Blessed New Year in God’s Kingdom saints. Prayerfully, some of you are planning to join with us as we storm the gates of hell in Arizona from January 21st-24th. We are going to have a rally at the state capital to fling David’s stone at the Goliath of Roe vs. Wade. Plan, as well, to come back to Arizona for our June national event called “Further Up and Further In.” It is important for you to be there at the appointed time. There are big changes about to take place and your participation is vital to the future of the ministry. More on that later.
This month’s newsletter features the Introduction to a new book I am writing called Biblical Success in Life. If you would, please let me know if the Introduction interests you in this new work. The chapters will include Chapter One: The Doctrine of Man, Chapter Two: Success as a Male, Chapter Three: Success as a Female, Chapter Four: Success as a Child, Chapter Five: Success as a Wife, Chapter Six: Success as a Mother, Chapter Seven: Success as a Husband, Chapter Eight: Success as a Father, Chapter Nine: Success as a Friend, Chapter Ten: Success as a Christian, Chapter Eleven: Success as a Church Member, and Chapter Twelve: Success as a Citizen.
There are two other major writings in the works. The first is Jeremiah Strong. My lovely bride, Kendra, has completed the rough draft of Jeremiah’s testimony that impacted the world. We are now working together to put the final touches on it and have it completed soon. We are writing it in such a way as to make it screenplay friendly. The other work is a screen play called Sheep in Wolves’ Clothing. Please keep us in prayer as we work on these Kingdom projects. We trust many lives will be transformed by the Gospel of the Kingdom in Jesus’ name!
Biblical Success in Life’s Introduction:
The title of this book might be misleading. It may suggest another manuscript promoting the prosperity message so enamored by those seduced by the American Gospel Enterprise. Some might think this is another “get rich quick scheme” done in the name of religion. Others might think the “Word of Faith” movement is trying to make a desperate comeback with its “name it and claim it” distortions of the Word of God.
Tragically, much of that avarice masked in pietism is merely humanism wrapped up in “Christianeze.” It attempts, in most cases, to spiritualize greed by charlatans who make merchandize of men’s souls. The Bible warns of this type of religious con job done for “filthy lucre sake” (Titus 1:11).
Speaking of false prophets and teachers, the Apostle Peter warned, “By covetousness they will exploit you with deceptive words” (2 Peter 2:3a). Jude 1:11 affirmed, “Woe to them! For they have gone in the way of Cain, have run greedily in the error of Balaam for profit, and perished in the rebellion of Korah.” Jesus declared, “Now you Pharisees make the outside of the cup and dish clean, but your inward part is full of greed and wickedness” (Luke 11:39).
Keep in mind, Jesus was excoriating the religious system and leaders in His generation. Like many today, they were more concerned about nickels (Bank accounts) and noses (How many sitting in the pews), than they were about God’s truth and righteousness being established and inscribed upon the souls of men.
Be assured, this will not be the case concerning this tome. There will be no “Your Best Life Now” citations to tickle people’s ears (2 Timothy 4:3, 4). Though, one can certainly prosper in the traditional sense by diligent labor, perseverance, strong Protestant work ethic, exercising Biblical principles, and by faithfully investing in the Kingdom of God, these virtues will not be the main Biblical concepts pursued.
This work will concentrate on other Biblical truths that most people ignore that denote Kingdom success. It will be more about being a successful human being rather than being successful in human activities.
Success can mean many things to many people. Here is just a sampling of different “influencers” and their definitions of success. Tony Robbins suggests, “My definition of success is to live your life in a way that causes you to feel a ton of pleasure and very little pain — and because of your lifestyle, have the people around you feel a lot more pleasure than they do pain.” He went on to state, “Success is doing what you want to do, when you want, where you want, with whom you want, as much as you want.”
Winston Churchill, “Success is the ability to go from failure to failure without losing your enthusiasm.” Dale Carnegie, “Success is getting what you want; happiness is wanting what you get.” Woody Allen, “Eighty percent of success is showing up.” Maya Angelou, “Success is liking yourself, liking what you do, and liking how you do it.” Jon Bon Jovi, “Success is falling nine times and getting up 10.” Dalai Lama XIV, “Judge your success by what you had to give up in order to get it.”
