Tag Archive | intention

Fellowship Matters

friends“Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked or stand in the way of sinners or sit in the seat of mockers. But his delight is in the law of the LORD and on His law he meditates day and night.” Psalm 1:1-2 (NIV)

If I’m going to abide in Christ this year…and always, knowing that I don’t usually keep my resolutions, it would be good to understand what causes me to let go of my plan.

The plan itself is not my issue. I am GREAT at planning. I make lists, flow charts, spreadsheets and know every detail of everything I want to do. What I often miss is the list of those things that could interrupt my plan and when they do, how I will move forward. We know this as “hope for the best, plan for the worst.” In other words, I don’t plan for the worst, the struggle of keeping my commitment.

This is a new step for me this year. I want to understand what keeps me from abiding, staying close to Jesus and have a plan ready when people, situations and conditions of my heart try to pull me from Him.

One thing I’ve learned is that we are all at different places with our faith. There are many things that I once thought were okay and now see completely different. I’m also sure there are things I do or consent to today that in five years I will no longer consider good for me in relation to my faith. Just as I am on a journey, so is everyone else. Even those who don’t claim to have faith in Jesus or God believe something.

I don’t think others ever intentionally try to pull me away from Jesus as much as I don’t think they understand the full benefit of staying close to Him. It’s hard to encourage me in what they don’t consider valuable or meaningful.

Too often, we can make excuses for our own behavior by excusing the behavior of others. If I have a hard time controlling how much I eat, I may encourage someone else to go ahead and have the second piece. If I talk bad about my husband, I may encourage someone else that it’s good to vent or “get it off their chest”. After all, they are just being honest. If I don’t see how what I do is harmful, I may not see it as harmful for someone else.

And others, who don’t know Jesus, won’t understand why it’s important to stay close to Him and most likely, will not be able to encourage me in my desire to abide.

While I don’t want to cut off relationships with those who don’t know Jesus, He came for us all, I need to be careful to whom I listen.

I will be resolved to seek counsel, wisdom and encouragement from others who are actively seeking God and following Christ.

Something to Consider…

We are to live in this world but not be of it. Our relationships matter regardless of where others stand with Jesus.

How can you ensure you are spending time with others who know Jesus? How can you continue to grow in your relationship with Jesus even when you are with others who are not?

Regardless of how committed you are to Jesus, how many questions you have about faith, and how many doubts and concerns you have for what it truly means to believe, it will be hard to move forward and find answers alone.

  1. Find a local church to attend and show up. Volunteer and get involved. Even if you’re not sure about this whole God thing, you will meet new people and expand your understanding of the Christian faith.
  2. Identify two or three people who know Jesus with whom you can ask questions and discuss your faith. Don’t ask your friend the atheist or agnostic. They don’t have the answers you’re looking for.
  3. Seek to know Jesus, not just know about Him or assume things about Him. No one likes it when people make assumptions about them. Really get to know who He is and why He came for you.

What’s on Your Mind?

“Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.” Philippians 4:8 (NIV)

The first time I gave a brief testimony, I said, “I don’t talk a lot; but when I talk, I talk a lot.” I wish I could say this about what I think. Unfortunately, I tend to think a lot about a lot of things. My husband tells me I think too much. And in many ways, he’s correct. I can sit on something and give it room and power in my mind when it has no business being there. I worry over things I can’t change, re-live situations that are over and done with and ponder things that could be, might be and I hope aren’t.

There are also times when I feel like there is no time to think. I am overwhelmed, stressed out and in constant motion. I have no time to make sense of what needs to be done. My mind is going non-stop wearing me out and wearing me down.

We often seem to think that we can’t help what we think about. We’re just sitting there minding our own business when suddenly we remember a situation, a comment, something that was done to us and we consider it. We let it take up space, take up time and take up energy that could be better spent on something good.

We want to set the record straight. We want to see a right outcome. We want what is good but our thoughts about how to get there are full of bitterness, frustration, anger and our ultimate goal is to prove we are right.

So what thoughts constitute what is true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent and praiseworthy?

“But his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night.” Psalm 1:2

Psalm 1:2 says the blessed man keeps his mind on God and His Word. His Word guides and directs our steps and actions. (Psalm 119:35,105)

“I meditate on your precepts and consider your ways.” Psalm 119:15

God’s way of handling any situation is worthy of praise. He works all things together for the good of those who love Him. (Romans 8:28) That is excellent!

When we choose to do what God says even if we don’t know how it will bring about a right outcome, we get ourselves back into alignment with His truth. As we choose to love God and others as He loves us, our mind goes to what is noble, right and lovely.

