Tag Archives: new beginnings

A Reflection….A Resolution

imageHappy New Year! What a great day for sleeping in and taking naps and football. Lots and lots of football! I have 5 sleeping boys in the basement, 2 sleeping girls upstairs, cinnamon rolls fresh from the oven and a steaming cup of strong coffee. 2015 is shaping up to be a great year! (Now if my Buckeyes can just bring home a win tonight!)

Today is also a great day for reflection and resolutions. Where have you been? Where are you headed?
Part A – A Reflection…
Wordpress put together a 2014 in review report for me, that as a numbers geek, I thought was pretty cool. Here’s an excerpt:

A New York City subway train holds 1,200 people. This blog was viewed about 8,100 times in 2014. (Compare that to 4500 times in 2013.) If it were a NYC subway train, it would take about 7 trips to carry that many people.

This made me think about a post I wrote last February, I Will Be A Subway Preacher and I went back and re-read that post and found it to be such a good reminder, especially today. Here is the reader’s digest version,

Start something…do something…be something. It’s a pressure I feel on a daily basis. One that I quite admittedly make much larger by my obsessing on questions like…Am I living up to my potential? Am I following God’s leading and teaching? What is God’s will for my life? Start something…do something…be something. My self-talk mantra.

I was ready to embrace Ephesians 3:20, “Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think.” To infinity and beyond…God definitely knows how to accomplish the “big gesture.” This is the pressure I was putting on myself…Start something (big)…do something (big)…be something (big.) Instead I have felt like I was languishing, particularly in regard to my book and this nebulous idea of a “ministry.” But recently the sand under my feet has begun to shift and I am seeing things in a different light.

So I have begun pouring myself into the here and now instead of looking ahead to the future and waiting for it to happen. I need to throw out the idea of “ministry” by my definition and walk in faith. Maybe I will walk in place for a little while. Maybe I will feel like I am walking in circles but God is in control. He has me exactly where I am supposed to be right now. I can’t second guess that. Maybe someday we will jump on another train and head out, but for today I am going to grow where I am planted. And suddenly, I have found myself at peace in the subway.

Are you growing or are you spending your time wishing you were being re-planted somewhere else? Are you giving God your best in the here and now, wherever that may be? Have you placed expectations on God that He isn’t meeting and you find yourself frustrated? A lot of questions that dig a little deeper than we are sometimes comfortable looking. I have one last one…do you believe the words of 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 give you hope and a future.” God has plans for us, sometimes they line up with ours, sometimes they don’t. But He knows what is best, His plans are for our good, even when we can’t see it and we don’t understand it. I challenge you to trust God to do what is best for you and to use you for His purpose and for His glory. And if you do, look out. You may get to experience “more than you could ask or imagine” and never have seen it coming!

Part B A Resolution…

I read this and was dually challenged to set a WOW goal for 2015…

A WOW goal is a goal so big that you don’t want to tell it to the whole world not because you fear you might fall flat on your face when you attempt it (although that is a factor) but because the enormity of it makes the goal very personal and close to your heart. A WOW goal is so big you can only accomplish it if God really did lay it on your heart and therefore He comes in and holds your hand every step of the way, picking you up when you fall, sending you words of encouragement when those voices of doubt say you can’t and patting you on the back when you make it one step closer.

A WOW goal…but you can only accomplish it if God really did lay it on your heart. To find it we have to release God of the expectations that we have for Him. Where, in the quiet and the stillness of listening, we are able to realize God’s dreams for us. These are many times a different thing than our dreams for Him.

This reflection and resolution could stand in stark contrast to each other…accepting “small” assignments and setting WOW goals. Not feeling like you are going anywhere but setting the moon as your destination. They come together in Isaiah 28 and it’s where I am able to begin reconciling the two.

Listen to me; listen, and pay close attention. Does a farmer always plow and never sow? Is he forever cultivating the soil and never planting? Does he not finally plant his seeds— black cumin, cumin, wheat, barley, and emmer wheat— each in its proper way, and each in its proper place? The farmer knows just what to do, for God has given him understanding.The LORD of Heaven’s Armies is a wonderful teacher, and he gives the farmer great wisdom. (Isaiah 28:23-26,29)

Timing…planting…and finally harvesting. Our WOW goal may not be recognized in 2015, but that isn’t the point. At least not for me. Having a goal, working towards it, and seeing it develop, step by step, one subway train at a time, only by the grace of God, that’s….well…WOW.

So set your goal and then cultivate it, tend it, and when the time is right it will be harvested. Just don’t lose sight of it in the smallness of the everyday.

Happy 2015!

