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Posts Tagged ‘purposeful living’

He has empowered us to release that which binds us.One thing. That was all that stood between the young man and his goal–eternal life. He sensed it. He knew there was more than earth and sky, heart and flesh, sorrow and pleasure. From childhood, he’d recited the Law and held to the traditions of his people.

But, rote prayers and methodical religiosity left him as empty as a cistern in a time of drought and the man wondered if he’d ever discover a life-giving well that might sate his spiritual thirst for something more than dry tradition and impossible standards. He’d worked earnestly since childhood—striving to be good enough. No lying. No cheating. No murder.

 Still…the ache for a taste of forever. For unmarred perfection. For heart satisfaction.

And something, or perhaps Someone, pricked at his soul. Ask. Seek. Knock.

The world, though, had been a place of solace despite the elusive inner ache and the man reminded himself of his good fortune. Didn’t he own fine homes? Possess old money? Demand the sort of respect and deference afforded a man of power and influence?

How disappointing to hear the Rabbi’s words, “One thing you lack.”

Glancing from Jesus to his disciples, the young man’s mouth might have been shaped in an “o” of surprise. How can I lack for anything? I hold devoutly to the commands of the Torah . Servants bend their will to mine and I have enough riches for the rest of my days.

Why must the Teacher make such a request?  “Give all your wealth to the poor and follow me.

But, the man “was holding on tight to many things and wasn’t about to let go”. Crestfallen, he turned away from Jesus, unwilling to give the one thing Jesus wanted. Himself. His heart, mind, and soul. Not just pennies in the offering plate or a few self-righteously lived moments marked off on a mental score board. Not a token sacrifice of time spent reading scripture or a prayer recited in a desperate moment.

Jesus asked the man to loosen his grip on that which kept them from knowing one another, devotion to something else. Devotion to wealth. Position. Comfort. Earthly security.

Though it grieved the young ruler, he held fast and chose the comfort of now in favor of the promise of a beautiful, forever-love. The man was unwillingly to exchange the vanishing riches of earth for the unmatchable mercy and grace of One who would momentarily die for his sins.

How many of us are like the rich young ruler—clutching that one thing? Holding it fast as if our life depends upon it?

We may have even professed our faith, but might be missing out on fully living in relationship with Christ as we grip that one thing to our hearts. Loving it. Elevating it to a place of prominence. Not willing to entrust it to Him.

Perhaps some us struggle with attachment to possessions, but there are hundreds of little gods that might thrust themselves into our relationship with Christ…a woman-made relationship barrier.

Bitterness. Unforgiveness. Discontentment.

Worry. Fear. A difficult past.

Is that one thing in your life or mine leaving our hearts parched? Needing to be washed afresh with Living Water?

Oh, dear one, may He gently reveal any lack in our lives and empower us to release whatever binds us to the earthly that we might turn our hearts fully toward heaven’s  Promise.

Blessings,       

Tammy

 

Scripture for Reflection

And as he was setting out on his journey, a man ran up and knelt before him and asked him, “Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” 18 And Jesus said to him, “Why do you call me good? No one is good except God alone. 19 You know the commandments: ‘Do not murder, Do not commit adultery, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Do not defraud, Honor your father and mother.’” 20 And he said to him, “Teacher, all these I have kept from my youth.” 21 And Jesus, looking at him, loved him, and said to him, “You lack one thing: go, sell all that you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.”  (Mark 10:17-31 ESV)

 

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Having a God-sized dream isn_t about me living big. It_s about God living big in me

 

I wish I knew my God-sized dreams. I have no idea what they would be and it’s not because I am already living them. I feel useless for God and His kingdom and like I don’t have an impact on other lives.

My heart dropped as I read her words. How many of us have wondered about our purpose? Struggled to discover meaning in our lives? Asked God to give us a God-sized dream and felt disappointed when our prayers seemed to disappear on the wind?

Years ago, when my children were small, I felt much the same way. I allowed ill-conceived thoughts to embed themselves in my spirit. You aren’t accomplishing anything. You should be doing something bigger…something more for God.

