Have you ever had one of those mornings where God wakes you up? That was me this morning. I woke up 2 hours before my alarm with God pressing on my heart and mind the following thought: Holiness is the goal. No matter what choices I make today, what I stand for or against, it's all about striving for holiness. Lyrics from a praise and worship song kept playing in my mind: "Holy are You God. Holy is Your Name. With every thing I've got my heart will sing how I love You."
I continued to lay there singing in my heart and communing with God. I closed my eyes and thought I'd try to go back to sleep, but once again I felt God's voice, "Holiness is the goal. There is no darkness in Me at all." I knew then that I needed to get up and go to my Bible.
I went back to the passage I was studying yesterday, James 4: 4 -10. God created our hearts to be full of passion for Him and His purpose but when we allow our fleshly desires to take over we turn our passion away from God and towards things of this world. James 4:4 says, "You adulterous people! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God."
Old Testament prophets would use the term "adulterous people" to describe Israel's unfaithfulness to God because they would choose to imitate worldly ways of thinking and worldly activities. It is impossible to please the unbelieving world and God at the same time. We must make a choice. We can't just hang out in the middle between the world and God. We must be deliberate in what we choose to resist and what we choose to draw near to us.
"We can't have one foot on God's side of the center and the other foot on Satan's without getting ripped like a zipper right up the middle. That's why James say, 'Purify your hearts, double-minded people!' In other words, Make up your mind and your motive and set your whole heart where you want it. You cannot have it both ways!" (Mercy Triumphs, Beth Moore)
That is so important to grasp....as Christians we cannot have it both ways!! When we are double-minded then our commitment to God is half-hearted and our loyalties are divided. We cannot be double-minded and have true unity with God. We will be unstable, incomplete and vulnerable to Satan's attacks. There is so much evil in this world that is celebrated in the name of openness and diversity.
We must build our lives on the foundation of the absolute truth of God's Word. God calls us to live holy lives. We are to be holy, like God is holy. We are God's chosen people and we are called to look so different that there is no doubt about where our loyalty lies. We need to let God's holiness infiltrate every area of our lives. Our desire to be like Him should impact every thought, every word, every action of every day.
So whether your life choices go against the cultural norms of the world or appear legalistic to some believers, you must ask yourself, "Am I living a life that is true to my identity as a child of the untemptable God who never changes, shows no partiality, and has no darkness in Him at all or am I trying to combine alternate worldviews with God's call to holiness?"
As my family has grown and gotten older, we are very busy. We have church activities, school activities, ministry opportunities, sporting events, and the list goes on. There are plenty of things that could keep us going in all different directions 7 days a week. But as all of these opportunities come our way, I find myself wondering if there are some that we should be saying no to.
We have been very intentional about not signing up for activities that keep us away from church on Sundays as well as choosing ways to serve as a family during summer break. But what about the daily things? Are we making each moment of the day count towards eternity or are we getting sucked into the craziness and chaos of sibling rivalry, housework, and the latest social media craze?
As I was doing some reading the other day, I came across the following questions:
What WILL be the lasting impact of your family on this world?
What will your legacy be?
If a book was written about your family what would it say?
These questions really got me thinking. I really want our family to make an eternal impact on the world. I want the name Carlson to bring to mind a legacy of radical faith that was evident in how we lived each day. And if a book was written about my family right now, it would probably say something like, "Those crazy Carlson's serve & love others outside of their home but they definitely need to learn to do the same inside their home as well."
It's so easy for the chaos of life to take over. We spend our days rushing from one activity to another or from one sibling disagreement to another. If we don't have an eternal mission or purpose then we make decisions horizontally instead of vertically. We choose what makes sense from a selfish, worldly perspective not a sacrificial, heavenly perspective.
I think God has given each family a unique mission and purpose based on the gifts and talents of each of its members. No other family can live out the Carlson's mission and the Carlson's aren't suppose to try to live out someone else's mission...no matter how cool we think it looks. Our purpose is to use the talents that God has given us to bring honor and glory to Him.
As we sat around the dinner table last night, we began discussing our purpose as a family. What are our strengths and weaknesses? What are ways we can serve each other? What do we want our family to look like in 10 years? My goal over the next couple of weeks is to work together to create a Carlson Family Mission Statement that will help guide us to do that which God has called us to complete during our time here on earth.
I like how Tsh from The Simple Mom explains the benefits of a mission statement: "When we’ve made deliberate decisions about what we’re about as a family, certain choices become a no-brainer. Even fun. You’re at peace with the choices you make, because they align with your priorities, and they just make sense."
