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Welcome to our online reading of Live Your Calling by Kevin & Kay Marie Brennfleck. I am so excited that we are starting this book. I am looking forward to us learning more about our spiritual gifts, talents and skills and how they can be applied to our callings in work and volunteer opportunities.

Welcome to our online reading of Live Your Calling by Kevin & Kay Marie Brennfleck. I am so excited that we are starting this book. I am looking forward to us learning more about our spiritual gifts, talents and skills and how they can be applied to our callings in work and volunteer opportunities.

This book is meant to provide us with direction and not for us to come away with knowing exactly what we are to do although some of us might. But I know that there are those of us that may be just starting out in careers and there are those of us that are starting over after being laid off.

Also this can be for people that just always had a feeling that they were meant to do more for the Lord but just need a better understanding of what their gifts are and where to use them.  Obviously we have to pray without ceasing and listen for the Lord's direction. The Bible is our ultimate instruction guide on everything we do.

The reading outline below is a guide. There is no specific reading schedule or chapter requirement each week. All you need to do is read the book and be ready to discuss it during the month. We will discuss the book in blog comments, on our Facebook page, and on Twitter.

The book is available in our Finding Ourselves in Christ Bookstore through our affiliate program with Amazon and can be ordered in print, but it is also offered in Kindle ebook format.  You can find it on Amazon, in Christian bookstores, or even possibly at your local library.

 

Week 1:  Monday, February 2, 2015

Read:  Introduction, Part One: Called For a Purpose- Chapters 1 & 2

 

Week 2: Monday, February 9, 2015

Read: Part Two: Creating Your Life Calling Map-Chapter 3 (Complete Assessments)

 

 

Week 3: Starting Monday, February 16, 2015

Read: Part Three: Envisioning Your God-Sized Calling-Chapters 4-6

 

Week 4: Monday, February 23, 2015

 Read: Part Four: Making Decisions within The Will of God- Chapters 7 & 8

 

Week 5: Monday, March 2, 2015

Read: Part Five: Transforming Vision into Action-Chapters 8 & 9

 

Week 6: Monday March 9, 2015

Read: Part Six-Overcoming Obstacles to Living Your Calling- Chapters 11-14

 

Week 7: Monday March 16, 2015

Read: Part Six-Overcoming Obstacles to Living Your Calling-Chapters 15-Epilogue: Seize the Day

 

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Calling

I recently saw a movie called, The Family That Preys. The story line included a lot of family drama but lessons were learned and good prevailed in the end. But what I loved about the movie was the music, specifically the song that played at the end.

It was a song originally by, Lee Ann Womack, called "I Hope You Dance" but this version was sung by Gladys Knight. Please watch the video at the end of the post to be inspired for 2015.

 

I recently saw a movie called, The Family That Preys. The story line included a lot of family drama but lessons were learned and good prevailed in the end. But what I loved about the movie was the music, specifically the song that played at the end.

It was a song originally by, Lee Ann Womack, called "I Hope You Dance" but this version was sung by Gladys Knight. 

As I do when I hear a song that I love, I rushed to find it on Google, ITunes or Spotify so that I could hear it again and put it in my music library.

The words to the song are encouraging and inspiring.  Ultimately what I received from it was that we should never give up on faith and our sense of wonder at the world around us. God has given us so much beauty in the world and if we don't pay attention we can miss it.

We can take our very heartbeats for granted. No matter what, we can never give up because hopefully when one door closes another will open.

 We'll reach crossroads in life where things may be hard or confusing and we will have to decide to sit it out and give up on our dreams or take the risk and keep going. We can't always look for the easy route or run away from something because of fear.

This is my wish for us for the New Year.

I know that there are a lot of us that have chosen in the past to sit out on life because it became hard to push forward but I am hoping that you will read these words and listen to the song and allow it to encourage you to get up and try again.

I dedicate this song to you for 2015. I hope you'll dance.

(Please see the video at the bottom of the lyrics).

 

I Hope You Dance

Written By: Lee Ann Womack

Sung By: Gladys Knight

(See Video at the bottom of this screen to hear the song)

 

I hope you never lose your sense of wonder,

You get your fill to eat but always keep that hunger,

May you never take one single breath for granted,

GOD forbid love ever leaves you empty handed,

I hope you still feel small when you stand beside the ocean,

Whenever one door closes I hope one more opens,

Promise me that you'll give faith a fighting chance,

And when you get the choice to sit it out or dance.

