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May. 4th, 2007

Back to where we started

Romans 12, Proverbs 7

So this is it, huh? It is truly hard to imagine that altered has run its course. We began this journey 60 days ago with a handful of commitments from students who said they wanted to impact their worlds. To see their worlds changed. Not necessarily the world, but their world.

The idea is that as we surrender to God's plan, we can be a part of seeing our futures altered, our friends altered, our families altered.

Our worlds altered.

Before I began this blog, I took time to look back and remember some of the previous blog entries. Some of which was about what I wrote. More of it was about what you wrote. Take time this weekend, look back on this journey. What did you write? What did you wish you wrote?

I was amazed at some of the comments. There were some that stand out. There was one particular that stood out throughout this blog.

See, sometimes our faith is open, it's raw, it's real. We lay out our spiritual ugliness, scabs and all. We're sinners in need of God's grace.

But at the same time, we're God's children who've been redeemed. We must never forget the early principles of Romans 12. We can't conform to the pressures of this world. No matter how difficult it may seem. But we must be transformed and renewed.

Throughout this journey, YOU have challenged me. There was the physical challenge of getting up early enough to post the blog before you had to go to school. Sorry, Alyson, but I failed this morning in getting up early enough for you to get it before school. I'll never forget the time in Gulfport and trying to get done as people were reading over my shoulder. That was probably my favorite portion of the blogotional as I got to see how practical it was becoming for everyone.

But the challenge spiritually was far greater. Everyday, I felt the need to say something that would add to the journey. Sometimes I failed. Other times God gave me a nugget to share that impressed me with its clarity and direction. That definitely wasn't me. But I'm thankful.

So now the training wheels have come off. Tomorrow, we begin a post-altered journey. Today I'm there for the final push. Then freedom. But not in the sense of freedom from something, but rather freedom to something. For what God has begun in your life must continue. As I let go, I expect each of you to soar. And to enjoy the rush as the air breezes through your hair. At times, the bike might seem wobbily, but persevere. You can do it.

Two words I want to leave you with. The first is that word persevere. A new journey is beginning and some will be tempted to fall out of the routine. Don't succumb to that temptation. Stay strong.

The second is dialogue. The first 4-5 weeks of the blogotional were easier to write because of the dialogue that was going on. Your comments left me something to think about and write about. As we winded down, the comments became less and less.

As you approach Scripture, there should be constant dialogue. Ask questions of the text. Then discover. The most relevant questions we face are what does this Scripture mean? And How does that apply to my life?

Every time we read Scripture, we must be prepared to change, for it is a life-changing book. Read it as such. Not out of drudgery, but out of delight. Freedom.

So we reach this bittersweet end. I'm going to miss the daily ritual of waking up to write the thoughts that were on my mind. God had kinda laid out an outline early on for the direction we were going. Sometimes we followed that plan, sometimes I realized that I was following more of my plan and God altered it through the flexibility of the forum.

Thanks for the ride. It has been an amazing journey that has challenged me at every turn. Thanks for your devotion. Thanks for your commitment. Thanks for your love.

I'm definitely going to miss it.

What a ride.

But it's not over.

A new commitment is dawning. A new journey to encounter.

So I push off, and let you go.

Nervous, but excited.

And with a tear in my eye.

You're growing up, and I'm proud.

But a little scared by that.

Live it.

Be altered.

May. 3rd, 2007

the penultimate

Psalm 119:1-16

The word penultimate means 'second to last'.

It's hard to imagine that we're there.

As we get to the penultimate altered, I hope that above everything else, this blogotional series has helped produce a love and devotion to the word of God. It's as relevant today as it was when it was written, and we need to realize it as a fresh, alive word to change who we are today.

An earlier altered focused on some later verses in Psalm 119. Everything about Psalm 119 focus on a love for Scripture. In the first 9 verses we see these various words used to describe the Scriptures...the law, the statutes, his ways, precepts, decrees, commands, and word. In fact every verse has one of these words used to describe the psalmist love for and reliance upon the Word.

Right in the midst of these verses, we see one verse that is crucial. See, reading Scripture is not enough, but it's treasuring Scripture, understanding, and applying it that brings a sense of peace, of awe, of purpose to our life.

Psalm 119:11 says:
"I have hidden your word in my heart
that I might not sin against you."

We take God's Word, treasure it, then apply it. Powerful.

