|Life Skills book cover art by Joe Chiappetta is also available to collect as an NFT on AtomicHub.|
Level-Up with Biblical Principles for Life to the Full
© Joe Chiappetta, 8/19/2022, Riverside, California. Updated 1/23/2023
This book is used as part of the Life Skills workshop that my wife, Denise, and I teach in the City of Angels International Christian Church. During in-person classes, these lessons have helped us, along with hundreds of people to put God at the complete center of our lives, surrounded by good management of health, time, money and career.
|Life Wheels is rare digital art by Joe Chiappetta, available on AtomicHub. As a fast and faithful vehicle to get you victoriously through the rough terrains of this earth, the way is much smoother in the sporty velocity of Life Wheels. This artwork is more than just artwork of a muscle car. It also represents a life skills teaching diagram. Just as a car cannot move forward for long without one of its wheels, the same goes for life. Learning to be as responsible as we can with our health, money, time and career is best accomplished when we wisely and consistently wrap all these elements around our relationship with God.|
Table of ContentsFaith and Deeds
Some Pain Is Good
Breath of Life Skills
Crucified Life Skills
Discipline of Life Skills
Overcome Goal Opposition
Strength to Strength
Wisdom into Skill
Career Networking Beyond Your Comfort Zone
Prosper in Perspective
Survive the Beating
Put Money to Work
Response to Ongoing Pain
The Business of Forgiveness
The Sword of Life Skills
Commanded to Level Up
Growing in categories of (a) Good Health, (b) Time Management, (c) Money Management, and your (d) Career will take faith and deeds. For Christians, life skills is the discipline of layering these categories together with Biblical concepts to create a leveled-up state of effectiveness.
Take the category of "career," for example. I can recall a former job I had where I performed terribly while also making poor health choices. Not surprisingly, at the time I had no belief (faith) that the job mattered. Plus I had no faith that I could become a healthier person. This led to me wasting a lot of time feeling sorry for myself as well as wasting money on temporary comforts and aimless distractions.
Notice that without appropriate faith and deeds, every one of my layers of life skills were neglected and mismanaged: career, health, time, and money. For me, it produced a dark period in my existence that I would never want to relive. Gratefully, God provides actionable solutions to escape such dead-end periods. It all comes down to appropriate faith... and deeds.
 What good is it, my brothers, if a man claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save him?  Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food.  If one of you says to him, “Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it?  In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.
 But someone will say, “You have faith; I have deeds.” Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by what I do.  You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that—and shudder.
 You foolish man, do you want evidence that faith without deeds is useless?  Was not our ancestor Abraham considered righteous for what he did when he offered his son Isaac on the altar?  You see that his faith and his actions were working together, and his faith was made complete by what he did.  And the scripture was fulfilled that says, “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness,” and he was called God's friend.  You see that a person is justified by what he does and not by faith alone.
 In the same way, was not even Rahab the prostitute considered righteous for what she did when she gave lodging to the spies and sent them off in a different direction?  As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without deeds is dead.
- What you do (your deeds) and how effective you do at it, is a large part of what makes up your life skills.
- The terms "deeds," "do," "does," "did," and "action(s)" are mentioned 13 times here.
- How important is appropriate action (verse 17, 22)?
- What is it that completes our faith (verse 22)?
- Appropriate actions (what we do at the right times) are life skills. So life skills "complete" our faith.
- How many times is death associated with faith but no deeds? (Verse 17, 26)
- Notice the simple yet deadly subtraction formula here. Faith - Deeds = Dead Faith.
- It takes deliberate effort to match your deeds with your faith. It is a skill of life.
- Faith + Deeds = True Life.
- What do Abraham and Rahab both have in common? They both leveled-up by faith + deeds.
- Faith + Deeds = Life Leveled-Up
- Since "faith without deeds is useless" (verse 20), and “useless” carries 0 utility, we can make this formula: Faith - Deeds = 0.
- What’s the utility of your faith? Start counting your relevant deeds.
- Will you surge or slump in faith + action?
- How much will you fight for your faith plus your level of diligence toward the actions needed?
- That's faith and deeds working in harmony. These 2 characteristics must work together, or they both become ineffective.
- Life Skills is about having the wholeness (integrity) of being reverently centered in our relationship with God while wisely managing our health, time, money, career, and any other area in a way that pleases God.
- Time to level up with faith and deeds!
- To level up in life's skills, show your faith (verse 18) by what you practically do.
- What will you show of your faith by what you do?
- Would your boss (or teacher) commend you for your deeds?
- Would a nutritionist commend you for the deeds of your diet?
- Would a physical trainer commend you for the deeds of your workout?
- Would God commend you for how you are using the time he gave you?
- In the area of health, or time management, or career, or finances, write down 1 pressing thing you know (and believe) you need to take action on.
- Get your faith to the point that you completely believe your actions will be blessed by God.
- Schedule that action right now, and/or get it done right now.
- For example, let's say you know you need to see a doctor about an increasingly uncomfortable health issue. Call the doctor's office right now to schedule the appointment.
- This week, do the deed of talking to someone successful in the career you want to be in. Ask them for tips in breaking into that career path. How do you contact such a person? (a) Make a cold call (or in-person company visit) asking for a 3-minute informational interview. (b) Go to a networking event or tradeshow in that industry. (c) Ask your friends if they know anyone in your industry of interest.
Yes indeed, I (along with my wife) currently teach a class called "Life Skills" on an ongoing basis. That irony rarely escapes me. I say that because in exactly every one of the categories focused on in Life Skills, I have failed miserably and repeatedly long before having any degree of success.
|Praying Face Down is rare digital art by Joe Chiappetta, available on AtomicHub. This hands-up, face-down praying position was drawn as one continuous contour line drawing. That brown single line signifies how we can become one with Jesus through a lifestyle of prayer, which unlocks additional life skills.|
 “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
- What does it mean to be poor in spirit?
- Why does Jesus say this is a desirable life skill?
- Who does God bless?
- The spiritual beggars.
- What are you begging God for in your prayer times?
- What are you begging for spiritual help about from other faithful and responsible people? Have you taken their advice?
- Praying is a life skill that unlocks new life skills.
- Beg God for good health and a career, as well as wisdom in how to manage your time and money.
 What the wicked dreads will overtake him; what the righteous desire will be granted.
- Who does God fulfill the desires of?
- Are your life skills behaviors (health, time management, money management, employment pursuits) more righteous or wicked?
- Is there something you are dreading? If your behavior is wicked, what you dread will come true!
- Beg God for his righteousness (and do what he says the righteous must do) to have your desires met.
 For this reason I kneel before the Father,  from whom his whole family in heaven and on earth derives its name.  I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being,  so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love,  may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ,  and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.
- Why does Paul pray on his knees?
- Begging position.
- Verse 18, 19. What does being “filled to the measure of all the fullness of God” mean?
- Needs to be power in what you do. To be effective, beg for it.
- Pray on your knees daily for your (a) relationship with God, (b) time management, (c) career, (d) health, and (e) money management.
- Don't have breakfast before completing time in prayer and reading the Bible. Together, those actions can be known as a "quiet time."
- For those who don't have daily morning quiet times, put your quiet time in your calendar.
- For those unemployed or underemployed, humbly ask employers in-person or at least by phone, to hire you.
|Time Mobiles is rare digital art by Joe Chiappetta, available on AtomicHub. Like a car with only 1 tank of gasoline, I drew this as a reminder that our own time is a limited, non-renewable, and valuable resource that we must navigate and utilize wisely.|
 Teach us to number our days aright, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.
- How do we learn life skills from God? We need God to "teach us..." life skills by comparing life situations to examples in the Bible. That means we need to know our Bibles better.
- Align the hours of your day with what the Holy Spirit wants you to do with your time.
- How can we "number our days aright?"
- Infuse a godly structure and order to daily routine.
- Don't just do whatever feels right in the moment.
- Have a purpose to the hours of each day.
- What's one result of godly time management? "A heart of wisdom."
 “Settle matters quickly with your adversary who is taking you to court. Do it while you are still with him on the way, or he may hand you over to the judge, and the judge may hand you over to the officer, and you may be thrown into prison.  I tell you the truth, you will not get out until you have paid the last penny.
- Don’t let urgent matters linger.
- “Settle matters quickly.” Think of how much freer you would be if you stopped procrastinating.
- Gain wisdom to understand what cannot wait.
- Stop right now and ask a person who knows you what is the most pressing matter for you to address this week?
- If you have urgent matters, do you really have time to be lazy?
 If your right eye causes you to sin, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell.
- Cut off unproductive activities.
- Make a list of unproductive activities.
- What behaviors are you ready to throw away?
 Simply let your ‘Yes' be ‘Yes,' and your ‘No,' ‘No'; anything beyond this comes from the evil one.
- When you agree to be somewhere at a certain time, that’s a “Yes” answer. Don’t be late.
- When committing to do something (“Yes”), map out what it takes to get it done.
- These things take reallocation of time.
- What if God said, "Yes, I will save you," yet because he was very busy, never made the time to put your name in the book of life?
- Jesus also gives us the liberty to say "No," and mean it. It means that there are times it is godly to say "No."
- Are you doing things under your "Yes" answer, but you really mean "No," and your heart is not into the activity? Then you may find yourself pleasing people, but not God.
- What are some examples of when it is completely righteous to say "No," and mean it?
- Pop Quiz: What could go wrong when scheduling a 60 minute meeting immediately followed by another 60 minute meeting?
- On your mobile phone: Turn off all notifications from social media apps OR uninstall those apps. "Gouge it out."
- Increase calendar usage with reminders.
- Practice hour blocking of your daily schedule.
- Not counting sleep, work or school, and recurring meetings, if you add up all your open blocks of time, count how many hours of unscheduled free time you have.
- When should you check your calendar?
- Since time is a non-renewable limited resource, eliminate wasteful activity from your schedule.
- If you're not getting enough rest, schedule your rest, but make sure it is refreshing.
- Track how many hours of video watching you do. If it's a high number, replace some of that time with more productive quality times.
|Health Wheels is rare digital art by Joe Chiappetta, available on AtomicHub. This carrot-powered sports car should remind us, as drivers of our own eating habits, to level-up not just in street style, but in good health as well.|
This chapter is written by Denise Chiappetta.
God created eating to be a source of pleasure. But eating too much, or making bad food choices, has been an issue literally since the beginning (Genesis 3) when Eve ate something she shouldn’t have! Like Eve, what are you eating that you know you shouldn’t be eating?
The diet industry is currently worth 72 billion dollars. So there’s a lot to say about diet. For now, here are a few concepts that I have found to be both helpful and sustainable over the years.
Diet Tip 1: For the most part, eat food that God created.
Ask yourself, "Would they serve this in Heaven?"
