Tackling the New Year with Intentionality

It is 2020! Does that sound futuristic to anyone besides me?

I’m already getting asked if I’m making New Year’s Resolutions. So here are some posts from me and others on how to tackle the New Year intentionally.

Reflect on the Past Year
Look at your journals, sermon notes, the Scriptures you’ve read, and the songs you’ve downloaded or listened to on YouTube. Reflect on any common themes, or repeated verses.

Focus Roles
I started talking about creating focus roles rather than resolutions end of 2010, where I shared about my “breakout year” and how you too could have one. This post includes making “SMART” goals.

In 2012, I shared more about this concept as well as my focus roles for the year and created goals around that.
Creating Focus Roles
My Focus Roles for 2012
Why Make Goals At All

Psalm of the Year
In 2013, I choose Psalm 25 as my “Psalm for the Year,” and basically studied that for the year.

God’s Character
In 2014, I wrote this post “Wherever You Go, There You are” where I shared about shifting our focus from the “Change Your _____, Change Your Life!” game to “Change Your Perspective, Change Your Life” where we focus on who He is in order to become who He created us to be.

On October 8, 2014, I had a baby (my Jordan River Assignment) who had developmental delays and well, I kind of stopped thinking about much else 🙂 As you could tell by my sporadic blogging for several years!

Song for the Year
In 2017, I chose a song for the year, focusing on the theme of “Make My Life a Prayer To You.”

Word of the Year
The past several years, I’ve chosen a “word” of the year, something I feel summarizes what I need to work on or what area of my life God is currently speaking to me about. I honestly don’t know where I heard about it, but Crystal Paine talks about it a lot.

My word for 2018 was “present” as I strived, with God’s help, to simply stay present with my kids. I also read the whole Bible that year.
My word for 2019 (well, 2 words) was unstuck/beloved. It was also a year of digging deep into God’s Word, as well as working on improving my health after being diagnosed with a chronic (but not life-threatening) condition.

Here is a post from end of 2018 about why you should choose a word of the year from Crystal Paine, or an article from elsewhere about 4 Tips on Choosing a Word for the Year. I’m fairly certain I have my word for the year for 2020, which I might share in the future 🙂

So you see there’s a lot of ways to go about being intentional with our time and attention in 2020. Prayerfully consider picking one or several!

An Image from This Church

Monday Morning Meditation: Need Help? Ask For It (Psalm 25 Series)

Friends, we are back to Psalm 25.

Today, we look at verses 8-10:

Good and upright is the LORD;
Therefore he instructs sinners in his ways.
He guides the humble in what is right and teaches them his way.
All the ways of the LORD are loving and faithful
For those who keep the demands of his covenant.

This passage directly reflects the message I heard at church today. Our pastor discussed the importance of living a life wholly devoted to God. As he shared of the importance of turning from our sin, I thought, I wonder if he is going to share the “how” part. Once we make a decision to turn from a sinful habit or tendency, what next?

I of course thought of Learning to Walk in Freedom. He pointed to these verses in James 4 for help in the “how.”

As I read these verses from Psalm 25 again in preparing this blog post, I thought, The Bible is full of “how”!

Look back on the Psalm 25 series so far.

Do you need direction? Are you weighed down by the foolishness of some of your decisions?
Are you struggling to see a way out of a trial or life-controlling issue?

< Need guidance from the Lord? Ask. This may seem really obvious. Of course I should ask for help when I need it! But my most-read post here of all time is “You Have Not Because You Ask Not.” Evidently, I’m not the only one who struggles with asking for help when I need God to come through.

Remember that God is good.

He wants to instruct you, enable you and lead you.

God’s ways are loving and faithful.

The NASB says, “All the paths of the LORD are lovingkindness and truth.”

“Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.” James 4:10 (NIV)

Monday Morning Meditation: How Does God See Me? (Psalm 25 series)

Another installment of the Psalm 25 series, my patient friends.

This week’s verses (v. 6-7):

Remember, O LORD, your great mercy and love, for they are from of old.
Remember not the sins of my youth and my rebellious ways;
according to your love remember me,
for you are good, O LORD.

One of the main themes of this psalm is guidance. It’s a patient waiting on God to show up. There is no reference in the psalm about the situation to which it was written, as there sometimes is. Just a longing, almost as if in laborious prayer.

Show up, God.

I imagine King David at this point beginning to wonder if he has done something to cause God to delay. Why is God staying away? Is He silent because of my sin? 

Because David committed a lot of serious sin.

Getting ahead of God.

