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How do I Discern My Vision?

The second part of the question is what to do if your dream job or situation pays poorly or is limited by opportunity, availability, or any other factor. I would give the same answer I gave earlier. Don’t let your perceived ideas about your future be limited to your current knowledge of any particular field. You might not be talented enough to give a solo concert at Carnegie Hall, but that doesn’t mean you can’t work with music in some way. The same holds true for any other field of endeavor.

The most important task is listening to your spirit. God has given you talents and abilities. You are a unique child of God, with a purpose and plan for your life. As you listen carefully to the voice inside you are experiencing God communicating with you.

Don’t dispel the notions that what you think might not be true. Unless you have serious mental problems, you won’t hear voices telling you to do harm. God wants only the best for us, so His voice will lead you to those things that will enrich your life and serve God’s people.

Julia Cameron writes in “Finding Water” that when she is experiencing difficulty writing she prays, “Please, God, send me the willingness to just listen and write.” What wonderful advice for us to take into our own hearts. When you are stumped, feel frustrated, or still can’t quite seem to find your vision, just be quiet. Ask God for the vision. And then really quiet your soul. Find the peace within to hear the answer you seek.

When you know your vision, write it down! Read Habakkuk 2:2-3 says: “Write the vision and make it plain on tablets. That he may run who reads it. For the vision is yet for an appointed time; but at the end it will speak, and it will not lie. Though it tarries, wait for it; because it will surely come, it will not tarry.” Writing down your vision helps clarify it and your thinking. Also, there is something very powerful about writing down the vision, making it plain, so you can see it each day.

Remind yourself what you are working toward so you can lessen your distractions! The very details of daily life can pull us away from our dreams and visions. God gave us these visions, dreams of a life well-lived, with contentment and creativity at hand. It is up to us to make it happen!

Next week we can dig deeper into the concept of writing down the vision. For the time being, if you don’t want to share your vision with others, keep it to yourself. Sometimes we have to protect the most vulnerable parts of ourselves in order to finally bring them into fruition. Never let anyone rob you of your vision. Never, never, never. God has given you the vision: remember how special you are to God, so your vision is also special.

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This is some powerful advice! I recommend you read it through and then let your own thoughts lead you to a new creation for your writing!

Thought Catalog

I know you have a book in you and you are ready to get it out. I know that not because I am psychic but because you are reading this. I know I have one too (I am working on my second). This is a wonderful time for the both of us!

I will take full credit right now: James’s latest book, “Choose Yourself” would have been a disaster and a flop if not for me.

DO NOT EVEN QUESTION ME IF YOU ARE READING THIS, JAMES.

Let me tell you James’ story.

November 2012: I notice that James has just sent an email to a consultant we use that said: “Please upload this to Amazon when you can.” A book called The Choose Yourself Era was attached. That’s it. One line. One attachment.

Thank God he cc-ed me!

I open the attachment and see the very first draft…

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The greatest joy we can have in life is to have a close relationship with God and to experience His presence in our lives. God loves us and has created us with a plan and a purpose for our lives. God always invites us into a dance with Him, to love Him and others, and to live out His vision for us.

For our part, we have to discover a vision for ourselves that propels us through our entire lives. How do we find that vision? We will explore the idea of vision over a few blogs. We can know that by reading God’s word, praying, and sharing with other Christians, we can find and articulate a vision for our lives.

You might be asking, how do I find my vision? Ask yourself what you are passionate about. What makes your heart race, your mind expand and your face light up? When you talk about something you care about intensely, your family and friends will take note. Your face changes, as does your posture, your whole body, all of your leaning into talking about what moves you the most.

What subjects would your closest friends identify as something that moves you? Look deep inside, ask yourself some questions about what is most important to you and envision yourself doing something in that area.

For instance, if you have a burning desire to help people heal physically or emotionally, your options are nearly unlimited in careers or avocations. If you love research and science, there are places where you can fit in with like-minded people.

Two questions spring to mind immediately: what if I can’t identify a burning desire for anything in particular or what if what I want to do doesn’t pay or is limited in some other way? The first question I can answer for you in this vein: you have a deep desire to do something, but you might be denying that. If you love music but believe you lack enough talent to be a performer, you might bury your desire to have a career with music in a place that never bubbles up to the surface. It is true that your employment options might not be as numerous as some other careers. Yet, you must look beyond performance to other venues.

In other words, what can you do in the field other than being on stage as a performer? Or even being on stage without being at the front? Explore everything. Investigate everything. But begin by believing your deepest dreams can come true.

