Is Success Once Success?

One day, a little boy decided he wanted to learn to ride a bike.  He found his dad and asked him all about how bicycles worked.  His dad told him all about the history of bicycles, the parts that make up a bicycle, and the technique required to ride one.

Victory!  Or Is It?

The boy and his dad began working diligently on learning to ride the bike.  As the boy practiced, he gradually improved, until one afternoon, his dad released his grip on the back of the seat and the boy rode under his own power for a full block.  Happy and proud, both man and son returned home and parked the bike in the garage.  The bike stayed in it’s spot in the garage all night.  The next day, the bike also stayed in its place.  So too the third day, fourth day, and fifth day.  In fact, the bike stayed put for weeks, followed by months, and then years.  The boy never again took the bike out for a ride, though he walked past it nearly every day.  Now the question: did this boy learn to ride a bike?


Technically, the boy learned all about the bike.  And once, he did manage to ride it a ways.  But did he benefit?  Did anyone benefit?

Assimilate It

You see, you and I are often like that foolish boy.  We undertake a worthy venture, like eating healthier, beginning a fitness regimen, or connecting with God in Scripture and prayer, but we fail to continue and create a permanent habit.  In so doing, we miss out on the benefit of the venture, just as the boy missed out on the joys and benefits of bicycling around his neighborhood.

Today’s the Day!

Can you think of something you know you should be doing, something perhaps that you’ve even successfully done on occasion, but that you’ve never gotten consistent with?  What benefits would you enjoy if you made this behavior a permanent habit in your life?  It could be that the only thing separating you from the greater level of success or achievement that you desire is the simple consistent application of something you already know how to do!  Will you take the steps today to make a new habit for your own success?  Make a commitment, let someone know about it, and enjoy your journey to the top!

Learning Something New

Are you growing?  Not in height, but in your capabilities, your character, your walk with God?  Here’s one way to check:  how often lately have you been frustrated, overwhelmed, and uncomfortable?


Yes Benefits, No Discomfort

It’s a little funny sometimes how we always want to have the capability, the strength, the skill, but we avoid the exact things it takes to develop those parts into us.  I’ve heard it said that the place where success resides is outside your comfort zone.  I think that describes it pretty well.  Have you been there lately?

I’ve been learning what some may think is an odd skill lately, and even though it might not be the most important capability in the world, the experience has been very enlightening.  You probably can’t tell, but this article is being written with a different keyboard than usual.  It’s called the Dvorak keyboard layout, and I encourage you to Google it and learn more about what makes it worth learning.

But keyboards aren’t what we’re talking about:  we’re talking about learning.  And it’s what I learned about learning that can encourage and propel you to success in what’s important to you.  What I learned is this:

Embrace the Stages

Learning involves progressing through four distinct stages.  Only if you persist through the hard times, the times that make you want to quit, will you get to experience the benefits on the other side.  If there’s only one thing you hear from this entire article, let it be this:  you must persist.  When all seems most hopeless, you must hang on—you are so close to a breakthrough!

The four stages of learning are these:  enthusiastic beginner, frustrated learner, capable but lacking confidence, and master.  When I first learned of the Dvorak keyboard layout, I got really excited!  I jumped into an online lesson and flew through it happily.  This enthusiasm lasted a few days…

By the next week I had a few of the letters down, but by no means enough to type at a decent pace.  I used the backspace key like nobody’s business, and it seemed typing three sentences would take me all day.  It was at this point that the thought of giving up entered my mind.  To make matters worse, I told a few friends about what I was doing and how it could benefit them.  Rather than getting excited like I did, they told me that this was a waste of time and not worth the effort.  This was the low point of my Dvorak experience, and only my commitment to learning and growing helped me hold on.

Don’t Give Up!

I’m happy to report that as I persisted, I began to improve and the new style of typing became more and more fun.  Better than that, I began to see some of the lessons I’m describing for you here, and that made me even happier that I stuck with it!  I still have some room to grow before I become a master Dvorak typist, but I’m at a strong pace and am moving forward—taking the lessons I’ve learned and applying them to growth in the areas that matter most.  Will you get out of your comfort zone this week and start learning something new?  Let us know what it is by registering (which is free of course) and posting a comment below!  Thanks for including us on your path to a thriving life!

