Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Over and Over

Does God ever speak to you repeatedly?

No, really. REPEATEDLY.

In several ways and through several people I've been reminded recently that there are priorities in life that need to take precedence over other things.

While on the surface the concept doesn't sound so difficult, I guess there's something I'm missing, because it seems every time I've turned around for the last several weeks I have seen or heard someone or something that reminded me to consider the priorities of my life.

Now, I consider myself a pretty "together" kind of guy, so maybe I didn't give my answer the attention it deserved, but I did look at my calendar and say, "Yes, God, I'm listening... The things I'm doing indicate a desire to be effective at home and in the ministry. I've think I've got it!"

However, within a week or two, I was reminded again about the need to consider things in my life that are truly important. What gets the most of my attention and resource? So I look at my checkbook and debit receipts: "See Lord, I'm listening. I know it's not perfect, but I genuinely want the way I handle resources to reflect my love for you and my commitment to serve in the roles You have given me. I think we're good here."

Then, as recently as yesterday, I'm sitting in our general staff meeting when a colleague shares as part of our weekly devotion the story of an object lesson in which a speaker fills a jar, first with big rocks, then with gravel, then with sand and then with water. Each element represents something that requires our time or attention. It's not a story about how much you can get done, but rather it's a picture about ordering the things of life in such a way that the most important things get done first. I'd heard the story before. "Nothing new," I thought. But then it hit me... maybe I haven't been asking the right questions. I learned long ago, whenever God wants me to learn something He'll keep teaching it until I get the point.

"Okay, Lord, I'm starting over... Maybe this time I'll get it right"

And so, here I am today... re-starting a journey that I thought I'd already taken. As I ask myself the following questions I would encourage you to consider the same things about your own life. Be brutally honest and see what you learn about yourself. I assure you that I will. And as I work my way through the list of answers, I look forward to learning whatever it is God wants to show me about His will for my life and ministry.

"I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good, acceptable and perfect." --Romans 12:1-2, ESV

I suspect I'm going to find that there are many more questions I've never asked myself, but my starting points are listed below. Whatever my journey turns out to be, I know that the most important thing in my life is to move forward in becoming the man He created me to be. I pray as you walk through this process in your own life that He'll show Himself to you clearly.

Here's where I begin...

  • Who am I? Am I becoming the person God created me to be?
  • Are the priorities I profess reflected on my calendar and in my checkbook?
  • Where do I spend my time?
  • Where do I spend my money?
  • Where do I focus my attention?
  • What is important to me?
  • What would my wife say I hold as my greatest priority? What would my children say?
  • How do I exhibit spiritual discipline in my life?
  • Am I willing to take action to restructure my priorities according to the things God shows me through this process?

I'd be interested in your thoughts and the questions you are asking in your own journey with God. Feel free to share as the Lord leads.


Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Because of my commitment to post regularly to my various blogs across the web (though not well-evidenced on XANGA, Blogspot or MySpace!), I am always on the lookout for topics of interest or lessons that God might be teaching me so that I might use as post topics. This week I encountered several things that I thought were worthy of note, but as I started formulating this entry, I whittled it down to one: faith. In a devotional reading a few days back, the writer quoted a modern paraphrase of Oswald Chambers with this:

“When God gives a vision and darkness follows, waiting on God will bring you into accordance with the vision He has given if you await His timing. Otherwise, you try to do away with the supernatural in God's undertakings. Never try to help God fulfill His word.”
--My Utmost for His Highest: An Updated Edition in Today's Language,
ed. by James Reimann (Grand Rapids, MI: Discovery House Publishers, 1992)
entry for January 19 (emphasis added)

I love that statement … We talk about waiting on God and trusting in Him. But what if it gets difficult? What do we do when we’ve been as faithful as we know to be, when we are willing to be completely obedient to whatever He asks of us, and yet He is silent? I’ve had that conversation with more than one ministry colleague just this past week, and, to be honest, I don’t have an easy answer.

It was helpful this morning, however, to read the following thought from popular financial columnist, Mary Hunt:

I'm learning a lot about myself these days, specifically that I'm one… who needs to know what's going to happen. I want to see everything that lies ahead… No matter who you are, what your circumstances, where you live and what you do, every morning each one of us must step out in faith, moving forward into the unknown to experience what life has for us.

Years ago, my husband and I were driving through California's Mojave Desert at night on our way across country. It was my turn to drive while he slept. What struck me in the black stillness of the night was that my headlights were not lighting the entire way. Those two beams of light lit up the area just in front of us, only about 50 feet. As I moved into that light, the light moved ahead just a little bit more, lighting the way to our destination, a little bit at a time… As we move through the days of our lives, we receive just the amount of insight we need for the next step. It's because of faith that we can step into the darkness of the future, knowing that the light will always go before us…

Whatever your circumstance, you have to move forward and into the darkness, knowing with certainty that God will give you just the amount of light you need for that next step. Then you take another step, and another, all the way into and through the darkness. That's called faith--stepping out into the darkness, knowing we will have just the amount of light we need for the step we're on.
--excerpts from The Everyday Cheapskate, October 1, 2008
(emphasis added)

“Now, faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” –Hebrews 11:1