5 things to start the new year

As school is getting back into the full swing, I wanted to share five things to help us all look at the school year afresh. Even though I have students in mind, these things can apply to anyone, anywhere.

1) Start with God. I know it seems like a given but there’s no doubt that as time, busyness and complacency set in, starting each day with God may become a challenge. It’s important to not only be disciplined in having time with God but also to be directed. What does that mean? It means having a plan. Decide when and what you are going to read and study. Make it part of your homework routine. Use the Youversion Bible app for reading plans and then use a journal to record your thoughts and prayers. You’ll be amazed at how different your days will be!

2) Start praying for your classmates and friends. Inevitably there are people in your classes and friends on your bus…people that you work with who need your prayers. You don’t have to blatantly ask for prayer requests…just listen for needs that you overhear and pray silently about what God wants you to do. He may want you to speak up to help meet the need or He may simply want you to seek Him in prayer over a period of time. Praying for the people around you is a great way to see and be part of what God is doing.

3) Start seeing yourself as an agent of change. Regardless of where you are or how much you like being there, God can and does want to use you to bring about godly and lasting change. He can use you to demonstrate His mercy, grace, kindness, and love if you are willing to be that vessel for Him to pour it through. God isn’t limited by our inabilities but our unavailability. Will you be available to Him to bring lasting and effective change?

4) Start looking for ways you can be involved. As a servant of Jesus, you have to take a position of service. In what way can you help another? How can you serve your school or job better? How about the community? How can you give back? One of the greatest ways God uses us is by being involved in acts of service to those around us. Look for a way to be involved today.

5) Start giving your best. No matter what, you can always give your best to the situation. Remember you are not responsible for what someone else does but you are responsible for you. You can always rise above the gossip, crude jokes, meaningless banter and give the best version of yourself to others and to the Lord. Don’t withhold the good that is in you for fear of standing out. Be all that you can and were created to be and that will bring God glory. Use your brain, your gifts, your talents and your time wisely and give all you have to achieve the greatest good you can. Don’t compare your best with someone else. You’re not in a competition. You only have to answer for you and you and God know what your best is. So start giving your best to everything you do and you will most certainly bring the change God desires and the glory God deserves.

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3 Thoughts From My Time With God

39 And those who passed by blasphemed Him, wagging their heads 40 and saying, “You who destroy the temple and build it in three days, save Yourself! If You are the Son of God, come down from the cross.” Matthew 27:39-40 NKJV

1) Don’t misunderstand what Jesus says. The people thought he was talking about the physical temple building but He was talking about Himself. Think about all the things that happen as a result of misunderstandings. Do your best to get all the right information. Ask questions. Seek for the Truth. Look for the spiritual things beyond the physical things. How have you misunderstood what God is doing lately? Is there something you need to get clarification about?

2) If Jesus would have saved Himself, He wouldn’t have saved us. We have to get away from selfishness. Jesus was the most selfless person ever. He wasn’t trying or focused on saving Himself. How has self-preservation been your focus? In what ways have you been selfish?

3) If you are…sounds much like the temptations from the Devil in Matthew 4. The people thought if He would just come down from the cross that would have proven He was all that He said. Jesus wasn’t trying to prove anything to anyone. He had a mission and He accomplished it. Don’t get caught up in trying to be or do something to prove yourself. Do what God wants and created you to do. How have you been trying to prove your worth to God? Or others?

Comfortable?

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What is it you are praying for most? Do you want your life to be comfortable or significant? It’s not impossible for it to be both, but God is much more concerned in shaping us and making us into the image of His son, than making us “comfortable”. Being comforted is different than being comfortable. Being conformed to the image of Jesus is the only way to lead a significant life now that will matter later and this often only happens through discomfort and discontentedness. If God has placed you in an uncomfortable situation rest assured that He will bring you through and the things you learn and who you become will be far more valuable than any “comfort” this life would procure.‪#‎lifecoach‬ ‪#‎mentor‬ ‪#‎discipleship‬ ‪#‎disciple‬ ‪#‎vision2hear‬ ‪#‎v2hwave‬‪#‎v2hawaken‬

New Year Help

NewYearHelp

Happy New Year! I don’t know about you but I take New Year’s Eve and transitioning to a new year very seriously. It’s a natural time of the year to consider life as a whole and to evaluate goals and progress. I didn’t do my normal questions from past year, which have been posted in previous blogs. Instead, I looked at a few areas of life and worked through them to help focus some of my goals and plans for 2016. I basically broke things down into these categories: Preparation, Places, People, and Practices.

