Dealing With The Fundamental Problem of The 21st Century: Plan Your Future

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Photo credit: http://www.typorama.com

 

Who will you be 5/10/15/20years from now?

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Photo taken from http://www.digitalphotos.net

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Today, I want to share with you some very important lessons I gathered from listening to Dr. Mensa Otabil preach a message entitled ‘Developing a 20-year Life Plan’. First time I heard him speak on this subject was early 2014 after he had declared ‘ORDER’ as the church’s theme for the year. As usual, the church was overflowing with so many people since it was – yes you guessed right – the first Sunday of the year. No one intends to miss the first Sunday of a new calendar year. I left home earlier than usual that day (I’m always on time but this was a special ‘on time’) because I didn’t want to give up my usual sitting spot. I have a special preference for seats close to the stage. The reason being that at the end of the service I would have siphoned large chunks of Otabil’s anointing into my spirit man. Just in case you didn’t know, the closer you are to the stage and by extension the man of God, the greater the chances of your supernatural breakthrough. Aha! ‘Too much play’ a typical Ghanaian will say. Alright, let’s get to the crux of my message. I want to start with a quote by Myles Munroe:

“The greatest tragedy in life is not death, but a life without a purpose.”

 

Just recently, the clarion call to plan my future rang so hard in my heart, it felt like a high-voltage electricity had zapped me. I had been prompted a few times but I guess the notifications weren’t strong enough to make me leap to their summons. This ‘electric shocker’ was no joke. I took a sneak peek into the future with my mind’s eye and I didn’t like the outcome. I was confused and somewhat terrified. I’m in my mid-20’s (early 20’s to be precise) and the question I keep asking myself is ‘what have I successfully achieved up until now?’ I can’t even recollect some of the goals I put down some 5 years ago (that’s if I put any goals down in the first place) so how do I possibly go ahead to evaluate myself. This is probably the reason for the tension build-up within me. You don’t leave anything to chance in this life because if you do, life will gladly put you in a place you never asked for – and you sure wouldn’t like it. This is why I felt the need to dig through the internet and feed my soul with this thought-provoking message again. I needed to wake my lazy self up (you probably need to do same too) and get back on track. Frankly speaking, when I listened to the audio again, it felt as though it was only yesterday he spoke those words of wisdom (no exaggerations here). I don’t plan on wasting further ‘typing ink’ and space so let me go ahead to share some of the lessons I learnt.

 

God has a plan for each one of us. You are not a miscarriage of nature. You are not here by accident. Your parents might have not planned your birth, but God did because He has a project for you. You need to live each day with the mindset that there’s a reason for your existence here on Earth. Quick question: Do you know how the first car came about? It all happened one stormy night in the year 1807 when violent winds spiraled into an old politician’s garage. First, nails, screws, old newspapers and empty flower pots were swept up into the air where they began to collide with one another. As the winds got stronger old paint cans, pliers, dustpans and four basketballs joined the collision process. This random bumping took place over a long period of time until the various automotive parts – bonnet, doors, battery, headlamps,etc – appeared and rearranged completely to form the car. Absolutely ridiculous you say? Yes! Never in history did a car pop out from someone’s garage. There was a plan for its amazing invention. In the same way, God fearfully and wonderfully created each one of us with a unique purpose. This is why Jeremiah full of the Holy Ghost  said that God had holy plans for him even before he was conceived. ‘We are not here filling space’ as Otabil said. We need to discover God’s plan for our lives (not OUR plan for OUR lives). And until we find our true purpose, we’d never be able to appreciate who we truly are and function adequately as we are intended to.

 

God gives us necessary tools to design ourselves according to the plan He has for us.