Is this a realistic scenario? You reach the pearly gates to hear “Well done my good and faithful servant. Here’s your Heavenly Welcome Gift Bag with your Snickers Bar, can of soda, and bag of Doritos?” I think not.
I ask myself, "Does what I’m putting in my mouth look even remotely like something God created?" God created fruit, not gummy fruit snacks. He created chickens, not chicken nuggets. He created wheat, not donuts.
In Mark 7:19 it says Jesus "declared all foods clean." So we need to ask ourselves, "Is this really food? Or is it a string of chemicals?"
God didn’t create red dye #40...yet it’s in what I’m eating! Even with products sold for our “diets” many of those protein powders and bars are full of added sugar and chemicals. Just eat an apple instead! It’s actually a simple pleasure of life to eat truly healthy, real food, in moderation.
Diet Tip 2. Becoming partners with God in creating the food! In Genesis 1:29 it describes how in the beginning, God gave us "seed bearing" plants and trees "for food." The good news is that many plants are still healthy to eat today!
I have a small garden. It’s a true pleasure to pop a fresh tomato into your mouth that you and God worked on together. It’s another way to interact with God in creating something beautiful. When I eat my home grown tomato, I know what it’s not sprayed with.
Moreover, seeds are relatively cheap while groceries from the store keep getting more expensive! Supply chain issues add all sorts of hidden costs to that food-like item you've become addicted to. So growing some of your own food will give you direct access to some fresh food.
Even if you don’t have “land” you can do container gardening. I have an aeroponic tower garden which takes up the same amount of room as a Christmas tree. You’re probably not going to get seriously fat eating fresh tomatoes, lettuce, and strawberries.
I do realize that most people won't become farmers. Yet even growing a tiny bit of your own food will remind you what real food actually looks and tastes like. It will also help you gain a deeper appreciation for Jesus' many parables about farming.
Personally, Joe and I choose to eat a mostly plant based diet. Of course, God did tell Noah that animals could be used for food. However, I do think it’s worth putting out there as “food for thought” that our modern day meat industry is a far cry from Bible days when David played the harp for his sheep while they grazed in the pasture. Many of the sheep and cows we eat in modern times are pumped with various drugs and have never even seen a pasture or experienced a thoughtful human caretaker.
Diet Tip 3: If God didn’t create it, use a small bowl.
We can have an emotional connection to food. Traditional cultures and family gatherings may serve special cookies or cakes. In the church, we host Bible Discussion Groups. As leaders and hosts, shouldn't we then lead the way in providing healthy choices and portions for our spiritual family? Bottom line is that you can enjoy the time with your family and enjoy some of your favorite treats without needing an antacid later or gaining two pounds in two days.
Diet Tip 4: Eat healthy, be healthy and stay that way!
Most people eventually struggle with their weight on some level. Maybe it’s been a struggle since you were young. Maybe you’re young now and you feel like you can drink Red Bull and eat cookies all day. Whatever category you’re in and however fast or slow God sets your metabolism, we all will have to accept God's discipling of us through weight gain and the side effects of unhealthy food choices.
My husband is in his 50s and in good shape! He also starts every day, after prayer and Bible study, by eating 2 carrots and exercising. I consider eating 2 carrots for breakfast a struggle. I hate carrots and I don’t start my day with them, but I make my own healthy food choices. This year I trained myself that if it’s past 7pm and I want to stick something in my mouth, I often make it an apple.
Once I turned 45, I realized I could get angry about how all my pants seemed to have suddenly gotten tight, or I could get humble about it, have some integrity and adjust to the new reality of a slower metabolism. Good news, My pants fit again and I’m not angry anymore. Maintaining a healthy weight takes self discipline. But as disciples, we have the tools we need to cultivate that!
So eat food God created. If God didn’t create it, use a small bowl, be humble before God about weight gain and food choices and maybe even try growing your own food!
Seeking Better Jobs, Promotions, or Customers
 “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.  For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened.
- Note the in-person persistence. Ask, seek, knock.
- There is a heavy faith component to job seeking as a disciple. Do you believe you will find a good job?
- Get physically present with the one you are asking for employment.
- You’re not just asking God for a job. You’re working hard to ask people for jobs.
- Unemployed? Then full time job is seeking a job. That means an 8-hour per day job search, at least 5 days per week until you get hired.
- Underemployed? Then spend at least 2 hours per weekday looking for a better job.
- From verse 23, for those unemployed or underemployed, how much of your heart should you put into your job search?
- While employed at various companies, who are you actually serving?
- Is God pleased with your "serving?"
- Being a great employee pleases God and is full of rewards.
- Being a great employee can lead to promotions. That higher pay can help the church too.
- Being a great employee also makes the gospel extra-attractive to non-Christians.
- If you are willfully doing what is wrong on the job, or in your job search, or in school, "there is no favoritism." You will "be repaid for" your "wrong."
- Some new employees miss out by being too opinionated early on. They get fired or quit because they didn’t like the way things were done. Be patient and humble. Seek to learn and understand first, prove your value to the company, connect with the leaders, and then (perhaps) suggest improvements respectfully.
 Lazy hands make a man poor, but diligent hands bring wealth.
- The Greek work translated here as "diligent" also means "sharp" and "determined." In a poetical sense it also means "gold," as in very valuable. This begs the question: what are you doing with your hands? Does what you do bring value, sharpness, and determination into your life?
- If what we do is with due diligence, then good income ("wealth") will come.
- When unemployed or underemployed, there is great temptation to be lazy.
- Solution is hard appropriate work.
- What's the difference between work, and appropriate work?
- Diligent hands do the proper task, not just any task. For a job search that means balancing online applications with much more in-person human networking.
- Avoid the lazy-minded practice of picking a career path that has few job openings. Rather pick in-demand jobs for industries that appear to be growing.
- Social capital: leverage your existing relationships to find hiring opportunities. This includes friends of friends, relatives, and anyone you meet. If that list is small, then it means you need to meet more people in the industry you are interested in.
- Face-to-face interaction must be sought with hiring managers or people who can refer you to them.
- Follow up on every job you apply for.
- When unemployed, get any job that does not conflict with meetings of the church and while in that job, look for a better job.
- Telephone your local government office and ask them what are the in-demand jobs and high growth. A number of cities have workforce development offices that track this data and partner with local employers. In the USA you can find some of this data at O*NET Online through the US Department of Labor.
1 Thessalonians 4:4-5
 that each of you should learn to control his own body in a way that is holy and honorable,  not in passionate lust like the heathen, who do not know God;
- Epithymia = Lust = desire, craving, longing, desire for what is forbidden
- Pathos = Passion = an affliction of the mind, emotion
- Will you decide what patterns that you need to forbid in your life?
- Reconsider sleep, diet, and exercise patterns.
- Does what you do with your body honor God?
- How "in control" are you?
- How willing to "learn" are you?
- Our only hope is to "learn" what works.
 For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come.
- Physical training has "value" for this "present life."
- Refers to exercise and diet. The value is short (some value) because life is short.
- Not taking care of your body decreases its value.
- NASB calls it "bodily discipline."
- For the short while that you're alive in this body, have bodily discipline.
- Daily exercise (and right now).
- Pick 1 exercise you will do every day before you eat.
- Write down 1 thing to change about your diet.
- Before eating, perform a stomach self-test.
- Don't eat while doing something else. Look at your food. Be patient.
- Reduce how much processed food you eat. If God didn't make it, is it really worth putting in your body?
- Change what you do before bedtime. Eliminate late night video browsing.
- Rather than scrolling through social media in bed before dozing off, pray before bedtime.
[16:1] Jesus told his disciples: “There was a rich man whose manager was accused of wasting his possessions.  So he called him in and asked him, ‘What is this I hear about you? Give an account of your management, because you cannot be manager any longer.'
 “The manager said to himself, ‘What shall I do now? My master is taking away my job. I'm not strong enough to dig, and I'm ashamed to beg—  I know what I'll do so that, when I lose my job here, people will welcome me into their houses.'
 “So he called in each one of his master's debtors. He asked the first, ‘How much do you owe my master?'
 “‘Eight hundred gallons of olive oil,' he replied.
“The manager told him, ‘Take your bill, sit down quickly, and make it four hundred.'
 “Then he asked the second, ‘And how much do you owe?'
“‘A thousand bushels of wheat,' he replied.
“He told him, ‘Take your bill and make it eight hundred.'
 “The master commended the dishonest manager because he had acted shrewdly. For the people of this world are more shrewd in dealing with their own kind than are the people of the light.  I tell you, use worldly wealth to gain friends for yourselves, so that when it is gone, you will be welcomed into eternal dwellings.
 “Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much.  So if you have not been trustworthy in handling worldly wealth, who will trust you with true riches?  And if you have not been trustworthy with someone else's property, who will give you property of your own?
 “No servant can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money.”
- Why was the manager about to get fired?
- Why was the manager commended?
- What is the waste in your budget? Your time? Your diet?
- If you had to "give an account of your management" of God's money (verse 2), would your master be pleased?
- Did the manager know how much was owed by his master's debtors (verse 5)? Shows terrible accounting.
- God watches what we do with his money. That's why we need an accurate budget.
- Notice what is being tackled in the budget? Debt.
- Who did the manager's urgency please?
- Budget helps you "be trusted with very little" so you "can also be trusted with much."
- Pleasing when debt is reduced from being out of reach to being within reach of payout.
"...If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself..."
- Often debt is a result of undisciplined living, which includes undisciplined spending. This is an unwillingness to deny self.
- Living beyond your means can be selfish.
- Creating and maintaining a budget is not the most exciting thing to do, but we must deny our urge to ignore it and focus on wise budgeting.
- Deny the foolish urge to spend money without discipline. Rather keep track of all your spending on a budget spreadsheet. Then you can track where the money is really going.
- Part of denying self in your budget is by putting God first in the expense category.
 Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for he who loves his fellowman has fulfilled the law.
- Which debt is the only allowable one?
- Commanded not to stay in continual financial debt.
- God wants your debt to be over and done with.
- If a debt lasts more than 30 days, it stands out (outstanding). So there must be a responsible plan to pay it off.
- If you get a monthly letter or phone call from creditors hounding you to pay your debt, that stands out. It's an "outstanding" debt that God wants you to have a plan to get out of.
- God does not want you to let your outstanding debt continue.
- Literal translation: "Owe nothing to anyone..." (NASB).
- So what will it take for you to get out of debt and/or stay out of debt?
- Make time for meal prep.
- Eat much slower: take time to chew longer. When you eat fast and are multitasking, often what you eat goes down so quickly that the brain does not fully register that you have put enough food in you, which causes you to eat even more, and therefore spend more on food.
- Never buy drinks. Carry a water bottle.
- Don't buy things on credit unless you pay it off in-full without interest that month.
