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Posts Tagged ‘purpose’

(I recently spoke at Arizona State University cru on this topic, and part 2:  We’re Better Together.  Today and Friday, I am posting the outlines for these messages.)

Who am I and why am I here?

Most of us ask this question at some time, and usually many times.  Women especially seem to search for these answers.

At transition points in our lives, when we feel dissatisfied or confused about our lives, when we have dreams that seem beyond our reach, and at many other times, we wonder who we are and what our purpose is.

God has answers.  And for women these answers include specifcs for all women and for each woman.  Here is just a summary of those truths—the discovery and living out will be unique for each woman over her lifetime.

IMAGE BEARER

“So God created human beings in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.” (Genesis 1:27)

This is one of the most amazing truths in Scripture.  God made us like Him—in His image.  So we could live in fellowship with Him and so we would show the entire creation what He is like!!  (In the Fall, we drastically dimmed that reflection, but we are still God’s image bearers.)

And the image bearer reality is true for the span of our lives.

STRONG HELPER: EZER

“The LORD God said, ‘It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.’” (Genesis 2:18)

The Hebrew word for “helper” in this verse is ezer.  It is a powerful word, used in three ways in Scripture.  Armies that came to the aid and protection of Israel were called ezers.  The most common use of the word was to describe God as our ezer, our Helper, especially in time of trouble.  In both of these uses, the word has military connotations.

The first time we see the word is in the Scripture above.   God said it was not good for the man to be alone, so He made woman as an ezer, a strong helper, a co-laborer in the assignment God gave them, a partner in the battle ahead.

And the ezer reality is true from birth to death—for the girl, the single woman, the wife, the mother, the widow.

BLESSED ALLIANCE

“God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it.”  (Genesis 1:28)

God blessed the man and woman and gave them an assignment:  To increase their numbers—to have children.  To cultivate the earth and make it fruitful.  And I believe, as image bearers, to reflect and represent God, to be spiritually fruitful.

They were to do this together, in a blessed alliance.  Sin caused these allies to become more like adversaries, but Jesus restored this alliance.

(In my next post I will develop this concept more in “We’re Better Together.”)

UNIQUELY YOU

“For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”  (Ephesians 2:10)

In Psalm 139 we understand that God was there, forming us in our mother’s womb—making each of us just as He wanted us.  In the verse above we see the result:  He declares that we are works of art!  I’m sure He said, as each of us was born:  “That’s it!  She is exactly what I had in mind—a masterpiece!”

And then He tells that He made us the way we are—all our strengths, gifts, talents, idiosyncrasies, weaknesses—for the purposes He intends for us.  He already has good works prepared—and who we are will be just right to accomplish those assignments.

KINGDOM BUILDER

“Jesus said to him, ‘…you go and proclaim the kingdom of God.’” (Luke 9:60)

“You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit—fruit that will last…”  (John 15:16)

Those good works God has prepared for us will include our explorations to discover who we are, our growing years, our various vocations, our marriages and our parenting, and even in retirement.

And they will also include our part in Kingdom work.  God is building His Kingdom, and each of us has a role—even many roles–to play in that great endeavor.   His design equips us for Kingdom assignments He has for each of us.

Personally, I never get over that God so lovingly and specifically designed me—because He wants to be with me, has amazing life plans for me—and invites me to be on His Kingdom team!

What about you?  Have you discovered God’s good intentions in making you?

C2012 Judy Douglass

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Arrowhead Mountain

For many years I lived at Arrowhead Springs, in the San Bernardino mountains.  Right above me was a giant natural formation in the shape of an arrowhead on the side of a mountain.  The area is filled with healing hot springs and legends of flaming arrows striking the mountain.  It was the major landmark in the area.

But for me the formation looked very much like a great shepherd, extending robed arms, saying “Come to me.”  Which, of course, is what Jesus has said to us in so many ways.

As Children

But Jesus called the children to him and said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these.  (Luke 18:16)

We think we need to know so much, or be so holy, or have it all together.  But no, we are to come in ignorance, immaturity, just as we are.  We are to come to him as children.

To Fish

Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will send you out to fish for people.” (Matthew 4:19)

He says to come to Him and He will put us to work.  And what work it is:  To fish for those who need to know Him, to draw them into His Kingdom, to offer them new life.

Surprise!

When Jesus reached the spot, he looked up and said to him, “Zacchaeus, come down immediately. I must stay at your house today.”  (Luke 19:5)

Talk about surprised!  Zacchaeus was short so he scurried up a tree to get a glimpse of Jesus.  Jesus stopped right under that tree, looked up at Zacchaeus and called his name.  He said, “Come down so we can go together to your home.”  He says the same to us, wherever we are when we encounter Him.

In the Storm

Come,” he said. Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus.  (Matthew 14:29)

When the earth shakes, when the money runs out, when illness comes, when a loved one betrays…when the waves overwhelm, Jesus calls to us Come.  In the midst of the storm He holds our hand and holds us up.

