Life Lessons Learned Part Two

As of this year (2023), I’ve been a follower of Jesus for 67 years; I hope I’ve learned—really learned!—some basic Life Lessons to live by during those years.  When a person is first presented with a lesson, teaching, or new information of any sort, if that lesson or information doesn’t filter through one’s thought processes and then “drop down” into one’s spirit, resulting in genuine change and transformation…then those lessons haven’t really been learned; they’ve been merely useless information.  That learning process is true of all genuine, lasting learning…

Learning begins with the early formation of our basic belief systems resulting in forming our fundamental thought processes and ways of thinking, then those affect our values, our attitudes, our worldviews, and—finally—our behavior.  All meaningful and lasting learning and change begins inside of us and then works its way out into our transformed behavior; the concept of changing our outward behavior first, resulting in changing us on the inside, has never worked.

Here’s a very basic, five (or six) step word picture of how we learn:  First, we receive new information by our 5 senses.  Second, that information flows into our brain.  Third, our brain processes the information to see if it’s something we want to or need to learn.  Fourth, if we choose to learn it, the new information becomes part of our beliefs, our regular thoughts, our attitudes, and our worldview.  Fifth, the new information is something that begins to help us change our physical, mental, emotional, or spiritual behavior because of it.  If that happens, we’ve really learned it—it’s become part of who we are and how we behave. 

Sometimes there’s a sixth step; if it’s “spiritual” information, our mind sends the new information to our spirit, and it become part of our relationship with God through Jesus, and changes or transforms how we relate to God and how we serve God.  I’ve vastly oversimplified our learning processes, but “in a nutshell,” that’s how we learn.

For more information about such learning processes and concepts, I invite you to read and study two other teachings on this website:  Change Your Mind and Whole In One

From very early as a new follower of Jesus, whenever I’ve been given new information, and new teaching and lessons have been introduced to me that I’ve felt might be useful and transformative to me and to others, I’ve written that information on 3 x 5 cards, and then attempted to put that information into practice and share it with others.  If I’ve worked at learning them and they’ve resulted in some sort of positive change in my beliefs, thinking, values, attitudes, worldview, and behavior, I’ve labeled them Life Lessons Learned, and then placed the 3 x 5 cards in a box and reviewed them periodically, usually weekly.  That box now contains over 400 Life Lessons Learned…along with biblical references and other positive principles, for a total of over 800 cards!

They are lessons I’ve learned by life experience, in addition to what God has taught me from the Bible.  Most of the lessons I’ve learned from outside the Bible have, however, been compatible and consistent with what the Bible teaches.  You see, the Bible is God’s final, complete written revelation of Himself to all humankind.  God the Spirit uses the Bible to transform our lives more and more—little by little—into God’s image as best seen in Jesus.

I’ ve now decided to list some of the most important life lessons I’ve learned—really learned!—and share them with you, in two separate teachings on this website titled Life Lessons Learned Part One and Life Lesson Learned Part Two. By all means, feel free to copy them and learn them—really learn them—for yourself…and pass them on to others.  Remember, if they don’t result in real change and transformation in your thinking, values, attitudes, worldview and behavior, then you haven’t really learned them; they’ve merely been useless information or—spiritually—“pious platitudes.”

 Here are approximately 100 of the most important Life Lessons I have learned; approximately 100 more will be found in Life Lessons Learned Part One:

My Basic Theology:  I am a Bible-believing follower of Jesus who has saved me from sin and death and replaced those with his own eternal LIFE.  I hold to the generally accepted beliefs of orthodox, biblical faith—including belief that God is three Persons yet one God, the Trinity:  Father, Son, Spirit.  Also—based solidly on the Bible!—I believe God will redeem, restore, and reconcile all creation—including all humanity!—to Himself, through the completed work of God the Son, Jesus, who boldly promised He will draw ALL  humanity to Himself! 

