Wednesday, December 9, 2009

What Gift Can We Give To Jesus This Christmas?

Christmas is a wonderful time of giving and remembering all the wonderful gifts we receive from the Savior of the world. We give gifts to family and friends but what gift can we give to Jesus. All the possessions we have are actually things Christ has already given or loaned to us. While we should give of our possessions to build the Kingdom of God, is it really a gift if we are simply returning to Christ something that is already His? There is one thing we have to offer to the Lord that is not already His—our will. Our obedience is the gift we can truly give to Christ this Christmas. May we give Christ the Christmas gift of obedience and follow His example when he said, “Father . . . not my will, but thine, be done.” (Luke 22:42)

“The submission of one’s will is really the only uniquely personal thing we have to place on God’s altar. . . when you and I finally submit ourselves, by letting our individual wills be swallowed up in God’s will, then we are really giving something to Him! It is the only possession which is truly ours to give!” (Neal Maxwell)

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“For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.” (Isaiah 9:6)

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Gandhi's Experiment with Truth

As I mentioned in my previously newsletter, I recently finished the manuscript of a new book called “8 Attributes of Great Achievers.” The publisher asked me to include more stories in the book which I did and submitted to them. I then received an email from the president of the publishing company saying in part, “I read the original manuscript you had sent Jason and was impressed, so impressed that I wanted more :-) Hence, the request for additional stories . . .” After reading the additional stories the president sent me an email saying in part, “I’ve finished reviewing your additional stories and think they add tremendous depth to your synopsis of attributes. . . you should be very proud of how this turned out. We look forward to working with you on getting it into the hands of readers.”

I too am very pleased with how the book turned out. It turned about better than I imagined. I have felt the guidance of the Lord directing me as to what people to write about in relation to the different attributes and which stories to share. It is a miracle to me each time to see this come together. One of the reasons I love to write is because it is fun to be a part of the process. It is a great feeling to receive such feedback directly from the president of the publisher. It is also a humbling one for though I was the one to put words on the page, I give all honor and praise to God. I was merely an instrument in the hands of the Almighty.

One of the stories I added to the book was about Gandhi. Below is about ¼ of the Gandhi story from “8 Attributes of Great Achievers.

Gandhi’s Experiment with Truth

Gandhi began what he called “my experiment with truth.” He began studying various sources of truth and applying and testing the teachings in his own life. Gandhi said of the truths he strived to live by: “I have nothing new to teach the world. Truth and nonviolence are as old as the hills . . . Those who believe in the simple truths I have laid down can propagate them only by living them.”

Truth 1: “Be the change you want to see in the world.” -Gandhi
“A mother once brought her child to [Gandhi], asking him to tell the young boy not to eat sugar, because it was not good for his diet or his developing teeth. Gandhi replied, ‘I cannot tell him that. But you may bring him back in a month.’ The mother was frustrated as . . . she had traveled some distance, and had expected the great leader to support her parenting. . . Four weeks later she returned, not sure what to expect. The great Gandhi took the small child’s hand into his own, knelt before him, and tenderly cautioned, ‘Do not eat sugar, my child. It is not good for you.’ Then he embraced him and returned the boy to his mother. The mother, grateful but perplexed, queried, ‘Why didn’t you say that a month ago?’ ‘Well, said, Gandhi, ‘a month ago, I was still eating sugar.’” (Blaine Lee, The Power Principle, (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1997) p. 170-171) Gandhi knew that to effectively lead others he must first lead himself. Gandhi wrote, “How can I control others if I cannot control myself?”

On another occasion “Gandhi was on a train pulling out of the station, [and] a European reporter running alongside his compartment asked him, “Do you have a message I can take back to my people?” It was a day of silence for Gandhi, part of his regular practice, so he didn’t reply. Instead he scribbled a few words on a piece of paper and passed it to the journalists: ‘My life is my message.’” (Lance H. K. Secretan, Inspire! What Great Leaders Do, (Wiley, 2004) p. 67) Gandhi believed that “an ounce of practice is worth more than tons of preaching.”

Truth 2: “Nobody can hurt me without my permission.” -Gandhi
“As Gandhi hurriedly boarded a train that was beginning to depart, one of his sandals fell onto the tracks, and he immediately responded by taking off his second sandal and throwing it onto the tracks, so that later somebody would find both sandals and have a pair to wear.” (Anna Craft, Howard Gardner, Guy Claxton, Creativity, Wisdom, and Trusteeship, (Corwin Press, 2007) p. 90) Gandhi turned the negative experience of losing his sandal into a positive opportunity for service and giving. Gandhi believed that “experience is not what happens to you; it is what you do with what happens to you.”

“H.G. Welles once asked for Gandhi’s views on a document Wells had co-authored entitled ‘Rights of Man.’ Gandhi did not agree with the document’s emphasis on rights. He responded with a cable that said, ‘I suggest the right way. Begin with a charter of Duties of Man and I promise the rights will follow as spring follows winter.” (Keshavan Nair, A Higher Standard of Leadership, (San Francisco: Berrett-Koehler Publishers, Inc., 1997) p. 63)

Gandhi wrote of the harsh treatment, imprisonment and oppression he received, “You can chain me, you can torture me, you can even destroy this body, but you will never imprison my mind. . . The moment the slave resolves that he will no longer be a slave his fetters fall... freedom and slavery are mental states. . . They cannot take away our self-respect if we do not give it to them.”

Monday, September 28, 2009

What O’Clock Is It?*

When I was a young lad, my father one day called me to him that he might teach me how to know what o’clock it was. He told me the use of the minute finger and the hour hand, and described to me the figures on the dial plate, until I was pretty perfect in my part.

No sooner was I quite master of this additional knowledge, than I set off scampering to join my companions at a game of marbles; but my father called me back; “Stop, Humphrey,” said he, “I have something more to tell you.”
Back again I went, wondering what else I had to learn; for I thought I knew all about the clock, quite as well as my father did.

“Humphrey,” said he, “I have taught you to know the time of day; I must now teach you how to find out the time of your life.”

