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Being Proactive

This past week I started a book called Seven Habits of Highly Effective People.  Its a book written by Steven Covey about motivating people to live to their full potential in life and achieving success.  In his introduction, Covey makes the argument that the way we think affects our lifestyle choices and behaviors.  He states that the paradigms that we have form the lens that view our world.  He gave the example of how people used to think that the earth was the center of the universe and when the idea arose that the earth revolved around the sun, people mocked it and dismissed it.  But when it was proven, a paradigm shift occurred and people were able to see their world in its proper perspective.  

The same is true with our lives.  Perspective is everything.  There is a story in the Gospel of Luke that illustrates this point very well.  Two disciples of Jesus are walking towards Emmaus and they are discussing the death of Jesus and the strange reports that Jesus had risen from the dead.  They were confused and did not seem to believe that he rose cause their hearts were heavy.  As they are talking, Jesus comes to their side and begins to walk with them.  Their eyes are veiled and don’t recognize him.  Jesus begins clarity to the situation as he shares the scriptures concerning himself.  And there is a critical point in the story where Jesus breaks bread with his disciples and suddenly their eyes are opened to who he truly is.  They have an “Aha” moment and their once veiled eyes are opened.  Their perspective has changed and instead of being discouraged they are now filled with hope and joy.  That is the power of perspective.  

In relation to perspective, Covey encourages people to start to practice the first habit, which is to be proactive.  Many times when people face problems and difficulty in their lives, they blame their circumstances for their inability to find solutions.  Yes there are some things that are outside of our control like the weather, how people react to us, etc.  But Covey argues that instead of focusing on things outside our control, we need to focus on what we can control.  

He states that there are many people who have a victim mentality and relegate their sorry state on others.  They makes statements like “I can’t do this”  “I have to do this project because I’m supposed to.”  “This person makes me feel angry and sad.”  All these statements refer to something outside of a person that keeps them immobilized and paralyzed.  However, instead of focusing on what we can’t do or on things we can’t control, it is important to take steps to finding a solution.  Instead of being part of the problem, why not try and find a solution.  Other people do not have control over our attitudes and how we feel. We are in charge of our ability to make decisions and take action.  

So take a step towards what you thought couldn’t be done.  Instead of focusing on what you can’t do, why not take little steps forward and focus on what is in your immediate sphere of influence.  Like the serenity prayer says, “Give me the courage to change the things that I can, and to accept the things I cannot change and the wisdom to know the difference.” 

One of the greatest difficulties that humans worldwide face is the propensity to quit.  But it doesn’t always start this way.  For example, someone decides that their New Year’s resolution is to lose weight and for the first few weeks of January it is exciting and the person is extremely motivated.  But then one month becomes two and suddenly the resolution to lose weight has just become wishful thinking.  This happens not just with losing weight, but almost every goal that people seek to attain.

With each failed attempt to reach a goal that was set, the person gets more and more discouraged to the point where they give up and don’t set goals or expectations on themselves any longer.  Many people face this predicament where they have just accepted the fact that everyone else has the ability to accomplish amazing things, but they themselves can’t and are the only individual on the earth that wasn’t given the ability to achieve their goals.  But the reality is, everyone at some point in the journey called life has this problem, namely, the desire to quit.

So what is the solution?  First, you need to acknowledge that there is a problem.  A couple questions to ask yourself are do I feel successful right now?  Why not?  Is there a particular area(s) in my life where I wish I was doing better?  Am I giving life my best effort?  If the answer to these questions is yes, then you are on the right track and are setting yourself up for success.  However, if you answered no to these questions, then now is the time to start making some changes.

After acknowledging that you have a problem, the next step is to make a life vision.  This sounds really grandiose and even presumptuous, but if you do not make a life vision for yourself someone else will make it for you and time which is your most important commodity will be taken from you, many times without knowing it.  Many people hit a mid-life crisis and even pre-mortum crisis when they realize that they didn’t accomplish the things that they wanted to in life.  They are filled with regret because they cannot get back the time that they lost.  You do not want to come to your deathbed filled with regret.  And making a life vision is the first step to having a successful life.  This life vision does not change over the course of your life because it is the overarching goal and desire of your life.  Some examples of life vision statements are “I want to be a passionate lover of God and a deliverer of people.”  “I want to be holy as Jesus was holy.”  “I want to be a servant of all.”  My own personal life vision is “I want to be a deep man by loving God wholeheartedly and being a blessing to people.”  These are some examples of life visions.  No one vision statement is better than the other.  But it has to be something that has significance to you and you understand it.

But you cannot stop at just making your life vision.  Once again that would just be a great idea without any action and you are left with just wishful thinking.  The next step after making a life vision is to make some long term and short term goals that help line up with your vision.  For example for me one of my long term goals to be able to teach the bible in Korean within 10 years. In order for that long term goal to become reality I need to make short term goals like I will study Korean for 2-4 hrs. per week.

