Do You Know You Were Born For Such A Time As This

Time; past, present, and future, what is its significance? Does it matter? Where and how do we fit into time?

time

Photo by Uroš Jovičić on Unsplash

 

I love history! There I said it. Go ahead; call me a geek or a nerd. I own it. I love history! What we learn from the past can impact our present and our future.

Historical Heroes

One of my historical heroes is Abraham Lincoln. He has been ever since I was in grade school. That is why in 2012 when I heard that Steven Speilberg was making a film titled Lincoln I couldn’t wait to see it.

It did not disappoint me. I rarely watch movies more than once, but I have seen Lincoln twice, and no doubt will watch it again. The film is not a biography of the sixteenth president, but rather a glimpse into a few months at the start of his second term as President in the final days of the Civil War.

In particular, it is about the passing of the 13th amendment. To him, this is not just a political issue, but a moral obligation to do the right thing for the millions of people who will be touched by whether or not this amendment passes. Lincoln knew that this was a moment of history that if not seized, would pass forever.

I have always felt that Lincoln was a man of destiny and I think the movie beautifully portrays this as something that he also sensed. In one scene He wonders why he was chosen to lead the nation through its darkest hour. “Do you think we choose to be born?” he asks one of his aides. “or are we fitted to the times we’re born into?”  When I heard this, I immediately thought of another of my heroes, Esther.

Defining Moments

Esther, a Jewish orphan, is deported to the city of Susa following the Babylonian invasion of Jerusalem. Her cousin Mordecai raises her(Esther 2:7). Through a series of events (read Esther 1-3) Esther becomes King Xerxes queen.

When her cousin Mordecai learns of a plot to kill all the Jews, he tells Esther that she must intercede on behalf of all Jews with the King.  Ester points out to him that anyone who approaches the King without being summoned is subject to death. Mordecai replies with a question “Who knows if perhaps you were made queen for just such a time as this?” (Esther 4:14b).

Whether we look at the movie Lincoln or read the story of Esther, it is easy to see that they were divinely appointed and called to a difficult challenge. Both accepted the challenge and were willing to sacrifice to accomplish it.

We may never face circumstances like those that President Lincoln or Esther did, but like them, God uniquely created and called us to partner with God in our generation.

Distinctively Unique

Every age and every generation has a “such a time as this”

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Photo by John Baker on Unsplash

I will never be the president of the United States or the Queen of a powerful king, but I can choose to be in partnership with God. He is glorified when I trust and obey. Whether the stakes are large or small, it takes the same character qualities of courage and moral strength to choose what is right.

“The timing and place of your birth are not accidental; God puts us all in certain time frames and locations. Many people spend their entire lives never knowing what their purpose is, but perhaps it is because they try to choose their own destiny rather than follow the leading of the Holy Spirit. Following God requires sacrifices and a willingness to be uncomfortable.” – Joyce Meyer.

A sense of destiny is our sacred birthright as a child of God. We need to Commit to finding and living out the calling planned by God for our life.

When Ester received Mordecai’s message, she immediately sought God through prayer and fasting. We read the reply she sent to Mordecai in Esther 4:15-16; “Go and gather together all the Jews of Susa and fast for me. Do not eat or drink for three days, night or day. My maids and I will do the same. And though it is against the law, I will go to see the king. If I must die, I must die.”

With God, there are no ordinary people. He calls and qualifies each one of us. He has not placed us in our present position for our benefit. Instead, He put us here to serve Him, and this will involve taking risks and a willingness to sacrifice.

We find fulfilment in doing what He originally designed and destined us to do. Will I answer the call for “such a time as this”? Will you?

Question: What did God design you to accomplish in this life? Where are you at in fulfilling that destiny? You can leave a comment by clicking here.

Are You Making The #1 Mistake That Keeps You From Being Healthy

I am resharing this post which originally appeared in May of 2017. I can’t think of a better time to review and reflect on it than the beginning of a new year.

Did you set a goal or resolve to get healthy this year? Do you want to lose some weight or exercise more? Let me ask you this, how’s that working for you?

mistake

If your anything like me then you replied, “not so good.” It’s not that we didn’t try, but it seems like we are just spinning our wheels.

Three Steps Forward And Two Steps Back

Last year I made a commitment to begin the journey back to optimum health. Sadly, I have to report that I have not made any progress. Zip, zilch, nada! And I’m mad.

Mostly mad at myself. It’s not that I don’t want to. It’s not that I don’t know what I need to do. I’ve started and sputtered multiple times.