Preparation

This area has to do with personal growth. Things that I might want to do in order to become the best representation of Christ and the best version of myself that I can be. This included things like Bible reading, scripture memorization, prayer, exercise, reading other books, etc. We all must look at growing as a lifestyle choice. No one knows it all and everyone hates those who think they do. Schedule time to learn, grow, and prepare for the future. The payoff will be worth it in 364 days.

Places

As I was moving into the new year over the last week, I’ve been considering what life is really about for me and what I feel is essential in making a difference. I came back to Matthew 28:19-20 and was challenged once again about making disciples, not just at “home” but around the world. Whether it’s El Salvador, or India, the point is that I had to look at areas of influence. We all have them. God has given us specific areas where our influence is greater and more powerful. I have the opportunity to travel but just because someone may not doesn’t limit their reach. Take some time and consider how you can reach new and different places in 2016. This could be through social media or your job. Just notice the places you already go and make that a “place” that you want to make a difference in 2016.

People

Certainly this is one of the most important decisions/areas to look at in 2016. We all have people that we connect with; some on a greater, deeper level than others. As Jesus is our prime example here, He took time and prayed about the people He would spend 3 years of His life discipling. I feel like it’s crucial each year to prayerfully consider the people God has placed in our life and ask how to better serve and influence them in the coming year. There is literally nothing more important than investing in people and developing meaningful relationships. BUT make sure those relationships are healthy and growing and moving in the same direction. Even Jesus had a Judas who misunderstood the relationship completely.

Practices 

This final area is about taking time for certain things like sabbath, or vacation, family time or traditions. There have to be certain practices in our lives that we won’t compromise. We all need these times in our lives. These include core values and essentials to who we become as people. Determining what your practices will be in 2016 will vastly help in making 2016 successful. How much margin do you have? How much will you set aside for silence and solitude? How much will you give to technology or away from it?

P.S.

A couple other things to consider as you move into 2016. Choosing a theme or word. Take a few moments and consider what things seem to be happening in your life. Maybe there is a recurring theme or ideal? Maybe there is something the Lord has been reminding you of or about? Here are a few things that may help you. My word for this season…maybe year is “awaken”. With Star Wars The Force Awakens to just feeling like I need an “awakening” in my own life, this is where I am focused right now. Other people have chosen words or themes like these: freedom, peace, joy, liberty, fearlessness, etc. What is God speaking to you about?

Another thought is to make a journal of things that you give thanks for each day. Maybe also take a pic-a-day challenge to record your life in images. Recording your life and daily activities is great in helping stay the course. And even though making a difference is a huge deal, there’s no reason it can’t be fun. So snap away! Write it down. Talk about it. Blog it out. Share your life with those around you and those who are far away. Make 2016 great. Start today!

 

 

 

Draw Near

Draw Near
Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. —James 4:8
There must be action on my part to know God. That action, though from God Himself, requires my obedience and action. I have a response-ability. God doesn’t tell me to do things that I simply can not. He may call me to do things I cannot do apart from Him. But with Him all things He calls me to do are possible. Anything that I choose not to do is not because I cannot but because I “will” not. Actions of faith must come from a place of my will and belief in God, not myself. When I look to myself, I “will” not but looking at Christ, He “wills” me to places I would not otherwise.
Living the abundant life happens through acts of my will, not trying to satisfy my flesh. The selfish side of me absorbs and consumes “life” but when I yield myself in death to self, I find the life that is restorative and abundant. God/Jesus are always inviting me into life. The question is will I join them? Drawing near is nothing more than simply obeying the call of Christ to come. When I do, He meets me right where I am.

