What’s Your Life Vision?

By Gail Armatys

Life Vision?  What’s That?

Several years ago I was on my way out the door to work when I realized I didn’t have my purse. I went to my usual ‘purse spot’ but it wasn’t there. I looked high and low. Finally lifting my arms up (I’d like to tell you I was preparing to praise God for the opportunity to draw closer to him in my frustration…but I wasn’t.) and then down giving a heavy sigh, my left hand hit something as it dropped. My purse. It was hanging from my shoulder where I apparently absentmindedly put it…right before I started searching for it. I know…

Maybe you’ve never searched for the purse hanging on your shoulder (although it would make me feel better if you said you had.), but maybe you are seeking your life vision. If so, consider this; perhaps it’s already there within you…you just haven’t recognized it.

Recognizing your God-inspired vision is often difficult because all the ‘stuff’ and obstacles of life get in the way.  And frankly…the absent-minded running around we do helps keep us preoccupied. But living out who God created you to be and what he purposed you to do is crucial because it allows you to be most fully you! It is not surprising then, that your God-designed life vision is also the deepest, godly craving of your heart.

Life Vision

You Say Vision, Paul Says Ambition

Vision is an awareness of how God wants to use you in a bold way to accomplish his purposes.

What you and I may refer to as our vision, craving, calling or dream, Paul refers to as his ambition…

“It has always been my ambition to preach the gospel where Christ was not known, so that I would not be building on someone else’s foundation.”

Rom. 15:20

Like Paul, whatever your most godly life vision or ambition… it is exactly what God has purposed you to do.

What does knowing your God-designed life vision require?

Knowing God’s vision for your life requires you to be patient while you wait to receive it. Yes, I used the ‘p’ word.

For when your patience is finally in full bloom,

Then you will be ready for anything,

Strong in character, full and complete.

James 1:4

Remember, Abraham was 75 and Sarah 65 when God promised them a child. Twenty-five years later, God fulfilled his vision. What happened in those twenty-five years is best described as character development or overcoming sin: the prideful desire to control (trying to fulfill the promise on their own – Gen. 16) and disbelief (laughing at God’s promise – Gen 17 & 18). Abraham and Sarah had to grow their character and faith before they were ready to receive the promise. After an extended period of waiting, God fulfilled his vision…their godly dream, the birth of their son.

And so after waiting patiently, Abraham received what was promised.

Heb. 6:15

While You Wait For Your Life Vision

God wants to grow and strengthen you as you patiently wait to receive his vision for your life. Here are four biblical references that will prepare you while you wait.

1. Incline Your Ear and Come to Me. (Isaiah 55:3)
The God of all creation invites you to come and listen to him. You have to be in God’s presence to learn what he has specifically for you. As you read Scripture, pay attention to the Holy Spirit’s promptings, and contemplate God’s word, you will become sensitive to his guidance and revelation.

2. Be Thankful and Worship God With Reverence and Awe (Heb. 12:28)
Remember, God is God and you are not. Bow in awe of the One who created you for a purpose. Seek forgiveness for your sins and desire to control. Surrender to his leading and great love for you.

3. Go and Bear Fruit (John 15:16)
Jesus teaches us to bear fruit. Go…serve…love. As we bear fruit in his name, we mature. “Then”, John 15:16 tells us, “the Father will give you whatever you ask in my name.” Step out and serve and then, while serving, ask to receive a glimpse of your life vision. Although his vision is already planted in your heart, you may have not realized it is there. (I refer you to the story of the purse.)

4. Have Faith In God (Mark 11:22)
Jesus reminds us repeatedly; when our prayers are dedicated to God’s perfect will and spoken in faith…they will be answered. It’s true, often you must wait for God’s response. But while you wait for him consider this; perhaps he is waiting for you.

Seek to know your life vision ~ the one God inspired and designed for you. It is there, written on your heart. Then, be patient. As you wait for him, it is likely he waits for you.

Purpose Prayer

Father, only you would think to match the desires written deep within my heart to your grand purposes. I pray to be intentional and patient as you reveal your plans for me. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Purpose Steps

1. Search your heart and write down your greatest, godly ambition.
2. Can you see how your godly dream – your life vision – and God’s desire for your life are aligned? If so, how? If not, pray for clarity and God’s will.
3. Are you experiencing a time of waiting? Could it be there is sin in your life that requires surrender?
4. What Christ-like character traits might you need to develop while you wait for a glimpse of your life vision?

