This blog is where I can pour out my heart with my longing for God.

Posts tagged ‘New Year’s resolutions’

My New Year’s resolution: Take this world from me. . .

I LOVE New Year’s Eve.new-year-resolutions

Booze? Nah. Crazy parties? Nah. Listening to famous singers on TV and watching the ball drop? Nah.

Once I became a follower of Jesus as a 19-year-old, I spent most New Year’s Eves in my church in Winston-Salem. We called them “Watch Night Services.” We were prayerfully “keeping watch” as the New Year came in.

I loved such services–anointed music, great preaching, a break for delicious snacks before praising in the New Year!

But since about 2002, I’ve been compelled to be in my hometown of Walnut Cove on New Year’s Eve–in the town that I am called by God to intercede for. After I helped start a church there in 2003, we began our own watch night services each Dec. 31. A couple of times we even held a revival during the last week of the year, finishing the final service at midnight on New Year’s Eve.

Although I left that church in 2009, I still felt convicted to be in my town on this pivotal night of the year.

Then came the end of 2010. I had a huge desire to be in an anointed prayer/praise service on the last night of our calendar year. But my teenage son asked me to take him to a local church that was having simply food and games. Although I loved the church, I wasn’t thrilled to just play games and eat. It seemed carnal when I was yearning for spiritual.turn your eyes upon Jesus 2

But I felt from the Lord that I should be thankful for a 15-year-old son who wanted to be in a church on New Year’s Eve–even IF he was simply playing games. So I took him. When we were done with our fellowship and games, I dropped him off at his dad’s (his turn to have him) shortly before midnight. As I drove home through Walnut Cove, I put my hand out of the window into the frigid air and proclaimed blessings on this town that I adore.

Too soon, I was home–all alone, with my kids at their dad’s and my hubster at work. Quickly I turned off the car, thinking that I wanted to hurry in before the ball fell in Times Square. That is something I haven’t seen really since I was 19, having not been home at midnight since then.

Then it hit me: “Leslie, you wanted something so spiritual tonight. The ball falling isn’t wrong or anything, but it’s what the WORLD does on this day. YOU don’t want to do what the WORLD does; you want to do what GOD says to do.” You see, we Christians are not of this world. We are IN this world, but we are not OF this world. We are pilgrims and strangers passing through.just pilgrims passing thru

“Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. . .” I John 2:15

not+of+this+world

So I sat in my car in the dark coldness, praying for wisdom from God on how to spend this symbolic night. Suddenly, I felt to turn on the radio which stays on 94.1 K-LOVE. I heard the Spirit of the Lord instruct me to take the first song that came on after midnight–in 2011–as my motto for the year. I became very excited, anxious to hear what song played.

The music started and these words came forth:

“Take this world from me
I don’t need it anymore
I am finally free
My heart is spoken for.”

It was so perfect that I nearly shouted! “Take this world from me; I don’t need it anymore.” That is what had been in my heart. God had confirmed exactly what I was strongly feeling.

this-world-is-not-my-home

Today–on Dec. 31, 2012–it has been two years since that wonderful New Year’s Eve when my Lord spoke to me through song. As I told our church group on Sunday morning, I still long to have more of the world taken from me by God. I yearn to be less worldly, less carnal and more spiritual.

Now, I don’t want to be so heavenly-minded that I’m no earthly good. Instead, I want to be so heavenly-minded that I am an ENORMOUS earthly good to all who need to hear the Gospel!

focus on JesusWhat is it in this world that takes your focus from God’s kingdom? Do you have too much going on in your life? Are you spread too thin? How can we have a single vision when we are pulled in so many different directions?

2013 is almost here. Why not turn our eyes upon Jesus and focus so solely on Him so that our every step in life is guided by His Spirit? If you are born again, you are already a spiritual being. Yet you live in a physical world. REMEMBER that despite your physical surroundings and fleshly temptations, you are primarily a spiritual, eternal being. You may go through a physical death one day, but you will live again. You are already eternal.

So why not take 2013 and live like those spiritual beings that we are? This entails focusing on Him so that all worldly things follow in the wake of you following Him.start 2013

It’s all well and good to make lists of New Year’s resolutions. But as my very wise daughter Meghann intimated in church on Sunday, have you considered asking God to help you determine what those should be, lest we endeavor to fulfill them in our own strength? And then, why not ask Him throughout the year to help you meet those goals?

For example, you are craving Reese’s peanut butter cups (king-size pack–two measly cups, like 24 hours in a day, are never enough) and taco-flavored Doritos for lunch. However, you realize that this goes against your New Year’s dietary goals and is not the best option for a healthy body. It also is not exactly what your Creator would want for your lunch menu.

