How to Know You Were Born for a Purpose

By Gail Armatys, HeartSong Life Coach

Back in the day, I spent my younger years wondering about the purpose of a variety of very important things.

For example, in middle school (back then we called it Jr. High) I questioned the point of algebra and math in general, but mostly honed in on bigger more important questions related to numbers such as, “who gets to decided 2+2 = 4 anyway?” I now know I was of the same mindset of the much younger, wiser Will Smith (yes, the Will of Fresh Prince of Bel Air, Men in Black and Independence Day fame) who once said, “2+2 only equals 4 if you accept that 2+2 = 4.” Maybe my problem was I didn’t want to accept it. Anyway, I promised myself I would make it through college without taking another math class and I was successful in that endeavor. Accounting, yes. Math, no.

When I was a college sophomore, I questioned what added value there was in taking classes that I had absolutely no interest in and weren’t necessary for my major – classes such as Geology, English Diagramming, and the like. Mind you, I never did question the appropriateness of my Fine Food and Wine elective.

Then, thrown out into the real world as an adult the questions became louder and larger. What is my purpose? What’s the point? How do I make a difference? Do I matter? Important questions. So important that God has taken great time and care to provide me – and you – with the answer.

You Can Know Your Purpose

Your purpose for living isn’t some deep dark secret. God loves you and wants you to know and live his uniquely designed purpose for your life. In Christian circles we often hear that our purpose is to know God and make him known. True. But God has a specific way for each of us to make that happen and he wants us to know what it is.

Know Your Purpose

First, let’s start at the beginning. You and I were born – created. I think we can all agree that occurred. Our birth is determined – kind of like the two plus two great math decider – someone got to decide on certain things relative to each of us. In this case, the decisions were that we would be created, how we were going to look, what our inclinations and genetics would be, where we would live, what circumstances we would be born into, and what we have the potential to add up to (sorry, couldn’t resist the math reference) – or do/become.   The Decider in our creation is God.

For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb.

Ps. 139:13

All the days ordained for me were written in your book before

one of them came to be.

Ps. 139:16

These verses tell us a couple of things. One: God, the Decider, knows us – intimately, in our core, our heart of hearts, the deepest part of ourselves because he created us. He knows us like an artist knows the variance in color, light, and brush strokes of her masterpiece. Two: God knows our days. He knows and sees the beginning from the end. Our days are ordained. In the Hebrew to ‘ordain’ means to appoint or instruct. Usually, when we are appointed or instructed the words or idea ‘to do’ something immediately follows. Sarah was appointed to lead the children. Jill was instructed to sing the songs. In other words, God created us to do certain things during the time in which we are given to live.

Could it be that God is telling each one of us that our being alive + our doing = fulfillment of God’s plan?

Maybe I like math more than I thought!

Seek Purpose. Find Courage.

Before I shaped you in the womb,

I knew all about you.

Before you saw the light of day,

I had holy plans for you:

I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.

Jer. 1:5

The Lord told Jeremiah he was appointed to be a prophet. His purpose was to warn the Israelites of coming disaster. He had a holy purpose. Being a prophet was a tough job. One Jeremiah wasn’t ecstatic about because he didn’t think he was capable of accomplishing the work. Nevertheless, he was told his purpose. Which reveals two more things.

One: God will reveal your specific purpose. He did it for Jeremiah and he will do it for you, too. As I said earlier, your purpose is not a deep, dark secret. It’s just that it often gets obscured. Our lives are noisy, busy, competitive, and sometimes downright painful and we cannot hear or see what God is saying, doing, or instructing. Maybe, if we are totally honest, we might even say we don’t really think about it and just go our own way.

There are other obstacles, too. These are weaknesses that affect our integrity. Things like living in fear, lying, pride, quitting, lack of self-control. Human, characteristics to-be-sure, but not Christ-like, and definitely roadblocks to knowing and fulfilling our purpose.