 

I hope you dance....I hope you dance.

 

I hope you never fear those mountains in the distance,

Never settle for the path of least resistance

Livin' might mean takin' chances but they're worth takin',

Lovin' might be a mistake but it's worth makin',

Don't let some hell bent heart leave you bitter,

When you come close to sellin' out reconsider,

Give the heavens above more than just a passing glance,

And when you get the choice to sit it out or dance.

 

I hope you dance....I hope you dance.

I hope you dance....I hope you dance.

(Time is a wheel in constant motion always rolling us along,

Tell me who wants to look back on their years and wonder where those years have gone.)

 

I hope you still feel small when you stand beside the ocean,

Whenever one door closes I hope one more opens,

Promise me that you'll give faith a fighting chance,

And when you get the choice to sit it out or dance.

 

Dance....I hope you dance.

I hope you dance....I hope you dance.

I hope you dance....I hope you dance..

 

 

 

 

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General

For I am about to do a brand-new thing. See, I have already begun! Do you not see it? (Isaiah 43:19a, NLT)
Sometimes we don't see it because we are not looking. Circumstances can certainly make us miss the great things that the Lord is doing in our lives. There are some things in my own life that are not going quite the way that I would want them too. But in the midst of all of these things I am still so in awe of God because I can still see His hand working in my life.

By: Ann

For I am about to do a brand-new thing. See, I have already begun! Do you not see it?  (Isaiah 43:19a, NLT)

I have a 6 year old daughter. Like most children her age she loves attention and approval from her father and me on everything she does. Not long ago she sang with her first grade class in a program at school.

As she was performing in the program the lights were very bright on stage. She could barely see me and her father out in the crowd but she kept looking for us until she could. When there was applause she listened to hear our voices above the crowd.

In the middle of singing her first song she started to wave at us. Some of the other 1st graders waved at their parents also but some of them started crying. They all were still very cute.

The thing that seemed most common among them is that whether they were crying, waving or actually singing most of them were looking out in the crowd for whoever was there to support them. 

This reminded me of my relationship with Christ. I have to learn to look for God that way. Regardless of my circumstances or how hard it may be for me to see Him I have to always look or as the Bible says seek Him. I have to look for His approval, His attention and His reassurance that I am doing okay.

I have to stay reminded that the Lord is doing something great in my life right now? He is doing a new thing. Maybe it doesn't seem that way but He is. The scripture above says He has already begun. Then the question is asked, do you not see it?

Sometimes we don't see it because we are not looking. Circumstances can certainly make us miss the great things that the Lord is doing in our lives. There are some things in my own life that are not going quite the way that I would want them too. But in the midst of all of these things I am still so in awe of God because I can still see His hand working in my life.

I am not saying that the Lord is just going around making every rough situation disappear, although I wouldn't mind that. But He is changing me within the situation.

I have found when I focus on issues in my life they blind me. All I can see is the pain. All I see is what I don't have and what I feel I need. All I see is what could or would happen if God doesn't fix it the way that I have asked him to.

When I focus on issues I dismiss the fact that although money was tighter than tight last month we still paid our bills. We still have a warm place to sleep and food to eat.

When I am distracted by issues I miss hearing God is my daughter's laugh.  

The Lord is doing something great with my situation or He is doing something great in me. Sometimes He is even doing them both at the same time and either way I don't want to miss Him.

In small ways He whispers that everything is going to be okay. He says it through the birds singing so beautiful outside of my window in the morning.

He says it through my husband's warm embrace.

He says it through my friend sending me a text saying that she loves me and hopes that I have an awesome day.

When I focus on issues instead of looking out for messages from the Lord I miss the fact that even now there is not all pain, all tears or all lack. But I have to be intentional in looking for God, in looking for joy, for laughter, for hope. If not my thoughts will be devoured by everything that is wrong.

Maybe your brand new thing is like mine, maybe God is offering you a different way to react to situations you face in life. Maybe instead of looking at and focusing on situations he wants our first reaction to be like my daughters, he wants us to look for Him whether things are good or bad.

