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Entries in Goals (15)

Thursday
May242018

Habits for the Rest of My Life

A prestigious writer, Dianne Barker has long asked the Lord to guide her steps, so it's no surprise she focuses on what will please Him. In this Choices UPGRADE, she shares some habits that are changing her life. Maybe they will change yours too.

"I didn’t make any New Year’s resolutions in January—gave that up long ago," Dianne says. "Decisions and goals work better for me."

I (Dawn) totally agree with this. "Resolutions" are too easy for most of us to break. But making daily choices that get us closer to healthy, godly goals, and cultivating life-building habits? Now that's a good thing!

Dianne continues . . .

Scrolling through journal notes, I found a ten-year-old list of decisions and goals. I’m updating the list and calling it “Habits for the Rest of My Life.”

1. Exercise daily—body and spirit.

No excuse for missing my daily quiet time.

Why settle for my feeble wisdom to navigate this life when I have divine resources for every minute?

2. See Jesus’ face only—especially when I encounter difficult people.

I’m making this decision carefully, aware that He may provide many opportunities to test me.

3. Get a grip on my self-esteem.

Still craving approval? Get over it!

My esteem depends only on God’s acceptance—not on performance or perfection.

God has poured his life into me and chosen me for a purpose.

4. Bring every thought into captivity.

Negative thoughts are defeating. Devastating. Paralyzing. A dead-end street.

Forget trivial stuff.

How many times the Lord has said to me, “You could be praying about bigger things.”

5. Learn thankfulness.

I lost a tiny screw from my glasses. How would I ever find it in my mammoth purse?

My friend said, “Let’s thank the Lord. Now empty your purse.” Found it!

Thankfulness makes sense—since my only options are to thank the Lord or grumble.

Thankfulness pleases the Lord and makes my life better.

6. Rejoice by faith.

“This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it” (Psalm 118:24).

Rejoicing is a decision, not a feeling.

Discouragement has robbed me. I choose to rejoice by faith.

7. Stop wallowing in despair and wailing about my inability, and make the most of every day.

I’m encouraged by Rahab’s comments to the two spies Joshua sent to Jericho:

"I know that the Lord has given you the land, and that the fear of you has fallen upon us, and that all the inhabitants of the land melt away before you. For we have heard how the Lord dried up the water of the Red Sea before you when you came out of Egypt, and what you did to the two kings of the Amorites who were beyond the Jordan, to Sihon and Og, whom you devoted to destruction. And as soon as we heard it, our hearts melted, and there was no spirit left in any man because of you, for the Lord your God, he is God in the heavens above and on the earth beneath" (Joshua 2:9-11).

The Lord my God is God in the heavens above and on the earth beneath. He is my courage!

I ended the journal entry,

“Lord, I only desire to glorify you. Don’t let me waste my life. I’ve set my heart to praise, trust and obey. Fulfill your purpose in me!”

We’re almost midway through another year—a good time to adjust our goals.

What do you hope God will accomplish in your life in the coming months for His glory?

Dianne Barker is a speaker, radio host and author of 11 books, including the best-selling Twice Pardoned and award-winning I Don’t Chase the Garbage TruckDown the Street in My Bathrobe Anymore! Organizing for the Maximum Life. She’s a member of Advanced Writers and Speakers Association, Christian Authors Network, and Christian Women in Media. For more information about Dianne or her ministry, visit her blog.

Graphic adapted, courtesy of Geralt at Pixabay.

Thursday
Jan112018

My Hope Is Built On . . . 

Everyone talks about "dreams" these days, but Susan K. Stewart says we need to be careful when we dream and consider where we're placing our hopes. In this Spiritual Life UPLIFT, she tackles the topic with a personal story.

“I plan to go to UCLA and major in screenwriting,” the high school freshman announced.

She then laid out her plan, including what classes she would be taking in high school and community activities that will help her preparation for her goal.

Ah, plans. Yes, I (Dawn) have placed my hopes in so many personal plans, and even in people who might help me accomplish my goals. And I've learned, the hard way, exactly what Susan is about to teach us.

Susan continues . . .

“Wow! That’s wonderful,” I responded. “It seems to me you just might make it.”

When this confident young lady left the room, her dad said, “I want her to major in something that will give her a real career.”

