I absolutely love the image above which I ran across online via social media a couple of years ago. And the image keeps reappearing. So who’s plan are you following? God’s plan or your plan? On any given day there is the opportunity to follow your plan or God’s plan. We always have the opportunity to choose which plan we will follow.
I’m the type of person who likes to plan. I like to know my schedule ahead of time. My life is very calendar based. This means that I know ahead of time what I will do on most days. While this is not a bad thing, I need to learn to be more flexible and increased my trust in God. I believe that God has a plan for me each day and it may not be what I plan to do on that day. I believe this is true for all of us.
I have also tried to plan out my life in the long term and it seems that time and time again God has interrupted my plans. For the longest time I believe that I was going to be a pastor for a career, but that’s not how God carried out that out. I’ve been able to carry out my pastoral calling in my work as a therapist. I’m glad that I’ve been able to submit to God’s plan because His plan is always better than mine.
There are a few scriptures that come to mind as I think about following God’s plan versus my own.
Proverbs 16:9 says: “In there hearts, humans plan their course, but the Lord establishes their steps.”
Proverbs 20:24 says: “A persons steps are directed by the Lord. How can anyone understand their own way?”
Are you following God’s plan or your own? Are you willing to trust God enough to direct your steps? God’s ways and plans are always better just as it says in Isaiah 55:8-9: “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are my ways, your ways’ declares the Lord. As the heavens are higher than the earth so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts higher than your thoughts.'” Let’s increase our trust in God’s plan together.
I’m loving this journey!
Today this picture represents what it means for me to rest. I’m sitting on my porch enjoying God’s creation and being a human being instead of a human doing. As one who is created in God’s image, I am called to take time away and rest. The purpose of this rest has two parts. The first is to connect with God and the second is to rejuvenate the body, mind, and soul. There is a natural rhythm to life of working and resting. As one created in God’s image, I must find time to rest and find peace in my body, mind , and soul. This rest is essential to prepare myself for work. As a part of this resting, I must connect with God through worship, prayer, and devotions. I’d like to encourage all who are reading this to find time to rest. It is essential in order to be who God created you to be.
Over the last few days I’ve been reflecting on the word sacrifice. There are many different meanings of the word sacrifice. Historically, animals were sacrificed in or to obtain forgiveness of sins in the Old Testament. The ultimate sacrifice was given when Jesus sacrificed his life on the cross for our sins. God, the Father sacrificed His son. John 3:16 puts it this way: “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”
I believe that to sacrifice something one must give up something. There is surrender involved in sacrifice. Sometimes we give up our time for someone else. Maybe someone in your life needs a listening ear. Sometimes we are called to give up something financial to help someone else or to help a group of people. Maybe you’ve been thinking about giving to a specific charity or mission. When we give to someone else or to a group we are blessed. We gain from giving to others.
Living a life that is sacrificial is not easy. In fact, making sacrifices should be a challenge. If you find sacrifice easy, it may not really be the authentic sacrificial situation that I’m referring to. Luke 9:23-24 says: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will save it.” Living sacrificially is part of being a disciple or follower of Christ and it is something that must be lived out daily. Will you join me in the adventure?
Are you an attention seeker or an attention giver? You may ask what is the difference? An attention seeker is a person who desires attention from other people. The attention seeker may exhibit positive or negative behavior to get attention.
On the positive side, sometimes people wave across the room to get someone’s attention. On the negative side, people can also yell and scream to gain attention from others. Giving attention to those exhibiting negative behaviors is not the best way to respond to a negative attention seeker. It may be best to ignore the negative attention seeker until they calm down and can regain control of their emotions.
Attention givers are those who respond to attention seekers by giving them attention. Being an attention giver is not always a bad thing. In today’s world there are those who may need some extra attention, love, and care from another human being. The attention giver must use discernment in who they give attention to. We’re not all called to care for everyone.
Where do you find yourself today? Are you an attention seeker or an attention giver?
Recently I have been reflecting on the meaning of the word united. To be united means that one person or organization is in agreement with another. The word united is often used in the names of some church denominations. Some may include: United Methodist Church or United Church of Christ. Sadly, sometimes churches are only united in name but not in practice. I have been a part of churches where more time has been spent arguing about a social issue, a theological issue, the color of the carpet, or how long worship should be than on what the primary mission of the church should be. In my opinion, the primary mission of the church is to make disciples for Jesus as it states in the Great Commission in Matthew 28:19-20-“Go & make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, Son, & Holy Spirit teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.” The primary mission of the church is to invite people into a relationship with Jesus. When the church or a group of people does not carry out the church’s primary mission each one is at risk for division. God is not happy with division.
Will you join me in following the primary mission of the church in order to encourage unity?
Change vs. Transformation. Is there a difference? Don’t these two words mean the same thing? The words change & transformation have very similar meanings, but I believe there are very key differences. My understanding of the word change is that it means to make something different. We can change our behavior. We can change our clothes. We can change our appearance. Change happens on the outside. On the other hand, transformation is deeper. Transformation happens on the inside. Transformation is heart work, while change is head work.
Neither change nor transformation is easy. As humans, we like the familiar. We like it when life and people stay the same. We like it when we can predict what will happen or how someone will interact with us. My profession as a therapist means that I am a change agent. I help others make changes in their lives on multiple levels. These multiple levels include mental, emotional, or spiritual. Transformation is a deeper work. One dictionary definition of transformation is: “change in form, appearance, nature, or character.”
Transformation happens in relationship. The primary relationship where transformation takes place is between Jesus and us as human beings. Paul talks about this kind of transformation in Romans 12:2 – “And do not be conformed to this world [any longer with its superficial values and customs], but be transformed and progressively changed [as you mature spiritually] by the renewing of your mind [focusing on godly values and ethical attitudes], so that you may prove [for yourselves] what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect [in His plan and purpose for you].” Transformations helps us to see God’s plan for us more clearly. Our minds, thoughts, and emotions become clear when we surrender them to God’s control.
What changes do you need to make in your life? Are you ready to go beyond change to transformation? Will you allow God to transform you?
Dreams. All throughout our life, we are encouraged to dream about where we see our life going. Sometimes, we have the expectation that our dreams are going to happen just as we would like and when they don’t, we face disappointment.
For many years, my dream was to be a pastor of a church because this is what I believed God was calling me to do. It was also what I believed as “real” ministry. That is what I believed at age 20. At age 20, real ministry was about leading worship, preaching, and visitation in the context of a local church.
At age 40, I’ve learned that “real” ministry is about people. Real ministry is about caring for others. Real ministry is about meeting real needs. What are “real” needs? These may be physical, emotional, or spiritual needs. People in this world are looking for help, and there are those that are called to help with discernment. Some needs are financial, some needs are relating to food, clothing, & shelter, and some needs are met by just offering a listening ear.
Real ministry is about living out what it says in 2 Corinthians 1:3-4 – “All praise to the God and Father of our Master, Jesus the Messiah! Father of all mercy! God of all healing counsel! He comes alongside us when we go through hard times, and before you know it, he brings us alongside someone else who is going through hard times so that we can be there for that person just as God was there for us.” (The Message) Real ministry is also about living out Matthew 25:35-36 – “For I was hungry, and you gave Me something to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me something to drink; I was a stranger, and you invited Me in; I was naked, and you clothed Me; I was sick, and you visited Me [with help and ministering care]; I was in prison, and you came to Me [ignoring personal danger].’” (Amplified Bible)
Dreams have a way of coming true if we allow God to lead us. I have found this to be true in my life. What are your dreams? How will you live out those dreams?