My reading goal for the beginning of 2011 is to finish all of the books I started simultaneously in 2010. Moreover, I am trying to finish all of these books before starting any new ones (a task which is proving very difficult and less and less appealing the more books I encounter that look really good!). The books in progress are:
- Soul Craving by Joel Warne (finished reading this on vacation)
- No Man Is An Island by Thomas Merton
- No Little People by Francis Schaeffer
- Because He Loves Me by Elyse Fitzpatrick
- Kiss Me Again by Barbara Wilson
- The Traveler’s Gift by Andy Andrews (just finished this 2 days ago)
I have mentioned how much I enjoyed Soul Craving before but since I just finished The Traveler’s Gift, I wanted to share what I got out of it. While I love reading and am constantly tempted to read books so fast that I don’t retain hardly anything of what I read, I am trying to be intentional about taking a little time after finishing each book to go back through and write down/think about the points that stood out most to me. So that’s where these thoughts came from.
This book is not a Christian book, though it pretends that it is. It mentions God several times and even quotes a few Bible verses but the Seven Decisions that Determine Personal Success effectively leave God out completely, while borrowing Biblical principles. How convenient. And how tragic. The way I see it, philosophies about life like these (including Buddhism, Taoism, and Islam) lay out all these great principles but don’t address the 2 biggest issues facing mankind: 1) sin and 2) the power to change.
These issues are actually very much related. Because of the pervasiveness of sin, we need Someone outside of ourselves to redeem us from our sins, as well as empower us to change. (The links I added explain what I mean by these terms more thoroughly.) In light of those beliefs, I took the liberty of adapting the Seven Decisions that Determine Personal Success to have a Biblical foundation. I believe that I still captured the essence of each Decision. I have included the author’s wording of each Decision in brackets.
1. [The buck stops here.]
Act with integrity. Trust that God can and will use you and your past for His glory. Be bold in your decisions, led by the Spirit, even if they’re socially unpopular. “Let steadfastness have its effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing” (James 1:4).
2. [I will seek wisdom.]
Use discernment and be intentional about how you live. Bad company corrupts good character. Seek wisdom but “be not wise in your own eyes; fear the LORD, and turn away from evil” (Prov. 3:7). “Through love serve one another” (Galatians 5:13).
3. [I am a person of action.]
Beginning today, I have a new future because I am a new creation. I inspire others when I live for God’s glory by being true to who He has created me to be. I will make the best use of my days because they are gifts from God. Because my future in Christ is secure, I can move forward into each day with joy and energy. I have the Spirit of Christ in me to guide and instruct my decisions. I can be confident in my future because I know that God works all things together for the good of those who love Him (Romans 8:28).
4. [I have a decided heart.]
I have staked my heart and life on Christ and the Gospel. I am passionate about God. I will awaken every morning with an excitement about the new day God has given me and the opportunity for growth and change. My thoughts and actions will work in a forward motion a la the Apostle Paul in Philippians 3:12-14 — never sliding into the dark forest of doubt or the muddy quicksand of self-pity, by the grace of God. I will lay my head on my pillow at night happily exhausted, knowing that I gave my all in service to my Lord and accomplished the work He gave me to do. God has given me a unique dream and vision and I glorify Him by pursuing that dream with vigor, persistence, and faith.
5. [Today I will choose to be happy.]
Today I will choose to be happy because of what Christ has done for me on the cross. I will choose to be thankful for all things; to focus on things that are encouraging, uplifting, and Christ-centered; and to love others. Enthusiasm is faith in action because it trusts God for the success of its actions. I will smile at others and seek to be a blessing to them. I will be slow to anger and quick to listen.
6. [I will greet this day with a forgiving spirit.]
I will forgive others as Christ has forgiven me. I will forgive those who don’t deserve it, don’t ask for it, and don’t even want it. I will cultivate a forgiving spirit by spending time getting to know my Savior more and more. I will die to myself and my selfish desires. I will kill bitterness, conquer resentment, and eradicate revenge through the power of the Spirit. I will forgive myself for failing to be what I want to be, finding hope and redemption in my Savior, Jesus Christ. I will trust in Him to conform me to His image.
7. [I will persist without exception.]
I will press on toward the goal of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. I will not grow weary in doing good, for I believe that I will reap abundantly in due season. I must not allow myself to get discouraged or be derailed by trials and struggles. I must keep “looking to Jesus” and “run with endurance the race that is set before” me (Hebrews 12). I will endure; I will remain steadfast under trial because of the joy set before me: heaven and perfect unity with God. As a child of God, I must rise above the status quo and dare to do improbable, even impossible, things because “this I know, that God is for me” (Psalm 56:9).
As I read and re-read these statements, they become my prayer to God. I know that in myself, I do not have the power to effect this change in my life. But He does. He has a plan for me, He knows where He is leading me, and it is through an intimate relationship with Him that I discover myself, my purpose, and my potential. I hope these words encourage you as well.