Purpose Revised

After thinking about my identity, I began to start thinking about my purpose. For the longest time, I have been confusing my purpose with my identity. What I am, or see myself to be, is my purpose, therefore, what my medium of employment should be. Like, my job had to be “God ordained”, and if I wasn’t in a certain job, then that couldn’t be the right job because God had led me to do this other thing, right? (LOL) 

I based all my future expectations on this one step in my life. Then that step was supposed to lead to the next logical step. However, as we all know, God usually moves in mysterious ways, not logical ways. He even warns us that He’s going to fake left when we think He’s going right. Proverbs 3:5-6 states: “Trust in the LORD with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding.” 

The Good News Translation says it even better: “Trust in the LORD with all your heart. Never rely on what you think you know.” (LOL) This led me to a purpose revised.

A Purpose Revised

For over ten years now, I have been chasing, fighting, and forcing my way into something that was MY plan and MY expectation, but not necessarily God’s purpose for me. When He revealed my misconceptions, I felt a bit foolish, but He comforted me with a few facts:

#1 – Nothing is ever wasted. No trial, tear, or heartache and no joy, accomplishment, or victory will sit on a shelf unused.

#2 – Training will be ongoing until I get to heaven. I cannot be perfect here. And, just because He uses something to teach me a lesson, doesn’t mean I should focus on that method to the point of obsession, excluding all other methods. I don’t always have to learn the hard way.

#3 – Purpose has TWO definitions, neither of which are my identity.  As a noun, purpose means the reason for which something is done or created for, or for which something exists. We have a collective purpose as Christians to tell others what Christ has done for us and what He can do for them. As an individual, the verb definition, to have as one’s intention or objective, is more suitable. Therefore, I can choose my medium of purpose so that it is specific to me. 

For example: My intention or objective (purpose) is to tell others what Christ has done for me and what He can do for them through writing. I can write devotionals to help others draw nearer to God, I can write Bible studies to help people learn who God is and how He wants to interact with them, I can write fiction stories that teach Biblical truths in a way that might reach those who wouldn’t otherwise pick up a Bible.

Conclusion

The point is, my purpose is the same no matter what. It doesn’t depend on the type of employment I have and it is not to be confused with my identity. And, a lack of employment doesn’t mean that I am not fulfilling my purpose or that my identity has changed. Jobs, like seasons, change over time.  God moves us as He sees fit. He is our security. 

Also, our identity is found in Him. If you try to find it anywhere else, you will be discouraged and disappointed every time. 1Peter 2:9 says 

“But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.”

Likewise, Galatians 2:20 says

“I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”

Then John 15:15 reminds us

“I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you.”

Why? For what purpose? Ephesians 2:10 says  

“For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”

Expedition: Present and Future – You are NEW

So my final questions to you are these: What is YOUR purpose? And what have you PURPOSED to do in your life? Your present and future will be affected by what your answers to these questions are. You will have to make a choice. You will have to choose to let some things go (bitterness, unforgiveness, expectations). You will have to choose to pick some things up (discipline, accountability, responsibility), and then move forward in the revised version of life.  Philippians 3:13-14 says

“Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 3:13-14

We have to know who we are and live intentionally every day. How can you tell someone else who they are in Christ if you don’t know who you are?

This expedition won’t be easy so I suggest you find a few trusted friends to help you along the way, because being a hero is hard. We need someone to help us carry the burden. Even though we are heroes, we are still human. And no matter how much we say or demonstrate otherwise, we need other humans for help and support. It’s too hard to make it alone.

“Share each other’s burdens, and in this way obey the law of Christ.” Galatians 6:2

This is the ultimate lesson that every superhero learns. We are stronger together than we are apart. And this is the lesson that God wants us to learn, too. He is always with us, so we are not alone. We are stronger together than we are apart.

“Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing.” John 15:5

Holy Father,

Thank you God that you have provided all we will ever need to be victorious in Christ. Thank you Lord that you love us with so great a love that it can never be diminished. You will never love us more or love us less based on how we perform. Jesus, show us who we are in you so that we can show the world who you are in us. 

In Jesus’s name, Amen! 

