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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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

Three Things Young Leaders Can Do To Increase Their Influence

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Many people aspire to leadership. It’s often a good thing. However, many younger leaders get into a position of leadership and influence and then become overwhelmed by the tasks, responsibilities and falter, causing a domino effect that can not only hurt others but eventually cost them their influence altogether. Here are three suggestions for those younger leaders moving into prominent leadership positions.

  1. Find a mentor. Being that you as a young leader have not been down this road before, finding others who have is one of the first things I would highly recommend. This means that you will have to seek out those who may help you, humble yourself to ask for help and then be determined to learn all you can from them when given the chance. Mentors are not really that hard to find but it does take seeking them out. Young leaders need to ask for the time and make sure to come to mentoring times ready and willing to learn.
  2. Ask good questions. When you secure a mentor, make sure that you don’t waste any of their time not being prepared. Come with a definite goal in mind. Prepare ahead of time with good, meaningful questions. Do you homework, knowing what it is that you feel can best help you given your task or responsibility. It will not only make the most of your time but will lead to better engagement and discussion. Stay curious and inquisitive.
  3. Discipline in reading and study. There is a vast sea of information already available to anyone who is willing to take the time to read and listen. From books, ebooks, podcasts, and videos, the wealth of tutelage afforded to anyone who is willing to learn is immense. For any young leader, my advice would be to make sure you take ample time each week to read and study the scriptures of course but also make it a habit to read other source materials. Learn from all walks of life and you will most certainly increase your influence.

What other habits would you suggest for young leaders? Comment and share below.

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!

 

 

 

Serving Well?

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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?

Reflections from Quiet Time: Hebrews 11:6

Quiet Time
For quiet time, I often read Utmost For His Highest. Today’s verse was Hebrews 11:6. These are a few of my own thoughts sparked from what I read. Maybe they will help or inspire you as well.
Without faith it is impossible to please Him… —Hebrews 11:6
God doesn’t call me to a life of full-blown knowledge but full-fledged faith.God doesn’t call me to a life of full-blown knowledge but full-fledged faith. Faith doesn’t make sense. Faith is uncommon sense that leads to an uncommon life. If I have an ordinary common life, it is because I have chosen to not live by faith. Faith is an unrelenting reliance upon God in all of life, changing everything that is “common and ordinary” into an opportunity to experience God’s faithfulness. Too often I make faith about myself instead of about God. Faith is actually only faith when I trust something outside of myself to meet my need or carry me through.
God doesn’t call me to a life of full-blown knowledge but full-fledged faith. (1)
I have to expect my faith to be tested if it is ever to become strong. The harder the tests, the stronger my faith. Perhaps I am weak in my faith because I never risk believing God for what I need or want? When faith is found in myself, I will always be weak because I know myself. When faith is placed in God, I can become strong if I will fully trust Him. God doesn’t call me to comfort and ease; this is the path to self-indulgence. Faith in God will always lead to self-denial. If I try to limit my need to live by faith then I will limit the way God shows up in my life. God honors faith alone.
The fight of faith is a real one, not just for the new believer but for all believers. God is not resting from challenging His children to greater heights and deeper depths of faith. The question for me is how far am I willing to go? Real faith in God is limitless as God is limitless. How have I been limiting God by my lack of faith?

Journaling: 4 Reasons Why You Should Start.

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Ever since 12th grade I’ve been journaling. Poems, notes, a few drawings with a multitude of thoughts and prayers have filled about 20 journals over the last 28 years. Why am I such a big proponent of journaling? Here is a short list of why I think everyone should practice this discipline.

It’s easy.

For even the least creative, artistic individual, journaling has never been easier. With apps that can voice record or phones that can video, saving your ingenious concepts to silly moments has never been simpler.  For many, the thought of journaling is synonymous with handwriting or long form records of the day, but it doesn’t have to be. What if you looked at journaling as saving your to-do list and simply giving commentary? Or taking pics posted to Instagram and cataloging them? Or even using an online journal/blog to keep a record by easily dragging and dropping pics or status updates you or friends have posted? Because there are so many ideas, thoughts and to-do’s throughout the day, journaling them is an easy way to ensure you follow through or follow-up! Most of the time we have our phones or tablets with us, so why not employ them to save a few thoughts along the way? It’s as easy as pushing a button!

It’s creative.

Nowadays there is no reason for any person to use the cop out: “I’m not that creative”. Journaling doesn’t have to be creative per se, meaning that you don’t have to be extremely elaborate in decorating your pages etc. Simply using a different font or color, (colored pens or markers for handwritten) adds creativity. Stretching yourself to use a journal does allow you to be creative. Your creative juices will flow more and more as you use journaling and you will see that what was once a drudgery is now a delight! Journaling allows the creativity within each of us to be uniquely expressed. It forces us to slow down, reflect and evaluate, which effectively inspires creativity.

It’s historic.

Keeping a journal allows you to chronicle your life story. From mountaintops to valleys, my journals include joys and sorrows, praises and prayers. I have poems of all sorts, Bible study notes, pictures, and important records saved in journals. When I get nostalgic I read through my journals and reflect. When I need some encouragement as to God working in my life or answering prayers, I can search through handwritten journals or search tags in my electronic journals. Keeping records of my life events is not something I have ever regretted doing because in many ways it is my autobiography. I have a record or not only the events but my feelings, and inner most thoughts. In some cases I have my own voice or pics which makes it very accurate on all levels as I can instantly recall what I meant or thought or felt.

It’s something you won’t regret.

There are moments in life we will never forget. Record them. And there are tons of things that we will never remember…unless you have a record! Journaling increases your memories vastly and gives you a flashback guide. Sometimes I spend a few minutes writing/ journaling, while other times may be more like an hour. But at this point, I don’t regret any amount of time I used creating these wonderful words penned/typed by my own hand as a testament of who I am and what I’ve done with my life. I don’t think you’ll regret your investment of a few moments each day either. Start your journal today!

If you are looking for resources on journaling or tips, let me know. I can send some samples. Otherwise, here are a few apps I would recommend if you are serious about getting into this discipline for life using your smart device or tablet.

Apps:

Evernote

Evernote

 

 

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Day 1

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George ProfileGeorge Lockhart is a missionary with Vision 2 Hear and serves as the creative arts and missions pastor at New Vision Church in Fayetteville, GA