“What!?” was all I could stammer. “What’s wrong with her goal? With her determination, she has a good chance of success.”

The response was, “Look what happened to Aunt Shirley.”

Aunt Shirley is a divorced family member who was a successful writer before the divorce, and was now struggling to make ends meet with two part-time jobs.

Has that ever happened to you? It has to me.

Why do we do that?

Compare someone’s (or our own) dream with another person’s failure.

Sometimes we sabotage our own hopes. We listen to our own negative talk.

  • “It can’t happen."
  • "I’m too old."
  • "I’m too young."
  • "No one else has ever done this before.”

Other times we have our hope in the wrong thing: education, another person, fortune, ourselves.

All of these sources of hope will fail us.

An archaic definition of hope is “trust, reliance.” Most often we think of our hope as the anticipation of something. We also build our dreams on what we or others are going to do for the fruition of that expectation.

If hope is in fact trust rather than dream, maybe our hopes are dashed because we have placed our trust in the wrong place or person.

We are told by Paul that Christ Jesus is our hope (1 Timothy 1:1). Not our dream or expectation, although we surely look forward to the coming of Jesus. Christ Jesus is where we place our trust; who we rely on.

We are told by Peter to “prepare your minds for action, keep sober in spirit, fix your hope completely on the grace to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ (1 Peter 1:13).

We are to TAKE ACTION BASED ON OUR HOPE (trust) on the GRACE of Jesus Christ.

When our expectations are based on hope from Jesus, we can’t sabotage them.

This requires taking those dreams to God before making all the plans on our own to-do list.

For years, I’ve had a dream of a having a specific book published. For years, my hopes have been built up only to be knocked down. This year I asked God, "Why?"

He impressed on me that I was trusting in my own plan, not the dreams He has for me.

I laid my desire aside. Even though a number of people gave me reasons not to, it was the right thing to do. I’m now trusting God’s vision for me rather than mine.

I’ve placed my hope in God’s dream.

When our hope—remember, that means trust and reliance—is in the Lord, no one can take them it away from us or talk us out of it. We will be able respond to negative self-talk with “God told me to do this and I trust him.”

What is your hope is built on?

My hope is built on nothing less
Than Jesus’ blood and righteousness;
I dare not trust the sweetest frame,
But wholly lean on Jesus’ name.

~ Edward Mote (1797-1874)

Susan K. Stewart—when she’s not tending chickens and donkeys—teaches, writes, and edits non-fiction. Her passion is to inspire others with practical, real-world solutions. Susan's books include Science in the Kitchen; Preschool: At What Cost?; the award-winning Formatting e-Books for Writers; and her most recent book, Harried Homeschoolers Handbook. Learn more about Susan at Practical Inspirations

Graphic adapted, courtesy of Daniel Reche at Pixabay.

Tuesday
Jan022018

Goals to Dig Deeper in Your Faith

Almost from the moment I met Cathy Horning, I knew two things about her: She loves the Word of God, and she is a powerful encourager. In this New Year's UPGRADE, she encourages us to dig into the Word and grow our faith.

“Happy 2018! It’s a New Year, and my very favorite holiday,” Cathy says. “A time to remember. To reflect. To look ahead. To refocus. To prioritize. To set goals.”

That sounds like a big order, but I (Dawn) think Cathy knows how to fill that order!

Cathy continues . . .

I was surprised to discover, as the holiday season ramped up this past fall, a yearning in my soul. A quiet ache. A longing to go deeper in my faith.

In the flurry of activities, I realized I was being swept along the river of life by the relentless currents of an extremely full and demanding schedule.

If you have ever been river rafting, you know what I mean.

One of my fondest memories is riding an inner tube on the Salt River in Arizona. On hot, summer days, my friends and I kept cool as we were carried down the river by the strong current. Occasionally, we were even pulled into an eddy along the way, and were forced to paddle our way out to keep from being stuck there or, worse yet, being pulled under.

Floating down a river is great fun! But, it’s not a place you want to stay!

So, as the new year approached, I knew I wanted off my raft of busyness—to paddle away from dangerous eddies, to swim out of my river, and to plant my feet on solid ground.

I needed a plan:

  • to stop being swept along by the currents of busyness,
  • to avoid the dangers of a spiritual eddy,
  • to be intentional, and
  • to stop drifting along.

