A Higher Calling: Trust God’s Plan

A friend and I were speaking the other day on how we came to live in the Nashville area. There is an influx of transients and we are among them. She is from Fresno and came when her husband’s employer relocated him.

“When we first moved to Nashville I was flying back to California every three months. Every three months without fail.” She said. “And when it was time to come back to Tennessee I would weep.” She had no friends, no family. It was completely unfamiliar territory and she could not make herself content here.

 

Nashville Skyline

The Moment of Enlightenment

Her change came on one of her trips back home. Her spiritual mother quietly pulled her aside and said to her, “How will you know what God has for you there if you are always coming back here? It was like shafts of light delivering a room from darkness.

In her heart she knew that God had uprooted and placed her here for a reason. But she was unknowingly closing her heart off from whatever God was saying. She did not want to be here! Couldn’t God get that? But the day that beautiful woman of God spoke to her, she had to humbly shift her attitude and submit to whatever his plan was.

Change Your World

Once she settled it within herself to be content, things change, or at least her perception of those things. Now her heart was open to receive. God led her to a faith-based church. She developed a formidable prayer life and over time family members back home in Fresno began to give their lives to God as she witnessed and stayed before God on their behalf. It was life-changing not just for her, but for a generation.

Did I say she changed a generation? Absolutely. When those from our bloodline give their lives to Christ, they are taking that spiritual force to their bloodline, setting up spiritual bastions that ultimately destroy strongholds and generational curses and bad habits and shifts the outcome of our families for years to come. Do you remember Rahab? (Josh. 2:12) Those redeemed siblings and loved ones no longer live under the curse. So now they are able to positively impact family in a way that no tradition or ritual can.

Our lives are part of a Higher Calling

Our lives are always intersected with others. God understands this, but sometimes we forget. When he directs us or leads us down his path of purpose it is not so that we can sit happy and content in our posh, comfortable environment. Our experiences, trials, life-changing moves are for a higher purpose. We may not know what it is right away, but we trust the one who does know. His intricately design plan may seem off-kilter to our self-seeking mindset but he knows how to use his vessels to change the lives of our families, friends, communities and even generations. As she accepted this, the move to Tennessee was no longer one to weep over, but one in which to rejoice.

 

 

 

God has a plan for you, are you walking it out?

Let’s face it, we like being in control. We love to create fantastic plans and revel in the thrill of them being played out. Then we become frustrated when things go awry and it seems as if the entire universe is against us. But let’s be honest–how many of us seek God first for direction? How many consult with him regularly and the move accordingly?

“The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps.” (Provb. 16:9, ESUVK)

Sometimes as we are caught in the moment we move quickly, excitedly because after all, we are endeavoring in a good thing. But every good thing isn’t expedient or our job to accomplish.

God is one of purpose. He is not a God that moves on a whim; he is not swayed by our emotions or frustrations or desperation. He has a plan. It is for our good. His plan has perfect timing; it has a rhythm and season. It does not fail even when we do.

 

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We Do Not Live to Please Ourselves

We are not designed or created to pursue goals to live blissful lives according to our own desire or world view. We are made to be used by Him. We are a part of a whole– a single, intricate thread designed by God with precision and purpose and woven into the fabric of reconciliation. He has called us unto Himself—and in turn he uses some to influence and bring others to Him as well. When we focus solely on ourselves we lose sight of the greater good. We are only a small fraction in the grand plan. And we must trust his plan. Trust his way.

 

If You’re Lost don’t be afraid to ask for Directions

Sometimes our frustration grows out of our failure to hear, listen and submit to His way. He is always speaking, but are we always listening?

If it seems you’re circling the same path, stuck in the same situation, frustrated by the obstacles which tripped you up last year, stop and ask for direction. It is not God’s desire that we waste time or repeat for the sake of repetition. Ask Him for next steps. Seek to know if you’ve gotten off task. Talk to Him and he will certainly talk to you.

New Year’s Resolution: Forgive

New Year’s Resolution: Forgive

We are on the brink of a New Year and in typical human fashion New Year’s resolutions are abounding. Whatever it may be–cut the carbs, exercise more often, volunteer regularly—we are committed to make the change, to parallel the newness of the season to newness in our lifestyle. I won’t go into how many resolutions actually fail within the first few weeks, but I challenge you to take one on that will change you from the inside out: Resolve to forgive.

I challenge you to walk into the new year free from of the burden of debt—spiritual debt—holding people to pay a price for which they cannot. I challenge you to release them of whatever ill or wrong they have done and in doing so free both yourself and the perpetrator.

 

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Forgiveness is a Powerful Force

 Sometimes we don’t realize the effect of holding on to stuff. Yet forgiveness is a powerful action; it frees the soul to breathe and receive good from God. I like the God’s Word® translation which reads:

“If you forgive the failures of others, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.” ( Matt. 6:14)

Forgiveness cleanses the soul of ill intentions and foul moods. It helps to deliver us from the toxins brought on by the stress of the burden. Yes, that’s right, we feel better. We will be free from a useless task of the heart because harboring wrongs lead to nowhere.

