Are Your Choices Taking You Where You Want to Go?

choices-1We hear a lot these days about fulfilling our destiny. It seems to be a topic that resonates with many, and for good reason. God created us, and as with everything He created, He did so with a purpose in mind. Nothing and no one is here by chance or accident. God is extremely intentional in all that He does. If we have a purpose, and we do, that means we have a destiny. Our purpose is to fulfill our destiny, and our destiny is reached by achieving our purpose; the two are pretty much one and the same. At least that’s the way I see it.

I’ve written on this topic before, but am doing so again because of something the Lord impressed upon me a week or so ago. As I was meditating upon His Word and journaling, I sensed Him saying, “A destiny is never decided by just one choice, rather, it is a series of choices that leads one in a direction they may, or may not, have ever intended to go.”  Well, that made me stop and think for a few minutes. Just because our lives have purpose and destiny doesn’t mean they will automatically be realized, at least not to the fullest extent God intended.

God has given us free choice, and because of that, our choices really matter. Every single one of them. There are countless numbers of people, I’m sure, whose choices led them in directions they never intended to go. Too often, we make choices without thinking about the consequences, whether short or long-term. If we want to fulfill our purpose and destiny, we too, must be intentional. In an earlier article, I talked about how to discover your purpose. If you didn’t see it, you can read it here. Once we have an idea what our purpose is, we can come up with goals and plans to help us achieve it. Then we can decide what steps need to be taken to reach those goals and begin working toward them. For example, if we feel called into vocational ministry, there may be credentials we need to have in order to qualify. We would look at the education and training we must complete in order to achieve those credentials, which will help us fulfill our purpose and destiny. We would then begin taking steps toward gaining those credentials by taking specific classes, internships, etc.

If you have discovered your purpose and destiny, what goals do you need to have to achieve it? What steps do you need to take in order to reach those goals? What are you doing each day to take the necessary steps? Every choice matters. What may seem unattainable right now is possible if you just break it down into small steps that you can take each day.  Focusing on the finish line can seem overwhelming, but no runner ever won a race without the necessary training needed to get their body in shape by slowly increasing their runs and speed, stretching their muscles properly, eating right, getting proper rest, etc.

Fulfilling your purpose and destiny takes a lifetime, a lifetime of making the right choices to get you where you want to go. It doesn’t mean mistakes aren’t allowed; we all make them. They too, serve a purpose in teaching you how not to do things. If you don’t have a plan to reach your goals, don’t wait another day. Time is passing quickly, and your time is your life. You can do whatever you set your mind to do by God’s enabling grace. He is our Helper; we cannot do it without Him. He is glorified and we are most fulfilled when we choose to achieve the purpose and destiny for which He made us.

 

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3 Keys to Finding Contentment

Peaceful-WomanIt seems to me that finding contentment is one of the greatest challenges of the human race. I know it often is a huge challenge for me, and I see the effects of discontentment all around me every day. Some days I feel more content than others; what about you? On those days when everything seems to be going well; I’m not struggling with some major crisis; I have what I need, and even many things that I want – those are the times I feel the most content. But is that true contentment? I’m not sure if I can honestly say that it is.

According to the dictionary, the word means, the state of being contented; satisfaction; ease of mind.” One synonym that comes to mind is peace. To be at peace is to be content, and to be content is to be at peace. A familiar passage of Scripture that speaks of this is Philippians 4:11-13, “I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through Him who gives me strength.”  Paul had learned that being content had nothing to do with his external circumstances. 

For me, finding contentment when circumstances are not in my favor does not come naturally. I would guess that most of us are the same way. After all, we are human and we still have a body of flesh to contend with. Flesh wants what it wants, when it wants it, much like a small child. It is self, therefore it is selfish and greedy. Our flesh is never satisfied, never content, never at peace. And it never will be. Paul had learned this after facing many trials and troubles along his journey. In the verses above the ones quoted here, we see how he arrived at this place of contentment no matter what. Beginning in verse 4, he outlines it for us.

First, we must rejoice in the Lord – always. This means to be glad, to take delight, and make joyful. We do this as we focus upon Him and His goodness and nature, which leads us to worship, thank, and praise Him for who He is.

