Saturday, March 7, 2015
10 Life-Changing Challenges
At the beginning of 2015, Pastor Abe challenged us with the following 10 thoughts. I found them challenging and thought-provoking. I have wanted to share these with you for several weeks now, because they have truly impacted my life the past few weeks. I'm excited to see the positive changes when I review my year at the end of 2015. Many of these deal directly with our walk with God, and you will never be disappointed by focusing on improving that relationship! Some of these I'll share with you specifically what they mean to me, others will be "unspoken" until a future time. Either way, I hope you will take a few minutes to think about these 10 thoughts and how they might affect your life and walk with God. I don't think you will be disappointed if you choose to take on one or all of these challenges! They will require personal discipline, something greatly lacking in today's world, but isn't anything worth having, worth some hard work? We aren't going to hear, "Well done, good and faithful servant" if we continue in the humdrum of life, focusing on ourselves and "doing what everyone else is doing" now will we? :)
1. Enjoy God More
I prayed about these challenges and asked God to give me one specific way to practice each challenge. For this one, he gave me one thought, "Praise Him with your piano." I am so thankful for the ability to play the piano. I'll never be a concert pianist, but I have sweet times, just me and Jesus and my baby grand. :) I play for Him. I worship Him. Sometimes I sing, sometimes I don't. It's a very special time for me, and this year I have been focused on spending more time worshipping Him in this way.
2. Ask God for a Supernatural Request
What do you think is an impossible request? Something so ridiculous that maybe you haven't even shared it out loud with anyone? A request that seems embarrassingly ridiculous? Well we serve the God of the impossible. Just because we ask Him, doesn't mean the answer will be yes, but He always does answer; sometimes that answer is a yes, no, not now, etc. Do you trust Him enough to ask Him your "craziest" dream/request? Aren't you curious about how He might answer that request?
3. Increase Family Time
In our crazy, media-driven world, how important is it to just stop and spend time with those we love? Family time is so important, yet it's often displaced with other distractions. I challenge you to try a media-free night once a month, or even just a family game night. I think we'd all be amazed if we'd put down our little screens and actually focus on those we love. We won't have them forever, how disappointing will it be to look back and realize we missed out on spending precious time with those we love?
4. Progress in One Characteristic
As you already probably guessed, my word for 2015 "patience" (view that post here) is my answer to this challenge. This is the characteristic that I am asking God to progress in my life this year. It's already been a roller coaster and it's only March! :)
5. Discard One Time-Waster
Have you ever sat down and thought about how much time you waste on the internet, or television, or video games, or whatever your time-wasting hobby is? If we are honest with ourselves, it is a shameful amount of time. How much more beneficial could that time be if we were to call a loved one, bless someone with a meal, read an educational book, visit a nursing home, play a game with a kid? When you are 70 years old are you really going to care that you beat level 934 of Candy Crush or that you watched every single episode ever produced of "Friends"? It's SO easy to be lazy in our culture, I'm so preaching to myself on this one, but what could be accomplished this year if we put down the remote and got off the couch...and did something good? Timmy and I have been trying to encourage either other in this area, but it's hard because in our laziness we want to just flip on the TV or surf Facebook for hours. It's natural, but not healthy. We need to stop making excuses and just "turn it off!"
6. Strengthen the Church
How can we strengthen the church God has called us to? For me, this means being open and available this year to anything I am asked to do for my church family. This currently includes serving in the music ministry, nursery, and helping with a ladies event. I have no idea what else might be asked of me this year, but I know that I am going to do my best to say "yes" to God even if it takes me out of my comfort zone. How is He asking you to serve at your church? We are called to be servants in our local body, not just takers. There are way too many people just showing up to be fed, and leaving. I truly believe they are missing out on the blessings of being an active part of a church family!
7. Pray for Salvation for a Specific Person
We all have friends or family that we love who are not believers. Sometimes we grow static in this specific area of our prayer life. Let's rekindle that fire and strive to diligently pray that Christ would be known by those we love. He has changed my life and Tim's life in every way, and we desire for those we love to know Him and His great love! Are you up to the challenge to pray for one person's (or several!) salvation regularly?
8. Pray That This Year Will Be Different
Ask God to do something miraculous in you this year. He wants to hear your thoughts! Tell him your struggles, and ask Him to change you to be more like Him this year. Ask Him to keep you focused on the tasks He has given you! He won't disappoint if we truly ask Him, believing He can! Wouldn't it be awesome to get to the end of a year and to have actually accomplished something for Him?
9. Focus on Your Prayer Life
Prayer takes time. It comes easy to some, yet it's very difficult for most, I think. Let's discipline ourselves and focus on this God-given command. Prayer changes things, yet we are often too lazy to truly do it. Just another example that we don't fully believe in the power of prayer. We only believe that which moves us to action, isn't that how the saying goes? Prayer, like many things, needs to be our habit. Maybe you have to start out by setting a timer for 5 minutes. Maybe that's forever to you, but over time, it will get easier! The more we discipline ourselves, the more it will become second nature, and we will grow into a believer that "prays without ceasing." Don't you desire to be in a constant attitude of prayer?! I do!
10. Consistently Ask Yourself What You are Doing That Matters
Every morning, let's try to ask ourselves, "What can I do today that will matter for eternity?" And at the end of the day, "What did I do today for Jesus?" "Only one life, twill soon be past, only what's done for Christ will last." (CT Studd) What are you doing that will matter forever? It's easy to get caught up in big spiritual events that happen, camps or retreats, but what about our day to day living? Do we only focus on Christ at church or at those special events, or is He a real part of our every day? Does that challenge you the way it does me?! Am I living a life daily that matters in light of eternity? Sobering thought, right?
I hope you consider adopting at least a few of these life challenges into your own life. I thought they were so practical and convicting when Pastor Abe mentioned them. I scrambled to jot them down, and I truly have been dwelling on them this year. Developing our relationship with God and our family (blood and church) can only ever be a good thing. It's a shame we get distracted by media, petty social expectations, and the frivolities (vanities) of the world around us. Let's buckle down, and discipline our lives. Change takes discipline, but with His help, we can accomplish great things that will last for eternity. Are you up for the challenge?