The Unforgiving Heart

Like pathological disease our harboring will not be contain to just that one offense or even several offenses. An unforgiving heart will develop and even at the height of our successes we are never truly at peace because of something we have not let go. You may say “I am perfectly at peace.” But we are not at peace with God. And without His peace, we truly do not have it. A different interpretation of Matthew 6:14 reads:

“In prayer there is a connection between what God does and what you do. You can’t get forgiveness from God, for instance, without also forgiving others. If you refuse to do your part, you cut yourself off from God’s part. (Matt. 6:14 Msg)

 

 

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Our goal is to be more like Christ, to love unconditionally. When we refuse to forgive we truly distance ourselves from Christ. I mean after all, he came to earth just to forgive!

A New Start

I challenge you to start with a fresh clean heart for the incoming year. And forgive yourself; we often hold ourselves to a higher standard than even God does. Throw often the baggage of dead things and launch a new start and live.

Change the atmosphere: Reflect the Heart of Christmas

Change the atmosphere: Reflect the Heart of Christmas

It’s not uncommon to hear that amidst all of this Christmas cheer and do-gooding others are left with a melancholy that will escort them well into the New Year.

But there is no magic dust that suddenly appears at the first sign of Christmas lights and holly. We are not instantly overcome with joy simply because our favorite radio station is playing holiday tunes for the next 25 days. And to add to our struggle to be merry we feel compelled to buy, buy, spend, spend and give, give. And even giving can’t alleviate sadness if our heart is apart from it.

The good news is that we can change it. We can relieve ourselves of the burden to fake the Christmas cheer. We can change the atmosphere of our hearts to reflect the truth behind this joy that is often so elusive.

 

For unto us a child is born

Embrace the First Gift

The privilege to celebrate the birth of Christ is indeed a gift. It is God’s gift to us. We are living, breathing beings with the opportunity to live forever—to live well in this life and even better in the next. For many this is a hard thing to accept so engulfed are they by circumstances and internal struggles and a lifetime of disappointment. But He says, “I came so they can have real and eternal life, more and better life than they ever dreamed of.” (John 10:10, MSG)

God’s gift is the life force. It is the sustainer of every living thing. It is connected to our very existence and intertwined with our purpose. Without it our world would be dismal indeed. And if we deny the truth of this gift, discount it in any way and override it with our own belief, life song, or truth, we will be on a perpetual search for the meaning of it all:

“Then we will no longer be like children, forever changing our minds about what we believe because someone has told us something different or has cleverly lied to us and made the lie sound like the truth.” (Ephes. 4:14, TLB)

Holidays will become ritualistic, vain tasks to appease the mind of guilt; good deeds will become meaningless actions which simply move us from one season to the next. The cycle will continue year after year.

Embrace the gift of Christ; he is Savior, Redeemer, and Lord. This gift is complete, perfect and it changes the game forever.

 

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The Game Changer

Christ is the game changer. When we know Him not only will we live forever but we can reclaim our life here and now. Christmas will become a time when we celebrate someone we know, love and appreciate—Jesus Christ! Who did you think? And because we celebrate him our dark hearts are filled with light. The chasm of our hearts is filled with love, because He is love. We will give and do and bless others not out of obligation but because we are ambassadors of Christ. Part of our life’s purpose is being played out because if God is nothing, he is a giver and giving reflects our Father’s heart. And who doesn’t like to please the Father.

Change the atmosphere of your heart and make it brighter than the brightest star and be filled with more cheer than any song you could ever sing on this Earth.

 

 

 

Keeping the Main Thing the Main Thing

I’m off on a tangent again running around on a Saturday because I promised my daughter a new phone, I promised myself I’d get a bunch of gifts for my youth group and they’d all be personalized because…well they are really great kids and I want to make tomorrow’s Christmas party– special.

So off to the store I go and of course the machine is down at the phone store and I run around trying to find a different store with a deal equal or better than the original one I was getting after which, I get caught in the parade traffic on the way to the plaza to pick up those individualized gifts. Now I am spent both mentally and physically and I just want to go home and settle down with a nice big piece of German chocolate cake. But I can’t. I still have a lot of shopping to do.

This has often been my Saturday, but after feeling run down too often by the time Monday morning rolls around I’ve learned to cross things off of my list of to-do and focus on the moral of the story—the point of it all.

Watch the subplots

Too often we add too much drama, run in too many directions with more subplots and story twists than I even want to remember. Often the main story gets buried.

I suppose the first questions are this: do you know what the main story is? Is the story relevant or interesting enough to carry itself? Often times we add to the story because we don’t have confidence that the story as it is will hold up. This does not mean that subplots or even parallel plots will not enhance the story, it simply means that the story is solid and that anything else will only add to the depth of the original and not take over.  If you find that you have a takeover element you may want to consider what is most important—the main story or one of the others—you may be surprised.

Complicated vs. Simple

Buying personalized gifts did not mean in depth conversations with parents or running to every mall in the mid-state to find the perfect gift—it mean simply that I thought about each child—that was the focus, that was the main thing. And for sanity and time sakes, most of them got gift cards. They were very pleased because someone was thinking of them.