Tag Archives: power

Reflections on Transition Part 5

10 Jan

Ok.  Here it is.  The last option.  It is my favorite.  Of course that is because it is my own personal approach to transitions and setting up a plan for intentional growth.  Though each of the other options can and do work – I know, I’ve used them too – This method is my favorite.

OPTION FOUR:  It’s been developed over several decades of my life.  Yet, it is still a work in process.  For me, having used this pattern for several years, I will admit there is a fair amount of cross over from one step to another.   But to help you understand it, I’m going to go step by step in the posts about this method for transitioning and encouraging a plan for intentional spiritual growth.  My suspicion is that it always will be a work-in-process.

NOTE: Until now, I’ve never attempted to explain this method to anyone.  Straight skinny:  I take a primarily spiritual approach — TOP DOWNWhy?  Because when my vertical relationship with Almighty God is aligned, then my horizontal activities reflect it.  Living by Faith requires both efforts vertically toward growth and horizontally toward growth. When my spiritual life aligns with God’s plans for my life, then the other areas of my life and the growth goals in those areas seem easier to plan and a bit easier to achieve.  No, not always, but most of the time.

The efforts of my heart, mind, soul and strength all align with what I believe is in obedience to God and His Word.  Efforts and God go hand in hand.  Not to earn God’s love, for we can never ever do that.  It is free.  The gift of new life, made possible by Jesus’ death, inspires my efforts.  And it is not that God needs i my help, for He does not.  But it because He gives me the privilege to show Him my love by following closely after Him and focusing my life to be His disciple.

Growth efforts and God in my intentions (resolutions or goals) is to show my love for all He has done in my life.  My over-arching life goal is to be a Christian BEING, DOING, not a Christian sitting or coasting.
  When that day comes, I do not want to be luke-warm.  So everyday, every moment counts.  Every second, I want to be filled with the Holy Spirit and on fire for my Lord.

Am I 100% successful, every moment of every day?  No and No.  But to quote Lysa Terkheurst: the phrase is “imperfect progress”.   I love how she speaks of this, and the phrase resonates in my heart.   Progress is never perfect on this earth.  Making progress is never totally done. Imperfectly, taking our perfectionist tendencies away, that allows us to make progress.  Inch by inch.

We move forward, try to overcome weaknesses, then we slide back, yet hopefully persevere.  We get one area – we think – under control; then God shows us another area He wants to refine, reveal or enliven. Often returning to the same areas over and over in the course of a lifetime.  Until at last, we humbly admit, we are powerless over the predispositions – but that GOD can bring healing to each and every area of our lives.

To make valuable productive progress at all in life, it is my personal belief and experience, that one must continue to grow as a person in six key areas: forgiving, loving, giving,  self-control,  learning, and sharing what we have learned.  To make progress in any one of these areas, seems to require intentional focus and intentional efforts.  Most especially, growth in these areas requires obedience to God.  It is only through God’s intervention bringing His Spirit to bear in our lives we are able to consistently steadily move to increased forgiving, loving, giving, self-control, learning, and sharing what we have learned with our fellow humans on the journey.

Moving forward does not “just” happen.  Growth rarely just happens.  Even if we seek to bloom where we are planted, food, water, and sunshine are required.  We can only grow with God’s help.  With the power of the Holy Spirit in us, and allowing God to speak to us thru the Word, work with us as we are obedient to do all that He asks of us, and being flexible to move and act in God’s timing and strength, not our own.  This does not in any way remove our responsibilities.  In fact, it acknowledges and reinforces that without Him, we can do nothing.  Nothing of eternal value.  Sliding backward, or stalling out, on the other hand — well, that is the “normal” less-than-ideal human estate ever since the Cosmic Coup.

SO….. Have I begun efforts to tie down and document intentional resolved goal-setting and growth plans for 2017?   Yes.  The process for 2017 is well underway.  It is partially documented in squeaky notes, post-its, scribbles on napkins, prayer notes, margin Bible notes, and in the soft tissues of my heart and soul.   Am I done yet?  Not quite.  Yet, that is no excuse to not start moving in obedience to what has already been revealed for action and intentions for 2017.

THE BIG STEPS of OPTION FOUR:

  • First, start with Asking God to take His highlighter to show me a verse or verses for this year (2017) that will hold meaning and challenges for me all year-long.  My intention is always to percolate this verse or verses deep into my heart and life.  One way I do that is to set a goal to memorize the verse or section of scripture provided for the year.  Sometimes other verses pop into focus as the year progresses.
  • I post the verse(s) on my bathroom mirror.   I need the reminder – always.  My challenge is to not just read it, or even to “see” it, but to recall it all year-long in each day and within various circumstances as they present themselves. Since God knows all things, and knows me better than anyone on earth and ALWAYS wants what is best for me, what better place to go?  The only true God who sees both the end and the beginning simultaneously – is where I seek objective truth.  Said another way, God’s view of me is far more important than my own view of me.

