Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Encouragement: Pass the Baton

"And the things that you heard me say...entrust to reliable men who will also be qualified to teach others." 2 Timothy 2:2.

Life is often compared to running a race (1 Cor. 9:24-27; 2 Tim. 4:7; Heb. 12:1). As the generations overlap and children are nurtured to adulthood, each generation is like a runner in a relay. Children are trained by their parents. After maturing, they become parents and train the next generation of children to maturity. Each generation needs to get the baton of maturity from the previous one and pass it on to the next one.
Three major stages (activities) in life are child (trainee), parent (trainer) and grandparent (mentor, or advisor). At each exchange in a relay, the new runner needs to get up to speed before receiving the baton, and the runner with the baton needs to hand it over at the right time. This illustration can be applied to many aspects of life, including families and faith. Let's see some examples to better understand how we can pass the baton.

1. Moses & Joshua
Moses, a great leader, led the Israelites out of captivity in Egypt, established them as a nation, and prepared them to enter Canaan. Two months after Israel's exodus he appointed Joshua to lead the battle against the Amalekites (Ex. 17:8-15). Joshua had been Moses' assistant since his youth (Num. 11:28) - a trainee with on-the-job training. Joshua became familiar with all that Moses did. They worked together. It is not surprising that God appointed Joshua to succeed Moses by leading the Israelites to capture and occupy Canaan (Num. 27:12-23). It's interesting to note that Moses commanded Joshua to remember past victories and to trust God for future ones. And also Moses commissioned Joshua and strengthened him for the task ahead (Deut.3:28). Thus we see how Moses passed baton to Joshua to continue conquering and inherit God's promises. Similarly we need to train and encourage the next generation to continue and complete the vision.

2. Elijah And Elisha
Elijah was a Jewish prophet (800 BC) who prophesied against idolatry in Israel. God told Elijah that Elisha would succeed him as prophet (1 Ki. 19:16). No one is indispensable, and eventually we have to hand over our roles in life to others. Elisha then "set out to follow Elijah and became his attendant" (1 Ki. 19:21). Elijah and Elisha travelled together (2 Ki. 2:1-6). Before he was taken to heaven, Elijah was told by God to visit Bethel, Jericho and the Jordan. Each time, he asked Elisha to stay behind, but Elisha insisted, "I will not leave you." He was a faithful trainee. Look for those who are closely attached to your vision and are committed to accomplishing your incomplete goals. Choose them and throw your mantle onto them.

3.Jesus And The Apostles
Jesus Christ, the eternal Son of God came to rescue people from their sins (Mk. 10:45). During His public ministry. He chose twelve men, "that they might be with Him and that He might send them out to preach" (Mk. 3:13-19). These men, called apostles, were trained while they were "with Him" and then sent out to preach - both while He was on earth and after-wards (Mk. 6:7-13; 16:15-16). They followed Jesus, heard His teachings, and witnessed His miracles as well as His life, death and resurrection (Mk. 6:1). Jesus said His relationship with the apostles was like that of family (Mt. 12:49-50). He explained the parables to them, but not to the people (Mt.l3:10,36). He told them about His future suffering, death and resurrection, but they didn't understand until after the resurrection ( Jn. 2:22). He focussed on preparing them to continue the work He has completed on the cross- to make disciples of all nations. he equipped them to multiply by passing the baton of gospel to the future generations. 

4. Parents And Children
Parents have the task of training the next generation to adulthood. Solomon wrote, "Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it" (Prov. 22:6). Parents are responsible to develop each dependent child into a self-sufficient adult. This involves both training them and then releasing them (Eph. 6:1-4). Children should be trained to be adults, and when they reach adulthood they should be released from parental supervision and sent into the world.

Training is like helping the next runner get up to speed before receiving the baton of maturity. If we are trainees, are we willing to be like Joshua, Elisha, Timothy and the apostles? They served willingly and were eager to learn. If we are trainers, are we willing to be like Moses and Paul? Are we training the next generation to maturity, or are we hindering their development? Are we looking for trainees? Moses and Paul saw the potential in Joshua and Timothy. Do we see the potential in the next generation? Such potential is not realized unless it is developed. As the next generation matures are we releasing the baton so they can run their race? Are we handing over responsibilities? Are we training ourselves out of a job, so others can carry on when we are no longer able?