Instead, I wanted to be firmly planted on fertile soil, and to go down deeper in my roots of faith. 

The New Year seemed the perfect time. Although, to some, it is simply the next day on a calendar, to me the New Year is very special. It is an opportunity to begin again. To start afresh, with a clean slate.

And in my own story, it has been a time of momentous life changes.

It is the holiday when I surrendered my life to Jesus at a midnight church service, 39 years ago. Then four years later, it became the holiday when I walked down another church aisle and became a new wife.

So, for me, the New Year is a time to celebrate not only a clean slate, but also new life.

For four decades now, my faith and my family have grown! Each year has brought many changes like children, moves, teenagers, college, weddings, travel, grand-babies, aging parents, and so much more.

However, with the changes have come challenges. And the challenges of the past few years have found me in survival mode.

You know, going through the motions. Doing the right things. Getting by.

My faith remained steady, yet my soul was not satisfied.

Thus, the longing to go deeper, instead of simply holding steady or just staying afloat.

This year, that is going to change. I will no longer be swept along or, worse yet, become stagnant and stale. As I prayerfully considered my goals, I chose ways to dig deeper in my faith. In order to achieve this, I came up with three simple goals.

In 2018 I choose to—

1. Spend More Time in God’s Word

  • I will spend more dedicated time in God’s Word, reading, studying, listening to, meditating on and memorizing it.
  • I will reserve set times for social media, because, honestly, it is one of the strongest currents which robs me of going deeper.

2. Pray Bigger and Bolder Prayers

  • I will take each worry and turn it into prayer.
  • My prayer requests will be bigger and bolder.

I will not allow myself to get stuck in an eddy of worry. Instead, I will ask, and praise God, for audacious answers which will bring Him glory!

3. Listen To and Follow My Shepherd More Closely  

  • I will more intentionally seek to listen for the Lord’s direction throughout my day.
  • I will follow His lead, even if it is contrary to my own plans and inclinations.
  • I will not be swept away in the currents of routine and order or by the imagined urgency and needs of others.

“Now, just as you accepted Christ Jesus as your Lord, you must continue to follow Him. Let your roots go down into Him, and let your lives be built on Him. Then your faith will grow strong in the truth you were taught, and you will overflow with thankfulness” (Colossians 2:6-7 NLT).

Dear friend, this New Year, let’s be on our guard against being swept along by the currents of life. Or, worse yet, getting stuck or pulled down in an eddy.

What goals can you make and what intentional steps can you take to dig deeper in your own walk of faith?

Cathy Horning loves the Word of God. Nothing brings her greater joy than encouraging women how to walk in His ways. She is a popular speaker, blogger, and writer, as well as a beloved wife, mom, Grammy, mentor, encourager and friend. Her first two books will be released in 2018. Learn more about Cathy here.

Graphic adapted, courtesy of Marboon at Pixabay.

Tuesday
Sep122017

10 Steps to 10 Get-It-Done Goals

Retreat guide and life coach Letitia (Tish) Suk loves to help women get a fresh start on their goals. In this Goals and Priorities UPGRADE, she suggests a unique way to move into September with a goal-oriented perspective.

Letitia says, “Ready for the REAL New Year? Create a winning plan for the next 90 Days.”

I (Dawn) have to admit, I thought: REAL New Year? What could she mean? But then I read her unique approach. You don’t have to wait until January!

Letitia continues . . .

Beach towels are stashed, picnic baskets stored away, and flip-flops relegated to the back of the closet. The dramatic page-turn from August to September has occurred and the empty calendar spaces from now until Christmas are rapidly filling up.

Most of us are ready for a fresh start this time of year.

In fact, The JEWISH NEW YEAR comes around every fall and the rest of us would do well to observe a similar time of renewal.

In between stocking up on Halloween Candy and starting on those home-made Christmas gifts, try taking a chunk of time and planning for what could be possible in the next 90 days.

I love the blessing in Psalm 20:4:

“May he give you the desire of your heart and make all your plans succeed.”

Without some intentional reflection time, we may never be clear on what the desires of our heart or our plans are.

Ready to make some plans?

