Category Archives: Calling

Making a Difference

1:22:15 Cup of waterby Lydia Floren

We all want to make a difference.

To have meaning and purpose in our lives.  Does this really happen?  Is it possible to have some grand purpose, to know on our deathbeds that our lives had meaning?

It depends.

You may be like me, sometimes thinking that “making a difference” means leading “feeding-the-five-thousand” type events:  God working grandly through me, for all the world to see.  Important people will see that I am important.  I am significant.  Sure, I will give God the glory, but I take secret delight in my obvious impact on the world.  Good Morning America (or Women of Faith) here I come!

But God rarely works this way.

Don’t get me wrong.  He does miracles every day.  Jesus said, “My Father is always at His work in this world, and I too am working.”  But much of what God does goes unseen, and unappreciated.

Jesus’ own life was the prime example of this.  Jesus didn’t have the respect of the Important People.  In fact, Important People were threatened by Jesus, because the Truth He shared often made them look bad.  He spent his days walking from place to place, talking to ordinary folks about extraordinary truth, and, on occasion – mostly in out of the way places – working miracles.

God hasn’t changed.  He still walks this earth and works through those willing to follow Him, touching people with His love and truth in very ordinary ways.  A warm meal.  A kind word.  A listening ear.  A cup of cold water.

And sometimes – mostly in out of the way places – He still works miracles.

God has prepared good works, that we should walk in them. Ephesians 2:10

When have you seen God work through your “ordinary day”?  Share with us!


Want to read more?  Read  The Extraordinary Ordinary

The Secret of Surrender

10:29:15 Hugh Jackman on stageby Lydia Floren

Let me tell you a little secret about me:  I am a clandestine celebrity watcher.  Yes, I am one of those people who scan the headlines in the grocery checkout lane.  At the hairdresser, I’ll scroll through the latest People magazine.  I might even be known to [gasp] Google a star of my favorite TV show.  I make excuses for this somewhat silly voyeurism:  “I need to be aware of what is going on in Daniel’s world,” I’ll tell myself.  But truthfully, I probably know more about some stuff (the unimportant stuff) in Hollywood, than does my actor son Daniel, who actually lives there!  Besides, my “star watching” started long before Daniel chose his career path and moved to LA.

OK, now that you know my little secret, you shouldn’t be surprised that my favorite part of the Sunday paper is Parade Magazine.  Which gets me to the part that might actually interest you.

Not too long ago Parade featured an interview with actor Hugh Jackman, aka “Wolverine”, of the X-Men.

10:29:15 Jackman

In the article, Jackman unabashedly acknowledged his Christianity, and described how his faith is intertwined with his work.  Here are his words, as quoted in Parade:

“I’m a religious person.  This is going to sound weird to you.  In Chariots of Fire, the runner, Eric Liddell, says, ‘When I run, I feel His pleasure.’  And I feel that pleasure when I act and it’s going well, particularly onstage.  I feel what everyone’s searching for, the feeling that unites us all.  Call it ‘God’.  Before I go onstage every night, I pause and dedicate the performance to God, in the sense of  ‘Allow me to surrender’.  When you allow yourself to surrender to the story, to the character, to the night, to the audience, transcendence happens.  And when that happens, there is nothing like it on the planet.  It’s the moment people experience when they fall in love, which is equally frightening and exciting.  That’s what it feels like.”

I think God wants each of us to experience moments like Liddell’s and Jackman’s.  These moments come when we surrender ourselves to Him.  When we relinquish control and just trust Him, we become a conduit for His Holy Spirit to work through us.

God wants us to “feel His pleasure”, as we do what He made us to do.

When we do, it is as if Jesus murmurs in our ear, “Well done, my good and faithful servant.  Enter into the joy of your Master.”