I usually consider two options:

A. Eat the Reese’s and Doritos and resolve to do better tomorrow

OR

B. Struggle to fight the temptation, bitterly eat a salad instead–all the while salivating for chocolatey goodness.turn your eyes upon Jesus

But there is an option C: pray for God to help me fight the temptation and even take the urge away from me. I will confess that I don’t usually go for option C, but in 2013 I intend to. I want my New Year’s resolution list today to be Spirit-led and my attempts to keep these resolutions throughout the year to be Spirit-enabled.

Don’t you?

C’mon–join with me this year to say, “Take this world from me; I don’t need it anymore.” And let’s focus on Jesus, the Author and Finisher of our faith!

(Click on the link below to hear MercyMe’s great rendition of the song I heard to start 2011 and am again using as my motto for 2013!)

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Simple mathematics–more of Him, less of me

The Christmas lights don’t twinkle anymore at night. I probably won’t hear “I’ll Be Home For Christmas” again until next November unless Walmart decides to start their holiday music after Labor Day this year. The hubster took the last of the Yuletide gift bags and wrapping paper to the basement storage bin this morning. Meanwhile, I’m wondering if the last, rapidly-aging vestige of the Christmas honey-baked ham in the fridge will kill me if I indulge a final time.

Blustery, cold January has relegated December to the last page of the 2012 calendar, and I can’t quite catch a glimpse of spring no matter how hard I squint into the future.

The New Year has arrived. This is where the rubber meets the road, where the feet hit the bathroom scale, where the Richard Simmons’ videotapes come out of the forgotten reaches of the entertainment center drawers.

And this is where my new motto for 2012 comes into play: “He must increase, but I must decrease.” (John 3:30)

I don’t mind the decrease if it means I can get my beige corduroy pants buttoned again. I actually don’t even mind the decrease in the way that John the Baptist meant it in the aforementioned Scripture.

It’s just that I’m not sure how to do it. Mathematically speaking, the equation simply reads: Add Jesus. Subtract Leslie. Or, +Jesus – Leslie = ALL JESUS.

In theory, I WANT Jesus to increase in my life and myself to decrease. In practice, it gets tricky.

“And then I realized how many stupid times a day I used the word ‘I.’ In fact, probably all I ever do is think about myself. And how lame is that when there’s, like, 7 billion other people out there on the planet and when -“ (Mia Thermopolis, “The Princess Diaries”)

Just substitute my name for Mia Thermopolis. This could be me speaking. I am also reminded of the first line of one of my favorite poems from childhood: “I had a little tea party this afternoon at 3, ‘Twas rather small–3 guests in all–just I, myself, and me.”

But I LONG to do what John the Baptist did–decrease myself that my Lord and Savior may increase. The Greek word for “decrease” here is “elattoo” (transliterated) which means just what you would think it means: “to decline in importance, to decrease in authority or popularity, to make less (in rank or influence).”

But we are groomed from infancy to want attention for ourselves. Our parents dote on us, video our every shining moment, take pictures of all stages of our cuteness. We learn in school to compete for the best grades, the top spot on the team, the supreme level of popularity. Everything in life seems to position us as the bright center of the “ME” universe where all other things and people revolve around us.

But God’s Word teaches me something totally opposite. “For whosoever exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.” (Luke 14:11)

“For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think. . .” (Romans 12:3)

“But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness. . .” (Matt. 6:33)

This is my prayer for 2012–that I would take a backseat and let Him drive the bus. That when people look at me, they don’t see the gaudy, brassy light of Leslie but the radiant, pure light of Christ. That I won’t have to get the glory for anything. (“Hey, that was MY idea that we do that!” “I thought of that first!” “Yeah, well, she wouldn’t have done that if I hadn’t reminded her.”)

In essence, it all boils down to that beloved old hymn, “How Great Thou Art.”

“Then sings my soul, My Saviour God, to Thee, How great Thou art! How great Thou art!”

Realizing and exalting HIS greatness is the key.

We really don’t even have to think about decreasing ourselves. If we focus too much on that, we can so easily get caught up in even more focus on “me, me, me.” If we just think about increasing Him, the emphasis on ourselves will naturally decrease.

Remember the order of mathematical operations. With simple addition and subtraction, move from left to right in order. John the Baptist had the order correct: first, He must increase; then, I must decrease. The first one inevitably leads to the second.

“Then I shall bow

In humble adoration

And there proclaim,

“My God, how great Thou art!”

More of you, Jesus. More of you.

(Click on the link below to hear a version of this old hymn that will make the hair stand up on your arms!)

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