We are each here with purpose: to glorify God and fulfill His plan for us. Each journey is unique and precious. This is a place for us to share and encourage one another. What's your story? Jer. 29:11 Esther 4:14

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Roots for Fruit...Even in a drought.

"Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, whose confidence is in him. He will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream. It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit." Jer. 17:8 (NIV)

Have you ever felt like you're in a spiritual drought? Not necessarily out of touch with God, but just all used up? Yes, it's been a year. If I'm honest it's been several years in a row. 

It occurs to me that in trying to take care of myself and take time to rest I've become my own worst enemy. I've separated myself from one important source of restoration and strength - my church. 

Yes it's a matter of obedience to be hooked in to your local church, but there's a good reason (God always has one of those). I can worship, pray, and read God's word all by myself and I do all of those things. What I can't do is:

  •  be a group by myself.
  • provide a vast wealth of experience and wisdom to myself.
  • hold myself accountable. 
It's a matter of perspective. When I was in college we had chapel services three times a week. We were required to attend a certain number of times each semester and turned in a card each time so someone somewhere could keep score. 

Of course there were times we wanted to go - a special speaker or concert - but most of the time many of us saw it as just another obligation: one more place to be when we had so many other things to do. The unfortunate and erroneous nature of this thinking is made vividly clear in the contrasting thoughts of Dr. Jack MacGorman, a long-time professor:

"For somebody who felt such an overwhelming gratitude to God
for his mercy and his kindness, chapel was the only place to go. Not
 to show up in a time of worship would have been unthinkable."

That says it all, doesn't it? I'll be honest. I have trouble getting to church sometimes for different reasons, none of which are important when held up next to the honor and worship that God deserves. 

Not going to church makes as much sense as sitting on the banks of a river and watching cool, crystal clear water flowing abundantly by while I thirst to death. 

Sometimes I can be an idiot. 

But idiots can change. As I ponder this scripture and pray that God will use me in a special way this year I'm going to take advantage of the sustenance that is before me each time my church gathers. I don't know where that will take me, but I know that disobedience in this area hurts me and dishonors God - two things I want to  avoid. 

So, for those of you who know me, please feel free to hold me accountable. (You can't imagine how I cringed as I wrote that!!!). Please be kind, and don't be offended by any eye-rolling or groaning. That will just be me wondering what in the world I've done by giving you permission to do that! 

As God's plan continues to unfold in 2014 I pray that he pulls us in closer to him, to know him deeper, to love him better, and from the overflowing of those riches, to change our world. 

I'm praying for you.


Monday, December 2, 2013

Intentional Living

Somehow we have made it to the end of another year - almost. November is a bit of a blur. I participated in NaNoWriMo - the novel writing month, and for the first time (3rd try) actually reached and exceeded the 50K word goal for the month. It's a great start on book two of the series I hope to pitch to an agent in January. 

I've worked on a writing calendar to help me organize my writing projects, and this year I will actually set a daily/weekly word goal. 

I want to learn Spanish. It's on my list of New Year's goals every year. This year I took advantage of Black Friday sales and bought the Rosetta Stone series. I can't wait to start. 

Maybe it's my age (over 50 now!), but I find myself trying to be very intentional about the second half of my life. I want to be productive and useful, and joyful in the living out of my purpose. Do you?

One of my favorite verses in the Bible is Jeremiah 29:11:

"For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord,
plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to

God always has the best plans, doesn't he? How frustrated he must be with me when my life is so full of extraneous things that there is no room for the blessings and challenges of his plan.

I've been making an effort this past year to free myself of some obligations that take not only time, but emotional energy as well. It has taken almost the entire year to do it, but I am ending the year with fewer entanglements than when I started. 

It feels good.


...and scary. 

There are things I need to be doing if I am to be obedient. Getting to church regularly has been an issue for me for a long time. (I can't tell you how difficult it is for me to acknowledge that in writing.) I have no excuse anymore. Not that I've ever had a good one. Part of God's blessing for me AND his purpose for me is in being an active part of the body of Christ. 

I'm taking a long, hard look at my priorities. If you need to do the same, start with where you spend your time, AND where your mind takes up residence most days. Where are your thoughts? Where is your heart? What do you day dream about? 

Do you need direction for 2014? I do. The best way to get it is to ask. God is waiting to talk to you about his plans. Have a conversation with him. A little talk/listen session. Write down your goals and dreams for 2014 and pray over them. Ask for a nudging from the Spirit regarding which to keep and which to discard. Even a good goal can distract you from God's plan if that's not where he wants you. 

This year I want to consider these questions as I plan for 2014:
  1. Can I honor God by reaching toward this goal?
  2. Will the time, energy and focus I spend on this goal take me away from the things I know I need to do?
  3. Will working toward and reaching this goal provide me with opportunities to serve others?
  4. Do these goals reflect my desire to love and serve God with every aspect of my being: spiritual, emotional, physical?
  5. Do I have a plan? Am I ready to be INTENTIONAL in meeting these goals, or will I just sit around and wait to see what happens! 
  6. Am I willing to let go of the things that interfere in my pursuit of these goals? Am I ready to sacrifice?

I want to acknowledge him in every aspect of my life this next year, because I want his direction. Proverbs 3:5-6

I want to live out the greatest commandments every day.

I want to acknowledge that I do nothing in my own power, nor by my own will power, but by His strength

What are the dreams of your heart for 2014? 

Praying for you,