When I fully understood how God sees my body and why I should take care of it, I enthusiastically set out once again to live a healthy lifestyle. Yet, here I am in my same unhealthy rut.

So, what am I doing wrong? I’ve been racking my brain to try and understand what mistake I am making that is keeping me from living the healthy lifestyle I so desire.

I know that I am eating too many carbs. I’m definitely not exercising enough. And getting enough sleep, not even close. While that is a significant factor, would you be surprised if I told you none of these things is the number one mistake?

The #1 Mistake Might Shock You

As Christ followers, the number one mistake we make is confusing our goals and our results. Say what? You heard me right. Our goals and our results should not be synonymous.

Don’t get me wrong, losing weight, getting stronger, having more energy, these kind of results are fantastic. When they happen, we can praise God for enabling us and we can also enjoy the blessings and benefits.

However, we shouldn’t work on being healthy because of the benefits; we should work on it
because of the benefactor, our Heavenly Father.

“Don’t you know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought at a price. So glorify God with your body.” I Corinthians 6:19-20 (CSB)

It’s a matter of motivation. When our motive is to look good in a bathing suit or improve our blood pressure our motives are tainted.

But, when we shift our primary motive to “wanting to honor God” with our heart and our body things will change.

Make Jesus The Cornerstone

Okay, so how do we do that? How do we shift our motives to honoring God with our body? I mean it sounds good but how does it happen?

“You are being built on a solid foundation: the message of the prophets and the voices of God’s chosen emissaries with Jesus, the Anointed Himself, the precious cornerstone.” Ephesians 2:20 (Voice)

The cornerstone is the first stone set in the construction of a foundation. Every other stone is placed in reference to it. If the cornerstone isn’t perfect the whole building will lack structural integrity.

Ephesians 2:20 tells us that Jesus is the cornerstone. He is the cornerstone of the church and our faith. But He also needs to be the cornerstone or our goals, motives, intentions, decisions, and ambitions.

The problem with focusing on the wrong things like results in order to obtain a healthy lifestyle is demotivation. When we don’t see the results we want, or we think we should have we lose our motivation and quit.

Starting Over Again

Goals for a healthy lifestyle are not wrong. They give us quantifiable data to measure our progress and make needed adjustments. But don’t let them become the purpose of your health journey, don’t let them replace Jesus as your cornerstone.

With Jesus as the cornerstone, our healthy lifestyle is built on a strong foundation. The only one that won’t crumble when it faces the challenges of living in an imperfect world.

The more time you spend with Him in prayer and in His Word the closer, you will become to Him. And the more He will be your focus in every area of life. Here is the extra cool part, the more satisfied we are in Him, the freer we become. Free to be who He created us to be, including the benefits of living a healthy lifestyle.

I have asked Him to forgive me for making healthy living, or anything else for that matter, my cornerstone. And I have asked Him to gently remind when anything besides Him becomes my focus as I start over again today.

Question: What’s holding you back, are you ready to make Him the cornerstone of every part of your life? You can leave a comment by clicking here.

 

Why You Need To Read These 5 Books In 2018

How many books did you read in 2017? Are you reading any books right now? Or are you thinking you don’t have time to read?

Books

I have to be honest; I didn’t read as many books in 2017 as I had hoped to and the reason is simple. I didn’t have my priorities straight.

Why I Love Books

I credit my Mom for my love of books and reading. From as far back as I can remember she read to me. Every day!

Once I was old enough to read we would often read together. Then as I got older, she introduced me to the library and bought books for me whenever she could.

As a result, I have been a bookworm my entire life, and God has used my reading to inspire me to write.

So what happened in 2017. I didn’t prioritize my reading. I either felt I was too busy doing other things or frittered the time I could have been reading away.

How To Find Time To Read

I have found that if I am not intentional about reading the day will slip away from me and I find myself regretting not having read anything.

I’m making it a priority in 2018 to use thirty to sixty minutes a day that I would otherwise be watching TV or scanning social media to read.

That became a reality to me New Year’s day when due to subzero temperatures my Internet went out.

Since I cut the cable and can only watch TV by steaming no Internet meant I could neither watch television or spend time on Facebook.

At first, I sat there wondering what on earth I was going to do. Then it was like, well duh, I can read.

I picked up a novel that a friend got me for Christmas and was soon so engrossed in the story that I didn’t want to put it down.

Lesson learned.

Why These Five Books

So, why am I telling you that these are the five books you must read in 2018.