How have you seen God work through you when you surrender?

p.s.  Here’s a link to the Parade article on Hugh Jackman:
http://parade.com/426939/dotsonrader/the-hugh-you-never-knew/

Big Decisions, No Regrets

bigdecisions

Big Decisions, No Regrets:  10 steps to make a thoughtful God-guided decision with confidence

 by Lydia Floren

Have you ever noticed that spring tends to be a time when people make big decisions? You may be graduating from high school, and figuring out where you should go to college, or maybe even if you should go to college at all. You may be pondering a job change, or a move to a new city, or wondering if you should get married, or start a family. You may be facing a decision about your health, or what house you should buy, when to retire, or even what relationships to invest in.

Decisions, especially big decisions, form the framework of our lives. These choices have major impact on each of us, and so it behooves us to make these decisions deliberately and prayerfully.

These proven steps will give you confidence in making a big decision.

Key steps in making a big decision

10 steps in making a big decision

This is an excerpt from the article Big Decisions, No Regrets.  To get the complete piece, click here.

 

 

 

 

 

Learning to Fish on the Right Side of the Boat – Overcoming Series: Part I

boatPainting by Alexei Birvukoff

by Lydia Floren

There is a great story in the Bible where Jesus was at the shore of a huge lake, looking out over the water. He was watching a boat approaching:  His disciple Peter was returning home from a fruitless night of fishing.  Peter must have been discouraged.  Who wouldn’t be after working their tail off and seeing no results? As he stowed away his gear, he glanced up and noticed someone standing on the beach: Jesus.

“Hey Peter, throw your nets out on the other side of the boat”.  Jesus hollered out to him.

That’s nuts, Peter thinks.  He just doesn’t understand. We’ve been at this for hours and hours.

“I’ve been fishing all night,” Peter hollered back, “we haven’t caught a thing.

Silence. I can just hear Peter talking to himself:

OK, Peter, that was kind of stupid. Jesus knows everything.  I’m sure He is aware that it’s not been a good night of fishing. Yet still…he said to put my nets back down, this time on the other side of the boat. Maybe he knows something I don’t know about where the fish are. I’ve seen him do some pretty amazing stuff.  Like the whole feeding the 5000 thing. [sigh] If Jesus says to do this, it is probably worth a shot to haul up the nets and throw them out one more time, wherever He says to throw them. 

  “OK guys let’s do this,” Peter ordered.  “Grab the nets, and cast them on the far side of the boat.” 

His crew might have just stood there, incredulous.  They were as bone-weary as Peter was, and were savvy enough fishermen to know when to pack it in.  Maybe they muttered a few choice comments to each other, waiting for Peter to come to his senses.

Peter didn’t care.  He knew Jesus.  They didn’t.

“Well, what are you waiting for?” He shouted. “Get moving.”

The sailors suddenly scrambled into action. They gathered the nets, and then cast them once more, this time in a most unpromising place. Or was it?  Their skepticism shifted to awe as their nets immediately started filling with a catch so huge that they started to break.

511046.TIF

Peter just shook his head, bemused.  He’d seen Jesus do this kind of thing before.  Yet even with all Peter’s experiences–after having witnessed miracle after miracle–it was still so easy for Peter to forget who Jesus was, and what God could do.

2000 years later, nothing has changed.

It is so easy for us to forget who Jesus is, and what God can do.

In our lives today, it is so easy to forget who Jesus is, and what God can do.  We have seen God do amazing things in our lives–and the lives of others–yet when we face difficulties, we tend to focus on the problem instead of keeping our eyes fixed on The Solution.   We worry about what we see, instead of looking beyond to what God is doing.  When we fixate on the problem, we might get to work trying to find a solution on our own.  The busier we get “solving problems,” the more distracted we can become, and it gets harder and harder to remember what—and Who—is important.

In overcoming problems in our lives, we must stay focus on God, and do our best to follow His lead.

                Next week:  our problems are not the problem.

How do you stay focused on God when you have problems?

it is so easy-fish-rec

Recent posts: Circling Back, Sharing a Sunset, Enjoying God’s Presence.

The Right Things For The Right Reasons: Goals series part 3

by Lydia Floren

Can we learn to be free from our performance-based roots, and still be “in the game” of life? Yes. Paul advised this:

Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect. Romans 12:2 NLT

Transformation of the way we think is crucial to following God. First this involves a change of focus, as we discussed in the last two blogs on goals. Instead of adopting our culture’s definition of “success,” we must embrace  the more compelling goal to “make love our aim.” When we focus on things that matter for eternity, our “success” has far-reaching consequences.

