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Staying Focused

How you respond to life situations is a byproduct of what you’re focusing on

By Evan Carlson, CEO & President

The story of the 12 spies that God asked Moses to send into the promised land to explore the land is a perfect example to illustrate how you can stay focused during your own Canaan moments.

The Israelites have already left Egypt. They’re roaming around the desert. They get to the edge of Canaan. It’s like they could just taste the promised land. And God says, “Send in twelve spies (not eleven, not thirteen) to explore the land” (Numbers 13:1). 

After exploring the land for 40 days, the men returned to Moses, his brother Aaron and the whole community of Israel to report what they had seen. They showed them the fruit they had taken from the land of Canaan (Numbers 13:25-27). 

I can imagine them holding up the fruit. But …. There’s always that but. “But the people who live there are strong, and their cities are large and walled. We even saw the three Anakim clans. Besides that, the Amalekites live in the Southern Desert; the Hittites, Jebusites, and Amorites are in the hill country; and the Canaanites live along the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River” (Numbers 13:28-29 CEV).

Caleb tried to quiet the people as they stood before Moses. “Let’s go at once to take the land,” he said. “We can certainly conquer it” (Number 13:30 NLT)! 

“But the other men who had explored the land with him disagreed. We can’t go up against them. They’re stronger than we are. So, they spread this bad report about the land among the Israelites. The land we traveled through and explored will devour anyone who goes to live there” (Numbers 13:31-32 NLT). 

It sounds like Lord of the Rings or something that crazy.

“All the people we saw were huge. We even saw giants there, the descendants of Anak. Next to them, we felt like grasshoppers, and that’s what they thought to” (Numbers 13:33 NLT).

Our differences distract us.

Have you ever noticed when your mind is focused on something and you’re certain you have found the answer, and then suddenly, somebody interjects their thought and you’re not certain that you have the answer anymore?

Stay Focused

In my family growing up, vacation was calm. We’d get up when we got up. We’d have a light breakfast. We may do something today, or we may not. My mom’s going to read a book in the corner. We may hang out at the pool. But in my wife, Kelly’s family, vacation is a sport and I lose every time. 

If we’re going to do Disneyland, we’re going to be there from the time the gates open until the gates close. You should buy your new shoes because you’re going to walk until you can’t walk anymore.

We can all relate to the differences in views when it comes to Covid, masks, vaccinations … and differences can sometimes jam you up. Someone starts talking about something and you’re like, “Wait. Hold on. How did we get here?”

Different viewpoints can cause distractions. And in this Canaan moment, you had the twelve spies going through the land, checking everything out. They saw milk and honey like God promised, and they also saw the giants. Caleb and Joshua, they were like, “Bring it on. God said it; we’ve been promised this land. Let’s roll.” 

And the other ten spies saying “Hold on. We saw something totally different than you saw. We saw these guys that were huge. We saw enemies on every corner.” They saw things that put absolute terror in them, and it jammed them up. 

Joshua and Caleb said, “Look, I’m not listening to you guys. This is what God’s Word has to say.” 

In order to fix your focus, you need to think about your response.

Your response in life is a product of your focus.

Let’s just talk about this real practical here. How can you have the same people going through that same exact journey with two different responses, both facing the same cancer diagnosis?  One is depressed, unable to overcome their fears and anxiety. The other is full of hope, full of peace and full of God’s strength. It’s all about what they’re focused on. 

Stay Focused

If you look back at the story about Joshua and Caleb, it doesn’t say in the Bible that the 10 spies went rogue. God told Moses to identify spiritual leaders within each of the 12 tribes. It wasn’t as though Caleb and Joshua were necessarily spiritual giants and the other ten were not. It’s easy to think these guys didn’t believe in God, that they were weak in their faith, but that’s not the case. They just didn’t have their focus right. 

You think about that popular vote thing. If Joshua and Caleb just decided to cave to the popular vote, that would be a totally different story.

Now, God eventually did what He was going to do through Joshua and Caleb because they stayed faithful to Him. We have faith, but oftentimes we get jammed up in our lack of focus. We believe in Christ. We believe in His saving grace and have faith that He can do it. He can overcome, but what are we focusing on that’s getting us sidetracked?

So maybe today you’re standing on the edge of something. Maybe you’re facing a Canaan moment in your health. Or maybe it’s something related to family. Is it relationships? When you’re standing on that edge, what choice are you going to make? Are you going to lean into to the hope of Christ? Or like so many, in this case, the majority – the ten that decided to go the other direction.