Well first, let me say that I hope you read a lot more than five books this year. And I hope you continue to stop by each week to read this blog.

But I believe that if you make it a priority to read these five books, it will transform your life in a way you never imagined. I know they have had that impact on my life. They rocked my world, and I’ll never be the same. I reread them, or read highlighted passages regularly as a reminder and as encouragement.

One other thing before I share the list with you. The links for these books are affiliate links. That means that if you purchase the book by clicking the link, I will receive a small commission at no additional cost to you.

The List

Drum roll, please. Without further adieu these are the five books you absolutely need to read in 2018 are:

The Story of With – Allen Arnold
The Longing – Joey O’Connor
More Than Ordinary – Doug Sherman
The Jesus-Centered Life – Rick Lawrence
Crazy Love – Francis Chan

My Book

A couple more things before I go.

One, keep your eyes peeled. I am working on a resource page for the blog where I will have a list of many other books and courses that you may find helpful.

I’m also going to begin writing my first book this year. I’ve put it off long enough, and now it’s time to start. I don’t know how long it will take to write, but I do know I’m starting. Please feel free to hold me accountable.

Whatever you are reading, regardless if it is one of my recommendations or something else be sure to read it WITH Jesus.

Ask Him what He wants you to read and then ask Him questions while you read.

Questions like, “Jesus, what do you want me to see as I read this?” or “Jesus, what do you want to teach me?”

As you read this year be sure to share what you are reading and how it is impacting you.

Question: What is the best book you read in 2017? You can leave a comment by clicking here.

Resolving Not To Make Resolutions In 2018

It’s hard to believe, but we have entered the last week of 2017. As we look forward to 2018, I thought this would be a good time to reshare the following post. It first appeared on January 3, 2017, but I think It’s a great reminder for 2018.

resolutions

It’s January so it must be time to make resolutions. Right? How have the resolutions you have made in past years worked for you? Did you keep them? What if I told you there is a better way?

This time of year my inbox and social media accounts are overflowing with plans to use for self-improvement. In fact, it can be quite overwhelming.

Resolutions Don’t Work

In the past, I would list out my resolutions. Things I want to change, things I want to accomplish. Get better, do more, try harder.

And like 92% of resolution makers, I would fail to keep them by the end of January. Even for those who make it past January studies show that 9 out of 10 quit by March. That is a pretty dismal track record.

One of the problems with resolutions is that they tell us we are not enough. Not good enough, smart enough. Not enough of anything. They tell us that with just a little more effort we can be good enough.

A Better Way

When we follow the do harder, try harder resolutions method we end up overcommitted and overscheduled. Attempting to do it all and do it in our strength will crowd out our passion and cause us to overlook opportunities to love.

Then what is the answer? Simple, hand over the controls. The one who made you knows you best. He has dreams and plans for you bigger and better than anything you could dare to dream

“For I know the plans I have for you’, says the LORD. ‘They are plans for good and not disaster, to give you a future and a hope.” Jeremiah 29:11(NLT)

“God can do anything you know – far more than you could ever imagine or guess or request in your wildest dreams!” Ephesians 3:20(MSG)

So, instead of resolutions try setting goals. But not just any goals. You need Jesus-Centered Goals.

Jesus Centered Goals

Traditional goal setting systems don’t work for me. I am kind of a nerd about planning and organization. I have studied and used many of the goal setting systems out there, but just like resolutions, my goals start out with a bang and fizzle. It’s just too easy for me to try and do it in my strength. I’m also prone to striving for perfection rather than being content with making progress. I found myself making goals and then asking God to bless them.

Instead of making goals using traditional goal setting methods we need to uncover good, Jesus-centered goals. “Good goals help you steward what you have been given well” – Lara Casey

When you think about it Jesus only gave us two goals; love God, love people. How we do this will look different for each of us. That’s why we need to uncover the unique goals Jesus has for us.

But if you choose to discover your goals with Jesus you better fasten your seatbelt. You are about to embark on an exciting, unpredictable adventure. And the best part is you don’t have to do it in your strength.

“I can do all things [which He has called me to do] through Him who strengthens and empowers me [to fulfil His purpose-I am self-sufficient in Christ’s sufficiency; I am ready and equal to anything through Him who infuses me with inner strength can confident peace].” Philippians 4:13(AMP)

In Him, you are enough. No more striving. When you give Him control, you will experience a deep sense of who you are and know that what you do really matters.

