Book Excerpts

Beating the Odds Inspirations from Matthew 25

CONTENTS
Dedication v
Acknowledgments ix
Introduction xiii
Part I PRODUCTIVE READINESS Chapter 1 Principle #1: Some Things in Life Cannot be Borrowed 3
Chapter 2 Principle #2: Some Things Cannot be Obtained at the Last Moment 11
Chapter 3 Principle #3: Your Plan is as Big as Your Revelation 23
Chapter 4 Principle #4: It is Not About Your Time 39
Part II PRODUCTIVE ACTION Chapter 5 Principle #5: You have what it takes to make it in life 47
Chapter 6 Principle #6: Get Going 53
Chapter 7 Principle #7: Stop Blaming and Complaining 65
Part III PRODUCTIVE GIVING Chapter 8 Principle #8: Giving Begets Earthly and Heavenly Receiving 73
Conclusion 87
Correspondence 89
About the Author 91

Procrastination

One of the reasons life can happen to us instead of happening for us is our tendency to postpone issues, situations, and things that need to be attended to now. It is very possible that the foolish virgins may have postponed getting some extra oil until it was too late for them to do so and they arrived at their watch-post ill equipped. Postponing things till the last moment can make life pass you by. Noel Borja of Malaybalay, Bukidnon, Philippines, would have been the youngest multi-millionaire on record in the Philippines—all of P116 million. Unfortunately for him, the letter that informed him he was the sole heir of his grandfather’s real estate and for him to appear within 30 days before his grandfather’s executor, found its way to the dead-mail section of the Bureau of Post until the deadline of his appearance expired. The reason was that he had transferred from his boarding house in Manila and failed to leave a forwarding address as he kept postponing this very important matter. There is a fable about three apprentice devils who had just finished their training in hell and were about to be sent to earth to wreak havoc in the souls of men. The three of them had to appear before Satan, the prince of devils, to explain their game-plan for getting the job done.

 

The faith factor

Apart from guarding your heart and developing the right mental attitude towards your goal in life, there is still another important factor that you must bring into consideration as you pursue your dreams. The sources of failure in human endeavor are not always human; they are sometimes spiritual. The Bible tells us, “For our struggle is not against enemies of blood and flesh, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers of this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places” (Ephesians 6:12, italics mine). We may not know what caused the foolish virgins to forget to bring extra oil but whatever it was, the end result was tragic. There was a mad man who was accustomed to signing himself— making the Sign of the Cross—in front and at the back. When he was asked why he does that, his response was, “I do not know which side heaven will approach. I do not want to miss it no matter which way it comes”. You thought mad people were out of it! They are sometimes on target. To guard against failure, you must do whatever needs to be done to forestall it at all levels; be it human or spiritual.

 

Believe you can

I wonder what would have happened if Chuck Kaparich had listened to some voices that thought he was crazy for thinking he could build a carousel with no money in hand, no big philanthropist behind him, and no celebrity tags behind his own name. There are too many “it- can’t-be-done” voices out there and your biggest mistake will be to fall into the trap of needing other people’s approval to pursue your development. Approve your own dreams and believe that you have the power to be the captain of your own ship. The best push in the direction you want to go is the one that comes from you. You know your dream best; you are the one imagining the possibilities; you are the one longing for it; only you have the passion and drive to set it on course. Go ahead and do so! The two successful servants did not need anybody’s approval for what they needed to do. They believed they had what was necessary to commence their journey to prosperity. How about you?

 

Expect the odds and beat them

Life experiences have taught us that no matter what we do in life, difficult times are bound to appear. Whether you invite it or not, hardship will show up somehow. Life has a way of conspiring to throw in some discomforting obstacles into the mix of our lives. Whether we emerge victorious or defeated depends on what we do in the face of difficulties. The parable under study did not tell us anything about what the successful servants underwent on their way to prosperity. We were just told that they were one hundred percent successful. But we know that success does not come easily. There are usually obstacles to overcome, mountains to be climbed, rivers to be waded through, and