All this was strange to me, so I waited rather impatiently to hear how my father would explain it. . .

“The years of man,” says he, “[are] threescore and ten [70], or fourscore [80] years. Now life is very uncertain, and you may not live a single day longer; but if we divide the fourscore years of an old man’s life into twelve parts, like the dial of a clock, it will allow almost seven years for every figure. When a boy is seven years old, then it is one o’clock of his life, and this is the case with you; when you arrive at fourteen years, it will be two o’clock with you; and at twenty-one years, it will be three o’clock, should it please God thus to spare your life. In this, manner you may know the time of your life, and looking at the clock may, perhaps, remind you of it. My great-grandfather, according to this calculation, died at twelve o’clock; my grandfather at eleven, and my father at ten. At what hour you and I shall die, Humphrey, is only known to Him to whom all things are known.”

Never since then have I heard the inquiry, “What o’clock is it?” nor do I think I have ever looked at the face of the clock, without being reminded of the words of my father. I know not, my friends, what o’clock it is with you, but I know very well what time it is with myself; and that if I mean to do anything in this world, which hitherto I have neglected, it is high time to set about it. The words of my father have given a solemnity to the dial plate of the clock, which it would never have possessed, in my estimation, if these words had not been spoken. Look about you, my friends, I earnestly entreat you, now, and ask yourselves what o’clock it is with you.”

*Benjamin Franklin, The Way to Wealth, (New York: The New York Association for Improving the Condition of the Poor, 1848) p. 11

Monday, August 31, 2009

Walking on Water

As I was researching the topic of faith, several times I came across the story of Jesus walking on the water. The story reads, “Jesus went unto them, walking on the sea. And when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were troubled, saying, It is a spirit; and they cried out for fear. But straightway Jesus spake unto them, saying, Be of good cheer; it is I; be not afraid. And Peter answered him and said, Lord, if it be thou, bid me come unto thee on the water. And he said, Come. And when Peter was come down out of the ship, he walked on the water, to go to Jesus. But when he saw the wind boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink, he cried, saying, Lord, save me. And immediately Jesus stretched forth his hand, and caught him, and said unto him, O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt?” (Matthew 14:25-31, KJV)

I read through numerous commentaries on these verses which talked about Peter’s doubt and fear that caused him to sink. As I pondered on the verses, I continually felt that I was missing some key lessons that were to be learned from this story. I began to wonder why Peter would ask to come out onto the water when Jesus was coming to get in the boat. After many hours of pondering, the spiritual impression came to me that Jesus had been teaching and telling the apostles that they were to do all the miracles that they had seen Him do. Matthew 10:5-8 reads, “These twelve Jesus sent forth, and commanded them, saying . . . Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out devils: freely ye have received, freely give.” They were to do many might miracles as they had seen the Savior do. He told them that with faith they would be able to perform miracles and that nothing would be impossible to them.

When Peter saw Christ walking on the water, he had faith that if Jesus could walk on water so could he. For Christ had not only told Peter that through faith he could perform miracles but had also commanded Peter to perform miracles in His name. So Peter seeing the miracle of walking on water exercised his faith to perform this miracle also. A key to understanding this story is the phrase, “when Peter was come down out of the ship, he walked on the water.” (Matthew 14:29, KJV) Peter walked on water. It is not surprising that Jesus walked on water. He is God. He fed 5,000 with two fish and five loafs of bread, He cast out devils, He raised the dead, and He healed the sick. I believe it is much easier to believe that Christ can perform such miracles than it is to believe that we can perform such miracles in His name. The most amazing part of the story is that Peter, a mere man, walked on water. I wondered why Jesus would have answered, “Come” in response to Peter’s request to walk on the water. What was the purpose? The impression that came to me in answer to this question was that Jesus was showing Peter, the other disciples in the boat, and each of us who reads the New Testament today that with faith in Christ we can each do the mighty miracles which Christ performed. Reading about Peter walking on water should increase our faith to perform miracles in the name of the Lord. If we believe in Christ, signs and miracles will occur, Mark 16:17-18 reads, “And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues; They shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them: they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover.”

Jesus is saying to each of us, “If thou canst believe, all things are possible.” (Mark 9:23, KJV) We should each strive to follow the example of the disciple Stephen found in Acts 6:8: “And Stephen, full of faith and power, did great wonders and miracles among the people.”

Friday, July 24, 2009

A Da Vinci Code for Success: Forgiveness

Leonard Da Vinci worked on painting The Last Supper for three years from 1495 to 1498. The painting was commissioned by the Duke Lodovico Sforza for the dining hall of the convent of Santa Maria delle Grazie, in Milan, Italy. As the painting neared completion there were still two heads which were unfinished: Christ and Judas. Da Vinci had not yet found an acceptable model for Judas. For the image of Christ, he knew he needed inspiration to depict the heavenly divinity of the Master.

Milanese novelist Bandello, who often visited Da Vinci while he worked on The Last Supper related the following, “I have often seen him come very early and watched him mount the scaffolding—because The Last Supper is somewhat high above the floor—and then he would not put down his brush from sunrise till the night set in, yes, he forgot eating and drinking, and painted without ceasing. Then two, three or four days would pass without him doing anything, and yet he spent hours before the picture, lost in contemplation, examining, comparing, and gauging his figures.”

The days of no painting by Da Vinci offended one of the Priors (ruling magistrate), and receiving no answer to his complaint from Da Vinci, this dignitary who was accustomed to see workmen do their daily task, went to the Duke and laid complaints against the idle painter. The Duke called in Da Vinci and admonished him to paint, but told him he only did so to please the Prior. Da Vinci got angry, and knowing that Duke Lodovico was a sensible and intelligent man, he explained to him that great minds accomplish all the more, the less they appear to work, because their intellect invents and shapes the ideals which their hands afterwards delineate and work out. He added that he still wanted two heads for his picture: that of Christ, for which he could not find a model on earth, and that of Judas because he could not devise a countenance to represent the face of him who, after all the benefits he had received, shamefully betrays his Lord, the Creator of the world. Da Vinci then said that he no longer need to look for a model for Judas for he would use the head of the Prior for his model. The Duke smiled and the Prior feared he would be known as the face of the traitor Judas.

