Thursday, December 31, 2020

Speak Victory

The subconscious mind is responsible for roughly 95% of the programming that takes place in our brain. “Whatever we plant in our subconscious mind and nourish with repetition and emotion will one day become a reality” ~Earl Nightingale.  

The words we allow into our brain are critical in terms of both our own self-programming and how those closest to us program themselves.  Speaking words of truth and life can positively impact how others see themselves. Small words of truth and positivity can stay with someone a long time.  Conversely, speaking words of negativity can adversely impact others in ways we can’t imagine.  Rachel Wolchin once said, “Be mindful when it comes to your words. A string of some that don’t mean much to you, may stick with someone else for a lifetime.”

God’s Perspective

God has a lot to say about the power of words – the power to do good, the power to do evil.  I remember times in my life when people spoke positive words into me, and they motivated, inspired, and led me to take action.  Unfortunately, I remember times when people spoke negative words that deflated, discouraged, and led me to give up.  “The tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat its fruit.” (Proverbs 18:21) 

Matthew chapter 12 shares some words directly from Jesus. In verse 34, Jesus says, “You brood of vipers, how can you who are evil say anything good?  For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of.”  Jesus said this to show us that words don’t just come out of our mouths, they are a reflection of the condition of our heart.  If our heart is in a bad place, our words will follow.  If our heart is aligned with the heart of Jesus, our words will also follow.

Verses 36-37 then say, “But I tell you that everyone will have to give account on the day of judgment for every empty word they have spoken.  For by your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned.”  That’s not a conversation I look forward to.  I think we’ve all unloaded our share of “empty” words. 

In Ephesians 4:29, the author, Paul, says, “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.” Paul realized both the power of words and the value of community.  Can you imagine what the world would look like if everyone spoke words that would consistently build others up according to their needs?

God’s Words About You

It’s important to recognize the voice of God versus the voice of the enemy.  The voice of God will always speak truths that are consistent with His word.  The enemy, however, will speak lies that are in direct conflict with God’s word.  Our conscious brain needs to recognize the difference and filter out the negative messages so that they don’t become part of our subconscious mind. Here are a few truths about what God says about you:

  • Genesis 1:27 says, “So God created mankind in His own image, in the image of God He created them; male and female He created them.” Yes, you were made in the image of God.
  • Psalm 139:14 says, “I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.” You were wonderfully made by the Creator of the universe.
  • Zephaniah 3:17 says, “The Lord your God is with you, the Mighty Warrior who saves.  He will take great delight in you; in His love He will no longer rebuke you, but will rejoice over you with singing.” Can you picture God taking such great delight in you that He rejoices with singing?
  • John 3:16 says, “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” God loves you so much that He gave His Son to die a horrible death so that you may be saved.
  • Matthew 5:14 says, “You are the light of the world.  A town built on a hill cannot be hidden.” Jesus said this, and He values you so much that He wants your light to shine throughout the world.
  • Jeremiah 29:11 says, “For 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.” God has great plans for you – all you need to do is surrender to Him.

God’s words are words of life, truth, and victory. Those words are God speaking directly about you and to you.  This is what your subconscious mind should have permanently engraved in it as the truth about who you are.

You have choices when it comes to words:

  • You can choose which words you accept as truth.  Choose the word of God.
  • You can choose which words you reject as lies.  Reject the words of the world and the enemy.
  • You can carefully choose which words you speak unto others.  Speak truth, speak hope, speak life, and speak victory.

Welcome to the new you.  Enjoy the journey... 

Check out In Our Weakness We Are Strong on Amazon at
Learn more about Dave VanEpps or request a speaking engagement at

Friday, December 18, 2020

Competitive Mindset

God has an amazing heart for athletes and competition.  The Bible is filled with stories that speak to competition and its inherent challenges.  Perhaps the most popular verse for runners comes from 1 Corinthians 9:24, which says “Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize.”  However, with God, it’s not all about winning.  It’s about training, it’s about character, and it’s about living the life He intended for you to live.

Have you ever signed up for something and then wondered what you were thinking?  I had no idea why I signed up for my second marathon.  I thought back to why I had competed in the first marathon, and there were several elements at work:

  • I was motivated to prove wrong the people who said I’d never be able to run a marathon
  • There was definitely a challenge involved, in which I wanted to prove something to myself
  • I enjoyed the camaraderie of the runners I trained with, and completing a marathon was a common bond that the team shared
  • Having played team sports growing up, and then being a weightlifter, competitive running was an exciting opportunity to try a new sport

Those were my secular motives.  The question was, what did God think of this?

What Does God Say About Competition? 

God has a lot to say about competition and the competitive mindset.  1 Corinthians 9:25 says, “Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever.”  Paul, the author of 1 Corinthians, talks about how only one runner can receive the prize.  However, he doesn’t say that if you’re not the best, don’t try.  Instead, he says to run with the intention of obtaining the prize.  Work hard.  Train hard.  Run hard.  He quickly takes this metaphor to a level that translates athletic training into spiritual training.  He says that we do it to get a crown that will last forever.  Those same disciplines used in athletics, training, and competition are required as we pursue eternity with Jesus Christ.  

