GETTING STRONGER NOW (Boot Camp for Creators & Dreamers #12.3)


Hello, fellow dreamers and creators. As we previously discussed, in order to become lean, mean, faithful “machines” who can keep on going like the Energizer Bunny, we need some serious strength training. And NOTHING makes us stronger than the “joy of the Lord.” So we now continue our discussion of the steps to getting and keeping your joy. Uh, enjoy yourselves!

  • Take time to rest — and get the proper amount of sleep! Lack of sleep results in mental and physical fatigue, and fatigue (being plumb tuckered out) is one of the most common joy-killers facing people today. That’s why God created a day of rest: “Remember to observe the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. You have six days each week for your ordinary work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath day of rest dedicated to the LORD your God. On that day no one in your household may do any work.” (Exodus 20:8-10 NLT)

Sounds like God really means business with this; not only did our Creator make this whole rest thing one of the Ten Commandments — it’s number 5 on His list — but He also set the example for us other creators to follow: “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. …Then God looked over all He had made, and He saw that it was very good! And evening passed and morning came, marking the sixth day. …On the seventh day God had finished his work of creation, so He rested from all His work.” (Genesis 1:1,31; 2:2 NLT)

Hey, God created you, so He knows what’s best for you. Rest and relaxation help to restore our enthusiasm and joy. (There’s that word again!) Sleep is as important as food, and yet, when it comes to catching some Z’s many of us are malnourished. And of course, no matter how dark things may appear now, they always look brighter in the morning … after a good night’s sleep: “Weeping may endure for a night, But a shout of joy comes in the morning.” (Psalm 30:5 AMP)

So, turn off the TV, close the book, get off the Internet, and go to bed at a decent hour — for the sake of your own creativity!

  • Stop and smell the roses! Yes, always pursue your dreams with gusto. But remember, the path you take to reach your goals isn’t just about the destination. Be sure to enjoy the journey itself; take in the scenery along the way; laugh, play, have some fun; and nurture the curious and creative “child” within. “A joyful heart is good medicine, but depression drains one’s strength.” (Proverbs 17:22 GWT)
  • Develop an attitude of gratitude. This is essential if you want to keep your joy and stay strong. As pastor and author Joel Osteen states, “The seeds of discouragement cannot take root in the soil of a grateful heart.”

When you start feeling down and disheartened, don’t allow yourself to sink into depression. Instead, change your focus — from what you don’t have to what you do have. Count your blessings. You’ll be surprised how much you actually have and how much you’ve accomplished in life.

When upon life’s billows you are tempest tossed, When you are discouraged, thinking all is lost, Count your many blessings, name them one by one, And it will surprise you what the Lord hath done.  (John Oatman, “Count Your Blessings,” 1897)

“In every situation [no matter what the circumstances] be thankful and continually give thanks to God; for this is the will of God for you in Christ Jesus.” (1 Thessalonians 5:18 AMP)

“Therefore by Him let us continually offer the sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to His name.” (Hebrews 13:15 NKJV)

  • Look forward, NOT backward. You may have left a trail of failures and missed opportunities behind you — but ahead of you are the promises of our faithful God and endless possibilities. Besides, all your dreams lie in that direction. Move forward, not backward; and watch where you’re going, not where you’ve been.
Rrr-rappy Rance! (Translation: Happy Dance!)

Keep the same joyful (and hopeful) outlook on life that the Apostle Paul maintained: “…I have not achieved it, but I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead….” (Philippians 3:13 NLT)

Your past may be filled with sorrows and mistakes, but your future is bright and full of joy. In fact, God proclaims, “‘I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. ‘” (Jeremiah 29:11 NIV)

Rejoice in what the Lord is going to do in your life: “Stop being afraid…!
Rejoice and be glad, 
because the LORD will do great things. Stop being afraid … because the desert pastures will bloom, the trees will bear their fruit, and the fig tree and vine will deliver their wealth.” (Joel 2:21-22 ISV)

Are you beginning to feel the joy? Good, now keep it and stay strong!


STAYING PLUGGED IN (Boot Camp for Creators & Dreamers #12.2)


We previously demonstrated the Biblical connection between joy and strength (as in Nehemiah 8:10). We also discussed why we creators and dreamers need strength: the spiritual and emotional ability to keep pursuing our dreams no matter what happens or how long it takes; the power to create and achieve our goals; the fortitude to surmount any obstacles or challenges that get in our way.

To become lean, mean, faithful “machines” who keep on going like the Energizer Bunny, we need strength training. And again, nothing makes us stronger than the “joy of the Lord.”

In his book, Laugh Again!, Charles Swindoll states: “I know of no greater need today than the need for joy. Unexplainable, contagious joy. Outrageous joy. When that kind of joy comes aboard our ship of life, it brings … enthusiasm for life, determination to hang in there, and a strong desire to be of encouragement to others. Such qualities make our voyage bearable when we hit the open seas and encounter high waves of hardship that tend to demoralize and paralyze. There is nothing better than a joyful attitude when we face the challenges life throws at us.”

