Thursday, August 23, 2007

Involvement or Commitment

Jesus is on a great search for people who will make an unswerving commitment to follow Him. Open your Bibles to Luke 9:57-62.

57 As they were walking along the road, a man said to him, "I will follow you wherever you go." 58 Jesus replied, "Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head." 59 He said to another man, "Follow me." But the man replied, "Lord, first let me go and bury my father." 60 Jesus said to him, "Let the dead bury their own dead, but you go and proclaim the kingdom of God ." 61 Still another said, "I will follow you, Lord; but first let me go back and say good-by to my family." 62 Jesus replied, "No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God ."

There is a problem with mere involvement—

The first man in this passage makes a very powerful and profound promise to Jesus that he would follow Him wherever he went. I believe that the man was sincere, he wanted to follow Jesus, he wanted to be a part of what Jesus was doing, and he wanted to make a difference. All of these things are good things that might motivate some of us, but I want you to understand something extremely clear the desire to serve must also be coupled with the right reason for serving.

It would seem that the man described here was willing to be involved with the ministry of Jesus and there was nothing wrong with that other than the fact that Jesus was looking for something more. Jesus was looking for a total and full commitment.

The sad reality is that most people settle for being involved without ever making a commitment. The pun about the chicken and the pig is funny but how close to home does that hit when we honestly look at the commitments we have made in our lives.
There is a massive difference between being involved and being committed. Being involved means that you can do what you want, as you want and when you feel like doing it. Commitment means that you are at the call 24 hours a day, seven days a week and 365 days a year.
To make the decision to just being involved, and it is a decision, is one that creates a system of cheating. We cheat God of giving Him our very best, we cheat others of what we have to offer and we cheat ourselves of the blessings of Christ that come only when we become committed. Far too often we settle for being involved in the work of Christ and never actually making a commitment to it.

Commitment is what Jesus is looking for in all of our lives and He wants us to have the desire to serve Him not just on Sunday morning but each and every day that we draw breath.

Let’s use an example from right here in the life of the church. If you make the decision to show up on Sunday morning and that is the limit to your commitment, you will never truly grow deeper in your walk with God.

Why do I say this? It takes giving of yourself to the work and ministry of Christ to have a growing relationship with Him. It takes a desire to study and know the Word of God to become deeper in your walk with Him. It takes a desire to put our priorities in line with God’s priorities. This means that He is first and foremost in your life. Anything that comes between you and God in nothing more than a stumbling block in your spiritual life.


The Problem of misplaced priorities

The second man is called to follow Jesus but asks to go and bury his father. The response we see here almost makes Jesus seem cruel because Jesus says to let the dead bury the dead. What is going on here?

1. There is nothing wrong with caring for your family because your family is a gift from God and you are instructed by scripture to take care of them. Jesus is driving at the issue of priority. Jesus wants us to make Him first in our lives and no other place will do.

2. Jesus wanted the man to understand the urgent nature of His mission.
Jesus came into this world to save us from the power of sin and death. The mission of the church should be the same, to reach a lost and dying world with the message of saving grace through Jesus. However, we get so busy with “church work” that we never seem to get to the real work of sharing the gospel with others. Jesus wanted the man to understand that there was an urgency to winning lost people. It is an urgency that I believe that most churches have lost.
We must understand that, if we are truly going to follow Christ, we must get our hands dirty in the work of outreach. There is a lost and dying world out there that needs the hope that we have in Christ.

One of the greatest problems in the church today is that we have misplaced our focus onto programs and policy instead of placing it on ministry and people. If we fail to reach people, we are not failing the church or the denomination; we are doing nothing but failing Christ Himself.

The Problem of misdirected focus
The third man that comes to Jesus makes a reasonable request to go back and say good-by to his family and again Jesus makes a statement that sounds rather harsh when He tells the man that he is not fit to follow. Why does Jesus do this?

Notice what the man says to Jesus, but first let me go back and say good-by to my family. We read this and think nothing of what is being said here other than a simple request. However, there is something deeper here than the request. The fact that is so often overlooked here is that the man had his first commitment to someone other than Jesus.

We are often guilty of this very act. There are far too many times that we allow something or someone to draw us away from a deeper relationship with Christ. We sometimes allow family commitments to draw us from church. We sometimes allow work commitments to draw us from our time reading the Bible. We allow simple intrusions to draw us from times of prayer.