Second, we must display gentleness, or patience, and be fair and mild tempered with everyone. This is not something you can fake, at least not for long. This is the nature of Christ who was meek and humble. His nature must be displayed in and through us. We are to be peacemakers, just as He was.

Third, instead of worrying and being anxious, we are to pray, give our cares to God and thank Him for answering and taking care of us and our needs.

The result of these three activities will be that God’s peace will guard our hearts and minds. We will have peace that doesn’t make sense to the world, or even to us at times. Paul then goes on to say that we must think about, or meditate upon, those things that are good. Focus on the positive, not the negative. Train your mind to look for the good in everything and everyone. I have been learning this for the past year or so, and it has made a huge difference in my attitude! You can do it too, just try it and see!

This was Paul’s secret to finding contentment no matter what. He also acknowledged that it was God’s grace that enabled him to do this. Elsewhere, he spoke of crucifying his flesh daily. This is something we all have to do if we want to be at peace. Our flesh and spirit are constantly at war, but the spirit, in union with God’s Spirit, must rule and subdue the flesh. Everyone wants to be content and at peace in the depths of their being. God created us that way, and His all-sufficient grace that enabled Paul to do this, can, and will, enable us as well!

Is it Wrong to Need to Be Right?

Charlene S Hughes

Animals___Wild_artiodactyls_Two_deer_butt_097461_Have you ever been around someone who seemed to have a need to always be right? Perhaps you feel that way. I know I did for way too many years. If someone said something I disagreed with, or knew to be wrong, I was always quick to point out their error, or tell them why what they said was incorrect. Unfortunately, for those around me, it was terribly annoying to say the least. My attitude certainly didn’t win me any friends, and often drove my family crazy. In these increasingly dark times we live in, the need to be right has grown by epidemic proportions. It is especially evident in both the news media and the world of social media. Maybe it seems that way because social media relentlessly provides a platform for every thought, word, and deed, both good and bad, of millions of users.

Everyone has a point…

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Keys to Discovering Your Passion and Purpose

right_questions-300x222Many people, believers included, live their lives with no real sense of purpose. They wander aimlessly from relationship to relationship, from job to job, and often from one location to another, never having any clear sense of direction. I was that way myself and I talk to people all the time that are in a similar place. I’ve heard several messages on the subject and found that one of the keys to discovering your purpose is to first find your passion. This can be difficult too, if you’re not sure how to recognize what it is. There are a few questions that can help get you started, such as, what do you get excited about? What makes you get up in the morning? What do you love to talk about? If time and money were no issue, what would you choose to do with your life? What do you dream about doing? What makes you cry when you hear, see, or read something? What stirs up your compassion? These are just a few to get your mental wheels turning.

Spend some time thinking, rethinking, and praying over these questions. Discovering your passion can often lead you to discovering your purpose. The things that move you, that stir you up, are usually an indication that those may be areas in which you’re called to serve. If you feel compassion for sick people, perhaps your purpose is to go into the medical field. If you get stirred up by stories about human trafficking, maybe you’re called to join or start a ministry that frees victims. I’m sure you get the idea.

God has a purpose for your life that is far beyond living in survivor mode, just trying to get from one day to the next, from one paycheck to the next, from one crisis to the next. Some people sadly never find that purpose. You were not an accident. You’re not here to just take up space, or to get by as best you can until your days on earth are over. God’s ultimate purpose for everybody is to know Him and be conformed into His image. Any other purpose He has for us plays into that one, and He wants us to find fulfillment and satisfaction in living that purpose out. He came to give us abundant life, meaning, life to the fullest. A life full of meaning, satisfaction and fulfillment, no matter what our purpose may be, is His desire for us.

Don’t waste any more time just living from day to day, trying to get by. Jesus paid the price for us to live abundantly, and to throw that away would be foolish, not to mention irreverent. Ask Him to show you what your passion(s) and purpose is. He put it in you, so He is not trying to hide it from you! Ask yourself the questions I mentioned earlier, and He will help you to discover and live the life of meaning and purpose He desires for you.

 

Are God’s Dreams Your Dreams?

