Many of you reading this are probably my close family and friends. Many of you may not know that on a warm summer’s night at 16 years old, on a youth retreat in southwest Georgia I answered the call to ministry. For me, in that moment, that meant that I would chase God harder than ever, no matter where and what that meant. In my heart it meant, “Here I am, Lord. Send me, I’ll go” just as we read in Isaiah 6:8.
In that moment at 16 years of age, I didn’t truly know the weight of my words, but the beauty of that moment is that I didn’t care how costly, I was so in love and so believed that I was willing to give all of me, all I was to the cause of being whatever, however, whoever Jesus needed me to be. (My heart looked a lot like Jesus’s desire for our hearts at that time of my life.)
My whole childhood I never took my eyes off of Jesus. I always looked for Him and to him. For as long as I can remember, I clang to the truth of the Word and believed whole-heartedly in God and Jesus. I will explain this more at a later date, but, I will say, I had to in order to survive. Church, God and Jesus were my sanity and my sanctuary.
I graduated from Samford University in 2010, and in 2011 walked through a personal tragedy that is a huge part of my testimony that I promise to share (this is a book in progress), in 2012, as I told you previously, I married the love of my life. In 2013 I felt that same pull I had felt so many years prior to be in full-time ministry. I jumped into my church’s ministry leadership development program, Highlands College. My husband and I got unintentionally pregnant with our son only months after entering Highlands College, and while difficult, I finished strong in 2015. Those were two years that hollowed me out and emptied me clean so that God could begin to rebuild me as the daughter I was called to be, a rebirth of that 16 year old girl on the river bank that sold out for Jesus. As I walked across the stage in 2015 and shook our lead pastor’s hand and he handed me my certificate, I felt the peace, joy and proud at-a-girl spiritual hug from our Heavenly Father. I often reflect on His presence in that moment. I also reflect on the many messages, values and lessons learned in those four semesters at Highlands College. I grew monumentally in that season as a person, a wife, mom and Christian.
Current and personal confession: I am a Proverbs 31 and Lysa TerKeurst fan girl. I have loved everything she has ever produced. This past year I read a book she wrote, “When women say yes to God.” Y’all… this is a must read. The book, she explains, was previously titled “Radical Obedience.” She jokingly explains that no one bought it and so her publisher had her retitle it and it flew off of the shelf. Shamefully, I admit, I probably wouldn’t have bought a book titled “Radical Obedience” either. I want to be radically obedient, but if I am being honest it just seems so hard and unattainable…. but why? Ever since the garden we as humans have struggled and will continue to struggle with obedience until the return of Christ. And while it is impossible to always be obedient ever since that choice in the garden, there is a lot of room for obedience for many of us. The obedience our good good Father is looking for is not always taking the right action, it’s a condition of the heart. We should be taking daily steps to make obedience a habit. Most of us do not take daily steps that contribute to our goals. Most of us unintentionally self sabotage on a regular basis. We, the human race, are entitled, emotionally-driven, pleasure seekers, and while most of us like the idea of being in lock-step with God, being right and obedient, very few of us are willing to put in the work it takes every day to truly make a change in our nature to fulfill the level of obedience that God desires us to pursue. That’s the key word, pursue. He wants His children in pursuit of Him and all He has for us.
Lysa’s book, 21 days of prayer and fasting, and the Word, have motivated and inspired me to put in the work everyday that will result in a year I can proudly reflect on. I am fully prepared to take 2020 head on. Someone wise once said, “failing to plan is planning to fail.” This year, I am planning to be radically obedient, and I am inviting you to come along.
A sneak peek of what my interpretation of planning for success as a Christian looks like:
- Get a planner! I chose the Full Focus Planner this year! “The plans of the diligent lead surely to abundance, but everyone who is hasty comes only to poverty.” Prov 21:5
- Bible reading. His Word is our daily bread, a lamp unto our feet and a light unto out path. It is as essential for living as water and oxygen. I am thoroughly enjoying my new Bible by my one of my favorite apps, She Reads Truth. “It is written, “‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’” Matt 4:4 | “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.” Prov 3:5-6
- Set financial goals with a monthly budget in place. Tithe. “Give, and it will be given to you. Good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap. For with the measure you use it will be measured back to you.” Luke 6:38 | “Bring the full tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. And thereby put me to the test, says the Lord of hosts, if I will not open the windows of heaven for you and pour down for you a blessing until there is no more need” Malachi 3:10
- Create a reading plan for 2020 and purchase books in advance if possible. “Without counsel plans fail, but with many advisers they succeed.” Prov 15:22
- Self-care plan in place. Practice self-care at least 3 times a week. “Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.” 1 Cor. 6:19-20
- Create tangible weekly and monthly goals that equate to an outcome that will be pleasing at year-end. “
- Observe the Sabbath and keep it Holy. “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor, and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work, you, or your son, or your daughter, your male servant, or your female servant, or your livestock, or the sojourner who is within your gates. For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.” Exodus 20:8-11
- Plan margin. Plan for attacks and distractions, because they will come. “Some are like the seeds along the path, where the word is sown. As soon as they hear it, Satan comes and takes away the word that was sown in them.” Mark 4:15 | “Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.” 1 Peter 5:8
I’d love to hear some of your resolutions and planning you have put into place to ensure success. What does obedience mean for you and your journey? Comment below so the community can see!
If you have not read “What happens when women say yes to God,” by Lysa TerKeurst get it and read it this week. It is a quick and easy read, and trust me, you will not be able to put it down. Get a planner that works for you! And spend time in prayer and godly counsel to prioritize your schedule and tasks according to the Word and Will of God.
It is my prayer that as we usher in a new decade that we all look more like Jesus this decade. What would the world look like if we all had the Isaiah 6:8 (send me, I’ll go) and John 3:16 (He loved the world so that He gave… and he just didn’t give anything – He gave His best, his son) mentality?
Deuteronomy 11:26 says “Obey and you will be blessed.” and John (14:21) states “Whoever has my commandments and keeps them, it is he who loves me. And he who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and manifest myself to him.”
Together let us enter into this decade and mark this year as the most obedient year of our lives. It’s not going to be easy. We need one another. We need accountability and a partner when things get hard. I want this place to be that for you. Let’s hold one another up and help each other dance through this next decade.
“For where two or three gather together as my followers, I am there among them.” Matt 18:20