We are much like this man because we are far too often focused on what we lose by following Jesus. Instead we should take a careful look at everything that we gain by following Jesus. We gain His presence, His peace and His power.

Luciano Pavarotti tells the story about how he made the choice to be a singer. At a young age his father introduced him to singing and he took to it with great skill and enthusiasm. At one time in Pavarotti’s life he was enrolled in both vocal lessons from a professional tenor and college studies to be a teacher. When he graduated from school he faced a dilemma to either become a singer or to become a teacher. When he asked his father about which course to take, his father responded: “If you try to sit on two chairs, you will fall between them. For life, you must choose one chair.” Commitment is the key. Choose one chair.

It is absolutely impossible to live a Christian life without having a complete commitment to following Christ.

Commitment is the Key
Until I am committed, there is a hesitancy, a chance to draw back. But the moment I definitely commit myself, then God moves also, and a whole stream of events erupt. All manner of unforeseen incidents, meetings, persons and material assistance which come my way begin to flow toward me - the moment I make a commitment. Quoted by John C. Maxwell in The Recipe for Leadership Injoy Life Club Volume 12 Number 9.

Jesus is on a search for people who will commit their lives to Him. Can He find you among those whose hearts are fully committed to Him?

Focus on the best and refuse to live with anything less. I believe our Creator put us here to thrive and not just survive, but it takes decision and then commitment. First is the becoming, then comes the experiencing. Many are so stopped on the inside, they are not going to experience it on the outside.

It is the START that STOPS most people.

Don’t procrastinate on your commitment. That is delay, putting off of things, not finishing what you started, and not even starting what you said you would.

Procrastination is a stronghold of the evil one. Plain and simple. If you constantly practice this, you may need to get some prayer over it to conquer it!

You may not believe it, but it is... and a tool that he uses to keep us from doing the actions that God has put in our hearts, and will help create our Success.

Why is this such a tool for the evil one? Why do so many people suffer from this?

Simple...

The evil one will do all he can to get us to procrastinate, as it causes a delay in us giving God Glory, and it allows the evil one to control us in a way we are not aware of.

Understand this:

God is a God of Starting, and Finishing. And there is no exception to that.

If we are going to become more Christ-ike, and let our Success mirror the Glory back to Him, then we need to be aware that every time we delay in doing what we know we need to do, we are being manipulated like a puppet by the evil one with his puppeteer strings of Killing, Stealing, and Destroying….manipulating our Success.

There are Seven things that can cause Procrastination (There are more than these, but we will list only 7 for this training today):

1.) "Perfectionism"
2.) "Overwhelm"
3.) "Imagination"
4.) "Fear"
5.) "Habit"
6.) "Over Analyzing"
7.) "Focusing on you being in control, instead of God".

Do you see any of these in you? Or anyone you know? All of these are part of what catalyzes delay, and in doing so, causes a delay in giving God the Glory for the Success He wants for our lives.

Most want to experience success, but they are not willing to commit and pay the price. Be—on the inside, then comes the wealth on the outside. 7 out of 10 people who win millions in the lottery end up broke. Why? They won millions, but they never Be-came a millionaire. Set your sails and relentlessly pursue it. Commitment is the key. Let’s stop our procrastination.

Solomon states in Proverbs, “He who gets wisdom loves his own soul; he who cherishes understanding prospers.” He also says, “Plans fail for lack of counsel, but with many advisers they succeed”. Those two verses are powerful, yet only a small example of wisdom found in the Word of God – teaching that is more relevant today than ever.
God Bless!

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

How Do I Grow My Business?

Every person new to a business has one thing in common with everyone else in that business—every single one was a beginner at one time. Often our excitement and enthusiasm is high, but our knowledge is low. Success is not mysterious.

Success comes from doing the correct things, correctly, long enough. The “long enough” part of this equation is really up to each person. You must stay consistent with your business and commit to doing the right things to grow. It's important that you do the right things because you can be doing things right but if they are not the right things, you can have a very long road to achieving your ultimate goal. I suggest you not let your education hold you hostage and keep you from becoming something other than what God is calling you to do. Don't conform to the world. Be a world changer. Be a leader. Every person has an opportunity to lead and people are desperately seeking leaders to lead them in their journey. As you are in your journey, don't get hung up on the obstacles that come your way, work throught them knowing God put them there to strenghthen you. And remember, the reward is in the person you become when you get to the end of your journey.