Let’s Go Deeper

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If it seems we are crazy, it is to bring glory to God. And if we are in our right minds, it is for your benefit. Either way, Christ’s love controls us. Since we believe that Christ died for all, we also believe that we have all died to our old life. He died for everyone so that those who receive his new life will no longer live for themselves. Instead, they will live for Christ, who died and was raised for them. This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun! For God made Christ, who never sinned, to be the offering for our sin, so that we could be made right with God through Christ. (2 Corinthians 5:13-15, 17, 21 NLT)

I love the beginning of that passage as Paul writes to the church in Corinth. If it seems we are crazy…that, I can easily identify with. But truly I just want to bring glory to God. I hope that you are continuing this Journey to the Cross and learning more about God and yourself through it.

These verses also say, those who receive His new life will no longer live for themselves. Here we are again old friend, the cross of sacrifice. A life for a life. He has provided us through death with the gift of eternal life. We can’t do anything to earn it. All we have to do is believe and accept. But if you want to do more than that, if we want to follow Jesus, live for Him we have to get ourselves out of the way and give up our life.

Then, calling the crowd to join his disciples, he said, “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross, and follow me. If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for my sake and for the sake of the Good News, you will save it. And what do you benefit if you gain the whole world but lose your own soul? Is anything worth more than your soul? (Mark 8:34-37 NLT)

I am admittedly stumbling and fumbling through this and appreciate so much the messages and comments through this site and Run And Be Still’s Facebook page after my last post Dead Man Walking. It is so nice to know I am not alone on this. But I couldn’t stop there, I want something deeper out of this. Something other than just fluff. I want this journey to mean something, to make a difference in me.

Your struggle may be different than mine. The following words from Kendal Haug and Will Walker were enlightening to me and you will hopefully find some truth to take you deeper as well, no matter what you are facing.

It is possible to believe in God and functionally exclude him from our lives, to act as if we are ultimate. How often do we consider our circumstances and think, “What do I need right now? How do I feel about this? What do I like or not like about this?” We even enter into prayer and worship with these kinds of self-focused questions. In these moments, though we believe in God, we are not functionally aware of his presence with us and his providence in our circumstances. If we were, we might say, “Father, you know what we need;” “How do you feel about this?” “Teach us your will, that we may know what is ‘good and pleasing and perfect’” (Romans 12:3). Notice two key differences: the questions are directed toward God, not self, and are concerned for “us” and not just “me.”

The word “sin” has been defined and applied in so many ways that I think most people have adopted a rather trite view of sin that is focused on specific actions that break God’s rules. The biblical concept of sin is not less than that, but it is more, much more. Let me share a helpful definition of sin from a 19th century philosopher named Soren Kierkegaard: “Sin is the despairing refusal to find your deepest identity in your relationship and service to God. Sin is seeking to become oneself, to get an identity, apart from God.”

We were made for God, to center our entire life on him and find our sense of worth and purpose in him. Anything other than that is sin. Tim Keller summarizes Kierkegaard’s point this way: “Sin is not just the doing of bad things, but the making of good things into ultimate things. It is seeking to establish a sense of self by making something else more central to your significance, purpose, and happiness than your relationship with God.”
This is a meaningful way to think about sin because we all identify with trying to build our identity on something. In our culture it tends to be things like achievements, or relationships, or being thought of as a good Christian. Everyone is building his or her identity on something.

We try to justify our sin. When you become aware of sin, do you feel the need to nuance everything, explain how complicated things are, or make excuses? (Let me interrupt here and say these are my personal “yes, but” moments that I have shared in the past.) Taking responsibility for sin means we say, “I lusted because my desires are perverted” … “I lied because I am afraid of what people think about me” … “I ate that because I do not have self-control around food.”

We try to downplay our sin, hoping or assuming that God overlooks our sin. We don’t think sin really affects our ability to relate to God, or hinders the flow of his blessing. We think we are the exception. Taking responsibility for sin means we say, “My sin is destructive and grieves God. I will not be right with him until I deal with this.”

We pretend things are better than they really are, cleaning the outside of the cup while we are filthy on the inside.

Taking responsibility means we say, “It doesn’t matter how good people think I am. God sees right through me, and is not impressed or tricked by my lip service. God hates hypocrisy!”

Our problems are bigger than our circumstances: we are broken on the inside. And repentance is deeper than what we do: we need to repent of who we are. Remember, repentance is good news. It is hope that God will restore us. Conviction of sin is a difficult pill to swallow, but it is good medicine to the soul.

Are you ready to be taken deeper? This is my prayer tonight…
Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. Point out anything in me that offends you, and lead me along the path of everlasting life. (Psalms 139:23, 24 NLT)