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Fear Of Missing Out

FOMO

David stared at himself in the mirror for a long time. What had he done? How did this happen? His heart ached so much in his chest that he felt strangled. What was he going to do now? He was such a fool. Anger at himself welled up and he punched the mirror, breaking it and cutting his knuckles badly. 

“David?” His Dad called.

David scrambled to get to his bathroom and wash his hand off before his dad came in.

“What happened?” His dad looked at the mess of the mirror and David’s hand wrapped in a towel. David couldn’t meet his father’s eye. He was so ashamed of what he’d done. 

“I’m sorry, Dad. I’ll pay for the mirror. I didn’t mean to make a mess.” David’s dad sat down in his desk chair.

“Forget the mirror. What’s going on?” 

David stared a hole in the floor. “Nothing.” 

Dad sat silent, waiting. David’s heart began to pound. He recognized the feeling. It was the same pounding, sick feeling he’d gotten when it was over. Conviction. He tried to swallow it down but he just couldn’t. He looked up at his dad and everything just broke loose. He began sobbing as his dad wrapped his arms around him. Dad led him over to the bed to sit down and continued to hold him until he had stopped crying. “Dad, I messed up so much.” His dad just continued to comfort him.

“Why don’t you tell me what’s going on, okay? We’ll try to make it right.” David jumped up from the bed.

“I can’t make this right, Dad!” David exploded. Dad held up his hands. “Whoa. Let’s talk. Just tell me what happened.” David felt horrible for yelling at his dad. “I messed up.” David’s throat worked as he tried to keep from crying again. “Shea and I had sex.” David hung his head and sat down in the desk chair. “I thought it would be great, but all I feel is empty. The guys at school made it seem so cool and it felt like I was missing out. Now I just feel sick.” Dad knelt in front of David so he could look him in the eye. “David, the reason you feel sick is because you have violated God’s commands. You have taken something that doesn’t belong to you and you have given away something that doesn’t belong to you. You got caught up in covetousness and now you know it never fulfills the promises it makes. It only makes you sick.” David wiped his eyes.” “Covetousness? I thought that was just wanting something that someone else had.”

“It is.” Dad said. “You wanted to experience what someone else had experienced. Coveting doesn’t always involve ‘things’. As you’ve discovered, it can also involve experiences. Wanting to know how something feels can get you in just as much, if not more, trouble than wanting some thing that someone else has.” David nodded.

“I was just so afraid I was missing out. I wanted to be like everyone else.” He replied.

“But you’re not like everyone else. Remember? We are called to be set apart. Different. You will never miss out on what God has for you because He will send it when He knows when you’re ready to receive it.” David sat back down on the bed next to his father. “So what do I do now?” He asked.

“Well, you can’t change what you’ve done, but you can ask for forgiveness and choose to live God’s way until you are married. I know it’s not easy, but God gave us boundaries for a purpose. This will be a hard learned lesson, but I know you can make the right choice. You want me to pray with you?” 

David nodded his head and they knelt beside the bed. 

Follow up Verse

Then he said to them, “Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; life does not consist in an abundance of possessions.” Luke 12:15

What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you? You desire but do not have, so you kill. You covet but you cannot get what you want, so you quarrel and fight. You do not have because you do not ask God. James 4:1-2 

OPERATION: ACTIVATE

Is fear of missing out (FOMO) ruling your life? Reflect on your current situation. Are you living within the safety of God’s boundaries for you? If not, repent and choose to return to God. He loves you and only wants what’s best for you. Living His way will cast out FOMO and free you to live a life that glorifies God.

https://www.learnreligions.com/lies-teens-tell-themselves-on-sex-and-dating-712550

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Identity: Real – Ideal – Revised

I had not really thought much about my identity in Christ until our ladies retreat last year and I struggled with it. Satan was working HARD to block my understanding and interfere with the Holy Spirit working in my heart. Granted, I wasn’t much help either. Satan knows which buttons to push to draw my attention away from God and focus it on flesh and blood and the problems that can arise from bringing together different and strong personalities. 