Something to Consider…

What thoughts are on your mind? Often, what we see is what we think about. Ask God to show you how to see your circumstance and relationships though the lens of His Word.

 “This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down His life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers.” 1 John 3:16

At some point, we need to stop thinking so much and start doing. Laying down our life doesn’t necessarily mean we physically die for another, but rather we set aside our agenda for the benefit of someone else. Our actions in love can change not only our own thoughts, but our hearts and the thoughts and hearts of others as well.

The Lighter Side of LYF – What is Beauty?

“Oh come, let us sing to the Lord; let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation! Let us come into his presence with thanksgiving; let us make a joyful noise to him with songs of praise!” Psalm 95:1-2

I love music. It truly touches a place deep inside me. My husband says there is no bad music. Personally, I enjoy classical music, am highly irritated by jazz, and move to a funky R&B groove. But, I LOVE rock when there is a get-down, heavy electric guitar. My soul sings when I hear fingers fly! I also love “whalers”. A term coined by a friend of mine for those singers who open up their mouth wide and a smooth, full-force voice comes forth and resonates with very little effort on their part. They carry the notes with what seems like unending breath. Not everyone sings this way and not everyone should. Different voices with different styles singing in different octaves – all beautiful in their own way. But the one that FILLS the room is the one that will most likely catch my attention.

I saw an article recently commenting on people’s ability to stop in the middle of their busyness and notice beauty. It made me stop and think. What is beauty? What makes something beautiful? Is the same thing beautiful to all people? Should it be? Why do some stop and notice while others keep moving? If people don’t stop, does that mean that they don’t take notice, consider it beautiful or are not blessed by it in some way?

“When I applied my mind to know wisdom and to observe man’s labor on earth – his eyes not seeing sleep day or night, then I saw all that God had done. No one can comprehend what goes on under the sun. Despite all his efforts to search it out, man cannot discover its meaning. Even if a wise man claims he knows, he cannot really comprehend it.” Ecclesiastes 8:16-17

Then I wondered, what isn’t beautiful?

“He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the hearts of men; yet they cannot fathom what God has done from the beginning to end.” Ecclesiastes 3:11

Can two people do the exact same thing and get different results? I wonder if God blesses intentions. Does one who sets out to test man according to what he thinks is important and beautiful get the same results as the one who sets out to bless man with what God says is important and beautiful? Maybe, if what we do, anything we do, when done solely for the glory of the Lord will be beautiful and noticed by those who are meant to notice and be blessed by it.

I admit I have not always stopped for those things God has wanted me to stop for. I have been hurried at times, distracted, and my mind set on my own plans; but I do know that I don’t want to stop for what someone else assumes I should stop for. And I don’t want to assume I know a person’s story, thoughts, or heart solely by how they measure up to my expectations.

Maybe, when we consider beauty, our plans and our expectations of each other; the best we can do is stop when God says stop and move when God says move. That just might be beautiful.

Something to Consider…

“Then God said, ‘Let us make man in our image, after our likeness.’ So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.” Genesis 1:26a, 27

If we were to stop to notice every beautiful thing around us, would we get anything done? Regardless of your position, name, talent or trade, each person is beautiful because we are each made in the image of God.

When was the last time you really looked a stranger or a loved one in the eyes and saw the beauty of God within them? Can you even begin to comprehend the plans God has laid out before them or you?

Choose today to bless, not test, those God puts in your path.

Jars of Clay

“But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us.” 2 Corinthians 4:7

Do you ever use items for a purpose other than their original intention? Maybe you use a pretty pitcher to hold flowers in a decorative display. It looks nice, you get compliments but it’s just sitting there. It’s not serving its true purpose.

A pitcher is made to be filled and pour out. Imagine the scene, it holds – contains. There is pressure on the walls. But it doesn’t just sit there; motion is a necessary step for the purpose to be fulfilled. Almost like a dance, it tips, pours out, comes back up and moves on to the next glass. A party must be the best time to be a pitcher!

Or is it… Consider the thirsty worker who comes looking for something to drink? The pitcher waits for the opportunity to work, to serve. It holds the liquid that restores the body. It pours out comfort and refreshment to a dry soul.

Now imagine that same pitcher sitting on a shelf or on a table looking pretty. What purpose does it serve? What need is it not meeting or joy not fulfilling?

We are jars of clay, mere shells made to hold God’s power. We can sit and look pretty, do something outside the purpose for which we were made; but on what will we miss out? Unlike the pitcher, we can choose on our own to be used. We don’t need to wait for someone else to decide it’s time. We can offer ourselves up to God now in our current state. He already knows the purpose He made us to fulfill. We have the opportunity to be used for our purpose, His good purpose, today.

