‘If you can conceive it you can achieve it’ is a very popular phrase. It simply implies that reality is driven by intangibles such as dreams and innovative ideas. Every thing we see in our civilization today was once ideas and mere thoughts in the minds of the inventors and innovators. They conceived the idea before any could see it.
Genesis 2:8 – And the LORD God planted a garden eastward in Eden; and there he put the man whom he had formed.
I was thinking to myself the other day: What makes a year great for some people and a not so great year for other people? I wanted to know why many things that started out on the way of greatness didn’t end up being great. I have seen many New Year resolutions not lasting more than a few days. The people meant well and really wanted to achieve goal but they did not. One of the major culprits of botched goals is your environment.
Environment can mean the surroundings or conditions in which a person, animal, or plant lives or operates (New Oxford American Dictionary). It could also be called the setting, territory, domain; surroundings, environs or conditions (Oxford American Writer’s Thesaurus).
If you follow the creation story in Genesis 1 you will conclude that God did not casually create our world without careful thought and planning. God created every creature after he had created where they will live. He created the living environment before he created the occupants of the environment. E.g. water body before fishes (see Genesis 1:9 vs. Genesis 1:20), land before terrestrial animals (see Genesis 1:9 vs. Genesis 1:24).
I am particularly intrigued that the Bible penned our text as God planting a garden before he put man in it. God knew that man needed the ecosystem to be in place before He brought man into the equation. This is supposed to be a pattern of any creative process. The environment should always precede the occupant of the environment.
If all your dreams and plans will see the light of day and not be frustrated in this new year, you should learn to take the steps that God took to ensure that his creation survived. You will have to create the enabling environment for your ideas and dreams to thrive. Every dream and idea cannot thrive in any place. There has to be the right environment for the dreams and ideas to thrive.
Fishes can’t live long outside of water. Take an animal out of its natural habitat and you begin to threaten the existence of that animal. Survival is tied to environment. Similarly, your dreams cannot be fulfilled anywhere and everywhere. Your duty in this season is to be sensitive to locate and nurture the environment that fosters the healthy growth of your dreams.
Join me in the next few posts to learn how to create and maximize your environments in this new season. You can make your environment what you want it to be because your environment will eventually make you.
You will succeed this year!
Jesus replied, “No one who puts a hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God (Luke 9:62 NIV)
It’s that time of the year again when people will start to churn out New Year resolutions. You need to go to most gyms on the first week of a new year and you would think you made it to the wrong place. The gyms would be so packed because people have seemingly made ‘healthy choices’ in the New Year. Many will bring out those books that they have shelved for so long to begin the reading they’ve always wanted to do; others will enroll in classes. Many other new habits will be attempted. But research has shown that this is will only last for less than a month. The proverbial dog will return back to its vomit. The New Year resolutions will usually become New Year no-solutions—a repeated cycle of failure. Do I have anything against New Year resolutions? No! But has it worked for most people? No!
You cannot solve a permanent problem with a temporary solution. Most issues that people resolve to do away with or start doing in a new year are permanent issues that often go deep down into the lifestyles of the individuals.
I believe that there are better ways to go about planning for a year to have a better chance at success other than a list of not-well-thought-out resolutions.
We are a people of habits. Sow an action, reap a habit; and sow a habit, reap a character and sow a character, reap a destiny says Charles Reade. It is the popular sequence that has often been shared about human behavior. This suggests that the root cause of most things we do is deeper than just a one-day action, likewise the solution. You cannot continue to do the same thing and expect a different result—that would be insanity. Change often requires that the methods should be changed so that it will align with the desired outcome.
In our text, Jesus was talking to some people who had made casual decisions to follow Him but found reasons why they should not keep up with their commitments. He said when you’ve committed yourself to the Kingdom; it’s not a good idea for you to change your mind about it. He was aware that people make casual decisions and often do not follow through with their decisions. He believes it is better to thoughtfully make decisions, rather than making hasty decisions and not keeping up with them.
How to Plan Better
1. Count the costs – Spend some time really thinking through what you plan to do this year. Realistically look at what you have in terms of resources and project from where you are to where you want to be. When you have considered the costs, you will know where to bring in God’s supernatural power to help in the situation.