Tomorrow, this experiment called Altered comes to a conclusion. I really don't know what that means right now. Maybe it will occasionally appear in a blog form, being dusted off when I feel God prompt something in my mind. Maybe it will be more frequent that that.

But I do know your devotion to His truths needs to continue. In fact, it's essential.

It's been amazing to see you guys hungering and thirsting after the truth. Some have even come in recent days asking about a good devotional to continue with. There are a number of great devotionals out there.

But none of them compare to the Book that you already have.

Read it. Cherish it.

Continue to open up and let yourself be altered.

I've not been leading this thing at all. I've been on the outside looking in. And it's been amazing to see the change in some of your lives.

Tomorrow the training wheel come off, I'll give a little push. Then...

May. 2nd, 2007

The Vow

Take time, read Isaiah 6, and get a real picture of what is happening here...

Thanks for the response yesterday. Some responded in the blog, some messaged me, and some did so face-to-face. But thanks...

Today we switch gears for the final time in this 8 week altered experiment. Today we start to focus on the vow we take. One thing we have to be careful of as Christ-followers is to not fall into the trap of being entangled in a legalistic religion. Christ came to set us free. However, with freedom comes responsibility. Sometimes that responsibility is played out in a response of commitment.

If you read Isaiah 5, the soon-to-be prophet looks at the world around him and he says woe to all these people committing gross sin around him. But in verse 6, Isaiah get a vision of God and his response is "Woe is Me". He is then set apart for the prophet ministry (which we'll talk about tomorrow). And then he faces the pressing questions as God asks: "Whom shall I send? and Who shall go for us?" Scripture doesn't give us a measure of the time that elapses, but I can almost feel the tension as the question lingers in the air. If it were me, it might have taken a while to respond, with every second seeming like an eternity. Finally, Isaiah responds..."Here am I, send me."

Geoff Moore wrote an amazing song called the Vow and I want to list some of the words here:

I could make a promise to you,
But that would be too easy to do.
You see I've made them before,
And broken them and they're no good anymore.
So I'll dig a little bit deeper,
Give you something you can keep
I will make a vow to you,
And it will never change no matter what I do.

Right here, right now,
In the midst of the crowd,
I stand alone and make my vow.
Whatever it takes I will be faithful
This is my vow.

As the words fall from my lips,
We both know the life I live,
How I stumble and fall,
How many times I land short of the call.
I will confess my inadequacy,
Throw myself into the mystery.
That somehow in the depth of your love,
You will help me do what I'm not capable of.

Right here...Right now...in the midst of the crowd
Altered began with a commitment, a 60-day commitment.
We had 15 people agree to live out the commitment.
The end is in site, but with the end brings a challenge,
a new opportunity for commitment. A new opportunity to
change your world. See life is about setting goals, and once
they're realized, re-establishing new ones.

Again, not to be legalistic, or to say I'm doing this out of the
duty of having to do it. But rather it's the delight of
saying "God, I desire this time with you. I need this time."
So think about it. And next week, in the midst of the crowd,
you'll have a chance to make a vow.

May. 1st, 2007

You can spell it without the "T"

Hebrews 12

The final day of our altered future blogs and it's time to get a little bit personal...

The friend I talked about yesterday was my best friend in high school. At one point we had a great idea...we were both going to go play college football. He had a scholarship offer at a small d II school, and he had already talked to the coach about me. So we had one summer to get in shape and get ready for football. That summer we worked out like never before.

One of the things we would do is go down to our local park and run sprints with a small parachute attached to our back. The idea being that the wind resistance being put out by the parachute would make it that much more difficult to run, leaving us with a greater workout. I'm not sure it's effective but it does make sense.

What doesn't make sense would be to wear such an encumbrance during the game, or better yet, during a race. Could you see the finals of the Olympics 100 meter race if one of the guys decided to wear a parachute. Ineffective. When sprinters run, they get rid of anything that is going to slow them down. They want the lightest shoes, the tightest clothes, the most streamlined approach they can use. Compare that to our lives...Hebrews 12:1 says this:

"Such a large crowd of witnesses is all around us! So we must get rid of everything that slows us down, especially the sin that just won't let go. And we must be determined to run the race that is ahead of us."

Life is a race. We're sprinting towards our futures. But things are in the way. The writer of Hebrews here says that we must get rid of everything that slows us down, but then he gets specific. He spells it out for us. Especially that sin that just doesn't seem to let go of our life.