(I define general “Theology” as “Studying God’s Person, character, and nature, and the way He works throughout all creation, including his good purposes for earth, and especially how He lovingly relates to all humanity”)

My Lifetime Teaching Credo:  “Let my teaching be as gentle rain, my words be like nurturing morning dew.  Let it be as spring showers on a garden, as abundant rain in new grass.  For it’s God I’m teaching about.  Praise the greatness of God, our Firm Foundation.  He’s a God you can depend on, a trustworthy God.”  –Deuteronomy 32: 2 – 4

My Overarching Lifetime Credo I try to live by daily:  “God is altogether good, and absolutely everything He does is good.”  –Psalm 119: 68  Therefore, good things are coming toward me all the time, but I must reach out and grab them.  Or, they will whiz right on past me.

Every cell of my body is whole, healthy, and intact, and wards off all disease, sickness, illness, and infirmity.  Every cell of my body is fully alive with God’s LIFE.

Good is always the enemy of the best.

All the good God has in store for me is on the other side of my fears!  Living in God’s love for me casts out my fears.

I can let my future just happen, or I can co-create it with God.

Friends encourage one another and build up one another (1 Thessalonians 5: 11.  1 Corinthians 14: 3).

I try not to bring to my memory or dwell on my past unless I’m deliberately trying to use it as a foundation to build a new and better future.  I cannot change my past!  My past can be my “baggage” or my foundation for a new future.

Yes, God opens many doors to bless me and for ways for me to serve Him, but I must always remember—and never forget!—that in my best interests, He closes doors, too!

If I go through life without connecting with people and serving those whom I’m able to, how much of a life have I really lived?

Sometimes I fret, moan, and complain about what did or did not happen in my past, and then turn right around and worry about what might or might not happen in my future.  90% of what I worry about never happens.

People will never care what I know unless they know I care!

The Bible doesn’t teach that I should ask God to make me humble.  Instead, the Bible teaches that I need to humble myself “before the mighty hand of God.”  And, I need to understand that to humble myself is not to humiliate myself; God doesn’t want me to do that.

My tasks are to plant seeds in the life of others, watering and cultivating those seeds with prayer.  God’s tasks are to grow and ripen those seeds, harvesting them at the appropriate time.  I try to never confuse whose tasks are whose!  Seeds I store in the barn, don’t grow.  Seeds I plant in good soil are the ones that grow.

I don’t hoard for myself earthly treasures that can be stolen.  Material wealth eventually rusts, decays, and loses its value.  Instead, I’m learning to “bank” heavenly treasures that cannot be stolen, or will never rust, decay or lose their value.  My heart will always pursue what I truly value as my treasure.

I commit myself to studying God’s Word, the Bible, living it, and teaching God’s people its truth and its ways.”    –Ezra 7: 10, paraphrased  

“I read and teach the Bible distinctly—amplifying, clarifying, paraphrasing, and giving the full sense, so God’s people can understand it.”         –Nehemiah 8: 8, paraphrased

I must always try to do what is right, not necessarily what is easy or convenient.

Repentance is a lifelong process, not a one-time act.  It means I make ongoing quality decisions based on the Bible to change my mind to think more and more like God thinks.   It means I continually make radical shifts in my thinking in order to co-know with God.

Sometimes I have to lose who I think I am in order to find out who I’m meant to be.

My life is so full of swift transitions; nothing here unmoved can stand.  I build my hopes on things eternal; I cling to God’s unchanging hand.

“I make a living by what I get.  I make a life by what I give.”    Winston Churchill

Sometimes my life can change for the better in one moment of grace, like a miracle.  Something or someone can come along and pivot me in a new direction, miraculously changing me forever.

I ask God:  when I’m wrong, help me change.  When I’m right, make me easy to live with.

The one “law” of life that never changes is that everything changes…except God.  All changes in my life simply lead me closer to the heart of God and serve to restore me more and more into the clear image of God as best seen in Jesus.  The “image of God” means I am a visible representation of the invisible God.

At first glance some changes look negative, but it is only God creating space in my life for something new and better, something good.

I am learning to let go, mistakenly thinking I am in control.  To see the beauty in hope and change.  To feel the joy of surrender and faith.  To enjoy life with fewer distractions.  To know silence is essential to my growth.  Above all else, to know God’s love for me is behind all things.