When I was asked to speak at a local ladies ministry, I had a whole other message planned, but as usually happens, God changes those plans to meet His. I started thinking about identity. I gave the group a handout that said: “What is your identity?” Then I gave them three blanks to write down the first three things that popped into their mind, no matter what they were. No one was going to see it, unless they showed it to someone. Why don’t you try it?

Was it what you thought it would be? The first time I did this, I listed seven things. I had written identity at the top of the page and just listed the top things that popped into my head.

Ideal Identity

#1 Christian

#2 Wife

#3 Mother

#4 Sister

#5 Friend

#6 Writer

#7 Teacher

Then the Holy Spirit prompted me to go back and write IDEAL above the word Identity. Further prompting led me to make another list labeled “Real Identity” and just as quickly, I listed seven more things. 

Real Identity

#1 Complainer

#2 Gossiper

#3 Fear-filled

#4 Jealous

#5 Bitter

#6 Biter

#7 Secret Sinner

The first list is what I’d like for my life to say if I were asked who I was. But, deep down, it doesn’t. I might pretend that it does or tell others that this is my identity, but it’s my facade. The mask I wear to hide my real identity. Also, there were several things I wanted to cross off the second list because, surely, they weren’t true. Unfortunately, I couldn’t. It was a wake-up call, slap-in-the-face, now the ball is in your court, so what are you going to do about it, kind of moment.

 So, instead of ignoring it or running away (like I’d normally do) I’m showing it to you. I have purposed that I will be accountable TODAY. I have purposed that every day that God gives me, I will be accountable. I’ve spent a lot of time believing that I was being accountable, but I was only flirting with accountability. I was not truly committed (or married to it) if you will. 

So now I’ll ask, what’s YOUR real identity? You might not actively participate in gossip, but do you listen? Then you’re guilty. I didn’t realize how much I complained until my daughter made a joke and my husband agreed. She said “If you stopped complaining, we’d never hear from you again.” Ouch! That hurt. Do you let fear keep you from doing something you know God wants you to do? Are you jealous of others because they have the husband, job, house, kids, or whatever that you want in your life? Has that jealousy been simmering under the surface until it has become bitterness? Has that bitterness caused you to “bite” at others? Do you have secret sins in your life that you are desperate to hide from everyone? We all do. You are not alone. Write down anything God reveals to you now, and meditate on the question of what your real identity is.  Ask God to reveal to you what you need to do going forward.

Here’s an illustration: In all the superhero stories, there is a moment in which the hero’s identity is revealed to or realized by the hero.When this happens, their identity shifts. Their identity is no longer what it once was. It changed in light of the information they received, and that led to a decision they make. 

They choose to BE the hero. 

They have a brief moment of clarity in which they see that they can no longer live the life they’ve been living, because they have a higher calling. They sacrifice all they could have had, in order to be the hero. Philippians 3:8 says:

“Yes, everything else is worthless when compared with the infinite value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have discarded everything else, counting it all as garbage, so that I could gain Christ” 

Relationships? Gone.  

Security? Gone.  

Money? Gone.  

Status? Gone.  

Health/ possibly even their Life? Gone.  

They count everything as less important than being the hero. They knowingly lay it ALL on the altar of sacrifice to do what only they can do. Be the hero. 

We don’t normally think of ourselves as heroes. Heroes are supposed to be great people who help others at their own expense. They usually have some kind of superpower that ordinary people don’t have that helps them to overcome the enemy. But we ARE heroes. If we have accepted Christ as our Savior and Lord, we ARE the heroes the world is desperately looking for. 

“The Spirit of God, who raised Jesus from the dead, lives in you. And just as God raised Christ Jesus from the dead, he will give life to your mortal bodies by this same Spirit living within you.” Romans 8:11

We have the superpower of the Holy Spirit within us to help us overcome our enemy the devil. 

“For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” Ephesians 6:12 

But unlike the comic book heroes who mostly have alien or mutant abilities that can’t be recreated or transmitted to another person, our superpowers can be shared. And the more we share them, the stronger they get. 