Question: Do you make New Year Resolutions? Do they Work for you? Are are you ready to try something new? You can leave a comment by clicking here.

All The Hope And Anticipation Has Led Us To This Moment

Do you remember how you felt on Christmas morning when you were a child? All that anticipation leading up to Christmas; counting down the days, dreaming of what gifts you wanted to receive and then at last…

antipication

Christmas morning, the excitement is so palpable you can’t sleep. You try getting your parents up at the crack of dawn. Eventually, they give in, and you dash to the Christmas tree to find the neatly wrapped presents underneath.

What Christmas Is Really About

At the beginning of Advent I wrote about the hope of the season, and now we have come to the end of Advent

In just a week we will celebrate Christmas day. In this last post before Christmas, I want to talk about the first gift of Christmas and the only gift that matters.

Now if you are reading this, I know this isn’t your first Christmas. I also know that you have heard that “Jesus Is The Reason For The Season” many times. But let me ask you, is that a reality for you or just a cliche’?

What do you do with the gift of Jesus?

You Have To Unwrap The Gift

As I was writing this, I couldn’t help thinking about my favorite aunt. I loved her dearly. Because I loved her, I rejoiced in giving her gifts, regardless of the occasion, but especially at Christmas.

The unwrapping of the gifts was part of the fun. She would slowly and painstakingly unwrap her present. Her goal was not to tear the paper.

Everyone in the family would go to great lengths to use extra tape or do anything else we could think of to make her tear the paper. But she never did tear the paper, not once.

After she opened the gift, she would give genuine thanks for it and proceed to re-warp it and put it back under the tree. When she finished, you could not tell it had ever been opened it.

I just assumed that after Christmas was over, she took the gifts out of the wrapping and used them as they were intended. That is why I wasn’t prepared for what we found after her death.

Upstairs as we cleaned out the house, we found every gift she had received from the family still in the wrapping, neatly organized to be returned to the giver after her death.

Embrace The Gift

I can’t explain how I felt when all those gifts were handed back to me, but it broke my heart. I had given them with such joy and love and I wanted her to enjoy them but she couldn’t.

In her mind, she was not worthy to receive them because she was unable to give a gift in return.

Christmas, God giving the gift of God. Matchless, incomparable, Unfathomable. Emmanuel, God with us.

gift

Can you imagine how God feels when He gives us the ultimate gift out of His great love, and we take it but then wrap it back up, put it back in the manger and leave it there? How it must break his heart.

Jesus Is Our Life

God, knows precisely what gift we need and He freely gives it to us. But the manger is just the beginning. What do we do with the gift after Christmas? I love how John Eldridge expresses it in this article titled, “Jesus Is Our Life”:

“We need Jesus like we need oxygen. Like we need water. Like the branch needs the vine. Jesus is not merely a figure for devotions. He is the missing essence of your existence. Whether we know it our not we are desperate for Jesus.

To have his life, joy, love, and presence cannot be compared. To know him as he is, is to come home. A true knowledge of Jesus is our greatest need and our greatest happiness. The purpose of your being here on this planet, at this moment in time, comes down to three things:

  1. To love Jesus with all that is within you. This is the first and greatest command. Everything else flows from here.
  2. To share your daily life with him; to let him be himself with you. On the beach, at supper, along the road – just as the disciples did.
  3. To allow his life to fill yours, to heal and express itself through yours. There is no other way you can hope to life as he did and show him to others.

Love Jesus. Let him be himself with you. Allow his life to permeate yours. The fruit will be… breathtaking.”

My prayer for you is that the gift of Jesus will not be a Christmas ritual or a cliche’. But instead you will unwrap this priceless gift in all its fullness and embrace and receive Him. May He be your life with every breath you take. Don’t re-wrap the gift and put it back in the manger.

Question: What will you do with the gift of Jesus? You can leave a comment by clicking here.

The Art Of Making The Broken Beautiful Again

When I was a little girl, I would help my mom with the dishes. She washed and I dried. One time as she handed me a bowl to dry the wet porcelain slipped through my fingers, crashing to the floor.

Broken

As it hit the floor it shattered, and I began to cry. My Mom wasn’t mad. In fact, she comforted me, letting me know that it wasn’t a big deal but I just hate it when things break.

Mourning What Is Broken

Fast forward to two years ago. As I walked toward a table in my library I lost my balance. Falling forward I reached out to steady myself on the table.

My hand hit a small bowl that was on the table and the bowl went sailing into the air. Although it landed on the carpet it shattered into several pieces.