Not only do we carry specific tasks in our hands, but also we have the ability to tailor ourselves to suit our God-given assignment. I feel this is where many of us fall short. We are struggling to make great strides in certain facets of our lives because the plan and the design is a total mismatch; no points of connection whatsoever. Let’s look at the example below:

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Sumo wrestler (left), Gymnast (right)

Sumo wrestlers are clearly different from gymnasts. You can tell by simply comparing their physique. The gymnast has a slender body and light muscle mass and this helps her to obtain the right balance, agility and strength to pull off a performance successfully. The Sumo wrestler on the other hand is heavy with muscle mass for a reason: the heavier he is, the more difficult it is for his opponent to push him out of the ring. If we should look into their lifestyle habits, I can bet their diet and recommended daily exercises are different. Why? Because each one has to “design” his/her body according to the specific task ahead of them. If you’re a ‘hawk’, you don’t swim; you fly. That’s your build. The plan must influence the design. Spend enough time to understand your God-given plan so you can obtain the fruition of your assignment by choosing the right design.

 

God’s plan for us is time-bound. You don’t have ETERNITY to accomplish anything on Earth, you only have TIME and that time is finite. Do you realize that in life, the only time you have is the time you make use of? Every other minute, hour or day that goes unused is a part of your life flushed away. Gone never to be regained. It is said that procrastination is the thief of time but I want to push it further by saying PROCRASTINATION IS THE THIEF OF LIFE. Yes. A waste of time surely is a waste of life. Really, we need to stop treating time as though we were playing a game of soccer. There’s no fourth referee to signal any ‘TIME ADDED ON’ here.  Work diligently with the time you have because there’s no more time other than what is already set out for us. Sometimes we need that little nudge to remind ourselves that it’s 24 hours in a day, not 29, 7 days in a week, not 15, and 52 weeks in a year, not 1000. If you want to be the CEO of a multi-billion dollar company, you begin your search for a mentor during your teen years. You don’t wait till you are past 25 years before you get moving. No. You should have read several books on Entrepreneurship and Leadership, attended very important training workshops and networked with business-minded individuals by now. You don’t wait till the last minute. Also, don’t expend unnecessary energy on so many things at the same time. Like I said, the clock is ticking. Rather, learn to do a few things WELL because that is what will bring the best out of you. I don’t know about you but I sometimes wish I had received these tips a bit earlier. But not to worry at all. At least, I’ve learnt that what needs to be accomplished today needn’t be accomplished 5 or 10 years from now. I need to do what needs to be done now, NOW because time and tide never wait for any man or woman.

 

 

And finally…

 

Do what God has designed you to do to have fulfillment in Life. Don’t waste your life trying to fulfill your friend’s or parent’s desire. Life is already too short to waste it chasing after someone else’s dreams. Find what is yours. See it. Embrace it. Breathe it. Love it. OWN IT and live life to fulfill YOUR God-given desire. God bless

 

NB: I’ll be writing a second and final part to this post soon. In the meantime, you’ll find attached to this article a link to a guide on how to draw a personal 20-year life plan. It’s the exact guide I received in church the first time the message was preached. I want you to download and PRINT a copy for yourself. To say what he said on that day, you are free to make changes to the original document. This is just to guide you on your journey to draw an effective personal 20-year life plan. God bless once again!

 

 

 

Click on the link below to download:

 

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Boiled Frogs

Time-to-Leap

How can we account for this generation? To what shall we compare ourselves? Have we let our guards down so easily that we cannot even tell when something is going wrong around us? Isn’t it so obvious you aren’t making any progress in life because you’re content with the status quo? We live in a day and age where we’ve allowed ourselves to become victims to one of the most lethal ‘disease’ on this planet—The Boiling Frog Syndrome. For the sake of those who are unfamiliar with this terminology, please allow me to introduce you to what I call the ‘nasty cancer’ that eats up both the young and old slowly until there’s nothing left of them to fight against it. The analogy goes like this:

If you place a frog in a pan of boiling water, it immediately leaps out of the water. But if you place it in a pan of cold water and gradually increase the temperature of the water, it will remain in there until there’s no strength left in it to hop out. Within some few moments, the frog dies.

