Archives For Purpose

Squirrel!

December 27, 2016 — Leave a comment

Once! Only one time have I posted in this blog this year.  Shame on me.  Something I set out to be diligent about and here we are concluding 2016 and I have simply 1 post. I am looking back and this year and am truly confused on how it went so fast!

The end of any year is always a great time to take stock of things and begin to plan out the path for the upcoming year; and for me, this year is no different.  It is hard for me to sum up 2016 in a word much less a sentence.  Heck, I don’t think I could write a book explaining this year.  From difficult closures of one season to the new beginnings of another 2016 has been scattered with so many different experiences.  When you sum them all up together, this has been one crazy year.

One thing that has become more and more obvious to me, even as I logged on to my blog to post and noticed I have only 1 entire post this year, is how easily distracted we can become.

My life sometimes looks just like the silly dog in the movie “Up”.  I can be so easily distracted by a squirrel.  Ok, for all of you who have no idea what I am talking about:

But in all seriousness, there is a great quote from C.S. Lewis that really brings it home:

“We are always falling in love or quarreling, looking for jobs or fearing to lose them, getting ill and recovering, following public affairs. If we let ourselves, we shall always be waiting for some distraction or other to end before we can really get down to our work. The only people who achieve much are those who want knowledge so badly that they seek it while the conditions are still unfavorable. Favorable conditions never come.”

If you were to be completely honest with yourself, I am certain you can think of a time or two in your life when you have used those infamous words “the time is just not right yet for me to do _________ (fill in the blank)”

Yet, just as the wise Mr. Lewis points out, favorable conditions never come. You simply have to decide and execute.

Take going to the gym for example. I don’t care who you are, there is never a “favorable time” to go there. If I have an open hour to spare in my day, I would much rather do something I would enjoy, like drink a nice cup of coffee and perhaps eat a donut – but that will never achieve the same results.  In fact that would achieve the complete opposite result.

It has become an almost cliché saying but you have to be intentional in all areas of your life.

It starts with your focus. Be intentional about where you focus. Jesus sums it up pretty simply in Matthew 6:31-34

“Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own troubles.”

That set of verses is probably one of the most encouraging and also the most discouraging verses in all of the Bible.  In one sentence, Jesus is saying “hey guys, I got this covered – just focus on me” and then he ends it up with “today is going to have enough troubles of its own…”

Another way of saying it might be something like this: Today will have troubles. Tomorrow will have troubles. In fact, next week is filled with various troubles. BUT don’t focus on those, in fact don’t even focus on trying to solve them, just focus on God and He will take care of it all for you.

That to me is the hard part. Honestly, I feel like I am trying to not “bug” God with the little stuff. I know He is busy, so I figure I will take care of the little things and maybe He will appreciate that I freed up some time for Him.

Ridiculous, right? But so many of us our guilty of that. And the problem amplifies as we continue to focus on all the little things that turn into one big distraction which takes our eyes off of Him.

This world is full of distractions. Add on my 3-year-old and 1-year-old and the idea of quiet time seems about as likely as winning the lottery while never buying a ticket.

Yet, I strive to be intentional.  Do I win that battle daily…no way!  But, I wake up and try again.

It is easy to focus on Him at Christmas. It is easy to pause and realize that He is the reason for the season but in a matter of days, life picks right back up to its normal pace and it is in that moment that you need to stop and decide to be intentional about your focus, keeping it all on Him.

Here is my prayer for 2017: Lord, may I never cease to be intentional about priority number one – you. May my focus be first on the Kingdom of God and Your Righteousness. Lord, help me to discern quickly what a distraction is and know when to push it aside and recalibrate my focus.

That is my prayer for you as well; for anyone reading this, that God will be your center, your guiding light and your focus.

Together, let us make 2017 the year of Intentional Focus!

Question: What is your secret to being intentional with your time?

Past Present And Future Signpost Showing Evolution Destiny Or Aging

Let me start with the moral of the story: Your past does not dictate your potential.

In life, we are trained to believe that your accomplishments and your past define your worth. You almost always have to prove yourself before you are taken serious.

I take comfort in the fact that we are in good company.

Even Jesus had to overcome His past and in a viable sense, “prove” Himself.

And Nathanael said to him, “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” Phillip said to him, “Come and see.” (John 1:46 NKJV)

This statement was made by one who would become a disciple. Instantly, Nathanael judged the book by its cover. Ironic that the book he was judging was the King.

Have you had that happen to you? I know I have experienced this. First impressions are key. It is said that people form their opinions within the first 30 seconds of meeting someone. Yet, they base if off of so many superficial factors: age, hair, clothes, weight…

Can anything good come from that young person?