Da Vinci proceeded to paint the head of Judas as the Prior who had reported his idleness to the Duke. Once he completed the head of Judas, Da Vinci began to work on the face of the Savior. Da Vinci made several attempts to portray the face of the Master but each attempt let him with feelings of despair. He was unable to receive the inspiration he sought and needed to portray the face of the Redeemer of the World. Da Vinci then wiped off the face of Judas and sought out the Prior to ask for his forgiveness. It is recorded that on the night following his reconciliation with the Prior, Da Vinci saw Christ in a vision. Da Vinci saw the face of Christ more vividly than he ever saw it in his supreme moments of exalted inspiration, and so lasting was the impression that he was able on the next day to paint the face of Christ we see in The Last Supper today.

Adolf Rosenberg, Leonardo Da Vinci, (Bielfeld and Leipzig, Velhagen & Klasing: 1903) p. 68 -70; James Hastings, The Expository Times, Volume XIX, (Edinburgh: T. & T. Clark: 1908) p. 427

Monday, July 13, 2009

What Cars Do the Wealthy Drive?

There is a common misconception that the wealthy drive Ferraris, have multimillion dollar houses, and wear extremely expensive clothes. Typically, those who drive expensive cars and wear expensive jewelry have a low net worth. Those with a high net worth are often unconcerned about how they are viewed by others. The prosperous value their financial independence much more than displaying high social status.

Forbes researched the 10 richest people to find out what kind of cars they drive. The results are interesting. “You won’t find a Bugatti, Ferrari, or BMW driven by these billionaires. But you will find a Lincoln, a Mazda, even a Dodge and a Ford. It seems that for the super-rich, a vehicle is seen not as a status symbol but a means to an end in which to get from point A to point B. Status is something that these billionaires need not prove to others. In many cases, the people on our list prefer to live inconspicuously.” (Nate Chapnick, “Top 10 Vehicles Owned by Billionaires,” Forbes) On average, the cars they drive are six years old. Research from the book The Millionaire Next Door revealed that eighty percent of millionaires spent less than $41,300 on their most expensive car. (Thomas J. Stanley, William D. Danko, The Millionaire Next Door, (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1996) p. 113) In 2006, Warren Buffet, the richest man in the world, drove a 2001 Lincoln Towncar with the license plate “Thirty.”

Oftentimes those who display the highest social status (big house, fancy cars, expensive clothes, jewelry) actually have the least in terms of net worth and financial independence. They create the illusion of wealth by greatly leveraging their income to purchase items on credit. A great deal of their money goes toward paying interest, and nothing they have is really theirs—it is the bank’s. The prosperous enjoy the security and independence of owning their possessions more than social praise and status. This paradox is similar to the Indian proverb, “A mango tree loaded with fruit bends to the ground; the one without fruit stands tall.” Or as they say in Texas, "Big Hat, No Cattle."

Monday, July 6, 2009

God's Hand in the Founding of America

The Founding Fathers relied upon and called upon God for assistance. They frequently declared that God’s hand was working through them in the founding of America. James Madison, commonly called the Father of the Constitution, recognized God’s hand in the rising of America. He concluded his inaugural address as president of the United States on March 4, 1809, with this statement, “. . . we have all been encouraged to fall in the guardianship and guidance of the Almighty Being whose power regulates the destiny of nations, whose blessings have been so conspicuously displayed to the rising of this republic, and to whom we are bound to address our devout gratitude for the past, as well as our fervent supplications and best hopes for the future.” (E. B. Williston, Eloquence of the United States, Volume II, (Middletown, CT: E. & H. Clark, 1827) p. 414)

In a motion for daily prayers in the Constitutional Convention, Benjamin Franklin declared, “God governs in the affairs of men. And if a sparrow cannot fall to the ground without his notice, is it probable that an empire can rise without his aid? We have been assured, sir, in the sacred writings that ‘except the Lord build the house, they labor in vain that build it.’ I firmly believe this, and I also believe without his concurring aid we shall succeed in this political building no better than the builders of Babel.” (Benjamin Franklin, The Works of Benjamin Franklin, Volume XI, (New York and London: G. P. Putnam’s Sons, The Knickerbocker Press, 1904) p. 377)

George Washington–Servant Raised Up and Protected by God
George Washington was born in what is now modern day Virginia on February 22, 1732 to Mary Ball and Augustine Washington. George’s character was formed and developed early in his youth. His parents instilled in him the values found in the Bible. “At a very early age George was required to memorize the Ten Commandments. His mother found time to see to this . . . [George’s father] did his part by explaining the meaning of the Ten Commandments. He made it crystal clear that a member of the Washington family does not lie, does not steal, does not cheat.” (William H. Wilbur, The Making of George Washington, (DeLand, FL: Patriotic Education) p. 71) These early lessons prepared him for the inspired missions he completed later in his life.

In 1754, Washington, age 22, was a colonel in the British army and fought in many battles during the French and Indian War. One such battle was the battle at the Monongahela on July 9, 1755, when the British were ambushed by a party of the French and Indians. “It was a purely Indian-style fight, more one-sided than had ever occurred in the history of woodland warfare. The pandemonium lasted over two hours. A hail of bullets that hardly tested the aim of the French and the Indians had been poured in the British army. It was butchery rather than a battle.” (David Barton, The Bulletproof George Washington, (Aledo, TX: Wall Builders, 2003) p. 42) The British suffered a decisive defeat with 714 of the 1,300 soldiers being killed or wounded while only 60 of the French and Indians were killed or wounded. During this battle, all of the British officers on horseback were slain or disabled except for Washington. This made him an obvious and important target as he moved about, commanding the soldiers.