Your Dreams

Most of us stop dreaming as adults. It has even been said that most people work hard enough to not get fired, and most employers pay people just enough so they don’t quit. Many people go through most of their adult lives having never given their ABSOLUTE BEST to anything. The good news is that you can change today. No, you can't go back and make a new start but what you can do is change today and make a new ending. You can break out of the pattern of mediocrity and design the life of your dreams.

You need to define your dream. Those who have a clear picture of that dream will be more excited, consistent and persistent. You will consistently take the steps necessary for success as long as you have enough reasons why you want to succeed.

Write down your dreams and share them with someone you trust. Your dreams will fuel your desire, motivation and efforts as you build your business. Dream BIG dreams. Where do you want to be in 3 years? What would your ideal life look like? How big would you dream if you knew you could not fail? Where would you live? Where would you travel? What ministries would you support? What would your income be?

Next, write down your specific income goal for 3 years from today. What will your monthly cashflow be in 3 years? What are your top 3 dreams that this cashflow will help realize?

Next, break down to your 1 year monthly cashflow and your 6 month cashflow.

One final thought on dreams. Protect them . Well meaning friends and family will do their best to steal those dreams. Protect them with a passion as they will be attacked. There are trained recruiters out there trained to recruit others into their world of negativity, pessimism and complaining. They are “dream stealers.” Most of us can identify some family members that have their Masters degree in stealing dreams.

Attitude – setting yourself up to succeed

You must realize that your personal attitude is a choice. A business acquaintance, Ron Acker, posted a powerful email to one of my business Yahoo Groups last week about a woman with 3 hairs, then 2, then 1, and then had no hair. She was thankful that she did not have to fix her hair on that last day. It is about attitude. I think it was Zig who stated, your attitude will determine your altitude. Your responsibility is to choose to be positive and to expect good things to happen. Expect your business to grow. Expect people to want to break free from the bondage of their JOB.

You will find that all the top performers in any business have challenges too. They have good days and challenging days. They experience obstacles, challenges, setbacks and disappointments but they do not let themselves get down. They maintain a positive attitude and positive expectancy. In addition, you must be coachable. Don’t try to reinvent the wheel or as Tim Darnell once shared, don’t always focus on trying to be a fixer. Be a doer.

How do you stay positive with the right attitude? Focus on your dreams and Fuel your dreams with a daily commitment to read good books, get into God’s Word, listen to inspirational audio programs, and associate with positive people. Stay plugged in with a mentor and plug into leadership through phone calls and conferences. Do something every single day to advance your business. Bless people by sharing a Paul Zane Pilzer or a What do you want? CD, share your site via email, post to your blog, connect with business prospects. You will be amazed by the compounding effect over time.

Remember, most people like to associate with positive individuals. Therefore, by cultivating a positive, winning attitude, you will attract the right people.

Many people are looking for ways to do better financially. Many people have a genuine desire for change in their life and yet they don’t know what to do or how to do it. Regardless of the desire whether to get out of debt, send kids to private schools, etc. they are simply looking for a way out or the answer to their prayers.

If the person you are speaking with has a desire for change, you can offer solutions to produce results.

Goals are dreams with deadlines. We use incremental goals to move incrementally towards our dreams. Goals provide direction and focus and are important. Just write them down and have a deadline and if you miss the target, it's okay...it's not like you're passifying some boss.

Goals are the steps that will lead you to realizing your dreams and your ultimate success. Set the right goals that are worthy of your focus, time, effort and energy.

Review your goals for clarity and focus. Keep them in front of you and stay focused, have them on your desk and you will always remember WHY you are building your business.

Counsel with Mentors, it's the only true shortcut to success.

If you evaluate achievers from any walk of life, you will find they have a mentor or coach. Success leaves clues so tap into the experience and wisdom of those who have gone before you. Counsel with the wise and become wise.

Review your time commitments, priorities, activities, and most importantly, results and progress. This is also the place to get help with questions and challenges that you may have. Although you are ultimately responsible for your own success, you're mentor will help you as much as you will allow.

As you build your business, you will find that your success is determined by how many people you can help and influence to become successful. Zig Ziglar says that you can have anything you want in life if you will help enough people get what they want.

Get Started Now….It’s Time for Action

Now is the time for action. As you get into business building action, remember that business needs exposure. Your growth and success will be determined by the number of new people you share your business with on a daily and weekly basis.

Keep it simple:
I Invite people to see what you do, send them to your website
I Share the impact that my business has in my life.
Repeat Often!!!

