31 Days of Intentionality, Prayer

10 years later… {Day 28 – Intentionality}

I’ve mentioned it before, but God really has been teaching me a lot about intentional prayer.  He’s called me in some pretty crazy ways to just STOP throughout my day and seek Him… seek His wisdom… seek His peace… seek His direction and guidance… seek His love and grace.  He’s pointed me to intentional prayer through His Word, through a couple books I’m reading, through some conversations with friends and teammates, through sermons and more.

Today, I got to see a little bit of the outcome … a little bit of WHY God calls us to be intentional about bringing our lives before him.  It came in a text message from a friend who has been praying for 10 YEARS that her father would know Jesus.  Today, a piece of that prayer was answered as he went to church this morning and, quoting her text, “he said he liked it!”

While I’m certain that her dad has a ways to go, what a beautiful reminder to not only be intentional in prayer, but persistent… even over the long-haul.  You never know when the day might come that God decides it’s time in His plan and way to answer, “YES!”

Please join me, and my friend, tonight in continuing to pray for her father! 🙂

31 Days of Intentionality

I had every intention… {Day 27 – Intentionality}

Some how I got all the way to Day 27 of this series and had never considered the idea of having an intention to do something but then not doing it. All this time I’ve talked about BEING intentional about something in the sense of actually doing it. Being intentional about seeking God constantly for wisdom or being intentional about opening up my eyes to what He’s doing around me or being intentional about looking for ways to help people in my everyday life.

But today as I thought about what to write, I thought about the root of “intentionality”: intention.

At first, this almost seems to lessen the impact, but as God often works, it really takes the learning a little bit deeper. How many of us have heard someone say (or said ourselves), “I had every intention to…”

And it’s always followed by a “but…” as well, isn’t it?

The cool thing with intentionality (at least in my mind) is that it doesn’t just stop with “a good idea” or “I meant to do that.” It actually happens, the intention gets carried out.

Another piece though is to be able and willing to set aside our own intentions in order to follow God. I can have every intention to clean my house one evening when I get a call that a friend needs a listening ear. If I stick to my own intentions just for the sake of being “intentional” in life, I miss the true life God has called me to. It makes me think of two verses from the Old Testament:

First, there’s Proverbs 16:9 which talks about planning but being open to change:

The heart of man plans his way, but the LORD establishes his steps.

And the reason our plans don’t always line up with the steps God leads us to take is that His ways and thoughts and plans are so much greater than our own. Isaiah 55:8-9

For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord.
For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are my ways higher than your ways
and my thoughts than your thoughts.

As Jason talked about in the sermon tonight (spoiler-alert) sometimes we have to let go of “good” in order receive God’s “better” for us. We have to give up our own intentions and seek Him alone.

I had every intention to… but God stepped in and for that I’m eternally grateful!

31 Days of Intentionality, First Trinity, Mission Work

Ask Me About My Mission {Intentionality – Day 25}

As I was falling asleep last night, I couldn’t help but think of our mission team serving and sharing Jesus in China right now.  At first I was just blown away by the idea that because of the 12-hour time difference, for these next two weeks while we are sleeping here in the US, they’re awake, actively sharing Jesus, and while they sleep, we’re awake.  It just blew my mind.

Every single time we commission missionaries from First Trinity with the sending cloth we talk about how our duty on the mission team is to pray for those who are in China right now, but that they also are praying for us and our mission back here in WNY.  The team away right now may have chances to experience God and His power in ways beyond our comprehension but it doesn’t make our mission here any less important.  We get to see the extraordinary nature of God in the very ordinary and some might contest that it’s even MORE important.

Mission Madness, our one main event for fundraising for short-term mission trips, is coming up a week from Saturday.  At that event we focus on raising funds for trips like the China team, or our annual Haiti trip, as well as youth and young adult mission trips both domestic and (coming in the summer of 2014) international.  If you get to attend this amazing theme basket auction, you will see many of the missionaries that are going out this coming year, along with volunteers for the day wearing bright blue First Trinity Missions T-shirts.  These shirts will also be for sale as part of the fundraising but more importantly as a reminder to each of us that we are called by God to be on mission each and everyday … to point to an extraordinary God in the midst of the ordinary.  We are called to be on mission in our families, workplaces, schools, communities, and beyond.