2. Aim for growth not just a goal – Your objective should be more than hitting a target but becoming something that will make sure your goal will remain permanent.
3. Be accountable – Let someone know about your growth plans so that they can keep you accountable.
4. Break up your plans into manageable goals – Don’t let the fulfillment of all your plans be tied to the end of the year. Break up the big growth plans into manageable units of a month or a quarter so that you can realistically measure your progress.
5. Schedule your progress – Plan an ideal day. If you are able to integrate your growth plan into your ideal day and you work to make that ideal day possible, you will experience more growth in the new year than you’ve ever experienced before in your life.
6. Maintain an enabling environment for your goals – A fish out of water will not survive for long. Your plans and dreams equally will not survive if you do not consciously seek to provide enabling environment for the fulfillment of them. If your growth plan is to be physically fit in the New Year, you should have healthy food in your fridge and in your house.
7. Review your progress - Have a system of feedback and review of your growth plan. How will you know if you’re not doing what you’ve planned to do in 3 months? Will you set a reminder on your phone or set up an electronic calendar for the necessary prompts to review your progress and take stock of what you’ve done so far?
The New Year will be your best year ever. Go for it. God is on your side.
Not that I have attained but I strive towards the mark for the prize of the upward call of Christ Jesus. - Philippians 3:10
If you’re conversant with technology for any length of time, you should have noticed the word ‘beta’. It is the pronunciation of the second alphabet of the Greek alphabet that’s similar to the English “B”. It is usually used to signify a work, invention or activity that is not yet concluded and can still be improved upon. Its usage in technology (especially in computing) is not to provide excuses for a substandard product but to be open to corrections and even elicit meaningful suggestions from users.
Recently, Nelson Mandela died and he was in the news for several days. His story is a perfect illustration of striving for mastery. He had several opportunities to renege on his commitments to an apartheid-free South Africa but he chose to stay in the race for which he was enrolled in. He did not only get the prize but he became prominent in the quest for it.
One life to live
A life that will be lived to its maximum must be a life that’s constantly striving for excellence. Your potential is always more than what you’ve done. If we learn to make the most of our time and resources, we will find out that we have the opportunity to always do more than what we’ve done, especially when we leverage God’s power that’s already in us.
The easiest way to decay and to lose relevance is to get to a place where you arrive and seize to forge ahead to new heights and greater excellence.
The greatest enemy of your best success is the one you achieved before. In life, there’s no vacuum; you are either moving forward or backwards. God’s best for us is never in our past, it is always in the future. You must learn never to sacrifice the good for the best because you are consumed on the altar of what has happened. What has happened is history and the best way to keep making good history is to live with the power of God now so that your today can be better than your yesterday.
The arrival mentality (of I don’t need to learn or do more) is a myopic way to live. It is often caused by lack of vision especially from God’s perspective. God always has more in stock. He’s always progressive and He wants us to be likeminded.
In the text under consideration, we see the Apostle Paul painting the imagery of an athlete who has to strive to breast the tape at the finish line. He opines that he is striving for the gold. Striving in this context means exertion and ardent application toward a given task. It involves dedication, commitment and sacrifice. It is not enough to compete, but compete to make the competition count. Similarly, we are not just supposed to be average or mere casual participants in the events of our lives but we’ve been called to excellence.
I am often disappointed or disheartened when I see God’s people settle for average. The reasons many give is because this world is not our home and we are just passing through, meaning that this world does not belong to us and we can live anyhow get results that are less than admirable. This text clearly debunks that and encourages and celebrates excellence. If you belong to God, He demands and celebrates the best you can be. Don’t give in to second best; be the best in everything God has called you to be.
We are better witnesses for Christ when we do not just exist but make our existence count. We point to The Greatest One when our lives exhibit signs of greatness and excellence. The following will help you to live life to the fullest by constantly looking and expecting God to help you be better than the previous you.
1. Be Intentional – Your life is your business; make it profitable. You have to intentionally strive to be the best. Being intentional will include getting the right education, talking to the right people in the areas you want to see growth and taking the steps that confirm your intentionality.
2. Be Innovative - Don’t put new wine in old wine skin. Great companies are always evolving. Keep your life in permanent beta. Innovation is best explained as trying to do common or old things in a new way. Find new ways to do old things and you will soon discover new things about the old things which will eventually lead to new things.