 I began entertaining lies as truth and discovered discontentment grew where joy used to live.

Like this dear one, I misunderstood. Having a God-sized dream isn’t about me living big. It’s about God living big in me—whatever that looks like at the time. Each of us was designed intentionally with unique gifts, talents, and abilities that we might participate in God’s mission—that those who are lost might be found. (Luke 19:10).

That’s the beauty of the Church. Each one who follows Christ has opportunity to participate in fulfilling God’s mission for others by living and loving right where we are—regardless of age, stage, or occupation.

In loving others, we live for Him. In loving others, we make a difference. In loving others, we discover our God-sized dreams.

Blessings,

Tammy

Questions to Guide You Discovering Your God-sized Dream

  • In what area(s) has God given you a passion?
  • Do your friends and family consistently take note of your abilities in certain areas?
  • If doubt and fear weren’t issues, what would you pursue?

 

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WinterThe quiet stillness of a snow-shrouded evening encased our home like a gentle cocoon  and most evenings I would have slipped into bed with a smile; content in the cluttered reality of our home–my youngest son’s super hero collection strewn about his floor, my daughter’s treasured dolls tucked into their makeshift bed with the loving hands of a little girl, and a load of folded laundry sitting on the sofa until tomorrow with hopes that the unmatched socks might find their mates.

But tonight, while my family slept soundly, my restless thoughts turned first to self-reflection–Had I done something to cause doubt?  Was there a failure on my part to engender trust?  Quickly, I resorted to self-recrimination–an old habit of a reformed people-pleaser. Surely, God hadn’t meant for me to serve Him in this capacity. I’m not meant to be a leader.  I’m better suited to coming alongside one person at a time–listening to hurts, offering a hug, quietly encouraging….not this.

Have you, too, wondered why you are serving God in a particular place or position?  Do you doubt your abilities? your purpose?  Dare I even say it…have you wondered about God’s wisdom in giving you a certain sort of influence or leadership opportunity?

I admit it.  I am a self-doubter….a purpose-seeker…and a believer who would often prefer dew on the fleece or handwriting on the wall to the uncertain business of discerning God’s will for my life.  But, most often God reveals his desires for His people in the mysterious places of the heart–where Spirit responds to spirit.  These are the opportunities in which believers can grow–in trust…in faith…in awe of God’s ability to use fallible God-lovers to do His work.

As the evening hours slowly faded into a new morning, I began to pray for a different perspective.  A perspective focused not on myself or on the perceptions of others, but on the work of Christ and His plan.  And finally, peace settled in my heart like the snow on the bare tree limbs outside the window.

Scripture for Reflection

But Moses said to God, “Who am I…?  (Exodus 3:11)

For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works,which God prepared in advance for us to do.  (Ephesians 2:10)

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imagePerched atop a weather worn balcony, my gaze sweeps the views afforded by the Arkansas River valley.  Surrounded on every side by mountains, the prairie splays wide between–a broad swath of sun kissed grasses and gray-green sagebrush.  Barbed wire fences zig zag across the landscape and disappear somewhere in the distance where plains and mountains merge.  And the rush of the river below creates a duet with the black capped chickadees darting from one pine branch to another.

I pause…inhaling the calm of this place–a welcome respite from the clamoring sounds of suburbia.

 

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I’m struck by the river as it hurries by–always moving toward something unknown…the promise of what lies around the next bend luring it away from the beauty of its here and now.  And in its incessant winding and wending, I wonder if the river ever pauses long enough just to notice.

But maybe it’s my life I’m really considering–how quickly time moves and twenty years young suddenly becomes forty and now I am my parents while my children have become me.  And like ripples across the river’s surface, my face has begun to wear life’s lines and the days rush by.

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I wonder… In all of the busyness–does my life make a difference?  I pray that even in my smallness God will show Himself large…that these worn mother’s hands will willingly do the work of laundry and dishes and tucking into bed with the tenderness of  the Heavenly Father and that simple words shared on a page will remind you, dear Friend, that the Word is eternal.  He stands strong in the rushing waters–even walks on them–with his hands extended toward you.

