Against all Odds

Judges 7:1-8

The story of Gideon offers scriptural guidance for times when the odds are overwhelming and defeat seems imminent. No matter what your challenges are, the Lord is able to demonstrate His awesome power and deliver you.

God uses difficulty to build faith. Gideon was willing to believe God and go up against an army four times larger than his own. Trusting the Lord is a process that must be learned through experience. At times God takes the people He plans to use and places them in impossible situations—in that way, they discover He is faithful. We may prefer to acquire faith by reading a book, but the Lord knows the best classroom is a place of utter helplessness.

God may require us to do what seems unreasonable. The Israelites were already outnumbered, but the Lord instructed Gideon to reduce the army to a mere 300 men. That made the odds 450 to one! Although God’s ways may seem illogical to us, His wisdom and power are far greater than ours, and His plan can be trusted.

God leads us to do that which brings Him glory. Gideon’s army was so small that its men could in no way take credit for the victory. The Lord delights in demonstrating His awesome power and glory through our weakness and inadequacy.

Think of life’s challenges as opportunities for the Lord to build your faith and prepare you for ministry. He uses those who are willing to obey Him even when the task seems illogical or impossible. And He takes pleasure in showing His faithfulness to those who trust in Him regardless of the situation.

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Selah

Psalm 32:7 (WEB)

You are my hiding place. You will preserve me from trouble.
You will surround me with songs of deliverance. Selah.

Inspiration And Burn Out

Inspiration And Burn Out!

Do not say, “Why were the old days better than these?”
For it is not wise to ask such questions.
— Ecclesiastes 7:10

We’ve all been there. At the start of a diet — and then several weeks into it. At the beginning of a new initiative — and then a few months later. The moment we make a decision to make a significant change — and then a year down the line. When we start something new, whether it’s a do-it-yourself home project or a change in lifestyle, we are filled with excitement and motivation in the beginning.

However, the inspiration is hard to sustain, and we often find ourselves out of steam later on. The initial excitement has worn off and all that’s left is the hard work. Yet, truly, that moment is the most defining of all. If we can persevere when inspiration has worn off, we will conclude with even more excitement and joy than when we began.

There was a student who had recently discovered this passage in his Bible. Excitedly he began to live his new lifestyle and dedicated his time to the study of the Bible. But as could be predicted, months into his new life, he lost that initial passion. Depressed, he approached his teacher for encouragement.

The sage opened up the book of Ecclesiastes and read: “Do not say, ‘Why were the old days better than these?’ For it is not wise to ask such questions.” The teacher commiserated with the student and said, “What’s wrong with asking why things were better for you in the past then they are now? Why isn’t that wise?” Then the sage suggested that they read the verse a little differently and that by doing so, they would find the answer.

The teacher re-read the verse in the following way: “Do not say, ‘Why were the old days better than these?’ those days were not out of wisdom.” The sage explained: “Those first days of inspiration were a gift from God – to get you going and started. However, those actions were not the product of hard work and thought. Now, it’s time to reclaim those ‘good days,’ but this time through your own sweat and perseverance based on your wisdom and determination.”

When the passion wears off and we get depressed, that’s precisely when it’s time to press on. God might gift us with excitement at the start of something new in order to get us moving, but it’s up to us to carry on when things get tough.

If you are going through a slump or feel that you are lacking the passion you once had, don’t get down. Instead of acting from passion, lead with wisdom until you reach your goal and reclaim even more inspiration than before.  Ask God for His patience, motivation, guidance, persistence, and grace. This is a prayer that will surely be answered…in HIS way, time and will.

djs

 

Playing It Too Safe!

Playing It Too Safe!

Sometimes being able to unlearn something is more important than learning something.

Often times when we want something we think we can’t get, we imagine that we need to do something that we’re not doing, or learn something that we don’t know, or think something that we’re not thinking.

Sometimes though it’s what we STOP doing that will get us what we want, rather than what we START doing.

As we move from childhood to adulthood, this idea shows up a lot. We stop depending things “outside” of us, and start depending on our own, self generated actions and decisions.

You stop depending on the training wheels, and start depending on your own sense of balance.
You stop expecting free money in the form of an allowance, and get a part time job.

You stop feeling the need to ask for permission (which also means if you mess up it’s not really your fault) and start trying things out on your own, just to see what will happen.

Now, it’s pretty clear that some people are better at this than others. Some people take to risk and trial and error based behaviors like a duck to water.

Others are terrified of leaving the safety of authority and conformity.

Neither one is “better” than the other, since “better” can only be determined by what you value.

If you’re content to take what you’re given, and happen to be in a situation where you’re given some pretty good stuff, then you’ve got it pretty good.

On the other hand, if you want a lot more than what other people decide to “give you” then you’ll need to take some risks.

A lot of people shy away from that word.

They imagine taking a risk, failing, and ending up homeless, or shunned by society.

This can lead to overcompensation. Taking no risks at all. Only playing it safe.

But not all risks have to be huge. Not all risks entail putting your life’s savings on a one time stock tip.

Every time you talk to a stranger, you’re taking a small risk. They might like you, they might ignore you.

Every time you call about an ad for a job, you’re taking a small risk. They might hire you and think you’re the greatest thing since sliced bread, or they may laugh at you and hang up.

If you believe that any risk is dangerous, and even the smallest rejection will destroy your ego, it will.

But if you believe that all risks comes with rewards, either getting what you want, or getting you more information that will help you get what you want, they will. (DJS)

The GROW Model…A Coaching Process!

The GROW Model !

The GROW (Goal, Reality Check, Options, Will) Model, a conversational structure commonly used in coaching, is a good choice for helping client achieve concrete goals. For example, the GROW model is a good choice for accomplishing practical tasks such as completing a project, eliminating debt, or developing a skill.

