Archives For Seasons

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?

Don’t Blink

June 11, 2016 — Leave a comment

Businessman pulling a clock hand backwards

Don’t blink. You will miss it.

Honestly, that is how I feel right now. Time has a sneaky way of moving so fast that it is not until you pause to look back that you realize just how much of it has passed. Looking back could be filled with regret over lost time, or filled with excitement over what has been accomplished.

Today it is hitting me differently.  Today we celebrate my first born’s 3rd Birthday, but four years ago…he was simply a prayer (and quite frankly, a prayer that we felt was never going to be answered).  Four years ago, we were finalizing our final round of torture (otherwise known as fertility treatments) and we had began our shift to adoption.

Just a few months later…but God…

Then, I blinked and here we are celebrating this little man’s 3rd Birthday with a little 7 month old brother at his side. This is not how I envisioned it all to pan out many many years ago – but yet – God’s timing is so much more perfect that my timing. His plan is so much more perfect than my plan.

That, however, is not the point of this post. The thing that seems most striking to me is that we can get so caught up in “our season” that we lose sight of the purpose. To make matters worse, when we finally escape one season and jump into the next – we turn around to realize we didn’t accomplish what we set out to do during that season.

I have talked with so many people, fellow wanderers, who have let precious years slip by only to say “I blinked…where am I”?

Each day is an opportunity for a new beginning.

I love Isaiah 43:9

Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.

Do you see what God is saying there? Don’t miss it. He says he is doing a new thing…not that He plans to, or only if you do something for Him first…He has already done it! The question He asks is, “don’t you see it”? It is accomplished. It is a finished work. You just have to look up!

Look up every once and awhile while you walk the road you are on. Look around, lift your eyes to Jesus and gaze upon the wonder of what He is doing. The Kingdom of God is here now; Are you paying attention enough to actually see it?

My encouragement to you (as well as myself) – don’t look down; look up. Don’t let a “season” distract you from the new thing that God is doing in your life.

Question: How do you stay focused on the new thing?

A New Thing

January 1, 2015 — 1 Comment
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Photo Copyright: Amodiovalerio Verde

 

Each year on December 31st, people from every corner of the Earth gather together to watch the clock strike midnight as we roll into a new year. We awake the next morning with freshly made goals, vows and promises.

We are determined and we are resolute.

We resolve to lose weight, get organized, get on a budget and on and on and on. There is nothing wrong with this. I believe it is all well and good to make resolutions. Nothing bad comes from outlining your goals in life.

In fact, a recent study at University of Scranton showed that people who make resolutions are 10 times more likely to attain their goals than people who don’t explicitly make resolutions. If you are easily discouraged, don’t read too much into their study, because you will also see that they found only 8% of people are successful in reaching their resolution.

So what does this mean to you and I? To me, it means that most people will not succeed. Most will fail. However, it also means we put way too much stock in this magical date switch from December 31 to January 1.

I like starting over and love new beginnings just as much as the next guy. The beauty of walking with Christ is that each morning I awake, it is a new beginning. A new chance. Another day for a new victory.

Behold, I will do a new thing, now it shall spring forth; Shall you not know it? I will even make a road in the wilderness and rivers in the desert. (Isaiah 43:19 NKJV)

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he  is  a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new. (2 Corinthians 5:17 NKJV)

Come January 20th (a likely timeframe when most people fall off the resolution bandwagon), go back to those verses and declare – “He is doing a new thing in me”. Let 2015 be a year of “New Things”.

Step out of your comfort zones for the Kingdom. Walk in the destiny He has called you to.

There is something exhilarating about releasing your desire to control everything and allowing God to do something new. I know, change is not fun, but it is always needed to move to the next level.

One year from now, I do not want to be sitting here looking back at 2015 and not be able reflect on the amazing new things that God has done. I am determined that my blog post in 2016 will reflect that.

Will you join me in that determination this year? Will you join me in allowing God to do that “new thing” in our lives, our families, and our churches? Let us all desire that above all else.

From my family to yours, I wish you a blessed 2015! May the God who is ever able, start a new thing in your life today.

Question: What new thing did you experience in 2014?

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? 

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?

Anticipation

May 26, 2013 — 1 Comment

Waiting

Anticipation is an interesting state to live in. We have all experienced it in varying levels during various stages in our lives; As a child on Christmas Eve, or a young groom/bride on their wedding night, or someone just awaiting an answer on a long awaited wish. Anticipation can be a tricky path to walk.

Sometimes, I believe, anticipation can cloud our “present”. We operate in a constant state of anticipation. We can live in it, exist in it, and in a sense, today passes us by unnoticed and untouched.