“All changes, even the most longed for, have their melancholy; for what we leave behind us when we change is a part of ourselves, but we must die to one life before we can enter into another.”    –Anatole France          “Whenever a thing changes and quits its proper limits, the change is at once the death of that which was before.”     –Lucretius      Change is never an end.  It is an unfolding, always the beginning of something new and different, something good, something better.

Until becoming a follower of Jesus at age 18, I grew up with absolutely no confidence in myself or in anything and anyone—including God.  At age 18, the Confidence Builder entered my life at my invitation and in an atomic moment everything began to shift.   (I define Confidence as clearly seeing myself as God sees me, and knowing He is cheering me on at each stage of my journey.)

I am foolish to expect God’s power in my life without prayer.  Additionally, the measure of God’s supernatural power in my life is the measure of my daily surrender to God.

Fear often knocks.
                Faith answers.
                                No one is there.

Almost daily I pray to be far-seeing that day, attempting to see all things in my world as God seems them.  I am all too often short-seeing, not seeing beyond my human limitations of this mortal life.  I ask God to help me see far beyond the horizons of my own limited thoughts and imaginings.  I pray He will give me comprehensive insight into his purposes for my life—that He will give me a sure and certain Kingdomview rather than a far lesser, elusive, transitory worldview.

Things may happen around me, and things may happen to me, but the only things that really  count are the things that happen in me.

I am a unique, magnificent being—body, soul, and spirit—being re-created and restored into your image, God, for your eternal purposes for me.  I choose to live a balanced life today in unity and harmony with your Spirit who abides permanently within me in my spirit.  From within, you guide, inspire, and lead me to fulfill your purposes for me today. 

God works in me through the “Principles of Opposites”:  I must go down to go up.  I must lose my life to gain it.  Light overcomes darkness.  Beauty is ugliness transformed.  Reconstruction follows deconstruction.  I must lose in order to win.  I must be broken in order to be made whole.  I must be blind in order to see.  Surrender brings victory.  I must be emptied in order to be filled.  To lead I must serve.  To triumph I must endure tribulation.

I don’t want any dosage of religion; all it does is inoculate me against having a genuine relationship with God.

God is not the God of a second chance; He is God of as many chances a person needs.  He is not the God of a new beginning; He is the God of as many new beginnings people need.

“If I believe some of the things about God believed by those who say they don’t believe in Him, my God! I wouldn’t believe in Him either.”   –George MacDonald

“Let my heart be broken with the things that break the heart of God.”   –Bob Pierce

One can be a teacher without being a leader in Jesus’ Body, the church, but one cannot be a leader without being a teacher.

If I haven’t found something I’m willing to die for, then I haven’t found anything worth living for!

I do not stop doing things because I get older; I get older because I stop doing things.  I don’t mind getting older, I just don’t want to get old.  If I ever lose my enthusiasm for life, then I shall begin to get old.

I don’t fear my last “enemy,” death.  It is not the end, not oblivion.  It is merely a threshold where my true self, my spirit, wrenches free and exits my mortal body, stepping into immortality in Eternal Realms.

Birthdays are good for me and ought to be celebrated.  Research has shown the more I have, the longer I will live.

As a “fisher of men,” my task is to catch the fish.  God’s task is to clean them.  Fish are not cleaned before they are caught.

When it comes time for me to die, the only thing I want to have left to do is die with all my mortal affairs in order.

God is a verb!

According to Ephesians 4, my job is to work myself out of my job by teaching those within the worldwide church whom I serve that they are the real ministers, not me.  As a servant-leader, my job is to train and equip others to minister.

What is dying?  I am standing on the seashore.  A ship is sailing away from where I stand.  I watch her until she sails over the horizon.  She is not gone—only from my sight.  At the very moment when the ship seems gone from me, there are others who are watching her coming on another shore.  That is dying.  It is only a horizon; and a horizon is nothing save the limit of my sight.