In life, there are things you must acquire and own for yourself. For example, you cannot borrow math skills from others. You need to acquire your own math skill if you are ever going to pass a math exam. You cannot ask Michael Jordan to lend you his basketball skills for a game with your team. You need to go out there on the basketball court and practice diligently with persistence and acquire the skill you need to play your game. You cannot borrow a relationship with God from others. You need to develop one with Him yourself. Even the Bible tells us that God gets angry when people try to borrow spiritual relationship with him from others: “Yes, I am against the prophets, says the LORD, who borrow speeches to pronounce oracles” (Jeremiah 23:31, NAB). Borrowing is like spending time trying to find oneself in other people. Many have had their self-esteem decimated, their ego stultified, and their blessings polluted because they wanted to walk, dress, look, talk, shine, and be like someone else. You cannot be who you are not and even if you try, you will only end up denying yourself and others the very unique gifts and talents that God bestowed upon you alone. It is of utmost importance that you develop you and become what God wants you to be. The Lord said: “I have called you by name!” It is a name that is for you; a name carved out for you alone;

 

It is not about others (Continue from the Book)

Unfortunately, wishing alone doesn’t accomplish much in life. The “I wish I had …” or “I should have mastered this or that skill” brings nothing to the table of successful endeavor. I am reminded of a proverb which says; “’If’ and ‘When’ were planted, and Nothing grew.” Chance has a way of favoring the prepared mind and unless we have trained ourselves to take advantage of chances, our chances will only make us look ridiculous. It is how we are prepared for today that will determine tomorrow’s accomplishments.

When former U.S. president, Abraham Lincoln, was still a Councilman in Illinois, one of his friends asked him if he had given thought to the possibility of becoming the president of the United States. His response was: “No, but I am going to prepare myself in case the opportunity shows up”. This is what life is about—being prepared in readiness for an emergent opportunity.

 

Maximizing your revelation

Remember that success is the product of your strategies and your strategies are the products of your thoughts. Your destiny is conditioned by the quality of your thoughts and that is why God’s tactics in changing your destiny is by changing the way you think—the transformation of your mind. Your mind needs to be guided against those factors that can inhibit you from thinking right and thinking big in the face of opportunities in life. The success of the wise virgins was as a result of the fact that they thought right and they thought big as they engaged the magnificent opportunity life presented to them. The transformation of the mind doesn’t come easy. It requires you to set limits on certain internal and external factors that can impact the way you think, feel, and act, e.g. negativity in your environment, negative events in your life, negative thinking about yourself and life in general, etc. One or any combination of these factors can limit your vision, minimize your revelation, truncate your thinking, and cause you to produce less than desired results. Therefore, it is important to guard against these factors by setting limits around them thereby cutting down on their ability to pollute your blessings, stultify your vision, and compromise your revelation. The Bible admonishes us: “With closest custody, guard your heart, for in it are the sources of life” (Proverb 4:22, NAB, italics mine). This is what I mean by setting limits. It is a way of guarding your heart and making you responsible for your decisions and your own life. It is a way of defining yourself as a distinct and unique individual responsible for yourself; aware of who you are and who you are not.

 

Take responsibility

One fact to always bear in mind is that, despite uncontrollable forces and circumstances, the only person to blame for the life you have today is the person you see in the mirror every morning. The truth is that your feelings about others and about life in general do not reflect your reality. Your emotional level and outlook on life is determined by the kinds of thoughts you are thinking and the kind of things you are saying to yourself. Nothing is truly good or bad in itself. It is our thinking that makes it so. Just take a look at a knife. It will cut you or help you perform a job depending on whether you are holding it at the blade or at the handle. Assuming that the unsuccessful servant’s complaint about his master—that he was a hard and demanding man reaping where he did not sow—was true, the enterprising servants must have known this fact too but processed and handled that information differently from the failed servant. While this servant focused on what his

 

How tithing works

In tithing, you are returning to God ten percent of what you have in honor and in recognition of the fact that He is the originating source of your treasure and the supplier of all your needs. This ten percent comes from your income before anything else lays claim on it. That means, you take out this percentage and give it to God (through charities, orphanages, different facilities that care for the less fortunate in our society) before you begin to spend your income on other things. This fact is very important in the way tithing functions. It is the first fruit. “Honor the LORD with your substance and with the first fruits of all your produce; then your barns will be filled with plenty” (Prov- erb 3:9–10). Notice that the promise of overflowing abundance is tied into your tithing being the first fruit. Many a time, we give from our income after we have already spent some of it on other things. This becomes charitable giving not tithing. Tithing involves spending my income first on God and then on other things. The promise God has made to you about your tithing has this condition on it. Many a time, we say, “I have been tithing but I don’t see the increase”. My question always is: “Was your tithe the first fruit?”