- For every purchase ask, "Do I really need this now?"
- For bigger potential purchases, wait a week to make sure this isn't an impulse buy.
- Pay off highest-interest debts first.
- Complete a full budget annually.
- Put weekly giving to God first at the top of your budget. Part of denying self means God is your priority weekly expense, not you.
- What happens if you are sick one Sunday and don't give your weekly contribution? Is that more money for you, or do you make it up to the Lord?
- Consider your budget a living document that needs revision with the changes of life.
- If possible, become a homeowner vs a renter, but research this carefully because you are commanded by God not to let debt be outstanding. Must have stable income to pay off the debt as early as possible.
- Before taking a school loan, consider whether that education will lead directly to a highly in-demand career.
- Use the Something In/Something Out principle. When buying some new object, set a guideline that before the new purchase, something you already have has to first be given away, or sold. This can help deter impulse buying as well as clutter.
Integrate all essential skills together to produce complete (whole) victories.
 For the waywardness of the simple will kill them, and the complacency of fools will destroy them;  but whoever listens to me will live in safety and be at ease, without fear of harm.”
- We need to have simple (pure) hearts, yet navigate in the world through its complexities.
- Simple here means naïve. Easily influenced, good or bad.
- Waywardness = backsliding.
- "Complacency of fools" is actually translated "prosperity of fools." False sense of security because there is temporary prosperity.
- Complacent is being unconcerned, not taking action on what is needed.
- People get complacent when they think everything is fine enough--not an emergency.
- Can a person be complacent (unconcerned) about how they manage time?
- What's the biggest sign of a person unconcerned about how they manage time?
- Don't keep a consistent calendar/planner.
- Doing things, but not the right things?
- Do a time blocking exercise.
- What are areas you can have a false sense of security about? Spending money that is not yours (debt)?
- Feeling healthy enough yet overweight or out of shape? Thinking your job is secure while not being a good employee?
- Not looking for a better job when you know you're in a dead end industry?
- Do you have a false sense of security? Might be why you're complacent.
- What's the solution? Listen to God (hear and obey). Brings safety, ease, no fear of harm.
"The way of the sluggard is blocked with thorns, but the path of the upright is a highway."
- 2 kinds of people. 2 different paths.
- Lazy person is blocked by thorns while upright person blazes down the highway.
- God influences which path we are on based on our attitude about him and about work.
- How you approach work defines which path you end up on.
- I have even seen 2 people on same road under same circumstances: person with faith + appropriate action blazes forward while person without faith/action gets lazy about the journey (even the smallest obstacles become "thorns" to them).
- Which person have you been?
- Who sees you as a person of faith and action? If not many people, possibly not much faith and action.
- Which person does God want you to be?
"I will never admit you are in the right; till I die, I will not deny my integrity.  I will maintain my righteousness and never let go of it; my conscience will not reproach me as long as I live."
- Reproach is to express disapproval or disappointment.
- Job faces reality, checks his conscience continually to make sure he is aligned with God's righteousness.
- Connection between Integrity and righteousness.
- Integrity is where righteousness and conscience are working together.
- Integrity does not back down when things get tough.
- Integrity has moral obligation to do what is right.
- Integrity unapologetically stands in the way of those who try to water down total commitment to God's standard.
- Hebrew word for integrity here is also translated "innocence" (Strong's H8538 tummah).
- Will you be guilty of having an inconsistent performance, or will you be innocent?
- Life Skills is about having the wholeness (integrity) of being centered in your relationship with God while wisely managing your health, time, money, and employment situation in a way that pleases God.
- In other words, faith and appropriate deeds.
- What does integrity of Health look like? Money? Time Management? Career?
- Face the demands of reality with integrity. Let's level up!
- Turn your schedule into a living document that shows progress in health, time management, finances, and career.
- As calendar appointments, add the following to your weekly agenda: exercise, meal preparation, career search, budget review, and quiet times.
- Ask people you live with (or those who know you best) which areas you need to improve in most urgently: health, scheduling, finances, or career.
How can we grow? Build rewards into harder tasks. That's what Jesus did.
[12:1] Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.  Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.  Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.
- What was Jesus' reward? What was the joy set before him?
- The establishment of his church: Us being saved. Fulfilled promise to Abraham. Being back with the Father (at the right hand of God).
- What rewards can you build into harder tasks?
- Do not grow weary about completing your budget, exercising, etc.
- Consider the noble goal of becoming a homeowner, not a renter. How can you do that while also staying a disciple?
- Learn to keep eyes fixed on Jesus while also working toward the goal of becoming an owner.
- When you focus on growing just 1% better as a person every day, even if you fail every other day, that's still over 180% annual growth.
Victory through Affliction
"Beware of turning to evil, which you seem to prefer to affliction."
- Affliction is a cause of pain, distress, suffering.
- The affliction is there often to get you to do something different, to overcome something.
- Solution is to lean into the affliction, not to escape to sin.
- During affliction, the thing to always do is persevere.
- Yet too often people run away, quit, escape, ignore, and never get refined.
- Deal with real issues, despite the pain.
I study economics because I used to be poor.
I study health because I used to be unhealthy.
I study careers because I used to hate my job.
I study time because I used to have none to spare.
I study light because I used to be in darkness.
What do all these sentences have in common? For each one, to bring about improvement, I had to start hating the troubled condition that I was in: and not just hate it, but the condition had to produce in me an urgency to repent of whatever bad behaviors of mine that contributed to the problem. In other words, to level up in my life skills, I had to first change my mind--which led to a radical change in my actions. That concept, which the Greeks call "metanoia," literally changed my life for the better.
So I thank God, despite all my weakness, for the ability to level up... for calling me to be a metanoia man.
"If a ruler's anger rises against you, do not leave your post; calmness can lay great offenses to rest."
- Being calm during intense situations can be difficult.
- Even an animal can breathe. What should the breath of a disciple look like?
- Deep prayers and deep breaths are documented stress reducers.
- Becoming calm through deep breaths "can lay great offenses to rest."
- How often do you take deep breaths?
- How often do you make great errors?
- Does your phone make you more or less calm? Then why use it so much?
- The Hebrew word translated here as "calmness" can also be translated "health" or "healing."
- Healing is essential to rest.
- Health is essential to a world full of offenses.
- Have daily quiet times that you can remember throughout the day and refer back to.
- At work or school, focus on calming yourself through prayer and taking deep breaths.
- In overly heated situations, consider if walking away briefly would help to calm things down.
- Turn off all notifications from your phone, except your own calendar notifications and phone calls. Constant interruptions do not help a person remain calm and peaceful.
- Aside from emergency situations, have a consistent bedtime so you can get the calming that comes from a good night's sleep.
- Stop consuming drinks with caffeine, as this is a stimulant drug.
- Stop consuming items with added sugar, since sugar has addictive properties and has drug-like side-effects that are not calming.
1 Corinthians 1:18-25
 For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.  For it is written: “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise; the intelligence of the intelligent I will frustrate.”
 Where is the wise man? Where is the scholar? Where is the philosopher of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world?  For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not know him, God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe.  Jews demand miraculous signs and Greeks look for wisdom,  but we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles,  but to those whom God has called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God.  For the foolishness of God is wiser than man's wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than man's strength.
- Work the cross into everything you do, even the little things.
- How can you practically do that?
- Clue is in what the cross was an instrument for.
- How would preaching "Christ crucified" help your finances, health, time, career?
- Was putting people on the cross in the first century a public spectacle? A warning too?
- Crucify your evil desire to eat junk, not look at your schedule, buy stuff you don't need, be lazy, etc.
- Make a public spectacle of these evil desires by putting such desires on a cross.
- Practically, what does that look like?
- Crucify a seated lifestyle. Get vertical.
- Crucify rushed breathing. Learn 3-4-5 Breathing: Count of 3 breaths in, 4 to hold, 5 to exhale.
- Crucify materialism.
- Crucify the desire to eat 3 meals every day. 16 hour fasting 2 times per week is medically known to be good for your brain (neuroscience journals).
- Skip breakfast or dinner a few times per week.
1 Corinthians 2:1-2
 When I came to you, brothers, I did not come with eloquence or superior wisdom as I proclaimed to you the testimony about God.  For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified.
- How long have you ever done what Paul has done here?
- Paul was focused on knowing Jesus, plus what the cross means, plus nothing else.
- Know Jesus + Jesus Crucified + 0 Other Things = Effective Discipleship.
- Paul prioritizes what he thinks about: effective spiritual minimalism.
- Most people are all over the place. Simplify your mental focus. Hone your skills to revolve around Jesus.
- Narrow what you know so there is ample mental energy to address career, health, schedule, and finances in a way Jesus would approve.
- Contrast that with a person who knows all the latest celebrity gossip, sports news, work/school/ family drama, and an abundance of social media as well as streaming movies.
- What would your schedule look like if you resolved to know nothing "except Jesus Christ and him crucified?"
- What would be different about your budget if that was your focus?
- How would this apply to a student or a person who still has to keep a secular job?
- Paul gained a superior understanding about the workings of life through deep focus on the cross. It aided him in all areas of his journey.
- How can such a focus help you with your health? Your career?
- Long term plan involving many people and circumstances.
- Extremely bold, dangerous.
- Incredibly sacrificial, generous, inspirational.
- In key areas, relying on the miraculous.
- Eliminates wasteful tasks and futile thinking.
"If the ax is dull and its edge unsharpened, more strength is needed but skill will bring success."
- Sharpen yourself.
- When your results are "dull," more strength and/skill is needed.
- Growing in life skills is essential to success.
- How is skill developed?
- Discipline, hard work, focus on particular areas.
- "Skill" at meal prep, budgeting, daily exercise, scheduling meetings and on-the-job (or school) commitment to represent Jesus "will bring success."
2 Timothy 1:7
"For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline."
- Who does God give these gifts to?
- God gives disciples a spirit of self-discipline.
- Greek word translated as "self-discipline" means sound mind, moderation, self-control.
- Its root word means "teach to be sober."
- What does it take for a person to become sober?
- For those timidly (fearfully) thinking they just don't have the head for being very effective with their health, time management, career, or finances, that is not true. God gave you a spirit of a sound mind. It is up to you to use it.
- Sober up to what is needed to advance in life.
- Get the garbage out of your life. Get pure.
- God doesn't give garbage. God gives "power."
- Search deeper inside your spirit. Dig up this spirit of self-discipline.
- Why might it be initially difficult to tap into this spirit of self-discipline?
- Might take hard work to uncover it, especially if it's been buried under your sin.
- What kind of discipline would it take to conduct your job search 8 hours per day, 5 days per week?
- Tap into the gifts of God: the gift of life skills!
 At that time some Pharisees came to Jesus and said to him, “Leave this place and go somewhere else. Herod wants to kill you.”
