Friday, January 29, 2010

Haven't Changed the World Yet

I was leaving my gym on Wednesday and one of my classmates was waiting on the sidewalk.  I said goodbye and headed to my car when a small voice inside said, ,"Maybe she needs a ride."  Immediately I went through the mental gymnastics of a hummingbird on speed.  What if she needs a ride everyday?  What if I'm going to have to be her transportation?  How can I do that, given my time constraints? Do You want me to invest in her life?  Am I ready for another relationship?  On and on it went in the space of 15 seconds -- amazing, isn't it?

Finally that little voice said, "Just offer her a ride."  So I did.  She didn't need one after all -- she was waiting for a friend. 

I share that because I think it is going to be fairly normal as I seek to live intentionally.  It isn't that I'm going to be scaling the heights of radical obedience and changing the world in the process in 2010.  I can romanticize that idea and spend the entire year telling myself I'm ready for the BIG CALL.  But I'm guessing that far more often the Lord will simply be nudging me to do some small thing.  No glamour, no grand sacrifice -- just little acts of obedience, which Jesus said was way better in the end.

 To be honest, I wish I were far more holy about this.  Will I ever get to the point where those mind games don't have to happen before I simply say "Yes"?

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Thanks for Holding Me Accountable

For the last few days I've wanted to post some thoughts here but knew I needed to get my Haiti giving established first since I wrote about it here.  I realized this blog, whether anyone reads it or not, will be a great help in keeping me accountable to live intentionallly.  For that I'm grateful (I think)!  So we decided to give to our own denomination's mission board, largely because all the money goes directly to Haiti, and there are missionaries on the ground there  to distribute it who know the people and the needs.  If you're looking for a place to give, click here.

I was talking with a friend on Sunday who mentioned that at the end of the day on Saturday she really couldn't account for how she spent her time.  I know the feeling.  What does it take to be more intentional about our time?  What it DOESN'T MEAN is evaluating our day by how much meaningful stuff we accomplished.  That is a sure fire way to turn this challenge into a duty and take away all the fun.  Instead, it means pressing into the other two parts of the challenge first -- delighting in the Lord and dialoguing with Him throughout the day.  The questions therefore, that I am trying to ask each day are: Lord, in what ways did we communicate today?  Was I listening?  Were You speaking?  Were we enjoying communion?  After those questions, I can ask -- and did I do the things You impressed me to do?

The point is that if we're not living intentionally, the first course correction is to be more intentional about intimacy with Him.  That's how we keep from getting the cart before the horse, so to speak.  Make sense?  and for the record, I worked on REALLY MEANINGFUL stuff all day yesterday, and yet realized this morning that I'm not sure how much I dialogued with the Lord.  Hope to do better today.  How about you?

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Haiti, the begats and being intentional

I have to admit I've felt some striving in these first few days of intentional living, but that's not all bad.  I've learned to let that feeling draw me to the Lord and instead of trying to impress Him, just tell Him how desperately I need Him.
So I was reading the newspaper on Thursday and thinking of those suffering in Haiti and that word -- intentional -- resounded ever so strongly in my ear.  I thought of all the times I have wanted to respond to things like these and didn't.  I began to pray about it and last night my husband and I simply asked the Lord, "What do you want us to give?"  It was great -- we both heard the same amount, and though it would be sacrificial, we felt such joy because we knew that God had spoken. 
Hearing God's voice is critical to being intentional, for it's the only way we can walk in freedom AND obedience with joy.  It's not so much about all the things I'm going to DO, but the way I plan to listen more, and then do what the Spirit impresses me to do.  Make sense?
Speaking of being intentional -- you gotta love those begats (that's the geneology in Matthew 1).  Because we know God is an intentional God and does all things for His own pleasure, it is a wonder to see prostitutes and murderers and adulterers and just run of the mill folk in the lineage of Christ.  How encouraging to know that it is HIS pleasure to use broken, messed up people.  Matthew seems to go out of his way to make this clear, even listing women, which was unheard of.  What an amazing God we have...
And it's great to walk with all of you --  Please share your own adventures in intentionality to encourage us.
Now I just need to hear His voice about where to give our offering for Haiti -- I'll keep you posted!

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Living Intentionally -- are you ready for this?

This is the New Year’s resolution I didn’t want to make.  It took root in the waning weeks of 2009 as I was mindlessly perusing the pages from my previous year’s prayer journal and noticed how often the Lord had spoken to me about something in the morning -- whether it was to call a neighbor or write a note or simply spend focused time in prayer -- and I hadn’t followed through, usually because I forgot.  Discomfort soon led to conviction, and as I sat there bemoaning my weaknesses, the Lord gently whispered the word ‘intentional’ to me.  That’s when the battle began.  To make matters worse, the more I wrestled with the Lord, the more I realized I was going to have to share my struggles with you.  So before I lay my soul bare, here’s the resolution I’ve finally found the courage to put into words:

In the year 2010, I resolve to live every day more intentionally by delighting myself in the Lord, dialoguing with Him throughout the day, and doing the things His Spirit impresses me to do.

See, it isn’t that bad!  Or is it?  To be honest, I have turned that third phrase – doing the things His Spirit impresses me to do – every which way but loose, trying to get away from the simplicity of its call.  Ever prone to a performance mode that can border on legalism, I found myself offering all kinds of arguments.  Was it really possible to be at the beck and call of the Spirit of God on any given day?  What if I couldn’t do it?  Worse yet, what if I didn’t want to?  What if the Spirit impressed me to do things that were embarrassing or trying or simply inconvenient?  Before I knew it I’d digressed into all sorts of self-condemnation about how immature I was to even have to wrestle with such thoughts – shouldn’t I be way past this?

I thought of how excited I was last year when the Lord impressed me with the resolution to learn how to live in His love.  This seemed something different altogether.  Really?  Aren’t all God’s plans for our good?  Doesn’t obedience always lead to joy?  I knew the answers, and yet I resisted for reasons I couldn’t articulate.  Slowly the Lord began to reveal to me how I wanted to have all the answers, to know I could do this and do it well, before I made a commitment.  But His plan was that the resolution would be a vehicle for me to learn how to live intentionally, just as last year’s became the vehicle for living gloriously in His love.  Given that, why should I want to throw up my hands in defeat before I’ve even started?  Why not, instead, simply admit my fears, my failures, my weaknesses and concerns, and spend the year pursuing the depth of intimacy with Jesus that such a challenge might enhance?

So that is what I am doing.  In His tender grace, God has brought me gently along and as I write this, I am beginning to feel a kind of joyful anticipation about it.  I want this resolution -- to live more intentionally -- to change me in the same kind of profound ways that living loved has.  I do hope you will join me, mainly because I need the support but also because I sense that God is putting similar impressions on many hearts today, due to the urgency of the hour.

While we will use the same tools for diving into God’s Word, I am excited about the focus I believe He has given me this year, which is to spend the entire year in the Gospel of Matthew, learning from the One who has walked the intentional way before us.  For more information on this and how we can journey together, click here.

Finally, I plan to chronicle my own path a little more often through this blog.  I will still send out occasional devotionals via email, but if you’d like more, or want to share your own ups and downs, victories and failures – you can join me here.  I'd love to hear from you!

Whether you feel called to embrace the Living Intentionally 2010 Challenge or not, I pray 2010 will be a year in which you experience greater grace from our Lord to live immersed in His love and passionate for His glory.