Archives for posts with tag: perspective

new years resolution 2

Many will begin their New Year with resolutions to change their behavior: stop smoking, start exercising, eat fewer carbs and more fiber, decrease debt, increase savings, lose weight, improve health. Setting goals for our behavior can change our future. But what would happen if we focused on changing our perspective, rather than our habits? How would our lives change if we were as focused on our spiritual growth as we are on our physical health and financial stability?

How different would your 2016 be:

If you lived as though you believed your God was more powerful than your enemies?

If you made up your mind to find joy and be thankful every day?

If you started being defined by the possibilities of God’s power within you, rather than by your limitations, your past, and your weaknesses?

If you believed that doing the right thing was more important than blending in with the crowd?

If you focused as much on being holy as you do on being heard?

If you refused to allow those who wronged you in the past to continue to make you angry?

Improving your health and your habits can honor God. But becoming who God created you to be involves more than your weight, your habits, or your bank account.

As you make plans for your new year, what will you do to:

increase your holiness?

know the Word made flesh and to know His presence in His written word?

be kinder to the people around you?

make your prayers more of a conversation and less of a monologue?

May the changes you choose to make in your new year allow you to become more of who God created you to be. May you know the pleasure of your Father who created you for fellowship with Him because you have made Him your priority.

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coming going

The older I get, the faster the years seem to go. There never seems to be enough time in the day because time goes so quickly. It seems like yesterday that my children were precious toddlers. Now they are grown men. How quickly the decades of my life have passed.

But occasionally, we mark our lives not by what we’re losing, but by what we’re gaining. When we plan a wedding, we don’t anticipate the “end” of being single; we anticipate the beginning of a marriage. When a woman finds out she’s pregnant, she doesn’t count down the days until she’s not pregnant anymore; she anticipates the birth of that baby. We don’t see that we’re “losing” time for being single or pregnant; we look forward to a time that is coming.

That is how God sees time.

Jer 31:31  “The time is coming,” declares the LORD, “when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah.”

Gal 4:4  But when the time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under law.

John 5:25  I tell you the truth, a time is coming and has now come when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God and those who hear will live.

Perspective matters. When our focus is on this life, we can become burdened by all that isn’t done and isn’t right. But this life is not the whole story.

The time is coming when this life is understood as it really is…preparation for what is to come. The time is coming when you will you will see the face of Jesus and enter heaven. The time is coming when there will be no more sorrow, when God will wipe away your tears. There will be no more evil, no more suffering, no more fear. You are not losing your life on earth; you are closer to eternity. Spend the time you have preparing for the time that is to come. Eagerly anticipate all that Jesus has prepared for you.

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From where I stand this morning, I see more to do than can be done; more questions than answers; more problems than progress. The news cycle is filled with corruption and heartbreak and horror and all sorts of fuel for dreadful “what if” scenarios.

David must have felt like this when he said: Hear my cry, O God; listen to my prayer. From the ends of the earth I call to you, I call as my heart grows faint; lead me to the rock that is higher than I. (Ps 61:1-2)

Being on a high rock gives protection. Many historic battles have been won because the victor had the advantage of the high ground. Sometimes God’s protection is nothing more than a respite from the demands and threats of our circumstances so that we can find new strength to return to the battles below. Sometimes God uses our time on the high rock to grow our faith as we watch him fight those battles for us.

But being on a high rock also gives perspective. When I focus on the immediacy of what is right in front of me, I’m unable to see the big picture. When my focus is on God, prayer lifts me above my circumstances and allows me a glimpse of more than just the immediate. I may get new perspective on how to handle the battles below, or I may see that God is already fighting for me. I may see the weakness of my enemy or I may see that the battle is just part of a bigger plan.

God hears the cries of his children. When we grow fearful and faint and call on him, he will lift us above our circumstances and battles. Sometimes that is to deliver us from them; sometimes that is to empower us to have victory in them. Either way, our prayers for the “high rock” take us into his presence.

Ask God for your own “high rock”. May you find the security and peace of his protection and perspective. May your intentional time in his presence equip you with strength and faith for all that this day will require of you.

scale bug

I wanted to know God’s will in four specific areas of my life. I wanted clarity and understanding. I wanted a deeper prayer life. I wanted to spend my month of fasting intentionally in God’s presence…and he sent me a bug.