Jesus talked so much about sowing and reaping, about seasons. Each season we exist in is a building block toward tomorrow. What we can gleam from today, will propel us into tomorrow.

The Israelites never should have been wondering the desert as long as they did. They failed to exist and recognize what God was providing them today. They constantly looked either to what they “anticipated” in the future, or to what they had in the past. They did not focus on the blessing of God in the present.

Did you know that today, this very day, God desires to bless you? He is not waiting for you to accomplish something unique, or get to that plateau you had in mind before He blesses you. It’s today.

Don’t get so busy focusing on what you anticipate as the future blessing that you let today’s blessing pass you by!

Question: How do you live in a state of present versus a state of anticipation?

Your Time is Now

April 8, 2013 — 1 Comment
Photo by: http://www.flickr.com/photos/nyoin/

Photo by: http://www.flickr.com/photos/nyoin/

There has been one verse that has been running in my mind all week:

Then Jesus said to them, “My time has not yet come, but your time is always ready.” (John 7:6 NKJV)

This statement comes on the tail of one of Jesus’ largest public miracle – the feeding of the 5,000.  Following that miracle, you can see a chain of events in John 6. I recommend reading it in its entirety – but I will provide the readers digest version here.

We see Jesus make some very bold statements throughout John 6 that He is the bread of life and whoever seeks after Him will be redeemed.  These statements perplexed many and offended others resulting in somewhat of a dissension in the ranks. John 6 tells us that many of His disciples turned away and stopped following Him. His own people rejected Him.

This statement in John 7 is given to His disciples who desired to go into Judea while Jesus did not:

My time has not yet come, but your time is always ready

A bold call. I believe this was not just meant for those 12 – but for all who are still following Him. For me and for you.

I spend quite a bit of time discussing seasons in life, the ups and downs, but one thing holds true with the words of Jesus: your time is now!

Everything you see written in red letters in your Bible is meant just as much for you living today in the 21st century as it was for those walking with Him over 2000 years ago.

I have always been a big fan of taking the promises we see in the Word and making them personal. Put your name in there, write it down, hang it on the fridge:

Then Jesus said to them, “my time has not yet come, but <insert your name>, your time is always ready.”

Are you in a place of loss? Your time is now. Are you in a place of victory? Your time is now. Are you walking through a desert season? Your time is now.

We are to be ready in all seasons. Do not believe any lies that try to propagate themselves in your mind. Today is a day of victory. Today you are being told: your time is now! Be always ready.

Question: What do you do to stay ready in all seasons?

NewAndImproved

It is so refreshing to know that we have a God who desires to do something new. Not something ordinary and mundane – but something new, unique and astounding.

Read Isaiah 43 verses 16-21, I have it here in The Message translation – but read it in a few different versions:

This is what God says, the God who builds a road right through the ocean, who carves a path through pounding waves, The God who summons horses and chariots and armies— they lie down and then can’t get up; they’re snuffed out like so many candles: “Forget about what’s happened; don’t keep going over old history. Be alert, be present. I’m about to do something brand-new. It’s bursting out! Don’t you see it? There it is! I’m making a road through the desert, rivers in the badlands. Wild animals will say ‘Thank you!’ —the coyotes and the buzzards— Because I provided water in the desert, rivers through the sun-baked earth, Drinking water for the people I chose, the people I made especially for myself, a people custom-made to praise me.

I could read this again and again! No matter the situation, God desires to do something new in your life! Take special note to the first sentence – we serve a God who builds a road right through the ocean, who carves a path through the pounding waves. We serve a God who can part the seas, heal the sick and raise the dead and He desires to do a new thing with you as well!

What does the landscape around you look like? Is it a desert, a storm or are you surrounded by the pounding waves? He commands us to forget the past and BE ALEART AND PRESENT! Live in a state of expectancy for Him!

Today! Now! This moment! Don’t let it pass you by. Expect God to do something new and He will.

Question: Can you share an time when God did something new in your life?

© Patrícia Soransso, All Rights Reserved

© Patrícia Soransso, All Rights Reserved

Earlier this week we started with the first two truths we can take away from the story of Joseph:

1. It doesn’t matter where you find yourself, God will show you favor!

2. When you are favored, everyone around you will be benefit!

This brings us to the next stage in Joseph’s journey and another promise. During Joseph’s time as a slave in Potiphar’s house, he was falsely accused of a crime and thrown into prison. I would think it in a public vote, prison would not be a place that many would chose to go. Yet, Joseph knew that God was with him and favor yet again followed him (see Genesis 40).

