System Reboot

 

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The year is moving with alacrity. The question is are we moving with it? Time waits for no one but I have found that when my computer, phone or other electronic device isn’t working properly, maybe it’s time for a system reboot. This may be the case in your personal life also. If life seems a little sluggish, consider these things.

Start the day right.

Giving time to God and refocusing on the matters that are most important to you in life are great in the system reboot. When we lose sight of goals, reasons for living, purpose, etc., life is not just a drag, it seems like everything is a waste.

Slow your pace.

Busyness doesn’t equal productivity or fruitfulness. What’s wrong with taking 15 extra minutes to complete a project if it means it will be done better? Or arriving 30 minutes later if it means everyone arrives safely? Living at a pace where things are enjoyed as well as accomplished is what I am working toward…let me encourage you to do the same.

Sabbath.

God established sabbath as weekly time to rest, worship and reflect. Our bodies are made for this kind of rhythm: work, celebrate, rest. How are you are this? Maybe a look at why you struggle with this flow in life will help with a system reboot?

Schedule.

Making use of calendars and to-do lists can help with not only managing life’s pace but ensuring there is margin and meaning in each day. Taking time to schedule meetings, events, and family time will give you the freedom to be flexible and or stringent, depending on what “crisis” or surprise pops us.

Simplify.

A distracted life can lead to a destructed life. Clear out mess. Clean out files, closets, inboxes, and junk. Don’t buy into a false sense of importance through accumulation. Don’t let things from the past slow you down, weigh you down or pull you down.  Get rid of as much “physical” stuff as “emotional” that you can. Baggage is heavy. In a system reboot, deal with the past and move on.

Stop.

Anything that is unproductive or harmful: STOP! Don’t perpetuate bad or harmful behavior. Discontinue procedures or plans that aren’t working and helping you reach your goals this year. Stop signs are all around us, if we don’t heed them we will wreck.

Seasons.

Remember that each year is filled with 4 seasons. Life is also filled with different seasons. Evaluate what season of life you are in and live accordingly. A system reboot will help in assessing where you are in life. It will also help in resetting the new course of direction needed to enjoy the season you’re in. Remember, we don’t determine times and seasons; God does. We can however, embrace each unique season with joy and gratitude.

What do you do when you need to move forward?

 

Christmas Thoughts

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So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. When they had seen Him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen which were just as they had been told (Luke 2:16-20, NIV).

Simple People

The shepherds were among the first to be made aware that the Savior had been born. What does this tell us? That God is reaching out to the most simple of people. He’s not interested in the education, background, or social status that we so often seem to think is of utmost importance. We don’t have to try to impress Him or be something we are not. They were not even looking for God, but God came to them! Christ Himself came as a baby in a manger, born as the son of a carpenter and made Himself known to “common ordinary” people.

This holiday season:
*Take some time and be aware of the poor and needy around you but also pay attention to the common, ordinary persons around you. We all need Jesus!

*Look into the face of a baby and realize that is how Jesus came to us. Say a prayer for the baby and ask that God would grant them wisdom and strength and ultimately that they would receive Jesus one day as Lord.

*Pay attention to animals around you and remember that Christ was born in a stable. Feed some birds or visit a zoo. Maybe there’s a “Live Nativity” near you that you can see?

*Pay for a carpenter ( or other serviceman) to have lunch in remembrance of Joseph, Jesus’s earthly father.

Spread The Word

The shepherds couldn’t keep the message to themselves. At Christmas, it’s a great opportunity for us to share the life-giving story of Jesus. Take advantage of the chance that you have this holiday season to share what you know about Jesus. Take time to let people in on the way that you see Jesus; the way you worship Him, the way that you love Him. You may be very surprised how open others are to hearing what you know about Jesus. Don’t be afraid to talk about Him, ’tis the season for “do not be afraid”.