Listen, we have already cried all of the tears that we can. We have stayed up all night pacing back and forth and we have changed nothing.

Let's try a new thing. Let do what we can, give the problems over to the Lord and be patient as He works them out as He sees fit.

Keep looking for Him. He's there.

Prayer

Father forgive us for worrying more than praying. It hasn't done us any good. Our hands are tied and there is nothing that we can do. We understand that sometimes you allow this to teach us to look for you first in all situations. We love you. We honor you. In Jesus Name, Amen.

Scripture

For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then face to face; now I know in part, but then I will know fully just as I also have been fully known. I Corinthians 13:12 (NASB)

Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever! Amen. Ephesians 3:20-21 (NIV)

Reflection

Go out of your way this week to stop, look and listen for the brand-new thing that the Lord is doing in your life?   I would love to hear about it. Join the conversation on Facebook.

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General

I don't really remember when it started but it seems that it was always there. I have struggled many years with feelings of low self-esteem, fear, anxiety, insecurity and loneliness. I thought at one point that I would never get passed these things and they would always consume my life. Then there was God

 

Coffee for Your Heart 150

 

http://holleygerth.com/coffee-for-your-heart-love -Happily linking up today with Holley Gerth for Coffee for Your Heart.

 

A Foolish Thing

By Ann

I Corinthians 1:26-31 (NIV)

26 Remember, dear brothers and sisters, that few of you were wise in the world's eyes, or powerful, or wealthy when God called you. 27 Instead, God deliberately chose things the world considers foolish in order to shame those who think they are wise. And he chose those who are powerless to shame those who are powerful. 28 God chose things despised by the world, things counted as nothing at all, and used them to bring to nothing what the world considers important, 29 so that no one can ever boast in the presence of God. 30 God alone made it possible for you to be in Christ Jesus. For our benefit God made Christ to be wisdom itself. He is the one who made us acceptable to God. He made us pure and holy, and he gave himself to purchase our freedom. 31 As the Scriptures say, "The person who wishes to boast should boast only of what the Lord has done."

 

I don't really remember when it started but it seems that it was always there. I have struggled many years with feelings of low self-esteem, fear, anxiety, insecurity and loneliness. I thought at one point that I would never get passed these things and they would always consume my life. Then there was God.

As a child I suffered being abandoned by my mother at two months old. My father died before I was born. I was taken in by my grandparents. My grandmother died of tuberculosis when I was about ten so my grandfather raised me until I was a young adult and then he died too.

I am an only child. My mother was also an only child so there are no aunts, uncles or cousins. I am not sure about my father's family but no one ever reached out to me so as far as I knew there was just me. My grandmother's sister had a couple of kids who had children that were my grand cousins I think but we lost touch. So as you can imagine I became a bit of a loner.

Eventually when I was about 16 years old I gave my life to Christ and He has been relentless in proving to me how much He loves me. Unfortunately and in spite of His pursuit I still took it upon myself to fill the voids that I had in life with the wrong things and the wrong people.

I got to a point that I was almost willing to do anything to be a part of somebody's family. I called other people's parents dad and mom. I called other people's sisters and brothers my sister and brother.

 I did things that were against my own morals and even more importantly against God to try and earn love from people that did not have my best interest at heart. Somehow it was always revealed that I was not a real part of their family. I was extra hard on myself because I was always trying to prove that I belonged.

Eventually God blessed me with a husband and family of my own. Then a few years ago I seemed to hit rock bottom in my life. On the outside things seemed perfect. I was very active in church. I sang on the choir. My husband was an usher. All of our kids were doing well. I was pregnant with our fourth child and everything was wonderful.  

After our daughter was born I slipped into a secret depression. It was a secret because I felt I could never let anyone know that I was not doing a good job handling being a mother again. People started coming to our family for help with different situations. I was happy to help but sadly I also used these circumstances to keep the focus shifted away from my own emotional demise.  

At some point the illusion started slipping away. Things seemed to fall apart all around me. Then there was a moment that there was nobody but me and God. This led to many days that I just cried, sobbed and whined to the Lord.

 I told him that I felt lonely and abandoned. I was tired of feeling like I was never good enough and that I would never be worthy enough to be used. I had put great expectations on my friend and family to make me feel whole and all of my efforts to feel whole through people and things had been in vain.