Read the second blog in this series.

Read the third blog in this series.

Read Part Three Now!

Staying Focused

3 things that can help you get your focus back on track.

By Evan Carlson, CEO & President

2 Corinthians 4:13 says, “Since we have the same spirit of faith according to what has been written, ‘I believed, and so I spoke,’” we also believe, and so we also speak” (ESV). 

What comes out of our mouths should start in God’s Word. In Paul’s case, he believed in God. This is the truth that he wanted to speak back into his own heart, into his own mind. What’s coming out of Paul’s mouth?

We are continuing with three things that can help you get your focus back on track. (Click here to read part one of this blog and click here to read part two.)

    3. Focus on what you say. 

 What do you allow to come out of your mouth.? What you’re saying impacts your life as well. 

Joshua and Caleb talked differently than the other spies about the situation. They we’re saying – 

  • We’ve got this. 
  • God has given us a promise.
  • He will allow us to conquer this land. 

They were speaking truth. They weren’t speaking their truth; they were speaking God’s truth. They got His truth from His word that He will deliver them. 

I was wrestling back and forth, thinking maybe the ten spies were just trying to create a lie to try to stir up the camp but there’s a really small detail in verse 32. “So they spread this bad report about the land among the Israelites: ‘The land we traveled through and explored will devour anyone who goes to live there. All the people we saw were huge’” (Numbers 13:32 NLT).

They didn’t lie or even give a false report. It says they came back with a bad report. It was not bad in inaccuracy necessarily, but bad in not speaking God’s truth over the situation. 


Joshua and Caleb were not deceived about what the real the real situation was. But if you go on to the end of the chapter, truth bleeds into exaggeration. The spies were saying the giants were so big that they felt like grasshoppers. That’s truth, but then the ten spies added, “And that’s what they thought too” (Numbers 13:33 NLT).

How could they know that? They got that stuck in their heads, and then they said it out of their mouths. It not only influenced their own thinking, but also the thinking of the entire nation – except for Joshua and Caleb. 


The enemy wants you to be thinking about everything that’s beyond truth. God said this, but is that really going to happen? We tend to add to the storyline before the story plays out. Often you get to the end of a story and realize what you had in your head didn’t play out the way that you thought it was going to play out.

  • God is saying to keep it simple. 
  • He’s given you His truth. 
  • Don’t add other things on top. 
  • Keep the main thing the main thing. 


God promised the land would flow with milk and honey. The reality is you will encounter giants. You’ll have to battle and tear down walls. These are real. But what’s not real are all of the other things that we add to the storyline in our heads. That’s above and beyond what God is telling us today. 

What’s coming out Caleb and Joshua’s mouths? They are speaking the truth. Joshua and Caleb said. “Since we have the same spirit of faith according to what has been written, ‘I believed, and so I spoke, we also believe, and so we also speak’” (Number 14:8 ESV). 

They’re speaking God’s truth back to the Israelites. They’re speaking the truth, regardless of who was listening. It’s an audience of one in their minds. They want to speak truth back, even if no one else was listening. 

If God has given you something … if He’s asking you to overcome something in your life … God’s given you a promise. If it’s in His Word, it will happen. God’s truth will be fulfilled. But we have to continue to say that back to ourselves. That’s why it’s so powerful. 

Think about how faith comes by hearing. Right? “Faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ” (Romans 10:17 ESV). 

We need to hear truth in our own ears from our own mouths.

The byproduct of what happened because of the ten spies was way worse than facing a few giants. The nation of Israel had to wait for an entire generation to pass before they could possess the promised land. Only the two voices that spoke God’s truth – Caleb and Joshua and to the next generation would be allowed to enter the land many years later. 

And they conquered the land through God because it was His promise. 

What is God sharing with you through your quiet time? What are you hearing in your heart and in your mind? 

  • Don’t think more than is there.
  • Don’t hear things that aren’t truth.
  • Don’t speak out things that you’re thinking about that are more than truth. 

Hear God’s truth; think God’s truth and speak God’s truth audibly. Take time to put things in your heart, mind and ears that are full of His truth.  

Read the first blog in this series.

Read the second blog in this series.

Read Part Two Now!

Staying Focused

3 things that can help you get your focus back on track.

