Saturday, May 22, 2010

A Fresh Start

In preparing for the upcoming new year, I'd like to encourage you (if you haven't done so already) to get out a pad and pen and measure your accomplishments against the assignments God gave you for 2008.

Take a moment to reflect and state why you weren't as successful as you would have liked to be in 2008.

To truly pursue a fresh start in God this year, you may need to take back control of your life beginning with the external forces you have allowed within your personal space.

Identify your time wasters--any activities or persons--that don't add to your life but subtracts the life out of you.

With a renewed mind, practice these steps to achieve a fresh start in 2009:

1. Write the vision and make it plain (Habakkuk 2:2)

It's important to have goals (the vision) but it's more important to understand why (make it plain) you have the goals you do. Sometimes goals aren't obtainable because we have them for the wrong reasons.

Pray and ask God to give you clarity in this area. Are you wasting time pursing goals and dreams that aren't yours but just look attractive to you because they have brought wealth and success to others? Or even worse, are you feeling like your gifts and talents aren't worthy? Like the men in Mathew 25 that God gave the same number of talents...are you burying yours?

2. What gets measured is what gets done.

Select an accountability partner and provide a written update to them on the success of your goals. If your budget allows, hire a business coach to help you get focused and stay balanced. Coaches are like personal trainers in the exercise world. They will give you an honest assessment of yourself and devise a plan that will be as successful as you make it.

3. Be consistent.

Schedule time in your day to accomplish your daily tasks. Although I am what you call a daily to-do list person, I admit that I have days that I have to speak my confession of faith to my flesh:

I am not a procrastinator!
I will complete my assignments on time!

As you begin to seek God more in 2009, you will see that the enemy will try to trump your plans, so you have to be ready. Ready with a counter attack.

Time For A Change

If you're anything like me, you probably feel overwhelmed by all the changes you'd like to see in your life, especially around the New Year, when change is the "thing" to do.

I already know what I need to improve--my fitness level, availability to friends, amount of quality time with God. But sometimes, the more I resolve to change, the more I feel as though I've failed when my "to do" list of goals ends up a crumpled piece of paper in a dark corner of my desk--and in my mind.

That's why, this year, I decided to take the opposite approach to make some positive changes in my mental, spiritual, and physical health. No fifty-two-weeks-a-year-or-bust self-improvement plan for me!

When my husband had to undergo biopsies for cancer, I was anxious. But once he completed radiation treatments and life went on, I really fell into the worry trap. I found myself worrying inordinately about our future, about doctors' visits, even about my own health and the health of our kids. I knew I had to change.

I remembered some advice I'd given my daughter Sarah when she was in grade school. Every year when her school held "Fire Safety Week," Sarah would lie awake at night worrying about our house catching on fire.

"Mom, I can't sleep," she'd moan. "I'm worried about a fire, and I can't get it out of my mind."

"Sarah," I'd tell her, "pretend your mind's a television set, and switch the channel."

Years later, it was time to taste my own medicine. Each time I found worries swallowing up my thought life, I forced myself to change the channel. I'd intentionally focus on blotting out my preoccupation with the "what-ifs."

This year, take to heart a favorite Scripture of mine:

"Lord, when doubts fill my mind, when my heart is in turmoil, quiet me and give me renewed hope and cheer." Psalm 94:19.

I am determined to "take captive" every negative thought "to make it obedient to Christ" this new year! (2 Cor. 10:5)

Thursday, April 22, 2010


"Why are you crying out to Me? Tell the Israelites to move on."
Exodus 14:15

Moses had brought the whole nation of Israel, approximately 600,000, to a dead end in the desert. The only thing between Israel and Pharaoh's pursuing army was the Red Sea. This was after ten plagues God had inflicted on Pharaoh to motivate him to free the Israelites. Finally, Pharaoh had freed Moses and the people, and they left Egypt. They thought they were home free. "Freedom at last," they said.

But God did a strange thing. He directed Moses to take a route that led to the Red Sea, instead of the northern route around the Red Sea. God explained that He didn't want them fighting the enemies they would have encountered on this route. But still, there was the issue of the Red Sea.

They finally arrived at the Red Sea, and the people were wondering where they would go from there. News hit the camp: Pharaoh had changed his mind. He was coming after them with his army. Panic set in.

God sometimes brings each of us to a "Red Sea" in our life. It may be a work problem that can't be solved. It may be a marriage that seems to be failing. It may be a debilitating disease. Whatever your Red Sea, God tells us one thing: "Keep moving." The Red Sea was before them, yet God was angered at Moses and told him to "Keep moving."

"But Lord, the Red Sea is before me."

"Keep moving."

When we live by sight, we act on what we see. God sets this stage in dramatic fashion. God is into the dramatic. There is no way out without God here. That is just the way He wants it. No one will get glory except God.

A friend once admonished me when I was in the midst of an extremely difficult time in my life, "You must not withdraw from being proactive in your faith just because of this trial that you are in. God's hand is on your life. There are too many who are depending on you to fulfill the purposes God has in your life. Keep moving! Keep investing yourself in others."

I didn't feel like it. I was in too much pain. But I did it anyway.

God met me at the point of my greatest need once I decided simply to be obedient. Getting past myself by investing myself in others helped heal the pain.

There is great healing when we look past our own problems and seek to invest ourselves in others for the sake of Christ. This is when our own Red Seas become parted. We begin to walk to freedom.

But we will never experience the miracle of the Red Sea in our lives if we don't first "Keep moving.