After my confession to God and through the tears I felt an overwhelming amount of God's love. It seemed after that moment every sermon, book and devotional that I read was about God's great unfailing love for me. As I prayed and read my Bible I allowed His words to possess my heart and mind. I started being deliberate in looking for scriptures, books, music, sermons and anything else that spoke to my soul about God's love for me.

That's how I learned that He is a father to the fatherless. (Psalm 68:5)

Once when I was reading my Bible and searching the scriptures I found the passage, I Corinthians 1:26-31 and it really touched my heart. It revealed to me that I had a misconception about what I need to be or have to be used and loved by God. I matter to Him just the way that I am. He has blessed me with a beautiful family and a few good friends but even if I never had any of that He is more than enough and I am enough because I have Him.

 I am not abandoned or alone. I am loved and cherished. I am called. I am the foolish thing that the passage talks about that will show the world that regardless of what I lack I can boast. But my boasting will be in the Lord and not in myself.

These days I am so excited about the things that the Lord is doing through me. I am amazed that He chose someone that didn't think she had much to offer.

The Lord has also chosen you to be a "foolish thing." You think that you lack so much and everybody else has the Midas touch but if you look at the scriptures God specializes in using people that are not up to par in the world's eyes.

Moses had trouble speaking, David was an adulterer, and the woman at the well had been married multiple times. Maybe He has already told you what He wants you to do. If He has don't let anything stop you. If he hasn't told you seek Him for your answer. You have what it takes. You are smart, beautiful and able through Him. He is preparing you and giving you everything you need. You are not alone. Trust Him.

Prayer

Father we trust you with our lives, with all of the things we are and all of the things that we are not. Use us for Your Glory. Help us to know that we are loved and not alone or abandoned.  Help us to find our worth and purpose in you and not people or things. We know that you can take what little we have and turn it into something beautiful. As we begin to walk in your purpose for our lives we will always remember to boast about the things that You have done. In Jesus Name, Amen.

Related Resources

Happily linking up with holleygerth.com for Coffee for your Heart.

 

Reflection

Are you secretly or in the open not feeling good about who you are? Are you feeling lonely or abandoned or maybe you just feel that nobody is there for you? Take some time to search the scriptures to see what God says about what you mean to Him. Write these scriptures down in your journal or on an index card and refer back to them whenever you feel that you are not enough.  Remember, only God can fill your deepest longings.

Join me on Facebook this week where I will be posting Scriptures to encourage us to feel better about God's love for us and who we are in Christ. I hope you will post some too.  

 

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General

YOU ARE A WRITER by JEFF GOINS will help you fall back in love with writing and build an audience who shares your love. It's about living the dream of a life dedicated to words and it all begins with YOU.

 

Becoming a writer begins with a simple but important belief: You are a writer; you just need to write.

This was the sentence in the book, You Are a Writer by Jeff Goins that helped me believe that I could write. It was a confirmation from God so to speak because after writing for so long with little exposure I asked God the question, "Am I a writer"?

Jeff helped me to understand through his words that writing wasn't really about what I thought it was. Being a writer was not what I thought it was. I thought it was about perfection or the authors that I admired had something that I didn't.

It seems that the most important thing that they had that I had lost or forgotten was persistence and a love for writing. This book helped me get back in touch with both of these.

I have been writing since I was very young. But after I started a family and other happenings in life took over I got away from writing. But then I found some old journals that I had written when I was younger.

Some of them were filled with poems that I had written almost 20 years ago. Some of them contained prayers, devotions and just thoughts on how I was feeling about whatever was going on in my life. I believed the Lord used this to show me that I had really been writing all the time.

From this I felt compelled to write more. I started this blog and started reading more on writing. I am not perfect but as Jeff explains in this book, there isn't really good or bad writing.

I do it now for the love of writing. Obviously I am also taking steps to perfect my craft as a musician would practice before playing before people but even with that I am finally able to say that I am a writer.

As the book states, I realized that I can't not write.  

I hope this book will confirm and stir up your gift for writing as it did for me.

In You Are a Writer, Jeff Goins shares his own story of self-doubt and what it took for him to become a professional writer. He gives you practical steps to improve your writing, get published in magazines, and build a platform that puts you in charge.

