Thursday, April 28, 2011

Find Your Purpose

When I was a young girl I believed God had a plan for my life…and that it would be something grand. That I would grow up, graduate from high school and that I would venture out to fulfill my calling. I didn’t know what it would be, but I knew it would be something BIG.

My mama told me that I was a promise. Teachers told me I had potential. I believed there was a great purpose for my life. Oh, the glorious possibilities!

Do you remember that little song, “I am a Promise” ? I sang my little heart out to that song. “I am a promise. I am a possibility. I am a promise with a capital P. I am a great big bundle of potentiality…”

High school graduation came. High school graduation went. Still I didn’t have a clue what “destiny” I should be seeking after. I had no plan. I had little confidence. And eventually the idea of being such a wonderful promise began to fade. I realized I was just like everyone else.

The thing is: God did (and does) have a plan for my life. The truth also is: He has a plan for all of us. Often times we spend so much time thinking that we have to find out calling; thinking that we need to do something big and important that we miss one simple truth.

Glorifying God is our soul purpose! That’s why He created us! Once this truth penetrated my heart, everything changed for me!! 

No matter what we do, where we are or how we get there, our purpose is to bring Him honor and glory! It doesn’t matter if you’re a school teacher, a stay at home mama, foreign missionary or a rocket scientist, as long as you do everything you do in His name.

Strangely, when we ask ourselves the question, “What is my purpose in life?” Hearing the answer “to glorify God” doesn’t really seem to satisfy us. We want more of a concrete plan laid out before us. We want to do something, to be something, to go somewhere NOW. We want to make a difference and we don't want to wait.

Not that it’s bad for us Christian to want to do something for Christ. As Christians we should have a desire to share Him with others. But, glorifying God isn’t just done in some big arena. We can glorify God in the everyday moments of life, no matter who we are or what we do for a living or what ministry we’re a part of.

God isn’t nearly as concerned with what we do as He is with who we are!

“I am the vine, you are the branches.
He who abides in Me, and I in him,
bears much fruit; for apart from Me
you can do nothing.”
John 15:5

I recently read some thoughts Henry Blackaby shared about the above verse, “In our zeal to produce ‘results’ for our Lord, we sometimes become so intent on fruit production that we neglect abiding in Christ. We may feel that ‘abiding’ is not productive or that it takes too much time away form our fruit production. Yet Jesus said that it is not our activity that produces fruit, it is our relationship with Him…If you will remain steadfastly in fellowship with Jesus, a great harvest will be the natural by-product.”

How do we glorify God? We must abide in Him. By getting to know Him personally. By loving Him (and others). By serving Him. By praising Him. By trusting Him. By seeking to honor Him with our every thought, word and action. EVERY day! In the ordinary moments of life. If we do this, the results will be great! If we don’t, our lives won’t amount to a hill of beans, even if we’re the most famous person alive. Apart from Him we are nothing!

God might send you somewhere grand, to do things that you think are way over your head, to fulfill a purpose that matches your wildest dreams. But, it all begins with abiding in this moment, every moment, of everyday. Don't underestimate the influence you can have right where you are today! Start there and the rest will fall into place. Be patient and ask God to open doors for you to share your talents. But remember, “fruit” doesn’t grow overnight! It is a process that takes time…and a lot of abiding! 

Are you searching for your purpose? Or have you lost sight of your purpose?  Start fulfilling your purpose today by seeking to glorify Him with you life. Wherever you go, whatever you do, whomever you speak to, be Jesus in the flesh. Live a life to bless God and others. It may not seem like a huge thing, but I believe the things we consider to be small things often add up to be the big things in the end. Just think of the possibilities!! No one else has your sphere of influence!  

“If you are walking daily with the Lord, you will not have to
find God’s will - you will already be in it.”
Henry Blackaby


Note: I am a stay at home wife and mama. Who better to influence the 3 lives in my home than me? I go to a MOPS group with about 10 other women. I can bless other women there. I have 4 little girls in my kindergarten Sunday school class. Seeds are being planted in their young hearts that I believe will grow to fruition.

I also serve on the leadership team that plans Rise & Shine Women’s Retreat each fall. Last year there were 350 women in attendance. It is such a blessing to be part of this big event! It’s an honor to pray for these dear women, to be part of something that encourages so many on their walk of faith. Yet, even equally fulfilling to me is making personal connections with a handful of them. I love being able to pray with them and to have opportunities to speak truth into their hearts long after the conference is over. Ministry is there on one.  It's so personal, just like God is so personal!

My point: it’s not about the numbers, it’s about planting seeds; seeds that produce lasting fruit. Glorifying Christ is never a small thing!

I like this quote from Jill Briscoe: “People often ask me, ‘What do you do on all your travels to faraway places?’ I answer, ‘I just try to make sure I am available to God and to the people on a moment-by-moment basis.’ That applies to what I do at home as well. In every part of my life, my job is to be ready to obey, ready to pour out.”

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Something Ugly...Something Beautiful

Jesus was mocked by the jeering crowd. He was beaten beyond recognition. He died a brutal death nailed to a cross. His side was pierced and He was laid in a cold, dark tomb. Yet we celebrate…because 3 days later He rose again!! He bore our shame and conquered death so that we could have life, life more abundantly! What boundless love!!

Isn’t that just like God to take something so ugly and turn it into something beautiful?!

That’s what He did with my life too! He took something ugly and made it beautiful. He did what I could never do.