Listen to Your HeartSong! (Click the link below.)

Surrender/Lincoln Brewster

Perfect Love In An Imperfect Life

By: Vivian Wilson 

Perfect Love

I feel like I owe you a report of some kind detailing my exemplary walk of faith since you are kind of my accountability group and all, just sayin.  I would love to tell you that I have “aced” every test and I am now the “model” Christian that all should aspire to be.  I wish.  Not even close!

I feel so like Paul must have felt when he penned Romans 7:14-24; my enemy the devil does prowl around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour (1Peter 5:8).

I am pretty easy prey at times.  He knows my weaknesses and just when I think I’ve learned the lessons of Trust, Surrender, and Contentment, the flaming arrows start to fly.  I would like to report to you that I was winning these battles this week.  But, no, I let my negative thoughts take control causing me to imagine the worst and experience the emotions that accompanied it, feelings of loss and loneliness.

But, God is still God and He loves me and holds me close.  He still protects me and whispers words of help and encouragement in my heart.  He whispers words like, wait on me, be grateful, humble yourself in service to someone else, lean on me and not on your own understanding.

I have been practicing the art of “waiting with expectation” for the blessings God has for me each day.  By anticipating His grace gifts, I have actually noticed several that I would have missed had I not been engaged in life from God’s prospective.

This week God graced me with the opportunity to serve a friend who is in serious distress.  My first reaction was, “I can’t.  I don’t know how. I am way out of my league here.”  I wanted to say no.  But I heard the Spirit say, “this is not about you, think of her, love her”.  So I went.  I had everything I needed.  I was equipped with God’s love for her.  I had ears to listen and arms to hold her.  I had tears to shed with her.  I didn’t solve her problem, but God strengthened her through me.  We were both blessed.

This week I was blessed when I was contacted by two friends, both of whom I haven’t seen in over two years.  I will have dinner with each of them in the next couple of weeks.  Through them I am reminded how priceless it is to have friendships that stand the test of time and I am very grateful.

Yes, I have blown it many times in my walk of faith, yet I know that nothing can separate me from God’s great love.  As Paul finishes writing about his frustration over what he does and doesn’t do in Romans, chapter eight, he exclaims in triumph, JESUS IS THE ANSWER!  I know that God is good and He is faithful to complete the work he began in me.  Philippians 1:6

This my friends is real life.  It is not perfect.  I am not perfect.  There is failure and there is success, neither of which affects the perfect love God has for me.  No matter what trials I face, no matter how big they seem, scripture calls them light and momentary in light of the eternal glory of heaven which is my home.  I am committed to walk with God, trusting Him to change me and to use me when and how He will.  I will fail at times, but I know that I am forgiven.  When I acknowledge my sin before Him I am forgiven and nothing stands in the way of the intimate relationship we share.

Thanks be to God! Who is not finished with me yet.

A work in progress,

Vivian

4 Clues To Help Discern Your Calling

By: Gail Armatys

Discern your calling. Yea, right. It’s often not as easy as we think it should be. As a result, we resort to basing our choices on lists of pros and cons or playing rock-paper-scissors to determine our destiny. Yikes! Sound vaguely familiar?

Discern your calling

It’s not that God desires to hide your calling. Perhaps it’s more about earnestly seeking Holy Spirit guidance and being ready and willing to accept whatever he has planned rather than living a ‘do-it-yourself’ life.

Looking for Change That Lights Up Your Life?

I recently spoke to a woman; we will call her Andrea, who was thinking about leaving her job…making a change. The only problem was she didn’t know what she would do with her time if she did. She felt stuck.

Andrea knew her strengths and weaknesses as well as her gifts and talents. She just didn’t have any idea what God wanted her to do with them. She desired change. Not just to do something different but change that was fulfilling.  Change that came from the heart of God and would light up her life.

Perhaps you’re in a similar situation. No matter your age or place in life, if your desire is to live out God’s calling rather than just drifting along or seeking to fill a void, the following four clues may help you discern your calling.