 He replied, “Go tell that fox, ‘I will drive out demons and heal people today and tomorrow, and on the third day I will reach my goal.'  In any case, I must keep going today and tomorrow and the next day—for surely no prophet can die outside Jerusalem!
 “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing!  Look, your house is left to you desolate. I tell you, you will not see me again until you say, ‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.'”
- Use the S.M.A.R.T.S. method of goal setting: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, Time-bound, Serious.
- Does Jesus set goals?
- Are they numerical?
- Does Jesus face opposition to his goal?
- What are the forms of opposition Jesus faces? Casual conversation, threats, as well as physical and even violent barriers.
- What does Jesus wanting to gather his children together have to do with his goal?
- What numerical goals should you set right now?
- Pray about the goal first before you confirm it as a goal.
- What happens when, at first try, you are blocked from getting hired at the company where you want to work?
- Goal setting and working toward the goal's accomplishment--in spite of opposition--are life skills.
- What's one of the keys to goal fulfillment (verse 33)? Determination: "In any case, I must keep going."
- Notice how serious Jesus took his goal: Go tell that fox... I will reach my goal.
- Don't make a goal if you are not going to take it seriously.
- I will add to my life skills. I will level up in health, money, career, and time management!
- Jesus told people about his goals.
- Tell another trusted person about your goal. Ask them to hold you accountable.
1 Chronicles 11:4-6
 David and all the Israelites marched to Jerusalem (that is, Jebus). The Jebusites who lived there  said to David, “You will not get in here.” Nevertheless, David captured the fortress of Zion, the City of David.  David had said, “Whoever leads the attack on the Jebusites will become commander-in-chief.” Joab son of Zeruiah went up first, and so he received the command.
- When opposition comes to your goals, what do you typically do?
- For how long do you get discouraged by opposition?
- Are mere words enough to stop your goal?
- Are thoughts enough to stop your goal?
- What was David's solution to opposition?
- If your goal is godly, don't let opposition stop you.
- What is the main characteristic of how David filled his army "commander-in-chief" position.
- Most positions are based on specific results.
- Did Joab fight hard and compete for his position? Do likewise.
- How does this relate to how you interact with your employer, potential employer, or customers?
- What are the entrepreneurial components David built into the job?
- How does entrepreneurialism relate to you right now?
- Is there entrepreneurialism in ministry? Missions? Career? Health? Time? Money management?
- In your career, do you promise results that you do not deliver?
- Joab "went up first." His being early to the battle was part of the victory.
- In careers and business, being first can give you an advantage. For example, first to apply, first to find that new customer, first to arrive on site, first to connect with strategic partners, first to form a support network, first to see market and industry trends, etc.
- Discuss a few modern day examples of advantages of being first.
- Can a lazy person be first?
- Can a procrastinator be first?
- Can a distracted person be first?
- Think faithfully, like a future "commander-in-chief." Make a decision to lead something that will bring career advancement, and don't back down to opposition.
 He [David] built up the city around it, from the supporting terraces to the surrounding wall, while Joab restored the rest of the city.
- Joab, as David's new military chief, is flexible in his role. He could not only attack (destroy) but also restore (build).
- As employees and students, we must become effective at offense and defense. Can you think of ways you can do both (offense/defense) in the professional world?
- Learn to battle and build.
- Do you get upset when given an unexpected and new task that you did not think was part of your role?
- How much do you think employers value flexible workers and flexible attitudes?
- How can you learn from Joab?
- Review your resume. Then ask another professional person to review it.
- Pray about what your career goals should be.
- A goal is the pursuit of specific end result. Milestones are the sequential steps required to accomplish the goal. Make at least 1 career goal. Write down milestone steps it will take to accomplish this goal.
- After your morning quiet time, review your milestone steps to see what action can be taken that day toward your goal.
- Before each milestone is achieved, troubleshoot a few top barriers that could stop the milestone from being reached and come up with contingency plans on how to remove ("attack") each barrier.
- For those employed, ask your supervisor what you can do to improve.
- Study what good managers of people do. Management can be a good growth job for more disciples of Jesus since we are already called to lead people effectively.
- Get on a managerial training track (in school or at your job). When you can manage people well, you can transfer into a variety of industries, making you less dependent on the success of one company, or one industry during economic uncertainty.
- Commit to coming to weekly leaders meetings in the church. This will show you how mobilizing (managing) people toward specific goals (despite opposition) is a practical life skill that can be applied to most management roles in the workforce.
 Blessed are those whose strength is in you, who have set their hearts on pilgrimage.  As they pass through the Valley of Baca, they make it a place of springs; the autumn rains also cover it with pools.  They go from strength to strength, till each appears before God in Zion.
- Biblical blueprint for how to grow.
- Strength in God (verse 5), not self.
- Set heart on pilgrimage (verse 5): move it close to God.
- Improve your environment (verse 6). Transform environment with water for fruitfulness.
- Go from strength to strength (verse 7): strive to grow daily, all the way to your last breath.
- Hebrew word for "strength" also translated efficiency, ability, might, army, force, virtue, valor, power.
- Want to appear before God in paradise? Go from strength to strength. That's who makes it.
- Person with life skills will always be leveling up.
 The path of the righteous is like the first gleam of dawn, shining ever brighter till the full light of day.  But the way of the wicked is like deep darkness; they do not know what makes them stumble.
- A healthy disciple of Jesus starts bright and keeps increasing. That's the path of the righteous: strength built from strength.
- Righteous focus on increasing life skills.
- Wicked are clueless. Not sure why budget is off, why low energy, why often late to meetings. Unsure about schedule, career, health, etc. Their life is in darkness. Surprised at how frequent they stumble.
- Solution is to start with one godly trait, increase that and add another life skill. Keep increasing "till the full light of day."
- Example: Work schedule is well defined, written, and clear to you. Add your weekly ministry activity to your calendar. Look for areas to maximize the brightness of your time.
- Get to the point where you can show someone your calendar and not be ashamed of all the inefficiency there. Rather be a bright example of a skilled life schedule of growth.
- By what means does Jesus expect the church to grow?
- Within Jesus' great commission, there are 2 essential functions that the disciples are expected to implement. What are they?
- According to Peter Drucker, a highly acclaimed management advisor, what are the 2 essential functions of business?
- "Because its purpose is to create a customer, the business has two--and only two--functions: marketing and innovation. Marketing and innovation create value, all the rest are costs." - Quote from Peter Drucker (1954), The Practice of Management, pp. 39-40
- Marketing and Innovation must be at the heart of what you do professionally.
- Innovation Definition: The act or process of introducing new ideas, devices, or methods
- Marketing Definition: The act or process of selling or purchasing in a market. The process or technique of promoting, selling, and distributing a product or service
- How is this understanding beneficial to you as an employee (or business owner)?
- If you cannot demonstrate that you will strengthen a company with their marketing and/or innovation functions, why should they hire you?
10 Second Sales Pitch Structure
- Simple Product/Service Description
- Ask prospect to DO something
- How good are you at pitching your services?
- Write your pitch
- Practice your pitch
 Wisdom is supreme; therefore get wisdom. Though it cost all you have, get understanding.
- The Hebrew word translated here as "supreme" means first, beginning, best, chief.
- Above all other skills and traits to personally acquire, none is better than wisdom.
- Getting wisdom must become first and best priority.
- What is the cost of wisdom?
- Are you willing to pay that cost? All you have?
- How can you begin each day with wisdom?
- How can wisdom help you with managing time, money, career, health?
- If you have great deficits in any of these areas, first look back at your pursuit and application of wisdom. Are you getting advice from appropriate sources in each area? Are you following the advice?
- Wisdom helps you know which skills to use when.
- Why is wisdom so expensive?
- Wisdom also translated as "skill."
- Talk to someone who is out of debt, has a balanced budget, and gives generously and consistently to God. That's the wise person to get advice from.
- Ask someone already in shape to give you a workout plan.
- Ask a healthy eater to share their diet with you.
- Ask an experienced couple how they meal-prep to save money.
- Before grabbing that late-night snack, ask yourself how much wisdom is going into this decision.
- For whatever area in life skills that there is currently no progress after much effort, get an accountability partner. For example, if you think you are doing everything right in your job search yet you are still not getting hired, have a conversation at least 2 times per week with an employed Christian about how your job search is going.
 To the man who pleases him, God gives wisdom, knowledge and happiness, but to the sinner he gives the task of gathering and storing up wealth to hand it over to the one who pleases God. This too is meaningless, a chasing after the wind.
- Similar to prayer, the skill of pleasing God is an essential life skill that unlocks additional life skills.
- Life Skills are gifts from God.
- Notice the flow of wealth: where does the money flow to?
- From the one who does not please God to the one who does.
- Working while in sin is like working with a hole in your bank account.
- If you want to increase your knowledge, start pleasing God with your life.
 For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light  (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth)  and find out what pleases the Lord.  Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them.
- Whose job is it to "find out what pleases the Lord" (verse 10)?
- At work or school, don't you find out what makes those in charge happy?
- Get your health in the light: your finances, your time, your career.
- Since overeating is the sin of debauchery, and since sin does not please God, eat smaller portions at meals.
- Work 1 day at your job (or school) as if God was your direct supervisor whom you were determined to please. Afterwards track how different your performance was.
- Study what pleases God and start doing those things as appropriate in health, schedule, career, and finances.
2 Chronicles 15:1-7
[15:1] The Spirit of God came upon Azariah son of Oded.  He went out to meet Asa and said to him, “Listen to me, Asa and all Judah and Benjamin. The LORD is with you when you are with him. If you seek him, he will be found by you, but if you forsake him, he will forsake you.  For a long time Israel was without the true God, without a priest to teach and without the law.  But in their distress they turned to the LORD, the God of Israel, and sought him, and he was found by them.  In those days it was not safe to travel about, for all the inhabitants of the lands were in great turmoil.  One nation was being crushed by another and one city by another, because God was troubling them with every kind of distress.  But as for you, be strong and do not give up, for your work will be rewarded.”
- What kind of people was God "troubling?"
- Could God "trouble" your health, time, money, and career? This calls for a greater fear of God and a more responsible approach to how we manage these limited resources.
- How can we know that maintaining Life Skills requires consistent time and cooperation with God?
- The work of what kind of people will be rewarded?
Consider King Solomon's prayer as a brand new king. God had just told Solomon to "Ask for whatever you want me to give you" (1 Kings 3:5).
1 Kings 3:7-14
 “Now, O LORD my God, you have made your servant king in place of my father David. But I am only a little child and do not know how to carry out my duties.  Your servant is here among the people you have chosen, a great people, too numerous to count or number.  So give your servant a discerning heart to govern your people and to distinguish between right and wrong. For who is able to govern this great people of yours?”