Albert Einstein, “Try not to become a man of success, but rather try to become a man of value.” David Brinkley, “A successful man is one who can lay a firm foundation with the bricks others have thrown at him.” Martin Luther King Jr., “We are prone to judge success by the index of our salaries or the size of our automobiles rather than by the quality of our service and relationship to mankind. George S. Patton, “Success is how high you bounce when you hit bottom.” Booker T. Washington, “Success is to be measured not so much by the position that one has reached in life as by the obstacles which he has overcome.” Michael Jordan, “I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life and that is why I succeed.”
Theodore Roosevelt, our 26th President, who advocated “The Strenuous Life” ethic stated, “It is not the critic who counts. Not the man who points out how the strong man stumbled or where the doer of deeds could have done better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs and comes short again and again; who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause. Who, at the best, knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat.”
As you can see, as each human being is unique, so is their opinions relating to success. Their worldview informs their definitions. For instance, in the case of Tony Robbins, it appears he holds to a hedonistic philosophy of life. He believes experiencing pleasure and avoiding pain is the ultimate measure of success to achieve in our fleeting lives. It appears Mr. Robbins holds to the “eat, drink, and be merry for tomorrow we die” viewpoint.
One man’s pleasure, however, can be another man’s torment. Remember Hitler’s Germany? Some people are sadistic and derive pleasure from other people’s pain. Should achieving pleasure be considered the plumbline for success? If so, would we consider Jesus Christ successful as He hung naked on a cruel cross enduring unspeakable agony for the sins of the world?
This is Noah Webster’s definition of success from his first edition 1828 dictionary, “SUCCESS‘, noun [Latin successus, from succedo.] 1. The favorable or prosperous termination of any thing attempted; a termination which answers the purpose intended; properly in a good sense, but often in a bad sense.” A modern definition from Merriam-Webster states, “favorable or desired outcome, also: the attainment of wealth, favor, or eminence.”
In the book of Ecclesiastes, King Solomon, considered the wisest man in the world, went on a grand experiment. He sought to discover if there was any merit to pursuing the world’s standards for success. Was there any lasting value or meaning in obtaining what most men and nations covet?
His father, King David, was a man of war. He defeated all of Israel’s enemies, which established peace in the land. This afforded Solomon the opportunity to be reflective, meditative, and become a man of immense learning (1 Kings 4:32-34). Solomon did not squander his prospects. He gave himself fully to the task. He withheld nothing he thought beneficial to his life. He gave full vent to his desires.
One of his inquiries led him to wonder if there was any profit to man’s labor under the sun (Ecclesiastes 1:3). Solomon stated, “I, the Preacher, was king over Israel in Jerusalem.And I set my heart to seek and search out by wisdom concerning all that is done under heaven” (Ecclesiastes 1:12, 13a). All things done under heaven is quite the intellectual, spiritual, and moral quest. Most do not possess the wherewithal to seek such high and lofty aspirations.
Yet, Solomon was keenly aware of his prized position. He had attained greatness. He gained more wisdom than all who were before him in Jerusalem. His heart understood great wisdom and knowledge (Ecclesiastes 1:16). From this advantage, his first task was to determine wisdom and to also know madness and folly (Ecclesiastes 1:17). His conclusion, “Then I saw that wisdom excels folly as light excels darkness” (Ecclesiastes 2:13).
After setting the agenda, his great adventure began. He experimented first with hedonism, like Tony Robbins after him. He tested his heart with mirth to enjoy pleasure (Ecclesiastes 2:1). He gratified his flesh with wine, women, and song and whatever else his eyes desired. He gave himself fully over to satisfying ever yearning (Ecclesiastes 2:3, 2:10).
Next, Solomon turned his attention to accumulating wealth, possessions, fame, and fortune (Ecclesiastes 2:4-8). His fame spread far and wide amongst men and nations. God’s Word testifies, “And God gave Solomon wisdom and exceedingly great understanding, and largeness of heart like the sand on the seashore… And men of all nations, from all the kings of the earth who had heard of his wisdom, came to hear the wisdom of Solomon” (1 Kings 4:29, 4:34).