Dr. James Craik, a military surgeon, who witnessed the events of the battle, recorded this regarding Washington: “I expected every moment to see him fall. His duty and situation exposed him to every danger. Nothing but the superintending care of Providence could have saved him from the fate of all around him.” (John Frederick, Life and Times of Washington, Volume I, (Albany, NY: M. M. Belcher Publishing Co., 1903) p. 247–248)

Following the battle, Washington wrote to his brother, John, saying, “. . . by the all-powerful dispensations of Providence, I have been protected beyond all human probability, or expectation; for I had four bullets through my coat, and two horses shot under me, yet escaped unhurt, though death was leveling my companions on every side of me!” (Washington Irving, Life of George Washington, Volume I, (New York: G. P. Putnam and Son, 1869) p. 218)

An Indian warrior who played a leading part in this bloody battle stated, “Washington was never born to be killed by a bullet! For I had seventeen fair fires at him with my rifle, and after all could not bring him to the ground.” (John Warner Barber, Thrilling Incidents in American History, (New York: James Miller, 1868) p. 90) Another distinguished young Indian warrior, Redhawk, became acquainted with Dr. Daniel Craig. In a conversion with the doctor, Redhawk inquired what young officer it was who rode with great speed from post to post during the action. The doctor replied, “Colonel Washington.” Redhawk immediately stated, “I fired eleven deliberate shots at that man but could not touch him. I gave over any further attempt, believing he was protected by the Great Spirit, and could not be killed.” (Samuel Kercheval, A History of the Valley of Virginia, (Woodstock, VA: John Gatewood, 1850) p. 320)

In 1758, Washington resigned from active military duty and worked as a Virginia planter and politician. In 1770, Colonel Washington and some woodsmen were locating lands in Kanawha, present day Ohio and West Virginia, when they were approached by a group of Indians. One of the Indians, who led the attack at Monongahela on the British 15 years earlier, approached Washington and said through an interpreter, “I am a chief and ruler over many tribes. My influence extends to the waters of the great lakes, and to the far Blue Mountains. I have traveled a long and weary path, that I might see the young warrior of the great battle. It was on the day, when the white man’s blood mixed with the streams of our forest, that I first beheld this chief [pointing to Washington]: I called to my young men and said, mark yon tall and daring warrior? . . . Quick, let your aim be certain, and he dies. Our rifles were leveled, rifles which, but for him, knew not how to miss—‘twas all in vain, a power mightier far than we, shielded him from harm. He cannot die in battle. I am old, and soon shall be gathered to the great council-fire of my fathers, in the land of shades, but ere I go, there is a something bids me speak in the voice of prophecy. Listen! The Great Spirit protects that man, and guides his destinies—he will become the chief of nations, and a people yet unborn will hail him as the founder of a mighty empire.” (Eugene Parsons, George Washington: A Character Sketch, Chicago: University Association, 1898) p. 30–31)

The prophecy of the Indian chief would soon be fulfilled as Washington took a leading role in the growing resistance of the American colonies to British rule in the early 1770s. Fighting began on April 19, 1775 with the Battles of Lexington and Concord to begin the Revolutionary War. On June 14, 1775, Congress created the Continental Army and selected Washington as commander-in-chief. The fight for freedom and the creation of a mighty empire had begun.

Washington led the Continental Army in numerous battles. In each battle, Washington escaped unharmed. The Continental Army suffered much sickness, privations and death during the eight years of the Revolutionary War, but Washington’s courage, will, and reliance on the power and guidance of the Almighty led the colonies to an eventual victory over the Kingdom of Great Britain. In 1783, the Treaty of Paris officially ended the Revolutionary War and a new nation was born, even the United States of America. To bring about this noble purpose, God raised up, protected, and guided George Washington.

After victory, there were desires by some to make Washington king. The first Congress voted to pay Washington a salary of $25,000 a year (approximately $500,000 in 2006 dollars). Washington, however, chose to continue his work as an unpaid servant of the people. During his years as commander-in-chief of the Continental Army he took no pay. He would do the same during his 8 years as the first president of the United States. He exemplified the word of the Savior, “But he that is greatest among you shall be your servant.” (Matthew 23:11, King James Version)

In 1797, as he ended his presidency, Washington delivered a farewell address that emphasized the proper role and function of government. In this address he stated, “Of all the dispositions and habits, which lead to political prosperity, religion and morality are indispensable supports. In vain would that man claim the tribute of patriotism, who should labor to subvert these great pillars of human happiness. . . It is substantially true, that virtue or morality is a necessary spring of popular government.” (Orations of American Orators, (New York: Colonial Press, 1900) p. 40) Washington had completed his divinely inspired work and would shortly be taken home to the God who gave him life.

On December 14, 1799, at age 67, George Washington died, but the nation he helped bring to life lives on. At his death, Congressman Henry Lee said of Washington, “First in war, first in peace, and first in the hearts of his countrymen . . . Correct throughout, vice shuddered in his presence and virtue always felt his fostering hand; the purity of his private character gave effulgence to his public virtues. . . Such was the man for whom our nation mourns.” (Orations of American Orators, (New York: Colonial Press, 1900) p. 249–250)

Washington was a patriot whose soul did joy in the liberty and freedom of his country. A man more concerned with deeds than words, who fought and labored intensely for his people. Through his firm faith in Christ and selfless devotion to country, he lived his motto, “For God and my Country.” (Jared Sparks, The Writings of George Washington, Volume XII, (Boston: American Stationers’ Company, 1837) p. 407)

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

There Are No Failures in Life, Only Those Who Quit Before Success

“Always bear in mind that your own resolution to succeed is more important than any other.”-Abraham Lincoln

A lesson everyone must learn is the need to persist when it is difficult. When we experience defeat and rejection, the easiest and most logical thing to do is to quit, but the successful have learned to persist.