This is the danger associated with allowing small, seemingly harmless acts to go on unquestioned: little by little, they effortlessly permit huge objectionable activities to become ‘normal’ events, which later paralyze various aspects of our lives. It’s quite interesting to know that what you or I would have called a major change (and probably objected to its implementation) rather becomes very offensive when you decide to speak against it at the very last minute. Let’s have a short exercise for the sake of clarity. Are you ready?

Hands up if you do this.

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Oh boy! You’re boiling in hot water if this is your lifestyle. Your relationship will never grow if the digital world means so much more to you than spending quality time with the people you care about so much. Don’t expect your relationship to blossom out into a beautiful union if you’re constantly distracted by the merciless pings and push notifications from your cellphones, iPads or [name what you got] when you could have been capturing the present moment together with your friend/relative/loved one sitting just next to you. I’m not against technology totally; as a matter of fact, they make life very convenient and easy for us. What I’m trying to say though is gadgets can be serious barriers to communication among people too. It is said that intimacy is a very hard thing to develop which is why effective communication is key to nurturing and maintaining it. It requires a considerable amount of time, effort and energy to keep it going. Unfortunately, the social media requires a considerable amount of time, effort and energy to keep it going too! There’s a tight competition going on out there. You see, you can’t serve two masters at the same time. It’s just plain impossible. One will definitely take precedence over the other—the digital world taking the superior spot in this case. I find it interesting how we go on and on with our ‘Omg! It happened so fast’ anthem in an attempt to justify our actions as happening ‘all of a sudden’. If you’re wondering how it all started and how you got hooked up to whatever device you own, truth is it didn’t happen so fast; it was a gradual process. It all began the very day you permitted yourself to indulge in certain innocuous acts like texting during class or office hours. It was the very day you felt you weren’t hurting a fly if you carried your tablet to the dining table and shared your ‘dinner story’ on Snapchat (I do that a lot *face in palm*). It was the moment and season you felt carrying your gadgets around with you wherever you went wasn’t a big deal. If only you had looked a little bit closer and had been more cautious, you’d have realized that a major change was going on around you in an unnoticed manner. You were slowly developing an addiction to your gadgets. You had actually lifted your cage and made way for the little foxes to run around your vineyard. Now, they can’t be controlled. They’ve gone on a rampage and are on a mission to destroy your vine! You have become a ‘boiled frog’ for that matter.

Time surely won’t permit me to touch on other important things but I need you take a moment to review the other facets of your life in this context. Where have you allowed yourself to sink into a tranquil stupor? What are some of the things you have begun to perceive as the ‘new normal’? Note them down and begin to fight them head-on while you have time on your hands. Don’t give this syndrome the chance to destroy what you’ve worked so hard to achieve. Remember, it was never the boiling water that killed the frog; it was the frog’s indecisiveness to leap out while it had the strength. Your (in)ability to say ‘enough is enough’ is what will determine your fate at any given moment in any given situation. Get decisive and make your move now. If we know that Life is what we make it, then the onus lies on us to make a conscious habit of paying close attention to the minutest details of things that happen around us. Let’s make it our business to keep our eyes on the ground and observe our surroundings ALWAYS. Act fast when the cold water begins to slowly embrace the heat—Jump out while you can before it’s too late to resist death by boiling!

What Are We Actually Choosing When We Choose To Be Christians? 1

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I have seen and heard so many misrepresentations of the term ‘Christian’ or ‘Christianity’ to the extent that the one-line statement I could have used to answer this question proves a little futile. Therefore, instead of providing an immediate answer to the question, I humbly ask that you follow me closely as I put some bits and pieces of information together first.

This question interests me a lot. It’s got to do with the fact that it captures the word ‘choose’. Becoming a Christian was, is and will always be a matter of CHOICE and not COERCION. In addition, it isn’t genetic too; you don’t become one by inheriting some genes from your parents who are Christians. You don’t become one by associating yourself with people who have deep reverence for God. It doesn’t work that way. It’s a decision you make on your own after weighing all the options in life; no one else makes (or has to make) that decision for you. People can be of positive influence to you in helping you make that decision but it still boils down to you. It’s a personal choice. Please note that.