Let's pass the baton of faith and service to the next generation: by training our children to maturity and then releasing them to develop as adults. Pass on what you have learned in life to others to prepare them better equipped to face realities of life. Thus each generation advances in knowledge and skill and vision to develop into better people to glorify God and bless others.

Be Encouraged.

A. Othniel 

><> Letter # 4 (1. 2. 2009 ) <>< 

Encouragement: Best Words to Build Relationships

"Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment. so that it will give grace to those who hear." Ephesians 4:29.

The basis of life is people and how they relate to each other. Our success, fulfillment,and happiness depends upon our ability to relate effectively. The best way to become a person that others are drawn to is to develop qualities that we are attracted to in others.

>> Are we quick to respond to others’ needs?
>> Do we run from problems or face them?
>> Do we talk more about bad news or good news?
>> Do we give people the benefit of the doubt or do we assume the worst?

What is the Key to relating to others? It’s putting yourself in someone else’s place instead of putting them in their place.
Christ gave the perfect rule for establishing quality human relationships.
The Golden Rule: 
Matthew 7:12. Therefore, whatever you want others to do for you, do so for them.”
1. We need to decide how we want to be treated.
2. We need to begin treating others in that manner.
“If you want people to act right toward you, you act right toward them. And many times you’ll change them.”
Determine not be a reactor but an initiator.

Five Ways You Want others to Treat you and you need to treat others too

1. You Want Others to Encourage You: most of your best friends are those who encourage you! You avoid those who put you down and seek out those who believe in you and lift you up.
The happiest people are those who have invested their time in others. The unhappiest people are those who wonder how the world is going to make them happy.
Karl Menninger, the great psychiatrist was asked what a lonely, unhappy person should do. He said,”Lock the door behind you, go across the street, find someone who is hurting, and help them.” Forget about yourself to help others.

2. You Want others to Appreciate You: William James said, “ The deepest principle in human nature is the craving to be appreciated.”
When you meet people, in the first 30 seconds of conversation, try to say something that shows you appreciate and affirm the person. It sets the tone of the rest of your time together. Even a quick affirmation will give people a sense of value.
Treat others as you want them to treat you. Treat them as if they are important, they will respond according to the way that you perceive them.Though we think wonderful thoughts of others, it is of no value if all you do is only think; it becomes valuable when you impart it.

3. You Want Others to Forgive You: Almost all emotional problems and stress come from unresolved conflicts, failure to have developed right relationships with people. Because of this, many people have a deep desire for total forgiveness. A forgiving spirit is the one basic necessary ingredient for a solid relationship. Forgiveness frees us from guilt and allows us to interact positively with other people.
The two great marks in a good relationship are that that they are giving and forgiving.
People who do not forgive are hurting themselves much more than they are hurting others. A person who possesses this characteristic and keeps score in relationships is a person who is emotionally and sometimes physically under stress. 
Forgiveness should be given as quickly and as totally as possible. Quit keeping score of injustices that have happened to you. If you are at odd with anyone, take the first step; confront the problem and ask or offer forgiveness.
If you don’t have peace, it is not because someone took it from you; you gave it away. You can not always control what happens to you, but you can control what happens in you.

4. You Want Others to Listen to You: As people gain more authority, they often develop a lack of patience in listening to those under them. A deaf ear is the first indication of a closed mind. Practice the art of listening to others. Listneng helps you to understand the other person better and thus to relate well. Your listening shows your interest in others and fosters strong relationships. James counsels in his letter in NT, to be quick to listen and to be slow to speak. (1:19).

