…An Embrace of Freedom

i am free

My prayer, today, is that we embrace the freedom we’ve been given, as a gift, in Christ. May we boldly receive His forgiveness, declare “I am free”, live in it and love one another through it. Press play to hear the song on my heart.

You’re the reason I have hope / You’re everything I need and more / You made me / You made me free 

Christ has set us free to live a free life. So take your stand! Never again let anyone put a harness of slavery on you. Galatians 5:1 (MSG)

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…Day Worked For Your Glory

Will Work for Jesus Sign

After a 16 day partial shutdown, last Thursday, federal government employees and others affected by the shutdown began getting back to their regular days at work. As the majority of my company returned to business as usual, my colleague, boss and I came together to reprioritize our plans for the current fiscal year – including what tasks were essential; which we could defer to a future date; which projects may be reassigned to other team members and whether or not we would continue to engage co-sourcing staff. As we weighed this and that option over the other, we put the focus on what would prove our team most valuable. Once our new plan was in place, I went back to my desk with the charge to get the absolute necessary tasks done and done well.

This new, determined course of action required that I take the time to realign my personal and managerial job responsibilities. As I adjusted budgets, estimate to completions and a number deadlines, the work at hand appeared more and more feasible to get accomplished. And, I realized that all it would take was a change in perspective on what is currently most important.

In turn, my heart was prompted to consider the perspective on what is always most important — His glory.

As we begin a new work week, and as we all begin each workday – whether after a major shutdown or dry season; whether at an international company, mom and pop shop, at home or in school – what are some ways that we can best glorify God in each moment of it?

Here’s 10 to start with…

1. Recognize the value and importance in what you do – So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God. 1 Corinthians 10:31

2. Work for Jesus – Work willingly at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people.Remember that the Lord will give you an inheritance as your reward, and that the Master you are serving is Christ. Colossians 3:23-24 (NLT)

3. Work with integrity – Whoever walks in integrity walks securely, but whoever takes crooked paths will be found out. Proverbs 10:9

4. Become skillful – Work hard so you can present yourself to God and receive his approval. Be a good worker, one who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly explains the word of truth. 2 Timothy 2:15 (NLT)

5. Do what you do, well – Do you see a man who excels in his work? He will stand before kings; He will not stand before unknown men. Proverbs 22:29 (NKJV) 

6. Trust in Him to accomplish the task at hand – “Be strong and courageous, and do the work. Don’t be afraid or discouraged, for the Lord God, my God, is with you. He will not fail you or forsake you. He will see to it that all the work related to the Temple of the Lord is finished correctly…” 1 Chronicles 28:20 (NLT)

7. Love and serve those you work with – Let all that you do be done with love. 1 Corinthians 16:14 (NKJV)

8. Speak life and avoid gossip – Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. Ephesians 4:29

9. Be different and shine bright – Always be joyful. 1 Thessalonians 5:16 (NLT); Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven. Matthew 5:16 (NKJV);

10. Go fishing amongst your colleagues – “Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will send you out to fish for people.” Matthew 4:19; “Therefore, go and make disciples…” Matthew 28:19

…Meditation Moment : John 14:1; Philippians 4:19

government shutdown 2013

“Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in Me…” John 14:1 (ESV)

 And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:19 (ESV)

…Meditation Moment : Psalm 139:13-16

made the stars

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. My frame was not hidden from You when I was made in the secret place, when I was woven together in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in Your book before one of them came to be. Psalm 139:13-16

…Happy Independence Day

freedom

The United States observes today, July 4th, as our Independence Day. My prayer is that we all reflect on the gift God’s given us to be able to claim our freedom everyday (Galatians 5:1). See how Jesus Be A reflected our freedom in Christ in 2012 here.

…Publisher of a Glorious Story

shout3

Ever find yourself in the middle of a conversation when you suddenly realize that you’ve said just a bit too much; revealed a little more than you intended to; or wish you would have stopped talking about 2 minutes before you actually did? Well, I tend to experience exactly this in more than enough instances. When I click with someone, I easily become chatty (to say the least) and have noted that my tendency for transparency can serve as either a gift or a blunder.