Actually the bug had already been there about a year. We thought it was a fungus on the plants in our backyard. We sprayed for fungus and nothing happened…until God needed me to know it was a bug. I have learned that scale is a vile, pernicious, disgusting little creature. It is a parasite that actually secretes a wax coating that will protect it from pesticides. It typically attaches itself to the underside of plant leaves, and its prolific feces coats the leaves below, preventing the penetration of sunlight that will allow photosynthesis. Killing the bug is not enough; the leaves have to be cleaned or the lack of photosynthesis will kill the entire plant.

In order to save the plants in my yard, we have had to hand scrub every leaf with soapy water so that sunlight can get to the leaves again. I have a LOT of BIG bushes in my backyard. Multiple hours of scrubbing every day for 10 days have rescued almost half the backyard. And it has given me lots of time to pray.

My prayer life usually suffers from severe ADD. I have a hard time staying on topic and find it difficult to spend long spans of time in prayer. The scale bug fixed that. I wanted to know God’s will and find clarity and understanding, and God provided me long periods of time to be quiet and pray. During these 10 days God has given me some of the most beautiful weather imaginable. Because I had to reach the bottom of leaves, I was always in the shade. When I began to whine about the grossness of the scrubbing or stage my own private pity party, God frequently regained my attention with a gentle breeze or a chipmunk who was totally unafraid of me or a bird who chose to perch above me and sing.

I don’t have all the answers I want, but I do have better perspective on my requests because during the last 10 days I’ve learned to see them from God’s point of view. My prayers don’t change his mind; they change my expectations. God gave me a chore and the time that would allow me to be alone and pray without distraction. I had nothing to think about except what was on my heart. Once I shared with him all that was on my heart, I have been able to truly listen for what is on his heart. Now I’m not just “hoping for the best” and ticking off topics and names on my prayer list; I ’m watching for his activity.

This reminds me of the story of Jonah. God sent him a worm. God gave Jonah shade and a chance to pray, but his perspective never included God. He didn’t want God’s will; he wanted God’s obedience. His story in the Bible ends with him all alone, under a shriveled vine.

God led me into his presence with a bug. What Satan intends for destruction, God can redeem for good…in the world and in my backyard. The presence of that bug led me into the presence of God. Once I’m finished scrubbing, I fully intend to NEVER deal with this bug again, but I’m so grateful for the prayerful moments and holy insight that God has given me.

changing the subject

Over and over in the Bible people try to talk to God, and God changes the subject. Jacob refuses to stop wrestling with God until he receives a blessing. God answers “What is your name?” Nicodemus says “We know you are from God”. Jesus responds, “You can’t see the kingdom of God unless you are born again.” The woman at the well says, “Give me some of this Living Water” and Jesus responds, “Go get your husband.” Zacchaeus wants to see Jesus as he walks by, and Jesus invites himself to Zacchaeus’ house for lunch. The disciples wake Jesus to save them from the storm; he fusses at them for a lack of faith.

God wasn’t ignoring them. He heard what they said, but he responded to what they needed. The blessing Jacob needed was a new perspective of himself; God changed his name. Nicodemus stated what he believed about Jesus; Jesus challenged him to let what he believed change his behavior. The woman at the well focused on her immediate thirst; Jesus heard the cry of her heart. Zacchaeus wanted to observe; Jesus helped him have fellowship. The disciples wanted to be rescued; Jesus chose to increase their faith.

God still works the same way. When we allow him to change the subject, we are then subject to change in ways that we cannot even imagine. I have asked him for specific answers that he did not immediately give, but he taught me to trust his will and timing. I have asked for deliverance from what I fear, and he has chosen to display his authority and power over my fears. I have offered him my sin and my brokenness and my honesty, and he has honored me by claiming me as his own. He longs to do the same for you.

God doesn’t answer to us, and he is not limited by our perspective. Amazingly enough, he loves us so much he meets us where we are – up a tree, by a well, in a storm – and refocuses our attention on how to move from where we are to where he is. Sometimes that move is physical, sometimes psychological, always spiritual. He doesn’t promise to do what we want, and he rarely offers us the easy way out. One of the things I love most about God is that his understanding is always greater than mine; his answers are always bigger than my expectations.

Isaiah 55:8-9 “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the LORD. “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.”

He hears every word you pray. He knows the desires of your heart and the details of your future. He has promised to never leave you or forsake you. Allow him to change your focus and trust him to lead you forward into whatever this day holds in store for you.