I may no longer be a little girl but I still cried. It had been a birthday gift from a friend several years prior and I treasured it.

Why am I such a crybaby when it comes to breaking things? Why do I hate it so much?

Because, well, they’re broken. Ruined. No longer perfect.

What On Earth Is Kintsugi

At least that is what I thought until I learned about the Japanese art of Kintsugi.

Kintsugi has been around since the 15th century but I only learned about it this past July while reading the book, The Story of With.

Kintsugi takes a very different approach to broken vessels. Instead of trashing them as broken, flawed, and useless the artists discovered a way to make the broken beautiful again.

My first thought when I read about this art form was, “Won’t that just highlight the brokenness?”

I mean after all, instead of hiding the imperfections the artists illuminate them by filling the cracks with gold.

They view the repaired item as more valuable than it was before because now it is a one-of-a-kind original with its shimmering lines of gold.

It isn’t just usable again; it is stronger. What a lesson.

How Our Scars Make Us Stronger

Kintsugi makes what is broken beautiful again but long before these Japanese artists discovered this art form Jesus was was fulfilling his mission by healing our shattered hearts and setting us free.

The Spirit of the Lord, the Eternal is on me. The Lord has appointed me for a special purpose. He has anointed me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to repair broken hearts, And to declare to those who are held captive and bound in prison, ‘Be free from your imprisonment!'” – Isaiah 61:1

He puts the fragments of our shattered hearts back together again with His healing light. And when He heals us were are infused with his healing power.

The truth is we don’t get through this life without being wounded. We all have scars but most are unseen.

Scars from the betrayal of someone we trusted or conditional love based on our performance. You get the idea and I’m sure you can name many other wounds.

These scars may be invisible but the wounds cut deep. But I believe that the same principle that holds true for Kintsugi holds true for our brokenness.

Scars are an integral part of our stories. We don’t like them. The pain is real.

But the good news is we serve an awesome Creator who makes all things new (Rev. 21:5). If we surrender our brokenness to Him He will not only heal the wounds He will use them to make us stronger.

That means we don’t need to be afraid of our most painful brokenness because it is where our most meaningful purpose will be found.

So don’t be afraid to dive in and trust Jesus at levels you have never trusted Him before. Because when you do not only will He mend your broken places, your scars will shimmer with new strength. His strength, empowering you to share your story with others in a way that encourages and blesses them.

Question: What scars are you hiding? Do you believe your scars can make you stronger? You can leave a comment by clicking here.

 

 

 

Finding My True Identity In The Great Mouse Adventure

What happens when two dogs, a cat, and a furmom set out to catch a mouse running through the house?

mouse

Well, the answer is both easy and surprising.

The Easy Part

As you might expect, once the little mouse made his presence known a whole lot of chaos ensued. And a lot of laughter followed.

Here is how it happened. Shortly after supper, I noticed Bailey (my cat) was stalking something in my library.

I couldn’t imagine what was so interesting about the stack of plates on the floor. Disclaimer – the plates were on the floor because I removed them from the kitchen during a decluttering session and had not had a chance to send them to their new home.

I jumped back, shocked and startled by what I saw. Yes, it was a little mouse, and when I moved the plates, it scampered across the floor.

For the next ninety minutes, it scampered from room to room with all four of us in pursuit.

The Surprising Part

All four of us reacted to the mouse in different ways.

Both dogs showed little to no interest in catching the mouse. Which is shocking since they both have high prey drives and have been known to chase and kill any critter that dares to trespass in their yard.

Even more surprising was Bailey’s response. The more I tried to catch the mouse and point out to him where the mouse was the more he seemed to lose interest in the chase.

Since he had caught several mice a few years ago, I didn’t know what to make of his response.

The biggest surprise of all came as I started to close my front door for the evening. As I began to move the door, I saw him. The little mouse was sitting in the corner behind the door facing out.

I thought, “I’ve got you now you little bugger.” I called Bailey, no response, so I went and grabbed him and put him behind the door facing the mouse and waited for the action to start.

Knowing Your True Identity

To my utter disbelief, Bailey turned and ran the opposite direction as fast as he could. In fact, he went to the basement and stayed there.

Scratching my head at this weird encounter, I decided to give up the chase for the night and worry about it tomorrow.

I laid down on the couch to watch a little TV and promptly fell asleep.

At 1:30 am I awakened to the sound of a loud thud and then a second loud thud coming from the kitchen. Followed by little kitty-boy strutting into the living room carrying the dead mouse.