Christopher Columbus
Before Christopher Columbus was recognized as one of the greatest explorers, he was rejected by numerous people for 20 years until finally Queen Isabella and King Ferdinand agreed to support his venture. Columbus wrote of his struggle, “Those who heard of my [adventurous enterprise] called it foolish, mocked me, and laughed.” (Jacob Wassermann, Columbus, Don Quixote of the Seas, (Boston: Little, Brown and Co., 1930) p. 19–20) On the evening of August 3, 1492, Columbus left from Spain with three ships, the NiƱa, Pinta, and Santa Maria. On October 10, 1492, 68 days after leaving Spain, Columbus’ crew began to lose hope of ever reaching their destination. Frightened that they would die at sea, his officers and crew demanded that they turn back and return to Spain. Columbus’ crew threatened to kill him if he did not consent to their request. Columbus urged them to reconsider and proposed a compromise. Columbus suggested that if land was not found after two more days, they would turn back. The officers and crew accepted the compromise. On October 11, they spotted land birds and other signs of nearing land and at 2 a.m. “. . . on October 12th, with the Pinta sailing ahead, the weather cleared. In the moonlight one of the sailors on the Pinta, Juan Rodriquez Bermejo, saw a white sand beach and land beyond it. After his shout of ‘Land! Land!’ the Pinta’s crew raised a flag on its highest mast and fired a cannon.” (William D. Phillips, Jr. and Carla Rahn Phillips, The Worlds of Christopher Columbus, (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1992) p. 152–153) Columbus achieved a grand victory because he had the courage to press forward when all others had lost faith.

Colonel Sanders
Before Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC) was one of the world’s largest restaurants, Colonel Sanders drove all across the country from restaurant to restaurant cooking batches of chicken for restaurant owners and their employees looking for someone willing to purchase his chicken recipe. Colonel Sanders persisted through 1,009 rejections until he got a ‘yes.’ (Anthony Robbins, Unlimited Power, (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1986) p. 14) After his first ‘yes,’ his franchising idea began to take off. By 1964, at age 74, Colonel Sanders had more than 600 franchised outlets for his chicken in the United States and Canada, and he sold his interest in the U.S. Company for $2 million ($13 million in 2006 dollars). KFC now does billions in sales each year and serves millions of customers daily in over 13,000 restaurants in 80 countries.

Sylvester Stallone
Before Sylvester Stallone was a famous writer and actor, he was rejected by over 600 casting agents and was unable to sell his first 8 screen plays. In 1975, Stallone saw a fight between Muhammad Ali and Chuck Wepner in which Wepner was a 30:1 underdog. Inspired by this fight, Stallone began developing the Rocky screenplay. The script was purchased by United Artists and opened in theaters on November 21, 1976. Rocky took in $117 million ($389 million in 2006 dollars) in U.S. box office sales, with Stallone making more than $5 million ($16.6 million in 2006 dollars).

There are no failures in life, only those who quit before success. Failure is a part of learning. The formula for success is trying until you succeed. If you give up during the struggle, you will never experience the victory.

Monday, May 11, 2009

8 Principles of Ultimate Success

I was recently invited to speak at the Friday evening service of Truth Christian Ministries International in Las Vegas. It was an exciting, Spirit-filled evening. It was fun to worship with a group of fellow disciples of Jesus Christ who were excited to learn and share the powerful and saving principles of the gospel of Jesus Christ. I was asked to speak on Ultimate Success. I spoke for 51 minutes and shared 8 principles of Ultimate Success.

I have uploaded an audio recording of the presentation to our website. I think you will really enjoy this presentation. Please listen and then share it with all those who could benefit from its message. I appreciate your help in sharing the message with others.

“And he [Jesus] said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.” (Mark 16:15, KJV)

“For Christ sent me . . . to preach the gospel . . . lest the cross of Christ should be made of none effect. For the preaching of the cross . . . is the power of God.” (1 Corinthians 1:17-18, KJV)

Link to the audio recording of the presentation is below:

Ultimate Success Principle #1
We should seek the Lord for inspiration not out of desperation. “Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.” -Proverbs 3:5-6, KJGV

Ultimate Success Principle #2
If you put God last, you will go nowhere fast. “But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.” -Matthew 6:33, KJV

Ultimate Success Principle #3
“He that findeth his life shall lose it; and he that loseth his life for my sake shall find it.” -Matthew 10:39, KJV

Ultimate Success Principle #4
A belief that success is a result of a person’s energies, labor, and mental capacity will create the vices of pride, selfishness, and ungratefulness. The virtues of humility, generosity, and gratitude will fill our hearts, minds, and souls once we realize our total dependence on God and believe that all we have and are is a gift from Him.

Ultimate Success Principle #5
“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” -Philippians 4:13, NKJV

Ultimate Success Principle #6
There are no failures in life, only those who quit before success. Failure is a part of learning. The formula for success is trying until you succeed. If you give up during the struggle, you will never experience the victory. “We count them happy which endure.” -James 5:11, KJV

Ultimate Success Principle #7
If you want to succeed, you need to read. “Seek ye out of the book of the Lord, and read.” -Isaiah 34:16, KJV

Ultimate Success Principle #8
Christ is the perfect example of Ultimate Success. “Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” -John 14:6, KJV

"The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all"-Philippians 4:23

Monday, April 6, 2009

My Testimony of Christ

I hope you each have a wonderful Easter weekend. Easter is such a great time to spend with family and friends celebrating and reflecting on the greatest event in history—the resurrection of Jesus Christ. As I thought of what to share in this week’s newsletter, the Holy Ghost prompted me to share an entry I made in my journal while I was in Jerusalem.

5/26/2006 - Jerusalem Journal Entry

My Testimony of Christ

I have spent the last week visiting the sites of the life and ministry of Jesus of Nazareth. What a privilege it is to be where the great Jehovah, where the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, where the God of Israel spent his mortal life and ministry. He lived as the “Great I AM” in the Old Testament. He lived as Jesus of Nazareth while on earth, and He now lives as Jesus the Christ at the right hand of the Father, as the Redeemer, Savior and Mediator for all mankind.

As I sat on Mount Carmel where Elijah called on the Great Jehovah to send fire from heaven I did feel of the Lord’s power and Spirit as I read 1 King 18:38-39, “Then the fire of the LORD fell, and consumed the burnt sacrifice, and the wood, and the stones, and the dust, and licked up the water that was in the trench. And when all the people saw it, they fell on their faces: and they said, Jehovah, he is the God; Jehovah, he is the God.”