The best way to know and understand what we are actually choosing when we choose to be Christians is to first know and understand what it means to be a Christian. I prefer we make a very short journey into the past for the purpose. The reason? Simple. I believe strongly that the usage of the term has lost critical weight in this modern era because of how it’s been emptied of its true meaning. That’s rather unfortunate. A Christian must be a disciple of Christ. I’ve been looking for a better way to describe this term and thank goodness, I found one simple power-packed definition by the Methodist Minister, Rev John Farrar (1804-1884). He said a disciple of Christ is “one who believes His doctrine, rests upon His sacrifice, imbibes His spirit, and imitates His example”.

It’s not just about belonging to a Christian church or just practising some ‘do’s’ and ‘don’ts’ recorded in an ancient manuscript. It’s much deeper than that. If you’re in to follow Christ’s lead, it means you’re ready to listen and accept the fact that the wisdom from His teaching works. Of course, you cannot do away with valuing what He values most. Wisdom. Integrity. Patience. Kindness. Goodness. Honesty. Selflessness. All of these encapsulated in what He holds dear most—Love. Once you’ve established that, you’re ready to move onto the next step: Act. Stepping out to think, talk and act just like how Christ thought, talked and acted. For example, Jesus told His disciples to love their enemies. Love my enemies? You mean those seeking my downfall? Well, let’s look at the statistics. Does that kind of wisdom work at all? What happens when you genuinely love your enemies? Well, there are a lot of benefits: emotional, psychological, spiritual, even physical. Some people develop nasty heartaches not because of high salt or fat intake but because they’ve harbored some bitterness in their hearts for a long time. They could have avoided that unpleasant feeling if they chose to let go and let love lead. You won’t experience that kind of health benefit if you choose to sit and just believe. You have to act by forgiving the other party. That’s imitating His example. You’re out there to do a live presentation of how He lived. To represent. RE-PRESENT. Let that word sink in. ‘RE-PRESENTING’ Christ wherever you find yourself. If He was a person of influence, you have to be a person of influence. If He was down-to-earth, the same goes for you. Having this foreknowledge at hand, you quickly get an idea of what it is you’re choosing/about to choose.

Now, let’s tackle the crux of the matter briefly. Choosing to be a Christian means choosing to reshuffle priorities. You are in to exchange what you feel is more important to you with that which God knows is more important to you. That exchange doesn’t look pleasant at all in the beginning. Take the rich man who approached Jesus as an example. Jesus gave him the opportunity to reprioritize his life by exchanging his love for riches with something far more valuable, but he rejected that precious offer. I’m pretty sure he thought accepting it meant no association with money anymore. In other words, poverty and misery all the days of his life. And that’s how most of us feel sometimes.

There’s that feeling that once we become Christians, we will be quarantined from so many things like sex, beauty, money, power and so forth. That sounds funny considering the fact that God created all these for us to enjoy to the max (within proper limits). So what’s the problem? Our problem is that we allow these things to have us instead of us having them. These things easily possess us when we fail to prioritize rightly. Now, remember that ‘possession’ is a very strong word so we have no business playing around with it.

Knowing the danger it carries, isn’t it rather safe to trust the Creator of the universe when He says that we should look out for Him first in everything we do so that every other thing on the priority list falls in its pleasant place? I believe it is! We get to enjoy all that He has created fully with no limits – signed from above! You find true fulfillment in them too! When we fail to see through heaven’s eye, we begin to get greedy, lustful, corrupt and materialistic. We fail to set the balance between fun and fulfillment and we miss the beauty of everything. When Jesus said ‘REPENT’ (change your mind for the better), it was because He saw misplaced priorities among His audience. You and I also mean a lot to Him that’s why He still speaks to us. Repent! Change your mind for the better. It’s for this reason that when you make the choice, you’ve actually chosen to revamp the entire show of your life.

Having said all this, I proceed to answer the question: What we are actually choosing when we choose to be Christians is choosing to live the Christ-like life.