field or put out the effort to fight for something.
Sometimes I think that God waits for us to be fully engaged & committed before giving us a great victory.
Might there be a few areas in your life to which you could increase your commitment so that God would provide a great victory? This is something worth considering today!

Hurray for Practice!

My family made the Thanksgiving meal yesterday & it was a smashing success! I’m not saying this to brag, but rather to acknowledge years of practice that have finally culminated in success – YAHOOOO!! In any given year in the past, I was practicing on how to cook a turkey that wasn’t dry or under-done. I was also practicing a few other dishes to make them not only edible but also tasty! And this year, I’m celebrating success!!!

We all want to be successful, but we don’t often celebrate the practice required to be successful – so let’s take a moment to applaud attempts & failures more than victories 🙂

Here are some things that help us to be successful:

Teamwork: yesterday, my whole family pitched in to make various parts of the meal & no one was unraveled by too much work!
Practice: keep trying!!
Testing: the guests that came to our meal were the testers. It helps immensely to have objective input on our journey to success

Win the Race!!!

I’m a very competitive person and that can be really bad.  For example, I used to play in our church’s an annual flag football tournament.  After a few years, I decided to remove myself from playing because I couldn’t find a way to compete with a friendly demeanor.  So when Paul says in 1 Cor 9:24, “. . . , run in such as way as to win the prize, ” I would use this phrase to justify my poor behavior.  Of course I took the verse out of context and this verse can often be misappropriated & rationalized to accommodate personal success rather than transformed redemption.  But as followers of Jesus, winning the prize doesn’t align with the world’s definition of victory & success.  Indeed, consider the recent Olympic illustration of “winning the prize”:  running to win

Let’s enedeavor to be successful by the definition of following Jesus rather than letting our flesh or the world define success for us!

What Is Success?

I can’t think of a person who wants to fail or be unsuccessful, but I think we need to be careful about how we define success. If success is our bank account, then we might be letting money be an idol. If success is our achievements, then we might be in danger of becoming self-absorbed. If success is how we look, then we run the risk of worshipping the image idol. 
There are lots of ways to frame or define success, but if we use the Bible to define success then let’s consider Jer 9:23-24. These verses say that success isn’t based on our wealth, our strength or our intelligence. Instead, success is based on the life pursuit of knowing God. 

May everything we do spring from this definition of success: that we live to know God better day after day, with the help of the Holy Spirit!

failure goes with training

Don’t be afraid to fail, but do be afraid to stop trying.

Sometimes, I think we don’t try to do things because we don’t want to fail or we’re afraid we won’t do well.  I’ve come to conclusion that failure is an essential ingredient for training and ultimately for success.  It’s seems to me that the road to success is littered with a fair amount of both failure and persistence.

I say this thinking about Joseph in the book of Genesis & his success in keeping nations from literally starving to death.  When you consider his leadership work in Egypt during an epic famine, it’s more than just a little impressive.  But consider that Joseph had lots of practice & failure along the journey to get him to a place where he could be so outrageously successful.  I would suggest that he was training and practicing in leadership with his family during the dreams and many colored coat thing.  Furthermore, he was training with his administrative & leadership skills in Potipher’s house & prison.  And all of this was for the ultimate purpose of rescuing thousands & possibly millions from starving when he became second in command in Egypt under Pharaoh.

So when we fail, let’s replace any potential shame with applause, that we tried to do something new or different and we can only get better from here!  The other side of failure could mean life for lots of people around you!  Be sure to let the Holy Spirit continue to help you practice and get better 🙂

Avoiding Disaster

Cooking a turkey has the potential to be a dance with disaster. I know this to be true, based in years of practice & research. But this year is likely to be different, probably. I say this because of not only years of practice & failures but also because of preparation. 
I’m learning that I can avoid lots of disasters with a little bit of preparation. For example, Gideon in the book of Judges, avoided various disasters because he walked a path of preparation with God. Seems to me that God primed Gideon for his massive victory over the Midianites through extensive preparation: angel visitation, tearing down an altar to idolatry, fleece adventures, people screening & even eavesdropping. 