Can anything good come from that tattooed person?

Can anything good come from that ______________ person?

Fill in the blank, take your pick. The world is asking the questions.

Of course, the devil would like you to believe the answer is no. The devil desires that you would succumb to a life of “I’m not good enough” or “Everyone has their mission, mine just isn’t that important.”

He would love for you to just resign to a life of mediocrity and passivity. A life where you don’t do anything extraordinary – much less believe that you are capable of extraordinary.

That is simply contrary to the Word:

For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them. (Ephesians 2:10 NKJV)

Do you believe those words today? Then it is time to rise up and live what God has placed in your heart. We are called to greatness – the only reason it can ever elude you is if you fail to take the first step to walk it out.

Everything prior to today doesn’t matter. Today is the starting point. I stand in agreement with you that when the question is asked of you, “Can anything good come from________? (insert your name) – the answer is emphatically and resoundingly, yes!

Let us show the world what Jesus intended…

Question: How do you stay encouraged to walk out your greatness?

Who Am I?

July 13, 2015 — 1 Comment

Today’s post is a guest post courtesy of my amazingly talented wife, Alisha Anderson.  You can follow Alisha on twitter at: @AlishaAnderson7

MirrorWhoAmIWoman

There seem to be a sweeping attitude in our American culture today that upholds, admires, and respects individuals for their extreme commitment to science, industry or work accomplishments.  However, when put in context of ones religious or spiritual beliefs, that is held lightly.   You see this all throughout popular culture; in our films, newspapers, magazines, etc.  Characters and individuals are praised for what they do – but not what they believe (ironic, considering what they believe is likely at the core of why they do it).

We have become focused only on the earthly and temporal and have not given credit to God.

This attitude says, “I’m a Christian, but if that offends you, I won’t act like one around you.”  Or, “I’m a Christian, but that’s just my Sunday thing, so that won’t impact everything else, I’ll keep it PC.”

It seems holding firm to your religious faith just isn’t “the thing” anymore.  It’s outdated thinking and deems you to be intolerant or not open to other ideas.

I am a wife, mother, real estate agent, soccer player, and much more. These are roles I play and things I do, but central to who I am is a Christian. I believe I am who the God of the Bible says that I am and I cannot separate that from the rest of me.  Furthermore, it is the belief as a Christian that is the most central to me and defines everything else about me.

Does this make me not open or intolerant?  I don’t think so.  I respect others for their commitments to their beliefs in the face of a society that increasingly says “anything goes”.  I believe it makes me more loving to all people types, wanting to share the good news of God’s grace with them, just as He has shown me His grace.

My standards are not something I have conjured up on my own, it is not me deeming what is moral and what is not. Rather I’ve decided to adopt God’s standards. By doing so, it removes me as being the judge – everything rests on what God’s word says.

God is pretty clear – His way is better than ours!

For as the Heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts. (Isaiah 55:9 NKJV)

Question: Do you have examples that you have seen of this type of attitude in our culture?

Consistently Thankful

December 2, 2014 — 1 Comment
Photo Credit: https://openclipart.org/detail/204505/thanksgiving-dinner-family-by-j4p4n-204505

Photo Credit: Link

Thanksgiving has come and gone. All that remains are the leftovers sitting in the fridge (and the added weight from all the desserts).  I am sure that many of you spent time reflecting over the weekend about what you are thankful for.

My list is extensive. I am thankful for my amazing family. I am thankful for my wife who constantly supports and encourages me. I am thankful for our beautiful Son – a proof that God does do miracles! And, I am particularly grateful for all of the hard seasons in my life that have led me to where I am.

That last statement might sound absurd to some. Why on earth would I be thankful for hardships? Simply put, they have developed my faith and strengthened my resolve allowing me to constantly focus on the fact that God is in control – my life, after all, is His story, not mine.

This concept of rejoicing in our sufferings is one that was all too familiar to the apostles. I have read the book of Acts countless times, and somehow I always breeze past the verses like that of Acts 5:41 “So they departed from the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for His name.”

This was not their first time being arrested and threatened.  A chapter earlier, Peter and John were arrested and released being strictly forbidden to ever speak the name of Jesus. Most people would either take heed the stern warning and follow instructions or flee from this persecution and go elsewhere. They however, pray for boldness and go about their mission. Shortly after, they are back in the temple preaching and subsequently were arrested again – although freed by an Angel in the night, they were again back in the temple teaching the next morning. They were a persistent group of people!