When You Are Thirsty

On the last and greatest day of the festival, Jesus stood and said in a loud voice, “Let anyone who is thirsty come to me and drink.  (John 7:37)

But there is more.  He says that the water He offers is living water that will satisfy our every thirst, our every need, our every desire.

For Some Rest

Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.  (Matthew 11:28)

He sees us rushing about, so busy, and He invites us to rest.  Yes, physical rest.  But He also offers rest for our spirits—rest from striving, anxiety, fear, manipulating, trying to make it all happen.  “Sit awhile with me.  I love you and I’m in control.  I will make it happen.”

To Life

When he had said this, Jesus called in a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out!”  (John 11:43)

They said he would smell—he had been dead 4 days.  But Jesus called Lazarus out and gave him life.  Some of us have been dead for years, and our lives really stink.  Jesus calls us to come and live—new life, abundant life, hopeful life, empowered life, eternal life.

For Your Reward

“His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant!  Come and share your master’s happiness!’“  (Matthew 25:21)

We all like to hear “Well done!”  As we walk with Him, living in the power of His Spirit, becoming and doing what He created us for, we anticipate the invitation from our Savior:  “You are such joy to me.  Come share in my happiness.”

His arms are stretched out, waiting, beckoning you:  Come, my child.  I have so much to tell you, to give you.  I have wonderful surprises ahead for you.  We will love our life together.  Come.

What about you?  In what way is Jesus inviting you to come?

© 2011 Judy Douglass

Thanks to Lynn Koehn for the original idea.

en español: Ven a mí

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Ducks on Cherwell River, Oxford, England

I used to be better at getting my ducks in a row.

Before I had children.

Before my ministry began to take me all over the world.

Before social media.

Back when it was just my magazine and I, I mostly had my ducks in a row.
I loved the schedule of the magazine: Every day we knew what needed to happen on three different issues spanning three months. And almost without fail, those things happened. Ducks in a row.

My husband was busy and years of singleness prepared him to take good care of himself. I had a schedule that, though quite full, worked for me. Our home never got too out of control with just the two of us. Ducks in a row.

All that changed.

A colicky baby who cried for four months, followed soon after by a second daughter, undid me. Schedule control disappeared. Order in the house seemed almost non-existent. My sense of identity and purpose abandoned me. Disarray prevailed as complexity intensified.

My ducks were not in a row.

The journey since then has been less about restoring symmetry and more about resting in God’s stability: We can make our own plans, but the Lord gives the right answer. (Proverbs 16:1)

I am, however, a slow learner, and that journey has taken years. Intentionality and purpose have (mostly) replaced schedule and order.

So my ducks may not be in a row anymore, but most of them know where they are going and are paddling steadily onward.

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Flutterby

In a burst of laughter and moonshine one fine and beautiful evening, Flutterby was born.  As her silver-blue cocoon shimmered in the starlight, she unfurled her wings and whinnied at the crystal night.

For, you see, Flutterby was not a common bug or butterfly, but rather a smallest of small, winged, white flying horse.

I can’t tell you how many times I read Flutterby, my favorite children’s story by Stephen Cosgrove and Robin James, to my children.  It is the story of Flutterby discovering who she was and what she was supposed to do.

Flying as high as she could fly, and looking as far as she could look, Flutterby thought perhaps she was an ant, then a honeybee, then a butterfly.  But each time, the ants, bees and butterflies assured her she was not one of them.

Sound familiar?  Who am I?  What am I supposed to do?

We get an education to prepare to be and do what we are meant to be and do.  We change majors and even schools. Then we are thrust out into the world, like Flutterby, wondering…

We try to find our fit, or to fit in.  We succeed a little, we fail a little.  We watch our friends with envy.  We take tests and assessments.  Time flies.  Still we seek answers:  Who am I and what am I supposed to do?

When Flutterby found no answers, she wept.  A wise old Monarch butterfly listened to her story.   “You are you,” he said.  “You have strong wings to fly so high.  You should be the Guardian Sentry of Fall.  You must watch for the approach of the winds of frost and warn the ants and bees and butterflies so they can hide from the winter.”

God tells us that He was there when we were made.  He intricately designed us—and proclaimed “a masterpiece” when we were born.  Anticipating our Flutterby questions, He said, “I’ve already prepared the things I want you to do.  I made you for a purpose, and I will show you who you are and what you are supposed to do.”

My part?  Seek.  Listen.  Trust.  Obey. Persevere.  Rejoice.

Who are you, and what are your supposed to do?

c 2011 Judy Douglass

Flutterby:  Story by Stephen Cosgrove, art by Robin James

Scripture:  Psalm 139:13-16; Ephesians 2:10

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On the first Monday of each month when my children were in high school, I wrote a letter to them describing a secret of success in life.  Recently I compiled a year’s worth of secrets into a small book.  Secrets of Success is a great gift for graduates or any high school or college student.  To give you a glimpse, I posted Secret #5 here.

BE PURPOSEFUL

Success doesn’t just happen. People are successful because they figure out where they want to go and how to get there, while making sure they are going where God is leading.