5. You Want Others to Understand You: How do you feel when you are misunderstood? What kinds of feelings well up inside you? Loneliness? Frustration? Disappointment? Resentment? These are common feelings when we have been misunderstood. Peter Drucker, the Father of American Management, claims that 60% of all management problems are a result of faulty communications.
A leading marriage counsellor says that at least half of all divorces result from faulty communications between spouses.
Criminologists tell us that upwards of 90% of all criminals have difficulty communicating with other people. Communication is fundamental to understanding. To sum up, here are the best words that build strong relationships:

The least important word: I (gets the least amount done)
The 1 most important word: We (gets the most amount done) - relationships
The 2 most important words: Thank You - appreciation
The 3 most important words: All is Forgiven - forgiveness
The 4 most important words: What is your opinion? - listening
The 5 most important words: You did a good job - encouragement
The 6 most important words: I want to know you better - understanding 

In life, either you are going to see people as your adversaries or as your assets. If they are adversaries, you will be continually sparring with them, trying to defend your position. If you see people as assets, you will help them see their potential, and you will become allies in making the most of each other. The happiest day of your life will be the day when you realize “we” really is the most important word in the English language. 

Be Encouraged.

A. Othniel 

><> Letter # 3 (25. 1. 2009 ) <>< 

Encouragement- Powerful Priorities

Encouragement: Powerful Priorities! 

"The end of all things is near. Therefore be clear-minded and self-controlled so that you can pray. Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers a multitude of sins. Offer hospitality...use whatever gift he has received to serve others..., so that in all things God may be glorified..." 1 Peter 4;7-11.

Those who want to succeed in life, set their priorities aright. It is worth noting in this passage some priorities listed for our practical application. The new year already started but it's never too late to re-organise your priorities to make your life worth-living.

1. Manage Time: Life is run on two main resources: time and money. Both are inter-related and we live because of these made available to us. Everybody in the world is becoming aware that as days pass by and we enter new years, the end is near! So, whatever time we have is limited. Let us be very serious about this and budget our time and put a time table ot all we plan to do in this short life. Opporutnities to do something good may not come again and we may not see again the good days that we enjoyed much, so let us count time as precious and make every effort to utilize it wisely.

2. Control Mind: To live life to the full, one has to have clear mind to think, plan, and do things he wants. People and circumstances can affect one's state of mind but being self-controlled is important to achieve great things in life. Many people regretted for losing mind and causing great loss to themselves and others. As you submit yourself to obey God's Word, His Holy Spirit leads and controls you, so you can bear the fruit of self-control to be a blessing to many.

3. Pray always: A prayerful life is a powerful life. Prayer connects one to the supernatural power available from God. Human ability is not enough to face and win many challenges in life. Prayer prepared us to live life in peace and victoriously. All have this common privilege to pray and approac the Almighty. Take time to pray and never give up prayer- there is always hope you get answers.

4. Love Really Deeply: Love need not be skin deep or only limited to emotional feelings. Love can be expressed as deeply as possible. No one can say they loved enough or fully. We are always indebted to love others. This is a supreme love that covers others' weaknesses and enables us to accept them just as they are. Deep love forgives others and seeks their good always. Especially commit yourself to love those to whom you are committed in life- your parents, your spouse, children, neighbours, colleagues and friends. Let love be real and sincere, expressed always in good actions and without hypocrisy.

5. Use your potential to serve others: Each one is gifted with some useful potential. It is not how much we have but how are we using whatever we have in serving others. Decide to use your talents, gifts, resources and whatever is useful, to bless others and for the benefit of others. In return your life will be enriched and blessed abundantly. As you sow, you will reap. As you give, so you gain. As you share, you will receive. We are called to account what has been given to us and how best we used them. Think about it.

6. Do everything for God's glory: Many ask what is life all about? God's Word answers saying, life is all about God's glory! We are created and all universe for Creator's glory. But as sin ruined man and made him a self-seeking rebel, Christ came into the world and died in sinners' place, so those who accept His sacrifice could be saved. Thus redeemed people can bring glory to God who is the source of all blessings. Whether you eat, drink or do anything, do all for God's glory, we are exhorted in 1 Corinthians 10:31. As you give due credit to God for all that happens in your life, you will be blessed and exalted. Your life will be enriched. 

Let these be set as priorities in your life this year and you will see how your life will be different and will make a difference! 

Be Encouraged.

A. Othniel 

><> Letter # 2 (18. 1. 2009 ) <>< 

Encouragement: A Fresh Start! A TOP Goal!

Encouragement: A Fresh Start- A TOP Goal!