Before I continue let me give you three basic guidelines to setting up your goals.  First, they have to be specific.  It can’t be a general goal like I want to be nice to people or I want to bring world peace.  That is too broad.  They have to be specific because we only have a limited amount of time and being specific helps you focus your time better.  Second, the goals have to be measurable.  This is connected with being specific, but in order for you to see if you are on the right track in terms of following your life vision, the goals need to be measurable.  Therefore, my goal of learning Korean 2-4 hrs. a week is measurable.  I can access at the end of each week whether I spent that time studying or not.  Lastly, it has to be realistic.  If you are a mother of 10 young children it is impossible to pray in solitude for 10 hrs. a day.  A more realistic goal would be to pray 10-15 min. a day in solitude.  Make goals that are realistic to your life circumstances and your abilities.  And remember that once you set your goals and write them down (this is important.  writing your life vision and goals down gives wings to your dreams and helps you to actually accomplish them) you can change them and tweak them as you go.

I’ve been an advocate and a traveler on this journey of living life with focus and with vision for the past 10 years.  And there are times when I forget about my vision and times when I have set unrealistic goals for myself.  But over the years I have done about 30-50% of my schedule.  And doing that much is much better than doing 100% of no schedule.  By just going with the flow, you end up being a slave to the current of other people’s expectations and even to your own laziness.  That ‘s not to say that you have to keep your schedule perfect or not allow for interruptions and life to happen.  But it does mean that you live with focus and if you keep your schedule 75-80% of the time you are doing awesome.  So live with vision.  Make specific, measurable, and realistic goals.  And 10-20 years from now you will see much fruit and that your life was well spent.

So many times life can be so complicated.  Worries about relationships, finances, the future all end up becoming like a huge rock tied around my back.  It becomes so heavy that the normally easy daily tasks become extremely hard.  But over the past few days I have tried to simplify things and start getting back to the basics of life.  This has been as simple as going to bed on time so that I don’t wake up all groggy and start the day in a bad mood.  I’ve also begun exercising again, which surprisingly helps me feel happier.  Also eating more fruits and vegetables has helped (thanks mom!).  But also I’ve been praying more throughout my day and whispering short phrases to God like “I love you,” or “Thank you.”  This has helped my heart be more tender and receptive to all the blessings that God has given to me.  What joy there is in returning to the simple things in life.

Lovers outwork workers

“Lovers outwork workers.”  This was the phrase I remembered when I first heard Mike Bickle speak at the CALL in 2003.  He said that those who are in love with God will actually do more work for him than those who have a “worker” mentality.  Therefore, he declared it extremely important that we encounter God’s beauty to sustain believers in the work of the kingdom.

Although, this simple but powerful concept marked my heart years ago, in recent times I had forgotten about it.  But about a month ago a friend shared a dream where she saw me in a lethargic state.  I was sleeping during a time when I needed to be active and moving to help minister to someone.  As she tried to get me up, she saw that my hands were covered with a sticky black substance.  After removing it from my hands, I was able to get up and go with her to do ministry.

After she shared her dream, she explained that she felt like the black substance that was holding me down was because I was serving God out of a worker mentality more than a lover.  Without knowing, she told me exactly what I had heard from 2003: “Lovers outwork workers.”  I knew that the Lord was speaking to me through her to remember to return to my first love.  My heart had grown cold in the midst of the busyness of ministry.  So I committed myself to placing the Lord before me and doing my responsibilities as an act of love God.

The interesting thing is, the worker and lover can look the same externally.  They both do the same ministry, however, the lover has a deeper heart connect with the work and can sustain the intensity of ministry for the long term.  So I encourage you, whether you are in full-time ministry, the marketplace, in school, a parent, or a missionary, place loving God at the forefront of your life.  Everything else will fall into place when you do that.  “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well” (Matt. 6:33).

 

On Sept. 8, 2011 the Nightwatch prayer section at IHOP-KC started a three month consecration where we wanted to give ourselves to beholding the beauty of God and to refraining from talking with one another during the 12am-6am unless it pertained to the leadership of the prayer room.  And initially I scoffed at the consecration and thought it was unnecessary.  I thought that I didn’t need to participate in this consecration because I hardly talked during 12am-6am.  But the Lord had other ideas because a friend of mine called me out on my scoffing heart and called me to give myself to what the Lord was doing in our midst.

So I repented and decided to join the consecration.  I also wanted to start fasting as well, so I decided to eat 1.5 meals a day Mon-Sat and have Sundays off where I could eat normally.  And I had four areas that I wanted God to speak to me about.

1.  Encountering God – I wanted to experience God more and have dreams and visions.  I realized that I had lost my zeal for wanting God to reveal himself to me in supernatural ways, and I wanted that desire renewed.
2.  Relationships – I wanted God to speak to me about relationships and give me more wisdom especially as I was talking with a particular girl and considering dating.
3.  Vocation – I wanted a greater understanding and more strength as a intercessory missionary.  I wanted to have greater understanding on the power of prayer.
4.  Family – I wanted to see my family restored in their relationships.