Trusting Though Surrounded

Do you expect that following God’s way will make life easier?  If you study the Scripture and seek to keep all its precepts, will your circumstances be easy and smooth?  While our loving Heavenly Father promises many good things to us, His children, a life of comfort and ease isn’t one of them!


Psalm 3 (New Living Translation)

1O LORD, I have so many enemies;

so many are against me.

2So many are saying,

“God will never rescue him!”

3But you, O LORD, are a shield around me;

you are my glory, the one who holds my head high.

4I cried out to the LORD,

and he answered me from his holy mountain.

5I lay down and slept,

yet I woke up in safety,

for the LORD was watching over me.

6I am not afraid of ten thousand enemies

who surround me on every side.

7Arise, O LORD!

Rescue me, my God!

Slap all my enemies in the face!

Shatter the teeth of the wicked!

8Victory comes from you, O LORD.

May you bless your people.

How Can the Wicked Prosper?

Certainly in our society today, we find many people opposed to God and His Word.  As in David’s time, there are many mockers and slanderers of God’s followers.  Sometimes we may think that God should tear down these people directly with His mighty right hand, or at least give us victory over them so they will see the truth in what we speak.  But, God’s ways are not our ways—no, his are much higher.  In His good pleasure, God often holds back his wrath and judgment from those who break his Law and oppose His people.

For a time, we find ourselves surrounded by a mighty army of enemies.  Christians around the world today face physical violence from groups who oppose the gospel, and every day men and women are beaten and even killed for following Jesus.  And God continues to give life and breath to even those who harm and kill His people.  How can God do this??  Why does he allow His people to be surrounded?

He’s Longsuffering with Us, Should He Not Be with Others?

God’s mercy is very great.  His grace, or unmerited favor, is lavished on all of mankind, even those who actively oppose Him.  And while we may desire comfort and ease in our lives by following Him, God knows better.  Often these trials and tests produce greater faith and dependence upon God.  See in the Psalm how David exudes confidence in God and His power during the time when he’s surrounded.  This is the faith that moves mountains—trust in God even in the times when it appears that God’s enemies will triumph.

While There Is Time

The good and bad news is that a day is coming when God’s patience with sinners will end.  When Christ comes to judge all the earth, all who are not covered by His blood will be cast out of His presence for all eternity.  Jesus referred to this hell as a place of weeping and knashing of teeth, and all who oppose God will find themselves there.  Yet while we live and breathe there is yet time.  Have you repented of your sin and unbelief and turned to Christ?  Have you asked Him to wash you clean and adopt you into His family?  Do not let the sun go down today without finding hope and rest in the Lord Christ Jesus.  Call on Him now, and watch as He transforms you into the person you were meant to be!

Driving Blindfolded, Looking in the Rear-view Mirror, or Looking Ahead

What would you think of a person who drove his 2013 Corvette convertible around while wearing a blindfold.  How about someone who kept his eyes glued to the rearview mirror as he blazed down the highway?  Would you think that person is nuts?  Would you consider that person dangerous?  Would you be surprised if I told you this is exactly the way most people operate a major aspect of their life?

nice car!

The illustration above is the way many people operate their finances.  Ask 10 of your friends and neighbors if they keep a budget and you’re likely find few who do so.  Of those who keep a budget, many do not truly have a budget (forward looking) so much as they have a spending tracker (backward looking).  You would never drive a vehicle this way, so why would you operate your finances this way?

Not that fun?

Ok, few people are delighted to sit down with a spreadsheet and map out their spending for the month.  Even fewer people like to say no to themselves and restrict their spending on superfluous items.  But, if you will give advance cashflow planning (budgeting) a chance, I promise that the rewards will be worth the small investment of time, and you may just save yourself from careening off the road!

Having Financial Agility

When you’re sitting down with all the information in front of you, you’re more apt to see roadblocks and curves in the road ahead.  You can look at your home improvement fund or your vacation fund and get a gauge foe whether it’s on track for the upcoming expenses.  This lead time allows you to respond to financial challenges earlier: for example, skipping meals out for a few weeks early in the month so you can afford to buy new tires for your car when they’re needed later in the month.