The back of these shirts has a simple, but bold prompt:  “Ask Me About My Mission.”  Whether you purchase a shirt or not, I challenge each of us to truly think about the mission God has called us to each and everyday.  I’m not in China right now on a “mission trip”, but I’m a part of the mission through prayer and encouragement.  Right now I might say, “My mission is to pray for our team that’s serving in China right now.”  But it goes beyond even the connections with mission trips or events.   Another way to respond if someone were to ask my my mission is simply to say “My mission is to love the people God places in my life each day.” or “My mission is help high schoolers and young adults connect with Jesus in meaningful ways.” or countless other things to which I feel God has called me and uses me for his purposes.

So, stop and think about it for a minute:




Here are some ideas of what people might say:

  • My mission is to be a godly husband/wife/mother/father for my family.
  • My mission is to be the best 2nd grade teacher I can be.
  • My mission is to sweep cheerios up off the floor 4 times a day, deal with toddler tantrums, change diapers and whatever else it takes to communicate the unconditional love of God to my children.
  • My mission is to run my business with integrity and respect.
  • My mission is to speak for those who can’t speak for themselves.

What’s your mission?  Where has God called you?

I invite you to share your one-sentence mission in the comments below.  If you attend Mission Madness, stop by the booth where we’re selling the shirts and add your mission to the board we’ll have up there… let us all continue to be encouraged by the many ways God uses us as true missionaries to reach His world.

31 Days of Intentionality

Every Moment {Intentionality – Day 24}

When I first opened Facebook a picture I saw caught my attention. It simply said:

If you woke up this morning, it means God has a plan for you today.

It is easy for us to get distracted by what’s next or what has been that we forget our great purpose in today. We miss the little things, and perhaps the big things too. We believe Satan’s lie that we’re unimportant or have no purpose and so we just go through the motions day after day after day.

That’s where I think intentionality comes into play. If we truly believe that God has purpose for us in each day then we are drawn to seek that purpose and direction to live it out straight from Him. It’s a constant turning to Him and simply asking, “Okay, what next, God?”

31 Days of Intentionality

Radiant {intentionality day 23}

Tonight as I think about intentionality, my prayer is simply that above all I would intentionally seek Christ each day.

I will bless the Lord at all times; his praise shall continually be in my mouth. My soul makes its boast in the Lord; let the humble hear and be glad. Oh, magnify the Lord with me, and let us exalt his name together! I sought the Lord, and he answered me and delivered me from all my fears. Those who look to him are radiant, and their faces shall never be ashamed. (Psalm 34:1-5)

It takes intentionality to bless The Lord at all times.
It takes intentionality to continually speak praises of him.
It takes intentionality to seek others to magnify The Lord with.
It takes intentionality to seek Him turning away from our fears.
It takes intentionality to look to him instead of true many things that bring shame.

But the intentionality is worth it for those look to him are radiant! Lord make me radiant with intentionality!

31 Days of Intentionality

Ruth {Day 22 – Intentionality}

Opps… between the women’s retreat, extra responsibilities at church, and a friend’s wedding this weekend, I completely forgot about blogging.  In any case, here’s October 22nd’s learnings about intentionality:

So tonight I was talking with some friends about the book of Ruth in the Bible. There are many words one might use to describe Ruth, and I do believe that “intentional” and “on purpose” should/could be some of them.

First of all, check out this passage that comes from a conversation in which Naomi, Ruth’s widowed mother-in-law, begs Ruth, a Moabite, to stay behind in Moab and remarry one of Ruth’s own people instead of following Naomi back to her home town:

“But Ruth said, ‘Do not urge me to leave you or to return from following you. For where you go, I will go, and where you lodge, I will lodge. Your people shall be my people, and your God, my God. Where you die I will die, and there I will be buried.  May the Lord do so to me and more also if anything but death parts me from you.’  And when Naomi saw that she was determined to go with her, she said no more.” (Ruth 1:16-18)

Determination… one great aspect of intentionality.  But it doesn’t stop there for Ruth.

Once back in Bethlehem, Ruth was intentional about getting to work to try to provide for her mother-in-law.  Never mind that she was a foreigner and not well treated. Never mind that she too was a widow.  Never mind that she grew up in a culture that followed after many different gods and idols.  She intentionally set out to find protection and provision.

And she did.  She also was intentional about seeking wisdom from Naomi, who not only was her mother-in-law but her mentor in life and faith. She was intentional to follow all that she was told to do, including Naomi’s direction to find for them a kinsman redeemer.