“Two people are better off than one, for they can help each other succeed. If one person falls, the other can reach out and help. But someone who falls alone is in real trouble. Likewise, two people lying close together can keep each other warm. But how can one be warm alone? A person standing alone can be attacked and defeated, but two can stand back-to-back and conquer. Three are even better, for a triple-braided cord is not easily broken.” Ecclesiastes 4:9-12

Being a hero is hard. It’s a thankless job most of the time since heroes are supposed to keep their real identity a secret. This secret is meant to protect the innocent. Their friends, family, and love-interests that could be used by the villain (in our case Satan) to weaken them or cause them to give up fighting and being the hero. However, it is the IDEAL identity that causes so much harm. Because it masks who the hero really is and doesn’t allow them to deal with their flaws. And anyone who has seen a superhero movie or read a hero story knows, ALL heros have one, if not more than one, fatal flaw that is likely to be their undoing.

So, as much as it hurts to see my flaws laid out and my REAL identity exposed, I am now able to deal with each of the flaws. I can present them to God, ask for forgiveness, and get help changing to be more like Christ. 

A verse that greatly impacted how I see my identity is 2 Corinthians 5:17. The New King James Version says “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.” The Contemporary English Version says “Anyone who belongs to Christ is a new person. The past is forgotten, and everything is new.” What is my identity now? I’d probably write: 

Revised Identity 

#1 NEW

#2 FORGIVEN

#3 NOT FINISHED

#4 FREE IN CHRIST


Has your identity changed since you accepted Christ? Why or Why not? How has it changed? Despite how you feel, the Bible says that you are NEW, FORGIVEN, NOT FINISHED, and FREE in Christ. New because we have been washed clean and made pure again. I don’t know about you, but that meant the world to me. After feeling so dirty for so long, knowing that He washed me clean and made me pure again, was a blessing. Accepting that I was forgiven for all I had done was easier than accepting that I was forgiven for all I had yet to do. I wanted to live better and not sin so much, but that led me into a legalistic spiral of trying to “earn”it. I finally came to the realization that I am NOT FINISHED and therefore, I am not perfect — yet. I can’t judge myself, nor can I judge others, because we are ALL unfinished projects. Now I try to live free in Christ. Not taking grace for granted, but not shackling myself in legalism either.

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Who You Can Be

Who are you now? Is it who you thought you’d be? If not, why not? What is keeping you from being who you can be? It might be circumstances you can’t currently control, it might be God’s timing, or it might just be fear. Yes, sometimes we can be more afraid of greatness than of failing. It is then that we must choose courage. 

Living courageously is not easy and not for the faint of heart. As coined by Ambrose Redmoon and The Princess Diaries 

“Courage is not the absence of fear but rather the judgment that something else is more important than fear. The brave may not live forever but the cautious do not live at all. For now, you are traveling the road between who you think you are and who you can be.”

This makes me think about Peter. Impetuous, immature, outspoken, combative Peter. His start wasn’t fabulous and Jesus had to leash and muzzle him on more than one occasion. However, for all his talk and bravado, even he was counted among the deserters at the time of Jesus’ betrayal. 

But God knew what manner of man Peter was and who he could be. 

For, even though Peter denied Him, Jesus knew that Peter was a leader and that he would return and encourage his brethren. Though in the beginning he was rough around the edges, Peter matured and participated in some of the most profound things ever recorded in the Bible. Walking on the water with Jesus, identifying Jesus as the Christ, the Transfiguration, preaching at Pentecost, even raising the dead! 

Many of Peter’s reactions, I’m convinced, were ultimately rooted in fear. Fear of not being in control, fear of inaction or indecision, or fear of failure. Courageously overcoming these fears was part of what transformed Peter into the great leader he became. He came to the understanding that Jesus had provided all we’d ever need and lived accordingly. 

His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and goodness.  Through these He has given us His very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature, having escaped the corruption in the world caused by evil desires. 2 Peter 1:3-4

If there was hope for him, then there is hope for me.

I can live courageously in the power of Jesus Christ and accomplish all that He has for me to do. I do not have to be afraid of failure or greatness, because He will be there guiding my every step. We are all traveling the road between who we are and who we can be. Choose your course and your guide wisely.