Your first task is to share your business as I will share my Advantage Conferences business with 5 people in the next 24 hours. No excuses, get into action and have fun. The more you share, the more confident you will become and your business will grow.

Do something positive everyday to grow your business and stay plugged into action.
Continue to lead my example. Remember, business is about duplication. Make sure you are setting the right example. Each day, ask yourself…. "if everyone in my business did what I did today, would my business have grown?"

Keep your business simple and look up for guidance. For God has plans for you, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans for hope and a future.

Be Blessed to Be Blessed.

Thursday, August 2, 2007

A Call To Commitment

I share this message with you expecting it to encourage you to be committed in your walk with Jesus Christ. I was blessed with this message today from one of my Mentors and a brother in Christ, Jack Weinzierl. The message is powerful. I encourage you to follow the words of James 1:22 and "Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says."
Ask me how you can be part of this powerful call.

Be Blessed.

A Call to Commitment by Jack Weinzierl

Dear Heavenly Father, we pray that You would touch us and pour Your Strength into us Lord. Wean us from depending on the world, as we only want to depend on You, as You will always give us the strength we need. Lord shine Your Light of Success on our lives today.

In Jesus' Name we pray, Amen.

Today’s call is about commitment and all of this training can be applied to your business, marriage, family and all aspects of our lives.

I want to introduce you to a mythical church member that I am going to call Kenny. When we first meet Kenny he is attending services at First Church , but he left because the services were too formal, every one on the platform wore a tie. He and his family then wandered over to Grace Church because they had a great choir. But before long, we hear they are “happy” at the Christian Worship Center . But before long they move their membership to the Community Church because of the great Bible teaching. After that the youth program at New Hope catches their eye. Now at least for the moment, they are at the church uptown, at least until something else catching their roving eye. What ever happened to commitment?

Why do you suppose that there are close to 100 million church members in America yet they are not making more of a moral and spiritual impact? Why is that on Sunday morning thousands of churches have more empty pews than full? Why is it that the average Sunday School in America has less than 66 in attendance and that the average worship service has 84? Why is it that only 50% of the number on any church membership roll can be expected to attend? If Christians really believe in a real Heaven and a real hell, how can we be so silent? . . . The answer to all of these questions is tragically simple! God’s people have made a decision about Jesus….but have never made a commitment to Him.” [Charles Stanley]

There is of course a difference between a decision and a commitment. Perhaps this cannot be seen any clearer than it is in the failure rate of marriages in America . According to statistics at least 50% of all marriages will end in divorce. Why do you suppose that is happening? Charles Stanley in his book, Confronting Casual Christianity, says that it is because these couples made a decision but did not make a commitment. Every person who married made a decision! They stood before a preacher and made promises and recited vows. They made a decision, they kissed each other and walked out together to live but not necessarily “happily ever after” and not necessarily together. So why did they divorce? The answer is that they made a decision, but they did not truly commit their lives to each other. But when a couple marries and makes a commitment to one another that is a different story.

The same is true in the church. The reason that the church is not making more of an impact in our society is that many church members made a decision about Christ, but have not made a commitment to Christ.

When the pilot of a giant airline is speeding down the runway, there is a certain point where it staying on the ground is no longer an option. When he crosses that line, he is committed to the air, he will take off or a disastrous crash is imminent. At the point the pilot can no longer change his mind, he is committed.

Unfortunately churches are filled with members who have never got off the ground. They have been sitting there gunning their engines, making noise but getting nowhere. They have been planning on it, meaning to, wanting to, trying to, going to, aiming to, hoping to. But tragedy of tragedies, they have never got off the ground.

I want to challenge you to “get off the ground.” In Romans 12:1-2, the Apostle Paul issues a clear call for commitment when he says, “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. (2) And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.” (NKJV)

The word “present” is a technical Greek word used for offering a sacrifice. This is a voluntary act, it does not say “I command you,” it says “I beseech you or I beg you.” This is something that is completely up to you. He says the motivation is to be, remembering “the mercies of God.” Close you eyes for just a moment think of all that God has done in your life. Think of the “mercies of God” based on what you have received can you really say that you owe him nothing. When we reflect on the goodness of God how can we be anything other than committed.

Today I want you to see with me three clear calls to commitment that every believer has to face. This is based on the supposition that you made more than decision about Christ and that you have already made a personal commitment to Christ.