This book is about what it takes to be a writer in the 21st Century. You will learn the importance of passion and discipline and how to show up every day to do the work.

Here's what else you will learn:

-How to transition from wanting to be a writer to actually being one
-What "good" writing is (and isn't)
-How to stop waiting to be picked and finally choose yourself
-What it takes to build a platform
-Why authors need to brand themselves (and how to do it)
-Tips for freelancing, guest blogging, and getting published in magazines
-Different ways to network with other writers, artists, and influencers
-The importance of blogging and social media and how to use it well to find more readers and fans of your writing

 

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Poetry

I am sharing this poem in honor of Father's Day coming up but the wisdom of it is appropriate for anytime of the year. It also seems to be from a father to a son but I also believe the advice is good for us daughters too. I found it at www.Poetryfoundation.org. I hope you like it. Let me know what you think of it in comments. ) 

 

 If- 

By Rudyard Kipling 1865-1936 

 

If you can keep your head when all about you    

    Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,    

If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,  

    But make allowance for their doubting too;    

If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,  

    Or being lied about, don't deal in lies,  

Or being hated, don't give way to hating,  

    And yet don't look too good, nor talk too wise:  

 
 

If you can dream-and not make dreams your master;    

    If you can think-and not make thoughts your aim;    

If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster  

    And treat those two impostors just the same;    

If you can bear to hear the truth you've spoken  

    Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,  

Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,  

    And stoop and build 'em up with worn-out tools:  

 
 

If you can make one heap of all your winnings  

    And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,  

And lose, and start again at your beginnings  

    And never breathe a word about your loss;  

If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew  

    To serve your turn long after they are gone,    

And so hold on when there is nothing in you  

    Except the Will which says to them: 'Hold on!'  

 
 

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,    

    Or walk with Kings-nor lose the common touch,  

If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,  

    If all men count with you, but none too much;  

If you can fill the unforgiving minute  

    With sixty seconds' worth of distance run,    

Yours is the Earth and everything that's in it,    

    And-which is more-you'll be a Man, my son! 

 

Source: A Choice of Kipling's Verse (1943)  

 

 

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Music

One of my favorite albums that I listen to is Mail Is.. by Mali Music. Mali has a very unique sound which makes his music even more appealing. The songs on this album speak on real life issues but it encourages you in your faith at the same time.

 

 

I began listening to Mali Music when someone recommended that I listen to the 2econd Coming album and I have been hooked since then. Mali has a very unique sound which makes his music even more appealing.

The songs on Mali Is speak on real life issues but it encourages you in your faith at the same time.  It basically speaks life into its listeners.  

I love the entire album but my favorite songs include:  

Fight for You- This song will remind you that God is fighting for you and at the same time you have to fight for yourself by staying true to who you are. Basically it addresses the fact that people will try to make you who they want you to be.  

Walking Shoes- You will love this one because it talks about that vision or dream that has not fully come to pass yet. The song will encourage you to keep walking toward that dream and not waiting for it to just happen. I have a couple of my own dreams in the works and this song definitely encourages me when I feel like giving up on God's call on my life.  

Royalty- This song will remind you of who you are in Christ, a chosen people, a royal priesthood. As Mali states in this song, "We are called out of the darkness into the marvelous light. Do you know who you are? Royalty.

Please feel free to click on the picture above or the link to preview or purchase Mali's Album. Plus you can get a taste of his sound by clicking on the video at the end of this post. 

Other Mali Music songs that I love aside from Mali Is include the entire 2econd Coming Album, the song "Go" and "Walk on Water." I had a tough time finding Go and Walk on Water but I eventually found them on Mali's Mix Tape from Amazon.

I love many more of his songs but "Mali is" seemed special. Mali personally wrote every song on the record, while ByStorm Entertainment's Mark Pitts and Wayne Barrow serve as executive producers of the project along with Kirk Lightburn as A&R.  

In addition to producing a handful of tracks himself, Mali also enlisted the production talents of the iconic Jerry "Wonda" Duplessis and D'Mile. "No Fun Alone" produced by Duplessis, begins with smoky jazz piano and bluesy guitar licks before giving way to the singer's instantly recognizable croon. Lyrically, he takes the opportunity to remind everyone, "It's no fun alone."  