Two: You can’t accomplish your purpose without God. Perhaps, like Jeremiah, you have fallen for the lie that you aren’t able. You aren’t smart enough, good looking enough, funny enough, talented enough, tall enough, just simply not good enough to walk down the path where God is leading so you stick with the status quo because it’s safer and easier. And in a sense you are right, without God we aren’t enough. With God is a different story.

Once God assured Jeremiah he was with him, would tell him what to say, and had nothing to fear Jeremiah was determined to know and fulfill his purpose. Nothing would sway him. God knew what Jeremiah needed. He needed courage to do that something God had planned – and God provided.

Old testament or new God still knows we need him to move down his path. He tells you and me the same thing over and again. He is with us.

Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.

Joshua 1:9

And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.

Matthew 28:20

Do The Math

  1. God wanted you – so he created you.
  2. He knows you completely.
  3. God has a unique role for you to fulfill in his plan for a purpose.
  4. He wants you to know your purpose.
  5. You can accomplish your purpose with God.

It all adds up!

Purpose Prayer

Lord, I thank you for making me on purpose for a purpose. I pray not to get bogged down in the noise and busyness of my days or shy away from your plan out of fear or laziness. Give me courage and help me rely on you to lead the way. In Jesus’ holy name, Amen.

Purpose Step

Take time this week to ponder one of God’s greatest creations…you! Psalms 139:14 reminds us that we are marvelously and wonderfully made. Thank God today for you and the purpose he has for your life!

Listen to Your HeartSong Here!

Do Something/Matthew West

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0I2csO7_pOI

Live the Song Written on your Heart

The One Word Description

By: Vivian Wilson

True Love

Pastor Ben said something in his sermon Sunday, that just kept pestering my mind all day. It wasn’t something that I didn’t know or hadn’t heard before. But it was something that I have really never spent a lot of time thinking about.

It is one of those “yeah, everybody knows that” phrases.  (Sorry, Mr. Insurance Guy).  He said we are made in “the image of God”.

Genesis 1:27  So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.

What does that mean really? Well, I thought, man is creative and he has the ability to think and reason. God created man to be holy (set apart) and righteous (without sin). Man had fellowship with God, they walked in the garden together. (Gen.3:8) So obviously God created man to have a loving relationship with Him.

God is not a loner. He is a lover.

1 John 4:16,19  And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love.  Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in him. 19,  We love because he first loved us.

There is, in every heart, an intense need to be known fully and loved anyway. Every human heart desires to be loved unconditionally. We would all agree that only God is capable of loving unconditionally. He does know us completely and loves us in spite of our imperfections and wants us to love him in return. Yet, even though we know that others cannot love us the way God does, we still long for something close to it.

1 John 5:3  This is love for God: to obey his commands.

John 14:15  If you love me, you will obey what I command.

But here is the problem. We focus on this heartfelt need to be the beloved. We want to be loved and and made to feel special and appreciated and valuable. This is absolutely a good thing! But the other side gets lost. Because we are made in the image of God, we also have an equally strong need to the a lover.  

This is the greatest commandment:

Mark 12:30-31  Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.  The second is this:  Love your neighbor as yourself.

We are to love God and we are to love others.

John 15:12  My command is this:  Love each other as I have loved you.

I am beginning to understand that my need to love others is equal to my need to be loved and just as important. May I be so bold as to suggest that perhaps when feelings of emptiness or loneliness arise, it isn’t because we aren’t loved enough, it is because we are not loving enough.

Created in the image of God, love should define who I am and what I do.

1 Corinthians 13:4-8  Love is patient, love is kind.  It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.  It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.  Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.  It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.  Love never fails.

Love expresses itself in grace, mercy, forgiveness, kindness, gentleness, compassion, patience, goodness, and humility. There are many opportunities every day to love someone. This is when we look most like the One in whose image we are created.

A work in progress,

Vivian

And all the time…God is good

By: Ms. O

Years ago…and I mean YEARS…when I first starting going to church camp, I met someone…who would end up being one of my very dear friends. He used a phrase that has always stuck with me:

God is good, when? All the time.

