The Promise

Whoa! Has anyone else noticed the extreme number of last minute offers flooding your inbox? Many of them appeal to my sense of pride an ambition promising that if I sign up with them, all my plans will succeed. The tug is there. Who doesn’t want to be successful? Who isn’t on a mission to make this month better than last month? Answer:  We all want that, of course we do.  But here’s a shocker – reading a book and buying into one more program isn’t the answer. I’m speaking to myself here too. Promises are like a magnet pulling me toward a new success plan, finding a roadmap to success and getting on it. Isn’t that what we all want; to be successful at something?

God has a plan for each of us, and it’s good to seek ways to put his plan into practice and live out our purpose. Jeremiah 29:11 (the Message)  “I’ll show up and take care of you as I promised and bring you back home. I know what I’m doing. I have it all planned out—plans to take care of you, not abandon you, plans to give you the future you hope for.”

Here’s a challenge. Before buying another book, before signing on for someone else’s plan, before ordering that new miracle exercise device, stop!  First know yourself. Do some intense soul searching and ask, “What is it that I am trying to accomplish? What does success mean to me?  What am I willing to do to be successful? What will I give up now to see my dreams through to reality? What do I want my life to look like 6 months from now, a year from now, five years down the road – and counting?

Act one: Know yourself

Act two: Write specific goals

Act three: Consider what you need to do to get those goals from the paper to your life.

Here’s a word to ponder.  Discernment

There are literally thousands of books to read, hundreds of programs architected to make you the poster child for success and yes! It can happen for you.  But remember these words from your childhood:  Anything worth doing is worth doing well.  Remember? It still applies today. Make this your mantra while you pioneer your course of action. “Focus on things I have, not on things I’ve lost; capitalize on things I can do, not on things I can not.”

You might decide to buy a program or hire a coach, but before investing in another book, another plan, another program that promises unprecedented success, consider Act three.  Carefully read through the offers of unprecedented success.  Remember that it is you, who will engineer the plans of others to fit the goals you’ve written out for yourself.   With the Psalmist, prayerfully consider your decision.  “I am your servant; give me discernment that I may understand your statutes.” – Psalm 119:125

Proverbs 3:5 & 6 Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him and he will make your path straight.

And let’s remember to set priorities so we keep the main thing, the main thing. Matthew 6:33  Seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.

Ready?  Let’s get on it!



The Whole of Me

Sometime ago, I was shopping the used book table at our library and picked up a book on CD by Barbara Bush which I think is titled Reflections.  I was attracted to the topic because it promised to be a book about Barbara’s memories of life in politics without the politics. How do you tell your story of a life immersed in politics without the politics? Well – mission accomplished! From the first paragraph I was content with that purchase. First of all, listening to Barbara Bush is like getting a hug from her voice and she writes from her heart about her experiences of being a wife and mom to real families who happen to have very public lives.  She tells a few stories of events that involved being in a church service, one of them where the message was on Romans 12. Listening to her read verses 9-13 spoke to me and that sent me reaching for my Bible.  In fact, I couldn’t wait to read the whole chapter in 3 different translations.

You might think of Romans 12 as I always have: presenting our bodies a living sacrifice …. and the part about each of us having a part in the body of Christ, all having specific jobs to do. business_110009286-012914-int In the Message translation, it starts out with Romans 12:1 “So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him.” Take your ordinary life and just say to God “This is who I am. You made me with all these little pieces, and by the way God sometimes they cause me a lot of grief – but in your sovereignty you created me to seek you. Guide me today and bring out your best in me, not to enhance my own ego but because I represent you, Lord.”  Romans 12:10  implores us to “Love from the center of who you are; don’t fake it. Run for dear life from evil; hold on for dear life to good.”

I’ve argued with God many times over the little pieces he used when making me. It seems like once I get myself put together, there are a lot of leftover parts that serve no purpose. In fact, I’ve pointed out several parts of me that don’t fit anywhere.  Have you ever felt that way? On the outside there is the whole of you, but inside there are a lot of unused parts in the form of talents, interests, memories, education, relationships waiting to be used or packed up and neatly put away. Not a train wreck, not chaos, but little pieces of you…waiting.  What does it say in Romans 12:11-13 “Don’t burn out; keep yourselves fueled and aflame. Be alert servants of the Master, cheerfully expectant. Don’t quit in hard times; pray all the harder. Help needy Christians; be inventive in hospitality.” Wasn’t it Sir Winston Churchill that once gave a commencement address predicated completely on the words, “Never, never give up.”’?  I hope you’re with me on this one.  Never, never give up.

Let’s conclude with Romans 12:2 “Fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it.” That’s a tough one, isn’t it? When all the world is clamoring to be noticed, to get your attention, God isn’t waving banner ads or breaking the silence with the latest video marketing loudly broadcasting what he can do for you.  We all know who God is. He is omnipresent – universal, everywhere; he is omniscient – knows everything; he is omnipotent – has all power. He is God.  And we know what God can do.  Ephesians 3:20 God can do anything, you know—far more than you could ever imagine or guess or request in your wildest dreams! He does it not by pushing us around but by working within us, his Spirit deeply and gently within us.

Ready? Grab all those little pieces, and present yourself to the world.  Let’s get out there!