My Mistake

As he strutted around the room for several minutes displaying his captured foe, I realized my mistake.

Baily knew something that I had forgotten. He understands who he is and what he is created to do.

When I tried to force him to do it my way he ran and returned when he had the opportunity to do it right.

It reminded me of the story of David and Goliath. The part where King Saul put his armor on David when he was going to fight the giant. But it didn’t fit. It wasn’t who David was. So he took it off and went out to face Goliath in his true identity with a slingshot and five smooth stones.

Run In Your Lane

Just like Bailey and just like David each of us is a one-of-a-kind, had crafted creation not a mass produced copy.

“For we are the product of His hand, heaven’s poetry etched on lives, created in the Anointed, Jesus to accomplish the good works God arranged long ago.” – Ephesians 2:9 (Voice)

But then life happens, and we forget whose we are. When that happens it’s easy to get bogged down in fear, shame, disappointment, and ________(fill in the blank). If we stay there, it will short-circuit God’s plan for our life.

The Truth Will Set You Free

God used a sweet little kitty to remind me of these truths:

God created you and me. We are His artistry. His masterpiece. This truth is the foundation of our identity.

God has chosen us. He not only created us He created us for a purpose. Because of his love for us, He will equip us for the purpose He created us for when we fully surrender to Him.

He reminded me that my sense of worth should come from Him and Him alone. I am a child of the King, and so are you. And we need to hide these truths in our heart.

I love the way He uses such seemingly silly or unimportant things like a kitty and a mouse to remind us of these essential truths. I’m so glad I didn’t miss the lesson of finding my true identity in Him alone.

Question: Where are you getting your sense of worth? Are you letting someone or something force you to run in a lane you are not created to run in? You can leave a comment by clicking here.

 

 

 

Experiencing The Hope And Promise Of Advent

Welcome to the season of Advent. Traditionally,  the four Sundays leading up to Christmas. A time of waiting and anticipation.

advent

The word Advent comes from the Latin. It means coming. We look back to the first Advent when a miracle happened on a chaotic night in Bethlehem. The promised Messiah who God’s people had waited on for so long arrived.

Today if you are a follower of Jesus Christ then you are a person of the advent. It is a perpetual advent, not a one-time event as we wait for Him to return.

Hope

This first week of Advent is about hope. Hope set the foundation for the entire season.

I have the privilege to live in my childhood home. In the backyard, there was a magnolia tree. We literally grew up together. When we moved into the house all those years ago, it was only about two feet tall.

As the tree and I grew I climbed its branches, and at the beginning of each summer, I would carve the year into the trunk.

Each spring it would put on a magnificent display of beauty with hundreds of pink flowers. And all through summer, it provided rich, refreshing shade.

A few years ago a strong summer storm produced straight-line winds and snapped off a massive portion of my favorite tree. The winds also severely damaged the part that remained causing it to be unsafe. There was no choice except to take it down.

Yes, I cried. I really did love that tree. So many memories and now my beloved tree was gone. But then something amazing happened. A small shoot emerged from the stump.  My tree was still alive. There was hope that it would grow again.

Advent

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“Out of the stump of David’s family will grow a shoot—  yes, a new  Branch bearing fruit from the old root.” – Isaiah 11:1 NLT

From A Shoot To A Tree

As I look at my magnolia tree today that shoot has grown to well over ten feet tall. Through this tree, God showed me that the stump is not what is important it is the shoot, the promise of life is where I need to focus.

Our hope is the shoot that grew out of the stump of David’s family. His name is Jesus. He came that first Christmas, and He will go to incredible lengths to save us.

This past week I was waiting at a traffic light in a small village I was driving through. As I looked to my right, I noticed the community Christmas tree. It was enormous and beautiful. Perfectly shaped and tastefully decorated.

Then I looked at the trunk. It was cut off from the roots. In a few short weeks it will be dead. It seemed so ironic that this magnificent evergreen tree which represents eternal life would soon die.

“Exactly!” was the nudge I heard from the Spirit. The wood that made the cross on which Jesus would die to save us from our sins could only come when the tree was harvested.

From a stump to a shoot to a tree to a cross comes the hope and glory of perpetual Advent.

An Upside Down Advent

In this crazy busy, often stressful season what if He wants our focus to be on that little shoot. What if He is saying to each of us, “Just where you are, seek Me in the small overlooked details of the season.”

I think He wants us to stop. Stop all the busyness that distracts us from focusing on Him and find Him in a whole new way this Advent season.