A man’s heart plans his way, But the LORD directs his steps. Proverbs 16:9

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Making The Team

Chosen

Daniel checked the list on the door of the gym for his name. It wasn’t there. He didn’t make the team? His shoulders slumped as he turned to walk back to his bike. What happened? How did he not make the team? Daniel took his time riding home from the school. When he came in the back door, his big brother Michael was sitting at the bar working on his homework.

“What’s up squirt?” Michael asked as Daniel opened the refrigerator to get a drink.

“Nothing now.” Daniel mumbled. 

Michael turned to face Daniel. “What do you mean, nothing now?”

Daniel sat down on the opposite side of Michael. “I didn’t make the team at school. I just checked the door where they posted it.” Daniel took a long drink of his juice box.

Michael nodded. “Sorry squirt. I know you really wanted to be chosen for the school team this year.”

“Yeah, now I’ll have to play on the rec team again. They have to take everybody.” Daniel grumbled.

“I know it isn’t your first choice, but rec ball is a good way to build your skills. You can try out for the school team again next year.” Michael paused for a moment and watched his little brother. He had really struggled fitting in since they had moved. He knew Daniel wanted to make the team so he could make some friends.

“You know, I didn’t make the school team at your age either.” Michael said. 

Daniel looked up from the circles he was drawing on the countertop with his fingers. “Really? I thought you always got picked.”

“Nope. My first year at Jefferson I didn’t even make the alternate list. So I played rec ball and worked hard on my skills in the off season. When I tried out the next year, I made the team.” Michael reached around and got a juice box out of the refrigerator. 

“I just wanted to be picked.” Daniel whispered still looking at his fingers making circles on the countertop.

“I know, man. I did too. But Dad helped me to see it as an opportunity to work hard and get better. Plus, he shared a Bible verse with me that helped. It’s from Ephesians.” Michael grabbed his phone to look up the verse. “Here it is, Ephesians 1:4 — ‘Even before he made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in his eyes.’ Dad said that Jesus picked me for His team before He even created the world. That made me feel a little better about not making the school team.”

“Yeah, I guess.” Daniel perked up a bit. “I mean, being on Jesus’s team is more important than any other team.”

Michael smiled. “You know it! How about I finish my math homework later and you and I go practice some ball?”

Daniel jumped out of his seat. “Let’s go”

Follow Up Verse

“You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit–fruit that will last–and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you.” John 15:16

F. I. T. – Follow It Through

We might not always make the team or be chosen to play a special part or sing a solo, but God has chosen us to be His children in Christ. When we accept Jesus as our Savior, we become part of His family. We are CHOSEN.

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Fully Convinced

Do you believe that God is able to do whatever He promises?

If you do, are you living like you believe it? If someone polled your group of family and friends, would they say you do? If you don’t, why not? What is keeping you from living like you believe it? 

She lived fully convinced that 

God is able to do 

whatever He promises

I saw this quote on a friend’s Facebook page and I really liked it, but I also realized that I didn’t live like I believed it. I’ve been afraid to take big steps and dream big dreams. You know, the kind that require God to step in and make things happen?

Why? What am I afraid of? That people won’t like me? That I’ll mess up? So what? I probably will mess up. Knowing me, it’s almost guaranteed that I will trip or stumble over something. If (when) that happens, it doesn’t make God love me less. It doesn’t make me “less than” in any way. It just means that I am human. It might take me a few tries to get something right.

We don’t criticize babies for falling when they are learning to walk because they would become discouraged and probably never learn. Why then do we not apply that same principle to ourselves and others when we are learning something new?  

Who taught us to be afraid? 

Why are you discouraging yourself and others?

A little research will tell you that there are over 3000 promises in the Word of God. Some of them are blessings and some of them are consequences. To borrow from Beth Moore, 

God is who He says He is.

God can do what He says He can do.

I am who God says I am.

I can do all things through Christ.

God’s Word is alive and active in me. 

From now on, I am going to try to live like I believe God, not just believe in Him. Who knows how many I can convince to believe Him by convincing myself and living in a manner consistent with my beliefs.

“Being fully convinced that God is able to do whatever he promises. Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful.”