 The Lord was pleased that Solomon had asked for this.  So God said to him, “Since you have asked for this and not for long life or wealth for yourself, nor have asked for the death of your enemies but for discernment in administering justice,  I will do what you have asked. I will give you a wise and discerning heart, so that there will never have been anyone like you, nor will there ever be.  Moreover, I will give you what you have not asked for—both riches and honor—so that in your lifetime you will have no equal among kings.  And if you walk in my ways and obey my statutes and commands as David your father did, I will give you a long life.”
- Why was God pleased with Solomon's prayer?
- It was not selfish, but a kingdom-focused prayer.
- If you are currently still selfish, get outward focused. Can you organize a budget building party where people come to your place and everyone works on updating their budget?
- Asked for a changed heart.
- Distinguish between right and wrong.
- Right or wrong to keep wasting money, time?
- Right or wrong to be constantly interrupted? Then why do you allow all these apps and notifications on your phone?
- Right or wrong to keep eating junk?
- Right or wrong to give God our first fruits?
- Distinguish between what is a life skill and a life stupidity.
- Example: Still having no budget, once someone has been taught that budgeting is godly, would be very unwise.
- Applies to non-kings because we all govern our lives.
- Verse 14: Life wrapped around obeying the Bible.
- Discuss the 4 Cs of management (from Peter Drucker): Competency, Character, Care, Community. Then answer which ones do you (or will you) bring to your employer?
- Discuss how each of the following areas of your life can be more kingdom-focused: health, time, career, and money.
- Ask an outward-focused and generous person how they went from being selfish to being more giving.
- Pick 1 day per month to have a group workout time with others who need help with exercise.
- Start teaching life skills to those who need it.
- Would you network with yourself?
- If you were a boss, would you hire yourself?
- What do you need to change professionally?
- What is stopping you from growing?
- Confidence vs. Arrogance: What's the difference?
- How can you be confident yet humble as a professional?
- How confident are you?
- What do you need to be confident about?
- Market Constantly
- Market to the Right People
- Market Better than Competition
- No Time for Causes
- Wish job had more meaning
- Long for simpler life
- Can I make individual difference?
- Wish to increase value plus also meeting deeper purpose: Two birds with one stone.
- What does your company do?
- What is your role?
- How long have you been in that role?
- If underemployed: Have you heard of my company?
- Make human connection
- Industry-related news discussion
- If married, make sure you wear your ring
- If parent, eventually mention something about kids
- Upbeat Talk about Sports, Weather
- If another professional is at the same meeting you're at and you are feeling intimidated, remember that they need something too (otherwise they would not be there networking like you). Don't get insecure. Get bold.
- Find out what person needs: What are you hoping to get out of today's session?
- Find heart-strings
- Person may long for your job or field
- Recruiter may make less than you
- Job conditions may be worse than yours
- Business Owner may not draw salary due to low profits
- May be on temporary contract
- Person may be burnt out--looking for new area of focus
- Be Underdressed
- Be Long-winded
- Arrive Late
- Belittle Yourself
- You've probably never heard of my organization but...
- I know you're a busy person but...
- We're going through funding cuts but...
- We're a bit understaffed but...
- We helped Walgreens hire 17 people for their retail stores; this was during the recession!
- We helped PepsiCo receive $23,000 worth of media exposure from 1 of their hiring success stories.
- We helped employers find 137 workers with disabilities last year.
- Find the dangerous dreamers.
- Collaborate with them.
- Imitate them.
- Be the righteous who are as bold as a lion.
- Get in a group and have a professional networking session ASAP.
- Look through calendars of city, county, community, chamber of commerce, and conventions centers to see what industry related event you can attend as soon as possible.
- Hebrew word for "blessing" here means a gift, benefit, a present, prosperity, invocation of good, benediction (to speak well of).
- God delivers prosperity.
- What does God require of those who want to prosper? (verse 1)
- Where will these blessings be applicable? (verse 3)
- Write down what commands you are "carefully" following as well as which commands you are not careful to follow.
- If there is not prosperity in your life, the first place to look is at your relationship with God.
- For those with challenges getting a good night's sleep because you lie in your bed with a variety of worries (we've all been there), that's a sign you need to get on your knees and pray. If this continues, pray and read the Bible before bedtime, remove coffee and added sugar from your diet, and stop eating at least 3 hours before bedtime. Also stop looking at computer and phone screens at least 2 hours before bedtime. Add exercise to your daily routine. Take a walk in the cool of the evening. If the issue still persists, ask what commands of God are you not "fully" obeying? If you've gone through all the lists of sins in the Bible, confessed your sins to a fellow Christian, and repented, yet still have sleep issues, don't give up. In some cases, professional medical advice may be helpful.
- How thorough is God's blessing (prosperity) for those who obey?
- How is your home life (when you come in)?
- How is your life out of the home with career, school, social activity (when you go out)?
- Requires consistency on your part. Or do you act one way in public, yet a different way at home?
- Would your boss or teacher appreciate how you act when they are not looking?
- The plan is for all your activity to be blessed: prosperous.
- Verse 7: Final prosperity is a gift for those who obey God. However, there will still be conflict (trouble) from "enemies who rise up against you." Therefore don't lose heart during periods of painful opposition. Make sure you are obeying God, including in how you treat your body, the resource of time that God gave you, as well as your career and money.
- Do you believe that "everything you put your hand to" will be made to prosper by God? (verse 8)
- Are God's people supposed to be lenders or borrowers? (verse 12)
- Who are you supposed to be in debt to?
- There is a top and a bottom (verse 13). A head and a tail. Which are you? What will it take for those not at the top to get there?
- God's plan to bless you.
- Your obedience to carefully keep God's commands.
- Your health, including wisdom in what you eat, your sleep routine, and exercise plan.
- Your wiser management of your time.
- Your wisdom in managing money.
- Wisdom in advancing in your career.
- "Spacious" living, as well as good health, career, finances, and productive use of time, are all rewards from God.
- Are you pursuing the rewards over God?
- Pursue God; then it is clearer how the rewards come.
- God is the giver of rewards.
- Why did God rescue David (verse 21)?
- Does God delight in you?
- Does God delight in how you have been managing your Health? Career? Finances? Time?
- Is God delighted at how often you miss your weekly contribution to him?
- Is God delighted in your on-the-job behavior?
- Would God look at your hour-to-hour schedule and be delighted in how you maximize your time?
- In verse 24, David sings that he is blameless before God. What is stopping you from singing that lyric?
- Does your level of righteousness and cleanness have anything to do with the quality of rewards God can give you? See verse 21 and 25. "The LORD has dealt with me according to my righteousness; according to the cleanness of my hands he has rewarded me.... The LORD has rewarded me according to my righteousness, according to my cleanness in his sight."
- The rewards are in accord with your own righteousness and cleanness in God's sight.
- The opposite of clean is dirty, defiled.
- Clean or dirty: Which word describes your eating habits more?
- Clean or dirty: Which describes your on-the-job (or job seeking) behavior?
- Clean or dirty: Which describes your level or organization (time management)?
- Clean or dirty: Which describes your consistency in giving to God.
- Clean or dirty: Which describes your spending patterns?
- Reread verse 22. "For I have kept the ways of the LORD; I have not done evil by turning from my God."
- The word "evil" also means wicked, condemned as guilty.
- Is there anything "evil" in how you manage your health? Career? Fiances? Time? Are you guilty of misusing these areas? If so, repent. It is time to apply "the ways of the LORD," and watch the rewards come.
- Strive to be the person described in verse 20. "He brought me out into a spacious place; he rescued me because he delighted in me."
- Does a great relationship with God unlock new rewards?
- Have the faith to believe these rewards can include good health, career, finances, and time management.
- Ask God for a great relationship with him, ensuring that you are obeying how he says to have a great relationship.
- Take time on your knees to speak to God with words of adoration, confession, thanksgiving, and supplication (a humble plea). Doing this daily is a life skill that will propel you towards more life skills.
|War Torn Your Town is rare digital art by Joe Chiappetta, available on AtomicHub. I drew this to illustrate the intense fight that comes to every person... right where we live; it's the spiritual war, and no home town is exempt. So battle-stations, one and all!|
- As soon as you can, take time to pray about the most recent few weeks of your life. Include prayers requesting help with your health, time management, finances, and career. Then answer the following questions:
- Is what you are building enhancing Satan's kingdom, or God's kingdom?
- Are there a lot of waste and/or fruitless tasks in your schedule?
- Is what you are building going to weather the coming storm?
- Is your budget aligned to build God's house?
- Which of Jesus' words are you specifically putting into practice?
- Are you building up your body with junk food or healthy food? In other words, are you a wise or foolish builder?
- What can you do more of so that you are firmly putting Jesus' words into practice?
- Make a commitment to be a wise builder who has its foundation on the rock and master of all life skills: Jesus Christ!
- Read labels on foods before you consider buying each item.
- If major ingredients in the food you are about to buy include substances you've never heard of or don't understand, don't buy it.
- If an item has "0 Fat" or "Low Fat" on the front label, to add flavor, the manufacturers probably included added sugar to the item to make it taste better. Don't buy it.
- Items advertised as "sugar free" or "0 Sugar" most likely have other artificial sweeteners added, so you are just trading one damaging substance for another.
- Once you decide to remove added sugar from your diet, it takes 1 to 2 weeks for your body and mind to fully adjust. There will be some pain to this. Weathering that storm is worth the effort to be free of added sugar's damaging and expensive influence.
- Try to go a full week eating only meals you have prepared and see how much money you save.
- Don't eat while doing something else, like multitasking. Chew slowly and look at your food.
- To avoid crashes in your schedule by overbooking, don't commit to anything until you have checked your schedule first.
- For those employed, communicate to your boss how you add value to the company. Doing this on a monthly basis sets the stage for when you are ready to ask for a raise or promotion.
- Your first impression to employers (or clients) could take an unnecessary beating if you have an questionable email address. For example, ChillinAndNappin@gmail does not communicate a solid work ethic. In such cases, get a simple email that has your name and no frills.
- The skill of operating in a state of faultless religion has so much to do with fighting pollution in our spirit and our bodies.
- Think about what you have been putting into your body over the last 3 days. Would God see it as pollution or things that nourish?
- Keeping yourself from pollution in Greek means to be spotless, free from vice, unsullied. Note that a vice is a fault.
- Take some time to write down what vices you have in your diet? Write down vices also in your career, budget, and scheduling habits.
- Is your mind being polluted by social media? Before using social media, ask yourself, "What is my purpose for going on this site and how long should I be on this site?"
- One vice most people have is with their misuse of added sugar, also known as "refined sugar." Its overuse (debauchery) is a cause of diabetes, heart disease, obesity, tooth decay, hyperactivity, and increased fatigue 1 hour after consumption.