Store Up

God is most assuredly going to do some amazing things in and around you this holiday season. Pay attention and store it up in your heart. You’ll need that later. Mary had no real idea all that would happen 33 years after this blessed day. She would have to hold tightly to the memories and stories surrounding Jesus because tough and dark days would come. But she knew without a doubt that this was God’s son. Questions, wonder,and awe were all part of the journey that had just begun for her. And the same is true for us. We are are a journey with our God that is filled with questions, wonder and awe; even doubt, misunderstanding, and heartache.

But oh the joy at the end! Jesus, for the joy set before Him endured the cross (Hebrews 12:2) that we may have eternal life. This is what Christmas is all about: Jesus coming to save us, willingly, joyfully, intentionally! If we will simply store up these things in our hearts, we will most certainly glorify God this Christmas.

Thanksgiving Preparation

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…give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.

1 Thessalonians 5:18

Do you find yourself being thankful this season? Have you taken time to truly THINK about Thanksgiving? To be truly thankful, we must be thoughtful. In life, busyness and distractions can easily prevent us from being thankful. Complaining and comparisons can also play a huge role for attitudes of ingratitude. But when we take the time to actually stop and consider all that we have (not that we could fully consider all we have because our minds can’t really comprehend it all), how blessed we are, regardless of our current situation, thankfulness has a chance to change our hearts.

Why not make some concerted effort to GIVE thanks over the next couple of days? Stop complaining and comparing for a few moments and consider what you have instead of what you don’t have. Giving thanks only matters inasmuch as you understand what you have been given. It’s impossible to be a growing Christian if you are not a grateful Christian.

 

November: A Month To Remember

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(Updated to correspond to this year and month)

As I move into the new month of November and consider this month as a time to truly be thankful, I am humbled reflecting on all God has done for me! From celebrating 10 years as a non-profit in August to being able to travel abroad twice this year and work in El Salvador and Nicaragua, the ministry has been very fruitful this year! God has also blessed me in many other ways. I have been able to experience financial freedoms through the blessing of a friend in paying off some of my serious debt in the name of Jesus to someone I don’t know donating a different vehicle for me to use in the ministry. God has been so good to me! I could go on and list more and more of all that God has done and this month I hope to do just that…remember. In remembering God’s faithfulness, I will also gain hope and vision for the future. In keeping with the theme for this year, God is writing a movement and I am a single instrument in His symphony! This holiday season will you join me in the movement of God? Will you enter His courts with praise and His courts with singing? God has been good and He will always be good. Let’s give thanks together this month and may our hearts be merry as we worship the Lord who has done great things!

Nov. 1 (All Saints Day) : Express your gratitude in a note, phone call, text or email to a person(s) whose ministry in daily life nurtures your faith. Thank God for this saint. Consider how you may be used as a “saint” to others and be thankful!

Nov. 2: Take time to enjoy something you own but have failed to appreciate or use lately. Employ or admire it with thankfulness today. Ask God to show you how you other things you take for granted and be thankful today! 

Nov. 3: Take a thankful journey through the rooms in your house, giving thanks for all the wonderful memories, laughs and times together with loved ones. Give thanks for a roof over your head and for the places you have shared life with others.

Nov. 4: While you are eating a meal, take time to consider the aroma, the colors and the taste. Remember those who do not have food tonight and be thankful for God’s provision for you. Pray for those who are hungry. Give thanks for your senses that allow you to enjoy such wonderful food.

Nov. 5: Find something you use every day. Give God thanks for allowing you to have something you use like this everyday in work or pleasure. 

Nov. 6: Be thankful for our government officials and elected officers. Acknowledge God’s control over everything and give thanks for His sovereign power to rule and reign.

Nov. 7: Be thankful for God’s creation. Spend some time outside soaking in the colors of nature, the smells and the noise of creatures small and great. Be creative and gather some items for a centerpiece in your room or office.

Nov. 8: Be thankful for your body and it’s members. Treat yourself to a massage, hot shower, or relaxing evening with feet propped up. Rest and be thankful!

Nov. 9: Be thankful for something small today. Give thanks for your coffee, cookie, or even toothbrush! Take in the smaller things in life and be thankful!