God wants you to work hard, train hard, run hard, and compete.  However, as athletes, He expects more.  In Philippians 2:3-4, Paul says, “Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.”  The New International Version of the Bible replaces the phrase “do nothing from rivalry or conceit” to “do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit.” The New Living Translation version replaces this phrase with “don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others.”  God’s stance is clearly that we should do nothing out of conceit, vanity, selfishness, or a need to impress others.  

In another book of the Bible authored by Paul, 2 Timothy, he continues with the theme of competition.  “An athlete is not crowned unless he competes according to the rules.” ~2 Timothy 2:5. This verse speaks another of God’s truths on competition as well as life.  God wants us to be fair and to play by the rules – no cheating allowed.

Lastly, Paul authored another book called Colossians, and in Colossians 3:17 he says, “And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.”  Perhaps that’s the most powerful verse about the competitive mindset.  It’s the same as the mindset God wants for us in all things, “Do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus.”

In Summary

If we summarize what’s found throughout scripture, it boils down to this:

  • Work hard.  Train hard.  Run hard. 
  • Compete to win the prize.  Do your best.
  • Train spiritually in the same way that you train athletically
  • Do nothing out of conceit, vanity, selfishness, or a need to impress others
  • Be humble. Put others first.
  • Play fair
  • Do everything in the name of Jesus

Jesus won the victory over death. Jesus won the victory over sin. This was God’s plan from the beginning - to give us a game plan for winning at life. Jesus is our life coach. We are on His team. His playbook is the Bible. 

God loves you and has a perfect plan for your life.  He wants you to train spiritually in the same ways you train athletically.  He wants you to do your best.  He wants you to live an abundantly blessed life, filled with success, winning, and love.  He wants your heart such that you do it all for Him and His glory.  When your performance becomes a true sacrifice to Jesus Christ, and when you give it all back to the one who created you, you’ll have already won.  

Welcome to the new you.  Enjoy the journey... 

Check out In Our Weakness We Are Strong on at
Learn more about Dave VanEpps or request a speaking engagement at

Friday, December 4, 2020

2020: The Year of Lemonade


When life hands you lemons, make lemonade, right?  What do you do when 2020 hands you a lot of lemons?  Simple, make more lemonade. 

In a year marked by words like Covid, wildfires, racial injustice, murder hornets, social distancing, and a crazy election, how could anyone possibly make lemonade from these lemons?  I don’t know – why don’t we ask companies like Zoom, Lysol, DoorDash, GrubHub, Uber Eats, Amazon, and Netflix? They were opportunistic when it comes to 2020 – you can be too.

What about you?  What opportunities did you (and do you still) have to make lemons in 2020?  There are plenty!

Crisis = Opportunity
There’s a Chinese proverb that says, “A crisis is an opportunity riding the dangerous wind.”  Crisis equates to danger, but it also equates to opportunity. Let’s not be dismissive of the fact that lives were lost, businesses closed down, and people were adversely impacted.  2020 was filled with sad stories. However, 2020 was also filled with opportunities that get very little airtime.

They say life’s not about what happens to you, it’s about how you respond.  You can accept the bad news and write 2020 off as a bad year, or you can find an opportunity and make the most of it.  It’s your choice.

God’s Perspective
The Bible may not use Chinese proverbs or talk specifically about lemonade, but God’s word says plenty about responding to adversity.
  • John 16:33 says, “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”
  • Joshua 1:9 says, “Be strong and courageous; do not be frightened or dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”
  • James 1:2-4 says, “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.”
  • Psalm 34:19 says, “The righteous person may have many troubles, but the LORD delivers him from them all”
  • Philippians 4:4 says, “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!” 

God’s word is clear - you will face adversity.  It is equally clear that God is with you and that He’s already won eternal victory over death.  The trials we face build perseverance for the long run. God will deliver you from your troubles and give you peace, and He wants you to rejoice, always.  Yes, even in 2020!

Best Practices
Many people have used 2020 as a time to make lemonade.  
  • We’ve freed up time that used to be spent traveling, eating out, commuting, and in certain social activities.  Many have found ways to repurpose that time as quality time with God, family, and friends. Many have repurposed that time to read, learn, and improve themselves.  
  • With the reduction of in-house dining at many restaurants, many have taken a renewed focus on healthier eating and exercise habits.
  • With the increase in people working from home, many have found ways to be more flexible and improve their work life balance. In fact, we just returned from a week at our daughter’s apartment, where we spent quality time together while working remotely.

Your Opportunity
Make no mistake, when we look back on 2020, there will be two groups of people. There will be those who embraced the negativity, and there will be those who sought opportunity to make the most of challenging times.  The question is, which group will you fall into?

Regardless of how your 2020 has taken shape so far, we’re far from out of this.  You still have time to make your version of lemonade. Why not start with the simple things, like peace.  Jesus said you can have it in Him.  Believe in Him and declare Him the Lord of your life and experience all He has to offer.  Fearlessly face the trials, for God is with you.  Build up the spiritual perseverance God wants for all of us. Rejoice in all things.  Lastly, look at some of the best practices, and consider how to repurpose your time for the greatest good.

Time, like money, is finite and requires prioritization.  Prioritize your time.  Prioritize your life. Then live according to your priorities. Through crisis comes opportunity. Make 2020 your opportunity of a lifetime.

Welcome to the new you.  Enjoy the journey... 

Check out In Our Weakness We Are Strong on at
Learn more about Dave VanEpps or request a speaking engagement at

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