To stop just where we are and seek Him. Because if we are not careful in our tendency to race non-stop through this season, we could step on the shoot that sprouts from the stump.

Instead, let’s go slow. Let’s be still. Let’s seek the Shoot that bears witness to God’s glory breaking in. I believe He is begging us to give our attention to the little, the least, the lonely, and the lost this Advent.

“Gaze on shoots of glory to grow deep in the roots of God.” – Ann Voskamp

Question: Where can you see new life coming in what you may have considered dead? You can leave a comment by clicking here.

7 Precepts To Empower You To Win The Marathon Of Life

Do You Believe that life is a marathon? And if it is what do we have to do to win?

marathon

On November 5 51,307 runners lined up for the running of the 47th New York City Marathon. They represented 139 countries, as well as, all 50 states plus Puerto Rico and Washington D.C.

Life Is A Marathon

Did you watch the NYC Marathon? What a sea of humanity as those 51,307 runners started the race. Even more impressive is that 50,766 runners finished the race. That’s an impressive 98.9% of runners who completed the 26.2 miles that wound through five boroughs.

Like the runners who competed in the NYC marathon, you and I are running a marathon too. It’s called life.

Run To Win

Paul has this to say about it in I Corinthians 9:29-27 (MSG), “You’ve all been to the stadium and seen the athletes race. Everyone runs; one wins. Run to win. All good athletes train hard. They do it for a gold medal that tarnishes and fades. You’re after one that’s gold eternally. I don’t know about you, but I’m running hard for the finish line. I’m giving it everything I’ve got. No sloppy living for me!I’m staying alert and in top condition. I’m not going to get caught napping, telling everyone else all about it and then missing out myself.”

If we aren’t careful, we can think about the life we’re in right now as the prize. You know, work hard to make our lives better; nice homes, nice cars, nice clothes, good friends a job that fulfills a passion.

We Are Getting It All Wrong

This life isn’t our destination it’s our race. And our prize is our heavenly reward for faithful service.

Now, I’m not saying that there is anything wrong with having nice things, good friends and a job you love. It’s just not where our focus should be. They are add-ons when we run the right race in the right way.

“Aim at Heaven and you will get Earth ‘thrown in’; aim at earth and you will get neither.” – C. S. Lewis

Running Our Race With Endurance

I was inspired by Paul’s vivid description in I Corinthians 9:24-27 to dig into what enables a marathon runner to complete a 26.2 mile race.

In researching what makes them tick I discovered seven precepts that apply equally well to our spiritual race.

Let’s unpack them.

Precept #1 – Don’t Skimp On Training Time

There is no question that marathoners are obsessed with training. Running experts recommend three to four months of training for a marathon.

You need to run at least three to four times a week and most run daily. Without this type of dedicated training, there is no way a runner will have the endurance to win a race as demanding as a marathon.

The same is true for us. We don’t wake up one morning to discover we are super Christians, winners of the Life Marathon.

Not hardly, we need to train, or we will stumble. If we don’t practice running in faith consistently, we will not have the endurance we need to finish our race.

Our training consists of reading the Bible, praising and worshiping God and asking Him to attune our hearts to His.

Precept #2 – Schedule Rest And Recovery

Training for a marathon is both mental and physical.

That means in addition to exercise you need to eat right. But you not only have to feed your physical body you need to feed your spiritual body as well.

That will give us endurance for the road ahead.

But don’t forget to rest. God designed us that way. Remember after he created the world He rested (Genesis 2:2) and He told us to work six days and rest on the seventh.

Self-care is not selfish. Without it, we will never be able to finish our race or serve others.

Precept #3 – Visualize The Whole Race

If you don’t know where you are going its difficult to train or stay motivated to finish.  marathon

We need a vision for every area of our lives. Visualizing what life is all about and where we are headed. Even what we are likely to encounter along the way.

“Where there is no vision from God, the people run wild, but those who adhere to God’s instruction know genuine happiness.” – Proverbs 29:18 (Voice)

Having a clear picture of where you are headed will help you keep going when things get tough.

Precept #4 – Get The Right Equipment

From the shoes, clothes and various training tools, I’m sure you agree that the equipment needed to run a marathon is essential and highly specialized.

Well, it’s no different in our spiritual marathon. You will want to get a  Bible that is easy for you to understand. You can check out some of the many different versions here. For a list of my favorite translations email me at k@klgreenwalt.com.

Spending daily time in God’s Word is the most essential part of your training.