Clues To Help Discern Your Calling

Clue 1.

If you could do anything and had all the resources necessary to do it, what would you do?

Why is this question important? Because it helps you identify the dream written on your heart…the one God put there. (Note: I did not say the one you contrived.) Perhaps your life has been so wrapped up in your family, your work or the details, pain, and speed of life that you haven’t paid enough attention to realize you actually have a God-given dream!

Spend time on this question. Pay attention to the Holy Spirit’s promptings. Your dream will be drawn out from hiding and you may begin to uncover the possibilities and discern your calling.

Clue 2.

What makes you weep?

The world is full of hurting people who need someone to reach out and make a difference. When you learn about the hungry and thirsty, the lonely, the suffering sick, kids that are left behind, battered or trafficked what does your heart tell you? What story makes you weak in the knees or angry to the core? What impact do these stories have on you. Is your hurting heart on their behalf the first step into your calling?

Clue 3.

What would you like to tell the world?

What is on you heart that you would like to tell the world if you knew they would listen? We’ve all been given marching orders. We are to go into the world and share the Good News of Jesus Christ. Within that broader message we each have a unique and personal life message to tell. It’s specific to our design and experiences. You can deliver the Good News message in only your way, and I can deliver it in only mine.

What do you know for sure that this hurting world needs to know to find the Peace that passes all understanding? It is in that message that you may begin to discern your calling.

Clue 4.

In what service or mission have you found the most joy?

Think back to the last time you gave of yourself and time to others. Maybe it was assisting with Vacation Bible School, teaching a class, building ramps, serving lunches, digging water wells, teaching life skills to youth, visiting with the lonely, hospitalized or imprisoned. What was the service that made you smile ~ the one you were excited and maybe even nervous about? Which one cost you much but didn’t drain you, it strengthened you?

If you haven’t served in your community for a while…or ever, stepping out and getting involved in a service or ministry experience can be the action the Holy Spirit uses to direct you straight to where you desire to be most…you just don’t know it yet. Giving of yourself helps you discern your calling by informing you where you should not be on one hand, and where you belong on the other. But…in order to know, the Holy Spirit calls you to begin.

What’s The Point?

You, me, them…as followers of Christ, we each have a calling. We are messengers with one big Good News message that we can share in our own personal God-designed way. You can discern your calling. When you do, God will be glorified, your life will change, and so will the lives of others.

Which, by the way, is the whole point.

Purpose Steps

Spend time this week seeking the leading of the Holy Spirit. Review the clues and answer the questions that help you discern your calling.

Purpose Prayer

Father, thank you for the calling you have on my life. Forgive me for attempting to create and fulfill my ‘do-it-yourself’ calling. I seek to discern your will, your plan, and your purpose. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Listen To Your HeartSong. Click the link below!

Life Light Up/Christy Nockels

Every Face Has a Name

By: Vivian Wilson 

Human Face Set of Faces Collection Diversity Concept

I spent last week with a wonderful, amazing group of servants.  I was privileged to be a part of the UM ARMY mission in Lufkin, Tx.  My role on this trip was, along with seven very special brothers and sisters, to feed this camp of about one hundred and forty people.  What a blessing to see their smiling faces every morning and evening as they made their way through the serving line.

Yet there was another face.  I can’t get it out of my mind.  The first time I saw his face was after breakfast on Monday morning.  He came every morning for the rest of the week.  His face did not smile, it was weathered and reflected a hard life.  His eyes were downcast and lacked the brightness that hope produces.  It was a face that modeled “the least of these”.  He was quiet, reserved, unwilling to reveal too much of himself.  This face has a name.  But I am ashamed to say that I didn’t even ask him what his name was until Wednesday.

His name is Larry.

Larry has few possessions.  He carries a small backpack, probably not much more than the clothes on his back, and a bicycle, which is probably his most prized possession.  The bicycle was given to him by the Journey Class of First United Methodist Church.  (Coincidentally, it was their classroom in which we slept for the week.)

Larry has a story. Everyone has a story.  I don’t know his. I know that Larry has a large scar on his right calf.  I know that he is from Indiana, has no family, and has been in Lufkin for “about seven years.” I know that he lives in the woods less than a mile from the church with others who have no home. And I know that Larry almost died last February.

