Purposeful growth

planning

Over the last few weeks I’ve been doing some research to work out where I want to go with this blog and some strategies to get there. The research is ongoing, and what I find will help to refine the scope of what I write about here.

Until now my blogging has mostly been about me. Sure, I’ve sought to encourage others in what I write, but overall I have written on topics that inspire me at the time and largely as way to work through the topic for myself without any systematic plan to publish material that could provide a guide to others or markers in the walk of faith.

Keeping a blog as an online journal is fine if that is all I ever want it to be. But then I have to wonder, why put a journal online when I could simply keep it private and gain more value from journaling when I don’t have to worry about what others might think of it? So for a long time I’ve used my blog as an in-between place, not a fully private journal, yet without any serious structure or purpose.

A weakness of blogging without a purpose is that publishing tends to only occur when inspiration strikes, leading to erratic and irregular posting frequency. This is a bit inconsiderate towards those who read the posts as they can never know when new posts are likely to come their way.

The alternative to writing when inspiration strikes is to set a schedule for publishing. This works best if I can map out a plan of what topics to write about over the next 6 weeks or longer so that I can use writing time for writing rather than spending it trying to come up with a topic and running out of time to actually write. To plan posts in advance requires some sort of strategy; what is my purpose in choosing particular topics? What style should they be written in? What is the goal of each post – to entertain, to educate, to inspire?

Planning to this level of detail needs something like a ‘vision statement’ to unify all the parts into a whole that gives the blog a purpose and direction. This is what I’m working on, and in the process it seems that God is also working on me.

I’m not trying to position myself as some sort of expert. The blog will always grow out of my faith in Christ, knowing Him more and learning what it means to live as an adopted child of God. My ‘vision’ is basically for us to learn to know God more and explore what it means to live as His people in ordinary daily life. All I’m really planning is how to approach learning and growing – being intentional about growth.


Image: Shutterstock

Dance

Five Minute Friday:

1. Write for 5 minutes flat on the prompt: “Dance” with no editing, no over thinking, no backtracking.
2. Link back here and invite others to join in.
3. And then visit the person who linked up before you & encourage them in their comments. Seriously. That is, like, the rule. And the fun. And the heart of this community..

Go:

I am not really given to dancing. Gracefulness is not a description I’d easily wear. At a guess I would probably look like a midget immitation of Peter Garrett if I tried to dance.

The closest I’ve come to being graceful was many years ago when I was a rock climber, control and concentration made something very difficult look easy to others. A faster moving version was skiing, an exhilarating experience of being in the mountains and flowing down their flanks.

Now my moves are less agile, a lot more puffing is involved now as I walk in the freedom of fresh air and only nature’s eyes watching. Still, in such places where no one is watching, my soul still exhalts in God and at least feels like I could dance.

Stop


Image: iStock

Faith, not sight

The Friday phenomenon, 5 minute Friday in which I uses today’s prompt of see to set me off writing for 5 minutes. Join the link up over at The Gypsy Mama and read what others have written too.
Go:

for we walk by faith, not by sight. (2 Corinthians 5:7 ESV)

I have already written about the importance of eyesight, both physical and spiritual. Yet there can be times – perhaps extended times – when sight is useless to us. The road ahead is enshrouded in mist and fog. Darkness keeps me from seeing what may be before me.

In these times I have no choice but to trust God, to walk in faith. Being honest, I don’t like that, even if it is good for me. I prefer to be able to see, to know what lies ahead.

But even if I could see the road ahead fully, would I make better choices? Knowing my own fears and weaknesses I am certain I would turn back if I knew whatever difficulties await me.

In this I take courage from Paul stating that he walked by faith rather than by sight. The context is that he is groaning and feeling burdened by this life, longing for glory and being home with Jesus. Yet he continues to walk in obedience.

Lord Jesus, please strengthen me to also walk in obedience.

Stop

For while we are still in this tent, we groan, being burdened—not that we would be unclothed, but that we would be further clothed, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life. He who has prepared us for this very thing is God, who has given us the Spirit as a guarantee. So we are always of good courage. We know that while we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord, for we walk by faith, not by sight. Yes, we are of good courage, and we would rather be away from the body and at home with the Lord. So whether we are at home or away, we make it our aim to please him. (2 Corinthians 5:4-9 ESV)


Image: iStock

Improving your eyesight

I am eagerly awaiting some new glasses to help me read easier. The bill for them will not be so welcome, but it has stimulated my thinking about eyesight and how precious it is.

Without vision I could not navigate through my days, I’d be reduced to fumbling around home until I could get someone to guide me where I wanted to go. Even then I’d be more of a liability than an asset at work, unable to view the computer screen, restricted to verbal communication tools and oblivious to most of what is happening. My primary means of taking in information would be taken from me – reading. Without being able to read I feel as though I would shrivel up!

Protecting our eyes

We all have reflexes which help to protect our eyes: blinking, tears, turning the face away, not looking directly at the sun. Then we take this a step further in some situations to wear protective safety glasses at work and sunglasses in bright sunlight. If our eyesight is impaired we go to an optometrist to get corrective lenses. Most of us value vision very highly, we like to be able to see clearly. Blind people know that there is a dimension of life which they are not able to experience due to being unable to see.

Eyes of the heart

According to the Bible there is a realm of existence which we are unable to detect with our physical sense. The spiritual world is invisible to us, no matter how good your natural vision is. Without God’s work in us we are blind to God’s grace, sometimes having a hint of it’s existence but remaining unable to experience it.

having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints,
(Ephesians 1:18 ESV)

Even once we are renewed by God we need some work on the eyes of our heart so that we can see better. (I almost wrote ‘properly’ but I doubt we ever actually see properly in this life). We are all sinners and so must rely upon the corrective lenses of Scripture to fix our myopia. We also need help from others who know the path and can help us know where the pitfalls and stumbling blocks are which cannot be seen in our blind spots.

And don’t forget that there is one who throws sand in our faces to blind us to the gospel:

In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.
(2 Corinthians 4:4 ESV)

So keep returning to the Bible, to wise counsellors, and to God in prayer that He will open the eyes of your heart. Also remember that much wise counsel and eye-opening assistance comes from the words written by other reliable Christians:

 I will keep coming back to anyone who helps me see and be astonished at what is in front of my face — anyone who can help heal me from the disease of “seeing they do not see.” (John Piper, Why Chesterton’s Anti-Calvinism Doesn’t Put Me Off)


Gifts I have noticed recently:

934) New coffee mug with a message I needed on it.
935) Some quiet time to ponder and read the Bible.
936) A potential new opportunity.
937) Renewed hope.
938) Disappointment leading to re-evaluation.
939) Morning bustle of the people I love most around me.
940) Slowing my mind and doing one thing at a time.
941) Watching home movies from 5 years ago.
942) The marvel of an e-reader, an entire library in my pocket!

Image: iStock