On the other end of the spectrum, "Heavy Love" skates along on upbeat percussion and tasteful melodic leads punctuated by a bombastic groove of live instrumentation. 
He grabs the mic for truly pensive, passionate, and poetic bars during "Little Lady". A soulful refrain resounds as he solemnly rhymes, "Can't distinguish the laughter from the cries, bags under your eyes, so you use makeup to cover up what you cannot hide." 

 
His raps build into a thought-provoking statement declaring, "You have daughters and they have sons who have daughters and those are the ones who have the opportunity to break the curses that make their mothers buy purses with letters on them to show they're not worthless." This isn't just a cry for a change in music but in culture at large, and he's not afraid to let it out-loud. 

 
Meanwhile, the single "Beautiful" lives up to its name. Written and co-produced by Mali as well as Duplessis and Arden Altino, the track glides from an energetic verse into a heavenly refrain that instantly shines and soars-living up to its title. 

 
"This song is for those people who never stopped believing and always saw me for who I was," he reveals. "It's a letter to the ones in your life who were there when you were nothing, they were there when you became something, and they were there when you lost everything you had again. It's a tribute to everybody who helped me become who I am. They're truly beautiful, and I needed to say it." 

 
On "Ready Aim," Mali states that in the song its like anybody can fire whatever they want at me, but you can't shoot me down. This one is like a fuel injector. It gives you that boost so you know you can accomplish your dreams." 

 
Everything culminates on "I Believe". The track produced by Mali himself serves as the album's final destination, encapsulating his journey up to this point. Musically, a major piano melody entwines with a slick drum beat as Mali opens up yet again, professing "We all need faith."  The track is as unique as it is uplifting.

"I've got something I need to share," he asserts. "There's a deeper message. It's the heart of everything I do, and I want to get that to everyone possible. That's the ultimate goal."  I believe everyone with a beating heart will be able to find themselves in some part of it." "I want to inspire others to inspire," he concludes. I hope I can be the key to unlock that in somebody listening."

What are your favorite Mali Music songs? 

(This biography was partially adapted by the artist or their representative via Amazon.com)

 

 

 You can find more information on Mali and his music at http://www.malimusicofficial.com/

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Bible Study

Easter reminds me of growing up in Florence, South Carolina. Easter was a big thing for us as children. Do you remember the feeling of getting those beautiful, spring colored dresses every year? Guys have to remember sitting in the barbershop all day waiting for a turn for a haircut. Boys wore sharp suits for Easter that sometimes included ties which as I recall most boys hated to wear.

Easter reminds me of growing up in Florence, South Carolina.  Easter was a big thing for us as children. Do you remember the feeling of getting those beautiful, spring colored dresses every year? Some of us got our hair done at salons which was only for special occasions. The rest of us went to a girlfriend or a family member My favorite style was candy girls.  

Guys have to remember sitting in the barbershop all day waiting for a turn for a haircut. Boys wore sharp suits for Easter that sometimes included ties which as I recall most boys hated to wear.   

We also had to prepare to get up in front of everyone at church to say our Easter speeches. My favorite one was, "I just came to say Happy Easter Day." It's obvious that it was my favorite because it was short. I was nervous every year getting up in front of everyone.  

Today many people seem to get the same feeling around Easter time. You see people shopping for spring colored dresses and suits. The hair salons and barber shops are full and parents are now running around to purchase these same things for their own children.  

Easter is also one of the busiest days of the year for churches. The pews are full of people that don't normally attend. This is a wonderful blessing. Pastors exclaim from pulpits all over the world that "Jesus has Risen." Many go and enjoy their Easter dinner afterward and wait for the excitement of next year.  

These are all beautiful traditions but before, during and after all of this is done we have to continue to remember something or even better someone.   

We have to remember the Lord.  

This seems obvious but it isn't always. Let's use this time to re-examine our lives. The Lord overcame the grave and He lives. We can overcome those things in our own lives that are dead and divert our attention to the things that add life.   

I pray that Easter and the scriptures below encourage you to make a decision today to do something new for the Lord. He has probably already put it on your heart. Solomon does a beautiful job in these verses of reminding us to remember the Lord before we are too old to give Him our best years.  

 

(Ecclesiastes 12:1-7, NIV). 