Acts 5 tells us of their trial and how at the conclusion they were beaten, threatened and released. We read in Acts 5:41-42

So they departed from the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for His name. 42 And daily in the temple, and in every house, they did not cease teaching and preaching Jesus as the Christ

Persecution did not immobilize the apostles – it fueled them. Their version of a “bad day” was one that I hope many of us never have to endure – yet they chose to rejoice amidst their suffering. They chose Jesus over self-pity, they chose the greater story over their own story.

The realization of what Jesus has done for you should change not just your perception but your behavior. You walk away from troubles unscathed and motivated to turn any issues into testimonies for Him.

He is our All in All – He is our peace, provision, joy, strength, healing – our Everything.

So take some time to be Thankful this season for all He has brought you through – reflect on what you have become because of His greatness.

Let the trials be fuel to the burning fire inside of you to tell the story of Him this Season.

Question: How have you turned trials into rejoicing? 

It is Finished!

April 18, 2014 — Leave a comment

It Is Finished

So when Jesus had received the sour wine, He said, “It is finished!” And bowing His head, He gave up His spirit. (John 19:30 NKJV)

Those are three of the most powerful words ever spoken in the history of the World. “It is finished”.

At the time, the disciples watched in horror as their teacher took His final breath on that fateful Friday. Everything they had been taught over the previous years was now being put to the test. Little did they know that this was just the beginning. Some followers fled, and some even denied ever knowing Jesus. To many of them, those final words meant exactly that – “it is finished”. What we had hoped for, dreamed of and desired are gone. Everything was shattered.

But Jesus meant something completely different. Those three words were not a statement, but a proclamation. A deceleration of Freedom, Forgiveness, Grace and Love. “It is finished” meant that we are now the Righteousness of God in Christ Jesus, that we are heirs of an amazing inheritance, that sickness and disease must flee. Those three words bring forgiveness, healing, joy, strength and provision to all who simply believe and accept.

The cross was gruesome. The cross certainly appeared to be an unfortunate and disastrous finale. We have to go through the cross to arrive at Redemption.

It’s not over. It’s never over. No matter what you may feel, think or see – the joy of Sunday’s resurrection is coming fast. When Jesus uttered those three words from atop of that cross sitting on the hill, He was thinking of you. All the pain or sorrow that you may have, He was speaking to you – He was paying the price on your behalf and stating that all of the sadness and pain is over – you have an option for joy beyond description, for forgiveness that is unexplainable and peace that is insurmountable.

I am sure for the disciples, this was the darkest hour they ever experienced. It was in this darkness that all things came to pass and the plan of God was finished.

Don’t let the dark hours deceive you. The deceleration has been made. The work has been done. The sacrifice has been paid.

It is finished.

Question: How do you stay focused on the fact that we are the Righteousness of God in Christ Jesus?

Who I Am

November 26, 2013 — Leave a comment

Who I Am

I am one of those people who is motivated by simple words of encouragement. Even in my employment, it is not the financial opportunities that drive me nearly as much as a simple acknowledgment of a job well done.

The reality is, I think we are all in that same boat. Each and every day we seek acknowledgment and approval from those around us; strangers, co-workers, family and friends. We seek validation of our accomplishments, hopes and dreams. Some days, we receive it and some days not so much.

The problem arrises when we rely only on what people say about us and we forget what God says – after all, it is His opinion that truly matters.

So what does God say about you?  He says you are “fearfully and wonderfully made” (Psalm 139:14), He says you “are the apple of His eye” (Psalm 17:8), He says you are His Treasured possession (Deuteronomy 7:6), He says you are His Workmanship – a piece of art (Ephesians 2:10), He says you are an overcomer (1 John 4:4), He says you are seated in Heavenly places (Ephesians 2:6) and best of all, He says you are loved (John 3:16).

Today, don’t let any discouragement get in the way of your true identity in Him. Trust the opinion of the one who created you.

Question: How else does God describe you?

 

Is Fear Enough?

September 18, 2013 — Leave a comment
Photo By TJDwewy at http://www.flickr.com/photos/22416200@N05/

Photo By TJDwewy at http://www.flickr.com/photos/22416200@N05/

“Not me Lord” or “I am not able Lord.” How many times do we see that in the Bible when God calls forth His people for a purpose or cause? I spoke about this last year in my post “No More Excuses“, but this morning I was reading in 1st Kings 18 and couldn’t help but pause and reflect on a few points in that chapter. I will give you the back story in one sentence: Elijah is a man of God, who told Ahab ( the King of Israel, evil in the sight of God) there would be a famine and Elijah has been gone for 3 years now returning.