He used it to get the youth back focused again…starting the first part of the statement…waiting for the response…and then go on to the next part to do the same.

I did not think too much of it at the time….I was much like the youth…ready to listen and respond. It has taken me many years to grasp a portion of that truth…to have my ears ready to hear this gem enough to treasure it.

I have lived enough years on this planet to know that life is unpredictable. Good things happen…along with the bad….it all adds up to…life.  The house I grew up in is a distant memory….the friends I hung out with as a child I never see anymore…unless I see them on Facebook. I have celebrated the birth of my children….their accomplishments …graduation…high school and college…and have seen them move into adulthood.

Over the years I have laughed…and cried…but for the most part…did not think too much of what place God had in all of that….living.  I suppose a lot of it has to do with my very shallow understanding of God’s placement in my day-to-day living.  I felt like He changed with my circumstances…..just writing that makes me laugh out loud…at  my own ignorance.

Because God wanted to make the unchanging nature of His purpose very clear to his heirs of what was promised, He confirmed it with an oath. God did this so that, by two unchangeable things in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled to take hold of the hope offered to us bay be greatly encouraged.” Hebrews 6:17-18

This scripture refers to the promise that God made to Abraham…that he and his descendants would be blessed. That is not to say that Abraham led an easy life…but he was assured that God was with him. He made a promise…He keeps His promise…He does not change.

When is God good? All the time.

When I hear of great news….happiness is in full bloom…my heart sings….. I think to myself…God is good…all the time…and all the time…God is good. He is high fiving with me…wanting me to take joy in what brings Him joy. I feel Him smiling…laughing full out…beckoning me to revel in it….these snatches of how it is supposed to be…when things go right.

God is good, even in the trials. He's good all the time. All the time, God is very good.

The crazy thing is….when life is not going “according to plan”…I have come to realize that statement is just as true…if not more so. God is good….all the time…and all the time…God is good. When sorrow wears me down…when worry is a burden to bear…God is the only “good” in it all. He reveals Himself to me in so many ways…to remind me of His presence…so that I can hang on to “His good”…in the face of life’s not to great.

My journey in life travels a twisted path. Some of the detours are self imposed…others are due to the fact that life….just…happens. This is what I know though. God meets me at every fork in the road…calls out to me…continually…in spite of my lack of listening…time and time again.

I hear His voice…reminding me…”I am here for you Linda…that won’t stop. Your life may change…where you live…what happens with the kids…your calling…but I DON’T. I remain the same….yesterday…..today…and tomorrow.”

God is good…all the time…..and all the time…God is good…and I give thanks for that reality. You truly are good God…all the time.

Amen

The Best Kind of House Call

By: Amy Dalke

Let’s pretend that I’ve invited you over to my house. (We’ll stick with coffee or tea, since you’re wise to be leery of any homemade goods.) 

If you visit on any normal kind of day, you are likely to make a few observations before you even cross the threshold:

–You might discover that we have a child who wears size 4 tennis shoes. (The evidence will be right before your eyes, regardless of the time of day or which door you enter.)

–You’ll figure out that this child plays a lot of indoor basketball and baseball, since you have to step over at least four balls on your way into the living room.

–And you’ll find that we have the two fattest cats in the entire world. (These cats are living, everyday reminders for me that I need to think a thing through before making big decisions.) (Because I discovered years ago, that I like kittens. But not cats. And that’s a story for another day.)

Aside from the obvious physical state of our house, I wonder how you would describe the spiritual temperature of our home.

Loaded question, right?

I want my home to be warm with peace, love, and graceful comfort. But it doesn’t always happen quite like that. My house can be radiant with joy one day, only to be thick with restless, stressed-out chaos the next. One minute, the air is ripe with a calm contentment; the next, it’s been chilled by the icy bite of hurtful words.

It doesn’t even matter which day of the week you drop by. I love Sundays and all, but not even the Sabbath day is exempt from a temperature drop in these parts. Because there is often no greater tension that arises when certain family members wait until 9:10am to get dressed for church that starts at 9:30.

