Encounter Jesus in the New Year – http://wp.me/p6F7eu-1V
“Guard the good deposit that was entrusted to you—guard it with the help of the
Holy Spirit who lives in us.” 2 Tim. 1:14
It’s the last day of Lent and the beginning of Holy Week! We made it!
As I sought God this morning He sent me off with this warning from 2 Timothy. Every lesson, every experience is an opportunity for increased authority. Not every experience is good but if we love God and follow His purposes for our lives, He will work everything for our good. As we walk with God and as our authority increases we have to be careful not to lose that authority through careless living or careless relationships.
I have learned much on this journey. I know there is an enemy out to steal what I have gained. There is an enemy out to steal what you have gained to. Let’s agree today to guard this grace we have been given.
We are coming to the wind down of the Lenten fast. Holy week begins in just two days! I am very excited for this set of holidays. I feel like we are launching into a great deep of Holy Spirit power. I sense the lessons of this fast have equipped me for what lies ahead.
Lent Day 29- This day’s questions were: What are three of your core values? Is there any part of your life that is conflict with these values? What can you do about that?
“Core values are traits or qualities that you consider not just worthwhile, they represent an individual’s or organization’s highest priorities, deeply held beliefs, and core, fundamental driving forces. Core values define what your organization believes and how you want your organization resonating with and appealing to employees and the external world.
Core values are also called guiding principles because they form a solid core of who you are, what you believe, and who you are and want to be going forward.” Susan Heathfield
Lent Day 30-
John Maxwell writes, “No matter how hard you try you cannot consistently behave in a way that is inconsistent with how you see yourself.”
Who am I? is the question of the day but maybe that is a little too broad to be answered easily. So let me narrow the parameters for you a bit:
What five words would you use to describe yourself (* you cannot use words that define what you do such as contractor, nurse, or parent)?
Lent Day 31-
Today’s question for meditation concerns integrity. John Maxwell writes, “When values, thoughts, feelings and actions are in alignment, a person becomes focused and his character is strengthened.
Integrity is defined by dictionary. com as-
My biggest takeaway here is from day 30. Who am I? My five words are: Accepted, Able, Creative, Contented, Victorious. This is how the word defines me. It’s not always how I see myself. So I have some work to do to build faith in my identity in Christ.
What’s your biggest take away?
I am finally sitting down to do some writing tonight. It’s 10:30 P.M. and my day has been marvelously full! It started with two prayer meetings and a pastoral care team meeting. Tonight I returned to the church for rehearsal and a leadership development meeting. The opportunities to serve God are growing and the time of answered prayer is coming quickly. Walking in the healings of this season is a must for me and for our church. It is so exciting to see the healing which has taken place in our corporate lives since the beginning of the year. Yet I know God has so much more.
Here is a review of some of the lessons He has begun to work into our lives.
Lent Day 25- On this day I wrote, “The grace of God is here with us right now. That grace is the power of God to do that which we could not do for ourselves. As we open ourselves to it grace trains us, schools us in how to live godly lives and those godly lives are for the here and now. You don’t have to wait until you get to Heaven to have victory over addictions or deep-seated wounds that cause bad behavior. The grace of God is present now to help you in this age. If grace can change me it can change you. Do not give up let His grace work on you a little while longer and you will see a change. You may have been born with a bent to sin but if you let Jesus in He will turn you around so that you have a bent towards righteousness. No one is beyond His reach. No one!”
Lent Day 26- On this day I wrote, ”
The question is not, “Will trouble or evil reports come?” The question is “What will we do with them when they arrive?”
We have some choices. We can:
1. Receive the evil report and give up. This choice leads us to fatalism…doing nothing because we believe that the evil thing is inevitable.
2. Receive the evil report and worry. This choice leads us to fear. With this choice we help the evil report to grow into a monster that consumes all of our life and feeds on our hope until we are nothing more than burned out shells. In this scenario we become paranoid self-fulfilling prophecies of the terrible things we fear.
3. Hear the evil report but refuse to accept it on the basis of God’s promises. This choice leads us to radical faith that wrestles with God until He grants us a blessing.”
What are you doing with life’s evil reports?
Lent Day 27- On this day I wrote, “All of our hearts, plagued by sin, lead us astray and away from God’s intended purpose; So God weaves a story, a plan, around us that is large enough and tough enough for us to come to life in. We are forced either to run from God or submit to “God’s fierce intention to use both crippling and blessing to redeem us from our self-redemptive and purgatorial stories.” The Sacred Romance P. 66 ”
Have you ever struggled with God’s plan? How did you work through it?
Lent Day 28- This day’s question was, “What area of life if better disciplined will bring you closer to your goal(s)?”
What here stands out for you?
I am so glad that we are in the review stage of this journey. Today was a make-up day at the office since we lost a whole day to Winter Storm Ukko. It was back to back meetings followed by back to back phone calls and admin. A quick jaunt home to walk the little white dogs was followed by two music rehearsals. Supper was followed by finances and now I am at last sitting down to write at 10 P.M. This review is a great way to end out the day!