Quiet Time Reflections: Galatians 2:20

Quiet Time
I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me… —Galatians 2:20
Jesus is not asking me to do anything less than to identify with Him on the cross. When that happens, He will identify Himself through my life. His Spirit comes alive when I willingly lay down my “self”. Daily dying to self is what is required of those who want to be used by God and embody Christ. As with many things in Christianity, the paradox of finding life in losing it is found in a verse like this. As Dietrich Bonhoeffer once said: “When Christ calls a man, He bids him come and die”.
Being crucified with Christ doesn’t mean I wear a cross but rather the cross wears me. When I surrender myself to Christ and His cross, I become alive and His life is found in me. This life that flows from the cross is a life of faith in Christ alone, not my dying ability, not my act of self-crucifixion but in Jesus Christ, His death, burial and resurrection. Christ gave Himself out of love for me and He is not looking for me to come to Him for any other reason than out love either. Love gives. Love dies. Love conquers. Love remains.

Serving Well?

water heart

Read John 13:1-5

 Now before the Feast of the Passover, when Jesus knew that his hour had come to depart out of this world to the Father, having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end. During supper, when the devil had already put it into the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon’s son, to betray him, Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he had come from God and was going back to God, rose from supper. He laid aside his outer garments, and taking a towel, tied it around his waist.Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet and to wipe them with the towel that was wrapped around him.

Serving others is a value that Jesus modeled extensively in His time with His disciples. There is no clearer depiction of that than in the passage above. Jesus, the Teacher/Son Of God, is aware that the custom has been skipped or overlooked by His followers. What does Jesus do? He doesn’t point it out and or guilt someone into doing the right thing. Instead, He gets up, humbly taking on the role of a servant. There is much to be said about modeling service and servanthood, but I’ll just address a few of them in this post. At the core of service is the heart/motivation for what we do for others. Jesus demonstrated three essential things required to serve others well.

To serve others well, value people over plans.

Jesus knew that his hour had come to depart out of this world to the Father, having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end.

This wasn’t a rush service job. Even though Jesus knew His time to die was close, He took this intimate time with His disciples and deliberately washed their feet. Painstakingly, Jesus poured the water, over each foot, drying each with the towel. He could have asked them all to line up, get ready for a mass service project; but He didn’t.  The plan was to die, but He took the time to serve each one there. This communicates volumes about Jesus’ concern about others. He didn’t plow through the people to just get it done! He loved them to the end. He showed them value and esteemed them greatly. That’s what serving others well looks like.

To serve others well, be confident, courageous and elevate others.

Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he had come from God and was going back to God, rose from supper.

Serving others well means that we have to be confident and courageous enough to stoop down to serve. Jesus knew who He was, to Whom He belonged and therefore, He was able to give the very best of Himself to others. Confidence is not found in belittling or berating others. Real confidence is found in knowing why you exist and for what purpose. It is found in knowing to Whom you belong and that you are unconditionally loved. Jesus knew His Father well along with His purpose and plan. His identity was not found in what He was doing (washing their feet as a servant) but in His relationship with His Father. When we truly know who and whose we are, we are free to be and to serve others around us with confidence and courage. It truly takes courage to elevate others, because it is an act of hope for others’ success, even by your submission. Serving His disciples was not “below” Him; it was an act of unconditional love. Jesus was able to show this kind of love because He Himself was love and wrapped in the Love of the Father.

To serve others well, love God and love people.

…he loved them to the end.

Jesus modeled what serving others looked like very well. He showed that it was more about loving God and people than the acts themselves. For some, love will only go “so far” but not for Jesus. He loved them all the way unto the end. His service was not just when it was convenient or easy but modeled that at any given time, serving well means loving well. He was compelled by love in everything He did having no ulterior motive or hint of self. Jesus loved His Father and followers with pure unadulterated love and He expects us to do the same.

Are you serving well?

Think over these questions:

Do you rush through tasks you do for others?

Do people feel valued and cared for by you?

How do you make people feel? Unimportant? Projects? Valued? Loved? Seen? Heard?

Is there anything you wouldn’t do for others? For Jesus?

How confident are you in who you are? To Whom you belong?

Do you have a problem in helping others succeed?

What is at the center of your motivation for serving others? Is it to get something in return?