I'm looking forward to continuing the discussions with the kids as we craft the Carlson Family Mission Statement. Do you have a family mission statement? If not, why not start creating one today.
Here is a list of questions from The Simple Mom to help get you started:
1. What are a few strengths of each member of our family?
2. Collectively, we are at our best when we are…
3. Collectively, we are at our worst when we are…
4. If we had a completely free day together as a family, how would we spend
5. What are practical ways we can serve each other?
6. What are practical ways we can serve others outside our family?
7. Name three things you think you could do better as a family.
8. What would people say today about our family as a whole?
9. What would we like people to say about our family as a whole in 30
10. If our home could be filled with one emotion, what would it be?
11. Name three adjectives we would like people to use to describe our home
12. If we could name one principle from which we want our family to operate,
what would it be?
13. What are the top four priorities we want our family to value?
14. What is the main purpose of our home?
15. What is the secondary purpose of our home?
16. What is the individual purpose in life of each member of our family?
17. What is one way we are unique as a family?
18. What is the purpose of life?
Late Friday night, I wrote a blog entitled "Searching". In it I shared my struggles with understanding God's timing and direction for our life in ministry. Here are a few lines from that blog:
"I see all of these doors opening for Bible studies and camps and serving, and I am overwhelmed. Right now I don't understand God's plan. I don't understand His timing. I am searching. Searching for a sign. The one that tells us what step to take next. Where is God leading us?"
My faith was being stretched to the breaking point. I was questioning whether we were to continue in ministry or if God was leading us to something else. I cried out to God for answers and direction. I was claiming James 1:5. "If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God who gives generously without criticizing."
God has been so faithful to provide for our needs over and over again as we've walked this journey. So in my heart I knew he could do it, but my head was wondering "How?" & "When?" I was especially concerned with the "When?"
As I thought about the funds dwindling in our account and our last weekly pay being deposited on Monday, my mind started playing the "What If" game. "What if we can't pay the electric bill?" "What if Rich has to get a full-time job, what will happen to the local FCA ministry?" "What if......." There were so many "what if's" going through my head, that I began to feel discouraged.
I took those discouragements, doubts & fears to God and asked for His peace, His direction and His provision. I was asking Him to "show me where to walk for I give myself to you" (Ps. 143:8) I needed to know what step to take next. I didn't need to see the whole path just the next step. The next morning, I woke up with the peace of knowing that God would give us clear direction.
We went about our Saturday serving at Upward Basketball. On Sunday Rich had been invited to share his testimony and mission of FCA with a small group in our church, then we went to the worship service with our FBC family. Sunday night God answered our prayer for direction. He answered it as only a powerful, all-mighty God can do! He provided the necessary funds to support our family's living expenses for 2 months!!! So now we are able to continue serving and not worry about paying bills or putting gas in the cars. Even as I type this I want to shout "PRAISE GOD!!!!"
We asked for direction and he gave us a GIANT neon sign that says "KEEP GOING THIS WAY"!!! We were asking for provision for a few upcoming bills. In true God-like fashion he gave us "abundantly more than we could ask or think". He has also opened up 2 more doors for ministry opportunities this week...one with an inner-city church plant and another with the Dayton Dragons (our minor league baseball team). And I'm sure He's not done yet!!
We'll continue serving and continue seeking God's direction for this ministry. We know that if we continue to be obedient to His call, he will continue to bless the ministry and be faithful to provide all our needs according to His riches in glory. I can't wait to see what amazing things God is going to do next!!! I just need to remember that God's timing is never early and never late. It's always on time....HIS time!!
The past few weeks have been difficult for me. The uncertainty of our future in ministry has weighed heavy on my mind and heart.
At times I find it hard to pray and when I do all I can pray about is direction. I find myself questioning God and wondering why the opportunities are growing but the funding is not.
I see all of these doors opening for Bible studies and camps and serving, and I am overwhelmed. Right now I don't understand God's plan. I don't understand His timing.
I am searching. Searching for a sign. The one that tells us what step to take next. Where is God leading us?
I am searching. Searching for answers. Why open all of these doors without providing the resources to walk through them?
I am searching. Searching for peace. Peace from the internal battle of doubts and questions.
I am searching. Searching for rest. Rest from the weariness of disappointments and discouragements.
I am searching. Searching for joy. The joy that comes from oneness with God. The joy that comes when you know you're walking obediently to His calling.
I'm searching the heart of God and listening for His reply.
I am a Christian, a wife, a mom, a VBS crafter, a coupon clipper, a thrift store shopper, a football fan, a cook, a student of the Bible and an avid reader.