Commitment to Personal Growth
We are called to commit ourselves as disciples. Disciples are learners. We should never reach a point in life at which we are no longer learners. We never reach a point in life at which we have arrived. The truth is that most believers have never reached past the point that Paul says they have to be fed with milk when they should be ready for meat. (Heb 5:2, 1 Cor 3:2)

Make a commitment to continue to grow spiritually. Take positive steps to do so. Start a Bible reading plan. Set aside time each day to pray. Read good Christian literature. Watch some good Christian programming. Plug Into our Mindset calls every week. Never give up on learning.


Commitment to the Local Body
The author Jerry Bridges comments in an article on commitment, “As I have watched the parade of people through our church, and other churches. I wonder why so few commit themselves to a local body of believers in a significant way. Many sit and soak and do little else, and they flee at the first sign of trouble or pressure. They fail to become involved or to give; the priority for corporate worship falls far down on the list. They criticize all that is wrong with a specific local congregation. . . What can we do besides comment or complain? We need to accept the challenge to commit ourselves to responsible membership.” [Jerry Bridges. Spirit of Revival. “Commitment” (April, 1994) p. 29-30]

The local church is the first level of commitment outside of our personal relationship with the Lord. The local church with all its imperfections is still the Lord’s major avenue through which he accomplishes his work. The church gathers for worship, teaching and fellowship to gain power to carry out the ministry as each member is scattered to their various places of responsibility in the world. The member who “forsakes the assembling together” (Heb 10:25 ) forfeits the power of a corporate identity. But some people just do not see church attendance as a necessity.

They see recreation as a necessity.
They see Yard work as a necessity.
They see Entertaining as a necessity.
They see Viewing sporting events as a necessity.

But church attendance and participation rank with visiting Grandpa’s grave, calling your college roommate and viewing the new wing of the art museum. You have every intention of doing it …., unless of course something else important comes up. In far too many lives, church attendance seems to be relegated to last place. I sometimes think that the Rotary club does a better job of eliciting weekly attendance from it members than the church does. Be In your place!!!!

Commitment to church is deeper than just attendance to the worship services, but it does begin there. But if we are really to get to know the people of our church it will be in the context of involvement in a small group such as a Sunday school class. You will never truly feel a part of this church by attending the Sunday morning services and going home. Be Involved!!!

Commitment to a local church also demands loyalty. When we criticize our church to the outside community we are shooting ourselves in the foot. Who is going to come with you to a church that you have torn down in their hearing? You need to be loyal to the staff and workers of your church. If you have concerns then go directly to the person concerned. No they are not perfect but then neither are you. Do not be guilty of spreading seeds of discontent. Be loyal!!!

Some of you need to make a commitment to get involved in the life of the church. Be faithful to the services. Get involved. Get to know the other people of the church. Invite people outside of your current circle to your home. Be loyal to your church.

Commitment to Ministry
Commitment to a local church means deciding on a church “home” and moving in for a permanent stay. Commitment to the local church also means actively using the talents and gifts to serve in the various ministries of the church. Paul reminds us in Romans 12:6 that “we have different gifts, according to the grace given us.” Ministry means putting those gifts to work. We need to be a part of what the church is doing not just spectators.

Will you make a commitment today? If you have not committed yourself to the Lord, then you need to begin there. Once you have committed yourself to the Lord will you commit yourself to personal growth, institute some practical steps to do so beginning today. Will you commit yourself to your local church? Be in your place. Don’t allow yourself to be distracted from being a part of the church. Be Involved. Commit yourself to begin building some new relationships within the church. Be loyal. You will never get your neighbor to visit a church that you are constantly finding fault with.

Will you make a commitment that you are going to look for opportunities to put your talents and abilities to work? The greatest ability is availability. Don’t wait for someone to ask you, volunteer to help. If we all make those commitments today, the church would be a different place. The church would be what the Lord intended it to be!!!!

Commitment separates the “Doers” from the “Dreamers”

Foundational Scripture:
Psalms 37:5 Commit thy way unto the LORD; trust also in him; and he shall bring it to pass.
Proverbs 16:3 Commit thy works unto the LORD, and thy thoughts shall be established.

Let’s establish “just what is commitment” this afternoon. We will find out just how vital commitment is in our everyday relationships. We can not be successful in life, nor can we be successful Christians without commitment. I hope to expose areas that we need to commit afresh and anew, and then teach on how to identify areas in which we can strengthen our level of commitment.

The difference in a contribution and total commitment is usually the difference in failure and success.

Many have heard this story, but it fits in so well with what we are addressing today.