Taking Control

Rather than creating unpleasant restrictions, a budget like that recommended in our ThriveFit page actually makes your life easier and more hassle-free.  While your friends are busy worrying and hand-wringing about how they’ll pay for the medical bill they didn’t plan for, you’ll be peacefully executing your spending plan for the month.  Although planning ahead doesn’t create more money for you from thin air, when you get your spending under your control, it often feels like you’ve gotten a raise.  Anyway, what do you have to lose?  If you hate the feeling of being in control and looking in front of you instead of behind, you can always go back to the chaos method….  😉

Making a Plan That Lasts

Why make a plan  for your money?  Isn’t it more fun to just grab what you want whenever you want it?


Growing Up

Living your financial life with the foresight of a 3rd grader may be fun in the moment, but to have what you want next week and next month, a longer term vision is required.  Problem is, even when people become convinced of the value of budgeting to their peace and financial freedom, their first attempt to make a budget sets them up for failure.

Make it Today, and For Today

If you’re like most people, the first time you sit down to work up a budget for the coming month, you try to create a generic, one-size-fits-all budget that will represent all future months.  You’re planning for the perfect month from heaven, problem is, that month never really happens here in the real world!

The key in building a successful cashflow plan is to spend this month’s income on this month’s expenses.  Some expenses will be nice and consistent, such as your house payment or water bill.  But if you make your budget too generic, it won’t work in real life, and you’ll be tempted to just give up money management altogether.

Get Started

Today’s always the perfect time to start planning your budget for the coming month.  If you haven’t tried the latest version of ThriveWealthy, click the tab above to find the page and download the tool.  Read over the instructions briefly, then start entering your expected paycheck amounts and dates.  Allocate how you’ll spend all of next month’s income in the different categories provided, changing category names as needed to make the budget fit your life.

Enlist Our Help!

Don’t be discouraged when things come up and you have to revisit your allocations several times throughout the month.  As you continue to plan your spending before the money is spent, you’ll improve at predicting your actual expenses, and you’ll also notice that your money will start to be spent on those things that are important to you–with less “falling through the cracks” or getting spent on things that don’t really matter to you.  Feel free to post successes, hardships, or questions to the comments section below; we’re all in this together, and we are all here to help each other thrive!

Leading Takes Listening

I used to think that leaders were the ones with all the answers—the smartest ones in the room.  While it takes intelligence to lead a team, I’m learning that great leaders do something you might not expect, and they do it exceptionally well.


You may think that you’re the smartest person in the room—and you might even be right.  But if you’re unwilling to listen to the people around you, you will dramatically hamper your effectiveness as a leader.  Leaders listen, both for ideas and in order to influence those they lead.

Listen for Ideas

Even if you are a genius, you don’t have a monopoly on good ideas.  The beauty of this world God made is that things work best when people work together.  Jesus used the example of the body to describe His bride, the church.  An eye has a different function and role than an ear, just as a foot can be used more effectively accomplish some things than can an eyelash. Here’s the takeaway—you may be an excellent hand, but no matter how great a hand you are, there’s no way you can hear a noise—only ears can do that.  Recognize your strengths but be willing to seek feedback and ideas from the people around you.

Listen for Influence

Do you look others in the eyes when they speak?  Do you really listen to what they’re saying?  If you do these things, you’ve certainly noticed how few other people do this.  When you do little things like make eye contact, adopt a welcoming posture (no arms crossed, no hands in pockets), ask questions, and use the name of the person you’re talking to often, you will be amazed how people will open up to you.  In doing this, they demonstrate their trust in you.  And to be trusted means to have influence.  Make the effort to truly listen and care about the person you’re talking to, and you’ll be amazed how they will want to hear from you.  Humility, respect, and trustworthiness—things that we know belong to good leaders, but the question is, will you exemplify them today?