Remember not all the wrongs I’ve done. My rebellion. My childish mistakes.

How many can relate to this prayer, almost a begging reminder:

God, You are good when I am not.

Lord, let Your love be primary.

Oh, friends, it is!

You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

Romans 5:6-8, emphasis mine

His love is primary. It’s the filter through which He sees us. Not in a “When God looks at me, He sees the cross” sort of way. I’ve heard that said before, and I don’t really think it’s an accurate depiction of what happened on Calvary. I believe when God looks at me, He sees me! And because of His desperate love, when He saw humanity, drowning in its sin, He gave.

He loved. A love so deep and tender that it kills its only Son.

How does God see you? He sees you as – well – you. He sees you in your messiness and powerlessness, and reaches down to scoop you up, just as any loving parent would. He’s a God who’s not afraid to get dirty. And He choose to use the cross to begin the process of making us not only clean, but changing us into who He created us uniquely to be!

April, 2011: Scooping up my sweet youngest

He sees you. As you are. And desperately loves you.

Embrace that place today. The place of being beloved and recklessly accepted.

God sees you as you. And in response, He loves.

A resource consulted in writing this post:
Kidner, Derek, Psalms 1–72: An Introduction and Commentary. Vol. 15 of Tyndale Old Testament Commentaries. IVP/Accordance electronic ed. Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 1973.

Monday Morning Meditation: Never Alone (Psalm 71 series)

We are continuing the series on Psalm 71. I encourage you to read the whole psalm here.

Verses 10-13:

For my enemies are whispering against me.
They are plotting together to kill me.
They say, “God has abandoned him.
Let’s go and get him, for there is no one to help him now.”
O God, don’t stay away. My God, please hurry to help me.
Bring disgrace and destruction on those who accuse me.
May humiliation and shame cover those who want to harm me.

We all have enemies. We all have critics.

We all have people who are waiting for us to fail.

I think about this in my own life and ministry. There are plenty of people who would love to see me fall.

Life, circumstances, Satan – they all provide opportunities for our faith to be tested. Will we deny or abandon God when things get hard?

Will we declare that God has abandoned us, as David’s enemies did?

Though we may at times feel as if God is far off, that He’s forgotten about us, we must continue to declare that God is our hope, just as David does throughout this psalm. We must continue, like the persistent widow, to call on God to rescue and save us.

“The LORD himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.” Deuteronomy 31:8

God is close to the brokenhearted.

When the critics come to tempt us to doubt, when Satan comes to speak lies to us, we must hold tight to God’s promises – He will be our strength, our sustainer, our rescuer. We are never alone.

Monday Morning Meditation: What Am I Living For? (Psalm 71 Series)

(a video of the song from 2016)

We are continuing the series on Psalm 71. I encourage you to read the whole psalm here.

My life is an example to many,
because you have been my strength and protection.
That is why I can never stop praising you; I declare your glory all day long.
And now, in my old age, don’t set me aside.
Don’t abandon me when my strength is failing.

Imagine yourself a decade from now, or 4 decades.

What will others say about your life?

Oh, Lord, please let my life reflect a deep knowledge of You as strength and protector.

Richard Wurmbrand spent 14 years in Romanian prisons because he told people about Jesus. In 1964, he received amnesty at the price of $10,000 and became the voice for the persecuted church, founding the ministry that is today called Voice of the Martyrs.

I had the privilege of attending college with his grandson and heard firsthand stories of the man’s life.

Richard Wurmbrand passed away in 2001 at the age of 92. His death inspired me to write a song entitled What am I living for? The song questioned how I will be remembered when I’m gone. What kind of legacy will I leave? Will I have lived a life pleasing to God? Will they remember me because I declared God’s glory all day long?

David’s reliance on God was a cause for praise; it inspired him to declare God’s glory.

Lord, may I declare Your glory because You are sustainer. Help me to run the race marked out for me with the end in mind.


I will end with the lyrics to the song I wrote in Richard Wurmbrand’s memory.

What am I living for?
Will they remember me when I’m gone?
What will I leave behind me?
What will I leave behind me?

How far will I go to speak Your name?
Will I do what You ask of me?
Will I do what You ask of me?

Can these sinful lips testify of You?
Can this wretched life glorify You?
What am I living for?
What am I living for?
What am I living for?

Will I give it all to follow You?
What can I do to please You?
What can I do to please You?

Let these sinful lips testify of You
Use this wretched life to glorify You
What am I living for?
What am I living for?
What am I living for?

© 2001 Unveiled Faces Music

Monday Morning Meditation: Close to the Brokenhearted (Psalm 34 series)

This is part 5 of the Monday Morning Meditation Psalm 34 series.