A chicken and a hog were walking past a church building one day when they noticed the Sunday morning sermon posted on the outside bulletin board, "Helping the Poor." They walked a ways when the chicken suddenly came across with a suggestion. "Say, Brother Hog, why don’t we give all the poor people a nice breakfast of ham and eggs?" The hog thought a moment and replied, "That’s all right for you to say because for you it is only a contribution, but for me, it’s total commitment!"

Here are a couple definitions--
Commit = Bind oneself to a pledge. Entrust to another’s care
Commitment = A pledge based upon honor

The world has never seen a leader who lacked commitment. Commitment gives us new power. No matter what comes to us – sickness, poverty, or disaster – we never turn our eye from the goal.

What is commitment? To each person, it means something different; however the principle remains the same.

1. To the Boxer, it’s getting off the mat one time more than you’ve been knocked down.
2. To the marathoner, it’s running another ten miles when your strength is gone.
3. To the soldier, it’s going over the hill, not knowing what’s waiting on the other side, with reckless abandon to self, yet committed to a cause.
4. To the missionary, it’s saying good-bye to your own comfort to make life better for others.
5. To the Christian Entrepreneur, it’s all that and more because everyone who is watching your life is depending upon you to get back up again, run that ten miles more, to display courage when faced with the unknown, and to die to self for the betterment of others.

Example: There is no such thing as partial commitment. When the pilot of a giant airliner is speeding down the runway, there is a certain point where he cannot decide to remain on the ground. When he crosses that line, he is committed to the air, or the plane crashes disastrously. That pilot cannot change his mind when the plane is two-thirds of the way down the runway.

The True Nature of Commitment
A. Commitment Starts in the Heart

1. Some want everything to be perfect before they’re willing to commit themselves to anything.
2. True commitment always precedes achievement.
3. It is said that concerning the Kentucky Derby, the winning horse effectively runs out of oxygen after the first half mile, and he goes the rest of the way on heart.
4. Michael Jordan stated, “heart is what separates the good from the great. If you really want to make a difference in other people’s lives as a Christian, look into your heart to see if you’re really committed.

B. Commitment is always tested by action

1. It’s one thing to talk about commitment. It’s another to do something about it. Commitment “separates the doers from the dreamers”
2. The only real measure of commitment is action.

Quote: Arthur Gordon acknowledged, “Nothing is easier than saying words. Nothing is harder than living them day after day.”

Example: Someone told me about a newly elected judge who had won office in a special county election. During his acceptance speech, he said, “I wish to thank the 424 people who promised to vote for me. I wish to thank the 316 people who said that they did vote for me. I wish to thank the 47 people who came out to vote last Thursday, and I wish to thank the 26 folks who actually did vote for me.”

As a Christian entrepreneur, you will face plenty of obstacles and oppositions – if you haven’t already. And there will be times when commitment is the only thing that carries you forward. If you want to get anywhere worthwhile, you must be committed.
C. When it comes to commitment, there are really only four types of people:

1. Cop-outs. People who have no goals and do not commit.
2. Hold-outs: People who don’t know if they can reach their goals, so they’re afraid to commit.
3. Drop-outs: People who start toward a goal but quit when the going gets tough.
4. All-outs: People who set goals, commit to them, and pay the price to reach them.

III. How Do I Improve My Level of Commitment?

A. We Must measure it.

1. We may truly believe we are committed to our business and walk, yet our actions indicate otherwise.
2. Spend a few hours tallying up how you spend your time and where you spend your money. Look at how much time you spend with your business, in service with family, in health and recreation activities, and so forth. Figure out how much money you spent on living expenses, entertainment, personal development, and giving.
3. All these are true measures of your commitment. You may be surprised by what you find.

B. Know what’s worth dying for.

1. One of the questions that every Christian must ask is “What am I willing to die for?”
2. If it came down to it, what in life would you not be able to stop doing, no matter what the consequences were? Spend time alone meditating on that thought. Write down what you discover. Then see if that matches your Christian ideals. Would you die for your faith?, your marriage?

C. Use the Edison method.

1. If taking the first step toward commitment is a problem, try doing what Thomas Edison did. When he had a good idea for an invention, he would call a conference to announce it. Then he’d go into his lab and invent it.
2. Make your plans public, and you might be more committed to following through with them.
At this end of the call, you will have the opportunity to make your commitment public and then follow up on the Yahoo Group. Put it in writing. Put yourself out there.