- Just as the stupefying pleasure of alcohol can lead to more abuses of it (as in debauchery), the same is true of added sugar.
- The Greek word translated here as "debauchery" is anything done in excess. At its core is the abandoned person, as in one too far gone to be saved.
- Are you too far gone in your eating habits to change? Beware then of debauchery.
- Added sugar has highly addictive properties and in the past 5 decades has been increasingly included in most processed foods to increase taste as well as increase your compulsion to consume more of that food. In short, adding sugar to food is a sales strategy: included into most processed food so businesses can make more money off of you at the expense of your health.
- If you repented of food-related debauchery, wouldn't you eat less junk and thus be healthier while also saving money?
- The Greek word translated here as "debauchery" means unbridled lust or excess. It can also be translated as "licentious," which means lacking legal or moral restraints.
- Are you unable to restrain your poor eating choices?
- While "Jesus declared all foods clean" (Mark 7:19), added sugar (also known as processed sugar) is created through a complex human-made multi-chemical and multi-machine process. If people actually saw how far removed the tall plant called sugarcane is from processed sugar, they would be shocked. In short, processed sugar is so manufactured and perhaps even "mutated" that it is not really a naturally grown food anymore. Rather it is a business product, having more drug-like properties, and these properties do not promote health.
- Added sugar used to be a very rare luxury spice.
- Are you taking in added sugar in excessive amounts? Debauchery? Haven't you already "spent enough time in the past" making those mistakes?
1 John 5:19
 We know that we are children of God, and that the whole world is under the control of the evil one.
- "The whole world" means 100% of the world.
- According to this verse, 100% of the world is controlled by the devil.
- Is the food industry part of the world?
- A business model where the goal is to get you to eat more than you need as well as to eat things that are not actually nourishing foods or not even foods at all is a well-documented part of the world's added sugar industry. Should you follow Satan's diet, or the Lord's?
- Regarding added sugar, consider the phrase, "Sugar has become the new tobacco." What does that mean?
- Being "under the control" of anyone means to be under their power and subject to it.
- When it comes to your eating habits, whether it be too much sugar, salt, or fat in your diet, it is time to move yourself out from Satan's power and get under God's power.
- Start reading the label of everything you consider buying before you buy it. If added sugar is in the ingredients (including many words ending in "ose" such as "fructose, sucrose") ask yourself two questions: (1) Why does this item need added sugar in it? (2) Do I really want to pollute my body with excess sugar?
- Eliminated added sugar from your diet or greatly reduce how much added sugar you consume.
- Watch at least 1 documentary about the health dangers associated with added sugar.
- Before every eating choice, put your hand on your stomach, push your stomach out as far as it can go, and ask yourself, "Am I polluting or cleansing by putting this particular food or drink in my body?"
- Stay off all social media unless you can use it for 5 minutes and then get completely out it. If you repeatedly keep going back to it on the job or during a job search, you will quickly "pollute" your concentration.
- Verse 5: Jehoshaphat does not blindly follow (at first). He demands godly advice.
- Verse 11: Charismatic people (Zedekiah) claiming to speak for God can be very wrong, even when they have popular religious support.
- Verse 22, 23: Who allows the lying spirit?
- The unpopular view of Micaiah was the one that should have been listened to more carefully.
- Verse 32: Even Jehoshaphat does not end up following the godly advice he urged Ahab to seek. So Jehoshaphat nearly dies in battle because of it.
- In this instance, the majority of people in the kingdom through they had god's approval. They thought they were doing God's will. Yet they were wrong.
- Ahab, king of Israel, died because (1) he was not in good standing with God, (2) his advisors were in an unknown standing with God, (3) the charismatic advisors he listened to were deceived about everything.
- Seek the word of God first, then godly advice from a person in good standing with the Lord.
- Be extra-careful before even thinking you can speak for God accurately about what's to come. Speak the Bible and godly principles, but outcomes of the future are only known by God, as explained in Ecclesiastes 8:7. "Since no man knows the future, who can tell him what is to come?" For people who try to influence others or justify themselves by using the phrase, "this is God's will," you may want to choose your words more carefully.
- Don't surround yourself just with those who agree with you. Different points of view can help you see things you would not otherwise have seen.
- Pay attention to unpopular views. Truth is never a popularity contest. Truth is a condition.
- "Test everything" (1 Thessalonians 5:21). In other words, qualify and verify what is being stated and advised. Consider the source, the context, the content, and the bigger picture, which always must include God.
- Make a pro/con list when advice or opinions differ.
- If you take godly advise for a while but then stop following it, first ask yourself what changed to make you stop wanting to follow that advice.
- If someone gives you a diet or workout to follow, do your own research first, and look at that person's life. What are the results?
- Get career advice from people already in the industry you want to be in. Yet test it against what the Bible says too.
- If someone is giving you investment advice, how much guess work is involved? Are macroeconomics factored in? What is that person's track record of success? Since "wealth... is so uncertain" (1 Timothy 6:17), how can the advice be so sure?
- Discuss your schedule with a trusted, faithful, and productive person, asking if there are ways to maximize or streamline your time. Do this on a monthly basis.
- Beg God to lead you to godly advisors.
 Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.  These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts.  Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.  Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads.  Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.
- God gives a very immersive command. Notice he's calling for all (not some) of our heart, all of our soul, and all of our strength. That's is 100% of our whole being.
- From this passage alone, how many different ways are we supposed to be incorporating the scripture into our life?
- God does not merely give a command and then not help us understand how to obey it. He shows us the way. The way is repetition.
- Think for a moment about how much repetition of all kinds has shaped your behavior... both good and bad. The repeated bad choices lead to problems. The repeated good choices lead to improvements. As an exercise, think specifically of one bad repetitive choice you have been making as well as one specific good choice. Discuss the consequences of both. For example, speaking personally, on the bad side, I too often break my rule of not eating after 7pm. On the good side, I continue to choose not to eat snacks with added sugar.
- From the passage in Deuteronomy, God's plan for his people to be successful is to start their day, continue their day, and end their day with his repeated words. These words, once pressed deeply into us, lead to us making good choices.
- God's word needs to be repeated in such a variety of ways in our life, that it eventually becomes a healthy routine always running in the background as a base layer of who we are.
- With this book (and really any self-help book) that calls for major behavior change, the only way for the time spent reading the book to be effective is for the reader to reread it many times with the intent to do what it says.
- Train in these concepts. Make them so familiar as behaviors that you just do these things as part of your life... as common as brushing your teeth has become.
- If you don't repeat godly commands and internalize them, you are destined to repeat ungodly failures, for all the world to see.
- While sometimes repetition can appear to be boring in some circumstances, learn to see it how God sees repetition: as an essential tool of growth.
- Verse 8 talks about binding God's word on our foreheads. In the same way, binding healthy eating, exercise, sleep patterns, scheduling, finances, and career growth into our minds is really the only way all of these categories will change. Our minds need to be reprogrammed... by the Lord!
- From verse 9, for any Life Skills principles that are extra difficult for you to change, write a large note to yourself and put it where you will read it every day. For example, put a note on the entrance to your kitchen that says "No snacks after 6pm." Or make yourself a computer calendar reminder that sends you a message every Saturday night at 9pm that says "Give your weekly contribution to God."
1 Timothy 4:16
 Watch your life and doctrine closely. Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers.
- The words "watch," "closely," and "persevere" give us an indicator of what category this verse falls under: repetition, not quitting, getting consistent.
- Watching "your life... closely" is a repetitive discipline. It is a life skill.
- For example, part of "life" is employment. A closely watched job search lifestyle means you apply for a job and then you follow up with that employer a number of times with the goal of connecting with a real person to pitch yourself as the ideal hire.
- How is your own follow up going?
- According to this verse, are life skills part of the salvation issue?
- The word "doctrine" means teaching and learning. Just as with "life," the expectation is to start carefully watching what you have been taught and what you teach. For the Christian, that, of course is anchored on the Bible. Yet there are more teachings to watch closely, because so much misinformation is also taught publicly. Remember old commercials that used to teach smoking cigarettes as being good for you?
- Therefore reexamine what you've been taught about food, exercise, scheduling, money, and career growth. Are you closely watching these areas of your "life?" Are you looking for Biblical examples? Is what you have been taught about any of these areas wrong or incomplete? Or perhaps you were taught well but that was ages ago, and you never made those teachings a repeated good routine in your life. Either way, now is the time to restart watching "life and doctrine closely."
- For more specific Christian doctrine (teaching), also see my book, Bible Math.
- Reread this book at least 3 times.
- Every month, teach at least 1 person principles from this book.
- Talk specifically to others about what you have changed since starting Life Skills.
- Use this book in your morning devotional times as part of your training with God.
- Pray now to have godly repetition in your life.
- Verse 15. The Greek word "miainō" translated as "defile" also means "pollute, contaminate."
- When a person is polluted/defiled/contaminated, what do they need?
- What is the connection between being bitter and being defiled?
- If the bitter root is not completely removed, defilement is inevitable.
- Bitterness defiles many.
- Whose responsibility is it to deal with bitter attitudes?
- "See to it" is every true Christian's responsibility to effectively attack bitter attitudes.
- "See to it" is a responsibility to make God's grace very evident.
- A defiled person can be far-removed from the initial cause of the bitter root. These bitter roots take their time to grow up. Therefore removing oneself from a troublesome, embittering situation is not the same as repenting of the bitter attitude that defiles.
- Becoming undefiled is a salvation issue. Verse 14: Without holiness no one will see the Lord.
- If you try to fix what causes the trouble but don't remove the bitter root, what will happen?
- Does making "every effort" involve avoiding the painfully real issues?
- Verse 14. Making "every effort" to live in peace and to be holy means, not just transient peace, but godly healing.
- Work through your past and set aside self (including attitudes, huts) for the Lord's special purpose (holiness).
- The Greek word "katharos" (verse 15) means pure, clean, clear, free from corruption, free from anything that soils.
- The word "corrupted" (used twice) is the same Greek word elsewhere translated as "defiled."
- Can a corrupted person be fully conscious of the true (clear, clean) issues?
- Defiled people must repent in their "minds and consciences." Then they can approach issues from a pure, clean perspective.
- A defiled person believes the wrong things--often very passionately. Can you come up with examples of this from your own life?
- Remaining defiled is "detestable."
- Defilement makes a person "unfit for doing anything good."
- Solution: get help to restore a pure relationship with God and others by dealing with the initial issue that corrupted/defiled.
- Did the king remove himself from the people?
- A defiling influence was previously left in the temple.
- Temple is a metaphor today for the church and the disciples of Jesus' church.
- Is there anything left in you that is an unholy, defiling behavior or influence?
- Remove, smash, and throw away the bad behavior. This cleansing life skill should be carefully applied to anything that slows down our own growth and effectiveness, be it spiritual, health, career, finances, or scheduling.