When I see someone succumb to temptation and subsequently sin, there are 4 things I do not know:

                How hard the person tried not to sin.
                The power of the forces that assailed the person.
                The exact circumstances and events (as perceived by that person) which led to their actions.
                What I would have done in the exact same circumstances.

Therefore, I am never in a position to judge another person when they sin!  I see only what people do, God alone sees why they do it.

Jesus’ church, his living body, is an organism, not an organization.  Jesus is building his church using living building materials:  you, me, us.  [I define “church” as “All people everywhere and everywhen in whom Jesus permanently resides in his unbodied form of Holy Spirit.]

Jesus is the sole head and authority in his church.  He is the only one having authority and power in his church.  He alone!

 Holy Spirit, I don’t own or possess any of your gifts.  They belong to you and are operated by you, manifested by you, and then delivered through me.  They are yours to operate, mine to deliver, not by my feelings but by acts of my will, by my choice to cooperate with you.  Father gives the gifts.  Son administers them.  Holy Spirit operates and delivers them.

The supernatural does not need to be spookynatural!

There is really no conflict between the Bible and true science, only between religious dogma and scientific dogma.  Science answers “how” questions.  The Bible answers the “why” questions.

“I am not fool to give what I cannot keep to gain what I cannot lose.”  –Jim Elliott, missionary martyred in South America in January 1956

Money is like cow manure.  If I pile it up, it stinks.  If I spread it around, it helps things grow.

I was saved from death, the penalty of sin, at 3: 00 p.m., Wednesday, April 12th, 27 A.D., on a barren windswept hill on the outskirts of the city of Jerusalem, Israel.  I was freed from the power of sin exactly 72 hours later at 3: 00 p.m., Saturday, April 15th.  I will be freed from the presence of sin when Jesus returns to earth to establish his eternal Kingdom.

“How much is the wife dearer than the bride.”     –Lord Littleton

The sole meaning of my life is to serve God and others with a life of purpose.

Human history didn’t begin with my birth and won’t end with my death.  I am only a small part of something infinitely bigger and more vast than myself, yes, only a miniscule part, but an absolutely vital, essential, and necessary part.

Referring to God as the farmer in John chapter 15, someone has said:  “All fruit-bearing followers of Jesus must feel the sharp pruning knife.”

God turns my scars into stars, my misery into ministry, my haughtiness into humility, my pain into praise, my failures into faith, my worries into winning, my victimization into victory, being overcome into overcoming, my sin unto salvation, my bitterness into blessing, my depression into delight, my anxiety into abiding in Jesus, my messes into messages, my tests into testimonials, and my tribulations into triumphs.

Gratitude comes from a place inside me that knows things could very well have turned out differently.

In crises I have 2 options:  running from God or running toward God.

I don’t need to be able to walk on water; the important thing is how I “walk” on land.

For every human-contrived philosophy, theory, and opinion, there is an equal and opposite philosophy, theory, and opinion—each cancelling out the other, each no better or worse than the other, each no more true or false than the other, each no more valid or invalid than the other.

To be a servant-leader I must be a reader.

It’s not so much my ability, but my availability God is looking for.  God doesn’t necessarily work through those who are already equipped; He equips those through whom He chooses to work.

Years ago, I made a commitment to God that as long as He equips and empowers me I will make footprints, not buttprints, in the sands of time.

I try to remember everyone I will ever meet knows something I don’t—something helpful to me or others.

“Don’t believe everything I think” is some of the best advice I’ve ever been given!

A hug is a great gift.  One size fits all.  It can be given for almost any occasion, and it’s easy to exchange.

I always expect to be disappointed by others, therefore, I seldom am.  Others disappoint me; I disappoint them.  It’s simply part of our self-centered human condition.

Sometimes I want to tell over-talkative people they have the right to remain silent even if they’re not being arrested!

If I want to feel good about myself and my life, I must not focus on myself.  I must give myself in serving others and focus myself on others.  I must invest myself into the lives of others.  It’s so very simple, but so hard for the vast majority of people—even followers of Jesus—to understand!