His Philosophy

What is truth?  Have you taken a moment recently to think about this question?  You have beliefs, beliefs that guide your decisions, and even how you react to situations in your life.  But are these ideas true?  If we’re honest with ourselves, every one of us has an imperfect worldview in some way.  We use our experiences, our minds, and God’s Word to guide us, but only One man who has walked the earth had a perfect understanding of truth:  our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.


Who Do You Say that I Am?

Many people would say that Jesus was an admirable example, or even a great prophet.  Many people would say that we would do well to become more like Him, and adopt His philosophy.  But few people actually pursue this in their daily lives.  Worse still, many people adopt ideas and philosophies that run in stark contradiction to what Christ taught and stood for.  Instead of reading the Word to learn about what Jesus was really like, many people invent a picture of Christ in their minds that bears little resemblance to ministry on this earth.

You’ve certainly heard of Gentle Jesus, and it is true that He had and has the attribute of gentleness.  Jesus was called the friend of sinners precisely because he sought out prostitutes, thieves, and adulterers to save them from their sin.  He is gentle with us when we stumble and fall on the road of life—even when we rebel against Him, He often corrects us like a gentle and loving Father.  If we will listen to and follow His gentle correction, He often withholds the greater pain and punishment that we truly deserve.

Gentle, But Not Gentle Only

All this being said, Jesus was also a fierce man.  When the situation warranted it, Jesus spoke with boldness and authority, condemning men for their rebellion and the hardness of their hearts.  If we think of Jesus only as a meek lamb and never as a righteous judge, we see him incorrectly.

A striking example of Christ’s anger at those who disregard the Father’s commandments is found in Matthew 21:

12And Jesus entered the temple and drove out all those who were buying and selling in the temple, and overturned the tables of the money changers and the seats of those who were selling doves. 13And He said to them, “It is written, MY HOUSE SHALL BE CALLED A HOUSE OF PRAYER; but you are making it a ROBBERS’ DEN.”

Can you imagine one man entering a mall and drivng our droves of merchants by himself?  Imagine the tenacity and fiercness that must have been in our Savior’s eyes.  Now think of your reactions to sin and the profaning of God’s Name.  Do you react as the Lord did?

False Teachers

Another example is found in Matthew 23:

13″But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites, because you shut off the kingdom of heaven from people; for you do not enter in yourselves, nor do you allow those who are entering to go in. 14[“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites, because you devour widows’ houses, and for a pretense you make long prayers; therefore you will receive greater condemnation].

15″Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites, because you travel around on sea and land to make one proselyte; and when he becomes one, you make him twice as much a son of hell as yourselves.

25″Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you clean the outside of the cup and of the dish, but inside they are full of robbery and self-indulgence. 26″You blind Pharisee, first clean the inside of the cup and of the dish, so that the outside of it may become clean also.

Here, we see Christ calling out the men who would dare to speak on God’s behalf, perverting His Laws and His character in order to obtain personal benefit.  Jesus called down woes to these false teachers, directing others to avoid their influence and instead follow the true God and His Son Jesus Christ.

Will You Follow Him?

It can be difficult to live like Christ, particularly in a world that rejects our Lord for who He truly is.  We know that Jesus taught that He was the way, the truth, and the life and that none may come to the Father but through Him.  Yet our world rejects this reality, and accuses those of us who follow Christ completely as being radical and narrow-minded.  Instead of bending to the influence of our culture, let’s really take the time to see our Lord for who He is and not shy away from following Him and letting Him make us more like Himself.  If we will choose today to care more about what Christ thinks of us than what the world thinks of us, we will find Him ready and able to meet our every need—for this day and all the millennia to come!

Set the Right Goals, and Don’t Forget to Execute!

Believe it or not, we’re coming up on the second quarter of 2013—have you set your goals yet? If you had set goals for 2013, are you progressing toward them? If you’re like many people, you may have let these aspirations move to the back burner. Today we’ll look at whether these goals should move to the front burner or off the stove completely. For those that do belong on your front burner, how can you keep your focus on them and ensure that they’re reached?


What’s the Problem?