GOAL
The goal is the action or project a client wants to complete. Make sure the client chooses a clear goal from the start. S.M.A.R.T. (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, andTimely) goals are effective in helping the client attain both short-term and long-term goals.

Goal Questions:

What would you like to achieve by the end of today’s call?
What would you like to accomplish in one month? Three months? Six months?
What difference will accomplishing this goal make?
How can you reframe your goal so it doesn’t depend on others’ performance?

Reality Check
The reality check helps the client gain a clear perspective on the concrete facts surrounding his or her goals, i.e., his current resources, responsibilities, or limitations.

Reality Check Questions

What obstacles might you face in reaching your goal? How will you surmount them?
What has worked for you in the past? What hasn’t?
How could financial constraints impact your timeline?
What support do you need from others to move forward?

Options
Engage the client in brainstorming and creative thinking to generate potential solutions.

Option Questions

Where could you learn more about this?
How could you tap into your network for support in this area?
Who could help you?
What has worked for you in the past?

Will

Will Questions

Here is where you help clients turn ideas into action. Work with clients to identify concrete action steps with high client motivation and buy-in.

Which option has the highest likelihood of success?
What steps will you take toward your goal this week?
On a scale of 1-10, how likely is it that you will follow through?
What obstacles do you need to address to accomplish your goals?

The GROW Model is an easy, effective model you can use when coaching clients toward concrete goals.

(D.J.Saker)

Becoming Fully Actualized…Is That Possible?

Becoming Fully Actualized..Is That Possible?

What does it mean to “become” fully actualized?

Most of us imagine some guru who’s finally achieved enlightenment, and they are no longer concerned with worldly issues. They can sit on some mountain top and meditate, and not worry about anything.

But is that even possible?

Think about that in terms of Maslow’s famous “Hierarchy of Needs.”

At the “bottom” there are basic things like food, shelter, safety.

Then further up you’ve community, sexual and emotional satisfaction.

Further up you’ve got self expression and finally self actualization.

Meaning you are operating at your highest capacity.

I think that metaphor a bit misleading. The trouble with metaphors is that they are only a representation of the deeper reality they represent. They are NOT the reality themselves.

Maslow’s description was his attempt to describe the human condition. The better we are at satisfying our “lower” needs, the more likely we’ll satisfy our “higher” needs.

Regardless of whether they are higher or lower, your “needs” won’t stay satisfied for long.

We eat, but then we’re hungry again several hours later.

We’re safe, until something happens that shakes up our safety.

We’re emotionally and sexually satisfied, but unless we’re willing to work at keeping that particular relationship alive, it will vanish like a poof of smoke.

Keeping our needs satisfied takes effort. It takes work. It’s not like showing up a hotel, checking your bags and relaxing at the pool once you’ve finally “arrived.”

Most people don’t like to hear this. Most people don’t like the idea that “self-actualization” isn’t the automatic result of doing a couple of daily mantras and isn’t permanent.

Which is maybe why so many of us aren’t really “self-actualized.”

Not even close.

It’s not something that somebody can “give you.” It’s not something that comes in the night while you’re sleeping on top of your book of affirmations.

It’s a process. A process of getting out there, every single day, and chasing your dreams.

Because it’s only in the chasing that we REALLY feel alive. It may feel pretty relaxing by the pool at that hotel, but it’s going to get pretty boring.

Truth is you can ONLY feel “self actualized” when you are OPERATING. The process of creating is when self-actualization happens. Not in some mythological mountain cave safely removed from reality.

What are you creating?

Are you sure it’s big enough?

Make it bigger, and get going!

(D.J.Saker)

Rich vs Poor!

Rich vs Poor!

What’s the difference between the rich and the poor?

I mean besides a stack of money vs. a stack of bills?

An interesting study was done recently, in which they interviewed a bunch of rich people, and a bunch of poor people, to find any differences in their daily habits.

The differences were clear, and what you would expect.

Rich people ate healthy food, poor people ate fast food or junk food.

Rich people watched less than an hour of TV day, while poor people watched 4 hours or more.

Rich people read at least two non-fiction books a month, poor people rarely read.

Rich people spent part of their income, AND part of their time on charitable activities, poor people didn’t.

Rich people spent a great deal of time doing and learning things that would improve themselves, while poor people didn’t.

Rich people took responsibility, poor people blamed others.

Now, there’s plenty of poor people who are poor through absolutely NO fault of their own. Born into the wrong family, or the wrong part of the world, or under the wrong government or economic system would be enough to keep ANYBODY poor.

But even if you’re in a bad situation, taking responsibility is ALWAYS much more useful than blaming others, EVEN IF it’s THEIR FAULT.

Why?

Because NOBODY cares about YOU like YOU care about YOU. Meaning even IF you blame others, and it IS their fault, they won’t likely do much.

On the other hand, if you look at your own situation, and forget about trying to shun responsibility and give yourself a good, long, hard look in the mirror, and ask yourself, “Well, what am I going to do about this?”

You have a much, much better chance of succeeding than somebody who’s ALWAYS pointing fingers.

One CRUCIAL part of that study (at least for me) was that wealthy folks KNOW they’ve ALWAYS got to improve themselves. Even after they’ve made their millions, (or billions, as the case may be) they KNOW it’s crucial to ALWAYS learn more.

Here’s another part of the study that struck me. Sixty Percent of millionaires and billionaires are SELF MADE.

They started broke, and through sheer willpower, and relentless forward momentum, they made themselves rich.

They can do it, YOU can do it.

Get started: (D.J.Saker)