I may not always enjoy the preparation process but I certainly like the outcomes better than the results of poor preparation. Let’s be careful not to belittle the process of preparation 🙂

Be Good at You

  
One of my favorite Bible stories is David & Goliath so I always find myself cheering for the underdog. I’m also deeply inspired by David’s courage & confidence in God. There have been innumerable occasions in my life when I’ve encouraged myself with David, a mere shepherd, defeating a giant seasoned warrior. 
These points can help all of us when we confront various giants in our lives:

  • David’s confidence was in God & no one else
  • David didn’t fight as a warrior but rather from who he was – a shepherd (Saul’s armor didn’t fit & he used a sling for his weapon)
  • David had to stand against his brother’s derision & insults – sometimes families aren’t the supportive people we desire
  • David had to speak up & assert himself rather than be a meek & docile wallflower – he let himself be recognized & known
  • David recognized that previous struggles were practice for Goliath (lion & bear)

Lets allow God to help us be good at who we are rather than pretending or projecting to be someone we are not!

Success Secret Sauce

  
This is a page of my handwriting, which is possibly the most illegible you’ll ever see in your entire life. But I keep writing – not to make my handwriting better (that might be hopeless) but for a different reason, maybe a little bit like Peter, one of Jesus’ disciples.

Consider that Peter was one of the crowning examples of success on the Day of Pentecost when he stood up to share about Jesus to a massive crowd of curious Jews. From Peter’s message, 3,000 became followers of Jesus & the Christian church was birthed with the power of the Holy Spirit. But if one looks into Peter’s years preceding Pentecost, I wouldn’t really throw him in the “successful category.” From my perspective, he was kind of a loose lipped, impulsive wannabe, not unlike me from time to time. 
But here’s an essential ingredient for the success secret sauce: practice. 

Peter kept practicing even though he had frequent failures, shortfalls & general stupidity. But he kept practicing. Even when Jesus corrected Peter, he didn’t quit practicing. Sometimes Peter got it right, “Jesus, you’re the Son Of God.” Sometimes he needed to keep practicing, like when he tried to forbid Jesus from dying for the sins of the world, whoops. 

Rather than framing our mistakes in the failure or quitting filter, let’s keep the practice mindset & know that the more we practice the more we grow & the better people we become. What are some areas in your life that need more practice?

It’s Important to be Successful

In contrast to success, I don’t think any of us purposefully set out to fail or enjoy defeat. Indeed, the word, “defeat” causes me to recoil & evokes a gagging reflex in me. Truth be known, I’d rather not try & avoid defeat than to try & feel defeated – operative word, “feel”. 

How we feel & what we think about success is really important to consider because our thinking & feeling affect what we do & even how we organize our priorities. Let me suggest to you that we humans tend to frame success in the terms of results but maybe God frames success in different terms. Perhaps obedience is more important to God than results. Is it possible that God defines success as obedience more than results?  

Just some food for thought 🙂

Help to Succeed

 I don’t like to fail. Actually, I LOATH failing so much that I sometimes refuse to try something altogether to avoid the failure experience & feeling, but that’s a different blog. Here are a few things that help me with success:

*eliminate distractions: as I type this, I’m in an airport with my husband with as river of people, noise & activities flowing by me. I’m focused because I’ve got my headphones in & I’m actively disciplining my attention to write something that will help both of us 🙂
*maintain routines in whatever area you want success: writing, exercise, cooking, friendships, Bible time, church, etc; routines are fertilizers for success 😉
*frame failures, weaknesses, flaws & shortfalls in the grid of practice lest you be tempted to quit altogether
*pray & play – asking for God’s help & add some balance with a little bit of “play”
*dont quit, ’nuff said on that ,)
What are some different pointers that have helped you with success?  Feel free to share your constructive thoughts 🙂
 

do you want to be successful?