Every believer has at one time or another done this, at least for awhile. But it is easy to slip back into old performance-based habits, and just call them by a different name.

For example, we decide to follow Christ. We have a revelation, a turning. We have come to accept that not only is God real, but He truly rewards those who genuinely seek Him. But somewhere along the way, we have lost the vibrancy of those first days of faith, and we are back to the grind. It might be a different grind, but grind it is. Instead of sharing our faith or time, or money, or energy because we have been led by God to do so, we do so out of duty, guilt, or fear. Or if we don’t do these things we feel guilty because we “aren’t doing more.” We find ourselves in a different kind of competition, with a different kind of goal– to be a professional Christian—The Best. And if we are honest with ourselves, we do it to remain a “member in good standing” with whatever Christian community to whom we might be attached.

We are not alone in this. Since the first generation of believers, people have succumbed to the temptation to take matters back into their own hands, and revert to rules and regulations instead of being guided by God. This is what Paul referred to in the first part of 1 Corinthians 13: “I can speak with the tongue of men and angels,” Paul says, “but if I have not love, I am nothing.”

We must choose to remain free
We must vigilantly guard our freedom in Christ, and resist the temptation to reduce a life of following God to a set of rules. God simply doesn’t work that way. He is consistent in His character but unpredictable in his methods. We must remain committed to Him first, not bound to a standard or a norm, or we slide into the pit of shoulds and coulds all over again.

It was for freedom that Christ set us free; therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery. Galatians 5:1

Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” John 8:32

So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed. John 8:36

Share with us: How are you choosing to remain free? We would love to hear from you.

Recent posts: Beginning With The End In Mind: Goal Series – Part IITaking Aim: Goal Series – Part I,

Be Still and Know that I am God.

be-still-recby Lydia Floren

Be still and know that I am God.  Psalm 46:10

In the swirl and stress of the holidays, or just daily living, God often uses these 8 words restore my soul.

Be still and know that I am God.

The simple acts of being and knowing free us from the Twilight Zone of Anxiety, the Abyss of Never Enough:

Be still and know that I am God.

Be.

  • Just be.
  • Be aware of being alive. Appreciate that you have a beating heart, and air to breathe.
  • Settle into the truth that
    • You are fearfully and wonderfully made.
    • You are wanted. Treasured. Valued. Loved.
    • You are known and you are loved.

Be still.

  • Just stop. Rest. Take a breath. Or two. Be still.
  • Be still on the inside, as well as the outside.
  • Release all those thoughts swirling around in your head.
  • Take your mind off your responsibilities, your concerns, those things in your head that are nagging you.
  • Let go right now, and just be still.

 And know.

  • Let truth sink in.
  • Be aware of what is real, and what is not.
  • What is beyond seeing and understanding—and in the realm of just knowing.

Know that I

  • Know the Person who made you,
  • Who knows you better than you know yourself.
  • Who loves you with an everlasting love, which is in no way dependent on what you do or don’t do.
  • Who lives within you.
  • Who has your back.
  • Who has shown, and will show you how to live.
  • Who will never steer you wrong.
  • Who goes after you when you stray—deliberately or unintentionally–and brings you back to the path of life and joy.
  • Who restores your soul, leads you into the light and away from the darkness.
  • Who will never leave you or reject you.
  • Who keeps you safe—protects your identity, value, belonging and calling—for all eternity.

 Know that I am God.

Know that this person–your heavenly father, your friend, your one and only guide in life, your creator—is God.

He is God.

He is

  • 100% good.
  • The most powerful being in the universe.
  • Wise
  • Trustworthy
  • Present
  • compassionate
  • understanding
  • forgiving
  • uncondemning
  • full of life and joy
  • available
  • ready to show you a better way to live
  • Committed to walking with you on that way.