As I began to give myself to the rest of the Nightwatch consecration, God began answering these four areas for me.  I began to have dreams that had pretty significant meaning to me.  I also began to have my mind renewed about the lies I believed about relationships.  Also I began to have a greater understanding of my calling as an intercessor.  Though I have not seen the last area answered, just the faith that I have that God can restore my family is a testimony in itself.

I had forgotten about the power of fasting during my past couple of years at IHOP.  But this fast has been such a pivotal season for me, and I am so grateful that the Lord is speaking to me and answering my prayers.  I really encourage you, that if you feel led, to start a fast.  It doesn’t have to be much, it could be fasting one meal a day, or even just eating fruits and vegetables.  But I really believe that fasting is powerful and I am so grateful to God for hearing my cries.

Hello world!

So after a four month hiatus from my blog, I have returned!  I know, I’m being quite dramatic.  But I thought I’ll give a quick update on my life cause a lot has happened.  As always I’ll summarize in list form:

1.  Transitioned from part-time staff to full-time – Since graduating from IHOPU, I have been on part-time staff at IHOP.  But I decided that I wanted to transition into being on full-time.  After taking a prayer retreat at a monastery, I realized that I would like to give more of my time and energy into being an intercessory missionary.  Initially I was afraid that by switching to full-time, I would lose a lot of time and completely swamped with responsibilities.  But once I made the change, it has been so enjoyable and amazing.

2.  Got over a 3-4 month long sickness during the winter – From December to about March, I was sick with a sinus infection that would not go away.  I ended up being really tired, unable to focus, and quite depressed.  And I was really struggling during this season.  But I kept reminding myself that each day is new and to forget the past and press forward to seeking God.  This really helped me and when I got better, I was able to get back into the flow of my life again.

3.  Joined a worship team on the Nightwatch – After being off a nighwatch worship team for 3 1/2 years, I decided to join a worship team about 3 months ago.  I had been frustrated playing on a worship team years ago because I wasn’t very confident as a musician and felt out of synch with how playing electric guitar connected with prayer.  I really just wanted to be in the prayer room without having to play an instrument.  So I took a break and thought I would never return.  I almost sold my gear, but a couple of friends convinced me that someday I would regret it if I sold my guitar and pedals.  So I kept them and then a couple of months ago, I felt the desire to play my guitar again.  So I decided to take lessons and improve my skill.  I also bought a new guitar and some pedals and now I feel much more confident when I play.  I also feel more purposeful with God as I play my instrument and see it as a time where I can not only have fun, but prophesy on my instrument.  I am amazed at how much the Lord has changed my perspective on music.  And I am really enjoying playing.  I never thought that playing close to 20 hrs. live a week could be this enjoyable.

4.  Contentment – Back when I was in my teens, I had a pretty pessimistic attitude towards life.  My picture of the future was hardly ever rosy.  But nowadays, I am really content and happy with my life.  I am doing the things that I really enjoy.  Seeking the Lord in prayer and the word, playing music, leading a small group of people to grow in God, and even taking a yoga class.  I am really grateful to be at IHOP as an intercessory missionary and I am grateful for all God’s benefits.  He truly is good to me.

 

So that’s a short summary of what have been going on in my life.  And hopefully I can continue to blog and keep writing about the Acts of God, and other things.  I won’t be writing about the IHOP basketball league because I’ve stopped playing because of an injury I sustained during one of our games.  😦  But look forward to more blogs to come!

My surprise visit to my mom to Columbus, OH on for her birthday

The Exodus account is probably the most significant event in Israel’s national history.  It was the first time God acted with miraculous signs and wonders for a specific nation.  The people of Israel were delivered from centuries of enslavement at the hands of the Egyptians.  The effects of this event is seen by the numerous references back to the Exodus in Israel’s psalms and writings (e.g., Ps. 77, 78, 103, 105).  But why did God do it?  What was the purpose behind bringing them out of Egypt?

Moses’ gives the explanation when he speaks to Pharaoh: “The LORD, the God of the Hebrews, has sent me to say to you: Let my people go, so that they may worship me in the wilderness” (Ex. 7:16).  He gives this explanation multiple times to Pharaoh and then God further defines in after they come out of Egypt.  “Then I will dwell among the Israelites and be their God.  They will know that I am the LORD their God, who brought them out of Egypt so that I may dwell among them.  I am the LORD their God.

The reason God brought the Israelites is not only that they might worship them, but that he might dwell with his people.  In other words God wants a home and a family where I can spend time with.  He wants to stay and be near to his people.  But the question still remains, so what does the Exodus have to do with me?

The Exodus reveals that God wants to be with you.  He wants to establish his residence with you, spend time with you and be family together.  That is what it means by “dwelling.”  God is not angry with you or grudgingly spending time with you until you are perfect.  But right now, in the midst of weaknesses and brokenness he wants to dwell with you.  He goes through great lengths so that he can spend time with you.  He displayed his mighty power to deliver Israel from bondage and deep pain.  And he does the same for you.  He will move every mountain and cross every valley to be with you.