Our culture is one that does not see commitment as something of importance any more. Here are just a few statistics to prove my point.

Signs of Reduced Commitments in Life ( America 1990)
1. The divorce rate is climbing: half of all new marriages end in divorce
2. Adults feel that they have fewer close friends than did adults in past decades
3. Brand loyalty in consumer purchasing studies has dropped in most product categories, and by as much as 60% in some categories.
4. The proportion of people willing to join an organization is declining in relation to churches, labor unions, political parties, clubs and community associations.
5. Book clubs and record clubs are less likely to attract new members when multiple year or multi-product commitments were required.
6. The percentage of adults who sense a duty to fight for their country, regardless of the cause, has dropped.
7. The percentage of people who commit to attend events but fail to show is on the rise
8. Today’s parents are less likely to believe that it is important to remain in an unhappy marriage for the sake of the children than they were 20 years ago.
Cited from The Frog in the Kettle by George Barna

Jesus is on a great search for people who will make an unswerving commitment to follow Him. Open your Bibles to Luke 9:57-62.

57 As they were walking along the road, a man said to him, "I will follow you wherever you go." 58 Jesus replied, "Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head." 59 He said to another man, "Follow me." But the man replied, "Lord, first let me go and bury my father." 60 Jesus said to him, "Let the dead bury their own dead, but you go and proclaim the kingdom of God ." 61 Still another said, "I will follow you, Lord; but first let me go back and say good-by to my family." 62 Jesus replied, "No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God ."

There is a problem with mere involvement—

The first man in this passage makes a very powerful and profound promise to Jesus that he would follow Him wherever he went. I believe that the man was sincere, he wanted to follow Jesus, he wanted to be a part of what Jesus was doing, and he wanted to make a difference. All of these things are good things that might motivate some of us, but I want you to understand something extremely clear the desire to serve must also be coupled with the right reason for serving.

It would seem that the man described here was willing to be involved with the ministry of Jesus and there was nothing wrong with that other than the fact that Jesus was looking for something more. Jesus was looking for a total and full commitment.

The sad reality is that most people settle for being involved without ever making a commitment. The pun about the chicken and the pig is funny but how close to home does that hit when we honestly look at the commitments we have made in our lives.
There is a massive difference between being involved and being committed. Being involved means that you can do what you want, as you want and when you feel like doing it. Commitment means that you are at the call 24 hours a day, seven days a week and 365 days a year.
To make the decision to just being involved, and it is a decision, is one that creates a system of cheating. We cheat God of giving Him our very best, we cheat others of what we have to offer and we cheat ourselves of the blessings of Christ that come only when we become committed. Far too often we settle for being involved in the work of Christ and never actually making a commitment to it.

Commitment is what Jesus is looking for in all of our lives and He wants us to have the desire to serve Him not just on Sunday morning but each and every day that we draw breath.

Let’s use an example from right here in the life of the church. If you make the decision to show up on Sunday morning and that is the limit to your commitment, you will never truly grow deeper in your walk with God.

Why do I say this? It takes giving of yourself to the work and ministry of Christ to have a growing relationship with Him. It takes a desire to study and know the Word of God to become deeper in your walk with Him. It takes a desire to put our priorities in line with God’s priorities. This means that He is first and foremost in your life. Anything that comes between you and God in nothing more than a stumbling block in your spiritual life.

The Problem of misplaced priorities

The second man is called to follow Jesus but asks to go and bury his father. The response we see here almost makes Jesus seem cruel because Jesus says to let the dead bury the dead. What is going on here?

1. There is nothing wrong with caring for your family because your family is a gift from God and you are instructed by scripture to take care of them. Jesus is driving at the issue of priority. Jesus wants us to make Him first in our lives and no other place will do.
2. Jesus wanted the man to understand the urgent nature of His mission
Jesus came into this world to save us from the power of sin and death. The mission of the church should be the same, to reach a lost and dying world with the message of saving grace through Jesus. However, we get so busy with “church work” that we never seem to get to the real work of sharing the gospel with others. Jesus wanted the man to understand that there was an urgency to winning lost people. It is an urgency that I believe that most churches have lost.
We must understand that, if we are truly going to follow Christ, we must get our hands dirty in the work of outreach. There is a lost and dying world out there that needs the hope that we have in Christ.

Our greatest problem in the church today is that we have misplaced our focus onto programs and policy instead of placing it on ministry and people. If we fail to reach people, we are not failing the church or the denomination; we are doing nothing but failing Christ Himself.

