What’s your plan?

For the past several years I have trained for the Cox Atlanta Bike MS Ride at Callaway Gardens in Georgia. This event supports the fight against MS. Each year I have a plan on how I want to accomplish my goal.  I have a plan that requires a lot of time and my family is very supportive as I prepare.

Just as I have a plan for getting stronger as a cyclist – I must have a plan for spiritual growth.  I can’t show up and ride 100 + miles and expect to complete it.  Nor should I expect to grow as a Christian without a desire and plan to make that happen.  One of my favorite people to read about in the Bible is Joshua.  As a leader, his life has always intrigued me.  I wish the Bible recorded more about him than what is there.  He has become one of my heroes of the faith.  He learned so much under Moses. (How would you like to have “Studied under Moses” on your resume. As he gleaned from Moses, he had a deep desire to know, love, and worship God.

Recently, in Sunday School we talked about Joshua and his leadership.  In the Book of Joshua, we read about how Israel crossed the Jordan River without getting wet (except for those first Priests that put their feet into the water).  It was at that moment they got their feet wet that God stopped the flow of water. After everyone had crossed the Jordan, God instructed them to take twelve stones from the river bed and build a monument so that all who would see the monument would remember what God had done for the people of Israel. (See Joshua, Chapters 3 and 4).

We discussed monuments we have built so that those around us would remember what God had done in our lives.

I spoke up about journaling.  I began journaling back in 1991.  That’s a lot of ink, paper, time, and tears.  I began journaling as a part of my spiritual growth plan.  For me, journaling, was an intentional step in order for me to grow deeper in my walk with Jesus.  My time journaling has grown and transformed over the years.  Currently, I write in 3 different journals with three different purposes for each.  It has been very difficult to keep up with all three.  I haven’t mastered this as of yet.  It is probably the greatest reason why I don’t write as much here as I once did.  At times, they each over-lap each other… a spiritual treasure map of how God is at work in my life.

Why three journals? I keep a journal as a record of my prayer life.  It contains everything that is going on in my life and specifics that detail how God is speaking to me at the time.  The second journal I am writing in contains my trek through the Bible.  I am following a Read-Through-The Bible-Plan in a year (It’s really taking longer than a year because of the time I am taking to record my thoughts and response to the Scripture I am reading).  The third journal is based off of Psalm 119.  I am taking Psalm 119 verse by verse – reading and writing about each verse.

The Psalm 119 journal has been interesting for me.  It is definitely transforming my thoughts on God’s Word and deepening my desire to grow stronger and more intimate with Jesus.

What’s your plan for spiritual growth?  If you don’t have a plan, I highly encourage you to get into God’s Word and see what He has to say to you.  Don’t think you have to start with something as difficult as what I am doing at this time.  If you want to grow and get to know God and His Son, Jesus, I highly encourage you to develop a plan.  There are many plans for reading the Bible at You Version.

While reading the Bible, several years ago, this came to mind: Seek. Find. Live.  This has become my motto for life as a result.  As I read, study, pray, and serve, everything falls under these three words.

The journey begins in the seeking…  Life truly begins in the midst of finding…  Obedience leads to living a life of fulfillment.  For me it takes a plan and allowing Holy Spirit to guide it.

Obedience: an act of love

The following are some words I wrote down in my journal during Worship at Catalyst Day 2 – October 10, 2008:

God, You are beautiful.  I am limited with my words.  I do not know how to truly express my love I have for You.  I can’t find the words.  The only way I can truly express myself to you would be through a life of obedience.  Yes – obedience – this is the word… the action… to express my love for You.

In this moment, I recall the words of My Utmost for His Highest this morning:

Even the smallest bit of obedience opens heaven, and the deepest truths of God immediately become yours.  Yet God will never reveal more truth about Himself to you, until you have obeyed what you know already. (Oswald Chambers, October 10).

Who sits on the throne of your heart?

Does Jesus rule your thoughts, actions, and attitudes? Or does something or someone else take control?

I have been writing in my journal about purpose and God’s plan. How God chooses people to serve Him… and the purposes of that service.

So often I will get into this place where the voice I hear is saying, “You are disqualified.” Then I try to fight off the voice be telling myself to remember King David… nothing he did disqualified him from being God’s man.

I get so strongly frustrated with life way too much. I find it hard not to allow this frustration to rule everything around me and in me.

You have had the vision, but you are not yet to the reality of it by any means. It is when we are in the valley, where we prove whether we will be the choice ones, that most of us turn back. We are not quite prepared for the bumps and bruises that must come if we are going to be turned into the shape of the vision. We have seen what we are not, and what God wants us to be, but are we willing to be battered into the shape of the vision to be used by God? The beatings will always come in the most common, everyday ways and through common, everyday people. (My Utmost for His Highest, October 4).

