One Great Way to Prepare For The New Year

One Great Way to Prepare For The New Year

Two Things Are Critical

As you embark on the journey in the year 2020, two things you do are critical.

  1. The CHOICES you make.
  2. The ACTIONS you take.

One – Choices You Need To Make Everyday

1. Choose to get excited about each new day.

Psalm 118:24 English Standard Version (ESV), “This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.”

      • Each day is a gift from God.
      • Make a daily choice to rejoice.
      • Get yourself fired up for having another day of life and be glad.

2. Choose to be thankful.

Colossians 3:15 (ESV), “And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful.”

      • Allow God’s peace both into your heart and to rule your heart.
      • It’s hard, if not impossible, to be thankful and miserable at the same time. Choose to be thankful.
      • Thank God daily for your daily bread.

3. Choose to be positive.

Philippians 4:13 (ESV), “I can do all things through him who strengthens me.”

      • Don’t say, “Good Lord, it’s morning” but say “Good morning, Lord.”
      • Make sure you get up on the right side of the bed.
      • As the late Zig Ziglar used to say, “Get rid of your ‘stinking thinking.’”

4. Choose victory over defeat.

1 John 5:4 (ESV), “For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith.”

      • Remember the words of the old hymn, “Faith is the victory.”
      • Never forget it is the Lord who goes with you to battle the daily enemies and challenges. (see – Deuteronomy 20:4)
      • God gives us the victory through the Lord Jesus Christ. (see – 1 Corinthians 15:57)

5. Choose to live above the level of mediocrity.

Colossians 3:23-24, “Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ.”

      • We are to work heartily.
      • Our work honors God.
      • Remember, in any endeavor of labor, our work honor’s God.

6. Choose to put the other person first.

 Philippians 2:3 (ESV), “Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.”

      • The late Christian motivational speaker, writer, and Bible teacher Zig Ziglar (a Baptist deacon and member of my church) said, “You can have everything in life you want, if you will just help other people get what they want.”

7. Choose to have hope.

Job 13:15a (ESV), “ Though he slay me, I will hope in him (God);”

8. Choose to keep on keeping on.

      • I had an Associate Pastor named John West that frequently admonished all to “keep on keeping on.” He would say, “Keep trying; keep doing what you are doing. Keep doing your best; never give up and keep on keeping on.”
      • Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said in 1967, “You don’t get to the Promised Land without going through the Wilderness. You don’t get there without crossing over hills and mountains, but if you keep on keeping on, you can’t help but reach it.”

Two – Choose to take ACTION by accepting Christ as Savior.

The only way we can really have a winning 2020 is to know Christ as Savior. Do you know Him as your personal Savior and Lord? Here is how to be sure.

Man’s Problem: Romans 3:23 (ESV), “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,”

Man’s Penalty: Romans 6:23 (ESV), “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

God’s Provision: John 3:16 (ESV), “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.”

God’s Promise: Romans 10:9 (ESV), “because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.”

To accept Christ as Savior – A Prayer of Salvation: “Lord Jesus, I confess to you I am a sinner. I believe that you died for my sins and that God raised you from the dead. I ask you to forgive me for my sin right now. Thank you for saving me and for giving me eternal life. In your name, I pray. Amen.”

I originally wrote this last section in 1988 as an article titled “Our Need and God’s Provision” using the KJV as the Bible reference. It was published in “Motivators for Sunday School Leaders” by the Baptist Sunday School Board (now Lifeway Christian Resources).


Photo Source: Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

“I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day” is based on the poem “Christmas Bells”

American poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
American poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Christmas Bells
by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

I heard the bells on Christmas Day
Their old, familiar carols play,
And wild and sweet
The words repeat
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

And thought how, as the day had come,
The belfries of all Christendom
Had rolled along
The unbroken song
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

Till, ringing, singing on its way,
The world revolved from night to day,
A voice, a chime,
A chant sublime
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

Then from each black, accursed mouth
The cannon thundered in the South,
And with the sound
The carols drowned
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

It was as if an earthquake rent
The hearth-stones of a continent,
And made forlorn
The households born
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

And in despair I bowed my head;
“There is no peace on earth,” I said:
“For hate is strong,
And mocks the song
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!”

Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:
“God is not dead; nor doth he sleep!
The Wrong shall fail,
The Right prevail,
With peace on earth, good-will to men!”