It’s wonderful to have so-called mountaintop spiritual experiences, but I must always remember fruit grows in the verdant valleys and in the high, sunlit mountain meadows.

“Our infinite God always gives all of Himself to each of his children.  He does not ‘distribute’ Himself so that each may have a part, but to each one He gives all of Himself as fully as if there were no others.”     –A. W. Tozer

In terms of church leadership, shepherds lead their sheep; cattle ranchers drive their cattle.

I am not afraid to trust my unknown future to my known God.

Generally, God reveals Himself to me (actually to all humanity) in 5 ways, although I must never limit God in how He chooses to show Himself to me:

                The Bible, God’s written revelation of Himself to all humanity.
                Jesus, the Living Word.
                Both the macro- and micro-creation.
                Jesus’ living Presence in my life.
                The residual spark of light and life in every human (Proverbs 20: 27 and Zechariah 12: 1).

Miracles are coming my way all the time.  First, I must recognize them for what they are; second, I must reach out and grab them or they will whiz right on by me.  [miracles are defined as “God-caused events beyond logic and reason, defying comprehension, expectation, explanation, and experience—sent for God’s overarching purposes of lovingly drawing all people to Himself through Jesus.”

I try my best never to become involved in rumors and gossip, the bane of humanity.  They do more harm to Jesus’ followers than almost any other “in-house sin.”

I try never to attempt to put God in any religious or theological “box.”  With God, it’s all about a vital relationship with Him, not religion or theology.  God will always break out of any religious or theological box I mistakenly attempt to put Him in.

To know God’s will for my life, I must first say “I will” to God.

The Greek word for “repent” is metanoia, defined as a radical shift in my thinking in order to co-know what God knows and then act upon that knowledge.  Repent does NOT mean to weep, moan, cry, and promise God that I will never do something again.  It means to change my mind, Period!  Once I change my mind, then Holy Spirit living in me empowers me to do what I’ve changed my mind about.

I must not compare my spiritual growth with anyone else’s.  The only person I am “competing” with is who I was yesterday.

Benjamin Franklin wrote:  “A man convinced against his will is of the same opinion still.”

Satan is a defeated foe, and God has given me authority over him.  Each day I remind him and his minions I am placing around me, my loved ones, and those for whom I pray an impenetrable “hedge” of protection and a protective wall of fire (Job 1 and Zechariah 2:  5).  I also surround us with God’s favor as a shield (Psalm 5: 12).  This puts all of us in a position to be more open to the work of God’s Spirit in our lives.  It lessens and minimizes Satan’s nefarious activities in our lives without God’s specific permission.

Everything everyone says, does, or believes makes perfect sense to them, even if what they say, do, and believe isn’t true or correct.

Jesus didn’t come to be right, but to make me right with God.  I do not need to work at being righteous, but simply trust God to make me right.

There is much more to my life than what I experience with my 5 senses.  What I perceive with my senses is nothing more than the tiny tip of an iceberg.  The real part of my life lies unseen, mostly hidden, but gigantic and shining and beautiful in its hiddenness.

It’s not my job to fix people; that’s God’s job.  My job is to love them while they’re broken.

I must always be aware and attentive to the frontiers of my own ignorance.

“Love my neighbor as I love myself” is a horrible command by Jesus if I don’t love myself!

When I wonder whether my glass is half full or half empty, I miss the entire point:  my glass is refillable! And…it can overflow!

Every baby born is a message that God is not yet finished with humanity.

I try not to ask how I can get out of situations, but what can I get out of situations.

Some people always feel the worst when they feel the best because they believe they’re going to feel worse after they begin feeling their best again.

My mortal journey consists of lifelong daily choices and decisions.  There is one big choice every follower of Jesus must make; it’s actually a two-part, multiple choice test:  1.  God is altogether good and is in absolute control of my life.  2.  He is not.  I chose #1.

There is none so strong as a gentle person; there is none so gentle as a person of strength.

Becoming focused on what God thinks about me is the quickest way to forget what people think about me.   I can’t please most people anyway.

Bill Boylan
Revised and Updated February 2023

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