(I’m not calling names, but let me just say that these certain people wouldn’t have survived my childhood. Because preachers really shouldn’t be late, and their children know better than to create that kind of strife.) But I digress.

Regardless of the who, what, or when, the overall difference in my home environment on any given day really just depends on who is running the show: me or Jesus.

******************************************

There’s a story in Mark 1:29-32 that got me started on this whole thought process about the spiritual atmosphere in my home.

This passage takes place after church one day, where Jesus and his recently recruited disciples, visit the house of Simon and Andrew. Simon’s mother-in-law was sick, and Jesus hadn’t been in the house long enough to trip over a basketball (or a fat cat), before the family members spoke to him about her.

Here’s how Jesus responded (verse 31): “And He came to her and raised her up, taking her by the hand, and the fever left her, and she waited on them.” 

In 90 Days With The One & Only, Beth Moore says this about the situation:

“Christ could have healed her [Simon’s mother-in-law] from the front porch. But he didn’t. He came to her and drew down close…He involved himself one-on-one with those he helped.”

Jesus makes house calls…

Just like Jesus drew near to stand over Simon’s sick mother-in-law, we don’t hang back and wish our children well from afar when they’re sick. We go to them, wrap our arms around them, and do everything within our power to care for them until they feel better again.

In addition to all sorts of physical illness, our homes can groan with the aches and pains born from bitterness, unforgiveness, unfaithfulness, adultery, addictions, struggles with pornography, and various other forms of emotional bondage.

While it isn’t common these days for a doctor to show up at our door when we have a fever, Jesus still makes house calls. He loves us so much that he comes near. He makes his home with us, and tends to every hurt, every pain, every heartache.

Jesus…still makes house calls.

The good thing is, we don’t have to clean up before we let him in. But we do have to open the door, because he won’t barge into our mess unless he’s invited.

And the most awesome thing ever? Jesus already knows what we look like behind these four walls, but he still stands at the door and knocks anyway.

He is near. And he brings hope.

So what will you do with that?

Amy

Are You Allowing God?

By: Gail Armatys, HeartSong Life Coach

This morning when you got up, you probably had a pretty good idea how your day was going to go. You had a plan. Your alarm was to go off at the same time it did yesterday. Your breakfast was still your favorite, Cheerios…not the multigrain, or yogurt kind…the only kind – the plain ol’ regular Cheerios. Maybe you planned to get your kids off to school and yourself to work. However your ‘normal’ day tends to unfold, more often than not, today’s routine usually feels pretty much like most days.

You may love the sameness. Or you may crave more meaning in your life. If you are among the cravers, there is an answer to opening the door to more. The answer is…allowing God.

Exactly What God Asks

What if you begin each day by inviting God to take the reigns – or wheel – your preference. To make it different and more meaningful than you can imagine. What if you ask God to shake things up a bit, to have his way with your schedule, your ideas, your circumstances? Pretty bold move and good idea…but it’s not original with you…or me. This is exactly what God asks of us. He wants us to put our trust, our moments, our days, and our lives in his hands. Why? To allow him to mold and shape us. To rely solely on him to make our lives meaningful and complete in the good times and the bad. To follow his path rather than our plan.

Calendar an Invitation to God

 

If this expectation seems a little – or a lot – sacrificial, I think you are correct. And, you’re not alone. Mary, the mother of Jesus, not knowing what was to come set her good and proper plans aside and told the Angel of the Lord, “May it be to me as you have said.” Sacrifice. Esther, a Hebrew woman made queen, put her life completely in God’s hands speaking boldly (an act potentially leading to death) to King Xerxes, “Grant me my life…and spare my people.” Sacrifice. And Abigail, who faced slaughter with her people, bravely stepped forward and humbly and apologetically on her husband’s behalf, bowed before King David hoping to be spared. Sacrifice.

