Losing Focus and Finding it Again

Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. For consider Him who has endured such hostility by sinners against Himself, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.

Hebrews 12:1-2 NASB emphasis mine

I do not have ADHD, but I do have a habit of losing focus. The messy kitchen distracts me from the dirty laundry, that distracts me from the clean laundry needing folded, that distracts me from the dusty furniture, etc. etc. etc.

And it isn’t only daily things that distract me. My goal in my life is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever.

But I have to pay bills, children’s arguments to referee, math to grade, and Hebrew to learn.

I also have sick friends, family members nearing the end of their physical lives, politics in my husband’s workplace, and God-sized dreams that feel impossible. Somehow in the middle of it all I lose focus.

Losing Focus

While I fix my eyes firmly on what I can do, how I can help, I am overwhelmed. I know it isn’t possible. I can’t.

But perhaps that is the point.

I can’t.

I can’t wave a wand and suddenly have the children for which I long.

I can’t say the exact right words and force people to work together well or agree on the best way to proceed.

I can’t by sheer will-power heal my sick family.

Bills have to be paid, children must be taught how to handle conflict well, and I still have to learn the qal imperfect yiqtol strong verb table in Hebrew.

Oh, but God tells me not to fix my eyes on myself, nor my circumstances, but to firmly fix them on Jesus.

Jesus who instead of seeing the circumstance of a gruesome death on the cross saw joy for what that event would accomplish.

Jesus who didn’t worry about the shame of dying on the cross, but saw the victory to come when He would sit at God’s right hand.

Jesus who put up with sinful man beating him, spitting on him, cursing him to accomplish my redemption and so that I would not grow weary and lose heart.

With my eyes fixed firmly on Jesus my “I cannot’s” turn into “He is able.”

With Jesus my impossibilities turn into possibilities.

In Jesus the pain of unfulfilled dreams turns into an opportunity to trust that His ways are better than mine.

When I fully trust Jesus my daily life, my darkest pain, my worst sin, my biggest problems become opportunities to enjoy God and bring Him glory…in every minute of every day.

I just have to focus on Him.

What helps you keep focused on Jesus?

Angela

Discipline and Missions

The word God gave me this year is discipline

I am flat out bad at it. I feel constrained by schedules and when I don't accomplish tasks on the days I plan I chastise myself. But then I don't plan my time and so I have a stack of things that need mended or a messy room I need to work on and I just don't do it until I can't put it off any longer.

I don't want to live that way. I don't want my kids to live that way. And guess what? It is harder to live in true community without it.

If I don't regularly go to the store or library or coffe shop or for a walk around the neighborhoodat about this same time each week or day I won't have multiple opportunities to develop community with my neighbors or those who work at the places I frequent. And without community it is difficult to show folks the love of God and have opportunities to share the solution to all our deepest needs — Christ.

I long to live my life that way. It isn't complicated, but it does require planning and discipline. It requires me to step out of my personal bubble to be intentional about caring for the people and the city I live in.

What do you need to do so you can share the good news?

 

Angela

A Prayer for Ferguson and Our Nation

As a foreword…today I will be a guest on My Journey of Faith blogtalk radio show. It begins at 1:30 PM Central. I would love to have you join me.

 

Sometimes unthinkable things happen all around and there is nothing you can do to stop it. A tornado hits, a hurricane blows, or a flood rises and there is a crisis no human can avert.

Other times unthinkable things happen when sinful flesh rubs against sinful flesh. Guns blaze, knives slice, and wounds centuries old break open and spill out.

Inevitably people safe from harm’s way philosophize. People not splattered in blood claim they know why or what or how. Anger boils and rolls because perceived wrongs or perhaps true injustice. There is no telling because the voices of those stained with the blood of the dead cannot be heard over the din of history or philosophy.

I have never feared those in authority over me because those in authority in my life have never abused their authority. Maybe the pale color of my skin prevents me from fearing the abuse of power. But I am not African-American or male.

However my heart aches for those caught in the crossfire of a war that isn’t against flesh and blood. It is a war of ideas. The idea that every person – no matter what gender, what color of skin, or even whom they are sexually attracted to – is important and valuable. They matter because each are created in God’s image.

That means the policeman who shot a gun and a young man walking down a street they both are God’s image bearers. They both are significant. They both deserve justice. It means that each business being looted deserves restitution. Each man, woman, and child ought to feel safe around authority – be it parents, police, or teachers. No one ought to live in fear of walking out his or her door.

My heart longs for stories of reconciliation like the stories Catherine Claire Larson tells in her book As We Forgive. Where we as a nation can reconcile our past and look forward to a future unencumbered by racial divides and tensions. Where forgiveness and grace runs deep and those in authority truly seek justice, wisdom, and equality.

I do not have the answers because the problems are complex and complicated. But I do pray that we as a nation will seek forgiveness, offer grace, and genuinely reach across racial boundaries to learn to live side-by-side in grace and equality.

Angela

God Did It – A Conference, A Call, and You

In case you didn't know, last week I spoke at The M.O.M. Initiative's Better Together Conference. Here are some pictures of the conference.

 

I flew on a plane to Jacksonville, Florida and met with 22 authors and speakers who shared break-out sessions and keynotes to several hundred women.

It was a sweet time of fellowship, encouragement, and change.

 

Can I tell you something? You can do it too…you can have a group of moms who come together to comfort, encourage, and share the journey of motherhood together.

You can reach out to those who don't know Jesus and walk the wonderfully difficult journey of motherhood together…

How? This book can help….

Remember God's call to mentor is for all women…

Titus 2:3-5 Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good, and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled.

 

Father God, help give me eyes to see mentoring opportunities. Give me wisdom to encourage and walk alongside other women. Give me opportunities to mentor women who do not know You that they may become Your child and teach their children to know You. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Is God calling you?

 

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Angela