You might also want to get a devotional and a journal to record your prayers and experiences.

Precept #5 – Keep Your Eyes On The Prize

Remember, I mentioned earlier that the prize we are running for is our heavenly reward for faithful service.

We must never lose sight of that. Our eternity is secure once we accept Jesus as the forgiver of our sins and the leader of our life, but our rewards will be based on how we run the race.

Our focus should be on Jesus at all times (Hebrews 12:2). The more we focus on Him, the more we will become like Him. And the more we become like Him, the more we will develop a servants heart.

Precept #6 – Be Ready For Challenges

Make no mistake about it there will be many challenges along the way.

A runner faces all kinds of challenges while running a race. Things from inclement weather and rugged terrain to injuries. But the number one quality of marathon winners is, they refuse to give up.

As you run your race, you will face challenges too. Let’s face it you have an Enemy, and He does not want you to finish.

That’s why in addition to spending quality time in the Word you need to surround yourself with brothers and sisters in the Lord.

Make sure you are involved in a good church community so you can encourage each other on to victory.

“So since we stand surrounded by all those who have gone on before, an enormous cloud of witnesses let us drop every extra weight, every sin that clings to us and slackens our pace and let us run with endurance the long race set before us. {We may feel alone, but we aren’t. We are surrounded by an army of witnesses. They have run the race of faith and finished well. It is now our turn.}” Hebrews 12:1(Voice)

Precept #7 – Savor Your Milestones

Just as you will have challenges as you run your race, you will also experience victories along the way. Be sure to commemorate them and celebrate.

One way to that is journaling. Be sure to record not only the challenges but the victories.

Review your journal often to stay encouraged and as a reminder of things to celebrate with God in praise and worship.

Run Your Race

marathon

I believe with all my heart that each of us is created to run our race and finish in victory.

But as I have written about many times we are each created uniquely. So the race I run and the race you run will not look the same.

However, if we put these seven precepts into practice, we all will finish the race and win the prize.

Renew your vision and run to win!

Question: Are there any areas in your life where you have given up because you’ve lost sight of the bigger picture or lost your vision for the whole race? You can leave a comment by clicking here.

 

If You Forget Everything Else You Need To Remember This

If we are honest, we all do it and sadly probably every day. What is scary is that often we don’t even recognize we are doing it. What is it?

remember

 

We forget to remember the generosity of God.

Think about it; God greets us every morning in multiple ways as we hurriedly rush into our day. Then at the end of the day as we fall into bed exhausted we don’t look back on the gifts that flowed freely from His hands into our lives all day long.

Admittedly, we are more focused on our blessings this time of year.  In a little over a week as we sit around the Thanksgiving table, we are likely to share what we are thankful for with each other. But what about the other 364 days of the year?

The Danger Of Forgetting

When I started thinking about this, my heart broke. I realized how often I move through my life on autopilot without remembering how generous God is to me on a daily basis.

Then I realized it is not just sad it is dangerous. When I forget how generous our God is it can lead me to have a sense of entitlement.

That can lead to an endless list of demands. And if I’m not careful, ingratitude and disappointment will begin to dominate my heart and shape my life.

It can even lead me to the mistaken belief that not only do I deserve what I have but that I have earned it.

A Scarcity Mentality

When I start thinking like that, my heart begins to harden. If my heart isn’t tender, then I won’t be moved with compassion for others.

When that happens, I’m veering way off the path that God would have me travel. It’s the very opposite of the way He wants us to live our lives.

I want to be generous to others as a response to God’s generosity to me. So what is the solution for a hard heart?

Tenderizer For The Heart

Last week I wrote about having gratitude at Thanksgiving. Gratitude and praise will melt the hardest heart and get our focus back where it should be.

When I was a little girl, my mother used to sing me a song. To this day I still recall the chorus, “Count your blessings, name them one by one. Count your blessings see what God hath done.” That is ageless advice.

That’s why I am making a deliberate effort to be more dialed-in to everything that He has given me and not the things I think I’m lacking.

Will you join me this Thanksgiving and every day after that to remember how good, great, and generous our God is?

Remembrance produces upward worship, inward humility, and outward generosity.” – Paul David Tripp

Remember the blessings we receive from Him are too numerous to count, and we receive them instead of what we deserve. This song is a great reminder of how generous our God is to us. Listen and remember.

I’m praying that you and yours will have a happy and blessed Thanksgiving.

Question: When was the last time you literally counted your blessings? You can leave a comment by clicking here.