- Josiah had help. He stayed with his team of faithful people.
- Verse 2. Imitate David.
- Verse 6, 7. Notice the liberty given to those building the kingdom.
- Yet are the people autonomous or under a central leader?
- Verse 8. Who finds the Book of the Law?
- Verse 5, 9. "Entrusted" people to work thoroughly. Can people say that about you. Being thorough is a life skill.
- They did things according to the Bible, even in the face of disaster (verse 16).
- Someone whose "heart was responsive" (verse 19) applied new life skills because they wanted to be better for God.
- Nation was defiled.
- Some of these defiling things happened hundreds of years prior.
- Don't think because an issue is in the distant past, that means it is automatically resolved.
- Josiah takes action to (1) destroy the defiling influence and (2) defile what defiled his nation. There's still a godly way today to implement that skill: the skill of defiling that which needs to be defiled.
- Josiah was thorough and radical.
- Are you thorough and radical?
- How do you think it feels to smash to pieces the things that influence you to sin?
- When defiled, we must go on the attack to defile the behaviors that defiled you.
- For defiling things that influence your own self-defiling behavior, defile all access to it.
- Make a public, radical spectacle out of the things and behaviors that have tarnished your life.
- It is completely appropriate to "boast in the Lord" (2 Corinthians 10:17) so feel free to make a well-communicated example to others about how you have repented. People need to be inspired to overcome.
- From verse 16, has God "foretold" your repentance, yet you are still putting it off?
- We are talking about a serious all-out attack on your sin.
- Renounce your old behavior with new life skills.
- For those in long-standing debt, cut up one of your credit cards and leave it on your kitchen table. If you still need to boost your credit score, keep an emergency credit card locked away just for bigger purchases that you will pay off the balance in under 30 days.
- Burn all the junk food in your house at a fire pit.
- For those who oversleep frequently, sleep on the floor for a few nights.
- For those getting into repeated sin using their smart phone, get a flip phone and leave your smart phone in a corner of your room with a spoonful of dirt on top.
- If television has become an idol, smash your television to pieces, or sell it and give the money to Christian missions.
- As evil thoughts pop into your mind, immediately picture them being tossed into a gross pit of sewage and toxic waste.
- Uninstall games and social media apps from your phone.
|A Crypto Unicorn Is Born by Joe Chiappetta is rare digital art, available on MakersPlace. As financial satire, this cryptoart comic strip pokes fun at some of the sillier, yet all-too-real things going on in the never-boring and never-secure world of investments.|
- Putting your "hope" in your investment is forbidden.
- "Wealth... is so uncertain." God has embedded an uncertainty principle into all worldly wealth.
- Investors must take to heart that valuations will always have uncertainty associated with them, and this is by God's design.
- If you do invest in anything, regardless of what you think are the positive elements supporting your investment, understand that its value can go down or up, or both.
- In fact, the only thing Biblically guaranteed is that its value is "uncertain."
- "Time and chance happen to" the "brilliant" as well as the not-so-brilliant.
- Referring to your investments, this means you can attempt to make the most researched, "wise" investment strategy, but because of the "time and chance" principle, which happens to "all," your investment could still fail, or do amazing, or stay flat, or all of the above, over time.
- Casting your bread upon the waters due to unknown disasters best illustrates the principle of investment diversity.
- If all your investments are focused on one asset, and disaster comes upon that asset, your investment can fail.
- "Little by little" is the Bible's advice on how to grow your finances.
- Beware of get-rich-quick promises.
- From a worldly perspective, you can do everything proper, following other successful investors, but that could still fail if God does not build with you.
- Investors need to beg God to support their investment or it will be "in vain."
- Practically speaking, for the Christian, this means walking with God every day, begging him to support what you have invested in.
- The Hebrew word translated here as "silver" is also translated as "money."
- Currency, commodity, and other asset values can radically change with changes in government.
- Sometimes your asset value will go up with these changes but sometimes down.
- So much of investing outcomes are completely out of our control.
- How many people are already using the product on a daily basis?
- How useful is the product?
- Who is on the team promoting/marketing this investment?
- Who is on the team operating this product?
- Do claims (hype) about the product match what the product currently does today?
- If a key member of the team behind the investment left the project, would the investment suffer?
- If your investment went to zero, would you be financially ruined?
- Consider dollar cost averaging.
- How easy and quick is it to cash out of the investment?
- How limited is the supply of this product?
- Since the Bible says to "test everything," how can you know your research is reliable.
- In the ancient world, a "talanton" (or "talent" in English) was a specific weight of currency.
- Reading before and after the parable, its context is about God's kingdom, which is the church.
- The master (God) entrusts people with money (verse 14). Are you being trustworthy with money?
- Everyone has "abilities" (verse 15). Are you using your abilities to put the money that God gives you to multiply?
- How quickly does the man with 5 talents put the money to work (verse 16)?
- What is his rate of return?
- One of the people with less talents still put it to work and multiplied it (verse 22).
- For the man given 1 talent, what stopped him from putting the money to work (verse 25-26)?
- Third person was wicked and lazy. He did not do anything with the money but buried it. He called worthless servant by God. He was not faithful or responsible with what God gave him. How about you?
- Being unwilling to try is wicked according to this parable.
- Regardless of how much you have, what can you do this week to put money to work?
- The master harvests where he has not sown and gathers where he has not scattered seed. What does that mean?
- Be entrepreneurial by disrupting new markets. Don't wait to be invited into a business. Start breaking into viable sales avenues now. Just make sure, as you do spend time building your business, that this business never becomes your idol.
- When you understand that raising money is pleasing to God, and that you can please God, you can become more flexible in what jobs or business opportunities you may pursue.
- Since this is a parable about the kingdom and our responsibility to multiply money to the benefit of life in the church, we all need to keep asking ourselves: how are we doing with multiplying money to benefit the kingdom?
- Start a side business that draws from in-demand abilities you already have. The key here is "in-demand," as in what service or product that you offer are customers willing to part money with to actually do business with you?
- When investing in stocks or other assets that you have researched and believe will eventually go up in value, only invest amounts in which you are willing to completely lose.
- When researching potential investments, don't simply believe people who are already heavily invested in that same investment. Research counter arguments. Look for metrics that are verifiable and valuable to future growth. Analyze multiple data points, not just one.
- Take all your loose change that has been doing nothing and invest it.
- Learn to cut costs, negotiate prices or bills, and renegotiate.
- What are some of the factors that lead to health problems?
- How connected are physical issues to spiritual issues?
- Does guilt ever play a part in health issues?
- When health problems occur, one possible reason is "because of my sin" (verse 3), which brings about God's "wrath."
- Understand that this is one POSSIBLE reason. There are other possible reasons. So if someone has health problems, that does not automatically mean they are in sin. However, when we appreciate that any particular health problem MIGHT be a result of our sin, a positive thing to do is look at this as another opportunity to get closer to God.
- Does guilt have a weight (verse 4)?
- What is the definition of guilt?
- In Hebrew, the word translated in verse 4 as "guilt" is "ʿāôn," which means "perversity, depravity, iniquity, guilt or punishment of iniquity." Understand that a depraved action makes us "guilty" whether we have been "caught" in the sin or not: whether we "feel" guilty or not. Guilt is a condition, not a feeling.
- Reading this psalm, what does guilt have to do with health?
- Be aware also that physical health pain can lead to mental health issues, such as "mourning" (from verse 6) and "anguish of heart" (from verse 8). These in-and-of themselves are not sin, but if prolonged, such behaviors can lead to depression, which can result in lack of faith.
- Note that David, the psalmist, journals about this. He gets very open about what is going on. That's an essential step in recovery.
- Don't isolate when in pain. Continue to seek godly fellowship. However, be prepared (looking at verse 11), that such issues could put a strain on your relationships.
- Be extra-focused on having great times with God (verse 9).
- What statements does the psalmist make to confirm he is aware of God's presence?
- Stay acutely aware of God's presence. Our "sighing is not hidden from" God (verse 9).
- Prepare that your influence, understanding, and even communications may become disrupted.
- That's why pursuing great relationships with a few trusted disciples will take extra focus. You will need trusted spiritual advisors to help you through these times.
- "Wait for" the LORD (verse 15). See your need for him.
- Stay faithful.
- Pray in your weakness with humility.
- Rely on God.
- Confess your sin.
- Don't merely take note that you should confess your sin. Stop what you're doing right now, get with another faithful person and "confess your sins to one another" (James 5:16).
- We need an appropriate emotional response to our sin. We need to be "troubled" by our sin (verse 18) so that we can be cut to the heart and repent.
- Repent by pursuing "what is good."
- Note the fear of God in David. Make sure we have our fear of God on straight.
- Get urgent in your prayers.
- Based on Psalm 38, what is a key reason the some health problems exist and even persist?
- Do you see your need for the Savior?
- Once you and a few others in your life can confirm that you are doing all the things outlined in the psalm, you will be in a better place.
- If the health problem in question persists, at least you have eliminated one of the potential causes of your pain while also getting even more focused on God as you wait for him to lead you to the next phase of his plan for your life.
- The relief of knowing that God is not angry with you brings a special and warming kind of healing that endures forever.
|Forgiving is rare digital art by Joe Chiappetta, available on OpenSea. I drew and animated this to highlight the power of forgiveness changing a person's character. On the job, at home, and everywhere in-between, we all need to give and receive that priceless commodity called forgiveness!|
|Sword of the Spirit Mobile is rare digital art by Joe Chiappetta, available on AtomicHub.|
- For work or school, on a notecard, write out a different scripture verse every day and review it at the top of each hour on the job.
- Call a brother or sister to pray with during a lunch break.
- Study how much the Bible talks about farming (work) and its spiritual components.
- We are commanded to "gain prudence."
- What does prudence mean?
- Prudence is discretion, guile (cunning), subtle (cleverly delicate), crafty, cautious.
- Are you cautious about what you eat? Are you cautious about what you say "yes" to? Cautious about what you say "no" to? Are you cautious about what you spend money on?
- Prudence (from Merriam-Webster Dictionary): (1) ability to govern and discipline oneself by use of reason, (2) sagacity (keen, farsighted discernment and judgement) or shrewd in management of affairs, (3) skill and good judgement in use of resources, (4) cautious or circumspection as to danger or risk.
- Do you have keen, farsighted discernment and judgement when it comes to your health, time, money, and career?
- Since prudence is keen, farsighted discernment, can you be financially prudent without an up-to-date annual budget?
- The good news is that God says prudence can be gained.
- How can you gain these things?
- Listening and obeying correction is prudent.
- How well do you take correction?
- Do you think you're prudent but people have to tip-toe around you because you are easily offended when corrected? Then you are not prudent.
- Which describes you more?
- If you are easily offended, you're not prudent.