Each woman gave not just a little. They gave their lives. Each had different plans for the day and for the future. Yet, they willingly trusted God. Said another way, they allowed God.

The Exchange

I am reading the book, Run with the Horses, by Eugene H. Peterson, with a group of nearly 50 other eager learners. We meet weekly to review, reflect on the biblical foundations that apply to the writing, and discover what God has to say to each of us individually.

In discussion today, one wise soul used the words ‘allowing God’ in a sentence as he filtered through the author’s description of the prophet Jeremiah.

Allowing God.

As you may have noticed, those two words stuck with me and caused me to ask, ‘What in my days…yesterday, today, and tomorrow, have I or will I, allow God to be and do in my moments – in my life?

I quickly realize that in asking the question there is implied the obvious: the call to give something up. To surrender. To exchange one thing, maybe even a good thing, for something else.

Based on my humanness, I don’t like the idea that I must relinquish something that I believe to be good to gain something better. But, isn’t that the case and the way life works? If I want to be a good student, I must give up some of my time to study. If I want to be physically fit, I must replace (most of) my junk food with healthy food and inertia with movement. If I truly choose to live a full, powerful, and meaningful life I must allow God to take my time, attention, preferences, and desire to control, and exchange it with his good plan for my life.

Sometimes we are willing to let God fulfill his purposes in our lives. But often, out of fear or pride, we take it all back when he gives us an open door or new situation to walk through. Yet, throughout the bible and all through our days we can trust, and have been shown (whether we noticed or not) that even when we don’t let God be in control, he still is.

Allow God To Fulfill Your Purpose

He will work through us to fulfill our purposes and accomplish his work. Or, he will move us aside. This, he lets us decide. In any case, his purposes will be fulfilled and so will ours, if we will but allow God.

Purpose Prayer

God, thank you for loving me so much that you desire that I follow your good and better path. Help me to sacrifice my plans and my will so I can follow your path for my moments, days – my life. In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.

Purpose Steps

  1. Is there something you sense God is nudging you to do that lines up with scripture, yet you haven’t been able to do it? What is it? Write it down.
  2. Would you be willing to risk doing this new thing even if it costs you something in exchange? Why or why not?
  3. How does your answer affect your relationship with God?

Listen to Your HeartSong Here!

I Surrender/Hillsong Live

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HcnfT4arZtI

A Wish is Not Hope

By Vivian Wilson

This past Sunday, was the day I was to have competed in the Houston Marathon. I began my preparation in July, with great hope. My desire was to run it in a personal best time and I was confident in my expectation to fulfill that desire; I had great hope. But something happened, I was injured, just five weeks before the race.

Since I have been thinking about hope, I asked myself this question, “On what was I basing by hope for the marathon?” I think the answer is “pretty much on my own strength”. I had the will to do it, I was committed to do the necessary work of training, I was determined, (not stubborn or anything), and I was confident. Obviously putting my hope on my own strength and ability was foolish. This was not “sure” hope, it was more like a wish. There was nothing that I could do to guarantee the fulfillment of my hope.

Though I was disappointed, I was not in despair. Why? Because I have real, sure, hope.

In real life there are much bigger struggles than my disappointment. This was minor and short-lived and in the big picture, insignificant. When the issues are significant, like health, relationships, or losses how do we avoid despair? It is sure hope that sustains and strengthens and empowers us. But it must be sure hope, hope that cannot fail. There is only one hope that is true, and that is hope in God.

I am always to be prepared to give the reason for my hope.

1 Peter 3:15 “But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have“.

I want to live my life so that someone will ask me about the hope that I have. I talked about living my life intentionally so that others might see a glimpse of Jesus in me. Each morning I begin with this thought, “I will live today as if this is my last day on earth”. I want to love and extend grace to others. This means that I have to be alert, looking for opportunities. It means I can’t be thinking about myself but about others. I don’t want to waste time on my “last day” by worrying, or being anxious, or getting offended, or angry, or distracted by the “small stuff.” I want my “last day” to make an eternal difference in someone’s life.