STEP ONE RESULTS — 2017 — noticing a pattern in conjunction with WARRIOR.

  • 1 John 4: 9 and 10 “In this is love, not that we have loved God, but that HE loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation of our sins.  Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.”  Leading areas of application is Loving and Forgiving
  •  2 Timothy 1:7   “…for God gave us a Spirit not of fear, but of Power and Love and Self-Control.”  (Read starting at verse 1 and see this in context).  Area: Love and Giving
  • Deuteronomy 31:6  “Be strong and courageous, do onot be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; He will never leave you or forsake you”  Learning – trust in particular.  *again, yes*
  • 2 Peter 1:5-8, 10   “For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue and to virtue,  knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, and godliness with community affection and affection with love.  For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ……Therefore, be all the more diligent to confirm your calling and election, for if you practice these qualities, you will never fail.”  Area of application:  Learning, Loving, Sharing, and dare I add self-control?

STEP TWO:

  • I pray for a word.  One single word that challenges growth.  A word which for 2017 all my sub-goals can wrap around.  A word which is representative, not just of who I am now, but who I want to be and who more importantly, GOD wants me to be in a year’s time. A word that will encourage and guide all my actions day-by-day.
  • A word that I may not even believe about myself now, but know that if God sent it, it will come true. This word is usually a verb, but not always.  For example, one year it was BELOVED.  That year this word walked through life with me in all it’s many events and flavors.  By the end of that year, it was clear to me that being Beloved by God is a special place to be.   Last year (2016) it was FORWARD.  What a challenge.
  • The word is also most often linked directly to one of God’s attributes.  If it is, in small measure in my life now, it will blossom and grow as the New Year unfolds.  I expect 2017 to be no exception in this area.
  • God always has, and I believe always will – this side of heaven – expand the meaning of the word He provides to add focus and stability to intentional growth.  Invariably, He also provides some growth directly from Him, for which I had no plans.  (Our God is good.)

STEP TWO RESULTS — 2017 —

  • The word is WARRIOR  
  • Attribute of God:  ???  Seeking this answer in prayer.
  • So far, I know that means at least prayer warrior. 
  • I am pondering if it also means warrior princess?
  • Is it to include warrior bride?
  • Does it mean defensive warrior, offensive warrior, warrior of holiness and justice?
  • YET – I can and have taken intentional action year-to-date to fulfill what I know now of how to apply that word toward growth.  More focus, more time, more resting, more listening, more intimacy in prayer with my Lord.

STEP THREE:

  • I pray about what activities and ministries which are on my calendar now.  Where am I committing my time, energy, talents, skills, and gifts?  Or maybe I’m not?  Was I in a fallow period last year?
  • I ask God to let me know (usually through his Word), but also thru affirmations from other Christian friends, or even other bloggers and books, and Spiritual Directors/Pastors, to help guide me.
  • I count on God to know if I want/need to continue these activities and commitments or if it is time to step down as a start a new chapter.  This requires sober-self-assessment.  This requires input from loved ones who are affected by my commitments.

STEP THREE RESULTS: 

  • I know I am to continue teaching our Ladies Daytime Small Group Bible Study
  • I know I am to continue with Care Calling ministry. 
  • I have been blessed to be a greeter at my church and shall continue.
  • I am trying to setup a weekly reunion group.
  • Partially complete – Prayers continue.  I believe there may still be an add and a subtract for sometime in 2017.  We’ll see how this unfolds as the year continues…….

Part of me likes to see things all laid out.  Part of me now realizes that rarely happens.  How do I balance the various roles in my life with the ministries I believe God has called me to do?  Can I reasonably participate in these and not neglect my other responsibilities?

Yep…this is my challenge.  When to move from prayer to action?  Now.   Wait for complete answer, or as in step one and two start with what has been provided and go day-by-day and step-by-step?

Next steps coming.   Drill into these concepts and not only articulate the skeleton, but flesh it out into step by step tangible items.  For now, we’ll pause here.

TAKE AWAY:  As the 2017 transition toward new intentions, resolutions, goals continues I ask God every year to increase my FAITH.  Lord,  help me BELIEVE where-ever You lead is the best place to be.  (Remember, “BELIEVE” is my favorite word)  I pray for God to deepen relationships with Jesus Christ.  I cry out for help to  fulfill my vows and hold a committed heart to relationships. The struggle is real. The challenge is real. The opportunity to grow in the knowledge and wisdom of our Lord: real, unlimited and priceless.

