Friday, January 5, 2018

Using Your Platform

As writers and leaders, we are constantly challenged to increase our platform, to reach others with the message that we have been given. As an author, I have spent the previous month truly focusing on expanding my platform, hoping the Lord would open new doors, assist in making new connections, giving an opening for the message to reach more people. He did. Now, what do we do with such a platform?

Each day, we come into contact with a variety of people. Co-workers, fellow church members, friends, family members, social media friends/followers, acquaintances at our favorite restaurants and those we have come to know at the local gas station, and even strangers on the street are all placed in our lives and in our paths by the directive hand of God. There are no coincidences and as these interactions take place on a daily and weekly basis, what message are they receiving from our lives?

Having a platform, which we all have been blessed with whether it be fifteen people or thousands of individuals, means that we are responsible/accountable for the message that comes from our lives. What do they see in us? What do they hear from us? The message which our lives tell will live on long after these lives have ended on earth.

Joshua was in a place of leadership. He had a platform. As a leader, he ensured that those following, those who saw him as a leader, knew the direction of his life and the message was clear. In Joshua 24, we read, "Now therefore, fear the Lord, serve Him in sincerity and in truth, and put away the gods which your fathers served on the other side of the River and in Egypt. Serve the Lord! And if it seems evil to you to serve the Lord, choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord." (Joshua 24:14-15 NKJV)

His message was clear. He was going to serve the Lord, and his house would do the same. The people had a choice, but regardless of the choice they made, Joshua would proclaim that there was only one God and that was the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. He used his platform to proclaim truth and in that truth, to point the people to where they needed to be. He challenged those who listened, he gave them a message that said they could not serve the gods in Egypt, nor the gods of the Amorites, and simultaneously serve the Lord. So, they had to choose. No matter what choice they made, he was not going to change his allegiance, which belonged to the Lord.

Our message must be clear. Our message must point people in an eternal direction. Our message must also be backed by a life of consistency. When we use our platform for such a purpose, when we use our influence for the Lord, then we see the Lord increase that influence, opening new doors and new opportunities for His message to be shared. As we have been given these opportunities, let's be sure to use them for His glory, that others may come to know Him and walk more closely with Him.

Monday, January 1, 2018

A New Beginning

Morning broke on a New Year, and with the rising of the sun were the hatchlings of the mind as to what could be in this year. For most, we are planning what vacations we will take, putting financial goals for the year on paper, while setting reminders of important dates. Yes, a new beginning is here and as we gaze upon the possibilities, we hope to squeeze every ounce of life we can out of this year.

As we prepare for what will be, we must also ask ourselves the question, "What are my faith goals this year?" To fail to set goals for our faith is to set aside God as we pursue all that which the world has dangled in front of our eyes. Yes, it is important to get physically healthier this year, but becoming spiritually healthier is just as important. It is important to invest our finances for the future but an investment in the kingdom of God is of far greater value. The time spent relaxing, away from the cares of life is necessary, as is time alone with God that is consistent and valued.

Proverbs 29:18 reads, "Where there is no vision, the people perish." (Proverbs 29:18 KJV) Without a vision for our faith for this year, we will suffer and those around us will suffer. You may wonder how others will suffer. Think about this for a moment. We are not our best when we neglect to connect with the Lord. What results is that we are not the reflection of God that we need to be to a world that is lost and we are less likely to lead our families and impact our friends as we should. When our relationship with God is not priority, all of our other relationships suffer in some manner.

So, how do we set a vision for this year for our faith? Here are a few suggestions. Making the growth of our spiritual life a priority is a wise decision, so let's look at a few areas that can help us grow in 2018.

1 - Personal Quiet Time - To get alone with God is important. To plan it is even more important. Whatever we do not set aside time for, we will neglect to find time for. Even if it is ten minutes in the morning, any additional time spent with God will lead us to grow in Him.

2 - Family Faith Activities - Immediately, we think of church events. What are we doing the rest of the week? Is there a night each month when we can watch a faith-based movie? Scheduling a time of devotion will also help the family grow in faith. Finding a family ministry activity is also something that will glorify the Lord and help our family's spiritual growth during the year. Some ideas to consider:
  • Visiting widows in your area
  • Family outings to shop for Operation Christmas Child
  • Randomly making dinners for others and delivering them
  • Leading a coat drive/canned food drive
3 - Cultivate the environment - Controlling the environment which we exist in can drastically affect our lives. Our choice in music can lead us closer to God, refocusing our minds on Him, or it can be the noise of the world that fails to lead us to growth in the Lord. What we watch on television, what books we read, and the choice of movies we watch are all things that we can control and if our desire is to grow closer to God, we have to change the environment around us as much as possible.

I pray that this year is a year where we will have a vision for growing in the Lord and make Him our priority. We have to remember that if there is no vision, we will fail to grow and all will suffer. Happy 2018! May God bless you as you grow in Him.