About “Christmas Bells”

“Christmas Bells” is a minor, yet well known, poem written by a very melancholy Henry Wadsworth Longfellow on Christmas morning in 1863 during the midst of the Civil War. It is an anti-slavery poem as well as a seasonal favorite.

The poem was written six months after the battle of Gettysburg where 40,000 soldiers lost their lives. In addition to despairing over the bloody war, Henry was also mourning the death of his beloved wife Fanny Appleton Longfellow. Fanny died in a tragic fire the same year that the Civil War broke out. In November of 1862, another personal tragedy added to his pain. His son, Union Lieutenant Charles Appleton, was wounded in the Army of the Potomac.

On Christmas morning in 1863, while sitting at his desk at the Craigie House in Cambridge, MA, Henry was inspired to write a poem as he listened to the church bells pealing. Their constancy and joyous ringing inspired him to write “Christmas Bells.” In spite of his sadness, Longfellow expresses his belief in God and innate optimism that indeed:

God is not dead; nor doth he sleep
The Wrong shall fail;
The Right prevail,
With peace on earth, good-will to men!

Sometime after 1872, Longfellow’s poem was adapted into a Christmas Carol. John B. Caulkin (1827-1905) was a famous English composer who set the lyrics to a gentle, melodic tune that is reminiscent of bells ringing. The carol is entitled “I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day.” Alternative tunes have been written for the lyrics but Caulkin’s melody remains predominant.

I lived in Portsmouth, New Hampshire from February 1966 – the last day of April 1967. I was in the seventh and eighth grades. My father was in the United States Air Force at the time. As a student at Portsmouth Junior High School, I took field trips to both Bowdoin College in Brunswick, Maine and Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Longfellow was a Bowdoin College graduate and was a faculty member before moving to Cambridge to teach at Harvard.

We placed great emphasis when I was in junior high school on classical education with understanding and appreciation of the arts including poetry. Only my university and seminary education had a greater impact on me than my short two years in New England public schools.

One Way to Discipline Yourself for Success In Writing

Success and Personal Discipline

Sometimes becoming successful happens by being lucky. Examples of “lucky” success include winning the lottery, finding a painting or first edition of a book at a garage sale or estate sale that ends up worth millions, or having distant relatives leave you a fortune in their will.

You might even write and publish a book full of typos and grammatical errors that somehow captures the public’s fancy and sells many copies. While I haven’t read it myself, I hear the E. L. James “Fifty Shades of Grey” falls into this category.

Well, you get the picture. These things could happen but the likelihood of them happening to you while not impossible is slim to none.

Success generally requires consistent hard work. This article will look at the necessity of personal disciple to be successful viewing six “musts” for God’s Word. Then I will give six additional points from the Bible that will provide a plan for self-control.

The Necessity of Personal Disciple: To be Successful…

1. I must master my moods.

Proverbs 25:28 English Standard Version (ESV),  “A man without self-control is like a city broken into and left without walls.”

A writer needs to put their bottom in the chair and write on a regular basis. You need to go to work even when you don’t feel like it.

2. I must watch my words.

Proverbs 13:3 (ESV), “Whoever guards his mouth preserves his life; he who opens wide his lips comes to ruin.”

Are you a nitpicker or a good finder? As a writer, you receive a book review that you disagree with. Don’t get into a disagreement with the review (in person or online).

3. I must restrain my actions.

Proverbs 19:11 (ESV), “Good sense makes one slow to anger, and it is his glory to overlook an offense.”

2 Timothy 4:5 (ESV), “As for you, always be sober-minded, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.”

Do you react with passion or respond with grace? The former can hurt or even destroy your writing ministry. The later both honors God and allows your witness to be untarnished.

4. I must stick to my schedule.

Ephesians 5:15-16 (ESV), “Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time because the days are evil.”

If you don’t schedule your time someone else will. I am not suggesting  a detailed minute by minute schedule but a general one. For example, I do my quiet time early in the morning, followed by three to four hours of writing, and then end my morning with a walk. My afternoon is for reading, the business of writing activities (as opposed to writing the first draft), and answering emails.

5. I must manage my money.

Proverbs 21:20 The Living Bible (TLB), “The wise man saves for the future, but the foolish man spends whatever he gets.”

The obvious takeaway is to avoid impulse spending/buying. You should also save part of your income from your writing. Your book may not earn out its advance or your next advance may not be as much as your last one (if you get any advance).

We’ve looked at five reasons why self-discipline is needed to be successful. Now let’s look at six-steps that will help you develop the necessary self-control.

Six Steps for Developing Self-control.