This is what a special personage, Queen of Sheba, and her entourage declared concerning Solomon’s preeminence in the world, “It was a true report which I heard in my own land about your words and your wisdom. However, I did not believe the words until I came and saw with my own eyes; and indeed, the half was not told me. Your wisdom and prosperity exceed the fame of which I heard” (1 Kings 10:6, 7).
Did these praise reports, royal flatteries, and worldly successes prove satisfactory to Solomon? Not even close. His life was empty as a vacuumed bulb gasping for oxygen. What did Solomon conclude when it came to the world’s definition of success, “Vanity of vanities, all is vanity and grasping at the wind” (Ecclesiastes 1:2, 1:14)?
Recently deceased, Ravi Zacharias, a Christian apologist, witnessed similar responses amongst celebrities today who suffer the same disillusionment. He stated, “One of the loneliest moments a man will ever experience is when he has achieved that which he thought would deliver the ultimate, and in the end, it lets him down.” The world is cruel in that regard. Furthermore, the world inspired by spirit of the age loves to place successful people on pedestals, lift them up, and then demand they jump.
Solomon experienced the “let down” firsthand. It was a huge disappointment. His endeavors left him with a bleak, somewhat fatalistic mindset. He reasoned that with all his accomplishments, there was one unavoidable problem. It is what Satan uses to torment the souls of men to this day (Hebrews 2:14, 15). Solomon, like all men, was mortal. So, no matter how healthy, wealthy, and wise he may become, he was destined to die, just like the fool, the sickly, and the impoverished.
He complained, “Then I hated all my labor in which I had toiled under the sun, because I must leave it to the man who will come after me. And who knows whether he will be wise or a fool? Yet he will rule over all my labor in which I toiled and in which I have shown myself wise under the sun. This also is vanity” (Ecclesiastes 2:18, 19).
Later in the book, Solomon working through the implications of death, decided it was still better to be a live dog rather than a dead lion (Ecclesiastes 9:4). Regardless, Solomon’s grand experiment under the heaven did not work out as he imagined. The worldly pursuits of success in this life were fleeting at best and at worst, the grasping at the wind, vanity.
Our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, also addressed this human dilemma. He taught, “For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul” (Matthew 16:26)? Men can achieve much in the earthly, temporal realm, and yet lose what is most important in the eternal realm. This blatant short sightedness requires a huge shift in our thinking and priorities, if we want true success in life.
My advice to those who are seeking success, please factor these truths into your thinking. Do not just make temporal investments, for temporal rewards, but make eternal investments for eternal rewards. As the Apostle Paul reminds us, “For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out” (1 Timothy 6:7).
In the following pages, this book will seek to lay out what God considers a successful life. It will not be based primarily upon what we achieve, but by how faithful we are to His Word. Principally, the righteous goal will be fulfilling our assigned roles and functions as human beings. More often than not, it is not what we can do, but what we are supposed to do according to God’s will that leads to Biblical success in life.
There are many who attain great things in life. The world considers them phenomenally successful, but upon closer examination, what about their souls, marriages, family, children, and other areas of life? Most of them are in shambles, neurotic, and abject failures. Can we truly say with any degree of certainty that these people are successful? I think not. At least, not where it matters most.
The Apostle James reminds us that our life in this world is but a vapor (James 4:14). We appear like the grass, we wither away, and are gone (Psalms 103:15, 16). That is why Moses asked the Lord to teach us to number our days to make wise use of them (Psalms 90:12).
Thankfully, in the midst of this brief life, God granted us Biblical standards to judge true success. Joshua 1:8 points the way, “This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate in it day and night, that you may observe to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success.”
It will be by this standard; the foundation for Biblical Success for Life will be prayerfully laid and carefully built upon (1 Corinthians 3:10, 11). May it bring glory to God and may it benefit all those who read it in Jesus mighty and holy name!
IN KING JESUS’ SERVICE,
Rusty Lee Thomas, Christmas Advent Season, December 2020
PS: Right before our event in Arizona, I’ll be traveling to PA to help transition a church from pro-lifeism to abolitionism. Your love, prayers, and support are appreciated, Thank you!