Remember your Creator in the days of your youth, before the days of trouble come and the years approach when you will say, "I find no pleasure in them"--  

before the sun and the light and the moon and the stars grow dark, and the clouds return after the rain;  

when the keepers of the house tremble, and the strong men stoop, when the grinders cease because they are few, and those looking through the windows grow dim;  

when the doors to the street are closed and the sound of grinding fades; when men rise up at the sound of birds, but all their songs grow faint; 

when men are afraid of heights and of dangers in the streets; when the almond tree blossoms and the grasshopper drags himself along and desire no longer is stirred. Then man goes to his eternal home and mourners go about the streets.  

Remember him--before the silver cord is severed, or the golden bowl is broken; before the pitcher is shattered at the spring, or the wheel broken at the well,  

and the dust returns to the ground it came from, and the spirit returns to God who gave it.

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Personal Growth

Did you know that you can start over? I guess I always knew that I could but I lost sight of it. I forgot that "another chance" is really what the Gospel of Jesus Christ is all about. As the Christian cliché states we are not just afforded a second chance but another chance.

This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone now; a new life has begun! (2 Cor, 5:17 NLT)

Did you know that you can start over?  I guess I always knew that I could but I lost sight of it. I forgot that "another chance" is really what the Gospel of Jesus Christ is all about. As the Christian cliché states we are not just afforded a second chance but another chance.

Recently I had given up on some of my dreams or maybe I didn't really give up but I did stop. These are things that I love to do and some of them are even gifts from the Lord.  These dreams include things like school, singing and even this blog.

Why did I stop? Because they are harder to achieve than I thought, because I failed at some of them once and I failed at some of them multiple times, because I started comparing where I am with other people, and because I felt like too much time has passed already and things are just taking too long.

While I was spending time feeling sorry for myself instead of praying the enemy slipped in with some suggestions like failure means give up, failure means this is not for me and failure means these dreams are for those that are better qualified.

What was he trying to accomplish? He wanted to kill, steal and destroy what the Lord has placed in me.

The truth is I could give up and let go but my desire to do something great for God is as Jeremiah stated, like fire in my bones.

  -  But if I say I'll never mention the Lord or speak His name, his word burns in my heart like a fire. It is like fire in my bones! I am worn out trying to hold it in! I can't do it! (Jer. 20:9, NLT).

Even as I think about Easter, I think of Christ dying and how He rose again, and for what? So that we can have another chance and I have been one that has needed many, many chances.

So again I have asked for forgiveness and I am starting again.

You can start over again too. If you have had a setback or if some of your opportunities have expired, be open to new opportunities. God will open doors for you as you follow His will.

Don't lose patience in the process. As Joyce Meyer writes in her book, You Can Begin Again, "Whoever you are, wherever you are, whatever you've been through, it's never too late to begin again."

Some of the biblical examples of what she calls, "fresh starts" include:

-Far from his potential, wandering on the back side of the desert, Moses is called to lead a nation. Fresh Start!

-A victim of her reputation, known only as a harlot, Rahab is rescued and given a noble name in the lineage of Christ. Fresh Start!

-Stuck in a dead end job tending sheep, David is anointed to be King of Israel. Fresh Start!

-Widowed, alone, and with nowhere to go, Ruth is given a brand-new, better-than-imagined life. Fresh Start!

-Ashamed, having given in to fear and denied the Lord, Peter is forgiven and inspired to preach at the Pentecost. Fresh Start!

-Caught in a trap of dead religion, persecuting the early Christians, Paul is transformed and called to write much of the New Testament. Fresh Start!

What gifts we have as Christians-grace, mercy, forgiveness, love and the chance to start again.

 

Prayer

Father, we say thank you that we are afforded another chance. You have given us gifts that are worth more than anything we will ever be given in this lifetime. Help us to remember not to give up on the gifts that you have placed within us and Father if we fall remind us to get back up and start again. We love you.  In Jesus Name, Amen.

 

Scripture

Therefore, since God in his mercy has given us this new way, we never give up. (2 Cor. 4:1, NLT)

 

Reflection

Consider the wonderful gifts, talents and skills that Christ has given you. Thank Him and find a way to use them for His Glory. 