So as an individual I have a choice to make. Will I give Jesus the throne of my heart? Or will I give my frustrated thoughts of disqualification the throne? Do I continue to give the grumblings of my heart the throne? It’s all just jealousy and anger… I don’t see this person or that person go through what I go through… I ask God, “Why am I singled out to walk this path?” “Do I have the power to make things different?” “Did I miss something along the way only to end up in this place?” “Is that why this brother or that one hasn’t walked my road?” (I pray they never do!) “Have I missed something along the way?” “Have I lacked wisdom?” “Do I control my own destiny or has God led me down this path?”

Oswald Chambers goes on to say, “There are times when we do know what God’s purpose is; whether we will let the vision be turned into actual character depends on us not on God.” (My Utmost for His Highest, October 4).

I am weaving my thoughts out here and turn the electronic pages over to Brad’s blog, “Do I offend you?” The loneliest place of all would be John the Baptist sitting in a prison cell asking my questions. Now I hear Jesus ask me, “Do I offend you?”

Being a focal giant

Focal [foh-kuhl] of or pertaining to a focus.

Giant [jahy-uhnt] a being with human form but superhuman size, strength, etc.

So, why a blog?  Why do I strive to keep up posting something here everyday?  Is it about the “stats”?  My pastor seems to think that blogging is all about the stats.  His wife seems to have her head in the game for the right reasons.  Now, don’t get me wrong I’m addicted to my stats just like the next blogger.  And when the hits aren’t rolling in I may need to seek out my therapist… (Lori is such a wonderful, loving, encourager on the days my blog tanks… She says, “get over it!”)

But why do I do this?

I remember the first several blogs that I posted and the fear I had clicking that “Publish” button for the first time.  It was a commitment to lay my words out there for anyone to read, enjoy, make fun of, be challenged by, and dare I say ‘inspire’.

Still the question remains, “why a blog?” 

My good friend Joel (who doesn’t have a blog and who’s wife limits his blogging time) is the one I credit for getting me hooked on this thing.  He was asking me if I read this blog or that blog… bloggity – blog – blog.  I started reading some – but for the most part those I read were negative, critical, and not edifying to the body of Christ.  I was reading blogs by those who proclaim Jesus in their personal and professional lives.  For the most part, what I had been reading was all about stirring up a bit of controversy thus attracting… “hits”.  Just another way to boost the stats.

I may not have the power of an email data base from a church to propigate my blog with tons of hits.  I don’t have a congregation that I hold hostage for information ONLY to be found on the pastor’s blog.  There are times I would think I may not even have a reader… in fact, the hits I get each day just may be Joel hitting the update button several times per hour.  I know Randy, She-Rambler and others do read…  To validate that others do read from other places I added the map to see just where the hits are coming from.  That’s pretty cool.

So, why a blog?

For me its about being a [foh-kuhl] [jahyuhnt].  I was reading the comments posted on The Epiphany’s blog where my pastor (AWIP)referred to me as the “Focal Giant”.  It’s not just that I am 3 feet taller than AWIP. (I’m about 2 feet taller than most).  It’s not about my “all seeing eye”.  I know that my eyes have caused night terrors for some.  I hear Joel has done well with overcoming his night terrors. 

Back to the “why a blog?” question:  It’s all about keeping my focus.  I challenge myself each day to pray, read the Bible, devotionals, and live my life for JESUS CHRIST.  He is the lover of my soul.  He is the reason why I blog.  I want to be challenged in all I do.  I want to make the most of every opportunity I have to glean from my experiences in life. 

Back in the day of leading teenagers I would talk about life being a test and trust… today I would add a blog.

In the sight of God, all of our lives are written out in the ultimate blog of all time “The Book of Life”.  I know my name is there.  My life is being written out each day that I live.  What an honor to be found within the pages of God’s Book. 

God’s a great God full of love mercy and grace.  I would bet he even keeps tabs of His hits too.  What do you think?

What a difference a year makes!

It’s been a week or so since I have spent anytime on the blog. I’ve spent the last week focusing more on my personal journal. I’m always a bit more motivated when I get a new one.

Each year when my children have a birthday I try to write something in it that pertains to them… wishing them a happy birthday… thanking God for them… and praying for them. The other thing I do is to go back and read what I wrote about my children the previous year.

Valerie’s birthday was on July 31. As I read, what I wrote a year ago, I realized just how much life has changed for us as a family.

God is good.

I struggle day in and day out with keeping my focus. It’s such a battle. I battle with focusing on God vs. focusing on what God wants me to do (discovering what I should be doing for God). Sometimes I get lost in this struggle. At times, the lostness gets to the point where I seek the plan more than I seek God. This should never happen.

The love relationship I have with the Lord should never take the backseat to my desire(s) to find “His will”. Out of our relationship all of life happens. No matter what happens my focus of God should never fade away… no matter what comes down the road.

Like I said, “God is good.” What a difference a year makes! I’m thankful for the years of my life I have recorded in written form within the many binders of my journal. I began this practice in 1990. It helps me to go back and recall where God has been at work. And well… one day my kids will know more about their Dad and his desire to please his Heavenly Father.