Everyone has something that is in danger of holding them back. Paul called it his "thorn in the flesh". We have to look to our future, the future that God has laid out for us and ask the difficult question. What baggage is it that I'm carrying that must be removed for me to be effective? For everyone it's something. The one thing that can tear us down so easily. It can be alcohol, smoking, drugs, sex, lust, a thought process, music, cutting, anger, inconsistency, and a host of other things. They have to be cut out. Removed.

For the sake of being honest, I didn't want to write this blog. Cause I was gonna have to ask myself the question. I think I have a good idea of where God is leading me in the next 5-10 years. I don't know the future, and I might be wrong... but I'm following the path I think He has laid out for me. But what's holding me back?

Weight.

I've always been athletic, getting involved in every sport imaginable. And I've always been pretty healthy. But it's also always been easy for me to gain weight. I had friends who had the metabolism of a rabbit. They'd eat twice as much as me and never gain anything...meanwhile all I had to do was look at food, and I could gain weight.

I used to be able to justify it. Health-wise I was still in pretty good shape. But I also realize that as I look to the future, that might not be the case. The one thing that could hold me back...

And be honest. With yourself, and with some others (not all of us need to know some areas of struggle). Don't look at the list above and pick out, say music, and say "Yeah, I struggle with music" because it's safe. Take inventory of your life and ask God what really needs to be removed, then be open to Him removing it from your life.

Accountability then is key. Others need to encourage you on the journey. For me, now, it means a lifestyle change. No more refills on Sweet Tea at Chick-fil-a. In fact maybe I'll just stick to the unsweet. Or better yet, water. Grrrrrrrr. But we all need accountability. So I'm laying it out there. I hope you can do the same. Not necessarily with everyone like I have, but at least with yourself.

And someone who will hold you accountable.

Have a good day. And see some of you at CFA tonight. But hold the sweet tea.

Apr. 30th, 2007

Building toward the future

I Peter 2, Proverbs 30

Wow, it's the final week. I can't believe how quickly time flies...but more about that later in the week.

For now, we have to finish up the concept of an altered future. Actually, we might have one more future blogotional if I can muster up the courage to be brutally honest tomorrow. But we'll see. Because I would need that one to come across right.

For today, the focus is on allowing God to have control of specific areas of our life in order that we can have that bright future that He promises. If you'll remember back to last week, we began this whole theme with a look at Jeremiah 29:11 and the future God promises for us. It is a future built around hope and not calamity. But how do we get there? How does what I do today affect that bright hope for tomorrow?

There's a delicate balance here. We live in grace. Every good and perfect gift comes from the Father. However, that does not leave us devoid of responsibility.

I remember a conversation I had with a friend a few years back. This guy, when he was in high school, seemed to have it all together. He had good friends. He had a family that genuinely cared about him. He was an all-county football player.

Fast forward a few years to our conversation.

I never knew it (and I knew him in high school), but decisions--small decisions-- he made in high school were having a profound effect on him in his post-high school years. I was amazed as he opened up to me about the struggles he was having and how it affected the present relationships in his life. Struggles that were born out of seemingly minor decisions of the past.

We never know how the small decisions we make today will have a major effect on how we live our future. My friend was trying his best to walk out and work out his faith, but his past haunted him.

In I Timothy 2:11-12, we read the following verses:
"Dear friends, you are foreigners and strangers on this earth. So I beg you not to surrender to those desires that fight against you. Always let others see you behaving properly, even though they may still accuse you of doing wrong. Then on the day of judgment, they will honor God by telling the good things they saw you do."

We do not conform to the pattern of this world, but we need to be transformed. A full circle, back where we started. Romans 12:1,2.

Be altered...

My friend didn't get it. The past did haunt him, but there's beauty in forgiveness. There's grace in discovering that our calling is not to be good. There is none good. Our calling is to be godly. To discover our place and our position in Christ. A few verses earlier, the Scripture says this:
"But you are God's chosen and special people. You are a group of royal priests and a holy nation. God has brought you out of darkness into his marvelous light. Now you must tell all the wonderful things that he has done" (v. 9)

and

"Once you were nobody.
Now you are God's people
At one time no one
had pity on you.
Now God has treated you
with kindness." (v. 10)

Find your position. Build toward the future.

Be alive.

Apr. 27th, 2007

An atypical rant on "safety"

Matthew 11

We're gonna hit the pause button on our typical altered this morning as I feel the need to rant (in a good way I hope) on a topic that seems to have come up over the last couple of days. I made a statement during the Marginal message Wednesday night that marginal ministry hurts (at times). However, if you choose to use that as an excuse for not trying, you're totally missing God's best for your life. If you play it safe, you fail to live.

