Dr. Craig L. Oliver
“True prayer is neither a mere exercise nor a vocal performance. It is far deeper than that – it is a spiritual transaction with the Creator of Heaven and Earth.”
- Charles Spurgeon
There are times within our individual contexts of life that we encounter extraordinary circumstances that require the intervention of the Good Hand of the Lord in our lives. There are moments in life that demand influence, fortitude, or strength that exceed our capacity. I firmly believe, however, that in these moments of our most exhaustive extremity that the conditions are perfect to engage the power wrought from fasting and praying. More than merely going without food, fasting and prayer reflect a humbled and submitted posture of the heart as illustrated in the story of Nehemiah.
“High expectations are the key to everything.”
- Sam Walton
Last week we covered mental enslavement to the past as one of the barriers to realizing a BETTER life. This week we will highlight another barrier that tends to be a bit more psychologically insidious. Minimal expectations of the future can mask itself in the persona of being a “realist”. We can identify ourselves as one who analyzes the empirical data of our situation and based on hard facts we strategically move or remain in position. This may be true in some situations, but in many cases we will find that it is a fearful minimalistic expectation of what lies ahead that keeps us tethered to our past. Such faulty thinking and reasoning precludes us embracing the BETTER life that lies before us.
“It took one day to get the Hebrews out of Egypt, but it took forty years to get Egypt out of the Hebrews.”
The beginning of a BETTER life doesn’t always originate in a context that is without challenge. As a matter of fact it often appears that contradictory contexts seem to serve as birthing grounds for the requisite decisions that catapult us into BETTER. Were we not forced out of our comfort zones through adversity, many of us would not have had the tenacity to reach forward to the promotion, advancement, and next level blessings that were before us. Key to advancement in our lives was the ability to move beyond our current situation and embrace that which was before us.
I am a firm believer that our best days are ahead of us and that the BETTER life that we seek is as close as the mindset we choose to feed and engage. At EBC this year we have been definitive in our declaration that BETTER is Before Us! We are intentional in our objective to lead BETTER lives. BETTER in our Family, BETTER in our Finances, BETTER in our Fitness, and BETTER in our Faith. I came across the article Live A Better Life By Making These 8 Choices by Lidiya K on the Lifehack website that effectively articulates practical choices that we can make to ensure that we live our best lives. Last week I shared the first 4 choices that we can make to live BETTER and hold ourselves accountable to embracing a BETTER mindset. This week I am sharing the remaining 4 choices of the 8 choices that we must make in order to live a BETTER life. May you be blessed and inspired as we continue to decree that BETTER is Before Us!
- Dr. Craig L. Oliver - #ebcBETTER
At EBC this year we have been dogmatic in our declaration that BETTER is Before Us! We are intentional in our objective to lead BETTER lives. BETTER in our Family, BETTER in our Finances, BETTER in our Fitness, and BETTER in our Faith. Woven throughout the thread of our discussion has been a theme of personal responsibility on our part as it relates to actualizing the BETTER life in our lives! We can absolutely rely on God to do His part when we come to Him in earnest prayer for BETTER! We can trust Him to be faithful and to faithfully position us for BETTER! This favorable positioning by God, however, does not absolve us from our responsibility to do our part. I came across the article Live A Better Life By Making These 8 Choices by Lidiya K on the Lifehack website that encapsulates the heart of this matter by practically offering steps whereby we can realize BETTER in our lives from a space that holds us personally responsible. I thought it prudent to share the first 4 choices with you this week and the remaining 4 choices next week. May you be blessed and inspired as we continue to decree that BETTER is Before Us!
- Craig L. Oliver - #ebcBETTER
Live A Better Life By Making These 8 Choices:
Life can be a beautiful journey, a crazy ride, a big adventure.
But it can also be a living nightmare, a constant struggle, a hard teacher.
It’s all up to you.
In each moment, you choose which side of it to embrace and that affects your mind, body and soul, your present and your future, the person you become, as well as other people in your life. So here are some of the choices you need to make in order to see this world for the wonderful place it is – full of opportunities, kindness and love.
“Almost always, the creative dedicated minority has made the world better.”
- Martin Luther King, Jr.
Fresh off the hills of 8 years under our nation’s first African American President, Barack Obama, it would appear that the social settings of our nation which dared to believe that change was possible, have taken a quantum leap backwards. Racial tensions are higher than ever with White Supremacists and Alt-Right movements boldly articulating their interests in stark contrast to the minority interest groups. Those in power appear to recklessly court extremist groups with thinly veiled statements that could easily be construed as encouragement to persist in their agendas of violence and white supremacy. There is an ever-growing list of unarmed African Americans who are the victims of what many perceive to be a disproportionate amount of police brutality with little to no consequences for the officers involved. The landscape of our American culture belies a nation divided with its inhabitants crying out for social justice.
“A man is literally what he thinks, his character being the complete sum of all his thoughts.”
- James Allen
The birthplace of genuine transformation is the mind. Throughout the discourse of Holy Scripture we are admonished to undergo transformation by way of the systematic management of our thought life. More than just a shallow thrust toward positive thinking, we are admonished to be “renewed in the spirit of our minds”…for “as a man thinketh in his heart, so is he”. We are the sum totality of that to which our thoughts have given birth!
“Your life does not get BETTER by chance. It gets BETTER by change.”
- Jim Rohn
BETTER! Beyond the traditional meaning of superior quality or excellence, the word BETTER connotes an existentially superior state of being. More than just a cosmetic improvement in circumstances, I am declaring BETTER as way of life! BETTER in my family! BETTER in my finances! BETTER in my faith! BETTER in my fitness! Declaratively speaking we are decreeing that we will step into the New Year BETTER!
“The beauty of Christmas is not in the presents but in His Presence.”
To one observer thousands of shoppers against the backdrop of cold weather, crowded stores and parking lots might encapsulate the very idea of the Christmas Season and everything attached to it. To another observer, images of Santa Claus, reindeer and other caricatures that historically have been associated with the Christmas Season might engender the sights and sounds of the holiday. Still for the religious observer, images of the Virgin Mary, Joseph and Baby Jesus highlight the heart of the season. This begs the questions: What is the true essence of Christmas? What does Christmas mean? What should we focus on?
But select capable men from all the people—men who fear God, trustworthy men who hate dishonest gain—and appoint them as officials over thousands, hundreds, fifties and tens.
- Exodus 18:21
Character matters! During times of prayer we are often brought into direct confrontation with the propensities and proclivities of the flesh. As we delve deeper into the Father’s Presence, we ultimately encounter a level of conflict between our carnal nature and the mandate of the Spirit. Praying heightens our sensitivity to the influence of the Spirit of God while empowering us to walk in mastery over the predilections of our flesh. The tension between the desires of our flesh and the desires of our spirit man marks the genesis of character for the child of God which is one of the many benefits birthed through periods of prayer.