Romans 4:21, Hebrews 10:23

Strong and Courageous

Just a Bully

David came in from school and threw his backpack on the stairs. “Stupid Kevin!” David growled through clenched teeth. Dad came around the corner. “Whoa, what’s going on? Why are you so mad?” David sniffed and Dad reached out to hug him. As soon as David wrapped his arms around his dad, he broke down. His dad patted him on the back and led him to the couch to sit down. “Okay son, tell me what’s going on.” 

David sniffed again and wiped his eyes. “Kevin is being mean to the new guy in our class Gavin. When I tried to be Gavin’s friend, Kevin started being mean to me.” David crossed his arms angrily. “He’s such a bully!” 

Dad nodded his head. “I know that you and Kevin haven’t always gotten along. Did you tell your teacher what happened?”

David sighed and sat back on the couch. “Yes, and she said she would talk to him, but it never changes anything.”

Dad nodded again. “Well, you may have to take matters into your own hands.” 

David straightened and turned towards his dad. “What? You want me to get in a fight?”

Dad laughed but shook his head. “No. I don’t want you to get in a fight, but it is okay to stand up for yourself, as long as you do it the right way.”

Dad explained why some people bullied other people and then they watched some videos about how to peacefully stop a bully. David agreed to try it the next time Kevin picked on him or Gavin. 

The next morning at breakfast, David was feeling nervous. He knew that Kevin would start in on him, and Gavin, as soon as they got to school. 

“What’s wrong? Are the eggs not good?” Dad asked.

David sighed. “I don’t know if I can go through with it, Dad. What if it doesn’t work?”

Dad reached for his Bible. “I know just what you need. One of my favorite verses for when I’m feeling nervous is  Deuteronomy 31:6, “So be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid and do not panic before them. For the LORD your God will personally go ahead of you. He will neither fail you nor abandon you.”

David smiled. “Thanks, Dad. Can we pray before we go?” 

“Absolutely.” Dad said.

Follow Up Verse

“So be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid and do not panic before them. For the LORD your God will personally go ahead of you. He will neither fail you nor abandon you.” Deuteronomy 31:6

F. I. T. – Follow It Through

Do you get nervous or afraid sometimes? Trust in God. He is always with you. Trust God to take care of you.

Follow Through

I don’t know about you, but it has been a rough couple of  weeks. Getting kids back in school, planning and carrying out a birthday party, traveling with a youth group to a weekend conference, and trying to put the house back together, all while operating on only about five hours of sleep per night has made it hard for me to follow through with my Bible study and writing schedule.

I’ve made myself a calendar to try to schedule my time so that I can follow through and meet deadlines but life hasn’t necessarily been helping me out. I’m also trying not to beat myself up too much that the Bible study I am currently working on hasn’t seen me in like two (or ten) days.

What is working in my life right now is getting to school on time, doing a short devotional each morning with my youngest daughter, and discussing how we can apply what the devotional says to our life. So, even though things are going according to my plan right now, doesn’t mean they’re not going according to God’s plan.

“We can make our plans, but the LORD determines our steps.” Proverbs 16:9 NLT

I’ll get my wagon back on track and get into a rhythm again. I just have to keep on. And you can make it too. Don’t give up. RESOLVE to follow through. Even if there is only one thing you can follow through on, do it. Don’t set yourself up for failure. Just choose one thing and set yourself a short time frame.  

Want to start getting up and reading your Bible in the morning? The don’t bite off too much. Go to bed 30 minutes earlier than you normally would and set your alarm for 30 minutes earlier to wake up. Choose a book to start in and read just one chapter. If a chapter is too much, start with five verses and work your way up. Get a notebook and record whatever the Lord impresses upon your heart.

Ask: What is this verse telling me?

Apply: What can I do about it?

Reflect: What happened after I applied the verse to my life?

Or, if you feel like you need a little more structure and direction, find a devotional or Bible study to help guide your reading. 

Following through will become more second nature. We can do this. After all, our end goal is to become more like Jesus. That is a goal worth following through on.

“And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:19

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Made New

Someone Like Me

Steph sat in the conference with her head bowed and her heart pounding. The speaker, a pastor, had talked about how Jesus had changed the life of so many people. He gave example after example of person after person. People with anxiety, people with depression, people who were bullied for being different; all kinds of people. But not people like me, she thought.