How’s that for a stupid question!?!!  I don’t start anything with the intent to fail & I most certainly do not like to fail, full stop.  But some of my thinking about success has been changing & I’m becoming more aware that many of my ideas about success have been more influenced by my American culture rather than the Bible.  My culture says that success is all about being bigger, better, more, power, stronger, wealthy, popular, image driven, new, hip, trendy & all things glitz & glam.  In the American culture, success isn’t about being broken, serving, homely, unpopular or tarnished, some of the things that Jesus personified & taught.  The more I think about success from a cultural versus a biblical perspective, I have to conclude that my culture and the Bible don’t always agree.  The important part of the disagreement is the side on which I chose to live.  If I have to chose between being successful based on the Bible or on my culture, I’m going to side with the biblical definition of success 🙂

How about you?

a requirement to succeed

I was in 5th grade when I first tried to play basketball & I was 100% horrible.  Neither of my parents are particularly athletic nor did they have alot of athletic background or experience.  Furthermore, we didn’t have lots of sports stuff when I was growing up so my recess basketball games at school were the extent of getting some initial experience.  For whatever reason, I wanted to be good at basketball so I decided to keep trying even though I was awful.  I didn’t have much success at the beginning of my efforts, but I kept trying.  I had horrible shooting form because I wasn’t strong enough to get the ball to the hoop.  I couldn’t dribble to save my life & I was more uncoordinated than  any 5th grade girl in my class, but I kept trying.  When I entered 6th grade, I joined a school that had a girls basketball team & I shockingly made the Varisty squad, but was soon demoted to JV, but I kept trying.  Throughout my middle school years, I continued to play basketball & because I kept trying, I began to improve.  When I was in 8th grade, we had a freethrow competition to see who could make the most free throws out of 50 attempts.  I tried really hard & came in 2nd on my team.  I went on to play basketball in high school and kept trying to get better.  I continued to improve and was privileged to be on a team that went on to win the state championship 🙂

Moral of the story:  long-term success requires that we keep trying

practice :)

Failure is merely the evidence that more practice is needed.  I have a fun list of things that I’m pretty good at:  languages, cooking, basketball, travel, etc.  But the only reason I’m good at these things is because I’ve had alot of practice with them that has included boatloads of failures.  I don’t think I could even begin to list all of the burned or raw chickens I’ve made, the traveling bloopers I’ve done – especially with Saving Moses, baskets I’ve missed and comical mistakes I’ve made trying to learn various languages.  Failure is nothing more than an investment for success as long as we don’t quit 🙂

keep practicing!

gearing up

Whenever I go snowboarding, I’ve learned to check the weather forecast so I can be appropriately dressed.  If it’s snowing, it helps to wear water repellant gear.  If it’s cloudy, I try to remember to bring my flat light goggles.  While you may find this to be boring, the principle remains that we need to prepare in advance for things that we know could be challenging or difficult.  Sometimes if we know that we’re going to be in some tricky family situations (with Christmas around the corner), it helps to do some mental coaching ahead of time about the things we should or should not discuss.  It helps to coach ourselves about our attitudes and some of our thinking so that when we get in some potential hotspots, we have done some preparation work ahead of time to help us with our words, actions and attitudes.  Gear up my friends, in constructive ways, there could be some hotspots on the horizon in the next few weeks 🙂

turkey update

Happy post Thanksgiving! I hope your day went well, with lots of peace, joy and enjoyable food 🙂  A few days ago, I posted about how I don’t really care for cooking turkey because of the litany of failed attempts my family has endured over many years.  Well, I’m happy to report that yesterday’s turkey was totally tasty!  It wasn’t burned, not too dry, not undercooked nor any of the other ways that I’ve ruined turkeys over many years – yahoo!!!