In recent weeks, I’ve found myself in several discussions about discussions. As VS and I brainstormed ways to better connect with friends that we see and talk to less often, we asked each other whether or not we’d ever taken time in our gushing moments and long winded conversations to simply share our story with them. With NS, I vetted my internal back and forth in whether I’m being too open, should be more open or am not being open enough with my JBA supporters and  friends. During a D-group call, we talked about relationship stewardship and the importance of discerning what to and what not to unveil about our own lives within discipleship. And, in conversing with MT, we recognized the struggle we sometimes face in choosing to be unreserved or politically correct in our friendly dialogues within the purview of our workplace.

In a moment, it dawned on me. The common thread in each discussion was the charge to make a conscious decision about the level of transparency to walk in with each person that God had given us. It can be so easy to be talkative about the trivial things; and in turn, it can be so easy to keep quiet about those things that are truly meaningful. Thus, the focus of our decision in each relationship that we have is not only about how transparent we are, but what we’re transparent about.

Publish His glorious deeds among the nations. Tell everyone about the amazing things He does. Psalm 93:6 (NLT)

Testifying seems to be the most common and natural means to attest God’s goodness. Just as we once were, our family, our friends, our co-workers and even strangers that we encounter are searching for change, joy, peace, love, answers, provision and solutions. Therefore, regardless of what we currently think, someone out there can and is waiting to benefit from our story.

I was encouraged to give my testimony after experiencing freedom through hearing a testimony so akin to my own journey. Initially, the task seemed daunting. But, the memory of how I first felt in realizing that God is for me, just as He is for the woman with that testimony, kept me invigorated. Just as she had done, in obedience, I wanted to be bold; I wanted to encourage others with what He was doing in my heart and in my life; I wanted to defeat the enemy by sharing my victory. And, in doing so even in the first time, He proved that His Word does not return void. One young lady openly let go of her conviction after hearing the story of how He allowed me to do the same.

When we are open, He’s able to use our chattiness for His glory…not just in formal settings, but even in the day to day conversations that we have. The more we share of how He became real and alive in our lives, and the more we share about the positive changes He has made in us, the greater the invitation is for Him to show up.

I encourage you to find and tell someone your story this week. Whether in front of a small group or with one friend, do it. It is one of the easiest ways to brag on our loving Father, and it is one of the greatest ways to sow seed. Here are a few brief steps on how to share your testimony, below. For additional tips, please click here.

  1. Briefly describe your life before Christ
  2. Carefully explain how you came to the point of submitting your life to Christ
  3. Joyfully describe your life since Jesus became Lord

Someone is waiting on your testimony. Be ready to publish and proclaim it. If He did it for us, He’ll do it for them. Let’s not keep that truth ourselves!

…Preparer of My Heart

sew heart together

This week is observed by many as Holy Week. Given the significance of what this week represents, I have recently spent more time thinking about what to write than actually praying and studying about what to write. Frankly, the “Holy Week” label alone had me completely stressed out and attempting to exceed expectations that I no one actually set for me #dramatic

The more I contemplated profound thoughts to post, the more attention I took off of Him and placed on me. And, the more attention I placed on me and my melodramatic self, the less time I actively spent in His presence and on this blog.

Then, in a moment, I was made to realize that I was completely missing the point (insert side eye emoticon here) and sadly missing out on the actual object of my affection – a sincere understanding and appreciation of what He did for us on that Cross.

So, in an attempt to get my life (I can’t believe I just said that), I am handing over the burden I literally made up for myself and am asking God to simply prepare my heart for Him. Thus, as we approach Good Friday, Holy Saturday and Easter Sunday, I am aiming to do my part to draw near by:

  1. Spending QTConversing with Him, asking for and listening to what He desires for me to know about His passion, death and resurrection
  2. Studying His Story – Reading the historical account (“his-story”) of His life, as told in the Gospels, and of Easter at Matthew 28:1-20; Mark 16:1-20; Luke 24:1-49; John 20:1-21:25, asking for and listening to what He desires for me to learn from His Word
  3. Thanking God for His atonement – Worshipping, praising and thanking Him for the reconciliation back to Him through the sacrifice of Christ

Please join me in preparing, on purpose, to embrace the significance, love, power, victory and joy of Easter. In addition to my 3 plays, how are you readying or planning to ready your heart? Disclaimer: Once you tell me, I’ll probably add it to my list! #justsayin