As I sat on Shepard’s Field that overlooked Bethlehem and sang “Silent Night,” the word’s “Christ the Savior is born” sank deep into my soul. I know that the Great Jehovah of the Old Testament, the Father of heaven and earth, the Creator of all things from the beginning, was born to Mary as the Only Begotten of the Father, giving Him power over death, fulfilling the word of the Angel who spoke to Mary saying, “Do not be afraid, Mary, you have found favor with God. You will be with child and give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus.” (Luke 1:30-31)

As I sat in a church built near the site of the last supper and sang the hymn “I Stand All Amazed,” I felt of Jesus’ love and mercy as I sang the words, “I tremble to know that for me He was crucified, That for me, a sinner, He suffered, He bled and died. I marvel that He would descend from His throne divine To rescue a soul so rebellious and proud as mine.” Christ’s love, grace, and mercy are truly wonderful.

The final stop of the week was the Garden Tomb where the body of Christ was laid following his death on the cross. Walking into the tomb and seeing it was empty brought to mind the words of the Angel to Mary Magdalene when she came to see Jesus in the Tomb, “Why seek ye the living among the dead? He is not here, but is risen:” (Luke 24:5-6) “Come, see the place where the Lord lay.” (Matthew 28:6)

I do share my witness that Christ did take upon Him the sins of the world and was crucified and laid into a tomb. However, this was not the end of life but the beginning of a new life, for after His mortal body lay dead for three days, Christ was resurrected, becoming the first fruit of them that slept. (1 Corinthians 15:20) The tomb where Christ laid is empty. “He is not [t]here: for he is risen,” (Matthew 28:6) Jesus Christ lives. I know that He lives. And because He lives we too will each experience the new life that comes from resurrection. “For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.” (1 Corinthians 15:22)

I do testify to these things, in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.

“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade—kept in heaven for you.”
–1 Peter 1:3-4, NIV

“Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live.”
–John 11:25, KGV

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Take the Initiative

“Everything you want is just outside your comfort zone.” -Robert Allen

“The world bestows its big prizes, both in money and honors, for but one thing. And that is initiative. What is initiative? I’ll tell you: It is doing the right thing without being told. But next to doing the thing without being told is to do it when you are told once . . . but their pay is not always in proportion. Next, there are those who never do a thing until they are told twice: such get no honors and small pay. Next, there are those who do the right thing only when necessity kicks them from behind, and these get indifference instead of honors, and a pittance for pay . . . Then, still lower down in the scale than this, we have the fellow who will not do the right thing even when someone goes along to show him how and stays to see that he does it: he is always out of a job . . . To which class do you belong?” (Elbert Hubbard, Love, Life & Work, (The Roycrofters, 1906) p. 84)

The Wright Brothers
The lives of the Wright brothers provide many wonderful examples of taking the initiative. William J. Tate, a man who helped the Wright brothers in assembling the Wright’s first glider in North Carolina, wrote of the early flights, “The mental attitude of the natives toward the Wrights was that they were a simple pair of harmless cranks that were wasting their time at a fool attempt to do something that was impossible. The chief argument against their success could be heard at the stores and post office, and ran something like this: ‘God didn’t intend man to fly. If He did, He would have given him a set of wings on his shoulders.’”

Wilber was born in 1867 and Orville was born in 1871 to Susan and Milton Wright in the Midwest. Orville and Wilber’s interest in flying began in 1878 when their father gave them a toy helicopter. This interest turned into an active pursuit at the end of the 19th century. Wilber began reading “everything he could lay his hands on, everything in sight. His father had some simple books on flight in nature in his library, and the Dayton Public Library had a handful of things on flight. When he had exhausted the local resources, Wilbur wrote to the Smithsonian Institution asking for more information on flight.” (“The Unlikely Inventors,” Public Broadcasting Service (PBS). Retrieved December 11, 2006, from

In 1899, they began their flight experiments. At this time, the Wright brothers were running a bicycle repair and sales shop. The revenues from this company supported their living expenses and funded the development of the airplane. During the next four years, the Wright brothers performed thousands of tests, experiments, and flights. In 1901, they created the world’s first wind tunnel and tested more than 200 different wing shapes, and just in the months of September and October of 1902 they made over 700 glides. On December 17, 1903, Orville, age 32, and Wilber, age 36, achieved their dream of a controlled, powered flight. The flight covered a distance of 120 feet in 12 seconds—about half the length of a 747 jumbo jet. This flight was the beginning of modern aviation.

In 1904, the Wright brothers decided to take a financial risk and withdraw from the bicycle business to focus on developing a practical airplane they could sell. Wilbur explained to an acquaintance, “We believed that if we would take the risk of devoting our entire time and financial resources we could conquer the difficulties in the path to success . . . as our financial future was at stake [we] were compelled to regard it as a strict business proposition.” (Tom D. Crouch, The Bishop’s Boys, (New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 1989) p. 273–274) They would have to make the airplane a profitable business to survive, but they never compromised their values. The Wright brothers expected their employees to observe their family rules and among those who worked for them “there was no drinking, gambling, or flying on Sundays.” (Tom D. Crouch, The Bishop’s Boys, (New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 1989) p. 429)

In February 1908, the company obtained a contract from the U.S. Army to build a two-seat aircraft that could fly for an hour at an average speed of 40 miles per hour and land undamaged. In July 1909, they completed a flight that met the U.S. Army’s requirements and received $30,000 ($645,000 in 2006 dollars) for their aircraft. In 1910, they added air shows and commercial air cargo shipping to their business, earning nearly $100,000 ($2 million in 2006 dollars) in profit that year. (Tom D. Crouch, The Bishop’s Boys, (New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 1989) p. 429)

Flying was a risky venture. Otto Lilienthal, an early aviator pioneer whose work assisted and inspired the Wright brothers, died after a gust of wind threw his glider out of balance, causing him to fall fifty feet and break his spine. His last words were quoted as “sacrifices must be made” and those words were carved on his tombstone. (Fred Howard, Wilbur and Orville, (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1987) p. 16) The brothers wrote of Lilienthal and other early aviator pioneers that their work “infected us with their own unquenchable enthusiasm, and transformed idle curiosity into the active zeal of workers.” (Judith A. Dempsey, A Tale of Two Brothers, (Victoria, BC, Canada: Trafford Publishing, 2003) p. 26)