“All this is for your benefit, so that the grace that is reaching more and more people may cause thanksgiving to overflow to the glory of God.” 2 Corinthians 4:15

As God fills us with His Spirit, His all-surpassing power can flow through us into others. As He fills the cup of others through our work, we celebrate what God is doing in their lives as well as our own. Our purpose is not to go about in this world surviving or just looking pretty. As we pour out, God’s grace reaches more and more people and thanksgiving overflows. Our joy is complete.

Something to Consider…

Regardless of your age or current condition, you can be used as a vessel for God’s glory. Are you tired and dry, in need of refreshing? Allow God to pour His Spirit into you filling you with His power. Are you feeling like you are missing out on something, like there is more to life than you are currently experiencing? Allow God’s power to overflow through you to others.

Not sure how to do that? You can start by simply finding a place to volunteer – a school, church, hospital or wherever your passion takes you. As you serve, you will begin to find your purpose. As you share your heart with others; God’s power, heart and love for you and those you serve shines through.

This Thanksgiving, how will you allow your appreciation for God and all He has done to overflow with joy to others?

What’s Your Purpose?

    “My purpose is that they may be encouraged in heart and united in love, so that they may have the full riches of complete understanding, in order that they may know the mystery of God, namely Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.” Colossians 2:3-4 (NIV)

This past spring I wrote a Bible Study titled Living On Purpose: The Proverbs 31 Woman. There was some question as to the title and it being grammatically correct or not. Something you should know about me is that my dad was an English teacher and his correction of my grammar was an easy and somewhat safe way for me to rebel. In other words, I didn’t retain what I was learning in regards to the proper use of the English language. You may notice quirks in my writings still…I am a work in progress!

When questions are posed to me about my work, my first reaction is to go into a self-protection mode and either not respond to questions or stop writing all together – neither of which are helpful or in line with God’s will. We are to be open to correction. (Proverbs 15:5) What I have come to learn is that in addressing questions such as these, it really makes me think about why I do what I do, choose what I choose and why I’m passionate about those things I’m passionate about. I give a reason. If I can’t give a reason, I may need to rethink what I’m doing.

One reason for the title is that Living On Purpose is about living your life with intention. While I am not an only child, I am far removed in age from my older siblings and to the best of my recollection, never had the “stop touching me” moments. I can, however, imagine how it goes. You’re bickering back and forth, your sibling snips, flicks or touches you when you’re not looking and you ask, “Did you do that on purpose?” Of course the answer acknowledged is “no” when in truth a “yes.” And that is the normal situation where the question is posed…Did you do that on purpose?

What if, instead of our intention being a mean-spirited action to push a button and keep someone down, our purposeful moments were inspiring and encouraging, lifting someone up? A wise woman (I know many) once said, “My husband has the position of authority; I have the position of influence.” Arlene Skaff. Literally, in that moment my intention changed. Jesus showed up that day and ministered to me in a way I had never experienced. What we choose to do, not do, support, or keep silent about has the ability to affect and influence our families, earthly and spiritually. It is up to us to be intentional with our influence for the benefit of our family.

The second reason for the title is that we live, move and breathe in God’s purpose for us. He chose us and purposed us for specific work. When we seek God’s purpose in what we are doing, we are energized and passionate whether it’s in our work, service, leisure or rest. It isn’t always easy but there is a desire and drive to see it through. His purpose sustains us.

    “We look at this Son (Jesus) and see the God who cannot be seen. We look at this Son and see God’s original purpose in everything created. For everything, absolutely everything, above and below, visible and invisible, rank after rank after rank of angels—everything got started in Him and finds its purpose in Him.” Colossians 1:15-16 (MSG)

We do sometimes need to step in and fill a gap when it’s not our passion. That’s just part of having a servant’s heart and we should be intentional about that as well. When each of us in the body of Christ works together and serves the purpose God created us for, the body as a whole meets the needs at the time. One person can’t do it all, and all people are not called to do the same things.

Something to Consider…

Do you find yourself living your life with the intention of benefitting or blessing others, especially those in your family or church? So often we take out our frustrations on those closest to us. In the situations you most often do this, what steps could you take to be intentional with a positive and encouraging attitude? God has created you for a purpose. Do you know that purpose? Sometimes, we just need to do something to gain a better understanding of what we are passionate about and what we are not. If God has a purpose for you, and He does, He will also give you the passion you need to accomplish that purpose. As you seek Him, you draw closer to Him and your understanding of what He desires for you and from you becomes clearer.