Tag Archives: resolutions

Week 43: Looking Back, Moving Forward

Happy New Year!

Those three words have filled my last twenty four hours to the brim. And I find myself looking back over the past year.

I recall writing up what I called a goal list for last year and have probably only reached half of them in the last 12 months. The pastor at the church I attended this morning made a statement that really hit home:

“God may have given you that dream in the last twelve months, but how do you know that it was meant to come to fruition before now? Maybe this next year will be when those dreams come true.”

Sure, I have plenty of dreams…some of which have kept me awake at night. Some I’ve had since I was a kid and others I came to realize recently.

I’ve been making resolutions…just not New Year’s resolutions. And I’m keeping the list short…for now.

1. Be financially healthy.
2. Be physically healthy. Go to the gym 6 days a week. Do yoga twice a week to start and move my way up to three, if not every day. Eat more vegetables. Drink more water. Lose 10 lbs before my 27th birthday.
3. Finish at least one novel and get it published.
4. Excel in something.
5. Overcome an insecurity of mine.
6. Keep this blog up-to-date.
7. Be active in my community…or at least in the community where the Vine will be planted (Uptown).
8. Volunteer – give time and resources to a cause I believe in in the city.

I’ll pause there…the list has the possibility of growning. Here’s to moving forward in 2012. I have a feeling it’s going to be a great year!

A Resolution to Truly Bless My Man

Note to reader: The following is the result of further study, research and reflection after reading a portion of The Resolution for Women by Priscilla Shirer, a book written upon the influence of the movie Courageous, which hit theaters nation-wide in September/October of 2011.

Even if I remain my single all  the days God has for me in this lifetime.

Certainly, you may be thinking that I have no business talking about marraige or may even have an idea what it takes to be married. But, even in my single state, I’ve learned that I need to seek answers and learn from my peers before I take that step…hopefully, sometime in the future.

Someone needs to ask the hard questions and we single women need to heed to the advice of those who have traveled down that road.

Questions like – Am I ready (or will I be ready) to fully and completely invest myself into that union (marriage)? How will I serve him? How will I esteem him? Build him up? Honor him? Am I or will I be ready to give the time and energy, the emotional effort and attention that would be required to keep myself contented and my husband satisfied even when I didn’t or don’t feel like it? How about when he doesn’t deserve it? Am I or will I be sure?

Have I even considered the selflessness that would be required of me to fulfill my husband and assist him in accomplishing the work God has put him on earth to do? Will I be ready to do this that honors God in a biblical way?

In reading the next section of The Resolution, I’ve rediscovered things that I know (and we all tend to forget). Men possess two great fears:

  • The fear of being found inadequate
  • The fear of being controlled by a woman

My brothers both deal with this…as they’ve ever so lovingly remind me. (I’ve seriously considered the thought that they’ve been given to me for practice…blessings as they are.)

They long to be the hero. They want to feel like they are worthwhile to us women and needed by us. Any husband longs to see a look of love and admiration in your eyes. He wants to know that you celebrate him, depend on him, feel privileged to be married to him, and expect great things from him.

Priscilla Shirer points out that in spite of man’s fear for inadequacy, we must remember that our husband is capable, honorable, and worthy of our attention and admiration. He is fulfilled when he senses that we believe in him. Take the steps to pray for him, root for him, assure him that he still has what it takes rather than cut him down.

We must remember that people are not defined by their imperfections. Men, in particular, were divinely wired to be leaders, fathers and providers. Granted, in this fallen world, the characteristics that make a man great are hard to come by.

Let me ask you this: What would a man do differently if he knew he couldn’t lose his wife’s love and respect, no matter what he did?

Shirer also reminds us that at Creation, we were all created equal; not one above the other value-wise. This addresses the man’s fear of being controlled by a woman. We both hold equal value, but we are not the same. His way of doing things is not wrong. It’s just different.

We women tend to complicate them. Men, as complex as they are, are simple and uncomplicated. They aren’t turned on by a demanding, screaming wife who doesn’t recognize their value and significance.

Men will never get over these fears without us woman. But with us…God created you to be a suitable helper (Genesis 2:18).

There is nothing happier (or more attractive) than a man who actually feels like one.

In the next section, Shirer points to Peter’s words in 1 Peter 3:1-5:

Wives…be submissive to your husbands so that, if any of them do not believe the word, they may be won over without words by the behavior of their wives, when they see the purity and reverence of your lives. Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as braided hair and the wearing of gold jewelry and fine clothes. Instead, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight. For this is the way the holy women of the past who put their hope in God used to make themselves beautiful. They were submissive to their own husbands. NIV

Gentle.

Quiet.

Gentle in this sense means to be humble, considerate, meek. It means being kind to our husbands the way we want them to be kind to us. (I can’t help but think of the phrase “Kill them with kindness”…it brings a small smile to my face).

Can I resolve to do that? Can you? Can you stop and think before you blurt our another criticism, whether you’re communicating kindness to him? If not, could you keep your opinion to yourself?

What are some ways that I could proactively express kindness toward my future spouse? Is there something that I could do, even as a single woman, that would show my desire to think of my husband’s need above my own?
This is something we all need to seek out.