Yesterday, I was listening to a "Christian" discussion on the radio concerning the dangers of music, television, and video games on children. This rant isn't to be super-critical of the discussion as it was relevant and meaningful. There is a place for a parent to be discerning about the forms of entertainment their younger children participate in. However, one statement made me cringe. It seemed as if some of the callers were saying if we got rid of the dangers that are out there, then our children would be okay. There would be no more Virginia Tech's, no more Columbines. Then, right in the middle of that, the commentator talked about how hard it is to keep everything "safe".

Maybe I was a little jaded, or maybe I was looking for something to be controversial, but I wanted to jump outta my car and say, "Dude, you're totally missing the point." We could comment on how if parents would just be parents and be involved in their kids lives that it could lead to fruitful discussions on where their kids are at. But that seems to logical, and it's not really the point of this blog.

What IS the point, though is this: Jesus never calls us to be safe. In fact, the picture of what Christianity has become in this country is so far removed from how Jesus actually lived. See, when we think of the typical church, we think of the 1950's scene (cue the dramatic music) with mom and dad pulling up in their new station wagon, dressed in their "Sunday Best". Three kids in the back. The two boys look uncomfortable and ready to pull off their clip-on tie. The girl looking so sweet in her Sunday dress and pig tails. She gets out of the car and skips ahead to grab hold of both mom and dad's hands.

Everything looks safe. Church seems safe. Ministry seems safe.

It's no wonder much of this generation doesn't want to be involved in church.

I think they're looking for something more, something real. Contrast that safe picture of the Christendom society with the ministry Jesus was involved in...

I am reading a book called Exiles by Michael Frost, and yesterday I came across a paragraph that I feel the need to share:

"Which are the Christian communities most dangerous memories? Surely they are the stories of the Incarnate One.The stories in the Gospels, far from being soothing stories for baptized children, are the most dangerous element of the Christian experience. They are radical, daring, unsettling, disturbing, even frightening. Our memories of God's human manifestation will continue to perturb us, inviting us to an alternative set of values that transcends our normal allegiance to our post-Christendom society. The Gospels are replete with stories that shake us out of our preference for the level-headed reasonable memories that the church often presents to us. Jesus is not level-headed, nor is he reasonable. Just when we imagine we have him figured out and boxed in, he wriggles free, confounding our formulas and simplistic explanations. Let's face it: the Gospels aren't bedtime stories at all. Far from sending us drifting off to a carefree sleep, they trouble us, forcing us to reasses the deals we have done with the spirit of this age."

Wow.

There's a lot there. But read it. It's powerful. As Chrstians, we're not called to play it safe, for Jesus didn't play it safe. We're called to live, and explore everything that means.

Thanks for letting me rant. It's your turn. Reply. If you find an area of disagreement, let us know. Dailogue is key. But the Gospel is transformational. So transform.

Change.

Be.

Apr. 26th, 2007

today is the future

Psalm 119

okay kidding, not the whole thing as there's like a bajillion verses (melanie and alyson could say something funny here), but let's focus on verses 105-112.

Go read.

We have less than a week and a half until Altered will have run it's course. Now's the time to revitalize it. Don't take things for granted. Soak it up. Read Scripture. For that is life-changing. If you remember commitment night, I told ya that I'm not smart enough to keep this thing going, so we need some dialogue. We need some discussion. Some friction that leads to our questions which, in turn, leads to our growth.

Psalm 119 is one of the most beautifully constructed chapters in all of Scripture. It is a poem comprised of 22 stanzas, with each of the stanzas containing 8 verses. Now the beauty, the Psalm writer moves through the Hebrew alphabet in each stanza. In the first stanza, every verse begins with the first letter of the Hebrew alphabet, aleph. And from that point, every stanza coincides with the next letter of the Hebrew alphabet, until we get through all 22 letters in the 22 stanzas.

And every verse, every stanza is focused on the beauty of God's word.

We pick up in verse 105 with the Hebrew letter nun, which is similar to our "n". Obviously, in a translation, we miss that Hebrew alphabet. But we don't miss the way this Scripture cherishes God's word.

In fact, this one begins by saying how God's Word is a lamp to my feet, a light to my path.

I'm a guy (and there's the obvious statement of this blog). Because of that, I like to be in control. If we're going somewhere, I like to drive. If we're lost, I don't particularly like to ask for directions (though I have humbled myself to the point that I don't mind it, I just don't like it.