You might also explore how to engage with your passion as an avocation. We don’t require monetary reward for everything we do in life! You might love to cook, but you don’t have to become a professional chef to give joy and great food to other people! There are millions of people who love to treat family and friends to scrumptious meals who would never consider a career in the culinary arts.

Give yourself time to think about this and we will cover the second question next time. In the meantime, give yourself the gift of expanding imagination!

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This is a great idea for books and for a nice gift idea list. You’ll agree with some books, perhaps not all. But it makes for interesting reading!

The World's Newest Writing -- Every Day

Also visit our Flagship Blog, the Word Journeys Blog

With Labor Day fast approaching, it’s never too early to grab those early-season holiday gifts, right?

I thought I’d create a “gift list” to use when shopping for your writer friends and relatives – or yourselves.

This list is very simple: 40 Books For Every Writer’s Library. I realize it is subjective, and I may have missed one of your favorites, but it covers every angle for working on our books, articles, essays or other projects. This list is also designed to spark new ideas, or to further exploration of ideas you already have.

In the list, you will find several self-help writing books, collections of conversations with authors, memoirs, technical books, books addressing other creative genres (music and art, specifically), and works written by some of our greatest authors.

In no particular order (except for #1, #2 and #3), here is…

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The priorities we set in our lives are challenged by the stewardship approach. We are asked to examine the foundation of things that our culture deems highly personal, and thereby problematic, in our relationship to God and each other. Especially in the western world, particularly in the United States, we are inculcated with the idea that who and what we are in the world is judged upon what we do and own. How we choose to spend our time, our abilities and our money is our business. People may believe that the church cannot dictate those aspects of our lives.

A commitment to change is challenging in the most profound way. People who have chosen this commitment are quite explicit in discussing the changes brought into their lives by entrusting their lives and possessions to God, to a higher calling than what we witness in our consumer society. This approach is a radical departure from the norm, from what our society perceives as important.

In studies of congregations with a stewardship model, researchers have found personal and institutional perspectives have changed. Discipleship, as expressed in giving one’s time and talent, is considered as a high priority, with its importance being equal to generous financial giving. This is the heart of the difference between fundraising and stewardship. We are not paying God back for the generous gifts we have received; we are giving from heartfelt gratitude. The difference may appear to be subtle and lends credence to the idea we may need new language to discuss stewardship effectively.

The notion of giving for the sake of giving is contrary to our experiences in most other areas of our lives. The result of giving is expressed in the programs and ministry offerings of congregations. For instance, money alone cannot produce an enthusiastic choir, dedicated lay ministers devoted to teaching, leading groups, or visiting people at home or in the hospital. Those acts of ministry spring from a desire to do God’s work.

If we are convinced that our lives matter to God, that we have something to bring to the world, we want to allow those fruits, the spirit of God at work in our lives, to flow out to other people. This generosity of spirit brings new purpose and joy to our lives. We know we are acting on those gifts we have been given and perhaps enlarging our capacity for love and compassion.

On the other hand, money cannot be discounted. Churches need money to meet the parish budget. Good thoughts and prayers probably won’t keep the doors open or the lights on in the building. As surely as we must have a realistic budget at home, the church must work within the confines of a budget. The financial responsibility for a parish is intertwined with responsibility for each other. If we are to celebrate in worship together, we must make plans for that together. If we are to glorify God in His house, we must take good care of that house through proper stewardship.

Parishes choosing the stewardship model prayed about adopting it. Led by pastors, congregational leaders discussed stewardship, sought understanding of what the ideal means, and then proceeded to give the plan time to work. By sustaining parish members through changes, encouraging them to enhance or expand their ministries, involving more people in more diverse ways, congregations have made significant changes through a difficult process.

In fact, as people have adopted a stewardship approach, the gift of freedom from our selfish, consumption at any cost society became evident. As God’s people in the world, we must live in the world, yet not become exactly like the world. The rediscovery of lay vocations is endemic. The reformation, for that is truly what stewardship means, allows people to be free from a worldview and move into a discipleship view. Emerging from a secular only viewpoint irrevocably changes people in many ways. The essence of living out Christian mission in the world becomes real and a focus for energy.

 

 

 

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Why do we give money to the church?

 

This is the time of year many congregations launch a stewardship campaign. I believe it is imperative to discuss giving, or rather, living a life in stewardship. Considering the confusion and lack of clarity about giving in some churches, it seems some words of wisdom are in order. Because I am firmly committed to the belief that all we are and have belongs to and comes from God, my words will reflect that belief.

