Stretching to the Next Level
The famous architect Frank Lloyd Wright designed many beautiful buildings, homes, and other magnificent structures. Toward the end of his career, a reporter asked him, “Of your many beautiful designs, which one is your favorite?”
Without missing a beat, Frank Lloyd Wright answered, “My next one.”
Frank Lloyd Wright understood the principle of stretching, constantly pressing forward, never being satisfied simply with past successes. The entire world is waiting for your next adventure.
Too many people are living far below their potential. They have many gifts and talents, and so much more going for them. But they’ve gotten comfortable, settled where they are, and lately become too easily satisfied.
“I’ve gone as far as my parents did.” That’s great, but God wants you to go further. He’s a progressive God, and He wants every generation to be increasing in happiness, success, and significance. No matter where we are in life, God has more in store. He never wants us to quit growing. We should always be reaching for new heights in our abilities, in our spiritual walk, in our finances, careers, and personal relationships. We all have areas where we can come up higher. We may have achieved a certain level of success, but there are always new challenges, other mountains to climb. There are new dreams and goals that we can pursue.
Give Your Dreams a New Beginning
You need to hang around other dreamers—not daydreamers, but people with big goals, people who plan to do something significant with their lives. Hang around people who are going to help you become all God created you to be.
God is saying this is a time of new beginnings. Get your fire back. Get your passion back. You may have been sick a long time, but this is your day to get well. You may have struggled with depression and discouragement, but this is the time to break free. You may come from a family of defeat, failure, and negativism, but this is your time to rise above that morass.
Start stretching your faith once again. Get up each morning expecting good things to happen. And remember, God is on your side. He loves you. He’s for you. The Scripture says, “If you put your trust in him, you will not be disappointed.”
The Power of Your Bloodline
In horse racing, the “blood stock agent” focuses his attention on the animal’s bloodline. He or she will spend months studying a particular line of horses, researching the lineage. The blood stock agent will examine how the horse’s father fared as a racer, how long his stride was, how fast he could run, what size he was, and on and on. The breeders understand that winners don’t randomly happen. Winning is in the blood.
Simply to breed one of these world champion thoroughbreds can cost up to half a million dollars. And there’s no guarantee that the colt will win. In fact, when that newborn colt is born, his legs are all wobbly, he can barely stand up, and his eyes are glazed. The uninformed observer might say, “Those poor owners wasted their money. That horse couldn’t win anything. He looks like an average, ordinary horse.”
But the owners know that on the inside, in his blood, that colt has a legacy of championship genes. In fact, he may have a dozen world champions on the inside. It’s all in the blood. That’s why the owners are not necessarily concerned about the colt’s initial weakness. They don’t really care what color he is, how pretty he is, or even how large he is. They know that deep down on the inside, that colt has the blood of a winner.
Breaking Free from the Strongholds of Your Past
It is startling but true: The decisions we make today don’t simply affect ourselves; they affect our children and our children’s children for multiplied generations. The Bible talks about how the iniquity of the fathers can be passed down for three or four generations. That means bad habits, addictions, negativity, wrong mind-sets and other types of iniquities can be passed down.
Perhaps you are struggling in certain areas right now because people who came before you made poor choices. Many times, you can look back and see the results of those choices somewhere in your family line. It is important that we recognize what has happened and that we not passively accept these negative patterns. “Well, this is just the way I am. This poverty and sickness has been in my family for years.”
No, you need to rise up and do something about it. It may have been there for years, but the good news is it doesn’t have to stay there. You can be the one to put a stop to it. You can be the one to choose the blessing and not the curse.
Stop Listening to Accusing Voices
Granted, no human being is perfect. We’ve all sinned, failed, and made mistakes. But many people don’t know they can receive God’s mercy and forgiveness. Instead, they allow themselves to be beaten up on the inside. They tune in to that voice telling them, “You blew it. You messed up.” They are so hard on themselves. Instead of believing that they’re growing and improving, they believe that voice telling them, “You can’t do anything right. You’ll never break this habit. You’re just a failure.” When they wake up in the morning, a voice is telling them what they did wrong yesterday and how they’ll probably do something wrong today. As a result, they become extremely critical toward themselves, and that usually spills over to other people as well.
If we’re going to live in peace with ourselves, we must learn to put our foot down and say, “I may not be perfect, but I know I’m growing. I may have made mistakes, but I know I am forgiven. I have received God’s mercy.”
Making Your Words Work for You
One of the best ways that we can improve our self-image is with our words. Words are like seeds. They have creative power. It says in Isaiah that “We will eat the fruit of our words.” That’s amazing when you stop to consider that truth: Our words tend to produce what we’re saying.
Every day, we should make positive declarations over our lives. We should say things such as, “I am blessed. I am prosperous. I am healthy. I am talented. I am creative. I am wise.” When we do that, we are building up our self-image. As those words permeate your heart and mind, and especially your subconscious mind, eventually they will begin to change the way you see yourself.
The Scripture says, “With our tongue, we can either bless our life or we can curse our life.”
Being Good to People
Get up in the morning with the attitude, “Who can I be a blessing to today? Who can I encourage? Where is there a need that I can meet?”
We hear a lot about success and about the good things that God wants to do for us, but let’s not forget we are blessed, so we can be a blessing. We are blessed so we can share God’s goodness wherever we go. If you want to make an impact on somebody’s life, you don’t necessarily have to preach a sermon to that person; just be good to them. Your actions will speak much louder than your words. You can say, “I love you and I care about you,” but we demonstrate true love by what we do.
If I love you, I’ll go out of my way to help you. If I love you, I’ll give you a ride to work or school, even though I have to get up earlier than usual to do it. If I love you, I’ll babysit your children when I know that you’re not feeling well. True love turns words and feelings into action.
Develop a Habit of Happiness
The Bible says, “Rejoice in the Lord always.”
One translation simply says, “Be happy all the time.” That means no matter what comes our way, we can have smiles on our faces. We should get up each morning excited about that day. Even if we are facing difficult or negative circumstances, we need to learn to keep a positive outlook. Many people are waiting for their circumstances to be worked out before they decide to be happy. “Joel, as soon as I get a better job; as soon as my child straightens up; as soon as my health improves.”
No, the bottom line is if you’re going to be happy, you need to make a decision to be happy right now.
Happiness does not depend on your circumstances; it depends on your will. It’s a choice that you make. I’ve seen people go through some of the most awful, unfortunate situations, yet at the time you would never know they were having a problem. They had a smile on their face and a good report on their lips. In spite of their dire dilemmas, they remained positive, upbeat, and energetic.
Dealing with the Root Issues
Too many people never really look inside and get honest with themselves. They don’t get down to the root of the problem. Instead, they simply deal with the fruit, the surface issues. They may be negative, or they can’t get along in relationships. Perhaps they have low self-esteem, severe financial problems, or some other chronic problem. They try to improve their behavior, and that is admirable, but many times their efforts produce only temporary results because they refuse to deal with the bad root. Consequently, they continue to produce bad fruit.
The Bible teaches that we should not let a root of bitterness spring forth and contaminate our whole lives. It’s like having a weed out in your front yard. You can pull that weed, but if you merely clip it off at the surface, you are not really getting down to the roots. A couple of days later, you look out in your yard, and you have that same weed to deal with again.
For lasting, positive change, you must go deeper and not merely look at what you do, but ask yourself, “What is the root of this problem?” “Why do I act this way?” “Why am I out of control in this area?” “Why am I always so defensive?” “Why do I feel that I must repeatedly prove myself to everybody?”
Only as you get to the root and start dealing with the source of the problem can you realistically expect positive changes.