Every Saturday morning with out fail, the Journey Class comes to the church kitchen to prepare meals for delivery to 250 seniors. These wonderful brothers and sisters have also become accustomed to preparing enough for Larry and about 20 of his fellow homeless friends. So when I asked a member of the Journey Class if a homeless man often came to the church, she asked,  “Larry?” I said, “Yes, do you know his story?”  She knew only that last February he was found just in time to save his life. He had been severely beaten and was in ICU for several days.

Larry  never asked for money. He asked for food and only after we asked if there was anything else he needed, he asked for clothes. I’d say these are the bare necessities. Larry was grateful for what he received and voiced his thanks by adding, “God bless you,” with every meal.  I also know that Larry shared the food we gave him with his friends.

So many times I have looked with disdain at people who beg on street corners, criticizing them for not getting a job.  Larry said, “I got a job once. It fell through, though.  No one will hire you when you don’t have a phone number or street address.”

I don’t know what Larry’s spiritual condition is, but I know mine. I am saved, adopted into God’s family by the blood of Jesus.  My prized possession is the very presence of God in me. By grace, through faith, he gave himself to me.

Yet there are too many times when I live like a pauper, forgetting the hope I have, my eternal home in heaven.  I look for joy and peace and happiness in all the wrong places, people and things.

I am no better or worse than Larry.  Larry is a person, formed in the image of God, and loved by Him every bit as much as I am.

Larry’s face revealed a deep inner sadness, loneliness, a life that is hopeless, and his only purpose is to find the basic essentials for survival.  It would seem that he lacks the SOURCE of life, but I can’t know this.

I think maybe there have been times in my life as I have walked with the Lord that someone can say, “It would seem that Vivian lacks the source of life.”  It would be in times when I’m not content, unsatisfied, and looking for something to fill the place that only God can fill.  It is in those times that I reject the all-sufficient grace, presence, and provision of God that I find myself lonely and wanting.

But hear the good news!  This is when God lifts me up. His faithful loving presence rescues me and draws me close.  He fills me with His Spirit, then joy and peace overflow.  My face reveals the presence and the promise of hope that are mine in Christ.

I will pray for Larry.  I pray that he would come to know the Savior Who will lift him up, no matter where he lives.  And I will pray for myself, that God will remind me of Larry when I am ungrateful and discontent.

Matthew 25: 31-46

Psalm 40: 2

Psalm 113: 7, 8

A work in progress,

Vivian

You remind me of home…

By: Ms. O

Reminders of Home

There are dozens of songs that speak of home. They are sung with longing…a desire for what home represents: a deep yearning for comfort…familiarity…security. That becomes even more clear…when I am away.

I have spent a lot of nights away this summer. It is the nature of the beast. I have a duffle bag that keeps my bedding. I switch out sheets…air mattress…egg crate…fresh pillows…to accommodate where I will lay my head…for the duration of the camp/mission trip.  I bring my creature comforts with me…so I feel like I am home…when I am not.

I was reminded though…this past trip… what “home” truly is. Each morning….very early… I would make my way down to the most popular spot in camp….the coffee pot. One by one, others early birds would wander in…fill their cup….and gather around the table. Numbers grew…room was made…to include whoever ventured in before the official wake up time. Jokes were made…light hearted jabbing…a gentle, joyful start of the day.

That routine became the rhythm of camp. That cohesiveness that comes from home…away from home. I came on these trip for one purpose…to serve the Lord…but He surprised me…. as He usually does….by serving me. I loved being one of the first ones there simply to be witness to each new arrival…knowing they sought the same thing. A call to gather…to be a part of the new day dawning. By day three, I felt as if God was sitting at the table with me…part of the ritual…the crew that made sure each and every one that came in….belonged.

There is nothing wrong with wanting to be home…but I have come to realize home is not just a place…it is also a state of mind.

Home is wherever my heart sings…where Love whispers in my ear, “Welcome to the table…I have a place perfect for you.” 