Door-to-Better-WorldThe topic of this article has come to my mind on several occasions over the years, and again recently. For some time, I’ve been fascinated by the reality of the emotions of God. Many in the Church have believed for far too long that the main emotion God feels is anger – mostly toward us when we fail. Thankfully, that has been and is changing in recent years and this is good news. God is very much an emotional being, just as we are, for we are made in His image. He feels joy, sorrow, sadness, anger, happiness, and other typical emotions. But have you ever considered that God also has dreams? Not the kind of dreams we have when we sleep, for He never slumbers. Dreams for us, for His bride, for His kingdom, for what He intends to accomplish on the earth. He has given us dreams as well; desires that we long to experience and accomplish.

Jeremiah 29:11 is a familiar verse, “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” The word “plans” used there literally means, “purpose, invention, imaginations, and thoughts.”  Those words are mostly synonymous with dreams. What parent doesn’t have dreams for their children? They want to see them prosper, succeed, and become mature, healthy adults. As broken humans, we sometimes project our unfulfilled dreams on our children, but God isn’t like that. He knows and wants what is best for every one of us.

Religion has lied to us and told us that our dreams are selfish and ungodly. Many believers feel guilty when they experience the desires of their heart being fulfilled. But God said, ‘Take delight in the LORD, and He will give you the desires of your heart.” (Ps. 37:4) It is not wrong to desire or dream, as long as those desires don’t replace Him. I believe this verse is also saying that the dreams and desires that are in our hearts are not our own, but His, especially when we are following Him, by His grace. He loves to bless His children, even more so when we are living for Him. As a parent, I always loved my kids when they were young, and wanted to give them whatever they wanted (within reason, of course!) Yet when they went out of their way to do something special for me, it made me want to do so even more. This is just a small example of how God feels toward us.

I believe it pleases Him greatly when we acknowledge and passionately pursue the dreams He has put in our hearts. With no fear of failure, no guilt, shame, or condemnation from religious people who try to tell us we are being selfish or greedy, or living for ourselves. One of a parent’s greatest pleasures is when the dreams they have for their kids are embraced and pursued with joy by their kids. If we feel that way, how much more does God? Of course, we still love them even if they choose to go a different way, and so does He. We should at least consider the possibility that those desires and dreams in our heart may actually be His. Ask Him for a new perspective and pray for the courage to follow those dreams, trusting His grace to lead and empower you. What dreams has God put in your heart? Are you pursuing them? If not, why not? Talk to Him about it.

Freedom From Self

imagesIf you’re a believer and have been in church for very long, you’ve probably heard quite a few messages over the years on sin and how Jesus came to set us free from it. You’ve no doubt heard a lot about repentance and how we should turn from our sin. And you’ve likely been taught certain “rules” whether stated directly or indirectly, that good Christians don’t do certain things. These days, in our politically correct culture, these messages may not be as popular as they once were, but they are still out there, nonetheless. While parts of these messages are true, I believe they are missing the point entirely.

The older I get, the more I have seen in myself and others, and in the world in general, the more I am convinced that what Jesus came to set us free from was ourselves. It is not so much the things we do that are wrong, as far as God is concerned. What matters more to Him are the reasons we do those things. The motives of our heart. If we are really honest with ourselves, we would all readily admit we are selfish; I know I am. We may do good to, and for, others, but deep down in our innermost being, we usually put ourselves and our needs first. Some, who are constantly doing for others to the point of neglecting their own legitimate needs, should put themselves first sometimes. That’s not the situation I’m referring to here, however.

Not only are we selfish when it comes to what we want, but we’re also very opinionated, thinking our way is always right. Our ideas are the best. Our assessments (judgments) of others are always correct. Our interpretation of Scripture is always accurate. What we do is more important than what anyone else does. This even manifests in the Church. If we’re a missionary in the field, we think everyone is called to that. If we are an evangelist, we try to coerce others to do the same. If we work with kids, we think everyone should work with kids. I’m sure you get my point. We even try to shame others into feeling that their calling isn’t as holy, or anointed, or sacred, or whatever… I’m not pointing any fingers here, I know I’ve done the same.