We see in Genesis chapter 40 that while in prison, Joseph interprets the dream of Pharaoh’s cup bearer. When the cup bearer was released, Joseph asked him, this man of power, to remember him. He didn’t and it says that Joseph remained in prison for two more years! We don’t see Joseph become discouraged or walking away from God during this time – he maintains his focus. This is where we find truth number three:

3. Even if a season persists longer than you think it should, it doesn’t mean God forgot about you!

No matter where things stand, when we keep our focus on Him, we allow an opportunity for God to demonstrate His power and ability to bring us through better than we could ever imagine.

I always am in awe when I read Ephesians 6 starting in verse 18:

18 praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints— 19 and for me, that utterance may be given to me, that I may open my mouth boldly to make known the mystery of the gospel, 20 for which I am an ambassador in chains; that in it I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak.

Here we see Paul in prison while he writes this. Notice what he asks those to pray for: that he may boldly proclaim the gospel!  If I were in prison writing this letter, I know I would be asking for others to pray for my release! Not Paul. He knows that his God will make all things good. That whatever the season, whatever the pain, whatever the trial if he keeps his eyes on Him – than it will all come together in a more miraculous way than he himself could conjure up.

Back to Joseph. A chapter later, we see his release as Pharaoh needs a dream interpreted and the cup bearer now remembers Joseph.

Pay attention to these verses in Chapter 41:

14 Then Pharaoh sent and called Joseph, and they brought him quickly out of the dungeon; and he shaved, changed his clothing, and came to Pharaoh. 15And Pharaoh said to Joseph, “I have had a dream, and there is no one who can interpret it. But I have heard it said of you that you can understand a dream, to interpret it.” 16 So Joseph answered Pharaoh, saying, “It is not in me; God will give Pharaoh an answer of peace.”

Note his answer to Pharaoh in verse 16 as this is where we find the final truth:

4. Your position and ability mean nothing without God!

Joseph recognizes and emphasizes to Pharaoh that it is not him, but God who preforms! So many times we can allow our “position” or even our lack of “position” dictate our behavior. Remember, it is not your story – it is His story! If He is endorsing you, than it does not matter what your position is! Simply follow His command.

Question: How do you find encouragement from the story of Joseph?

 

© Copyright 2005-2010 by the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod (WELS) and Multi-Language Publications.

Image is © Copyright 2005-2010 by the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod (WELS) and Multi-Language Publications.

A few months ago I wrote a post entitled “Preparing From Where You Are” and in it we spoke about the idea of seeing your season as a time of preparation. I briefly mentioned Joseph in there, but this week I spoke to a group specifically about his story and the items we can take from it. Sometimes it is easy to brush over this familiar story, but I believe there are four very important truths that we can pull from it. Today, I will share the first two and I will post the other two on Sunday.

The story starts in Genesis 37 where we see Joseph sold into slavery by his brothers following his proclamation of the dream he had. No one can disagree, this is not an ideal place to be. However, immediately we see the first truth come to life:

1. It does not matter where you find yourself, God will show you favor!

This is seen time and time again throughout Joseph’s life, God’s favor followed him in all seasons. Let’s fast forward to Genesis 39:

1 Now Joseph had been taken down to Egypt. And Potiphar, an officer of Pharaoh, captain of the guard, an Egyptian, bought him from the Ishmaelites who had taken him down there. The Lord was with Joseph, and he was a successful man; and he was in the house of his master the Egyptian. And his master saw that the Lord was with him and that the Lord made all he did to prosper in his hand. So Joseph found favor in his sight, and served him. Then he made him overseer of his house, and all that he had he put under his authority. So it was, from the time that he had made him overseer of his house and all that he had, that the Lord blessed the Egyptian’s house for Joseph’s sake; and the blessing of the Lord was on all that he had in the house and in the field. Thus he left all that he had in Joseph’s hand, and he did not know what he had except for the bread which he ate.

Pay special attention to the verses 5 and 6. God provided so much favor, that even those that Joseph served were blessed. This is our next truth:

2. When you are favored, everyone around you will benefit!

When you walk in favor and God’s light, others around you will be drawn to that! His purpose of blessing you is so that you will be a blessing to others. That concept is even shown out in Psalm 67:7

God will bless us, and all the ends of the earth shall reverently fear Him.

Your blessing will be so much, that others will take notice and fear God because of it.

God desires to bless you today and show you favor! Don’t let the lie that you must not be favored due to a season you are in take hold – God will provide and show His favor in all areas if you surrender to Him.

There is a lot more on this topic, including the final two truths, so come back Sunday to finish the story!

Question: When has God shown you favor and others took notice?