1. Admit your lack of discipline.

Romans 7:15-18 (ESV), “For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate. Now if I do what I do not want, I agree with the law, that it is good. So now it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me. For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out. Sometime you fail to execute your plans. Ask God to help you follow through.”

2. Believe that God will help you.

Philippians 2:23 (ESV), “I hope therefore to send him just as soon as I see how it will go with me,”

Faith is important in self-control.

3. Claim a promise.

Isaiah 41:10 (ESV), “fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”

Philippians 4:13 (ESV), “I can do all things through him who strengthens me.”

2 Timothy 1:7 (ESV), “for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.”

When I was in seminary, I recall a wise older professor saying, “Since God called you to ministry, He’ll provide you with a place of ministry.” 

The same is true with a writing ministry. God will provide the right market place.

4. Decide in advance.

Proverbs 13:16 (ESV), “Every prudent man acts with knowledge, but a fool flaunts his folly.

Ephesians 6:13 (ESV), “Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm.”

Pay the price in training, regular writing, and submitting your work. When the rejection slips or emails come, don’t let them defeat you.

5. Enlist some support.

Ecclesiastes 4:9-10, 12 (ESV), “Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up! … And though a man might prevail against one who is alone, two will withstand him—a threefold cord is not quickly broken.”

Make yourself accountable. An accountability partner, agent, or writer’s group can help.

6. Focus on the reward.

Philippians 3:14 (ESV), “I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. Your rewards are financial, physical, and spiritual.”

Don’t argue with your feelings, they will win every time.

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

The A, B, C’s of Self-Motivation

The A, B, C’s of Self-Motivation

James 2:17 (ESV), “So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.”

What Motivates People To Get Going?

Pain 

Sometimes it takes a painful experience to get us going.

Luke 15:14 – 18 (ESV), “ And when he had spent everything, a severe famine arose in that country, and he began to be in need. So he went and hired himself out to[a] one of the citizens of that country, who sent him into his fields to feed pigs. And he was longing to be fed with the pods that the pigs ate, and no one gave him anything. “But when he came to himself, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have more than enough bread, but I perish here with hunger! I will arise and go to my father, and I will say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you.”

Proverbs 20:30 (ESV), “Blows that wound cleanse away evil; strokes make clean the innermost parts …”

Pressure

Sometimes it takes a circumstance to get us going. Examples include needing to lose weight for your health or a poor job evaluation (or rejection if your a writer) to get us to do what we should be doing.

1 Kings 17:2 – 9 (ESV), “And the word of the Lord came to him: “Depart from here and turn eastward and hide yourself by the brook Cherith, which is east of the Jordan. You shall drink from the brook, and I have commanded the ravens to feed you there.” So he went and did according to the word of the Lord. He went and lived by the brook Cherith that is east of the Jordan. And the ravens brought him bread and meat in the morning, and bread and meat in the evening and he drank from the brook. And after a while the brook dried up, because there was no rain in the land. Then the word of the Lord came to him, “Arise, go to Zarephath, which belongs to Sidon, and dwell there. Behold, I have commanded a widow there to feed you.”

Perspective

Sometimes our outlook or point of view can change. Something as simple as reading your Bible or hearing a sermon may provide the call to action.

Acts 9:3 – 6 (ESV), “Now as he went on his way, he approached Damascus, and suddenly a light from heaven shone around him. And falling to the ground, he heard a voice saying to him, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?” And he said, “Who are you, Lord?” And he said, “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting. But rise and enter the city, and you will be told what you are to do.”

The A, B, C’s of Self-Motivation (Six Steps to Help Get You Going)

A – Assume Responsibility For Your Own Life.

Proverbs 28:13 (ESV), “Whoever conceals his transgressions will not prosper, but he who confesses and forsakes them will obtain mercy.”

Did you know there are three types of people?

Accusers 

This is a person who never assumes responsibility for their actions or situations. They accuse others to be the root cause of their situation or lack of motivation. They blame it on external situations.

Excusers

This is a person who attempts to justify their lack of performance, missing a deadline, etc. They will not accept their lack of internal motivation or action.

Choosers

This is a person that makes a choice to get the job done, get the training, or meet the deadline.

B – Believe You Can

Romans 12:2 (ESV), “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.”

Mark 9:23 (ESV), “And Jesus said to him, “‘If you can! All things are possible for one who believes.”

C – Clarify What You Really Want

James 1:8 (ESV), “he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.”

Write it down.