Jesus wants to free us from self. From always looking out for ourselves, defending ourselves, justifying ourselves, taking more than we give, thinking more of ourselves than we do others. Living that way, I’m discovering, is the worst kind of bondage because we tend to be much harder on ourselves than even the enemy is. Can anyone relate, or is it just me? He wants us to see things through His eyes, not our own narrow-mindedness or petty, shallow thinking. Too often we choose our opinion over His, our rationale over His wisdom, our political persuasion over His Lordship, our beliefs over His Word. We magnify the devil by choosing fear over faith, worry over contentment, anger over peace.

This is why Paul said, “I die daily.” (1 Cor. 15:31) Freedom from self means making different choices every day than those we are used to making, by His grace. It means giving Him room to lead us in our thoughts, words, and actions. It really all boils down to one thing – loving Him with all of our heart, soul, mind, and strength; loving Him more than we love ourselves. Of course, we can’t do this apart from His grace, but we have His Spirit within, continually supplying all that we need.

Healing Ministry 2.0

garden-waterfall-designWhen the Lord called me out of full-time ministry into starting a full-time home based business last year, I have to admit, I had LOTS of questions. I prayed for months, seeking His wisdom, guidance, and direction before stepping out into another totally new venture (first time I started a ministry over 10 years ago, now first time starting a business). Over those months, He began to show me that what I am now doing, sharing my love of Young Living essential oils and products is just another facet of the healing ministry I had been doing the past 10+ years. I call it Healing Ministry 2.0.

During Jesus’ short earthly ministry, He never healed anyone the exact same way twice. This makes perfect sense if you consider that everyone is different, everyone’s background and current issues are unique, and everyone responds in various ways. This was true in ministry, and it is true in the ministry/business I am now doing. God obviously loves variety, just take a look at human beings, animals, and everything else He made! In this new journey over the past two years, I have discovered more of the amazing wonder of our God through His creation, specifically, plant life.

Just one aspect of this is seen in the symbiotic relationship between plants and humans. To make it simple to understand, plants take in carbon dioxide and emit oxygen; humans take in oxygen and emit carbon dioxide. Plant life is vital to sustaining human life, and vice versa. God created plants and trees and made a Garden for Adam and Eve to live in. In two places Scripture says, “And the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations.” (Ezek. 47:12; Rev. 22:2) Essential oils are the life-blood of plants, trees, flowers, seeds, etc. Just as our blood carries nutrients, oxygen, and all the life-giving substances our bodies need to thrive, so plants do the same through the oils found within them. The various properties and chemical constituents that benefit plant life can often do the same for us. This is the reason essential oils, in their purest form, are very powerful for supporting every system and organ of our bodies.

As I continued to learn about the potency and benefits of using essential oils as opposed to synthetic drugs, supplements, and other medications, and experienced their effects for myself and my family, I was more convinced that this was the direction in which God was leading me. He continued to give me one confirmation after another until I was finally at peace. My excitement began to grow as I started helping others discover the life-changing differences me and my family have enjoyed. In addition, I’ve been learning about the serious health dangers caused by the many toxin and chemical laden products we typically use every day – things like laundry detergent, fabric softener, bath, body, hair, and personal care products, make-up, scented candles and air fresheners, household cleaning products, not to mention the pesticides found on our produce, and chemical, artificial ingredients in processed foods.

Should we realistically expect God to heal us physically when we use products that have been proven to cause disease, disorders, and other potentially life-threatening health issues? It is our responsibility to properly care for our bodies, as temples of the Holy Spirit. Our country is already largely overweight due to poor eating habits and passive lifestyles. I’m not condemning anyone, but just stating the facts. Although we are one of the most medically and scientifically advanced nations, yet we continue to get sicker and it is not just affecting adults, but children, and even babies, as well. We must realize that something is terribly wrong with this picture. When a television ad goes on and on about the potential side-effects of a drug more than they list the benefits, it should get our attention. (I’m not advocating that we totally ditch traditional medicine nor the help of doctors or other health care professionals.) We may not be able to get rid of all the toxins and chemicals we consume, but we can get rid of more than we may realize.

I have reached a point where I am no longer willing to live a life of passivity where my health and the health of my family is concerned. I have suffered many health issues over the years, and enough is enough. If you feel the same way, I would love to hear from you, and would love even more to share with you some better options, and what has worked for us. Begin the journey to the abundant life Jesus died to give us. Healing is His will for all of us, but we must do our part; He has already paid the price.