So here’s some encouragement.  Think of something that you’ve been trying to get good at for a long time, then consider a few things:

  • perhaps the lessons you’ve learned from the failures just helped you to understand better what doesn’t work
  • be thankful that you don’t have to make the same list of mistakes – you can make new ones
  • perhaps you next attempt will be the one that brings you success
  • if you next attempt doesn’t succeed consider that you’re one step further from failure & closer to success 🙂

 

Doesn’t Meet Expectations

I was thinking about how Jesus often didn’t meet people’s expectations. Mostly, He was a frustration & aggravation to the religious leaders, an enigma to the political leaders & a catastrophic failure to His disciples as He hung on the cross. In some situations, Jesus far exceeded the expectations: He forgives & heals, He repairs & redeems, He confronts & consoles along with so much more!
I find this to be very comforting because there are times when all of us don’t meet the expectations of others. With Jesus’ help, we can disappoint in the right ways 🙂

Success, Progress & Opportunities

What an amazing spectrum of experiences today. I’ve finished this day at our present nightcare facility, playing with one of our toddlers before he went to bed & enjoying our warm, safe & healthy haven for the babies of prostitutes while their moms work. Shortly before this wonderfully satisfying joy (we’ve been running for more than a year & have really acquired the trust of these moms to look after their babies), we negotiated the rent on a new nightcare facility in a new neighborhood & this is also super exciting!! We hope to be up & running there in about 2-3months 🙂
But here’s my struggle as I finish this day – we visited two brand new areas that desperately need nightcare & one of the areas we visited was really overwhelming for me. Even though we were there in the daytime, it was indescribably dark & felt very actively evil – the last face I saw before I left this area was a baby & if the truth be known, I’m having a rough time with all of this &I can’t seem to find words to go along with my feelings.
So friends, thank you SO MUCH for taking some time to read this & for being interested. I’m celebrating our successes & achievements while absorbing the opportunities that lie in front of us as well. Perhaps there is no one that is more “least of these” than the babies of prostitutes.

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wisdom from my husband

 My husband & I are somewhat different.  While we agree upon our goals & values, we don’t always see things in the same way, nor do we always take the same path to our goals.  Early in our marriage, when he was still an engineer, we were talking about my efforts to hang wallpaper (which were “sketchy”).  He was unhappy about how my wallpaper project had turned out because the pattern was slanted rather than perpendicular as it should have been.  He began to ask my about the process I went through to hang the wallpaper & what I had done to properly prepare for a successful project.  He gave me this quote, “Proper prior planning prevents poor performance.”  I didn’t really care for the the cliche approach & it took me awhile to think through what he was trying to say – even though I didn’t like to admit it, I knew that he was right.  This lesson is still being worked through my life even after almost 20 years of marriage.

What is even more breathtaking to me is when I consider that God is the Master Designer & Planner.  God is working in our lives to prepare & refine us, growing & challenging us not only for today’s necessities but also for tomorrow’s successes 🙂

the power of practice

When my kids were younger, I had a fairly consistent of habit of making at least 2 attempts to get to the car before I was successful.  I was always forgetting something – keys, wallet, bag, coat, shopping list, etc.  My husband always knew that my 1st effort to leave would always have some follow up attempts as well & we now joke about this 🙂  He teases me & I always say that my first effort(s) are practice until I can get it right.

 Practice is super important – it’s where we make mistakes, improve our skills, learn better ways, grow through endurance, etc.  Indeed, practice is an essential ingredient for success!  So if you find yourself having to practice alot, don’t get discouraged – you are merely getting continually better!!  Consider that today’s results of the consequences of yesterday’s practice & today is the essential practice that we will need for tomorrow’s success 🙂

Fear can be contagious

I’ve been thinking about Gideon lately & how 300 guys followed him to victory over more than 100,000 enemy soldiers. This very small group had MASSIVE amounts of success but a pre-cursor to their success individually & as a group was the elimination of fear.
Fear can be really loud, it can demand your attention, cripple your progress & thoroughly destroy your future. The guys who followed Gideon into this massive success made choices to not allow fear to control their decisions or behaviors. Indeed, Gideon had to overcome his own fear before he could lead anyone else out of fear & into victory.
Here are some things to help overcome fear:
*look at fear & face it – fear is usually much smaller when you turn & confront it, rather than avoid of deflect it
*make a step forward – fear wants to keep you paralyzed
*listen for Gods voice more than entertaining the voice of fear
*be mindful of conversations or inputs that cater to fear in your life
* never allow fear to be your friend