3. Make Investments – It has been said that your life will remain where it is today except for the books you read or the people you meet. Read books, attend seminars, have mentors, ask questions, travel, check out your competitors. If you’re not growing, you’re shrinking.
4. Focus on Problem Solving – What irritates you may be what you were called to solve. Don’t just brush aside what is irritating you. God might have called you to solve that problem. Explore it and see what you might proffer as solutions to those problems.
Your world is waiting for you. Don’t disappoint her. Get your gear in top shape. Reach for the mastery. Don’t arrive too soon; always strive for the best.
Acts 17:28 – for in Him we live and move and have our being, as also some of your own poets have said, ‘For we are also His offspring.’
I checked out what was trending on twitter the other day and #confessionnight was trending. Many young guys and girls were confessing and saying things that others might not know about them. The summary of the majority of the post was hopelessness, despondency and purposelessness among the young people. Some thought they were fat, unattractive, unloved and unwanted. Feelings of rejection and atelophobia. Like many of my readers, I did not know the meaning of Aletophibia until I saw it in one Twitter with the hashtag #confessionnight. It means the fear of imperfection. The fear of never being good enough. Anyone with such fear will always condemn themselves, even if everyone thinks they are doing great. They have an innate penchant towards discrediting anything that originates from them.
As I thought more on this lack of optimism in the lives of several youths in our days, I could not but conclude that there is a larger discussion that goes deep into the problem. Most people do not know who they are. You cannot know who you are by yourself; you have to talk to the person that made you and gave you an assignment here on earth. The question of who you are is best answered by whose you are.
There are some who found they were to an extent but failed to realize that self-discovery should be a continuos adventure, since scriptures opines that the path of the righteous man shines brighter and brighter until a perfect day.
Knowing whose we are will invariably help us to determine who we are.
We are from God. If we look at the real mirror (the Word of God), we will see who we are. It is sad that most people have neglected this mirror and hence do not know who they are or have forgotten who they are. The mirror is very important in dressing and looking at the mirror once in a long while is not a good practice. In fact, to continually look good, most ladies carry a smaller mirror in their purses so that they can view themselves regularly. I believe that to be what you were made to be in this world, you need to learn to look at the mirror of the word of God regularly so that you will not only look good occasionally but look good all the time. It will require commitment and dedication not to be a casual observer of the Word but to be an active participant of what God is saying to you now.
Engaging the Mirror of the Word
1. Schedule your time in the Word – Jesus emphasized the importance of priority in Matt. 6:33. He advised us to make first things first. When it comes to the Word, you need to prioritize it by making out time on your schedule to study the Word. I found it most comfortable to set an alarm to wake me up for Bible study time and prayer.
2. Document your time in the Word – Write the vision and make it plain on paper was the instruction given to the prophet Habakkuk. A friend of mine once told me of an incident when God told him that he won’t tell him things again if he did not learn how to take notes of what He was saying to him. Taking notes in your time with God will further enhance your engagement with the Word.
3. Share your findings with others – The cheapest way to increase in any skill or knowledge is to share it. Sharing is actually gaining. When you share with others what you are learning in the Word, you position yourself to receive more from the Father.
4. Invest and review your sessions in the Word – Buy materials that will enhance your Bible study methods. Materials such as concordance, commentaries, etc. The notes you take during your session in God’s Word should be reviewed periodically so as to internalize the gains of the study.
5. Do the Word – This is by far the most important aspect of looking at the Word of God. The real blessing of looking at the Word is only completed when you do what you’ve seen in the Word of God. You need to make a qualitative commitment to cease from being just a reader/learner only, but a doer also.
Receive the enablement needed for you to start practicing this admonition in Jesus’ name (Amen).
Buy the truth, and sell it not; also wisdom, and instruction, and understanding. (Proverbs 23:23)
I know the first reaction of many to today’s post is that of shock and some sort of bewilderment. You wonder where I have been and why I have been so silent for a long time. I can give many reasons and tell you all the things that have hindered me from writing but all of them will still be excuses. I will leave all those excuses to show up in subsequent posts and leave you to judge if they are good enough excuses. I’m back though, and I hope to be around for a long time.
