Goals ~ Do They Matter?

“If you want to succeed,” our teachers, coaches, and mentors tell us, “setting goals is essential.” We are taught to define our goals in some sort of mission statement, write them on brightly-colored post-it notes, and stick them on the refrigerator door, the bathroom mirror, or anywhere we can read them often. It is believed this repetitious programming of our minds actually works.


I can mostly relate to that scenario in the area of dieting. God only knows how many times I’ve set a goal for weight loss, either with an organized group of dieters or by myself. I learned early on not to set my goal too aggressively, because experience had taught me that I probably wouldn’t make it.


Throughout my life I have been a goal-setter, and I have both successes and failures. But whether our goals are major life-changing measures or simply something to amuse us—like New Year’s resolutions—how seriously we take them determines our chances for success. If we take a casual approach to them, failure is inevitable. I believe that in today’s culture, we increasingly embrace an “It’s OK to fail” policy, and toss our goals out the window.


One place where it is definitely not OK to fail or take a casual approach is in our relationship with God. There we should have clear goals, take them seriously, and recognize that failure will have consequences. Does it seem to anyone else that we’ve lost all sense of consequences for our choices or actions? I’m not talking about criminal actions; however, it is not uncommon these days to see people getting by with murder and walking away scot-free. What I am talking about is a trend in our Christian beliefs that God loves us so much that it doesn’t matter what we do. Thus, we take casually our actions and sometimes even our commitments to God, and then assume that He does too. We assume wrong. (See Deuteronomy 23:21; Ecclesiastes 5:5.)


So what are the right goals for Christians? Should we view them with a “hit or miss” approach to success? Does God care what our goals are? Does He want us to succeed? Will we be better Christians if we have the right ones? Those are all questions we will tackle in the coming weeks. But first I want to share with you the goal of one of the most admired Christian authors/teachers of modern times—Oswald Chambers.


            My goal is God Himself, not joy nor peace,

            Not even blessing, but Himself, my God.


I have been a reader of Oswald Chamber’s best-selling devotional, My Utmost for His Highest, for 10+ years. I read it every day, realizing that much of it goes poof—straight over my head. But because his writings speak to my thirst for God, I’ve stuck with it. Anyone familiar with his works recognizes that he was a rare saint who had an exceptional walk with God. Next, we will breakdown his goal statement and compare it to the goal of the Apostle Paul and also to our goals as 21st century Christians.


Goals matter. Having the right goals will make a difference in how we approach God and our ability to discover His vast treasures for our lives. God wants us to succeed at the right things. It helps when we know what they are!  ~Janie Kellogg

Ask Gabby Douglas

Not long ago I wrote this statement in my journal: What did the Apostle Paul know that I don’t? That was three months and the 2012 Olympics ago. Today I think I know the answer. The Apostle Paul clearly knew the goal of Christianity, as well as his own personal goal. They were the same for Paul, and that fact alone is part of our problem with goals—we have too many!


If we were to ask Gabby Douglas what goal brought her to victory in the 2012 Olympics, what do you think would be her answer? Would she tell us that she didn’t have a goal? Not likely. Would she say that her goal was to visit London? I doubt it, since anyone can buy an airline ticket to get there. Could it be that her goal was to be a celebrity? I don’t think so, because doing even senseless things can elevate a person to celebrity status. Was her goal to be on Television? Probably not. We can see people who commit heinous crimes on TV every night of the week. I doubt she would even say that her goal was to possess a gold medal—as you can likely buy a replica. While I don’t know for sure, I suspect that Gabby would say her goal was to be the best gymnast in the world! All the other things are mere by-products of reaching that goal. I dare say that had she been focused on any one of those other things, she would not have won the gold medal. I think Gabby clearly knew her goal, whatever it was, and she never strayed from it, drifted off on some lesser vision, or yielded to thoughts that it was too difficult. That is how I believe Gabby won the gold medal at the 2012 Olympics.