Psalm 62:5 “Find rest, o my soul, in God alone; my hope comes from him“.

My hope is not based on what I can do but on what God says he will do. It is this hope, the assurance of my eternal relationship with the Living God, that puts life in perspective, that motivates and strengthens me to live my life in obedience to his Word.

Still a work in progress,

Vivian

Do I have what it takes…?

By: Ms. O

We all know “that” person…the person who just “has it”. You know what I’m talking about…it confounds me to no end….perhaps because of my jealousy…of…“it”.

What's in your toolbox? Do you have what it takes?

A good friend of mine is the MacGyver of all repair…rebuild…or simply start fresh projects.  This is one of the cases of the chicken or the egg…which came first. He  was an Army Ranger so of course he can do anything…but maybe because he can do anything, he is a natural Army Ranger. All I know is given a roll of duct tape, some wire, and a Swiss Army knife, watch out…it will get done…just get out of the way.

Do you have what it takes?

His wife is the Betty Crocker of all time. She was part of our Wednesday morning Bible class…in which we were appropriately named “the eaters”….so we took turns bringing food. I can tell you, the weeks she brought food…there was not an empty seat in class. I think people came off the street because they “knew”…her cinnamon rolls are renowned. There have been a few times that she tried to teach me her craft…but mercy…there is way too much involved…my attention waned…and I realized this was not my calling. Yes, I can make comfort food…but it better be fast…and easy…with less than five steps.

I am always envious of those who can sew. For the life of me, the whole laying out and cutting the pattern, putting the pieces together, and wa-la…a dress…astounds me. I just don’t get it. I am a simple sew girl…one straight line…I can throw it into reverse…to make sure it does not come undone…but that’s it.  Whenever I find myself in the material department…mostly for non-sewing projects…and I see the patterns…oh my…I break out in the “cold sweat- this must be Latin” type of feeling. Anyone who can not only figure them out…but also actually make something…wearable…out of it…wow. So…not…me.

Do you have what it takes…?

I have friends who are math minded….another language that is totally foreign to me. I would say, “who needs it”…but I know we do. That is what calculators and fingers are for. I would dare say that some of my friends not only know what math is all about…but also love it…go figure. I have my way of “doing math”…but it is so elementary…and even that I have been told is wrong. I have to have “tricks” to figure out math problems…because it is something I just don’t feel smart enough to execute. It is beyond my thinking capabilities.

When I think about my “vocation”….my calling…those are the times I feel the most inept. The person who was not raised going to church every week….who did not really accept Christ as my Savior until well into my twenties…and here I am…leading youth. I have fellow youth directors who actually STUDIED to become youth directors. Mercy…

I so associate with Moses…arguing with God…

Peter…..jumping in without thinking it through…

Jacob…having a full out wrestling match with God…and the list goes on.

If I overthink this, I find myself in a heap of terror…wondering what in the world God was thinking…when He called me…I mean really…there has to be better choices.

“Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me. Cast me not away from your presence, and take not your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and uphold me with a willing spirit.” Psalm 51:10-12

God wanted a fresh start with David…a right heart to receive the work God had for him. It was God’s desire to restore David…just as He does with me….with a fresh Spirit. It is when I overthink things…when I “try so hard”…the operative term is “I”…leaving God out of the plan…and things turn south in a hurry.

GIve us Clean Hands, Give us Pure Hearts

My right spirit…a heart for Him…is when I come to God totally unequipped…but oh so ready…because He is the One and Only who can take this “fish out of water” and use me to His glory. God is so truly amazing…and it is when I am feeling totally inept that I realize just how amazing our God is. He holds out His Hands to me…waiting for me to place my heart there…so He can mold…shape it…and fill it with love…His love for me…so I am able…and equipped…to love others.

I don’t have to be MacGyverish…Betty Crockerish…or Einstein…I need to be…ME…and God will take care of the rest. Something I am truly thankful for. I come to You Lord…ready for You to teach me…it works out so much better that way. Amen and amen.