Life Coaches like myself and others offer an exercise to shape this process called “10 Goals in 90 Days.”  This plan is always my go-to when a new season comes around, especially in the fall when my energy level seems at its highest.

Before the flurry of fall hits, here are ten practical way to bring some measurable change to your day to day life in the next three months.

10 Goals in 90 Days!

1. Set aside a chunk of time like at least an hour when you won’t be interrupted. Ideally, this is a place away from your home like a coffee shop, a park, or better yet, a personal retreat! Check out my book Getaway with God: The Everywoman’s Guide to Personal Retreat for some ideas. 

2. Write down all the ideas that come to mind for what you could accomplish in the next 90 days. Once you get going, it is hard to stop.

This is the fun part, just imagining what might be possible.

3. Pick out a few that are easy and might take just a short time.

We all have these—like cleaning out your junk drawer, scheduling that medical appointment you have been putting off, answering five emails you have been ignoring.

The immediate gratification of crossing those off will feel great!

4. Add some one-time items you have been putting off or waiting for fall.

Invite your neighbors over, visit a friend you’ve been missing, take a class or attend a day-long event for training of some sort. Pick apples before they are all on the ground.

5. Tack on a couple more that are do-able but will take longer, even the full 90 days.

Redo your resume, start a short -term Bible study, write the first chapter of your book, get your finances in order.

6. List these 10 (or less) goals and pull out your calendar. Set aside time for each.

7. Make sure they are very specific goals (i.e. S.M.A.R.T.).

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Attainable
  • Realistic
  • Time-bound

“Walk More and Eat Less” do not qualify as specific!

8. Decide which form of accountability will be the most effective for you.

If the list stays on your desk pile or in your purse nothing will happen.

9. Enlist a friend, your small group or a Life Coach to check-in with on how you’re doing.  Review your list often.

10. Pray over your list each day and get ready to see progress!

90 days from tomorrow is December 13. By the time you get through the holidays, you will be ready to repeat the process!

How Can You Start Today?

Letitia (Tish) Suk invites women to create an intentional life centered in Jesus. She is a blogger (hopeforthebest.org) and author of Getaway with God: The Everywoman’s Guide to Personal Retreat) and Rhythms of Renewal. She is a speaker, personal retreat guide and life coach in the Chicago area. Visit her website.

Graphic adapted, courtesty of moritz320 at Pixabay.com and free-printable-calendar.com.

Tuesday
Mar072017

4 Ways to Turn Intentions into God-honoring Action

In this Spiritual Life UPGRADE, Dawn Wilson encourages action! Intentions are great, but they don't change the world.

"You can't build a reputation," Henry Ford said, "on what you are going to do."

That's not just true of a reputation; it's also true of anything important to us.

Whether it's in ministry, writing, a professional career, marriage, parenting, finances—whatever—intentions are only a starting point, not a means to build anything lasting or worthwhile.

Don't get me wrong. Plans and intentions are wonderful. They're necessary for success. But plans are, in and of themselves, fruitless. We have to move beyond intentions to action. 

Words are important, but ultimately, our lives are measured by what we do, not what we say.

So how do we turn our good intentions into actions that please the Lord?

I would suggest FOUR STEPS.

1. Examine Your Intentions

Good intentions aren't always good. Sometimes good intentions can be used to justify sin.

I laughed at a cartoon of a burglar before a judge. He told the judge, "Yes, I robbed the bank, but I had the best of intentions."

We see this justification of intentions in the life of Paul as he, thinking himself righteous, persecuted the church (Acts 23:1; 26:11-12). We also see misused intentions in the life of King Herod. He thought he was doing the Jews a favor—he had good political intentions—but he ended up imprisoning Peter (Acts 12:1-4). As Christians, we must examine our intentions before we move ahead.

Be sure your foundation for intentions is solid and biblical.

2. Count the Cost.

Jesus counseled His followers to "count the cost" before moving forward in a big project (Luke 14:28-30). On the surface, it appears He advocates careful decision-making.

But His counsel goes beyond our decisions to our discipleship. Masses of people followed the Lord for many reasons: free food, the miraculous healings and other miracles. But Jesus knew their hearts.

His counsel about counting the cost is part of a larger passage (14:26-33) that laid out what it meant to be His follower. While eternal life is free, discipleship "costs" us something.