No matter how rapid the current and despite the busyness flooding our lives, let’s hold onto the one who leads us beside still waters. (Psalm 23)

 

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The barren places..we all have them. They are the wounded, aching parts left empty; still waiting to be filled.

Was your mother critical, self-absorbed, or caught up in a drama so consuming that she overlooked your hurts? Did your father fail to fight for you–abandon you when you needed a hero? Perhaps your husband chose another or your children turned from their faith.
Invite The Lord to tend those wounds, Friend. He is “the balm of Gilead”. He offers the everlasting salve for a needy soul.

We may grieve momentary losses of relationship, yet we have gained the eternal presence of Christ. We may yearn for the tender words of a mother’s heart but the Lord exclaims, “I have loved you with an everlasting love!” We may desire the triumphant, sacrificial love of a hero and we know that the Lamb of God expelled his last breath thinking of us–you and me. He is the hero of our yesterdays, today’s, and tomorrow’s.

Take heart. Be encouraged. Your barren places will be filled for He is willing and able.

Scripture for Reflection
A bruised reed he will not break. Isaiah 42:3

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OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAs a little girl I imagined my name was Tamara–so much more elegant and interesting than plain Tammy.  I wanted to do amazing things…serve in the Peace Corps…write a bestseller…perform on Broadway.  Even now–mid-way through life and buried beneath loads of laundry and books about childrearing–I have dreams of being applauded as I belt out tunes to Les Miserables or Phantom of the Opera.  In reality,  I’m yelling through the door at my teenaged son who chose not to go to school because the traffic jam was too difficult to navigate.

I’m tired nearly all of the time and always seem to have crumbs on the kitchen floor.  My closets are only organized once or twice each year and the kids rarely wear matching socks.  Where do they all go? 

My husband and I watch movies in installments because we fall asleep.  The towel rack in the bathroom has fallen off–again. And, we’re happy.

Our home isn’t quiet–how could it be with three boys and a feisty little girl?  The children argue, have tantrums, and lose their homework.  Dave and I feel overwhelmed most of the time.

God may not have given me a stage on which to perform.  I haven’t travelled to third world countries to hold impoverished babies.  Instead, my challenges, joys, sorrows, and delights are directed by and immersed in this messy life of motherhood, marriage, and moments of worshipping the God who provided it all.

Joy can’t be found in the what-if’– it’s in those moments that make up living.  I think I like being plain Tammy.

Verse for Reflection:

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy SpiritRomans 15:13

Recommended Reading

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Dear One,

I’ve been watching you.  Your hard work hasn’t gone unnoticed. I see the way you meet the needs of your family and friends–serving from dawn till dusk without complaint. You search out opportunities to be My hands.

I’ve been listening to you. I hear the words you offer in prayer for your husband, children, and loved ones. Your gentle encouragement soothes weary hearts in a world that needs more of Me. You search for words that offer Life.

I’ve been waiting for you. Sometimes, Child, you’re consumed with life’s demands and responsibilities. Instead of leaving room for me, I’m pushed aside by your earnest desire to do what is right. Make time for me and “all these things will be added unto you”.  Search for Me.

Love always,

Your Father

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With Words Love Faith Hope Royalty Free Stock Photo, Pictures, Images ...

 

Live with the end in mind.  As I mull over the meaning of the phrase and how it might impact my life, several questions demand consideration.

The first–Why live with the end in mind?  There is enough motherhood mayhem and workplace drama to consume just one day of living.  How can I cast my vision beyond a teenage son’s struggle with depression or the uncertainty of managing a better-than-fiction public relations issue?  One word of scripture presses through these everyday, human concerns.  Faith. 

In the midst of my average-woman-regular-living, I can place my hand just above my eyes–diminishing some of today’s distractions.  And, if I look closely enough, I can see it dimly…far off in the distance.  The promises of tomorrow exchanged for all of my todays.