- What's the opposite of prudent?
- How can overlooking an insult help you in business?
- To overlook something is to look above that situation (however painful), and into the desired result that you want. That's patient foresight. It's "prudent."
- Can an impatient person be prudent on the job?
- Customers and coworkers will insult you. Winning them over gains you more influence.
- How can overlooking an insult help you in time management?
- People will insult you with lateness any trying to waste your time. Practicing diplomacy and courteous brevity will help steer your schedule back to efficiency.
- How can overlooking an insult help you with your health?
- Insults, when not forgiven, can result in a pattern of stressful, resentful, and bitter thoughts. This can lead to overeating, substance abuse, or other damaging behaviors to your mental health.
- How can keeping knowledge to yourself help you in your career?
- Learn what first-mover advantage means.
- You will see injustice and bad decisions in your career. Some issues are useful to address. Some matters, however, will work themselves out without you having to waste time on it while "the heart of fools blurts out folly." Such people take themselves out of the equation eventually by their own foolish behavior. Pick your battles carefully.
- For your career, instead of trying to reform your company with talk that goes nowhere, perhaps it is better to take your knowledge to a new company with better pay.
- Can a person act "out of knowledge" if they don't keep an account of their time and money?
- Look on the calendar for your Monday. Go hour-by-hour to see what your plan is.
- If you don't have an up-to-date budget, you can't possibly act out of knowledge.
- A prudent person is an effective thinker.
- Does thinking take work? Must be intentional. Thinking takes reallocation of your time.
- How much time do you think about your strategy (ways) for your health, time, money, and career?
- If not thinking about these areas on an ongoing basis, what does the Bible call you?
- Be very selective about what you believe. Takes planning, analysis of your "ways."
- Align your beliefs (faith) with your thoughts.
- Do you believe something merely because the Internet says it?
- Make sure your steps toward health, time, money and career have a Biblical basis.
- Example: An investor gets excited about a potential money-making opportunity because many sources are promoting the opportunity. The scripture to apply here is Proverbs 18:17. "The first to present his case seems right, till another comes forward and questions him." Question why these sources are promoting the opportunity? Are they just trying to pump their own investment in a coordinated manner for their own personal gain? Is there substance beyond the hype?
- What dangers do you see to your budget?
- What dangers do you see in your diet or lack of exercise? Or are you too "simple" to see anything wrong?
- Find refuge in exercise, healthy eating, frugal spending, scheduling daily, and career advancement. Do all these things take time? Yes, but when you see the danger, you make the time.
- What dangers do you see to your use of time? Look at what you do before you go to sleep, and right after you wake up. How do you spend your time right after getting off work? On a long drive, do you always listen to the radio, letting the world lead your thoughts, or are you making productive phone calls?
- Do you waste time staying up late on social media or gaming? Taking "refuge" means turn off your electronics, put them in a different room, and get to bed at a reasonable hour. See the danger in your misuse of time.
- Take refuge means change your diet, spending patterns, career path, and schedule.
- A path is a very specific way to go. Are you more of a path-keeper or a wandering stray?
- Operating with prudence is a life/death issue.
- Prudence is a matter of survival... a life skill.
- Remember one of the definitions of prudence: the ability to govern and discipline oneself by use of reason.
- Can you govern and discipline yourself without measurable goals?
- "The path of prudence" must be paved with goals that you stick to with discipline.
- Set 1 prudent goal and 1 milestone right now. Write it down.
- Where there is godly wisdom, there is prudence (verse 12). They "dwell together." If someone thinks they are wise, yet there is no evidence of prudent action, can they really be wise?
- What's the difference between wisdom and prudence?
- The two words, wisdom and prudence, are synonymous, yet wisdom is more about learning/thinking while prudence is more about thought put to action.
- Wisdom (from Merriam-Webster Dictionary): (1) ability to discern inner qualities and relationships: insight, (2) good sense: judgment, (3) generally accepted belief, (4) accumulated philosophical or scientific learning: knowledge.
- Prudence (from Merriam-Webster Dictionary): (1) ability to govern and discipline oneself by use of reason, (2) sagacity (keen, farsighted discernment and judgement) or shrewd in management of affairs, (3) skill and good judgement in use of resources, (4) cautious or circumspection as to danger or risk.
- A person can be wise, knowing exactly what should be done. But does that person have the courage and diligence to do it? That's prudence.
- Example of wisdom without prudence: you know you should overhaul your resume, network to get a better job, follow up more in person... but you don't make it happen.
- Prudence is deliberating well (with follow up toward self and the good of others).
- Aristotle (350 BC) taught that prudent people act on their knowledge.
- Great reason to become prudent is it is a God-fearing characteristic (verse 13) that reduces waste in your life.
- Prudent people manage things in life effectively because they don't want to offend God with their use (or misuse) of resources, especially (1) time, (2) health, (3) career, and (4) money.
- What's an easy way to tell if you are prudent or not?
- Show me your past week's schedule plus this coming week's schedule.
- Look at your diet and even down at your waistline.
- Track where your money goes. Are you prudent in giving to God?
- God hates pride (verse 13). A prideful person will waste resources but think they are doing everything fine.
- Pride fakes prudence. What does that phrase mean? A prideful person merely thinks they are prudent.
- "To fear the LORD is to hate evil" (verse 13). Why is this stated right after the topic of prudence?
- Lack of prudence is "evil behavior." If you say you fear God, but you're not prudent, do you really fear God?
- Why isn't the term "life skills" in the Bible?
- Bible uses the term "prudence." In fact, prudence is life skills.
- Memorize the definition of prudence.
- Throughout your day, as you go through each decision, ask first: is this prudent?
- Example: Does what I am doing when no one is looking showing God that I display the ability to govern and discipline myself well?
- Look at the love/hate dynamic of wisdom.
- Wisdom hates "evil behavior." Wisdom loves those who love and seek godly wisdom. Do both parts of wisdom's love/hate principle define you?
- Gain wisdom by aligning what you love and hate with what the Bible says.
- Gain prudence by applying wisdom in your actions.
- Gain prudence and you gain life skills.
2 Peter 1:3-11
 His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness.  Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature and escape the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.
 For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge;  and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness;  and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, love.  For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.  But if anyone does not have them, he is nearsighted and blind, and has forgotten that he has been cleansed from his past sins.
 Therefore, my brothers, be all the more eager to make your calling and election sure. For if you do these things, you will never fall,  and you will receive a rich welcome into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
- Verse 5: Are we commanded to level up?
- Why would God really want his disciples to keep growing, advancing, leveling up?
- Look at what we are to "add to our faith." Verse 5-7: "faith, goodness, knowledge, self-control, perseverance, godliness, brotherly kindness, love."
- Verse 6: Need to acquire self-control. Is self-control essential to Discipleship? Health? Time management? Finances? Career?
- If you are tanking in any of these areas, look at your self-control, and what comes before it: "knowledge."
- Verse 8: "Possess these Qualities in Increasing Measures." Expected to increase in productivity and effectiveness.
- Must be learning new skills.
- Verse 3: Who is the source of life skills? God's power has "given us everything we need for life..."
- God gives us the powerful ability to have life skills, but we have to activate it by embracing our knowledge with actions.
- Are you honing your abilities, or neglecting them?
- Verse 4: Why is it important to know God's promises? Do you know God's promises?
- Verse 4: "Escape the corruption in the world caused by evil desires."
- What are some of these corrupting "evil desires?"
- Slap the time-wasting apps off your phone.
- Turn off notifications (except calendar reminders).
- Are you seeking God or seeking interruptions?
- "Wealth... is so uncertain" (1 Timothy 6:17)
- By design, wealth is unstable. Yet are you still relying on wealth over God?
- Convinced that your investment will make money? Not only is wealth uncertain: so is your future. Only God knows the future.
- The reason why there are so many different financial forecasters and advisors on this earth is that they all say different things and they almost never accurately predict what will happen when.
- Oh but your investment will go up because you're a disciple? Please stop thinking that. Would God change the uncertainty principle of wealth, that's been written plainly in the Bible for centuries (1 Timothy 6:17), just because you invested in the latest fad, gamble, uncertainty?
- To be legit, you've got to budget.
- Are you single looking for a relationship? If you want that honey, first be responsible with money.
- Keep track of where every dollar goes.
- Can't afford a car? Work a steady job and save cash in a jar.
- Volunteers, such as unpaid campus workers: that's a very noble task. But if there is no income, and no plan for paid employment... How long can you afford to fund that lifestyle?
- Find out through a budget or you'll be begging through a tin cup.
- Finish your budget, then you can judge it--not fudge it.
- Pay off your debt, not your pet.
- Stop browsing the internet. Earn paychecks that reduce debt.
- Manage your Time, or face the Crime... the crime of wasting hours upon hours of unproductive chill time, me time.
- Spend more time on your calendar than your avatar.
- Get your head out of the stratosphere; keep a calendar.
- Let your Yes be Yes, or create a big mess. (See Matthew 5:37.)
- Let your No be No, or your failure will show.
- There are times, according to Jesus, that it is godly to say "No."
- Physical Training is of some value... (1 Timothy 4:8) but decaying in your chair, you get NO value out of Physical Training. Exercise daily!
- Coffee is fantastic mainly for making corporations rich. It is of little actual benefit to humans--no significant nutritional value.
- For artists, coffee also makes new paper look dirty and stained... and the drug in it (caffeine) can soil your mind--and strain your nerves too.
- But... do you still "need" coffee every day... because you're a slave to it? Stop.
- Could you use the thousands of dollars already wasted on coffee for something better?
- Have no money for God, yet somehow you're funding a soon-to-be oversized gut?
- For the women, if you can afford makeup and use it, that is your choice. Yet if you are in debt, why pay for makeup to alter the pretty face that God already gave you?
- Somehow people find money for snacks regardless of income level. Do the same for God.
- Have no job? Maybe employers don't care how good you are at video games? Can you get those hours of playtime back and trade them for a consistent job search?
- Food with Added Sugar is delightfully exciting... exciting to Satan as he cheers on your compulsive behavior, your addictions, your bigger belly that makes you sluggish, and of course, your incoming diabetes, heart disease, and obesity.
- Make every effort to add to the good you already know how to do: in health, schedule, money, and career.
- Get off your rear; learn to steer--away from your corrupting evil desires and into the additive life skills that God's power is destined to unlock
- A car needs a road. The road is Jesus. He is "the way" (John 14:6). So we all need to get the car moving the right way on the right road. And a car has 4 wheels: health, schedule, finance, and career. It just takes 1 flat tire to stop the whole car. So start getting your life in tune. Get a tune-up.
- Start cruising with the Lord by adding to your faith life skills.
- Add some hot skills to your life. Stop driving No-Wheels; drive some Hot Wheels!