Be Still and Know that I AM GOD.  Psalm 46:10

How has this truth changed your life?  Please share with us!

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”  Matthew 11:28-30

The Blessings of Giving Thanks

blessings of giving thanks titleby Lydia Floren

What one habit has most transformed your life?  For me the answer would be                           the practice of thanks-giving..  Here are a few of the blessings of giving thanks that I have experienced:

Attitude. I see even a little blessing in life as a bonus, not a right, when I appreciate that my life—and everything in it—is a gift from God.

Contentment.  I am free to enjoy each day–even if things are difficult–when I give thanks that God is working all things to good.

Trust.  It is easier to trust God’s direction, especially when the future seems uncertain, as I give thanks for God’s love and goodness.

Fearless following. I can boldly follow God’s lead–the best i know it–as I give thanks for God’s commitment to safely guide me. I know that He will make any mid-course corrections if I misunderstand or just wander away for awhile.

Self-concept. I am at peace with who I am when I give thanks for my life–the unique blend of attributes that makes me “me”.   It settles me.  I have nothing to prove. I am valuable, and valued by the most amazing being in the universe, the person that made me.

Encouragement.  I am en-couraged—given courage to be myself, when I appreciate my identity and value.   And I can then en-courage others.

Hope.  I have hope to see beyond a hardship when I am giving thanks in the middle of it.  I can also more readily see benefits of those challenging situations.

Perspective.  Giving thanks for eternity reframes my perspective, and reminds me  what is really important.

Focus. Giving thanks for others takes my focus off myself.

Tolerance.  When I give thanks for the unique gifts of others, I more inclined to celebrate differences, instead of being annoyed by them.  I can appreciate that each person’s individuality makes life rich, just like one spice combined with another creates a wonderful flavor.

Freedom.  Giving thanks for Christ’s sacrifice allows me to leave the past behind, and to quit beating myself for being “imperfect.”  God completes me. In Him I am perfect.

Calling.  There is nothing like the deep soul-satisfying joy of God working through me to love another person in my own unique way.  Giving thanks to God for calling me to be loved, and then to love–Him, myself, and those I encounter–brings me joy.

Presence of God.  Giving thanks in all things brings me into the very presence of God.

The practice of giving thanks in all things has changed–and continues to change–my life.

How has giving thanks blessed you?  We’d love to hear from you!

It’s not about you, or is it?

its-not-about blog titleby Lydia Floren

 It’s not about you.   Or is it?   

It’s not about you.  I have never understood that statement.  Think about it.  You are the only one living your life. You make your own choices.  You experience life with your unique thought processes and personality.   In reality, your life is–well–yours.

But it’s not JUST about you.

So what do people mean when they say “it’s not about you”?  I think they really mean that your life is not just about you.  It is about more than you.  Here’s what I mean:  You are not the only person in the universe. For example–and this is the most important by far, this universe is inhabited by God, your maker.  In fact, you–your life– is a creative expression of God.  You are His masterpiece.  In addition, there are other people like you inhabiting this world, people with with life, and wants, and needs just like you.   And for good or ill, your choices impact your connection with your creator, and influence other people in your little corner of the world.

Here’s the problem: if you have not learned to accept and appreciate yourself,  YOU are all you can think about.  You are focused on trying to get your needs met.  Conversely, when you are at peace with yourself,  you have the capacity to focus outward instead of inward, blessing others instead of expecting from them.

Everyone is needy–everyone has needs.  In order to move beyond yourself, you have to

1.  face your needs and then                                                                                                                     2.  choose to look first to God—not other people—to meet those needs.  

Our needs:

We all recognize our needs for food, clothing, and shelter, but we often ignore important needs that go beyond the physical. Only when we acknowledge these needs, and they are truly met,  can we move past  ourselves. For example, we all need

  • identity–a sense of who we are as a person, an understanding and appreciation of ourselves as a unique individual
  • value–a belief–and solid reason for the belief–that we are valuable
  • belonging–a place in the world where we feel safe, and at home–where everyone knows our name.
  • calling/direction–a sense of purpose, and genuine hope that we can fulfill that purpose.
  • safety–the deep knowing that you are protected: that nothing and no one can destroy you.