I think life is like that. If I can control something, I want to. For me, it's easy for me to surrender my long-term goals to God, because I know I have absolutely no control over the turns my life takes over the next 10 years. I have to trust God. (By saying that, it doesn't mean I don't have a vision for my life--in fact I do have some idea of where I want to be in say 5 years, but I don't KNOW that is where God will have me to be).

It's easier for me to trust God with the big things--like the distant future.

But it's tougher to surrender the little things, like today. I know that today I have things I have to get done. I know that I have plans to make for this summer. I have to speak in preschool chapel. I have to...

Notice the focus of the preceeding chapter. "I". See, today, I think I'm in control. But I'm not. In no way. God only gives us enough light to see the next step we take. We plan for the future, but have to let those futures be altered.

And here's the central point. Everyone wants the big thing to be revealed to them. I want to know (at least when I was in hs) where I'm supposed to go to school, what I'm supposed to be when I grow up (ok, I still haven't grown up, so we're still working on that one), who I'm going to marry (ha! at least we got one right!). We want the big answers. We want God's special revelation on those big topics. And God has already revealed his general revelation to us through His Word. He has told us how to make the most of our lives, how to truly live.

And yet we fail.

We want more revelation, and I can't help but wonder, is God sitting there asking if we need more revelation when we're not exactly following the revelation we already have. Ouch. That hurt.

To today, focus on that next step. Focus on getting back to the truth and authority of Scripture. Then allow Him to alter your future, beginning with today...

Apr. 25th, 2007

Intersection or Stream

Acts 2

Today, we develop some traction. Today, we start to see where this whole having an altered future gets messy.

See, we spent day 1 laying the foundation that God has a perfect will for our lives. Yesterday, we focused on our plan for our lives. However, we have to be quick to realize that sometimes our plans and God's will do not match up. Frequently, they're not even in the same zip code. Then what?

So many people are pleased to live their lives looking for a couple of moments in time where God's will and our plans intersect. And it happens, almost by accident. We're doing our own thing and a natural turn of events in our lives brings us a moment of connectivity with our Creator that makes us feel really good. We try to live off of those temporary highs when we know that we stumbled across something that was in God's plan.

Years ago, I read Experiencing God. One of the principles I remember from that book is that God is always at work around us, in every generation. He is constantly a stream that is moving. To relate that to the previous paragraph. I live my life. I'm out for a stroll. Every once in a while I cross that stream and it is so refreshing, but then I keep going. Walking away from that stream.

For others, it's simply that they see the stream, but it's flowing a little too quickly. They're comfortable to get their toes wet, but they're not ready to risk everything just yet. They're not willing to dive into the depths of God's will. It's risky. It might change your life. And that's scary.

My whole life, I wanted to be a Gator. That was my plan, and I set out to achieve that goal. In 1995 I got there. I transferred from SPJC to UF. My parents came up for parent weekend and my dad told me how proud he was of me. A month later, I had to sit my parents down and tell them I was leaving UF.

God had altered my plans.

My whole life, I couldn't wait to be on campus. I had always been a Gator fan, but when I was 10 years old a friend (and his grandparents) took me to my first football game at Florida Field. I was hooked. I couldn't wait to get there. But God had other ideas. At UF, He started to work on me about being called into ministry. when I finally surrendered, He laid out a plan for me to transfer back and finish my degree at CCC.

Totally altered. Ruined (the plans that is).

But the stream I was about to enter was so much better than anything I had ever experienced. The group of friends I developed at CCC are lifelong friends that are a constant source of encouragement and accountability. The professors blew me away. The environment is just what I needed. I had entered the stream, but it was years later that I was able to dive into that stream without fear.

God wants to alter your future. Sometimes that means throwing away every plan of what you want to become. For years, I though my future was to be a lawyer...later a journalist. But God had other plans. And by the way, if you haven't picked up on it yet, I love what I do.

This is not to say that when we dive into God's will that everything will be easy. Some of you experience that yesterday. Heck, I experienced that yesterday. The current is fast, there are some rocks in the way, some of our traveling companions might not be all that different. But the stream is refreshing.

Today we develop traction. Today we ask the tough question: Is our plan totally in tune with where God is moving? If not, and I'm only speaking from experience on this one, but if not, your life will never develop the purpose you're looking for. God has a perfect plan for your life. It's when you discover that plan that God develops in you a sense of purpose, and joy, and peace.