There are a few major reasons why a goal you set early in the year will fade into the background after a few weeks or months. One reason could be that the goal was not something you truly want or value. Sometimes it can be difficult to really drill down to the things we really want. In fact, focusing on ourselves only can result in blurry vision. Instead, recognize that your Creator God made you in a particular way; individually and different than anyone else. What strengths and passions has He placed in you, and what purpose does He want to use you to accomplish?

Translate the Long Term to What to Do Today

Another common reason that we discard our goals relates to lack of detailed planning and accountability. Instead of setting general goals and stopping there, translate your goals into weekly activities and execute them consistently.

Seven Key Areas

The following six-step process provides a simple overview of how to set the right goals and adopt the habits that will lead you to reach them. Use these steps as guidelines to build a specific process that works for you. This method can be applied to reach success in any area of life, and we recommend using it for eack of the following areas:
• Career
• Fitness
• Personal Development
• Spiritual
• Family
• Financial
• Social

The six steps toward setting and executing worthwhile goals are as follows:

Step 1 – Figure out what you want. Peace? Financial security? Influence? Travel? Strong relationships? Missions? Taking care of family? Be specific. What would your life look like if you inherited $200 million today and also learned that you have only 5 years to live?

Step 2 – Find people who have what you want and listen to them; protect your mind from people [who don’t have what you want] who want to give you advice. Does your brother-in-law have financial success? If not, don’t take his financial advice.

Step 3 – Based on what you want (step 1) develop big, 5-yr goals. Figure out the goals you’ll need to hit this year to reach these big goals. Then, figure out the goals you’ll need to hit this month to hit the annual goals.

Step 4 – Plan out daily activities that will lead you to your monthly goals. Work with an experienced mentor [from step 2] to insure you choose the right activities.

Step 5 – Put your daily activities into your calendar, and stick to your calendar

Step 6 – Forget about the goals and focus on executing this day’s activities. Report how you did to your mentor. If you completed today’s activities, be happy with that.

Focus on things you can control—your activity. Focusing on results instead of activities you can control can be frustrating. Use your mentor to determine the right activities, do them consistently, and results will come.

What’s the thread?

What’s all about?  Perhaps you noticed last week the feature of the ThriveFit training program and took a moment to learn how an Olympic lift can help you get in great shape and look and feel better.  Maybe you scrolled down to see the previous week’s post about eternity and what God has planned for His children.  After that, you clicked the ThriveWealthy tab on the top menu and downloaded the free cashflow planning tool, including instructions for getting your finances in order.  Are these topics related?  What connects these seemingly unrelated ideas?

oven mitts!

You’re not an ice-cube tray

The threads that connect these aspects of life are at the very core of our mission here at TotalThriver. A prevalent notion in our culture today is the idea that we exist as individuals with different compartments, which are separate and distinct from each other.  For example, a man may delude himself by thinking, “Sure, I’m harsh and unsympathetic at work, and sometimes I take advantage of my employees, but that has nothing to do with my relationship with my wife and kids.  Who I am at work is not who I am at home.”

Contrast this with the wisdom of God’s Word.  In Proverbs 23, we read:

6 Do not eat the bread of a selfish man,
Or desire his delicacies;

7 For as he thinks within himself, so he is.
He says to you, “Eat and drink!”
But his heart is not with you.

This is a teaching given throughout the Bible–that the heart is where our behavior and actions originate.  Similarly, Jesus said in Luke 6:45 that:

The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For out of the overflow of his heart his mouth speaks.

Address the real problem

All of us want to thrive in life–and particularly those of you who’ve come to this site to find tools and resources to do just that.  But the first step in moving forward is to recognize that our “less than thriving” behaviors in the various aspects of our lives are rooted in our heart.  The man who mistreats his employees has a heart problem.  And this problem of the heart will manifest itself everywhere in his life.

To insist that poor behavior in one area in life has nothing to do with other areas of life is dangerous because it refuses to recognize the real connections within your own person.  And without clear understanding of the cause of a problem, no true change can be made.

What are your “unseen connections?”

Take a moment to consider personally, “what aspects of my life have I been neglecting?”  If your life is a wheel made up of five spokes (physical, financial, spiritual, relational, career), which spoke is deficient and giving you a wobbly wheel?