Lent Day 21- This day’s questions were: in your personal life, family life, corporate life, church life…
What has to change?
What is your mission?
What things in life need to change so that you can fulfill that mission?
As I come to the end of this journey I can truly say I am at peace with my position and mission. God has really affirmed the place where I stand.
Lent Day 23- On this day I wrote, “The Lord has shown me, though, that excellence is found not in reaching the goal ahead of everyone else or better than everyone else. In fact excellence does not deal directly with the goal at all. It deals with the way I walk this journey. Excellence deals with how fully I obey the calling of God. Excellence is found in being true to God in living. I see if I can just be true to the calling…if I can just focus on following God I will be satisfied and God himself will take care of the results. How liberating is that?!?”
And Lent Day 24- A day of quotes
“You must learn to let go. Release the stress. You were never in control anyway.” ― Steve Maraboli
“To achieve great things, two things are needed: a plan and not quite enough time.” ― Leonard Bernstein
“In times of stress, the best thing we can do for each other is to listen with our ears and our hearts and to be assured that our questions are just as important as our answers.” ― Fred Rogers
And my favorite stress quote of all…
“We must have a pie. Stress cannot exist in the presence of a pie.” ― David Mamet
What point from these days stood out to you?
We continue today with our review of this season’s lessons. It’s been a season of great healing and growth. I hope as we approach Holy Week that you are finding new life and growth in Christ.
Lent Day 17- This days quotes:
This days question: What attitude are you wanting God to help you with?
Lent Day 18- This day’s opening question: What way of thinking do you want God to change in you
We humans have a need to consistently re-present ourselves to God in a mind-set of sacrificial living. We must constantly ask ourselves, “What area of this life needs to be given for love of Jesus.”
Such sacrifices always seem costly at the moment but as Jesus said, ” everyone who has given up houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or property, for my sake, will receive a hundred times as much in return and will inherit eternal life.” MA 19:29 NLT
The sacrifice will drive us into prayer and study of the Word, It will bring us out of the pathway that conforms with the world’s understanding. Our way will no longer follow the patterns of our upbringing, our families or our friends where those patterns come into conflict with the rightly divided Word of truth.
Through this season of Lent I feel my heart being prepared by God to walk in His miracles. I feel like He has given me a story larger than myself to live in, a story many others may struggle to believe. He is changing me so that I can live in the larger story.
How is God enlarging your story this year?
Lent Day 19- On this day I realize, I am romanced by a God who is wild and orderly all at once and so far beyond my ken that I stand everyday amazed by this Lover who has come seeking me!
When was the first time you encountered the God who loved you?
Lent Day 20-
I have been writing about the calling and the romancing of God these last few days. The Bible sometimes reads like a fairytale (with the exception of it being absolute fact). The call of a loving God beckons each of us to a happily ever after; But just like in every good fairytale there are dragons and dark castles filled with nightmares between us and the Love of our lives.
It is in discovering and conquering our dragons and monsters that we gain access to the plans of God and the intimate relationship that God wants us to have. One thing I have learned during this season of Lent is that sometimes our dragons lie invisible. Just beneath the surface of our hearts they rest slumbering under deep spells of denial. Yet even slumbering dragons have the power to keep us back from our dreams unless they are committed into the hands of the Savior who can defeat them all.
In light of this truth, What promises from God’s Word have the potential to propel you forward?
Which lesson from this review speaks most to you today?
Today as Winter storm Ukko ravages the East coast I am happily working from home continuing this review of our Lenten journey. God has blessed me so much and I see the steps to my dreams becoming clearer as I wait upon Him and his healing touch!
Lent Day 13- On this day God asked me to meditate on “Why do we do the things we do? Why do we go to church? Do daily devotions? Fast? Serve in the church?
Is it all for God’s glory or is much of what I do tied to the praise of men. I have to admit this has been a struggle for me all of my life but God is releasing me at last!
Lent Day 14- This day’s meditation was framed in the question: “What are you not letting God control?”
My answer was Sabbath rest. Apparently this lesson was quickly written and just as soon forgotten. I am still not taking a real Sabbath and if anything my schedule has become busier. Now see, this is why review is good.
What was your answer to this question? Is it still a work in progress?
Lent Day 15- Meditational question for this day: “What do you want God to help you learn in life?”
I said I wanted God to teach me to be proactive:
To be proactive is to anticipate what is coming and to be ready for it. I know we can’t see every detail of the road ahead but I feel like God is changing me to make me prepare for needs that have yet to be stated. I think the church has to begin to plan for the needs of the future by faith and as a pastor in the universal body of Christ I have to begin modelling this behavior for the body. I believe this preparation needs to be realized in several areas:
1. In Spiritual health.
2. In caring for the possessions God has given us
3. In setting aside a surplus so that we can give it away to others in need.
This is good stuff and God has been showing me how.
Lent Day 16- On this day I continued the discussion about what I need God to teach me.