Discover it. And dive in.

Apr. 24th, 2007

Today is tomorrow's yesterday

James 4

Yesterday, we began the concept of an altered future by laying the foundational principle that God has a plan for our life. Nothing groundbreaking there. Nothing controversial.

Now we move onto the 2nd level and a key question: should we have a plan for the future? Before you answer read James 4:13-17 listed below:

"You should know better than to say, "Today or tomorrow we will go to the city. We will do business there for a year and make a lot of money!" What do you know about tomorrow? How can you be so sure about your life? It is nothing more than mist that appears for only a little while before it disappears. You should say, "If the Lord lets us live, we will do these things." 16Yet you are stupid enough to brag, and it is wrong to be so proud. If you don't do what you know is right, you have sinned."

This isn't the only Scriptural reference in which we're told not to give "thought" about tomorrow. However, this does not rule out our planning for the future. In fact, to do so would be irresponsible. We should have some idea of what we want our future to look like, not that we're assuming we're going to get there (as that's the idea that's uncovered in the preceding verses).

My first position as youth pastor, I was a newbie and learning on the fly. It took me sometime to develop a vision as to where I thought god was directing us as a group. Soon, I implemented a three-year plan and encouraged leadership in other areas to also come up with a three year plan, then work everyday to see that plan become a reality.

When I was interviewing at FSCC, the first thing I did when I appeared before the deacon board was to lay out a three-year plan of what I thought God was directing us to do. One of the deacons admitted to me months later that he was coming to the meeting not wanting to accept the first candidate. They wanted to be tough and make sure they found the right guy, and not jump at the first thing that came across their desk. However, it was when he saw the three-year-plan laid out that he bought into what we were doing.

We need to have a plan. Too many times as students (especially middle school and young high school students) we don't envision life past our 20th birthday. That's like getting in our car and NEEDING to be somewhere, but having no clue how to get there (before the days of GPS that is!) To lack a plan is to have a plan--a plan to get nowhere. And that's a terrible destination.

So think about it. Think about your life in 10 years, 20 years. What's it look like? Are you married? Did you go to college? Where? What does the church look like that you belong to?

Plan, then ask yourself daily how do I achieve the important goals in my life? Then work towards those goals.

But that's not the end, for in PT's words, tomorrow, we face a major curveball, and we must be ready to adjust.

But as my Greek professor in college used to say daily (and a direct reference from Scripture--Matthew 6:34--and he quoted it in another translation):

"Don't worry about tomorrow. It will take care of itself. You have enough to worry about today."

Apr. 23rd, 2007

Master Plan

Jeremiah 29

We've covered a variety of topics through the last month and a half of Altered (yes it has already been a month and a half). Anticonformity, family, church, becoming missional, purity...

But this week, we shift gears.

For a number of you, it is now only DAYS until you graduate. I think most of us enter high school thinking we're just going to settle down and be there a while. At first, it's four years left...then three...and before ya know it, graduation is staring you in the face, and you're like now what?

The future is here.

If we're not ready, it's gonna feel like that first blast of cold water when we jumped in the water to go tubing yesterday. We knew it was coming, but we really weren't prepared...

This week, we're going to go into unchartered waters. I have a plan as to where I think this blogotional is going, but ultimately, I'm going to be flexible. I want us to be open to dialogue, to really think about what the future is about.

A couple of years ago, I was the chaplain for a Christian school. Seniors would have to pick out their senior verse to be remembered in the yearbook. Many of them would ask me what verses I would recommend. I would share a few, but most of the students would read Jeremiah 29:11, and settle on that verse.

"For I know the plans that I have for you,' declares the LORD, 'plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope."

Did ya get that? Go back and re-read and focus on every word.

God has a plan. He knows what the plan is. His plan is for our welfare, for our future, and for our hope.

Our future should be filled with hope. I'm convinced that too many times we get caught up in the every day grind of life that we fail to see the big picture. We are stuck in a rut of the endless cycle of our seemingly mundane lives and we lose the awe and wonder of where we can really go in the future. That future is a blank canvas filled with welfare and hope. Picture it.

God has a plan, a specific plan for your life. Are you ready to discover it? Don't answer flippantly. Because if it's really your desire to learn His desire, your future might be altered. Check that, your future will be altered.

So as we begin this week, if you're up to it, pray for God to reveal His perfect will for your life, then pray for you to have the discernment and strength to carry it out. And be prepared.

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