As Elijah begins his journey back in encounters Obadiah. The Bible tells us that Obadiah feared the Lord greatly and even hid and saved 150 prophets of God from Jezebel. Obadiah knows that Elijah is a man of God and drops before him when he encounters him.  Elijah then tells him to go and tell Ahab that he is here.

Without a delay Obadiah spits back:

So he said, “How have I sinned, that you are delivering your servant into the hand of Ahab, to kill me? (1 Kings 18:9 NKJV)

How quickly Ahab moves to a place of fear.  But it doesn’t stop there:

12 And it shall come to pass, as soon as I am gone from you, that the Spirit of the Lord will carry you to a place I do not know; so when I go and tell Ahab, and he cannot find you, he will kill me. But I your servant have feared the Lord from my youth.13 Was it not reported to my lord what I did when Jezebel killed the prophets of the Lord, how I hid one hundred men of the Lord’s prophets, fifty to a cave, and fed them with bread and water? 1 4And now you say, ‘Go, tell your master, “Elijah is here.” ’ He will kill me!” (1 Kings 18:12-14 NKJV)

Here we have a man of God, who fears the Lord and he is being instructed by the Prophet of the Lord on what he should do…and he jumps straight to fear and a myriad of reasons why he shouldn’t do as Elijah (and God) is asking him to do.

There is one very important lesson to take away from Obadiah:

Fear of the Lord is not enough – action is ALWAYS required.

God is calling you and I to move. Yes, it is scary. Yes, it is dangerous. And yes, it is most certainly unstable and unpredictable.

Don’t hear me wrong – fear of the Lord is essential – but without action, it means nothing.  Obadiah had to step outside of his comfort zone, outside of what he viewed as “safe” and carry out the command of the Lord…no matter the cost.

The reality is quite simple. No matter what we are venturing into, no matter what He is telling you to do, He will never leave you or forsake you. It is a promise and God cannot break His Word:

5 Let your conduct be without covetousness; be content with such things as you have. For He Himself has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” 6 So we may boldly say: “The Lord is my helper; I will not fear. What can man do to me?” (Hebrews 13:5-6 NKJV)

Today, I encourage you to step outside of your perceived comfort zone and move into the next stage that God is calling you into.

Question: What is your strategy for making sure you are aligned with God’s plan?

Who is Holding You?

September 5, 2013 — Leave a comment

IMG_20130903_105947_759

This past week we took our first out of state trip (which included a 3+ hour plane ride) with our almost 3-month old. As we approached our trip, I spent countless hours canvasing through blog after blog digesting the wisdom of brave parents who have traveled before with an infant. I will admit, I had some fear about this task (ok veteran parents, now is your time to laugh at me for dreading travel with just 1 baby).

Needless to say, everything went even smoother than I could hope for. It was on this trip that a concept my wife discussed with me weeks ago came to light.

On this trip we submitted our little one to numerous new encounters; planes, hotels, car rides, museums, and the worst of them all, a carnival midway. And along the way, it never mattered to him where he was – but rather, who he was with.  Anytime the situation would become questionable, he would look to me or my wife for stability and then he would simply relax for the journey. Commotion, change, weather, and even carnies – nothing shook him as long as we were holding him.

What a lesson for us. Just as he was confident in our arms, so should we be in the arms of our God.

It never matters what is going on around you, as long as you know who has you.

In Hebrews 13:5 you will see that the Lord declares that He will never leave us or forsake us.  That is a good truth to cling to.

Life will always bring challenges and struggles. Change is a guarantee. There might be dark seasons in your life when challenges seem insurmountable. None of that should matter when you take into account who is holding you in His arms every step of the way.

The One who made the Heavens and the Earth cares deeply about you and your every need. He has you in the palm of His hand.

My 3-month old taught me a valuable lesson this week. No longer can I let situations around me dictate my emotions. It brought 2 Corinthians 4:17-18 to light:

17 For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, 18 while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal.

Let me challenge you this week to also look to what is unseen – keep your eyes affixed on Him who is carrying you.

Question: What do you do to maintain your focus on Him despite the situations around you?

Photo by Eric Fisher (Flicker)

Photo by Eric Fisher (Flicker)

Before we jump in, it is important to note there have been 2 parts to our topic already posted last week. I encourage you to read them first if you have not done so: Part 1 and Part 2.

Numbers 14 starts off in a very interesting way:

1So all the congregation lifted up their voices and cried, and the people wept that night. 2And all the children of Israel complained against Moses and Aaron, and the whole congregation said to them, “If only we had died in the land of Egypt! Or if only we had died in this wilderness! 3Why has the Lord brought us to this land to fall by the sword, that our wives and children should become victims? Would it not be better for us to return to Egypt?” 4So they said to one another, “Let us select a leader and return to Egypt.”