We try hard, mostly in subconscious ways, to meet these very essential needs, but come up empty most of the time–and for good reason:  it is impossible.  There is no way that we–or any other person on the planet–can meet these needs.  That doesn’t keep us from trying.  Many promising relationships wither under the heat of our unrealistic expectations that someone else can and should meet our most basic needs.

God is the only person that can satisfy our hunger for identity, value, belonging, calling, and safety.  Quite frankly, God not only CAN fill this void in our lives, He has already given us the means to do so. But He always gives us the choice of whether or not to accept His provision.  How do we recognize God’s provision, and accept it?   A good place to start is to invite Him into your life, and cultivate the habit of giving thanks in all things.

Give thanks to God for:

  • your identity: the combination of personality, temperament, history, giftness, passions, and connections that makes you totally unique in the world.
  • your value: as His precious child, someone He paid a very high price to adopt into His family. You are cherished and loved by the most amazing being in the universe. The Person that knows you best loves you most.
  • your belonging: as a member His family, And your belonging in this moment in time, and in this place in the universe:  You are not here by accident. You belong where you are.
  • your calling/direction:  to love God, yourself and others in your own unique way as you live your life.
  • your safety:  nothing/no one can touch or change your identity, value, belonging and calling IN ANY WAY. These are safe, and protected by God.  As God’s child, your existence is safe for eternity.

Be thankful for you, the person you are and are becoming. 

Be thankful for God, who fills your deepest needs abundantly, beyond all that you can ask or imagine. 

 And my God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.                Philippians 4:19 NASB

 

 

The Barnacles of Busy-ness

sunrise_beachBusy-ness is a persistent parasite, like barnacles on a sea shell.  Busy-ness attaches itself to my life through “extra” expectations and goals and plans.  If I allow these barnacles to grow and multiply, my priorities and my calling become almost unrecognizable.  I come to believe that these embellished plans are God’s will for me, and I convince myself that no one but I can accomplish these plans–not even God.  My time is consumed by either working on these altered plans, or worrying about them.  Gone is my willingness to begin each day in God’s presence, and to seek His guidance throughout my day.  There is no time.  I must hurry.  There is much to do.

Through Psalm 23 my Patient Father, My Shepherd calls me back to reality, to the truth deep within me.  He calls me to remember, rest, reflect, restore, and refocus:

ps 23 1REMEMBER:

The Lord gives me plenty–more than enough—of everything I need to do what He calls me to do.

  • plenty of time.
  • plenty of resources.
  • plenty of His love and acceptance and grace.

He has done this before, and He will do it again. And again.

 

ps 23 2REST: Being still—resting—allows me to…

  • absorb His presence, and
  • remember His provision, power, guidance, faithfulness and love.
  • be strengthened for the day ahead.
  • step back and see the big picture, instead of being caught up in meaningless minutia.

 

ps 23 2bREFLECT: His quiet waters allow me a safe place to…

  • see my reflection,
  • face my recurring tendency to wander, and
  • re-clarify truth, and recognize what barnacle-lies might be attached to that truth.

 

ps 23 3RESTORE: He refreshes my soul with…

  • His grace.
  • His love and acceptance.
  • His affirmation of my identity, value, belonging.
  • His calling for me
    • to be loved, and
    • to love,
    • and to let go of everything else.

 

ps 23 4REFOCUS: He guides me to…

  • freedom from the barnacles of busy-ness—those expectations of myself and others that attach themselves to my life, keeping me from seeing and following God’s true plan for me.
  • increasing understanding of truth, and the exposure of lies I have long believed to be truth.
  • new ways to love Him, myself, and others who cross my path.

Every day, in hard times and good ones, when I follow the Lord my Shepherd He guides me to Joy— the hallmark of an abundant life.

Do you ever feel like you have collected barnacles of busy-ness? How has God been leading you to joy, and freeing you of the barnacles of busy-ness? We would love to hear from you!

barnacles of busy-nessBy Lydia Floren