Nov. 10: Take some time to reflect upon people who have been influential in your life through their sermons, websites, books, music or podcasts. Write them a comment on their websites to encourage them and show your thankfulness.

Nov. 11( Veteran’s Day observed):Give thanks for peace, and the peacemakers in your life. If you see a soldier today, tell them “thanks” for their service! 

Nov. 12: Pass along something that is simply taking up space in your life. Show gratitude for your surplus and pass along something that’s not being used.

Nov. 13: Take some time and think about a movie, song or book that has impacted you lately. Say a prayer of thanks for the people who made it happen. Give thanks for others using their gifts to inspire and impact you. Pray that you will do the same!

Nov. 14: Give thanks for members of your family. Maybe send one a special letter of how and why they are so important to your family unit.

Nov. 15: Give thanks for the businesses in your area. Wherever you go today to shop or eat, be thankful for the people serving and running the business. Show appreciation to the clerks and managers.

Nov. 16: Be thankful for the schools and churches in your area. Pray for the pastors, teachers and volunteers. Send a note to your local pastor, principal or child’s teacher giving thanks for their role in the community.

Nov. 17: Pray for a charitable organization or two today, giving thanks for the efforts they are making around the world. Give thanks for organizations that help others in need. Make plans to join one in service soon as an act of thanksgiving.

Nov. 18: Do a kind deed for a neighbor as an act of thanksgiving for people in your community.

Nov. 19: Show a good friend your gratitude by making sending them a song, playlist, or video of something that reminds you of them. Be thankful for good friends!

Nov. 20: Think about each person you will share Thanksgiving with and create a small card or token that reminds you of them to set at their seat at Thanksgiving dinner.

Nov. 21: As you prepare for Thanksgiving, share stories of things you are thankful for from this year.

Nov. 22: Find a person you work with and compliment them on a job well done. Give thanks for hard working people!

Nov. 23: Give thanks for your job, your opportunities, your paycheck, your retirement, your financial situation. Even with the smallest of funds, be thankful and give some to God as a Thanksgiving offering above what you normally give.

Nov. 24:Take a few minutes today and simply be quiet, reflecting on your community of faith. Give thanks for others that share your faith, encourage you and challenge you to grow and become all God wants.  

Nov. 25: Give thanks today for Jesus Christ and His ultimate sacrifice for sin. Pause and spend a few moments in silence reflecting upon the gift God has given. Let Thanksgiving flow from your heart in words and song.

Nov. 26: (Thanksgiving) Take a few minutes and share two or three word phrases that explain your heart of thanksgiving this year. Say a prayer and include these things in the prayer.

Nov. 27: Thank God today for big things in your life. The huge life-changing moments that have shaped you. For Birthdays, Graduations, Promotions, Weddings, Births, Deaths, Pains, Heartaches, and the like. Thank God for using each event to shape you and make you.

Nov. 28: Consider your car, phone and computer today. Give God thanks for such tools to stay connected with people you know and love. Use these things today to make a special connection or serve God as an offering of thanksgiving. 

Nov. 29: Give thanks freedom and the privileges we have in our country. Exercise your freedoms wisely and use them to benefit God’s kingdom work. 

Nov. 30: Wrap up this month by making a simple journal entry of how living a life of thanks this month has affected you and those around you.

 

Dealing With Worry

Dealing With Worry

So then, do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Today has enough trouble of its own. Matthew 6:34 NET

Anxiety disorders are prevalent in the USA. With more then 40 million Americans daily coping with anxiety related “illness”, worry is a commonplace companion for many. Factors like genetics, chemistry and even personality contribute to the highly hidden struggle attributed to anxiety disorders today. Worry and anxiety are nothing new, however. I want to look at this issue because thoughts form our habits and lives. What we worry about reveals what we think about God and His ability or care for us. If we are filled with worry, we will not give freely; we will not live freely. Untitled design (14)Worry doesn’t free us at all but convinces us to settle for safe, comfortable, non-risky lives.  Is this how we were meant to live? This is why dealing with worry is so important:  Remember that what we think becomes “our” reality even if it’s not true reality.

