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How to Make 2014 Successful in the Extreme!

Happy New Year! Thanks for stopping by and reading my weekly ramblings. It’s a privilege to touch your life in this way, and I appreciate you extending to me that privilege.

Today begins 2014! Aren’t you glad to be ALIVE?! Isn’t God good?! He probably answered a ton of prayers for you last year—even those seemingly little ones like “Help us to have a good day today…” He probably provided a lot of meals, a lot of oxygen, a lot of heartbeats, a lot of breaths, and a lot of physical strength to serve Him and enjoy life!

So, do you have 2014 planned out? Goals written, agenda mapped, resolutions resolved? If not, don’t feel too bad—I don’t either. Not completely, any way. The time I would have given to more detailed planning this past week was given instead to being sick—what a blessing!

Got time for a quick story? Last night as I fell asleep, feeling more than sick—I felt pathetic for not having “all my ducks in a row” in terms of planning 2014. I was even feeling behind for not doing more writing this week. Heavily medicated, I drifted off, only to wake up around 3:30am. I’m not mystical, but during the late night hours, God settled my heart on the plans. He seemed to say, “You’re as planned as you need to be—leave the rest up to Me.” And with that, He placed three simple thoughts into my heart—the three thoughts I share with you today.

So, it’s 2014 and I’m still behind on my own planning curve. But during the night, God said, “Here’s MY roadmap for 2014…” I like it. I think you will too!

Plans or no plans, goals or no goals—do you want an extremely successful 2014? Would you like to finish the year with a truck-load of great memories, fruit abounding, and a clear conscience toward your stewardship? You know what’s most important this year?

Three simple things…

Jesus and Me

The first and most important priority of your year is Jesus and your personal walk with Him. I’m not talking about what you can do for Him. (He has plenty of resources, and will get His will done with or without you.) I’m not talking about your good and gracious behavior. (Though that’s an important part of honoring Him, letting your light shine, and being His ambassador to others.) I’m talking about the source of all that—the very source of your life, your strength, your vision, your values, and your personal sanity!

There’s nothing more important than your love for Him—you and Him walking through each day together. Walk with Jesus and rest in Jesus—you will change for the better, and your life will be dramatically more fruitful, effective, transformed, and stable. Don’t walk with Him, don’t rest in Him—nothing else will be in sync and you’ll spin your wheels all year long in aimlessness and purposelessness. Start your year and end your year with Jesus and me—a WHOLE HEART fixed upon Him!

Jesus and We

The second priority of your year is the people Jesus has providentially placed in your life. Within arms reach you have family and friends—gifts from Jesus. His assignment to you is to love them, to invest into them, to expend your life on their behalf. He calls you to be His grace to them. I’m talking about your spouse, your children, your friends, your church family. Jesus and we—the team with whom you love and serve God, and fulfill His call on your life.

Jesus called people together to serve Him. He calls it “family” and  “church”—and He loves the church with His very life! Do you? Will you? Next to your personal walk with Jesus, there’s nothing more important than the vital, providential relationships to which He has called you—your family, friends, and church family! When you plan your weeks and months this year—if you don’t include Jesus and We, you’re going to miss the mark of a biblical life.

Jesus and Them

The third priority of the year is the people within my reach that don’t know Jesus. All around you every day, lost people are waiting to be acknowledged and genuinely loved by God’s grace. We assume they aren’t reachable, but we’re wrong. Not all of them want truth, at least right now. But many of them do. Who? We won’t know unless we speak up. You never know how a kind deed, a loving expression, a simple and sincere “How are you doing?” might strike a nerve and open a door to bring someone to Jesus.

The world has never been more ripe for the power of the sweet and amazing gospel of grace! The world is a mess! That’s what makes people open. The sicker you are, the more willing you are to go see a doctor. Even so, the Holy Spirit has already gone before you, softening hearts, using circumstances and input that you are not aware of. He simply desires you to be a faithful, speaking vessel. He will even give you the words to speak. He only invites you to care about them and speak to them.

I’m not talking about strong-arming or force-feeding a closed heart. I’m not referring to pressuring a hard heart. I’m talking about Jesus’ methods—genuine love and biblical communication. Jesus and them—a lot of people around you don’t have His hope or peace. Are you ok with that? Are  you ok with them NOT knowing Him? I hope not.

A.W. Tozer wrote,

“Now more than at any other time in generations, the believer is in a position to go on the offensive. The world is lost on a wide sea, and Christians alone know the way to the desired haven. While things were going well, the world scorned them with their Bible and hymns, but now the world needs them desperately, and it needs that despised Bible, too. For in the Bible, and there only, is found the chart to tell us where we are going on this rough and unknown ocean. The day when Christians should meekly apologize is over—they can get the world’s attention not by trying to please, but by boldly declaring the truth of divine revelation. They can make themselves heard not by compromise, but by taking the affirmative and sturdily declaring, “Thus saith the Lord.”

The volitional love of your heart is of highest value to Jesus. Personal relationships are of highest value to Jesus. Your church is of highest value to Jesus. Hopeless souls are of highest value to Jesus.

Our plans, schedules, projects, agendas, and extensive task-lists are fine—to the extent that they fuel and protect Jesus’ priorities. If they prevent JESUS and ME, JESUS and WE, and JESUS and THEM—then they need to be abandoned radically and completely for a higher value system. This year will be successful in the extreme if we keep three simple priorities before us…

—JESUS and ME

—JESUS and WE

—JESUS and THEM

Happy New Year!

And thanks again for reading!

Sincerely, Cary

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