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Monday, November 2, 2009

Do the dirty work!

Life takes work! The old cliche says that life is what you make it. For the majority of my life, I spent it just "ditty-bopping along," not really heading anywhere, or having any sense of goals. I had no target I was aiming at. And, as Zig Ziglar says, "when you aim at nothing, you'll hit it every time."
This entry deals with the concept that you have to set goals, and you have to do whatever it takes to achieve those goals. If you want to achieve some sense of financial stability, you have to make out a budget. It will not come by being suckered by some pitchman on late night TV saying that wealth is guaranteed if you buy his system. It will not come by wasting money on gambling. It will not come by wishful thinking, and complaining about your circumstances.It comes by systematically giving, saving, and investing.
If you want to experience a healthy relationship with God, you have to do the dirty work. Now, let me be clear. I am not in any way, shape, or form suggesting that you work hard to make yourself acceptable to God. Paul said that if you confess Jesus Christ as Lord, and believe in your heart that He raised Jesus from the dead, you are already accepted by God. What I am suggesting is that in order to cultivate that relationship, you need to spend time listening to God through His Word, by talking to God in prayer, and by spending time with others to be strengthened in your faith. It may involve waking up early to spend some time alone in the presence of God. It may involve helping out someone in need, and not pointing to yourself as a model of spirituality. It may involve delaying immediate pleasure for the sake of bringing others to Christ through giving to the work of Christ's kingdom, instead of that new bass boat.
If you want a healthy marriage, then it will DEFINITELY take work. It will mean turning off the tube, and tuning into your spouse. It will mean budgeting in date night, at least once a month, if not more often. It may mean a weekend marriage retreat to reconnect with your spouse, instead of a weekend fishing trip with the guys (or weekend shopping trip with the girls).
In each of these examples, there is the thread of sacrifice. We may have to give something, possibly something that is good, in order to get something better. We may have to give up the brand new car, and drive around an old paid-for beater, so we can get out of debt. It may involve going to bed earlier, and missing Letterman or Conan, so we can get up earlier to spend time with God. It may involve missing the big game to take our wives out to dinner. But, when it's all said and done, the life we have will be far superior to any that our plans might have resulted in. As a conclusion, I would like to quote Dave Ramsey, one of my favorite authors. He often says, "if you live like no one else, later you can live like no one else." What this means is short-term sacrifices can lead to huge long-term dividends.