I was recently in the beautiful city of San Juan, Puerto Rico for a friend’s wedding. Puerto Rico is a territory of the United States of America. It’s an island, meaning that it’s a piece of land surrounded by water. So, access to the island is limited to air and water travels.
In the same vein, I have discovered that in our thinking and approach to life on some things, we may be islands. To be an island is to be myopic, limited, contained or unable to see far.
Island mentality is not limited to those who do not know at all (ignorance). It also relates to people who are knowledgeable but have chosen to stay in their old knowledge (arrogance) and do not strive to walk with new information or knowledge.
Ignorance and arrogance will lead to the same thing – limited thinking and ultimately, limited and compromised expressions. The ignorant person needs exposure to more information that will position him or her for better expression. The arrogant person, who I have defined as a person who is still living in yesterday’s achievement and knowledge, should humble himself and know that there’s more to life than what is known now. There’s still more land to be possessed.
Also, fear is another deterrent when it comes to thinking outside the box and becoming the fullness of what God has called people to be.
To break free from this plague one must operate with Desire and Pursuit. The beginning of great achievements in life starts with a strong desire to achieve those great things. Strive to stay hungry for more in the things of God and in the things that pertain to what God has called you to do.
Pursuit is the next layer where you learn to go after what you’ve desired and make it a reality by actually doing it. In this category, you will have to take concrete steps toward the goal you see yourself accomplishing. The steps may include making phone calls, sending emails, meeting people or doing whatever is the next logical step towards your desire.
I believe this is your season. I see you shinning and becoming the best God has called you to be.
Arise [from the depression and prostration in which circumstances have kept you—rise to a new life]! Shine (be radiant with the glory of the Lord), for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord has risen upon you! (Isaiah 60:1 AMP)
In Luke 15, we were introduced to the story of the Prodigals. I call it the prodigals because everyone in that story was prodigal or lavish with one thing or the other: the father was lavish with his love towards his children, the elder son lavished his father’s love by not knowing how to respond to the love, the younger son lavished his father’s love by taking his father’s love for granted. When the younger son had taken his portion of his father’s inheritance to a far country, the scriptures say that he began to be in want. Not long after the resources were depleted, He came to himself and said, I will arise and go to my father.
The journey to Restoration
The beginning of his restoration did not happen when he saw his father. It did not even happen when he was on his way to his father. The transformation started when the decision to arise was made. This story shows to us that the first step toward recovery in life is discovery. Dr. David Oyedepo puts it well when he wrote: The key to recovery is discovery. Knowing the problem precedes knowing the solution. Where the problem is not known, the solution will be missing and answers will be lacking. Before the injunction given in the scriptural text for this week: Arise, the need to arise must be first established. If you do not know that you are sleeping or sitting you may miss the opportunity to stand up to a new life. If where you are is so familiar and comfortable, you may not seize the challenge to rise up to a new level. There is always more in God and we must not be comfortable with the norm and miss the ultimate that God has for us. In every area of life, we must seek to rise to the next new level that God has for us.
Steps to Recovery
If you do the following, they will help you discover the areas where you need to rise up:
- Know that there are no arrivals in God – There will always be a next level if you are walking and working with God. God is progressive and everyone on His side should be progressive too.
- Never cease to learn – Learning is growing. Be inquisitive and always willing to learn even from things and people that you are familiar with.
- Expose yourself to new horizons through books and mentorship – Many experiences and lessons have been documented in books; avail yourself of the wisdom of others hidden in books. In addition to reading books, attach yourself to someone in your field to increase your knowledge and minimize mistakes and errors.
- Seek revelation from God for the next levels – The secret things of God only become tangible by revelation. Seek God in prayer and through His Word for the unfolding of the things that are not clear to you.
Over the next few weeks I want to take you on a journey of ingredients of a rising star i.e.What it takes for a star to shine and keep on shinning.
It promises to be a great adventure. Please look forward to it and share this great teaching with friends.
Remember that to go far in life, you must learn how to access your status and decide when it’s time to rise to a new challenge or press to a new level.
You are a star!
God is infinitely good. His goodness is much more than a few acts here and there. It is His very nature to be good. That is why it is no surprise that after every creation day in Genesis 1, the narration ends with the fact that all God created was good. On the other hand, the devil is a complete opposite of God. He is infinitely evil and all that he does is always evil.