Wow. They took a turn down a horrible track. This is the track of “What If”. What if things don’t turn out like we want. What if things get worse.

They were desiring to go back to what they knew as “safe”. Slavery, although horrible, was predictable to them.  They knew what tomorrow brought. They felt safe in that bubble. And this new adventure was unpredictable and scary.

Everyday, we seem to want to live our lives in a “safe” way as well. Jump back a few months and watch this clip I posted about “Fighting the Safe Life”.

I am not sure what in our human nature it is, but we always seem to live on the side of over-preparedness.  Even if it is something we think God is leading us to, we try to get all of our ducks in a row, and then proceed…Isn’t that then doing things according to our own will and not His will?

I personally believe that everything God is calling you to is insurmountable without Him!

Just think for a moment if the spies would have entered the land of Canaan and instead of giants they found an a group of men that were puny, tiny and could not even muster the strength to lift a sword. If that were the reality – the 10 spies that came back with a negative report would have been singing a different song. Yet, there would have been no demonstration of God’s power in that!

God desires to be the one who battles for you. You don’t have to fight the giants. And besides, if you were to look through the lens and view them as God does – He sees you as bigger and more powerful than anything that stands in your path.

As we finish out Numbers 14, you see God’s wrath against these 10 men and the Israelites were forced into the wilderness for 40 years. What we take away from this is simple, yet profound (and we find it in Hebrews 11 as well):

It is impossible to please God without faith.

Faith is an action. It requires you to step forward into something that you cannot accomplish without Him.

Today, let’s put into action the passion and zeal that we saw in Caleb. Our God is for us, fighting in front of us, leading the path saying “Come, join me, the victory is already accomplished.”

Question: What are you doing to demonstrate your faith today?

By Philippe Antoine from Paris, France (Flickr) [CC-BY-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Picture By Philippe Antoine from Paris, France (Flickr)

Earlier in the week I posted Part 1 of our discussion “Learning From Spies“.  If you have not read it, I encourage you to do so now, as this post is simply a continuation of it.

We left off in verse 31 of Numbers 13:

31But the men who had gone up with him said, “We are not able to go up against the people, for they are stronger than we.” 32And they gave the children of Israel a bad report of the land which they had spied out, saying, “The land through which we have gone as spies is a land that devours its inhabitants, and all the people whom we saw in it are men of great stature. 33There we saw the giants (the descendants of Anak came from the giants); and we were like grasshoppers in our own sight, and so we were in their sight.”

I cannot help but feel both perplexed by their statement, and at the same time find some alignment in what they are saying. If you rewind not to far, they have not only seen God come through in miraculous ways (need I mention parting an entire sea), but they were also promised this land by God.

How quickly did they forget the strength of their God?

The statement they made saying that the inhabitants of the land are stronger than they are…who cares?!?! They have the strength of God almighty on their side! They have a promise from the King of Kings that cannot be broken! Should that not be sufficient enough to storm the land? One would think – but we are all just as guilty of assessing our problems through our own lens verses God’s lens.

They said that they were grasshoppers in their own sight – that is how they saw themselves.  As grasshoppers. I can’t say I have ever felt like a grasshopper, but I do know there have been times in my life that I have felt insignificant, weak, and just plain incapable of accomplishing what was set before me.

And that, my friends, is exactly where we go wrong. That is where the slippery slope begins. This might be the most important truth you can take away from anything I write:

It doesn’t matter how you see yourself, it only matters how God sees you!

You might think of yourself as incapable, or awkward, or slow…but quite frankly, it does not matter. You don’t have the right to define you. Only God has that right. And He defines you as:

Perfect. Beautiful. Courageous. Loved. His Favorite. Fearfully Made. Wonderfully Made. Amazing. His Son/Daughter. A Warrior. Respected. Important.

The list goes on and on. If you have never felt those things from God before – then stop right now. Don’t even finish reading and listen to Him. Turn off the distractions around you and just tell Him you need to hear from Him. I promise, He will respond.

Only God has the perfect lens to view you through.

And if you don’t believe it, stop for a minute and think about how everything began. Genesis 1 says that we are made in the image and likeness of God.  I think we can agree that God is perfect. And if you are made in His image and His likeness…than you too are made in His perfection and splendor.

Question: When you see yourself as God sees you, can you describe the freedom it brings?

On Monday, we will have part 3 of Learning from Spies – so make sure and comeback then. Or if you would like, you can always subscribe to my blog and receive it via email!