I also believe that most modern-day Christians, including me, do not have a clear idea of the true goal of Christianity. And not only do we not have a clear idea of the goal we are supposed to be striving for, I believe we have had our eyes on the wrong goal altogether. When the prosperity—live-the-good-life-now—message hit the airwaves several decades ago and Christians bought into it, we made a huge mistake. We settled on the wrong goal, and we’ve been paying the price ever since. We have actually attained some of these wrong goals. For instance, we look prosperous, alive, and busy, but we don’t look like Jesus. Why? We have the wrong goal. It seems that God has blessed us abundantly and we appear to be spiritual, but our lives are void of God’s power. Why? We have the wrong goal. We can quote scriptures about God’s promises to us, but our words don’t match the reality of our lives. Why? We have the wrong goal. There are convincing arguments for these statements in the book of Revelation Chapters 2 and 3, Christ’s letters to the churches. I challenge you to read them.


If we are genuinely thirsty for the times of refreshing that come from the Lord, we must find the right fountain to drink from. Drinking from other sources simply will not quench our thirst. My feeling is that the church has been drinking from the wrong fountains for a long time, yet we are starving for the living water that Jesus spoke about. Finding that fountain of living water has everything to do with having the right goal.


Can we learn something from Gabby Douglas? I think we can. I believe it will benefit us to take a clear look at the superficial goals of the church today and then define what the right goal is for the church and for us personally. Until we have the right goal, the goal of the Apostle Paul, how can we possibly “go for the gold?” We can’t. Anyone thirsty? Stay tuned! ~Janie Kellogg

Some Refreshing Please!

I recently heard someone say they are tired of politics as usual. My first thought was: Who isn’t? At this point, I’m wondering if I can simply endure until the November election is over. Are we not all tired of the blame game, the partisan hullabaloo, the despicable name calling, and the smear and slam strategy? And where has it gotten us? We are a nation more divided than ever before, and at a time when we most need to stand arm-in-arm against the enemies of our freedoms, our values, and our heritage.


But then I am also bold enough to say that I’m tired of Christianity as usual. Do we not have some of the same blame-game characteristics in our ranks? How about the denominational hullabaloo or the despicable name calling among Christians, not to mention the smear and slam strategies used against our own church members? Is it possible that the Church of Jesus Christ is more divided today than ever before? And is it not at a most critical time in which we should be standing arm-in-arm against the enemies of our religious freedoms, values, and heritage?


I am personally ready for some refreshing from the Lord! I’m ready to be part of the Lord’s army fighting to win the battle against the devil and not against my fellow Christian soldiers. Let’s take a look at a refreshing promise found in Acts 3:19 ~ “Therefore repent and return, so that your sins may be wiped away, in order that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord.” (NAS)


When I first read this, I didn’t think it was the verse I was looking for. I searched for others, but the Holy Spirit brought me back to it encouraging me to take a closer look. Finally, I saw it. Read it again. There is a prerequisite to getting the times of refreshing from the Lord—repent and return.


Does Christianity ever feel like a set of rules to follow or some formulas that only work part of the time? Ever get thirsty for something fresh from God? Do we not long for a cool drink of spiritual water for our dehydrated souls? If so, we have a clear directive: repent of our sins and turn away from them. But you say, “That is a hard word.” Maybe not. It could be a loving and encouraging word. Think about it—what if you are lost in a desert without water and growing weaker by the minute? Suddenly you see a sign pointing in a clear direction that reads: “Water well ahead.” Would that not be a loving and encouraging word? Certainly! So it is with God’s Word pointing us to His refreshing.


Tired of politics as usual? There’s not much we can do about that except to pray for godly leaders and vote accordingly. Tired of Christianity as usual? There is something we can do about that: repent and return! Repent of how we’ve judged others. Repent of things that cause disunity in the church. Repent of our acceptance of sin in our culture. Repent of our slackness in worship and reverence of God’s house and His Word. Repent of following after other gods. Then turn to God, draw close to Him, get into His presence, ask for cleansing, and pray until you feel His love and forgiveness flood your soul. Let Him refresh you with the life-giving Spirit, and don’t stop short of the rivers of living water that flow out of your innermost being  (John 7:38).


God’s presence is the only place to get the refreshment we so desperately need—the refreshing our hearts cry out for. He has clearly told us how to get it, and now the rest is up to us. Why, I already feel a cool splashing of spiritual water on my dry and thirsty soul! ~Janie