Friday, March 27, 2015

Panting Yet?

As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, O God. Psalm 42:1

If you read my last post, you know God and I are working on my definition of priorities.

Of course, first I had to admit who’s boss: God is.

I had to decide whose wisdom to follow, the expert’s or His. I tried theirs first and bombed so, again, He’s the answer.

Are you getting the hint that I’m stubborn?

God used several verses to work in my heart. The first was Psalm 42:1

As the deer pants for streams of water

A panting deer is a vivid image. He’s desperate for water because, without it, he dies. It’s hard for most of us to relate to that kind of overwhelming, urgent need.

It’s no mistake that Jesus relates thirst to our need for Him and His salvation.

But whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.
John 4:14

Doctors say that, by the time we feel thirst, we’re already dangerously dehydrated. But we usually don’t realize it.

I was thirsty to serve God, to write for Him, to bless others through my writing. But I wasn't thirsty for God. I wasn't desperate for Him. I focused on the doing not on the being.

The writer of this Psalm desperately needed God. Just as the deer needed water to survive, he needed God to survive.

Praise God – He didn't stand by and watch me flounder. He stripped away the doing and drew me to Himself.

Alone with Him, I realized how much I needed Him. The more of Him I experience, the more of Him I crave.

I tried to serve Him from a dry well; He fills me with a spring that feeds my soul and spills over into my life and my writing.

I trudged on in frustration; He restores my excitement and joy.

What a difference a little panting makes!

How has God drawn you close to Him?
What difference did it make in your life?

Friday, March 13, 2015

Find the Path to Passion Fruit

I've never had passion fruit. It looks like it’s full of seeds with very little pulp. But this little girl sure seems to love it.

Passion might be the name of a fruit but it’s also a deep desire in our hearts that guides our thoughts and actions.

Passion is a big buzz word these days, especially among artists, but it can apply to everyone. Your passion might be to raise godly children. To pursue happiness or fulfillment. To just plain have a good time.

As a Christian author, you would expect my passion to be summed up in one word: God. 
  • To love Him, 
  • To walk with Him, 
  • To obey Him.

Sadly, until recently, that wasn't my passion. If you were to ask me, my passion was:

To share the richness of God’s Word and to 
encourage others to let it shine through them.

Sound’s pretty good, doesn't it?

So, why aren't I bearing any passion fruit?
Simple, that one word again: God.

None of us can reflect God or share the beauty of His Word unless we love Him and walk with Him. We can’t bear fruit apart from Him

"I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. John 15:5

Get that? First step: be intimately connected to Jesus. Allow His life to flow through us and to enable us to bear fruit.

I lost my focus.
I didn't focus on God, 
I focused on the fruit I wanted to bear for Him.

And it showed!                                                                                                 
Too often, we confuse the path others recommend for bearing fruit with the One who bears fruit through us. As my wise sister-in-law, Jean, said last week, “We go off on a tangent thinking this has to be God because it is about Him.” Why do we try to accomplish God’s work by our methods?

How do we bring our focus back to God and allow Him to direct our paths?

God brought me to these verses and, over the next few weeks, I’ll ask Him to open them to me and I’ll share with you what He teaches me.

As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, O God. Psalm 42:1

But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Matthew 6:33

Delight yourself in the LORD and he will give you the desires of your heart. Psalm 37:4

Together, let’s get excited about the fruit God can bear through us when our focus is on Him.

Photo credits: 12

Friday, March 6, 2015

The Joy of Sprinting

We've all done it.

We pray diligently and we’re certain we know the next step in God’s plan. So, why wait? Let’s go sprinting down the path as fast as we can.

There’s a problem with that: sprinters dash for short distances and then they’re pooped.

We zip along and, when we’re exhausted, we look to God for strength. Surprise, surprise, He’s not there! We look behind us and there He is: “You ran off and left Me. You’re supposed to follow, not lead.” 

I did that with my blog and here I am, two years later, out of breath. I outran God. It was an enjoyable challenge at first; now it’s a burden.

Why did I start in the first place? Simply put, I had a published Bible study, Storms of Life, and no idea how to market it. I read how-to articles by social-media gurus. The consensus: Start a blog.

What should I write about? My heart desires to share the beauty of God’s Word so, with this in mind, I rushed in like a herd of turtles.

 “I’ll share my wisdom on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays,” I thought. I quickly learned I didn't have that much wisdom. I barely drew a breath before it was time to write another post. Undeterred, I went back to the experts.
  1. “Blog at least three times a week,” they said. Check.
  2. “You must have eye-catching pictures and quality content.” Check. (A bit prideful, huh?)
  3. “Give it time to build a following.” Check. I’d been posting for six months. I told everyone I knew—and lots of people I didn't—about my blog, but nothing happened. Was anyone even reading it?

Plan B: Cut back to Tuesdays and Fridays. Surely I could do that. But I struggled to come up with two ideas a week. I lost the motivation to write. My confidence tumbled.

Plan C: Throw in the towel. Maybe I couldn't do it. Maybe I couldn't write at all.

So there I sat – a failure.

Then, a quiet voice spoke through my confusion, “You forgot Me again.”
I was floundering because I’d forgotten God! Now I see where I went wrong.

  • Mistake #1 I didn't wait for God. I didn't pray about His priorities. I tore off and left Him behind.
  • Mistake #2 I put my faith in the experts. I looked to them for knowledge but I didn't seek God’s wisdom. I looked to them for guidance but I didn't seek His will.
  • Mistake # 3 I wrote to please my audience, not to please Him. “Identify your audience and write what resonates with them; they’ll become loyal followers.” A popularity contest—not a desire to obey God.

Were these experts wrong? No. They all said, “Before you do anything, spend time with God.” That soared right over my head. 

A recipe for failure.

So, for the past few weeks, I sat still and listened to God.
  • Social media is important, but not if robs from my time with Him.
  • Writing’s key, but not if I neglect what He’s called me to write.
  • Goals are great, but not if they don't match His.

His Timing is everything!

Why do we sprint off and assume we’re on God’s path?
Why do we turn to others for guidance instead of to Him and to His Word?
Why do we make decisions to impress those around us rather than to please Him?

I do that. A lot. In my writing, my finances, my decision making. Over and over, God sits me down to teach me the same lesson.

God’s plans are much better than any we can make ourselves. His wisdom totally surpasses ours. He has chosen us as His children—how can we not desire to please Him?

Praise God He’s patient and He’s willing to restore us to His path every time we stray.

How are things going for you? Find a quiet moment and ask Him to guide your steps. Wait for His timing.

Take it from me: Things will go better when you do.   

Photo credit #1

Photo credit #2
Photo credit #3