Read through these three translations of Matthew 6:34

“Give your entire attention to what God is doing Untitled design (15)right now, and don’t get worked up about what may or may not happen tomorrow. God will help you deal with whatever hard things come up when the time comes. Matthew 6:34 MSG

“So don’t be anxious about tomorrow. God will take care of your tomorrow too. Live one day at a time. Matthew 6:34 TLB

So do not worry about tomorrow. Let tomorrow worry about itself. Living faithfully is a large enough task for today. Matthew 6:34 The Voice

Give Your Attention To What Is NOW.

Time is fleeting. It is therefore essential to not waste time focusing on things that cannot be changed or may never happen. Famous British statesman and leader Winston Churchill said:

“When I look back on all these worries, I remember the story of the old man who said on his deathbed that he had had a lot of trouble in his life, most of which had never happened.”

Yet many of us do that very thing: focus on the past or the future; each with worry. Many of the things we fear or worry about never actually come to pass. We expend lots of energy, resources and time trying to avoid the imagined or the unknown. Jesus challenges us to simply deal with what we know and trust Who we know.

Worry doesn't free us at all but convinces us to settle for safe, comfortable, non-risky lives. (2)The apostle Paul said in his letter to the Philippians that he had to let go of the worries of the past, what others thought of him, things he had done and give attention to who God had called him to be now.

Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself to have attained this. Instead I am single-minded: Forgetting the things that are behind and reaching out for the things that are ahead,14 with this goal in mind, I strive toward the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. Philippians 3:13-14

Is a lot of your time going to worrying about your past? Mistakes? Sins? Choices? Regrets? Take a little bit of time and focus on what God is doing NOW in your life. Think about that!

Live One Day At A Time

Not knowing how much time we have, worry bemoans us to assume what tomorrow holds instead of trusting God’s hands which are shaping the future. The book of James tells us that our lives are like vapors:

 Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, and spend a year there and engage in business and make a profit.” 14 Yet you do not knowwhat your life will be like tomorrow. You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away. James 4:13-14Worry doesn't free us at all but convinces us to settle for safe, comfortable, non-risky lives.

God has entrusted us with today and wants us to entrust Him with tomorrow. By allowing us to wake and breathe today, God has given us the invitation to walk freely without fear and anxiety with Him through everything we will face. Seek to live today, not re-live yesterday or attempt to predict tomorrow. Live one day at a time.

Live Faithfully Is The Task

Worry is limiting and debilitating. It prevents us from experiencing a life of faith in God. By subverting God’s authority in our lives, worry demands we take control of as much as we can to have “peace of mind.” Even though God wants us to “plan” for the future, God is asking us to trust His plan for our future. His ways are higher than ours as Isaiah points out:

“For My thoughts are not your thoughts,Worry doesn't free us at all but convinces us to settle for safe, comfortable, non-risky lives. (1)
Nor are your ways My ways,” declares the Lord.
“For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
So are My ways higher than your ways
And My thoughts than your thoughts. Isaiah 55:8-9

God is telling us to trust Him when even when we don’t understand what He is doing. His desire is for us to be faithful with what we know we are to do regardless of the potential outcome or perceived results. Worry is essentially the opposite of faith because we are trusting more in our own understanding than in God’s knowledge. For any Christian, faith is to be a defining marker in our lives. Depending on God’s providential plan, what you are facing today or in life in general is an opportunity to either live faithfully or with worry.  Steven Covey, author of the 7 Habits Of Highly Effective People said:

“Sow a thought, reap an action; sow an action, reap a habit; sow a habit, reap a character; sow a character, reap a destiny.” Steven Covey

Is God challenging you to leave worry behind and live filled with faith? Share you thoughts and comments below.

George Profile

George Lockhart is a missionary with Vision 2 Hear and serves as the Creative Arts and Mission Pastor at New Vision Church in Fayetteville, GA