1. Dream big!

What kind of person do you want to be? What do you want to do with your life? When you blow out your candles on your final birthday cake, what do you want to have become and to have accomplished? Think big! Use your imagination! Seek out God’s dreams for you. Allow Him to fill your mind and heart with His plans. He has promised that you can’t even imagine all He has in store for you.  (I Corinthians 2:9 and Jeremiah 29:11).

2. Plan ahead.

Dreams rarely come true if you don’t plan to make them happen. How will you get where you want to go? What resources will you need to get there? Which of those resources do you have? Which do you need to get? What are your strengths that you can apply? What are your weaknesses that you need to work on? What are the next steps that you need to take to begin to fulfill your dreams? Be sure God is part of your planning if you want to have any hope of real success.  (Proverbs 3:5-6 and Proverbs 16:3)

3. Be flexible.

Things don’t always happen as planned. Be willing to make adjustments. Learn from your mistakes. Try a new approach. Don’t quit if it doesn’t happen at first. Recognize that God is in control and He often uses detours to bring about a higher purpose and a greater success (Proverbs 16:9 and James 4:13-15).

My prayer is that you will seek God’s plans for you, being confident that, since He created you, His plans are designed for your personality, interests and talents.  I pray that you will work toward those plans and never settle for less than God’s best.

You can order Secrets of Success in the US from New Life Resources.  In Asia, you can order from CCC Mass Media.

© 2011  Judy Douglass

en español: Secretos del Éxito: #5 Se Determinado

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I think that in the past life was probably filled with more awe!  We were surprised, amazed, even enraptured by the simple things of life.

But now we meet people from Kazakhstan, travel to New Zealand, talk to Timbuktu,  behold spectacular movie special effects, watch floods, earthquakes and revolutions as they happen.  We are so bombarded by the astonishing, the dazzling, the stunning, that nothing inspires awe.  In fact, many of us live bored!

How tragic!  For God offers to immerse us in a world of the wondrous, the magnificent, the adventurous—yes, even the miraculous.  We should live in awe!  We should never get over it.

These are a few of the things that inspire awe in me, truths that I never get over:

I never get over God’s love for me–

He delights in me, adores me, treasures me, wants to be with me, enjoys my company, is thrilled when I choose to be with Him.  He really likes me.

I never get over that that love sent Jesus to the cross to die for me–

He forgives me, dresses me in His righteousness, adopts me as His own child, walks with me, provides all I need.  He comforts and encourages, strengthens and lifts up, wipes my tears and laughs with me.

I never get over the beauty and wonder of the world God created–

Sunrise, sunset, the crashing ocean waves, the majesty of mountains, the starkness of the desert.   A galloping horse, a soaring eagle, a willowy jellyfish, a silly otter.

I never get over people–

The kindness (and the meanness) of human beings, the colorful variety, the depth of love between husband and wife, the  joy of children’s laughter and hugs, the sweetness of true friends. The compassion in loss, the comfort in pain, the standing with and kneeling beside.

I never get over that God invited me to be a partner in building His Kingdom–

He calls me a work of art—His masterpiece.  He gifted me with the talents and temperament, the abilities and weaknesses that equip me perfectly for the good works He has prepared for me.  He gives me the privilege of introducing people to the Savior, of helping them to grow, of encouraging them to be and do all He created them for.

Because of all this, my life has real purpose, profound meaning, breathtaking adventure, delicious surprises, deep love, abundant joy, faithful friends, significant work, amazing opportunities.

Who could be bored!

I will never get over it!

c2011 Judy Douglass

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I’m heading for Slovenia in a week or so.  I have a general idea where it is, but it takes a map to pinpoint it for me.  I have no idea how to get there, but am pleased to discover that one route is through Venice.  Who knew!  It will take 3 planes and a long van ride to get to my destination.

Needless to say, it takes some planning to get to a distant place.  Or even a nearby place.  The first step is knowing where I am going.

In life as well we need to know where we are going.  We can’t use Orbitz or Google Maps or GPS.  But God has designed each of us for a purpose, a destination.  We need to discover where we are going and how to get there.

A LIFE MAP

One of the best “maps” I have found is The Significant Woman, a coaching/discipleship resource that equips you to travel well on your journey.  With this amazing course,  together with others in a small group, you will pursue God and His unique design for your life.
You will be able to:

·    Discover your uniqueness
·    Embrace the source of your life
·    Uncover and pursue your personal mission
·    Refocus your life
·    Live intentionally
·    Keep it going for life

YOUR TRIPTIK

How?  You can get a “Taste of The Significant Woman” in San Diego January 28-29.  It is not too late to register.  Contact WilmaTan at mac dot com.

If you speak Spanish, you might want to attend a “Taste” in Orlando on April 30.  Contact cindi dot martinez at ccci dot org.
Come visit us at The Significant Woman or on Facebook. The course is being used by many churches and women’s groups around the country.  We can help you find a group in your community.

The best part?  You will come away with a new sense of who you are and why you are here!  You will get tangible help and encouragement for your journey to reach the destination God has made you for.

c 2010 Judy Douglass

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