Try to seek out the connections between parts of life where you aren’t thriving and the negative effects that they produce in other areas of your life.  Do you hate your job?  Do you then come home angry and fight with your spouse?  Or perhaps you’ve not exercised in months, and notice that you just don’t have the energy level to care for your family that you once did.  By identifying the negative results that you most dislike and connecting them to their causes, you’ll find the motivation to make the investments of time and energy needed to thrive in one area, bringing success in both areas.

The bonus

That’s what’s so great about starting to understand how these areas relate–you improve the area that needs improvement, but you get a bonus in other areas.  The clearest example of this is the area of fitness.  When you spend time exercising your body properly, you’ll notice an improvement to your physique.  But you get a bonus benefit in your work life, as you have better energy levels and can be more productive.  And you’ll likely notice an improved relationship with your spouse, as your frustrations have been taken out on a barbell instead of your lover!

The connections between these areas of life are complex and seemingly infinite.  Some, like the examples above, can be understood and generalized.  Others are known by God alone.  Yet as we understand more and more that our behavior and the results of our behavior stem from the heart, we work to thrive in each area to the satisfaction of ourselves and the glory of our Maker.

The Standard of Wisdom

We live in an information age.  Every day, we are overwhelmed with news, media, advertisements, and opinions of friends, family, and associates.  How can we sort out the claims steeped in wisdom from those dripping with folly?  How can we discern truth from error and the wise path from the highway of fools?  We must have a reliable standard by which we can test all claims, holding fast to that which is good.  That standard is our Creator God and the Word He has given us.  Today we’ll delve into an excerpt from Proverbs 12 and discover how the principles contained in it can guide us into truth and right living.

colorado forest

22Lying lips are an abomination to the LORD,

But those who deal faithfully are His delight.

23A prudent man conceals knowledge,

But the heart of fools proclaims folly.

24The hand of the diligent will rule,

But the slack hand will be put to forced labor.

Easy to Read, Tough to Do

I love the clarity of the Proverbs!  Sometimes they require deep reflection and some digging, but often they are so clear and practical that there is little difficulty understanding them, only difficulty in living them.

In Accord with Reality

Lying lips are an abomination to the Lord.  God hates deceitfulness and it is against His character to affirm that which is false.  Conversely, when we deal faithfully with our friends and neighbors, this pleases and delights our Father.  How truthful has your tongue been this week?  Do your words and actions accord with reality, or can you think of times recently when you’ve sought to create an appearance that is false?  Have you blamed another for a mistake that was yours?  Or have you withheld information from someone in order to lead them into an inaccurate conclusion?

Not All Sharing is Good

In the second stanza, we see a common device used in proverbs:  pairs of opposites used together.  Notice the contrast in verse 23:  a prudent man versus a fool, concealing versus proclaiming, and knowledge versus folly.  As is often the case in proverbs, the truth can at first appear puzzling to us.  Why should a wise person keep knowledge from people?  Wouldn’t he want to share his insight with everyone within earshot?  Conversely, wouldn’t a fool want to hide his foolishness by remaining silent?

As usual, the wisdom of the proverb is proven right upon careful consideration.  Much like the New Testament concept of not casting pearls before swine, a wise person understands that sharing wisdom with those who are not willing to receive it will only bring sorrow to all involved.  Instead, we ought to share knowledge and council in stages, allowing a student to hear and understand the simple and general things, and later share the deeper and more magnificent pearls.  Let us be careful not to spew forth speech as a fool, painting those around us with a fire hose.  Instead, let us seek out those who wish to behold a beautiful painting, and paint it for them in small and careful strokes.

Choose to Prosper

Finally, we learn a lesson on diligence.  Decide now to apply yourself and work hard for the rewards you desire.  Stick with your efforts even during the tough times and your hard work will be rewarded with honor and authority.  Do not be as the fool, who has the opportunity to work today but chooses instead to sit idly by.  That man will find himself without honor, doing work he despises against his will.  Today you have the choice to find your passion and pursue it with excellence.  Do it, and develop a habit of diligence, that the seeds you plant today my harvest future bounty for the good of your family and country, to the glory of God.