The Problem of misdirected focus
The third man that comes to Jesus makes a reasonable request to go back and say good-by to his family and again Jesus makes a statement that sounds rather harsh when He tells the man that he is not fit to follow. Why does Jesus do this?

Notice what the man says to Jesus, but first let me go back and say good-by to my family. We read this and think nothing of what is being said here other than a simple request. However, there is something deeper here than the request. The fact that is so often overlooked here is that the man had his first commitment to someone other than Jesus.

We are often guilty of this very act. There are far too many times that we allow something or someone to draw us away from a deeper relationship with Christ. We sometimes allow family commitments to draw us from church. We sometimes allow work commitments to draw us from our time reading the Bible. We allow simple intrusions to draw us from times of prayer.

We are much like this man because we are far too often focused on what we lose by following Jesus. Instead I believe that we should take a careful look at everything that we gain by following Jesus. We gain His presence, His peace and His power.

Luciano Pavarotti tells the story about how he made the choice to be a singer. At a young age his father introduced him to singing and he took to it with great skill and enthusiasm. At one time in Pavarotti’s life he was enrolled in both vocal lessons from a professional tenor and college studies to be a teacher. When he graduated from school he faced a dilemma to either become a singer or to become a teacher. When he asked his father about which course to take, his father responded: “If you try to sit on two chairs, you will fall between them. For life, you must choose one chair.” Commitment is the key. Choose one chair.

It is absolutely impossible to live a Christian life without having a complete commitment to following Christ.

Commitment is the Key
Until I am committed, there is a hesitancy, a chance to draw back. But the moment I definitely commit myself, then God moves also, and a whole stream of events erupt. All manner of unforeseen incidents, meetings, persons and material assistance which come my way begin to flow toward me - the moment I make a commitment. Quoted by John C. Maxwell in The Recipe for Leadership Injoy Life Club Volume 12 Number 9.

Jesus is on a search for people who will commit their lives to Him. Can He find you among those whose hearts are fully committed to Him?

Focus on the best and refuse to live with anything less. I believe our Creator put us here to thrive and not just survive, but it takes decision and then commitment. First is the becoming, then comes the experiencing. Many are so stopped on the inside, they are not going to experience it on the outside.

It is the START that STOPS most people.

Don’t procrastinate on your commitment. That is delay, putting off of things, not finishing what you started, and not even starting what you said you would.

Procrastination is a stronghold of the evil one. Plain and simple. If you constantly practice this, you may need to get some prayer over it to conquer it!

You may not believe it, but it is... and a tool that he uses to keep us from doing the actions that God has put in our hearts, and will help create our Success.

Why is this such a tool for the evil one? Why do so many people suffer from this?

Simple...

The evil one will do all he can to get us to procrastinate, as it causes a delay in us giving God Glory, and it allows the evil one to control us in a way we are not aware of.

Understand this:

God is a God of Starting, and Finishing. And there is no exception to that.

If we are going to become more Christ-like, and let our Success mirror the Glory back to Him, then we need to be aware that every time we delay in doing what we know we need to do, we are being manipulated like a puppet by the evil one with his puppeteer strings of Killing, Stealing, and Destroying….manipulating our Success.

There are Seven things that can cause Procrastination (There are more than these, but we will list only 7 for this training today):

1.) "Perfectionism"
2.) "Overwhelm"
3.) "Imagination"
4.) "Fear"
5.) "Habit"
6.) "Over Analyzing"
7.) "Focusing on you being in control, instead of God".

Do you see any of these in you? Or anyone you know? All of these are part of what catalyzes delay, and in doing so, causes a delay in giving God the Glory for the Success He wants for our lives.

Most want to experience success, but they are not willing to commit and pay the price. Be—on the inside, then comes the wealth on the outside. 7 out of 10 people who win millions in the lottery end up broke. Why? They won millions, but they never Be-came a millionaire. Set your sails and relentlessly pursue it. Commitment is the key. Let’s stop our procrastination.

Solomon states in Proverbs, “He who gets wisdom loves his own soul; he who cherishes understanding prospers.” He also says, “Plans fail for lack of counsel, but with many advisers they succeed”. Those two verses are powerful, yet only a small example of wisdom found in the Word of God – teaching that is more relevant today than ever.

God Bless,

Albert "PeeWee" Surovik
Advantage Conferences
Christian Entrepreneur
Caldwell, Tx (New Tabor)

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