It means recognizing He is Lord, and transfering the ownership of our lives and all we have to Him.

This changes the concept of our "intentions," doesn't it? "In their hearts humans plan their course, but the Lord establishes their steps" (Proverbs 16:9).

Surrender every good intention to the Lord and His plans.

3. Fight the Flesh

I recently read an article that addressed humans' "internal guidance system," claiming we have "two brains: primitive and intellectual." The primitive brain or guidance system, the author suggested, was not evolved and it worked against our intellectual brain. So, accordingly, we know what to do, but our actions don't always synchronize with our intentions, because sometimes we are controlled by the primitive brain.

I smiled, suddenly "hearing" Paul's words in Romans 7:19: "For I do not do the good I want to do. Instead, I keep on doing the evil I do not want to do."

Rather than a "primitive brain" and an evolved "intellectual brain," I think we are really battling sinful flesh. It is the sinful nature we inherited from Adam (Romans 5:12; 7:14-24; Psalm 51:5). With deceitful hearts, we struggle with the "deeds of the flesh" (Jeremiah 17:9; Galatians 5:19-21).

There are consequences to our sinfulness. One of the consequences is, the flesh can really sidetrack us in our best intentions!

Through God's grace and walking in the Spirit, we can overcome the flesh (Galatians 2:20; Romans 6:11; Galatians 5:16; Romans 13:14; Psalm 119:11).

We can starve out it's influences in our lives (1 Timothy 6:11; 1 Corinthians 9:27; Colossians 3:5; Galatians 5:24; Romans 6:6).

Fight the flesh to give your good intentions a fighting chance!

4. Check Your Obedience.

Many times we are sincere about our intentions, but we don't follow through.

At the Bema Seat of Christ, it will be our obedience that stands strong in the face of judgment—our good works after salvation, not our intentions (Romans 14:10-12; 2 Corinthians 5:10).

I have often heard this passage preached:

"Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven" (Matthew 7:21)

We can have lots good intentions as Christians, but if we are not obedient disciples, committed to honoring God with righteous thoughts and behavior, we will not be seen as one who has borne fruit for the Kingdom. We will, in fact, suffer loss (1 Corinthians 3:9-15).

One of the deceiving things about intentions is they can tempt us to rest in a false sense of confidence and security. Sometimes we think because we have already "decided" to do something, we're moving forward.

Deciding is not doing.

In the parable of the two sons (Matthew 21:28-31a), Jesus taught about intentions versus obedience. When a father asked his first son to work in the vineyard, he refused, but later thought better and obeyed. When he asked the same question of the second son, the son said, "Sure, I'll go"—but he didn't follow through. He didn't obey.

The first son did the will of his father because he acted in response to the Father's will.

Many of us have heard clear instructions from our heavenly Father—perhaps during a time of prayer or Bible study, at church or in another gathering. Our hearts were moved. We may have intended to obey, but have we?

Determine to follow through on wise, biblical intentions... obey the Lord!

Good intentions, like New Year's resolutions, are only as good as the results.

In summary:

  1. Be sure your foundation for intentions is solid and biblical.
  2. Surrender every good intention to the Lord and His plans.
  3. Fight the flesh to give your good intentions a fighting chance.
  4. Determine to follow through on wise, biblical intentions ... obey the Lord!

We will not be perfect in our follow-through. We are still sinners. But sinners saved by God's transforming grace have the empowering Spirit to help us fight our battles and obey the Father.

The blessing to my heart is a wonderful truth: Our heavenly Father is "the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness"  (Exodus 34:6). When I am not faithful to my Lord, He is still faithful to me (Romans 3:3; 1 Corinthians 1:9; 2 Thessalonians 3:3; Hebrews 10:23).

God sees the believer's heart and know every intention; and He is a compassionate and faithful Father. 

What are some good intentions you have that you have yet to act upon? Would any of these points help you follow through?

Dawn Wilson, founder and President of Heart Choices Today, is a speaker and author, and the creator of three blogs: Heart Choices Today, LOL with God (with Pam Farrel), and Upgrade with Dawn. She is a contracted researcher/reviewer for Revive Our Hearts and a writer at Crosswalk.com. She and her husband Bob live in Southern California and have two grown, married sons, three granddaughters and a rascally maltipoo, Roscoe.