There are three possible answers to this question.
A starter is someone who sees the vision from the very beginning and jumps in with both feet. Enthusiasm may run high…for a while. Eventually the momentum slows down and then interest begins to wane. Maybe the task has become too challenging or maybe it has become tedious and …boring. Either way, it can be an easy thing to justify quitting.
Hebrews 10:35-36 says to the Starter:
“Therefore, do not throw away your confidence, which has a great reward. For you have need of endurance, so that when you have done the will of God, you may receive what was promised.”
A finisher is someone who sees the vision – see what the end result could be, but also sees all the obstacles that need to be dealt with in order to reach the goal. Hesitation to take the first step has the potential to cause years of procrastination.
Ecclesiastes 11:4 says to the Finisher:
“He who watches the wind will not sow and he who looks at the clouds will not reap.”
God wants us to be something more. He calls us to be overcomers. We can overcome our excuses and our obstacles. We can persevere through the challenges and even our own boredom. If we can say with Paul, that our desire is to finish the task God has given us, we will indeed be the victors!
Acts 20:24 – “But I do not consider my life of any account as dear to myself, so that I may finish my course and the ministry which I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify solemnly of the gospel of the grace of God.”
“Is God Good?” That is what we call a rhetorical question…like “do birds fly?” Our response is instant. “Of course birds fly.”
Is God good? Our affirmative response comes just as quickly. But the real question is – do we believe it in every instance? Do we believe Psalm 119:68 ? “You are good and do good.” Period.
I think we are quick to say we believe that God is good and we’d like to believe that everything He does is good. The problem is that life is full of circumstances which, from our limited perspective, don’t look so good. Our question to ourselves during those times becomes “Is God still good?” His Word has already told us that He is. All the time. In every circumstance. Our lousy circumstances don’t turn God into a lousy father. Our Heavenly Father turns our lousy circumstances into good!
No matter what situation we find ourselves in, we must resist the temptation to evaluate God in light of our trials. He doesn’t change. He is always good and everything He does is good. He can’t go against His own character. We need to adjust our perception.
Four of my seven sons are color blind. When they look at an object they don’t see what I see. When they look at a cardinal in the pine trees in our backyard and the bird blends in with the branches because they can’t distinguish red from green they can make a false assumption that what they see is correct. However, if I tell them the bird is red and the tree is green – highly contrasting colors to a normal eye, they have two choices. They must either believe me even though their perception is different, or argue that their point of view is correct. But whether they see red or not doesn’t change the facts.
We do the same thing every time we doubt that our circumstances can be used for our good. I would never lie to my children and toy with their color deficiency – pretending to see colors that they cannot see. God would never lie to us. He would never tell us something that looks bad to us is really good – unless it’s the truth.
Our problem is that we look at our circumstances the same way my sons look at the bird and assume our perception is the correct one. We need to take our eyes off the circumstances and focus on what we know to be true.
Is God good? Take a good honest look at your circumstances for a moment and then lift your eyes to the heavens, above your circumstances, and gaze into the face of your Heavenly Father and ask the question again. “Is God good?” God’s response to your heart’s cry will be a resounding “YES!”
On Sunday morning while in worship at my church I was given a glimpse of what worship might look like to God. We stand in our churches week after week, participating in corporate worship often without giving thought to the fact that believers all around the world are doing so, as well. Now I know Sunday morning isn’t the only time believers worship, but for the sake of illustration, imagine with me for a moment. Picture the earth as it turns, gradually bringing daylight to each part of the earth, a perpetual sunrise. Now imagine that believers all around the world arise and head to their chosen place of worship. Picture the gradual passing of time bringing each congregation into an attitude of worship and praise.
Do you see it? Have you ever witnessed the “wave” at a sporting event where all those in the stadium participate, raising their hands in succession all around the stadium in one fluid motion? Could it be one way God sees our worship? As one perpetual “wave” of praise going around the world? And not just on Sundays but every day that we choose to rise and offer praise to God as we start our day.
Hebrews 13:15 says, “Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise–the fruit of lips that confess his name.”
You may be part of a large church or you may be just standing in your living room on a Monday morning, but no matter where you are, you always have the opportunity to be a part of a worldwide “wave of praise” being continually offered to God.
Today I begin a new season in my life. I believe the Lord has been speaking very clearly to me about what is to be the theme of this season. He began with this simple question “Are you a funnel or a storage unit?”
I believe this is a question all of us would do well to consider. It’s a pretty simple process to make the connection between this word picture and our spiritual walk. We have all been given many gifts, blessings and talents that God intended us to use to further His kingdom. What we do with those things answers the question.
I believe that my honest answer for too many years is that I have been a storage unit. God has given me a desire to write and for the past 20 years I have been storing everything. I have notebooks full of writing that I have kept to myself.