Quiet. Meaning well-ordered (not silent), to lead a peaceable and discreet life, thus lightening the task of the one in authority…lightening the load of your husband.

This is how I, as a single woman, should approach marriage. I need to be asking myself how I can be a load-lifter and a burden lightener instead of a needy woman looking to be served, coddled, and made content by her man. That is what God calls me to do and it would be wise that I seek and heed this advice now, before I walk down the aisle.

Will I resolve to do this, not just for my sake, but for my husband’s? For God’s call on my life?

My heart resounds: YES!

Keeping Jesus at Your Center

In wrapping up my 25 days of Christmas, I would like to propose a thought to you all with the coming new year.

I, for one, do not make New Year’s resolutions. If I call it that, I never end up keeping them. I’m always in a constant state of bettering myself, wanting to excel in everything I do. I choose healthier eating options, go to the gym five days a week, do yoga, spend time with God, spend quality time with friends and family, become a better musician and writer…and the list goes on.

Most of us even end up re-prioritizing our priorities at the end of the year…saying that next year will be the year that we will keep Jesus in first place…leaving our lists looking more like this:

1. Jesus
2. Family, friends and others
3. Career
4. Volunteer
5. Music and writing
Etc…

This year, I’m choosing to not just have Jesus first, but keep Him in everything on that list.

Prioritizing the list that way seems to remove Jesus from the majority of your life and gives Him an  island all His own, making it a rather ineffective list when you get down to the grind of every day life. Jesus should be infused into every nook and cranny, rather than given a separate time or section of it.

After all, the scriptures repeatedly tell us that Jesus is first before and over everything; all things were created through and for Him; in Him all things hold together; the goal of the cross was to reconcile all things to Himself (Colossians 1:15-20).

Jesus is first.

First in order.

First in importance.

He is so because He is the center of everything.

That’s what He should be in your life. And consequently, the thing that is the center of your life will automatically be first in your life.

That priority list should instead look more like this:

Jesus in my family, friends and others.
Jesus in my career.
Jesus in my volunteering opportunities.
Jesus in my musicianship.
Jesus in my writing.

Jesus in in my everything.

This year, instead of worrying about putting Jesus first in your life, what if you concentrated on making Him the center of every area of your life? Not just the top priority in front of every other priority, but the top priority in every priority?

We’d probably be a lot more successful in actually keeping Jesus at the top spot on our list. And we’d be much more likely to do an exponentially greater job at accomplishing our other goals and maintaining our priorities.

That is my prayer for you, not only with the company year, but for your life. May He be the center of everything.

A Resolution to Do Justice, Love Mercy and Walk Humbly with my God

Note to reader: The following is the result of further study, research and reflection after reading a portion of The Resolution for Women by Priscilla Shirer, a book written upon the influence of the movie Courageous, which hit theaters nation-wide in September/October of 2011.

He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God. Micah 6:8 NASB

I’ve been searching throughout my near-27-year existence. I chose to follow Christ at the age of four while sitting on my mother’s lap reading a bed time story and since then I’ve been searching. What did it mean to be a Christian? I know I have a purpose and a place; what is it? Even as a young adult, I still have questions. What should I study that would make an impact in my world? What opportunities should I accept? Which direction should I pursue? Should I go back to school? And for what?

I want to be in His will, but I’m not sure what that looks like in my life. I want to be a part of something that will make an impact for His kingdom…not one I construct out of the temporary materials of this life. That doesn’t mean anything. That doesn’t leave a footprint.

Then I read the following questions:

 

What if the discolusure of His continued purposes for your life is at least partly dependent on your obedience to what He’s already set before you? What if He wants to see your level of faithfulness in responding to what you do know before He fills you in on what you don’t?

 

Micah 6:8 states that God has shown us.

This much I do know:

  1. Do justice.
  2. Love mercy.
  3. Walk humbly with my God.

Justice. A woman resolved to do justice doesn’t take advantage of people even if she has the means and opportunity to do so. She determines instead to act rightly – to pursue a just solution – to deliberately consider the best way people or circumstances could be served in a particular situation, even if at her own expense. Her primary interest is seeing justice done, seeking solutions that are fair, reasonable, objective and, most importantly, expressive of the love of Christ.

I want to be that type of woman.

Mercy. To “love mercy” means to have a hearty interest in doing things that bless and impact others’ lives. It means considering their needs above your own, not because they necessarily deserve it but simply because you “love” doing it for them.

That what God’s mercy looks like toward you and me. He has chosen to give what we don’t deserve. Like Christ, we should be willing to do gracious things for toherseven when their actions and past choices don’t necessarily warrant it.

Just because.

Humility. Combine justice and mercy. What do you get? Someone who walks humbly with their God. She continuously puts the needs of others first. Correctly assesses her own value. She doesn’t see herself too hihgy, of course, but not too lowly either. She just pursues the will of God daily, faithfully trusting that what He’s said and commanded of her is worth her doing her very best. And when He’s ready to share more, she’s ready to receive it and respond.

Wrap all three together and you get a full life.