Listen to the Word of God:

“This is my resting place for ever and ever; here I will sit enthroned, for I have desired it “ Psalm 132:4

So many times I long for “home”…for that feeling that comes in every sense of that word. God made His home among us…well over two thousand years ago…to walk with us…to teach us…to show us love…what home is built upon. He dwells within me…reminding me that home is not a structure…it is a state of being…of allowing Him to take up residence within my heart.

When I came home from my last overnight trip of the summer, I walked through the back door to the familiar smell of home…my home. I am not sure how it happens…what makes it smell that way…it just does. It felt great to sleep in my own bed…not have to share a shower…and catch up on my recorded programs.  The crazy thing about it is…God was waiting for me at my home…welcoming me to rest and refresh my tired body…because we have many more places to go…as soon as I recoup. He has my final destination ready for me….I simply wonder if I will need my pillow….just a thought.

Amen…and amen.

3 Minutes That Will Change You


Stressed? Scattered? Crazy-Busy and Overwhelmed? Here's 3 minutes that will change all that.

By: Amy Dalke

I originally wrote this post as a guest blogger on www.katiemreid.com, a blog about finding grace in the unraveling of perfectionism. Ever since I wrote this, I’ve wanted to share the words here, because I want so much for you all to experience the power of Being Still. Not that I’ve fully “arrived” at a state of continual calm stillness…but it’s my sincere prayer is that we would learn to lean into the creative power of stillness instead of caving to the cries of hurry.  


 

I used to get all annoyed if someone quoted the “…be still and know that I am God” Bible verse to me.

You probably know the scripture I’m talking about because Christians like to put this verse on mugs, artwork, and greeting cards. Pride sometimes tricks me into thinking I’m too good for such a common Bible verse…so I turn my nose up at those “popular” ones.

(Clearly I’m not very bright, given that John 3:16 is a popular verse, too, and I definitely want in on that one.) Nonetheless, over a two year period, there were countless times that people shared Psalm 46:10 with me:

“Be still, and know that I am God.

 I will be exalted among the nations,

 I will be exalted in the earth!”

The encouragement to “Be still…” was notoriously coupled with suggestions and recommendations that I “breathe”.

{Thanks, y’all, but I’m still alive and kicking. Don’t you see me hustling and hurrying and accomplishing awesomeness all day long? Hello, I’m probably sucking in a lot more air than you are…because I breathe in a frantic rush from sun up to sun down.} My friends evidently didn’t recognize that stress and chaos are requirements of success. And after all, my Busy proves my Success, right?

Two solid years. Two years of cards, pictures, and plaques offering the same instruction:

Be still. Breathe. 

And because God patiently waits out my foolishness for far too long than I deserve, it only took me a whole two years to realize God must be trying to tell me something. I’m the task-loving performer type. A tried-and-true, goal-setting-achiever. I want to do something to prove I’m worth loving, hiring, befriending, choosing, helping.

I lived as though, sure, God saved me and all (thank you, Jesus). So now I should work hard to accomplish his plans for me. (You know…so he’s not disappointed or anything.)

But, grace.

Through the advice and coaching of a good friend of mine, I began to set aside specific times during the day for 3 minute breath breaks. When I started this two years ago, I took one 3 minute break per day; but I’ve worked my way up to 3 times a day now. (Which says more about my need for continual stress management than it says about self-discipline.) (Just saying.)

During these 3 minutes, I don’t solve problems in my head, or allow myself to make grocery lists. I ask God to renew me with his breath of life. I ask God for the grace to be still, in the awareness that He is God, and I’m not. I ask Him to refresh me, recreate in me, restore me, and reenergize me. And that’s all.

It doesn’t seem like much, but let me tell you – it’s the best thing I’ve ever done for my sanity, my attitude, my stress levels, etc. I could go on and on about the benefits of these 3 minutes…but I’ll save that for another time.

Setting this time aside has taught me that any kind of holy change is not something I worked up in myself. I’ve discovered that any kind of work worth doing is accomplished solely under God’s direction, in the creative power of the Holy Spirit.

As the Spirit moved over earth’s surface in Creation, so the Spirit moves and creates new life and good works in us. Our pulse-racing performance pace is a soul-choking effort to earn what we already have, and the rush leaves no space for the holy creativity of God.

The Striving earns nothing but a heaping helping of stress and anxious toil. But the Stillness ushers in the Life-Breath that sustains, empowers, and fills us for every good work into which God invites us.