The devil has a three-fold mission: to kill, to steal and to destroy. When he cannot kill, he steals and when he cannot steal, he attempts to destroy. It was for this reason that Jesus came –He came to destroy the works of the devil. Therefore, we do not have to settle with the fact that the devil can steal from us. We need to advance to the reality that God, through Jesus Christ, wants to restore what the devil has stolen.
The Law of Substitution
There are consequences for actions in life. All through the Old Testament, we see punishment that came because of the transgression of the law. However, in place of the offender being punished, an animal took the place of the offender.. This animal would receive the punishment that should have been given to the offender. Jesus became our ultimate substitute so that we would not receive the punishment (death) as a result of our sin.
In our text, God restored what the devil had stolen from Adam and Eve. The devil thought he had won the day but God was up to something.
The first time I came across this scripture was at a time of loss. A lady I thought I would marry had just disappointed me. She said she did not see a future in our relationship. I had been with this lady for a couple of years and just as I was planning to take our relationship to the next level, she changed her mind. This new development changed many things about my life and I thought I could not move on in life. I thought there was no real value in trying to find another girl. During that time while I was reading my Bible, I came across this passage and I knew what God was saying. He was saying, “I’m able to give you more than what you have lost. Today, I can truly say that what I got later was better than what I lost.
In this season, position yourself to receive the best from God. Recognize that God is a builder of lives and destinies and He sure wants your life to reflect that.
Beloved, your setback is actually a setup for a comeback. God is setting you up for something that is exceedingly abundantly more than you can ask or imagine. Make sure you do not despair and lose hope because God is coming big for you. Stay in faith and watch what the devil meant for evil turn to good as God does what He knows how to do best.
A couple of years ago when my mom was in the choir of our local church, the team often contributed money to make purchases and the collections were often given to her. A couple of times I stumbled on records of their collections and was always intrigued at the person who consistently gave the largest–Anonymous. I soon became a fan of Anonymous. I loved Anonymous because he always gave the largest. So as a little boy I wanted to be like Anonymous because he was the richest since his name showed up many times on the collection record. Little did I know that Anonymous was used when the donor did not want to be recognized.
In our text and later verses, we see a woman who seemingly fits my description of Anonymous. She was a prophetess who was expecting the Messiah was to come and was praying for the fulfillment of that prophecy even though she was not employed or known by anyone to be doing that. No one knew what she was doing albeit she was making eternal impact.
She was in the temple praying for the fullness of God’s purpose. This is counter-cultural to our world where everything is about ‘what’s in it for me’. Like someone once said, we are all tuned in to WII FM (What’s In It For Me) radio.
I believe we are in a world where everyone wants to be acknowledged even for doing what they should do. A father wants people to sing his praise because he performed his fatherly duties; politicians make it sound like they are doing the society a favor by doing what they’ve been elected to do. In such a world, attention should again be drawn to the unsung, unknown and unrecognized heroes. Like it is often said in the military, “The Unknown Soldier”.
The Audience of One
The Bible mentions several of them. Most of the people we admire in the Bible today were not people that set out to be famous. They just went about their normal duties and wanted to fill a void. They wanted to meet a need. They wanted to make a difference. Their motives were right for the actions they did. Today, we see people doing the right things with the wrong motives. My questions to you are: Why are you doing what you are doing? Who are you acting for? Who are you trying to please or displease? We must live our lives for the audience of one –God. You should regularly assess the motives behind your actions so that you are not doing the right things but with a wrong motive.
I believe the following questions will help you access your motives for doing what you do:
- Am I sincere?
- Do I just seek to be noticed by someone but I’m not really concerned about what I’m doing?
- Will I be offended if another person is praised for what I have just done?
- Will I still do what I am doing if no one ever recognizes or appreciates me?
This list is not exhaustive. You can share some more helpful questions and tips in the comments session below.
I want to challenge you in this season to do things for God and for others, not just for the praise or recognition you will get from doing such things, but because it pleases God. I am not saying it is wrong to be recognized for doing good things. When your motive for doing a good thing is so that you will be noticed or validated, then it is not good.
Recognize that the real audience you have is God. He does not need anybody to see what you have done in order to reward or be pleased with you.