Today’s verses are 15-18.

The eyes of the Lord are on the righteous
and his ears are attentive to their cry;
the face of the Lord is against those who do evil,
to cut off the memory of them from the earth.
The righteous cry out, and the Lord hears them;
he delivers them from all their troubles.
The Lord is close to the brokenhearted
and saves those who are crushed in spirit.

I used to read passages like this and think, I need to always do all the right things because, otherwise, God won’t see or hear me. That’s what it means to be righteous.

The reason we need Jesus is because we cannot be righteous on our own.

“God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” 2 Corinthians 5:21 (NIV1984)

Paul talked about “not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God and is by faith.” Philippians 3:9 (NIV1984)

He also implored Timothy twice to “pursue righteousness” (among other things) through the power of the Holy Spirit, so righteousness, much like freedom, is something we must learn to walk out.

Now let’s focus on the last verse.

The Lord is close to the brokenhearted
and saves those who are crushed in spirit.

God is in the business of healing the broken. This is why Jesus, who had no sin, became sin for us, so that we would no longer have to live under the power of sin, and no longer be disconnected from our Source of life and our Creator.

If you are brokenhearted and crushed in spirit today, this verse is a powerful reminder that God is near. He liberates and delivers those who are crushed in spirit. You can cry out to Him; He is close and He will answer.

Monday Morning Meditation: I Call, I Seek, God Answers (Psalm 34 series)

This is part of the Monday Morning Meditation Psalm 34 series.

In a Freedom Friday from a few weeks back, “You Have Not Because You Ask Not”, I highlighted the song “Came to My Rescue“. I sang this with a group of people recently and could not help but think of these verses from Psalm 34.

I sought the Lord, and he answered me;
he delivered me from all my fears.
Those who look to him are radiant;
their faces are never covered with shame.
This poor man called, and the Lord heard him;
he saved him out of all his troubles.
The angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear him,
and he delivers them.

Wow. This is what our Lord is capable of, if we ask.

Remember last week’s post, The Power of Together. This is being spoken to someone or a group of people. Read these verses out loud and ask God to allow faith and trust in rise up in your soul. Pray them with someone, for yourself, for a person in your life who is paralyzed, for the person you are praying with.

God is with you, Look to Him this week. Seek Him. Trust Him. Call on Him; He answers.

Monday Morning Meditation: The Power of Together (Psalm 34 Series)


I’m going to start a little mini-series here for our Monday mornings together where we study a psalm in its entirety. Today, we’re going to begin Psalm 34.

I really love this psalm. I love it so much I decided to memorize it a few years back (only got up to about verse 14). I encourage you to read the whole thing (we’ll be reading this psalm in the NIV1984 translation).

This morning, we’re just going to cover the first 3 verses:

I will extol the Lord at all times;
his praise will always be on my lips.
My soul will boast in the Lord;
let the afflicted hear and rejoice.
Glorify the Lord with me;
let us exalt his name together.

All psalms were meant to be read and sung. Sometimes, you’ll see a particular tune mentioned. But when I read this out loud a few months back, I noticed something I had never seen before: King David (the author of this psalm) was speaking this psalm to someone.

He begins by praising God, declaring that his soul will constantly speak God’s praise and boast of Him, in hopes that the afflicted will hear and find reason to rejoice. Then he says to the listener: “Glorify the Lord with me; let us exalt his name together.” (emphasis mine)

David is emphasizing the power of together.

Our boasting in what God has done, even our soul’s declarations of gratitude, were not just meant to be done in our prayer closet. They were meant to be seen. This psalm calls us to have His praise always on our lips, including in the presence of others.

Who can you bring alongside you today and encourage? Who can you speak to of God’s faithfulness? Who needs to hear you boast in the Lord, even if you’re not feeling as if there’s much to boast about?

During this series, I’m going to encourage you to take the verses mentioned and read them daily. I set up a daily “event” in my Gmail calendar at 6 AM called “Psalm 34” and put the 3 verses in it. I set it to repeat daily and send me an email reminder 5 minutes before to the event, and I cut & paste the 3 verses into the description field. I personally set it to repeat indefinitely, so I can just change the verses next week.

Whether you put them on your bathroom mirror (a low-tech option), on your car dashboard, or set up your own reminder system, I encourage you to read the verses daily. Consider memorizing them. Be reminded of the power of together. And ask God to show you an opportunity to practice this, to come alongside someone and glorify the Lord together.

Have an amazing week!