I traded in my shame for His peace…my despair for His hope…my misery for His joy…my brokenness for His wholeness…my emptiness for his fullness…my sinfulness for His righteousness…

Life is good because HE is so very good!

That is why I celebrate! Rejoicing this Easter in all He has done for me. How about you?

HAPPY Easter!!

But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities;
the punishment that brought us peace was upon him,
and by his wounds we are healed.
Isaiah 53:5

Thursday, April 21, 2011

The Good Girl

Are you a good girl? I was the good girl growing up.

I was born to a godly mother, went to church every time the door was open and attended Christian school from kindergarten to 12th grade. I even asked Jesus Christ to be my Savior at only 5 years of age. I grew up with a strong faith and a great sense of who I was in Christ.

Somewhere along the way I became not only a Jesus pleaser, but a people pleaser too. I was the quiet one. Those who know me well now find that hard to believe. :)  I was the teacher’s pet because I didn’t cause any problems, made good grades and did what I was told. I had a teacher tell me once that I made her look good. I was definitely eager to please…everyone. I thought I was pretty good.

As the years passed I grew weary of being the good girl who felt she could never be good enough. As hard as I tried to be “perfect”, I felt I never quite measured up to everyone’s standards for me. And I thought that certainly must mean that I could never please God either. Looking back I realize I was trying so hard to live the Christian life…but I was doing it within my own strength, not relying on Him.

Before long I became the good girl who didn’t really want to be good anymore. The good girl looking for the next “good time”. I strayed from my faith. I quit going to church. I would think about God, but I wasn’t living for Him. I was doing what I wanted. Making friends, going to parties, etc. It seemed like fun…and a lot easier at the time. I’ve heard it said that sin takes you further than you want to go and keeps you longer than you want to stay. This proved to be true for me. As I tolerated one sin in my life, it led to another tolerance and then another. Before long I became numb to it all.

On the outside everything looked good. I had spent some time focusing on the outside, making things “look good”, all the while neglecting the inside, what really mattered. Oddly enough, through it all many of my friends still called me “the good girl.” Yet, often when I would lay my head down at night I knew that I was not good. I felt weary. I couldn’t get away from the truth I had been taught…the scriptures I had learned. I couldn’t escape the Holy Spirit’s convicting power. Unfortunately, most of the time, I chose to ignore Him.

One day I finally came to the end of myself. I knew I was't good enough. In fact, my life seemed to be falling apart all around me. I was 27, broke and had just moved back in with my mother . I had recently ended a long term relationship with a boyfriend who was battling a terrible drug addiction. I felt empty, broken, miserable, like my life was going no where…fast. What seemed like fun, didn’t seem so fun or at all easy now.

I will never forget that day. I fell down on my knees and cried out to God. Literally crying my eyes out with my face down in the carpet of my little bedroom at my mom’s house. I told Him I could no longer live life this way. I couldn’t live life on my own, I needed Him! I wholly surrendered my life to Him that day. Life has never been the same! My heart was flooded with joy. I cried until I could cry no more. I finally became the good girl who realized I could never be good enough…be He is!

It didn’t happen all at once, it has been a process and that process continues. But, as I’ve grown in Christ, life has become sweeter and sweeter. Despite all I did, He has forgiven me, cleansed me and set me free. I have a new life! A life lived to please only One. Don’t get me wrong, life is not always easy, I still face my share of struggles. The difference is: today I know where to turn in those hard times. I know Who gives me strength to move forward. What joy! What peace! What hope!

This Holy Week I have been reflecting on all the Lord has done for me. God loves me so much that He sent His Son, who humbled Himself to be born to die a brutal death on a cross. He rose again to give me LIFE, not only for eternity, but life more abundantly now! He gave His Holy Spirit to guide, comfort and convict me. Today I am clothed with His righteousness. Not because I am good, but because HE IS GOOD!

Jesus said, “Healthy people don’t need a doctor - sick people do. I have come to call not on those who think they are righteous, but those who know they are sinners and need to repent.”
 Luke 5:31-32

Jesus said, “Only God is truly good.”
Luke 18:19

Jesus said, “I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.”
John 10:10

I believe there are 4 kinds of people in this world:

1. Those who think they’re already good enough. Romans 3:10 says, “There are none righteous, no not one.” We all sin. We all fall short of Christ’s glorious, completely perfect standard! We all need a Savior. Yes, God loves us, but He also says, “If you love me, you will obey me!” Being “Religious” or “Spiritual” doesn’t cut it. Remember the people who wanted Christ crucified were religious people. They thought they were good enough…and didn’t want to be told differently.

2. Those who don’t want to be good. People who want to live life on their own terms. But, Luke 17:33 says, “If you cling to your life, you will lose it, and if you let your life go, you will save it.” It seems strange that in giving up your life, you can gain life, but it’s true. You can be made NEW.

3. Those who think they are too bad. People who think God can’t or won’t forgive them. But Romans 10:13 says, “ANYONE who calls on the name of the Lord, will be saved.” Anyone, everyone! It doesn’t matter what you’ve done or where you’ve been, He will forgive you and give you a new life. Nothing is too hard for Him!

4. Those who know they’re not good enough, but He is! Those who have humbled themselves to accept His FREE gift of salvation and daily choose to follow Him. Even though life is not always easy, these people get to enjoy the abundant life! Not because they are good, but because they have put on His cloak of righteousness. And these people should not be judgemental of anyone else because they know how much they have been forgiven themselves!

I’m so thankful that although I went from being everything from 1 to 3, that now I am a 4! Where do you fall on that list?  It's never too late to become a 4!