“For some reason, God love circles,” was one of the comments I received in response to the last Langstaff Letter “The Circle Maker” based on Mark Batterson’s books of the same name, subtitled ‘Praying Circles around Your Biggest Dreams and Greatest Fears.’ I want to continue that theme from his book by looking at his chapter ‘Life Goal List.’

I like Mark’s statement that “Goals are dreams with deadlines.”  So many people have dreams but have no action plan or deadline to bring the dream into reality.  Dreams of . . . .

  • Starting a new job or even a new business
  • Going on a trip to a special place (How many people have told me of their dream to visit my homeland of Australia)
  • Involvement in a new ministry
  • A missions trip overseas
  • Additions or alterations to their home
  • Writing a book
  • Starting a new hobby

If you don’t have a deadline you will be tempted to put it off, procrastinate or wait for the perfect conditions to occur, which will never happen.So dreams without a deadline are generally not going to happen.  Goals are dreams with a deadline.

THE BOOK ‘CALLED TOGETHER’

Soon after we first came to America over thirty years ago, my wife Dorothy had a God-given call of writing a book about our life and ministry in Australia.  At the time we were involved in a ministry in Cambridge, MN and each Tuesday morning she would set aside the time to start working on the book.  But before it was finished life changed dramatically and we eventually ended up pastoring a church in Eden Prairie, MN that was later called Antioch Christian Fellowship.  She was co-pastor and was involved in the ministry of the church, including the women’s ministry, she coordinated and led annual conventions, she ministered in ACTS, our bible school.  All of this crowded out the call to finish the book.

The years went by and the half-finished book lay there uncompleted.  Then in 2007 a friend, who had heard about the book, challenged her saying, “When are you going to finish the book.  You need to set a goal.  How about 6 months for the first draft and 12 months to finish it?”  Then I confirmed it by stating it had to be finished and published by November 2008 in time for Dorothy’s 70th birthday and for our 50th wedding anniversary, both of which were in the month of November.  Dorothy accepted the challenge of setting a deadline and worked hard all that year to get it done.  I sought to help in any way I could.  I even called that year ‘The year I didn’t play golf’ as I gave the time to help her.  Twice we took weekends off and cloistered ourselves to go through the book from beginning to end to make sure it all came together.  Consequently the book was completed and sent to the publisher.  I will never forget the day the books arrived at our home and Dorothy opened up one of the boxes. She held in her hand the book that was now printed and cried.

What made the difference in getting it done?  Setting a deadline.  A goal is a dream with a deadline.  We have been amazed at the responses we have had to the book.  Many people have written to say they couldn’t put it down and read it in two days or less.  If you would like to purchase a copy you can contact us.

THE SECOND BOOK

Now it is my turn.  I have to write the follow-up story, with Dorothy’s help about our life and ministry in America, after we moved here from Australia in 1980.  I have had to set a deadline.  It is February 2015, which will be my 80th birthday.  So each week, with few exceptions, I set aside Monday morning to work on the book, chapter by chapter.  Pray that I can get it done and meet the deadline.

Mark Batterson in ‘The Circle Maker’ has a section on 10 Steps to Goal Setting where he lists simple, practical steps to reaching your goals and fulfilling your dreams. I encourage you to read Batterson’s book and accept the challenge to set goals that God would give you for your life. Let me give you another example of setting goals to fulfill your dream.

MITCHEL PLAISTED – OUR GRANDSON

Mitchel, our eldest grandson, joined a local boy scout troop two years later than most boys in his troop.  However he entered into it with gusto and set about the goal of not just catching up to his peers but of becoming an Eagle Scout.  Along the way he had much to do to accomplish this.  Part of it was to lead and co-ordinate a community project.  He chose to complete a building project for our church in Chaska, New Life Assembly of God.  It involved creating a 10 x 20 patio along with landscaping the front entrance way into the church.  He had to produce plans, get approval of the church and scouts, co-ordinate and lead other scouts and their dads to complete it, along with fundraising for the project.  All of this, along with the  badge work, service hours and attendance requirements, had to be completed before his eighteenth birthday.  He did it and recently he went before the BSA Eagle Board of Review and was accepted as an Eagle Scout!

PERSONAL GOALS
Let me challenge you. Have you goals you need to be working towards?  Remember a goal is a dream with a deadline.  I recently challenged my congregation to have God-given goals, no matter how young or old you are.

I shared with my congregation some of my present goals which included –

  1. Reading the bible this year in a different translation
  2. Going fishing (I don’t really like fish) with one of my deacons
  3. Remembering that, ‘Nothing honors God more than a big dream that is way beyond our ability to accomplish.’ my last one is a fun one – That I live long enough to see the Vikings win the Superbowl.

A FINAL THOUGHT 

Recently Steve Strang of Charisma Magazine wrote about ‘Faith Living:Finding Your Purpose.’

Regardless of our spiritual level-whether a young person full of the excitement of just following Christ, or one who has enjoyed a measure of success in following your dreams, or one who has followed God for many years and is tempted to coast-God wants us to move into risky living: faith living.

We should believe Him for new mountains to climb, new visions to pursue. That is how we grow and develop our faith and move from “glory to glory.” As my late mentor Jamie Buckingham put it so well, each of us should “attempt something so big that, without God, it’s bound to fail.”

So let’s do what Paul did when he declared, ‘I press on towards the goal of the prize for the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.’  Philippians 3:14
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