Orville and Wilber experienced their share of crashes. One occurred on September 17, 1908, when a propeller malfunctioned and the aircraft crashed killing the passenger. Orville suffered multiple serious injuries, including a broken leg and broken ribs. Because of the dangers in flying, and at the request of their father, Wilber and Orville never flew together. However, on May 25, 1910, after they had made many improvements that increased the safety of the airplane, and for the sake of history, the father agreed to let Wilber and Orville fly together. This was the only time the brothers flew together. After this flight, Orville took his 81-year-old father on the only flight of his life, which lasted 6 minutes and 55 seconds. “At one point during the flight, Milton leaned close to his son’s ear and shouted . . . ‘Higher, Orville, higher!’” (Tom D. Crouch, The Bishop’s Boys, (New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 1989) p. 12)

Wilber died from typhoid fever in 1912 at age 45. “Twenty-five thousand people viewed his casket and for three full minutes the citizens of Dayton stopped everything they were doing as they mourned an American hero. Orville had lost his brother, his best friend, his other half who knew the secrets of flying. He was devastated, but he carried on.” (Louise Borden and Trish Marx, Touching the Sky, (New York: Margaret K. McElderry Books, 2003) Orville continued to run the Wright Company for three more years until he was 44 years old. On October 15, 1915, Orville sold his interest in the company. “The New York Times reported that Orville received roughly $1.5 million [$30 million in 2006 dollars], plus an additional $25,000 [$500,000 in 2006 dollars] for his services as chief consulting engineer during the first year of the new company’s operation.” (Tom D. Crouch, The Bishop’s Boys, (New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 1989) p. 465–466)

God did not give men wings upon their shoulders, but He did give them minds and hands to create. It took faith, study, courage, work, and persistence to achieve the miracle of flight. Two men with a dream to fly created wings for us all—the wings God intended for man.

The Wright brothers should inspire each of us to ask, “What cause or endeavor can I take the initiative to move forward?”

Monday, March 2, 2009

Update on Baby Enoch

February 27, 2009
Thank you for your prayers. We have felt and seen the power of prayer strengthen Enoch and our family. As I held Enoch on Wednesday evening, I could feel the faith and prayers that were being offered for Enoch and I knew he would be okay. It has been a tangible feeling as the Spirit of the Lord has surrounded, supported, and strengthened us. Your outpouring of prayers for Enoch are greatly appreciated and have been felt.

On Thursday morning, the hospital drew blood to test for the infection and the test came back completely clear of the infection. Enoch had been healed. The pediatric infectious disease doctor was very happy to see the infection gone, but he was quite surprised by the test result. Enoch has now been approved for release from the hospital and will be coming home today. As I wrote that last sentence tears of joy and gratitude filled my eyes—grateful for the grace and the healing power of God and grateful to the many people who have exercised their faith and prayers on our behalf. Thank you.

God is a God of miracles and He does hear and answer prayers.

Cameron Taylor

“And the prayer of faith shall save the sick . . . and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.”
(James 5:15-16, KGV)

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Pray for Baby Enoch

Our third child, Enoch Wayne Taylor, was born on February 4th. He was 6 lbs. 13 oz. and 17 ½ inches long.

We named him after the prophet Enoch in the Old Testament as a reminder that he should walk with God throughout his life. “And Enoch walked with God.” (Genesis 5:24) And after his grandfathers, Wayne Taylor and Michael Wayne Brackett, as a reminder that the blessings he enjoys today have come as a result of the efforts and sacrifices of those who have gone before him and as a reminder of his goodly heritage. “The lines are fallen unto me in pleasant places; yea, I have a goodly heritage.” (Psalms 16:6)

Enoch had been doing fantastic and was sleeping and eating well until Monday night when he got sick with a fever and pain over his whole body. We took him to the doctor Tuesday morning and he was admitted to the hospital. The initial thought was meningitis but the test of the spinal fluid came back clear. Last night his body began to swell. They have run additional tests and the pediatric infectious disease doctor current diagnosis is a Group B streptococcal (group B strep) infection which will require treatment of two weeks of antibiotics via IV.

WebMD says, “Group B streptococcal (group B strep) infection is a serious bacterial infection that is a leading cause of death and disability in newborns. In the 1970s, about half of newborns with group B strep infection died. Today, due to early recognition and aggressive treatment of the infection, far fewer cases end in death. An infection of the fluid or tissues that surround the brain and spinal cord (meningitis) could occur in the early or late stage. Newborns thought to be infected with group B strep need medical care right away, as the infection can be deadly.”

I am writing to ask for your help. You will please include baby Enoch Taylor is your prayers. Please pray that his pain will be eased and that he will be healed.

“And the prayer of faith shall save the sick . . . and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.”
(James 5:15-16, KGV)

“All things, whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer, believing, ye shall receive.”
(Matthew 21:22, KGV)

“By prayer and supplication . . . let your requests be made known unto God.”
(Philippians 4:6, KGV)

Sunday, January 25, 2009

The $1,000,000 Goal

"Of all the things I've done, the most vital is coordinating the talents of those who work for us and pointing them towards a certain goal."
-Walt Disney

There is great power in goals and dreams. "A study was done on Yale University's graduating class. It asked seniors a long list of questions about themselves, and three questions had to do with goals. They were, "Do you set goals?" "Do you write them down?" and "Do you have an action plan to accomplish them?" Only three percent of the class answered yes to those questions. Twenty years later, a follow-up study was done. It turned out that the three percent who had said yes to goals reported that they were more happily married, were more successful in the careers they had chosen, had a more satisfactory family life, and had better health. And listen to this. Ninety-seven percent of the net worth of that graduating class was in the hands of that three percent!" (Lou Tice, Personal Coaching for Results, (Nashville: Nelson, 1997) p. 93)