According to Swindoll, “Someone once asked Mother Teresa what the job description was for anyone who might wish to work alongside her in the grimy streets … of Calcutta. Without hesitation she mentioned only two things: the desire to work hard and a joyful attitude.” (Laugh Again!, p.19)

Mother Teresa’s two requirements for changing the world in Calcutta are also the two most important secret weapons of successful creators and dreamers: JOY and hard work. Okay, hard work is simply about rolling up our sleeves and doing what needs to be done — whenever, wherever, and however — until we accomplish our goals. But how do we lay in a supply of joy? Furthermore, once we get it, how do we keep our joy?

The short answer: stay plugged in to the source of your strength, God, the Creator of the Universe, because — and here’s where the similarity to the Energizer Bunny ends — we were never designed to run on battery power. Unlike that pink flop-eared mechanical rabbit, we can and do wind down when we’re running low on power. But that should never happen, if we stay plugged in to the power supply; because “…The joy of the Lord is your strength and your stronghold.” (Nehemiah 8:10 AMP)

Now for the long answer, and an explanation of HOW we stay plugged in. Well, our spiritual “Life” is a lot like a board game: we continually have to “Go back to START.” That would be God. So, let’s take a few steps back in our basic training to the part about putting our trust in the Lord.

  • Regardless of what’s going on around you, KEEP THE FAITH. Regardless how aggravating stuff gets, keep a divine perspective on life — what happens here is but a moment in eternity (and indeed, if you’ve entrusted your salvation to Christ, then you do have eternal life.) Regardless how long it takes to reach your dreams, remember that you have friends in high places — three to be exact (the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost) — who won’t fail you!

“…Let all who take refuge in You rejoice; let them sing joyful praises forever. Spread Your protection over them, that all who love Your name may be filled with joy.” (Psalm 5:11 NLT)

Joy comes with salvation. It’s a package deal. And joy increases with spiritual growth: “…The Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness….” (Galatians 5:22)

  • Manage Your Mind. Renew that organic computer of yours each and every day. (Romans 12:1-3) Do this by spending quality time with Him, through prayer, worship, and reading His Word. Do this by checking in with God FIRST — before you check your email or turn to the news, weather, and sports. All that stuff can wait until you’ve renewed your power supply.

Remember, “…In Your presence is abundant joy; in Your right hand are eternal pleasures.” (Psalm 16:11 HCSB) So, if you find yourself losing your joy, getting grumpy, nasty, or negative, take stock of your devotional time. Are you spending QUALITY time with God? Is it your #1 Priority? Are you consistent? And whenever you need a spiritual lift, tap into the power of prayer and praise. God will definitely lift you up: “…Though you do not see Him now, you trust Him; and you rejoice with a glorious, inexpressible joy.” (1 Peter 1:8 NLT)

  • Stop focusing on any unfavorable circumstances, problems, or unfulfilled dreams; and instead focus on the goodness of God, His infinite love, and His ability and faithfulness to fulfill His wonderful promises. Value above everything else your relationship with your Heavenly Father. Do NOT take Him for granted!

“…With my whole heart, I will praise His holy name. Let all that I am praise the LORD; may I never forget the good things He does for me. He forgives all my sins and heals all my diseases. He redeems me from death and crowns me with love and tender mercies. He fills my life with good things. My youth is renewed like the eagle’s!” (Psalm 103:1-5 NLT)

As we previously stated, having (and keeping) your Joy is a choice. It’s not dependent on how well your day went. In fact, when things aren’t exactly going your way, that’s when it’s most important to keep your joy: “…When troubles come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. …When your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow …[and] you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing.” (James 1:2-4 NLT)

Maybe times are tough and the going is getting rough. And maybe you feel you’re not getting any closer to fulfilling your dreams. You can still stay strong in the face of adversity and still have victory — EVEN THOUGH things aren’t working out as you hoped or planned.

“Even though the fig tree does not blossom, and there are no grapes on the vines; even if the olive harvest fails, and the fields produce nothing edible; even if the flock is snatched from the sheepfold, and there is no herd in the stalls — as for me, I will rejoice in the LORD. I will find my joy in the God who delivers me….” (Habakkuk 3:17-18 ISV)

  • Take time to encourage and bless others. Be a “Barnabas” — a helper/friend/facilitator — to other creators and dreamers. (Barnabas, as recorded in Acts 9:26-31, stands as the quintessential helper/friend/facilitator.)

“Why?” you might ask. “How can this help ME?” Well, in addition to making the world a better place for all concerned, you can tap into the supernatural Law of Reciprocity. That’s a fancy way of saying, What goes around comes around.

“A generous person will prosper; whoever refreshes others will be refreshed.” (Proverbs11:25 NIV)

Besides, you want JOY, right? After all, joy keeps you strong, and nothing brings more joy than giving and serving others — which is why the Apostle
Paul wrote, “…We must help the weak, remembering the words the Lord Jesus Himself said: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.'” (Acts 20:35 NIV) Blessings equate to joy!

To be continued!