Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Focused

Hello All! Sorry for the delay. My husband returned home after being away for quite sometime so we took the past week to catch up and reunite with each other. He has now gone back to work and so must I (the blessing is that I love what I do).

For those of you who do not attend my church in New Bern, Cornerstone Assembly, our leadership likes to pick a topic for each month's sermons and teachings. The theme for the month of January has been "Focused." Philippians 3:13 reads, "But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and reaching forward to what is ahead..." The apostle Paul, author of Philippians, shared with this church family that he did just one thing. He tells them that he forgot what was behind and pursued what was ahead. 

We all need Philippians 3:13 in our lives. 



Some of us need to hear the first portion of this verse, "... one thing I do...", because we have been spinning twenty plates above our heads and are about to lose control. We think that we're most effective when we're busy. Therefore, we over commit and under deliver. What!? Not me. 

Do you find yourself running twenty minutes late from the minute you start your day? 

Do you fuss as you go to and from each commitment because you're so exhausted? 
Do you have time to truly prepare for each task or are you merely skating by? 
Do you accomplish all of your tasks and then realize you have not spoken one word to your husband, children, or even dear friends?
These are signs that there is too much going on. 

"This one thing..." 


What is the one thing God is calling you to do in your home? Your marriage? Your church? Your children? Your job? Perhaps you could focus on "this one thing" and master that before diving into other tasks that are not a priority. 

Would you like a personal example? Okay. This blog is my "one thing." Last year I tried to do more than what God intended for me to do and I made a mess of everything. This year I have been challenged to focus on "this one thing" for the kingdom of God. And I invite you to hold me accountable. After all, we're on this journey together. 

For others reading this blog "one thing" is not the challenge. "...Forgetting what is behind and reaching forward to what is ahead..." is what we need to focus on. So many of us are over come with guilt, shame, pain, and fear because of what has happened in the past. Either we have participated in activities that we're not proud of or things have happened to us that we cannot escape. Whichever it is for you, it makes "forgetting" not as easy as it sounds. Whether you believe it or not, Paul can totally relate to you. 

Paul's past was not a pretty one. He was a well-known murderer. Paul killed several Christians in his attempt to eliminate the movement created by Jesus and His followers. Little did Paul know, God had a plan to make him a missionary and he would carry the Gospel all over Asia Minor. So when he makes this statement about forgetting the past, he understands how difficult it is. But, he can also testify to the incredible reality of what is ahead. Paul could have wallowed in his guilt but he chose to move forward in the freedom Jesus provided him through the cross. We too have an incredible future ahead because Jesus provided us with that same freedom. I do not know what God has planned for your future, but I do know that it will be so much better than anything in your past. The key is to trust Jesus with your life, accept the freedom found in His forgiveness, and follow as He leads you into a wondrous future.

What is it that you are going to focus on this year?

Maybe you need to focus on one task. Maybe it's one person. Maybe it's one dream. Or perhaps your one thing is focusing on forgetting the past and reaching for the future. Whatever it is, start today.


Philippians 3:13



Monday, January 18, 2016

Travel Light

Here we are nineteen days into a new year. I know, I know... you've already heard enough about resolutions to last you a life time (or at least another year). Well, the good news is that I don't actually want to talk about whether or not you should be making resolutions or even how to keep them. What I would like to discuss is this: "What have you brought into 2016 that should have stayed in 2015?"

In Genesis 31 Jacob,  the son of Isaac and grandson of Abraham, decided to leave his father in law's land and move his family back to his homeland. Jacob had spent twenty years in Laban's fields working for the permission to marry Laban's daughters (Rachel and Leah) and earning his flock. Now he is ready to take all he has worked for and settle back in Abraham's country. Rachel and Leah packed all of their possessions and prepared their children for the journey. While Rachel was packing her tent, she added her family's idols to her sack. As Jacob led his family out of Laban's countryside and into the desert, Laban and his servants caught up to them and demanded Jacob return the items stolen from him.

As we know from the story, Jacob did not steal anything from Laban.

Therefore he allowed him to search the tents of his family and servants. Leah passed the test - her tent was clear. When Laban entered Rachel's tent she sat on the idols she stole from her father then she lied, saying she couldn't stand due to her monthly cycle, in order to cover her odd behavior. Laban was satisfied with his search, having not found the idols, and left Jacob and his family. Then Jacob led his people to the land of his father's. It was a new chapter for each one of them. 

We're not exactly sure why Rachel took the idols. We only know that she did and was not supposed to. So, in light of this, what can we take away from this story?  

We are on a journey - each one of us. Each year that passes is a new opportunity for growth, adventure, struggle, and success. Some of us are looking forward to a new journey. Most of us are afraid of change and as much as we want a new start we want to bring a few things from the past with us. For some, there are portions of our lives that should have stayed in 2015 but we have placed them in our suitcase hoping God didn't notice. My friend, God knows all that we have packed in our suitcase. Even if we're sitting on it... He knows. So what are you hiding?

Is it a bad habit? A hidden sin? An open sin? Is is fear... doubt... worry? Did you bring a bad relationship with you? If God were to do a TSA check on your luggage would he find hidden contraband? Are there items you know cannot go on this journey with you but you are trying to bring anyway?

At this point we have two choices we can be like Rachel, sit uncomfortably as we attempt to hide our contraband from God with deceit. By doing this we continue to fumble through our lives carrying items that we do not need and God does not want us to be burdened by. Or we can turn those items over to Him and be free of the baggage. By doing so we walk free as we start our new journey.

I am deciding to turn my unnecessary baggage (my worry and fear) over to God. I have spent enough energy carrying that extra weight in 2015. This is a new year - a new journey - and I want to travel light as I follow God wherever He leads in 2016.

So, who's with me?

It's a simple action, really. All we need to do is hand it over to Jesus. Like this: "Jesus, I recognize that I have been carrying some things that You did not plan for me to carry. As I start 2016, I ask for Your help in leaving (fill in the blank) in the past. Help me to walk free as I follow You on this journey. Forgive me for trying to do things on my own and hiding these things from You. Thank you, Jesus. Amen. 

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Introducing Me

In a world filled with bloggers, I believe it is important to introduce and distinguish myself from the rest. 

A bit about the blog: 

This blog will focus on God's Word and how it applies to life. I want to share my thoughts and perspective on passages from the Bible, on a weekly basis, with you. It is my hope to partner with my local church, Cornerstone Assembly - New Bern, by tailoring some of my topics to those that we are discussing at church. Together, we will learn more about scripture and, also, how to apply it to our lives. 

A bit about the author:

First, I am not an expert. Never have been - never will be. I am simply a lover of Jesus who enjoys exploring His Word and uncovering truth. 

Second, I am not a professional. Writing is a skill I am working to perfect. Other than college courses, my work has not been reviewed by many people.

Third, I am not perfect. Each day I am growing, learning, and changing which means that I will not always do things right and I will not always listen to my own advice. 

We are on this journey together. I hope that we learn together as we explore God's Word and apply His truth to our lives. 

On a personal note, I am an aspiring writer. It is an art form that I have wanted to practice for quite some time. This blog is my attempt to practice this art while sharing my thoughts for life. 

I am married to a wonderful man who is my personal gift from God and we are enjoying the journey He has us on. I am a East Coast gal born and bread. When I am not writing, I enjoy drinking coffee, reading, and knitting. 

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