In all of this, she intently focused on whatever duties God placed before her.  No one would have blamed her for staying back in Moab, finding another guy and settling in with a family.  But by being intentional in the ways of God, even when they were perhaps more difficult she, and Naomi, found great blessing.

God provided food for them for many harvest seasons through the generosity of Boaz and by leading her to his field.  God provided beyond what was expected for a foreigner to receive.  God blessed Ruth with a family though she was content to live for God even if that wasn’t the case.  God provided her a son, which would carry on the family name, restored Naomi’s joy, and ultimately became one more piece in the lineage of Jesus Christ himself, through who we too are redeemed.

31 Days of Intentionality

Colors {Day 18- Intentionality}

It was a pretty normal morning.  Got ready for work, headed out the door, and began my *long* commute (insert sarcastic voice here).  I haven’t ever counted the steps, but it seems as if it perhaps takes longer to walk from the main office to my own office once in the building than it does to get from my front door to the front door of the church (Well, at least by the time I say hi to all my teammates and a few cute preschoolers along the way!)  Most days I’m either engrossed in conversation with one of my neighbors as we walk together or just focused on whatever is waiting for me when I sit down at my desk.

But this morning, as I made my commute, I noticed something I hadn’t noticed before… there is A LOT to see in that 2 minute walk.  Especially during this fall season, the colors just in that short distance were innumerable.  There were bushes, still vibrant green at the bottom but as your gaze shifted upward, morphed into a beautiful maroon.  Trees across the road had more shades of orange and yellow than I knew existed.  The bright green grass fit perfectly with the bright blue sky.

And too think, I almost missed it… because I wasn’t going far. I walk this everyday. It’s no big deal. Or is it?

God is all around us.  Open your eyes.

Where might you get glimpses of God in something you pass every day if you’re just intentional to notice?

31 Days of Intentionality

Wow God {Day 17 – Intentionality}

I had the honor and privilege of sitting in a room tonight with brothers and sisters in Christ from across the globe.  As I sat there and listened to the stories of Christians from China, it was obvious that these beautiful Christians live very intentional, on-purpose lives.

I sat in awe and excitement to hear about their plans to expand their mission efforts into other countries and how the only way to really do it is to mobilize thousands of “foot-soldiers”… “a simple task really.”  (Say, what?)

Or there’s the story of a woman who had a three-year prison sentence for handing out free calendars that had a Bible verses on them.  Then, when they tried to let her out early so that she would stop converting everyone in the prison, she said, no… that her prison sentence was 3 years and she would stay there 3 years.  And she did.

To sit across the table from people who consistently risks their lives to put the Living Word of God into the hands of brothers and sisters…

All I can say is WOW.  Their life focus is clear… their hearts are set on Christ alone and His mission.

I couldn’t help but be brought to tears as I heard of THOUSANDS being brought to Christ in a single day. But those tears of joy were also mixed with a few tears of pain.  It’s sad for me to think how distant that concept seems in our own country.  Seriously, these brothers and sisters spoke many times throughout the night in terms of THOUSANDS, not a few here and there, not even in hundreds, but thousands and millions. Thousands of Bibles, thousands of baptisms, thousands of lives transformed… in a single day.

When was the last time I woke up one morning, and thought “Hmm, I bet God is going to bring thousands of people around me today into a relationship with him.”  I don’t know if I ever have.   Can you even DREAM of waking up and expecting that thousands of people would come to Christ that day. It may be hard to imagine, but it’s something I want to imagine. It’s a dream I want to have.

The coolest thing about all of this is, like many things in life, God doesn’t give the whole big picture from the beginning.  Instead, it happens through step by step, obedience and intentionality in each moment’s calling from God.  These brothers and sisters in Christ we met tonight ARE intentional to listen to His voice and to take the courage He gives them to be bold in their faith in the little things… and the enormous things.

Absolutely incredible!

31 Days of Intentionality

An Intentional God {Day 15 – Intentionality}

I’m not sure what it is the last couple of days, but the thoughts that have come my way on intentionality, have been short, sweet, and to the point.  Here’s what’s been going through my mind today:

Nothing surprises God. He is intentional in everything He does.

As someone who is often easily distracted it amazes me that God is on purpose, on mission, completely focused…  constantly. He’s never in a hurry. He’s never overwhelmed by the urgent.  He’s never surprised by something that comes up.  It’s truly amazing!  What a great God we serve!