 

These ideas might be new to you. Or you might be living your own life in accordance with these ideas. One thing I can promise you: the concept of tithing (giving 10 percent) and giving the first fruits of your income to God did not die after the Old Testament age. We are commanded by God to return those first fruits to Him. And therein lies the problem facing many churches: a denial of God’s commandments.

 

I invited you to challenge yourself by reading about stewardship for a couple of weeks. You might come away with a new perspective on your life and your relationship with God!

 

In most congregations a discussion of stewardship brings forth anxiety, or perhaps resentment, about asking for money. The problem is that we have confused stewardship with fundraising, to the detriment of both. If we are to grow spiritually into mature Christians we need to understand a theology of stewardship and its concommitent affect on our lives.

 

Church consultant Loren Mead believes most Christians view stewardship as fundraising. He criticizes churches for their approaches for handling a serious component of Christian faith in a cavalier manner. In his book Financial Meltdown in the Mainline (Bethesda, Md.; The Alban Institute, 1998), he states:

I yearn for a more complex and straight-talk theology of giving and of money that takes seriously the ambiguous character of my life, of my use of everything I have, and the straight-out sick way that I often relate to money and possessions as well as my whole life. Stewardship leaves out my sinfulness, my need for repentance, and the reality of the grace of God. I don’t mind it as a simplistic theology, I just wish we had a theology of money and giving that had more substance.

 

Any discussion of stewardship needs to begin with a definition of stewardship and an explication of stewardship theology. Stewardship is more than money, more than fundraising, in the life of a congregation and each individual member.

 

Stewardship involves a commitment of our lives to God. We acknowledge our lives as a gift from God, beginning with the grace of Jesus Christ as our savior. Our response to God comes in gratitude for the gifts He gives.

 

God made manifest in our lives is not predicated upon our wealth. But the fruits of the spirit could be evident in our lives and congregations by our commitment to the stewardship ideal. The expression of the theology of stewardship may translate differently in various traditions or denominations, but the underlying premise is the same: stewardship involves our whole lives.

 

We give our time, talent and treasure to God in gratitude for the gifts we have received. The form and function of our time and talent may vary and the amount of treasure we give may not be a full tithe, but rather, proportional giving.

 

Most people do not tithe, yet they may practice proportional giving, a certain percentage of their income, on the way to tithing. Others practice a sacrificial giving, a giving of more than a tithe. The majority gives fewer dollars and may feel that is enough, or think the church doesn’t need more money. The spectrum and reasons for giving is broad.

 

Taking the risk to empower parishioners to be intentional in their giving frightens some pastors or members of stewardship or finance committees. Laying a foundation for stewardship, for intentional giving of time, talent and treasure takes time. It is a countercultural notion, one that demands that we examine our relationship to money and possessions, our use of time, our gifts and our relationship to God and other people.

 

It is a revolutionary idea to demand that we stop being passive observers and become fully engaged in the work of God in the world. It can, however, lead to a new sense of ministry and dynamic congregations of people who are inspired to be the Body of Christ.

 

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Sometimes a great notion falls from the clouds into my mind as I walk the dog. The rest of the time I have to actually pay attention or I might miss the still, small voice of God. My friend Barbara and I talked about this recently over some great coffee in a quiet, locally owned coffee shop. The shop is the kind of place you enjoy drinking coffee without the background noise that drives me out of the national chains. We reflected on the noise in our culture and in our lives. We talked about Americans dislike of quiet. The fact that we want noise is very telling.

It seems that we can’t stand the sound of our thoughts. Everywhere we go we are bombarded with sound…raucous, never-ending, chatter or music or advertising. We behave as though we don’t want to hear ourselves think, nor do we leave room for God to speak to us. How can we possibly hear God over the racket in the air? The sad truth that we apparently don’t care if God is really trying to say something to us. We want entertainment, distraction, a pull away from our problems and our depression. It is ironic that we don’t seem to understand the solution to our problems can only be found when we stop the distraction, shut off the entertainment, sit down and be quiet for awhile.

This is beginning to sound like a scold, which is not what I want for you. We are God’s children and made in His image, so we can begin living our lives as the precious people we are in His sight. We are God’s beloved, not trash. Our best selves can come forward when we remember who we are in Christ. Open the Daily Operational Handbook and read God’s promises. You will find reasons to be joyful and content. It can be the beginning of a new day for you, leading to a new life.

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