I said, ”
I am beginning to see that my inability to celebrate will hold back the God vision for ministry and life. Reaching goals is about milestones and people need to celebrate milestones to stay motivated. I need to learn to celebrate the milestones so I can stay motivated. It is in celebration that we are affirmed. It is in celebration that we give thanks to the Lord for the miracles along the road.
This change must be intentional. God is showing me that I must schedule celebration just like I schedule work and rest and it must have a purpose.
Here’s a question for you: Do you think there is a difference between celebration and entertainment? If so what is that difference?”
Which of these questions or lessons sparked something in you?
I have discovered so much during this journey of faith. The last forty days have been transformational. I feel so much better prepared and ready to take on the vision God downloaded in January; I still think it’s humongous. I still know it is beyond me. Yet I know I can relax because it’s not a work I will do in my own power. It is God’s work which He will accomplish through me as I become a more yielded vessel.
We have come to the part of this journey where reviewing the truths I have learned is in order. As the Psalmist says:
I will remember the deeds of the Lord;
yes, I will remember your miracles of long ago.
12 I will consider all your works
and meditate on all your mighty deeds.”
13 Your ways, God, are holy.
What god is as great as our God?
14 You are the God who performs miracles;
you display your power among the peoples.
15 With your mighty arm you redeemed your people,
the descendants of Jacob and Joseph. Psalm 77: 11-15
God’s works are great indeed and rehearsing them builds faith!
Lent Day 9- Was a meditation on evangelism. The questions of the day were:
How am I doing at intentionally cultivating relationship with un-churched friends and family?
How am I doing sharing my spiritual story with un-churched friends and family?
How am I connecting un-churched friends into my group of believers?
How am I allowing God to use me cross-culturally?
How am I regularly investing in the spiritual life of another person or group?
God has really burdened me to begin praying in this area. A year of closer involvement with family and unchurched friends is at hand.
Lent Day 10- The questions on this day that hit me the hardest were:
How am I honoring God through a balanced life?
How can I better live for God’s pleasure?
God has led me to revise how I schedule on a weekly basis. I tend to give a lot of time to a few areas and avoid others. God is changing this, balancing my life as it were. I suspect it will be a work in progress for a while maybe the rest of my natural life, but hey…small steps right?
Lent Day 11- It is easy in life to get our eyes off of God and to look constantly at life’s trials. Thanksgiving is such an important part of life. It comes from a heart that remembers and focuses on God’s benefits!
1.What has God given you?
Lent Day 12- On this day I wrote, “He is the point and I am learning He is not only the point…He is the only point! We are but vessels for Him to ride upon the wind, ships in which he sails upon the flood and oh what a privilege that is.”
What points of your life are being swallowed up by Jesus today?
I feel like large pieces of myself have been swallowed by Him since Lent began. He is changing me from what I was into His vessel prepared to carry glory. His grace has taken my unbelief and tossed into the sea of forgetfulness. I stand knowing my God is more than able to perfect that which concerns me today. I am just journeying with Him as He accomplishes that perfecting work!
Which review lesson spoke most to you today?
We have come to the part of this spiritual journey where review is necessary. With me God has to rehearse His lessons over and over so they make it deep into my thick French/Anglo/ Finnish head. I have learned to relish the review. It’s exciting to remind myself of what God has said to see what His Spirit has done from the beginning to see how I have changed.
Come review with me our Lenten lessons:
Lent Day 5- The questions:
1. How has your connection with God and with others grown this year?
2. In what ways have you grown this year in Christ-like maturity?
3. Are you serving God according to your Spiritual giftings? your heart? your abilities? Your personality? Your experiences?
4. How are you intentionally sharing your faith with unbelievers?
5. How has your public and private worship life grown in the last year?
Lent Day 6- Questions of the day: Have you ever been afraid of a road God told you to walk down? What did you do?
Yes. In the past I have practiced avoiding the roads even if that took me a long way around. It took me many years in my walk with God to realize there was no getting away from the troubles. If I didn’t face them in one particular roadway the fearful thing would pop up on another road.
In light of that here was the real question of the day:
How am I at developing authentic community within my church family?
How am I doing in the area of loving others? Giving grace to others? Forgiving others? (I guess that’s three in one but OK) Read I Corinthians 13 before answering this one.
Which of those questions scares you the most?
Lent Day- 7 Question of the day How can I grow this year to become more like Christ?
At the time of the writing I said this: Food has been an addiction to which I have turned all my life. During the 21 day spiritual journey in January God gave me a vision for losing forty pounds. But I am coming to see that the goal is a measuring stick for a much deeper spiritual work God wishes to do inside me. These journeys into the world of fasting are about gaining control of my appetites and addictions so that Christ may have the preeminence.
As of today I have lost twenty-six pounds. I have found that I am enjoying the vegetarian diet I am on. I am even enjoying living without caffeine!
Lent Day 8- Questions of the day: How can I better serve God and others?
What can you change with God’s help to make you a better servant to God’s people?
For myself it has been about living my schedule more faithfully and learning to say “No!” to things I know don’t match up with God’s revealed service plan for my life.
Which of these lessons spoke most to you?