By Evan Carlson, CEO & President

You can do three specific things to be intentional and walk with Christ through this journey –

  1. Focus your thinking. 

Israel had no king at the time of their Canaan moment. Moses was a prophet, but he was viewed very much as a king. In Numbers 13:1-2, God very simply gave instruction. “The Lord now said to Moses, ‘Send out men to explore the land of Canaan, the land I am giving to the Israelites. Send one leader from each of the twelve ancestral tribes’” (NIV). 

Now look at what Moses said to the 12 spies.  

  • See what the land is like, and 
  • Find out whether the people living there are strong or weak, few or many (Number 13:18 NIV).
  • See what kind of land they live in. 
  • Is it good or bad? 
  • Do their towns have walls, or are they unprotected like open camps (Number 13:19 NIV)? 
  • Is the soil fertile or poor? 
  • Are there many trees? 
  • Do your best to bring back samples of the crops you see” (Number 13:20 NIV).

God said, do one thing. 

Moses told the guys to do about 12 different things. And they got jammed up.

It’s kind of like when my wife Kelly sends me to the grocery store with one assignment – get salsa. That’s all we need for dinner. But halfway into the parking lot, I get a ping on my phone with a message we also need cheese and milk. I get home, and of course, I forgot the salsa. 

We start thinking about things that God never asked us to think about.

God gives simple instruction.

God sent the spies into the land because He wanted them to come back and be the encouragement to inspire others about the promise land. Instead, the majority came back and discouraged the people. They did the exact opposite of what God’s purpose was for that tour. 

God knew what was going on in the land. He didn’t need the 12 spies to go. He wanted them to come back and demonstrate their faith in Him. He wanted them to come back, celebrate Him and say He’s got this. The ten obviously got sidetracked. 

2 Corinthians 10:5 offers a practical answer to this situation. “We destroy every proud obstacle that keeps people from knowing God. We capture their rebellious thoughts and teach them to obey Christ” (NLT). He’s asking us to take captive every thought and make it obedient to Him. 

Our thoughts can go crazy, and we can be thinking about everything other thing than being obedient to Him. When’s the last time that you stopped to think about what you’re thinking about?


When’s the last time you’ve done that? We’re busy people – busy with work, family and activities. We don’t live in a society that encourages us to do this. So, we need to focus our thinking. 

2. Focus on what you hear. 

The Israelites were not selective in what they heard. The spies lifted up the grapes and said, “Look, you’re right. The land flows with milk and honey, but …” and there’s that little word. And they go on to talk about the walls, the giants, the enemies and all the other things that they allowed them to become jammed up. 

So Caleb essentially said, “y’all need to just zip it.” He said, “But Caleb tried to quiet the people as they stood before Moses. ‘Let’s go at once to take the land,’ he said. ‘We can certainly conquer it’” (Number 13:30 NLT).

Caleb and Joshua were aware of the giants. They were on the same journey as the other spies. They saw the exact same movie playing out in front of them. 

We don’t need people in our lives that are going to speak anything other than truth. I tell my daughters this. Don’t bring people into your life that are going to take you away from God’s truth.

The people you have in your life – either for good or for bad – will dictate your future.

 It’s the old adage, “Who you hang out with is who you become.” 

I don’t know why, but for some reason we choose to not listen to Mom and Dad, or Grandma and decide not to spend the time putting the right stuff in our ears. 


You’ve got to focus what you hear and bolster your faith. 

  • Don’t let just anybody talk to you. 
  • Don’t let just anybody share whatever they want to share with you.

Caleb was the minority here. He knew the truth. He encouraged the other 10 to get their act together because this is what God promised Abraham, and He told them to take the land and they knew they could conquer it. God put something in the hearts of the Israelites for a reason. He had a purpose for that. 

God has put things into your heart for a reason. He’s putting something into your heart and mind right now. I don’t know what that is. But He’s putting something there. Don’t let anyone say otherwise.

Thinking about the two different people overcoming cancer. Or you’ve got other things where God saying, “I want you to overcome, fill in the blank. Whatever that is. I want you to conquer the land. I want you to be careful and selective with what you’re putting into your ears.”

We have to follow God’s instructions and becomes selective in what we hear. It’s vital that we submit our lives to the words God has spoken. We need people who will stand in our corner. Do you have people in your corner who are speaking truth into your ears right now? If you don’t, find people who can speak truth into you. 

Read the first blog in this series.

Read the third blog in this series.