Steph’s friend Gemma had invited her to go to this youth conference over winter break. Steph had thought it would be fun. She could hang out, shop, and get away from her life for a little while. She hadn’t planned on this. She wasn’t prepared to face the questions and deal with all the realness of it.

“You can have the same freedom that Sam and Alex and Jennifer have experienced.” The pastor continued. Steph’s heart continued to pound. She wanted that freedom. But what would people think about her? Especially someone like me. 

“Don’t worry about what others may think. This is a decision only you can make. Reach out and grab a friend if you need to. Come. Counselors are waiting to talk to you.”

Steph thought she might throw up. The harder her heart pounded, the more sick she became. She reached out and took Gemma’s hand.  When their eyes met, Gemma started crying and pulled Steph into a tight hug. “Can I come with you?” she whispered into her ear. Steph wasn’t able to speak so she just nodded. Hand in hand, they walked to the front to meet with a counselor. 

With every step, Steph was bombarded with misgivings. What am I doing? Maybe this isn’t a good idea. Jesus will never accept someone like me. I’ve made too many mistakes. Thoughts raced through her mind as they walked through the door to the counseling room. Gemma practically dragged Steph to the middle of the room where a woman was standing holding up a book. 

“Hey, are you available?” Gemma asked her.

“Absolutely! My name is Lynn. Who are we talking to?” Gemma indicted Steph and Lynn turned to face her. “What’s your name?”

“I’m Steph.” Lynn turned to the other girl. “And who are you?” The girl smiled. “I’m Gemma.” Lynn shook both girls hand. Alright, this is my first time doing this and I’m supposed to read this to you and we’ll go from there, okay?” As Lynn read the different options Steph wanted to race out of the room. What was she doing? Jesus was never going to accept someone like her. She really shouldn’t waste this woman’s time. However, when Lynn read the part about knowing Jesus but falling away from Him, Steph’s heart began to burn and tears started pooling in her eyes. “That one.”

“Oh Steph! God has sent me to you. I understand. Let me tell you a little bit about me.” Lynn explained what she’d experienced and how Jesus had changed her on the inside and on the outside. Steph’s heart leaped in hope. Here was someone like her! Lynn continued to encourage Steph with scripture after scripture and story after story. When they finally prayed together, Steph knew that this was the right decision. Just before they left, Lynn pulled her into a hug, then looked deeply into her eyes. “Steph, I’m not going to lie to you. It’s not going to be easy, but you can do this. I’ll be praying for you.” 

Follow Up Verse

This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun! 2 Corinthians 5:17 NLT

OPERATION: ACTIVATE 

Have you accepted Jesus as your savior but not lived like it? You can come back! Jesus loves you and promises that you can be made clean and pure and new. Pray, confess your sins, and ask for forgiveness. Make a commitment to really follow Jesus, get into the Word, and find a friend to help you stay accountable. 

Accountability

I did it. 

I joined an accountability group. 

As much as accountability scares me, I knew it was the right thing for me to do. I need someone to call me out, congratulate me, encourage me, and, most especially, pray for me. As a group we decided to each choose a word for the year and share it with each other. We have prayed about what our word should be and the purpose of the word in our lives. 

Share each other’s burdens, and in this way obey the law of Christ. Galatians 6:2

My word for this year is follow through. Yes, I know technically that’s two words, but it has the one definition I need for my year: “to press on in an activity or process especially to a conclusion.” I chose this word because I have been having a hard time with it. There were so many things I wanted to do last year (and, in the previous years) that I didn’t accomplish because I didn’t follow through. I didn’t. It is no one’s fault but mine. I do not want a repeat of the disappointment I experienced, therefore, I am focusing on following through.

For I know the plans I have for you,” says the LORD. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope. Jeremiah 29:11

I would encourage you to do the same. If you are a list maker like me, make a list of what you want to accomplish this year, break it down into manageable “bites” and make a plan to follow through. Ask some trusted friends to help keep you accountable and look forward to a fabulous year.

Two people are better off than one, for they can help each other succeed. Ecclesiastes 4:9