Have you ever considered writing a personal mission statement? Do you have a purpose for your life?

D – Don’t Wait For Ideal Circumstances

Ecclesiastes 11:4 (ESV), “He who observes the wind will not sow, and he who regards the clouds will not reap.”

Avoid PERFECTIONISM.

Perfectionism equals paralyzes or procrastination.

E – Exercise Your Body

1 Timothy 4:8 (ESV), “for while bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come.”

Fatigue causes procrastination.

“Fatigue makes cowards of us all,” Coach Vince Lombardi

F – Fire Away! Do It Now!

Proverbs 27:1 (ESV), “Do not boast about tomorrow, for you do not know what a day may bring.”

Ask God to give you a new perspective.

He just might surprise you and give it to you.


Photo Source: Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

Success and Motivation: A Biblical Alternative

Success and Motivation

Success and motivation have been interests of mine since my university days. Like two edges of the same sword, I’ve wondered and studied for decades what motivates people to succeed and how to motivate people to become all that the Creator intended them to become. 

My interests in this are even lead me to spend more than a year of my life researching and writing on the subject. The result of this adventure culminated over thirty-two years ago in my doctoral dissertation, “The Relationship of Two Theories of Motivation to Church Leader Motivation: An Examination of the Motivational Theories of Abraham Maslow and Douglas McGregor Within a Conservative Christian Perspective.”

I thought it would be fun to redress the world’s meaning of success and look at a Biblical definition of success based on the life of the Apostle Paul with application to the Christian writer.

What Success Is and Isn’t

Joshua 1:8 English Standard Version (ESV), “This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success.”

False Measures of Success

    • Looks – It’s not how I look.
    • Worth – It’s not how much money I have or how many books I’ve sold.
    • Connections – It’s not who I know but whose I am (here I mean being a Christian, that is a Believer in Jesus Christ).

How Success Is Determined

    • Success is determined by what I am.

Galatians 6:4 ESV, “But let each one test his own work, and then his reason to boast will be in himself alone and not in his neighbor.”

Real Success Defined

    • Real success is knowing God and living your life for Him.

A Biblical Definition of Success (from the life of the Apostle Paul)

S – Sense of Direction

Romans 15:20 (ESV), “and thus I make it my ambition to preach the gospel, not where Christ has already been named, lest I build on someone else’s foundation,”

Philippians 3:14 (ESV), “I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.”

As a writer do you have a direction? Are you writing in a specific genre or all over the place? Do you start many works and finish none or few? It’s impossible to get to a destination if you don’t know where you’re going. Make sure you have a clear sense of direction.

U – Understanding

Philippians 4:12 (ESV), “I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need.”

2 Thessalonians 3:5 (ESV), “May the Lord direct your hearts to the love of God and to the steadfastness of Christ.”

Do you seek God’s guidance in your writing? Have you paid the price to learn your craft? Make sure you know the basics of the craft, understand who your target audience is, and follow the rules in your submissions, etc.

C – Commitment

Acts 20:24 (ESV), “But I do not account my life of any value nor as precious to myself, if only I may finish my course and the ministry that I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God.”

Do you finish what you start? Are you honoring God in your life and your writing?

C – Compassion

1 Corinthians 13:2 – 3 (ESV), “And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing.”

Colossians 3:12 (ESV), “Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience,”

Do you really care about your audience when you write? Is your motivation correct? Do you pray the price in knowing your craft, having quality editing, etc. ?

E – Enthusiastic Faith

Romans 8:31 (ESV), “What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?”

Philippians 4:13 (ESV), “I can do all things through him who strengthens me.”

Are you excited about and love what you’re writing or are you trying to write to market for a check?

S – Servant to Others

2 Corinthians 8:19 (ESV), “And not only that, but he has been appointed by the churches to travel with us as we carry out this act of grace that is being ministered by us, for the glory of the Lord himself and to show our good will.”

2 Corinthians 12:15 (ESV), “I will most gladly spend and be spent for your souls. If I love you more, am I to be loved less?”

As Christian writers we serve God and we serve our readers. Do you have a servant’s heart?

S -Staying Power

2 Corinthians 4:8 – 9 (ESV), “We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed;”

Do you finish what you start? Do you sit down on a regular basis and write? Do you submit your work?

Paul’s Secret to Success

Paul’s secret to success is summarized in 2 Corinthians 4:16 – 18 (ESV), “So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.”


Photo Source: Image by Анастасия Гепп from Pixabay