"All things are possible to him who believes"(Mark 9:23)

Resolutions mark the beginning of the new year. Perhaps, there might have been many failures, imposssibilities in the past year. Now through trust in God and in yourself, through the reorganization of your life and your thoughts, and through persistence, life will no longer be impossible. You may be one of literally hundreds of people for whom the impossible can be turned into the possible. In the new year, you can have a new start, a fresh start!

I don't know what's impossible to you. Maybe, you've had trouble with relationships and can't believe you'll ever find stability and happiness. Or maybe your impossibility lies in a different area- in work, health, age, family life or financial uncertainty. 
Whatever it is, you're probably feeling bad about it.

Facing impossible can be debilitating. It can lead to depression, produce frustration, and foster unhappiness. And the worse you feel, the more impossible your situation becomes. Dreams recede. Roads to the future are strewn with barbs. The thing that you desperately want to do, to have, or to achieve remains obstinately beyond your reach.
I want you to know there's a way around the impossible.

It begins with the word itself. Be careful what you call impossible- because as soon as you call something impossible, you make it so. You become like a person shut in a room who says, "I can't get out, I can't get out!" when all he needs to do is push the door a little harder to find that it gives way. 

That "pushing" consists of three things which I call the TOP principles. TOP stands for: TRUST, ORGANIZE, and PERSIST. The strategy is very straight forward, and it works. It has worked for many people, famous as well as not-so-famous.

Do you have the qualities required to turn impossibility into opportunity, dead ends into highways? You almost certainly do, even if those strengths are lying dormant and need to be reactivated by putting them to work. 
But why trust, organize and persist at all? What makes those three qualities so special in tackling the impossible.

There is a passage in the Bible that is profoundly relevant to the issue of trust, in the book of Numbers 13. Similarly, not many of us can comprehend with complete, cool objectivity the real proportions of the impossible. We are forced, whether we like it or not, to trust someone else's view. But this immediately confronts us with a question: Whom are we going to trust? The pessimists? Or the optimists- the Calebs who say at the borders of Canaan, "Let us go up at once and take possession, for we are well able to overcome it" (Numbers 13:30)?
But Whom to Trust
"All things", said the Lord Jesus, "are possible to him who believes"(Mark 9:23). So, first we need to put our trust in God who is Almighty. Then, with reliance on Him we trust our own judgement- not that of others with their questionable agenda. About trusting yourself, let me remind you that you do it everyday. If you trust yourself implicitly in simple things, you are capable of trusting yourself in all things. But self-trust is only a foundation. We all need help. Realizing our dependence on other people is one of the keys to doing the impossible.

When you read to the end of the story in the Gospel of Mark 9:14-29, you'll find an intriguing exchange between Jesus and His disciples. Here we pass beyond trust. Trust had to be supplemented by a disciplined spirituality. 

A close look at the Gospels reveals that Jesus systematically undergirded His public ministry with retreat and private prayer. It's a good pattern to follow. Just as important, it serves as an example of the general truth that you must organize if you are to achieve. I suspect that thsi is the common denominator of all achievers. Apart from Geographical detail, you'll find that every one of them has at some point set a goal and then devised a strategy to achieve it. Why set goals? Simply because goal-setting is the antithesis of immobility. Although unhappiness and discontent are powerful motivators, they can not give direction. Goals can.

Persistence is essential to success. There's an old ad man's motto: the difficult we do immediately; the impossible takes a little longer. It is that "little longer" that you cover with the strength of persistence.
Trust, Organize, Persist.

Cultivate an appropriate trust in God, in yourself, and in those around you. Organize a well-structured goals program. Don't give up. 
Those are the three secrets of overcoming the impossible- the TOP principles.
How are you going to implement them? 
Basic to any kind of endeavor is Commitment. If you don't have that, there's nothing I or anybody else can do to help you. What does commitment mean? One achiever said: "When you start out to accomplish something, you must not come back until you have done it." Sound advice. 

With Every Blessing for the New Year 2009.

>> See a beautfiul slideshow on my wishes for the new year at

Be Encouraged.
A. Othniel
><> Letter # 1 ( 11. 1. 2009 ) <><  >> subscribe to this mailing list at:

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