Before you and I can enjoy a creative partnership with the Master Artist, we first have BE STILL and stop pretending that God is just a side show.

He is GOD. We are SO NOT.

It is HIS work.

HIS plan.

His WHOLE THING.

We miss the work of grace when we’re blinded by our busy efforts. But in the middle of a still heart, we can let go. Stillness is where the pretense of performance gives way to the mercy work of God; and the Creator unleashes his artwork in us.

When we slow our pace and drop our hands, we realize God can run things just fine without us. We gaze under the covers of our to-do list, and discover that all our efforts are empty without the Holy-breath of God.

So we let go, he brings life.

Where we once chased down opportunities, and pried doors open with our bare hands, we now find ourselves rich with invitations to join God’s work, right where we are. Because it’s in Stillness that God moves through us. 

That Be Still verse has grown on me. (Go figure.) I now choose to live in the rhythm of divine breath versus the chaotic beat of high-strung crazy. And though I’m prone to wander into busy, God continually brings me back to my breath.

God invites YOU to exit the mad freeway rush of a breathless world…and join him where the air is full in a holy space of stillness.

What kind of Good are you striving to achieve in your own strength?

What would happen if you were brave enough to be still…?

Have a great week!

Amy

You Really Are Gorgeous!

If you’re experiencing some mid-summer hum-drums, here is a re-post of a blog that seemed to strike a chord with women (and a few men) of all ages when originally published.   Although it won’t help with the heat, I pray it is an encouragement to you!

I'm gorgeous inside

By: Gail Armatys

A few days ago, and for the first time in my many sightings, I was struck by the thought that this realtor’s sign I drive by nearly every day might actually be saying something to me – even if I’m not in the market for a new home.

What I heard in my heart as I drove by yet again was this; I’m gorgeous inside. Me. Yes, me. I’m gorgeous inside. Yikes! What? Who said that? Did I really hear that? Do I dare say, admit, and (gasp) …believe it? What was God saying? Was He telling me to accept the beauty He planted and is growing within me?

I must admit, I had to look in the rear-view mirror to see if anyone was playing a prank on me. No prank. Instead, the Holy Spirit gently reminded me that after selecting the ruddy, young shepherd, David, to be anointed as king of Israel God told Samuel, ‘The Lord does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart. ‘ (1Samuel 16:7)

Most frequently it seems we project this scriptural wisdom onto others as we learn to accept them as different from our expectations and ourselves. But, I wonder if we shouldn’t claim such a story for our own lives as well. Is it possible for us to look at who we are on the inside and rather than criticize, see that we are truly beautiful in the eyes of God? (Who, by the way, has the only opinion that matters.)

For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. (Psalms 139:13-14)

As a creation of Christ made exactly as He planned, purposed and desired, you must agree with David and in all humility say ‘Yes, I am beautiful!’ By the amazing grace of God, no matter what the world has taught you to believe, Truth says this: You Are Gorgeous Inside!

Prayer

Father, I praise your name and thank you for creating me. Thank you for the daily signs you provide of the beauty within me. Please forgive me when I am not as convinced as you are that I have been made in every way to fulfill your special purposes. Thank you that I can take negative thoughts of myself captive to you and know that your love and your word change my wrong thinking to godly thinking. I acknowledge that you know me inside and out and that you are intentional about every move you make and everything and person you create. Help me to see through your eyes as I seek to mirror your vision and joyfully accept the gift of ‘ME’ from you! I praise you for making me GORGEOUS inside! In Jesus’ holy and precious name, Amen.

Purpose Step

Have you taken time to notice the daily signs that reveal your Christ-like beauty? No? They are there. Did you forgive someone today? Do or say something kind? Smile? Share a Hug? Say something nice to or about yourself? Take time to pray?

Beginning today, identify and write down at least one signpost of your inward beauty each day this week. Then, praise God for His revelation!

My experience is that some days these signs are easier to recognize than others. That’s when I take a deep breath and refocus on Christ. Then, I hear it. Do you? Truth whispers to my heart, ‘Believe me. You really are gorgeous inside.’

Listen to Your HeartSong

Through My Father’s Eyes/Holly Starr