Until the next post…dwell on below.   Listen, meditate.  Take what may be useful to you.  For now, remember:   “Whatever is  true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think on these things.”  Phillippians 4:8

PS — This last music video is one of my favorite prayer and meditation accompaniments.  Just let God fill your heart and wash over you.  Soak in His presence, and let God speak to you.

 

 

PRAYER 2

25 Mar
     Prayer is relationship driven.  If you love someone don’t you want to speak with them regularly?  You want to learn as much about them as you can do.  You want to know what gives them joy.  Do you?   I do.  Knowing God is critical to my relationship with Him.  Both in my speaking to God through prayer and in listening for His reply, (most often through reading and studying His Word, the Bible), and also through fellowship within a body of like fellow believers in Christ.
     Continuing the series on prayer, I want to share with you one of my favorite Bible prayers.  It is found in the book of Ephesians, one of my favorite books.  It is written by the apostle Paul.  To give a very brief synopsis of Ephesians, the first 3 chapters tell us who we are in Christ.  If you ever struggle with your self-image, studying this book is a great place to start to see yourself as God sees you.  The last 3 chapters tells us, now that we are in Christ, how we want to live to show off God’s glory and keep His reputation spotless.
     The prayer for today’s reflection is one of Paul’s prayers for the Ephesians.  I don’t know about you, but I think he was well practiced in prayer.  Scripture does not tell us how Paul learned to pray, but it is clear from his writings, that not only did he know how to pray, he believed in the power of prayer.
     I’m no theologian, but I dare say all of Paul’s letters contain at least one prayer.  I don’t believe he did this as a mere formality of letter writing in his day.  I believe this was done to encourage other believers –  then and now.  I believe it was his enthusiasm and love for Christ that made Paul love to pray.
     In speaking about this passage, the Asbury Commentary says: “Paul hopes that the Ephesians will know God not only as the Father who legally adopted them but also as the Father who loves them. More than legal heirs, they are also children; …. they are members of God’s household”    As such, I believe Paul hopes they will want to know God more intimately.  As such, hopefully WE also want to know God more intimately.
     One reason I love this particular prayer in Ephesians is because reminds me, not only that God cares about my personal and detailed concerns, but with this prayer it brings in an understanding that we need to take seriously the call to pray for the spiritual needs of others.
     This is a big responsibility, particularly when I often feel inadequate about living my own spiritual life with consistency.  (*Tip: Go back and read Eph. chapters 1-3)  I chose to emphasize that it is also an incredible privilege to pray for other’s growth along their spiritual journey.  There are few things more satisfying than seeing spiritual growth in a person you pray for and care about.  This is what Paul asks for the people of Ephesus:

 

*********     Ephesians 1:17-20  (NIV)     ***********

17 “I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better. 18 I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people,19 and his incomparably great power for us who believe.  That power is the same as the mighty strength,20 he exerted when he raised Christ from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms…”

      As I look at this prayer, the first observation is Paul saying:  “I keep asking”.  He perseveres even if he does not hear an immediate answer, he continues to pray for the believers in Ephesians.  News traveled slow, but He did not stop because the need was always present.  It is still a need today.  Are we consistent in praying for the spiritual needs of others?
     Second observation is that Paul recognizes and hallows to whom he is praying.  He first asks God, (as God Almighty), then he further mentions God in Trinitarian context, as the Father of the Lord Jesus Christ (a title I love), and his next mention and first request is that the Holy Spirit would take particular action to benefit the Ephesian believers.
     Third, I notice what action Paul requests.  He specifically asks the Spirit to provide wisdom and revelation to the believers.  Without the revelation of the Holy Spirit, we are unable to know God.  Without the assistance of the Holy Spirit we are unable to understand anything God wants to communicate with us.  It is only through the leading of the Holy Spirit we are even able to want to know God.
     Fourth observation – Paul includes the reasons for the requests within the prayer, “so that” and “in order to”…I love that.  Do we carefully craft our prayers to know what and why we are praying for a need?   Or do we just blurt out something without understanding the reason?  I encourage you to go deeper in prayer as Paul did, and think about the reason for your request.  Why are you asking for God’s assistance in the matter?  Be specific, what is the outcome you are hoping for?  What is the “so that” and the “in order to” for your requests?  In other words, if God grants your prayer, what result would you see?
      The first reason Paul gives is for the people to know God better.  “If Paul’s prayer is answered, God will show himself to the Gentiles in particular and give them insight to understand the divine mystery of grace.” (ibit)