Why live with the end in mind?  Because the beauty of each day is only a foretaste of something better.  Because the struggles of being human will one day be discounted as nothing more than momentary.  Because the way I live now points toward the One in whom I trust.

 

Verses for Reflection

The fundamental fact of existence is that this trust in God, this faith, is the firm foundation under everything that makes life worth living. It’s our handle on what we can’t see. The act of faith is what distinguished our ancestors, set them above the crowd.            (Heb. 11:1-2 MSG)

Each one of these people of faith died not yet having in hand what was promised, but still believing. How did they do it? They saw it way off in the distance, waved their greeting, and accepted the fact that they were transients in this world. People who live this way make it plain that they are looking for their true home. If they were homesick for the old country, they could have gone back any time they wanted. But they were after a far better country than that—heaven country. You can see why God is so proud of them, and has a City waiting for them.  (Heb. 11:13-16 MSG)

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With a turn of the page another month is gone and a new one takes its place.  Time continues moving ahead and I wonder, “Do I live with the end in mind?”  I’m not sure.  When I woke up this morning, I didn’t embrace the sunlight with thoughts of praise or thank God for a warm bed and restful sleep.  Instead, concerns of  the here and now pricked at the tender places in my heart.

Will my boy make it through this rough spot?  Am I guiding, helping, doing enough? 

Will this new diet help Heather’s stomach aches? 

Can we squeeze in enough tutoring to really change my little one’s struggles with dyslexia? 

Is my mother going to be alright when she moves?  How long will her dwindling savings last?

My right eye began its nervous twitching and I hadn’t even put my feet on the floor (which, unsurprisingly, needs to be vacuumed in the worst way!)

Live with the end in mind.  That was the phrase posted on a marquis outside the little church on the corner.

Am I living my life with the end in mind?  Do I live to glorify Him?  Yes–when I turn the day’s worries over to the One who is over all things.  Yes–if I give my wonderful but messy family life to the Father who tends to each need in ways only He can.  So….in this moment…and for today I am deliberately choosing to live with the end in mind.

There is more than the concern that greets me in the morning.  There is more than a sink full of dishes or bills waiting to be paid.  There is more in Christ–more joy, peace, love, and strength.  Today, I want more of that.  I’m going to live with the end in mind.

Verses for Reflection

Watch for this: The time is coming’—God’s Decree—‘when I will keep the promise I made to the families of Israel and Judah. When that time comes, I will make a fresh and true shoot sprout from the David-Tree. He will run this country honestly and fairly. He will set things right. That’s when Judah will be secure and Jerusalem live in safety. The motto for the city will be, “God Has Set Things Right for Us.”  (Jeremiah 33:14-16 MSG)

 

 

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Now the donkeys of Kish, Saul’s father, were lost. (1 Samuel 3:9)

SIt’s an ordinary day–not unlike any other. You sip half a cup of Dunkin’ Donuts hazelnut coffee and start your morning routine. Pack lunches…sign student planners…feed the dog. You’ve set out vitamins, breakfast dishes, toast and cereal. You’re youngest two children wake up and start squabbling while one of the highschoolers refuses to get out of bed and the other starts throwing up.

Yes–it’s another ordinary day.

Is God in the middle of all of this ordinary? You wonder.

Saul probably asked the same thing. “The donkeys ran off again,” his dad said. Saul knew what that meant–a couple of days roaming the countryside with his servant boy and a loaf of bread. It was an ordinary day in Saul’s life, too.

Saul’s normal day led from one seemingly unconnected event to the next, but a closer look at Chapter 9 reveals a picture of God’s involvement in the smallest of details. Like a dot-to-dot, each step brings Saul closer to the fulfillment of something greater. In his case, it was becoming Israel’s king.

In my case? Not so much. But, God is in the details. The regular, minute-by-minute, this-is-my-life details. From that first taste of coffee until the moment I close my eyes, God is there. At the end of the road–when I’ve stopped chasing the donkeys–I’ll be able to understand more about his plan.

Where do you think the donkeys are taking you?

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