Recently God has been showing me that it’s time to unlock my storage unit and become a funnel instead. He has much to say and He desires me to be a willing vessel – a funnel through which He can speak.
The motivating factor for my past behavior has been fear. Now I must come face to face with it and decide if it’s worth the risk to allow the things the Lord has spoken to me to be used to encourage someone besides myself. Today I begin to share and to pray fervently that those who read my words will be encouraged and challenged to search their own hearts to find the answer to the question for themselves.
May I be so bold to ask…are you a funnel or a storage unit?
When I began this website a few years ago my primary purpose was to provide a resource for homeschooling families. While I still have a desire to support homeschoolers any way I can, I have seen my focus gradually shifting in a different direction over the past few months. I will be changing my website to reflect this new direction. As of January 2011 I will be launching a weekly devotion to be sent to subscribers by email. There is a link on the top of this page (“Sheryl’s Devotions“) where you can sign up to receive this email.
For several years I have been working on a variety of writing projects. I have quite a few ideas for books and one work of fiction in the editing stages in preparation to submit to publishers. I also have a large collection of short devotional pieces that will become the content of the weekly emails. My hope is that the Lord will use these essays to encourage and perhaps even inspire others as they have inspired me.
The layout of my website will be changing but I hope to maintain the previous content as a resource for homeschoolers on a separate page. As this redesign takes place, please feel free to offer suggestions that might make navigating the site easier.
I’m looking forward to seeing what God will do in this new season of life. I invite you to join me and would appreciate your prayers as well!
I think anyone who has been a parent has shared the feeling of excitement that comes when your child does a “first.” By that I mean, the first time you watch your child gain a victory over some skill or do something by themselves. We applaud wildly when our little ones take their first steps or say their first words. When they are older, it’s other things that bring that joy, like reading by themselves or riding a two-wheeler for the first time. We all spend those childhood years cheering our children on from one accomplishment to the next.
But there is a different perspective that I wish I was more conscious of and that’s the “lasts.” So many times we have no warning that something will be done for the last time and we wish we’d known so we could take a moment and savor the experience one last time. Things would take on a different meaning if you knew that it would be the last time. I remember how many years I was awakened in the night to nurse a baby and how I would sometimes wish that season would end. But if I had known which time would be the last time, I think I would have taken a moment to acknowledge the experience as one that often brought a sense of peace and a pause that sort of said “all is right with the world.” There was just something about that middle of the night experience that I now look back on and treasure. As that time passed I told myself with some relief, that the little fellow was finally sleeping through the night. But after experiencing it with seven babies, I wish I’d known which time would really be the last, because now I know that I would have looked at it differently.
Most times we are just living life, focusing on what comes next and we aren’t at all conscious of the passing of time. We probably miss a lot of lasts and never even notice. But last night I had an experience that reminded me that the lasts are important and I would do well to notice them. My youngest son has been involved in a program called Royal Rangers. It’s similar to Boy Scouts but since it is part of the Assemblies of God Church program, it has a strong Biblical focus. Last night Alex’s group had their Council of Achievement where they are presented with the merit badges they have earned during the previous quarter. Alex had worked very hard for several months and earned several merits as well as an impressive number of rank advancements. I was so proud of him and at the same time, I became painfully aware that he was the last of the boys to have this opportunity and indeed, he was quickly moving forward and would move on to a new season as the others had. He is really looking forward to moving on to youth group and likely won’t be in Royal Rangers next year so he only has one more quarter to work on badges and stand proudly before the audience to receive his awards.
You might say that focusing on the “lasts” just brings sadness and you are right, it does, but it also brings an opportunity to stop and savor moments that you would otherwise totally miss because of the pace of life. We move through life so fast that we are sort of on automatic-pilot, switching to the next season without thinking about what was gained in the previous one. We do have certain times where we have learned to take notice like school graduations and marriage, when we recognize that our children will be forever changed, never to return to their former lives. When those things happen we greet them with feelings that are bittersweet. We wouldn’t take those moments away from our children, but at the same time we grieve a little for what is passing. But this is what parenting is, isn’t it? A holding on and letting go, over and over.
I would like to suggest that there are many more subtle moments in life when our children are ready to move on to a new season and if we were aware, we would have some wonderful moments where we experience joy in the passing. Yes, it will be bittersweet and some tears are likely to be shed, but they will be tears of joy as we see what has been done in that child’s life to get him to this new season. Firsts are great, but lasts are necessary stepping stones and are perhaps worth the pause required to acknowledge them.
Of course it’s easier to notice the lasts for the youngest child because there are no more to follow but the lasts in the lives of the older ones are worth acknowledging too. I am praying that God will help me slow down and take more notice of the lasts that I may be thankful for each one and appreciate more what comes next.