Living Intentionally–Passion versus Distraction

(If the idea of “living intentionally” appeals to you, feel free to link up with us at Internet Cafe Devotions).

 

 

I should be asleep.   I have a long day today, beginning with an early morning worship service as my husband and I attempt to divide and conquer several agenda items ahead of us today.   After laying awake and filling my head for a couple of hours with all sorts of fantastical thoughts, it occurred to me to find something more productive to do with my time.    So, I began my circle of prayer, which led me to think about why it took me so long to get to that place of communication with the Father.   The simple answer is that my random ponderings were much more fun, albeit irrelevant.

One of the biggest detractors to accomplishing what God assigns to us–that item that we are most passionate about–is not always a lack of money.   Wisdom, with the click of a mouse or a cell phone, is often available, and encouragement might be little, but still present.   I am convinced that the biggest detractor is simply our uncanny knack to fill up time and space with other mindless pursuits but produce no fruit.    We procrastinate; we get distracted.    And like most waywardness, distraction begins in the mind  before it manifests itself in our state of being.   The impact of this, at least for me, is a moment, hours later, when I feel as if I have accomplished little or nothing, or I can’t connect the small dots of accomplishment into the bigger picture of why I chose that action in the first place.

God’s Word over our thoughts is to cast down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bring into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ  (2nd Corinthians 10:5).   It is a high standard, but it keeps our minds focused on Him and the work that He has called us to complete.   Whether that work is a book, a presentation, or loads of dirty clothes or dishes, we are guaranteed that, as we abide in Him and He in us, we will bear much fruit.   Apart from Him, we can do nothing.   (John 15:5)

So as I move forward in this year, the task for me is not to define my passion, but instead, to confront all the distractions that block the way.    How about you?    How many hours do you spend in what Stephen Covey refers to as non-urgent, unimportant activities?   As women of purpose and plan, we really don’t have time to waste.   Too much is at stake in our homes, in our churches, and in our communities.   Ladies, we’ve got work to do.

Personally, this is my heart’s plea:

Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts:

And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.

Psalms 139: 23-24

‘Wicked,’ in this sense, doesn’t only imply evil or impure in nature.   One of the definitions of ‘wicked’ is unjustifiable.   As I pursue my passions, I want the Lord to remove from me those thoughts, those words, and those activities that are unjustifiable.   Be blessed, friends.

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Perspective really is Everything

In keeping up with my “Living Intentionally” study, I am to write a post on perspective.  Given my mild depressive state after my NFL season ended with the Steelers’ loss on Sunday, it’s a perfect time to think about perspective.

When last school semester ended, I had so many plans.   But first, I knew I needed to rest and regroup—and I did.   For the first several days, or maybe even a week into a 3-week break, I slept until well after 10 a.m., which is late for me.    Even afterward, I’d wake up tired—probably from too much sleep, but I needed it.    Normally, right after Christmas, I fast.   I want to hear from God, and I want to hit the proverbial ground running in the next year.    This year, I stumbled into the holidays on fumes.   I didn’t have the mental energy to fast.    The one thing I did have is will and want, i.e., desire.   

I spent much of last year in a reactive mode.   So much happened, and I often felt as if my head was barely above water.   We were stretched and pruned, with good reason I know, but pruning is painful, and by December, I seriously wanted the ride to stop for a moment so that I could get off and catch my breath.    In struggling just to maintain, I missed a wealth of opportunities, and I felt as if a window was closing on the vision the Lord gave me.    It was time to repent for wasted time, and to pray and ask God to redeem valuable and precious wastes of moments.

So, when 2012 began, there was no fast, but there was a quiet fire, and I couldn’t wait to get going.   A friend’s blog led me to the concept of “dream boarding,” and then ultimately to Oprah’s dream board website.   I laid out my plans for 2012.

 

 

I had a great start—right before the site crashed on me and possibly gave my computer a virus (hence, I’m not linking to it).     That crash, and the subsequent restoration of my computer, gave me time to think more about perspective.

God speaks to us in several places throughout the Bible about plans.   These are a few passages that I meditate upon whenever I began to write out any plan:

Proverbs 16:1-3

1 To humans belong the plans of the heart, but from the LORD comes the proper answer of the tongue.

2 All a person’s ways seem pure to them, but motives are weighed by the LORD.

3 Commit to the LORD whatever you do, and he will establish your plans.

Jeremiah 29:11

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.

Psalms 37:23

The steps of a man are established by the LORD, And He delights in his way.

I also remember the fairly recent account of former rap superstar MC Hammer, and his testimony of what he really lost when he went bankrupt.   He talked about all the people he’d helped—the scores of dancers that he took from the projects and allowed them to see the world.    Once he lost his money, only one or two of them even called to check on his family.   He described his actions, and his intentions, as doing “good without God.”    In short, all of our plans—call them resolutions, mission, vision, or whatever you like—are nothing without seeking the will of the all-knowing and all-powerful Father.

We serve an awesome God, but we do not battle against a shoot-from-the-hip devil.    In truth, the devil sometimes knows our assignments before we do.   And he knows places of weakness and temptation that can steer us totally off the path of our greatest productivity.   Our task is not to surrender to his plans, but instead to be strategic in our prayer life, and then determined in our execution.    I don’t have to be perfect; He is.    However, the assignment that He has in store for me is worth 200% of my effort.   It is worth fighting through fatigue, worth repenting over when I fall short, and worth catching my breath and committing to run on, and to run well.    That commitment begins when I lose my perspective and take on His perspective.

So, we are now 12 days into 2012.   From my perspective, I’ve been thrilled at all that has happened personally and professionally in such a short time.   From His perspective, I can do all things through Christ which strengthens me’ (Philippians 4:13).

Having said that, from my perspective, we started school (ever-so-slightly) under-prepared and (ever-so-slightly) overwhelmed.  From God’s perspective, His’ grace is sufficient for all of our needs’ (2 Corinthians 12:9).

From my perspective, I’m worried that I’ll get discouraged after another failed attempt at trying to be Clair Huxtable again.   From His perspective, ‘I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing’ (John 15: 5).

Blessings, friends.

Living Intentionally

I woke up this morning drowsy after the neighborhood’s fireworks frenzy.  Honestly, these folks put on a bigger display than most larger venues in the area; our master bathroom, with a vent that obviously took in outside odors, smelled like a match for hours.

Worship was amazing.   There is something about being in the Lord’s house on the first day of the year; you can almost feel the expectancy in the air.    Have you ever felt as if you were in the perfect place, and in a God-moment?   Have you ever felt as if, in a room full of people, God spoke a Word especially to you?

I hope to be able to share much more in the coming days about “The Blessing of Fruitfulness,” our sermon this morning.   In the meantime, I wanted to share a couple of resources that might be of help to those who are looking to be wildly productive this year.    Acts 17:28 tells us ‘For in him we live and move and have our being.   As some of your own poets have said, ‘We are his offspring,’ so if you hope to progress, you absolutely must include Him.

Bible Study Tools has several Bible reading plans that will give guidance in reading the Bible in one year.   I have heard in a number of places that most people who consider themselves Christians have never read the entire Bible.    Even if you are not in that category, reading passages a second, third, or thirty-third time can reveal information that wasn’t previously obvious.

I also want to mention Living Intentionally.   I am still determining for myself how this works, so I don’t want to misrepresent the effort, but it looks as if it is the perfect aid to help me cement some changes that will occur over the next few weeks and months.    Stay tuned, and Happy New Year’s Day!