     What a wonderful request each of us can make for ourselves, our families, our friends, and our communities.  If we, as believers, want to grow, we need to hunger to know God better.  We need to dive deep into God’s grace.  Go all in.  When I can’t think of any other prayer, I ask God to give me deeper understanding of His grace, and an unending hunger for His word.  What I want most is to know Him better.  I ask the same for my family, my friends, my pastors, and my community.
     Fifth,  I notice in His second sentence Paul moves straight to the heart of the matter.  “Heart” in this passages is considered the very center and core of life.  Prayer is a matter of the heart.  Loving God is a matter of the heart.  Knowing God is a matter of the heart.  Having Hope is a matter of the heart.  So, when Paul asks God to open the eyes of their hearts, that they may be enlightened, Paul is asking the best thing he can think of for his friends in Ephesus.  Again, Paul tells us why:  “in order” that you (the Ephesians) may know the hope to which God has called you (the Ephesians).
     Today, is it just as important to know the hope to which God has called us.  Knowing Whom our hope is, in Whom our hope is placed, knowing to Whom we belong, is a matter of the heart.  It is in our heart that we experience God’s light and life.  Through His Holy Spirit dwelling in us, that enlightenment comes from God.
     Sixth, Knowing hope and knowing our calling from God is absolutely essential in living a Christian life.  As I reflect upon this, I realize knowing the hope of our inheritance is part of a deepening appreciation of God’s plan for our lives as we journey with Him.  I also think of the many times in my journey past, when I did not have a clear vision of what God called me to do, nor why he called me.  Now days, I always come back to the same answer,  He called me because He loves me.
     God loves all His children.  He offers reconciliation to all His children, but not all people are willing.  We have free choice.  God is a gentleman and will never force himself upon us.  We and we alone are responsible for our choices and the consequences of those choices.  Let me say this a different way – I don’t want to offend anyone – but man are you missing out if you pass up God’s offer of reconciliation in Jesus Christ.
     Seventh observation, Here in the prayer for the Ephesians, Paul expands not only are we called of God, but Paul’s desire is that they realize the extent of the riches to be found in His glorious inheritance in His holy people.  Wow.  Can we ever wrap our head around that concept?  Can we ever exhaust God’s glorious riches?  Can we even take in that He is our inheritance and we are part of His?  Us?  Really?   Doesn’t that just blow your mind?  It does mine.  It calls me further into prayer, it calls me deeper, it calls me to ask the Spirit to again further enlighten my heart so I may know God better, and to be holy, even as God is holy.
      Eighth:  This prayer calls me to realize that I can’t be holy,  without God’s provision and power.  Paul continues with the request for the enlightened heart to understand God’s incomparably great power for the Ephesians who believe.  (Some translations say “toward us that believe”.)   Then he explains in vs 20, that the same power, is what God used when He raised Christ from the dead and seated Him (Christ) at His (the Father’s) right hand in the heavenly realms.
     Now I admit, I’m not a theological scholar, but it certainly seems to me that Paul is saying we have access through prayer, to the same power of God used when Christ was raised from the dead.  That is incredible power.  Simply by praying.  Again Wow.  There is no need for us to fail when we have such power available to help us along our spiritual journey.
Think on this, reflect on exactly what Paul is asking God.  Said another way, God is for us.  The surprassing greatness of God’s power is toward us who believe.  Again, Wow.
     When I’m discouraged or wondering what to pray, I know I can count on the Holy Spirit to intercede for us because the Bible says so, (Rom 8:26-27) yet I also know that when I can’t think of how to pray or what to pray for myself or others, I often turn to a prayer such as this one which shows me a practical way to prioritize prayer needs.  It is another model prayer,  one way to pray for others on their spiritual journey.  To me, that is one of the greatest privileges of all.  To intercede on behalf of others.  To ask God to work in their life.  And it is rare that I can think of something better to pray than that the eyes of someone’s heart be opened to all that God has in store for them:  All the Good, all the richness of God, all  the power to in faith ask and believe.  Have expectant hope, the knowledge of a sure thing God has promised for us.
     So I ask you, when you can’t think how to pray, where do you start?
Please let me know your thoughts about prayer and about this prayer and this reflection in particular.
*******       For further reflection or diving deeper study try looking up these verses and
                     consider what they have to say in relation to the prayer above…..                              ***********
Surrounding context:  Start at Ephesians (Eph.) 1: 15-16
     Also see
Eph. 1:3, 1:7+8, 1:11+12, Eph. 3:14-20, Eph. 4:4+5
John 14:16+17; 23-26, John 20:17
Acts 2:24, 7:2, 9:13, 26:14-18
Rom. 1:8+9, Rom 15:6, Rom. 11:29
I Cor. 2:5-10, 14:6
2 Cor. 4:6+7
Heb. 6:4
Phil. 3:21
Col. 1:9-14, 1:29

Martha L Shaw - Poet, Writer, Artist

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