So why am I still searching?

Is it because it messes with the American dream that our culture attempts to brainwash us in?

Am I concerned about being uncomfortable?

This is at the very heart of the gospel I claim to believe. It is what God requires of me. How can I say that I want to be a part of God’s will and ignore this very vital part?

Gary A. Haugen writes, “Christians…seem to have the amazing ability to say the most wonderful things without actually believing them…(i.e. blessed are the poor and humble; it’s better to give than to receive; just not, lest you be judged; love your neighbor as yourself, etc.)…and examining, one by one, how differently I would live my life if I actually believed such things. The sayings of Christ coexist passively in their minds, producing hardly any effect beyond what is cause by mere listening to words so amiable and bland.”

Challenging and true.

If we really believed the gospel that we’ve been called to live, don’t you that we would then live like it, even it meant dealing with the discomforts His commands may cause?

My heart burns.

Compassion is rising.

Who is God calling you to seek justice for? To show kindness toward?

The woman who lives under the overpass you see every day on your way to work.

The neighbor who’s soldier-husband recently came home wounded from war. She’s now a caregiver not only for her three young children but also for her disabled partner.

The teenager, pregnant for the second time, whos’ been ostracized by her family and really needs a shoulder to lean on.

All of these require time, energy and resources; gifts and extras that we may feel like we can’t give.

But know this…

If God births in you the compassion to help, He will also multiple in you the means to handle it.

Obeying Him is the key that unlocks that door.

Take each opportunity to know His will and do it without reservation.

Walk justly, mercifully and humbly with your God.

A Resolution to Care

Note to reader: The following is the result of further study, research and reflection after reading a portion of The Resolution for Women by Priscilla Shirer, a book written upon the influence of the movie Courageous, which hit theaters nation-wide in September/October of 2011.

Look…! Observe! Be astonished! Wonder! Because I am doing something in your days – you would not believe if you were told. Habakkuk 1:5 NASB

Have you ever wanted to turn away from a story pictured on the news? Or an episode of 48 hours? Or leave a classroom because the topic of the class did not jive with you? Made you uncomfortable? Or even turn off your Wednesday night run of Criminal Minds because of the horror displayed?

I have. Many times.

Let me ask you this: are you concerned with the hearts of those dear to you? How about the girl in the cubicle next to yours? Or the man who just lost his home to a fire? Or even a family member; a father; a mother? A sibling?

We live in a fallen world. We need to see pain to know that it’s real and to believe that God can do anything with a single touch or even you.

Shirer states that if God didn’t show us, our hearts would not be moved. If He simply told you what His plans were or how He was going to use you to solve them, you wouldn’t be able to grasp the full depth and height of the problem or what the touch of His supernatural care, kindness, and wisdom could accomplish through you. If He allowed you to turn your face away and remain unaware of the situation, you’d never know the outworking of compassion the Spirit of God is inviting and empowering you to experience.

God has decided to show us instead. He is preparing us to envision how stunning His work can be, even through ordinary people like you and me.

If we were truly concerned with helping others get to heaven, we’d better be equally concerned about the quality of their existence in the here and now.

I love the bridge to Hosanna by Hillsong; the part that goes like this: Break my heart for what breaks Yours :: Everything I am for Your Kingdom’s cause :: As I walk from earth into eternity.

The first time I heard those words, my heart fell to its knees. What kind of supernatural power are we choosing to avoid experiencing by not having a heart broken for the plights of those around us?

I needed to have a heart that was broken. We all do. We need to not only allow it to break, but ask God to break it. We need to be offended and heartsick over the same things that shatter His heart. We need to pray that He’ll break our hearts.

What example do we have? Jesus.

Scripture is full of the portrait of the Man who didn’t walk blindly down the dusty, ancient roads of His day, bypassing human devastation and need without a second glance. He paid close attention. He was moved with compassion. He stopped to care for those who were disenfranchised and distressed.

His heart was broken when He saw the hungry (Matthew 15:32).
…when He saw the sick (Matthew 14:14).
…when He saw the emotionally devastated (Luke 7:13, John 6:35).
…when He saw the lonely and spiritually lost (Matthew 9:36).

When He wasn’t extending compassion, He was talking about it. Showing mercy toward others was an important part of the gospel He came to offer. He didn’t turn a blind eye to people’s physical needs in order to get to the more important spiritual one.

He took His broken heart as a sign to do something; to act in accordance with the Father’s will.

He went.

He served.

He listened.

He healed.

Jesus didn’t just preach a gospel; He lived one.

He saved you for many reasons, but one of them is so that others can sense His compassion manifested toward them through you. Not just in words, but in action. You are His hands and feet – hands that are for more than writing personal checks, feet that are for more than walking to church aor to the mailbox so that someone else can be resourced to go.

Light is brightest against the backdrop of darkness. Be the light.

Diamonds are most brilliant against a backcloth of black velvet. Be the diamond.

Look. Again. Allow yourself to feel. Allow your heart to be broken.

Until what takes your breath away or breaks your heart is not the gravity of the problem but the power of God to heal it – one touch, one person at a time.