You have to have dreams and goals to make progress and achieve greatness. "Your progress toward success begins with a fundamental question: Where are you going? Definiteness of purpose is the starting point of all achievement, and its lack is the stumbling block for ninety-eight out of every hundred people simply because they never really define their goals and start toward them. Study every person you think of who has achieved lasting success, and you will find that each one has had a definite purpose. Each had a plan for reaching that goal, and each devoted the greatest part of his or her thoughts and efforts to that end." (Napoleon Hill, Keys to Success, (New York: Penguin, 1994) p. 1)

Many people live life backwards. They take what life gives them. Many people achieve little in life simply because they never decide to achieve something. Mark Victor Hansen wrote, "It grieves me to watch individuals squander their lives because they have neglected the process of writing down their personal goals." "Most of us would like to make a positive impact on the lives of others and on our world. If we do not feel that this is in some way happening, we tend to experience a sense of emptiness, low self-worth, futility, and sometimes even depression." (Herb Miller, Money Is Everything, (Nashville, TN: Discipleship Resources, 1994) p. 19) Football coach Lou Holtz taught, "If you are bored with life, if you don't get up every morning with a burning desire to do things-you don't have enough goals."

Everyone is born with a God-given mission he or she is to perform. We were not sent to earth by God to be born, pay the bills and die. God sent us here for a purpose. You should define your ideal life and then go out and get it. Dreams and goals inspire us to achieve our full potential. Defining your goals and dreams will help you discover and live the purposeful, joyful, abundant life you were meant to enjoy.

The Million Dollar Goal

"If we did all the things we are capable of doing, we would literally astound ourselves."
-Thomas Edison

At the end of 2000, my first business venture failed, leaving me with thousands of dollars in business debt. I was newly married and I had no income. My wife was working earning $10 per hour but her income was not even enough to cover our $1,800 a month in debt payments. I now joke with her that she married me for my money, but the truth is I had less than nothing because of the burden of debt. I was forced to put my entrepreneurial efforts on hold to look for a job. I graduated with honors from business school and applied for dozens of jobs that were a good match for my skills, experience and degree, but I received rejection letter after rejection letter. I even applied at a call center that seemed to hire nearly everyone for a $6 per hour job and was rejected.

I now joke with people saying, "I had to start a business because I was the only person who would hire me." In 2001, I started a new business and one of our goals was to do $1 million a year in revenue. At the time this seemed like an impossible goal, but I knew that the goal was the starting point. I knew if I did not set a goal to do a $1 million in revenue with the company, then I would never figure out how to do it. I started with the goal and then everyday went to work on moving the company toward this goal. The company grew and developed and in our second year in business, we achieved the goal of doing a million dollars of revenue in one year.

At this point, we set a new goal of doing a million dollars in revenue in one month, and each day I went to work to move the company toward this goal. This was another lofty goal and it took another year of hard work and development for us to reach this goal.

It was now time for a new goal. We discussed what our new goal should be and the idea of doing $1 million in a single day was presented. That one sounded fun and exciting, so we set the goal to do $1 million in a single day. The exciting goal was set and now we had to figure out how to achieve it.

To go from a million dollars a year to a million dollars a month, we were able to expand and leverage what we were currently doing. To achieve the goal of doing $ 1 million in a single day required new approaches and models, as what we were currently doing couldn't be expanded enough to do a million dollars in revenue in a single day.

Our first opportunity to reach $1 million in a single day was in the fall of 2004 in New York City. It appeared that all the pieces were in place to do $1 million that day. The day ended and we weren't even close to our goal. We only did $177,555 in revenue. The day was still profitable and we were pretty happy. We learned a lot and we saw the potential to do a $1 million in a single day with a few adjustments and changes.

The next opportunity to reach our goal was in the spring of 2005 in Los Angeles. Everything was in place to do $1 million that day but would it happen? The day came and went and we again were not even close to our goal, but this time is a very, very good way. We exceeded our goal by $1.7 million-doing $2.7 million in revenue that day.

The size of your question, the size of your goals and dreams, will determine the size of your answer. If we would have never asked the question, "How do we do a $1 million in a single day?" we would have never found the answer. If you never ask the question "How can I build a multimillion dollar business?" "How can I become a best-selling author?" or "How can I earn a certain amount of money each year?" you will never find the answer. The goals you set will determine the type of life you build.

When you are building a house, does the house usually turn out like the blue print? Of course it does. If you design a house to be 1,000 square feet, the house should be 1,000 square feet when you finish. Before building a house, you first ask yourself, "What kind of house would I like?" You then design the house, create a blue print and then build the house. We should use this same process in our lives. "What kind of a life do you want? What do you want to accomplish?" Once you have determined the answers to these questions, create a blue print for your life and follow that blue print until you have built the life that you desire.

Questions to Help You Write Some Goals
"If you want to be happy, set a goal that commands your thoughts,
liberates your energy, and inspires your hopes."
-Andrew Carnegie

Things I would like to accomplish?
This Week
This Month
This Year
In the Next 5 Years
In the Next 10 Years
In the Next 20 Years
Before the end of my life

If I had 1 year to live, what would I do?

What problems in my family, community, nation and world most concern me? What can I do to help?

What books will I read to help me renew and grow spiritually, socially, intellectually, and physically?

What would I like said about me at my funeral?

Write down the 3 people you most admire and respect and the 4 attributes you would use to describe them.
Person 1. _______________
Attribute 1. _______________ 2. _______________
3. _______________ 4.________________
Person 2. _______________
Attribute 1. _______________ 2. ______________
3. _______________ 4._______________
Person 3. _______________
Attribute 1. _______________ 2. ______________
3. _______________ 4._______________

What attributes do I desire to possess and exhibit? (i.e. charitable, humble, thrifty, responsible, industrious, honest, virtuous, etc.)

How would I like others to describe me?

Describe my ideal life. Describe specifics. What would I do? What would I have?

What vacations would I like to take with my family?

Whom would I like to help? What causes would I like to contribute to?

What income level would I like to have?
1 Year
2 Year
5 Years
10 Years
20 Years
40 Years

Where would I like to live? Describe my ideal home and surroundings.

Other Goals