Grow

PicsArt_1390488104918Living things GROW.  Today I took time to really ask myself “Am I growing?”.  This led to more questions.

As a parent am I becoming wiser?  Am I purposely looking for ways to better nurture my kids at their particular stages of life?  Do I recognize their changing needs, and am I one step ahead looking for ways to contribute to their growth while supporting healthy independence?

What about as a wife?  Am I the wife I once dreamed I would be when I first got married?  What new ways might I try show fresh support and appreciation to my husband?  Is there daily fruit of my love for him?  Is there fresh evidence?

Am I flourishing in my vocation or am I simply getting things done?  How could I better serve my team?  What is my vision for the next year?  Three years?  Ten years?

Am I growing and fostering growth in others?  Am I growing as a person?

I am most concerned that I GROW in my relationship with Christ.  When I prioritize time to get with God, I find the other areas of my life are directly affected.

I look to Him for encouragement by reading scripture, and remember the challenges my kids are facing.  I consider how I can encourage them in their personal trials.

I seek God’s presence in solitude, and am reminded that I passed judgment on my husband  the day before.  I recognize an opportunity to humble myself and make right with a simple “Brad, I was wrong.”

I have a  situation that I continue to be frustrated with.  I ask God for His take.  He shows me that I am operating on my own, outside of His will.  He invites me to “clue in” on His bigger picture.  Once again, I’m reminded I’m a work in progress.  It’s in these moments I choose to GROW.

We have opportunities to grow daily.  Even –especially when we mess up.  What areas are you growing in?  Is there evidence that impacts others in a positive way?

Ask God to reveal areas that you’ve become stagnant in.  Look for opportunities to learn and grow.  Think about it, our hearts and minds are the only parts of us that have the potential to grow and not deteriorate as we age.

We are never to old to learn.  Our hearts and minds are designed to increase in producing good fruit, growing in the likeness of Christ.

“Planted in the house of the Lord, they will flourish in the courts of our God.  They will yield fruit in old age; they shall be full of sap and very green, to declare that the Lord is upright…”  Psalm 92:13

On path with the Lord

Trust in the Lord with all your heart And do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He will make your path straight  Proverb 3:5-6

on path

Are you on the right path?   Are there any areas of your life that aren’t on track?   Are you trusting God with ALL your heart; not leaning on your own understanding?

If you took a road trip from Texas to California, but took the wrong highway and ended in Montana, it wouldn’t get you to California simply to say you really want to go to California.  It wouldn’t even be enough to confess to someone that you made a wrong turn.  You’d have to do more than get off the wrong road.  You would have to get on the right road.  You would need some sort of navigation system.

In the same way, repentance is more than turning from something. It goes beyond confession to turning TO Christ and staying on course with Him.

Being on path with Christ involves trusting in Him to navigate you thru the details of every day living.  Be careful not to follow another’s course.  God created you with a unique plan.  Trust God on the path He’s set for you.

Invest time getting to know God.  Be a student of the Word.  Know His character and His ways.  Take time with Him.  Talk with Him throughout the day.  Recognize His voice. Take steps of faith as He leads you on the good path.

Prayer and Fasting

If your 2014 goals and resolutions include starting something new and growing closer to God, consider how that will be accomplished.  We intend to make more time for prayer, but our schedules are so full.  I actually calendar daily “appointments” for prayer.  It’s too easy to overlook.  Every year, our family takes a period of time for fasting.  It gets  posted on our annual calendar.  Have you ever fasted?

I used to absolutely cringe at the thought of fasting.  I envisioned overly zealous fanatics and hardcore health nuts depriving themselves of LIFE, having to crawl into the emergency room in need of an iv to revive them “back”.  dogwood park

Then, thirteen years ago our Pastor called our congregation to a 40 day church-wide fast.  Many of us were new to fasting, and I didn’t quite know what to expect.  I didn’t want to change my eating habits.  As one who eats healthy anyways, I knew I’d have a “limited menu”.

Those 40 days boosted my prayer life.  My relationship with God deepened substantially.  Fasting made me hungry for more of Him.

Fasting is very personal and private, even when you join others.  It’s a time to humble yourself; saying no to appetites, listening instead to the voice of Christ.

Everyone who participated in that 40 day fast was impacted in a great way.  My husband and I included our children, modifying the fast accordingly.   It’s now a special time of year our whole family looks forward to.  Every January we prepare our schedules and menus to unite with the people we share life with.  We value this annual time of prayer and fasting.

It’s a special time to draw closer to one another, as we draw closer to God.  We turn off the tv, say no to needless “grazing” and take time and focus to key in on our relationship with God.  Some of the most powerful times we’ve had with the Lord, have been times of prayer and fasting.

In our church, each family (even each individual) usually does their own type of fast.  Some fast from media, others omit all sweets and junk food.  Many do a Daniel fast eating only vegetables and nuts.  Some are more serious, fasting from all food.

Typically our fasts are 21 day days.  We finish the last day together with a special time of prayer and worship.  We then break the fast going out to celebrate with dinner.  I seriously love these days; so rich is the fellowship with God.

If you’ve never done a fast before, start simple and go easy.  Jentezen Franklin Ministries offer helpful resources online, many of which are free.

Get answers before you start a fast:

Why are you fasting?  What will your fast look like?  How long will it last?  Who will support and encourage you?  When and where will you make time to take time to be alone and listen to God?  

Schedule times for prayer throughout your day.  A scripture based devotional is a great tool to help you reflect and focus your thoughts on God rather than what you’re NOT eating or doing.  This is so important because it really is tempting to get caught up in the depravation and miss the whole point of WHY you’re fasting in the first place!

Keep in mind, that on an extended fast, the first 3 days will most likely be the most difficult.  And if you do mess up, don’t throw in the towel.  Just pick up and continue.  It will be worth it!

Our fast begins Sunday, Jan 12.  Devotionals will be posted daily on The Harvest website.  You can also hear a messages about fasting on The Harvest’s Podcast on ITunes.

Jesus didn’t say “If you fast.”  He said, “when you fast.”  Matthew 6:16

Fasting is a powerful way to humble your body, soul and spirit, placing focus on Christ above self.  “You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.”  Jeremiah 29:13.   God never disappoints.  How better can we prioritize our time and attention?

 

 

Creation

Bentley_Snowflake9In creation and all it’s complexities, each person is uniquely different as a snowflake.  If man in all our vast knowledge has yet to master the creation of living beings outside of original design, how preposterous to consider that such perfect systems “simply evolved” or “just happened”.

Thank you God for purposely designing creation!  Thank you for creating the sun and moon and stars -our galaxy!  Thank you for placing order in perfectly balanced systems for us to inhabit with such an incredible array of other living creatures.  You are the Master Artisan.  Your design lives and perpetuates day by day.  Your beauty echoes everywhere and cannot be contained; surpassing is the fruit of your creation.  Your magnificence only multiplies with time.  Living things grow and growing things change. And with you God, always, there is MORE.

Thank you that you designed us for relationship with you.  More than the beauty we perceive with our senses, we thank you for the privilege to BE in YOUR PRESENCE.  Being in your presence surpasses all other life experiences.  Oh God, our Maker, we look to you and welcome your presence among us.  We ask fresh and anew; grace us with your abiding Spirit that we may better recognize you above our earthly hindrances -to your glory.

From the finite intricacies of a snowflake to the boundless measures of the galaxies; your wonders never cease.  Thank you God for this new year.

Be exalted, O God, above the heavens! Let Your glory be over all the earth! Psalm 57:5

Snowflake photo credit: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wilson_Bentley