 

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General

But Lots wife looked back and she became a pillar of salt. Genesis 19:26 (NIV, 1984)
What are you leaving behind in 2013? Are you excited about the things that God is going to do through you in 2014? I pray that you are. Letting go of something that is familiar can be pretty hard.


By: Ann

But Lots wife looked back and she became a pillar of salt. Genesis 19:26 (NIV, 1984)

What are you leaving behind in 2013? Are you excited about the things that God is going to do through you in 2014? I pray that you are. Letting go of something that is familiar can be pretty hard. Some people experienced big changes in their lives on many levels last year. Loved ones were lost and some people walk into the New Year not feeling completely whole. Many people lost their jobs and are asking themselves what they should do now. Things use to be so familiar and comfortable.

One of the hardest things I'm letting go of is comfort. You may be thinking that comfort does not necessarily sound like a bad thing. Well in my case it is. I am addicted to comfort. 

The problem that I am having is in order to follow my dreams and walk in the calling I believe God has for me in this season of my life I have to step out and get a little uncomfortable. You see the Lord is calling me to a higher purpose. At one point I was struggling to get there because I was caught up in fear. I have always been a dreamer but I was always reluctant to take actions on my dreams.

One of my biggest dreams includes having my own business. I whispered a prayer to God when I was still working at my old job and when I got laid off He allowed it to come to pass. I don't even remember the day that I realized that I was actually walking in my dream but when I did for some reason it scared me to death.

I started looking for my comfort zone. God knows me so well that I am sure that he blocked all of my efforts to go back. He did this with Lots wife also. All she knew was destroyed so she would never be able to go back. He commanded her and all that were with her not to look back but she did and the result was she was turned to a pillar of salt.

 I thank God that the Lord did not turn me into a pillar of salt but He did understand where I was then so He used the situation as a teaching moment. He knew that if things got difficult I would look for the easier route. I would try to go back to what was familiar.

 I am not sure if I was afraid of success or more afraid of failure but I might have well have been turned into a pillar of salt because like Lot's wife I was becoming paralyzed by own fear, doubt and insecurity. I stopped moving forward.

How did I know that God was trying to teach me something in this situation? Before I lost my job at the end of 2012 and I whispered the prayer to have my own business to God employers were calling often. I had gone on several interviews and all of a sudden it all stopped.

I started working my business directly after I left my old position but then when I started getting clients fear and doubt set in. I allowed the voices of doubt to become louder in my mind than the Lord's voice. I traded in truth like, God has not given me a spirit of fear, but of power, love and a sound mind for lies like, "you're not smart enough to do this so give it up now before your clients find out that you are not competent."

Like Lots' wife I began to look for what I knew. I remembered that when I worked corporate it was the supervisor's responsibility if someone had a complaint. I always knew how much my check was going to be based on a 40 hour work week.  My employer provided work for me, now I have to go out and look for work myself. What if I messed up so bad that I lost all of my clients? What if I failed?

But the Lord has blessed me to know that my reluctance to chase after my calling was not just about not wanting to get out of my comfort zone but it was more so about fear and a lack of trust in God and His love for me. It was like saying that I thought the Lord would give me gifts but not give me what I needed to operate in them.

For the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable. Romans 11:29 (NKJV)

There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love.  I John 4:18 (NKJV)

My fears and doubts were tormenting me and keeping me from the blessings that God had for me.

So going into 2014 I can't look back. I am leaving behind fear, past failures, doubt and anything else that keeps me from following my dreams and operating in my gifts. I pray that you will join me.

 

Prayer:

Father, we thank you so much that you have not given us a spirit of fear, but of power, love and a sound mind. Help us to walk in the power that you have given us. Help us to depend on your love that will help us keep a sound mind when things become challenging as we pursue our callings. We will not run away from our gifts but we will work toward them giving you glory in everything we do. In Jesus Name, Amen.

 

Reflection:

So what about you? What are you leaving behind in 2013? What dreams and purpose has the Lord given you to focus on in 2014? Say a prayer asking God for direction for your purpose and the courage to pursue them. I would love to hear what dreams the Lord has placed in your heart for 2014 or if you have already realized your dream you can leave a comment to encourage others. You can also join the conversation on Facebook.

Scriptures:

Therefore I, a prisoner for serving the Lord, beg you to lead a life worthy of your calling, for you have been called by God. Ephesians 4:1 (NLT)

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