Do What You Want?

plans, goals, 2 Samuel, King DavidHave you ever planned something that seemed like a great idea at the time but then turned out to be totally wrong?  I know I have and I think the answer for most folks who are old enough to make their own decisions would be an emphatic “yep, I’ve done that!”.  Despite our best intentions, sometimes we get it wrong and sometimes even our best ideas are not what God has in mind.

The thing of it is, God most certainly does use and bless human initiative.  We can study the Bible and see many instances where this is clearly the case.  Not everything that we desire to do is wrong just as not everything we desire to do is right.  So how do we tell the difference?  How can we be sure that we aren’t going against God’s will as we are making our plans and living out our lives?

For sure, this is a complex question and one that I will not be fully able to answer with a simple blog post.  But it is a question that is worth asking and worth thinking about if we want to be the kind of Christ followers that God would have us to be.

Here are a couple of examples from scripture to get us started:

 Now King David was told, “The Lord has blessed the household of Obed-Edom and everything he has, because of the ark of God.” So David went to bring up the ark of God from the house of Obed-Edom to the City of David with rejoicing.  When those who were carrying the ark of the Lord had taken six steps, he sacrificed a bull and a fattened calf.  Wearing a linen ephod, David was dancing before the Lord with all his might,  while he and all Israel were bringing up the ark of the Lord with shouts and the sound of trumpets.

As the ark of the Lord was entering the City of David, Michal daughter of Saul watched from a window. And when she saw King David leaping and dancing before the Lord, she despised him in her heart.  2 Samuel 6:12-16 (NIV)

David, as King of Israel, decided that he wanted to bring the Ark of God home.  David and a group of men went to retrieve the Ark from where it had been staying and David purposed in his heart not only to sacrifice a bull and fattened calf but also to “dance with all of his might” before the Lord.  Scripture doesn’t tell us exactly what God thought of David’s plan and his subsequent behavior but it certainly does tell us that someone very close to David (Michal – David’s first wife and daughter of the former king Saul) thought very poorly of how David went about praising God.

David’s response to Michal is recorded in verse 21: David said to Michal, “It was before the Lord, who chose me rather than your father or anyone from his house when he appointed me ruler over the Lord’s people Israel—I will celebrate before the Lord.  2 Samuel 6:21 (NIV)

In essence he says “God made me King and I will celebrate and praise Him in the way that I see fit” which is, it seems to me, a reasonable response.

I think it is interesting to note that God could have stopped either plan (the moving of the Ark and David’s enthusiastic praise) but chose not to.  And I think that sometimes, just as David did, we need to make the best plan that we can with what God has already revealed to us and just do it.  David could see how God blessed the former resting place of the Ark (the household of Obed-Edom) and I am sure he wanted those same blessings for his home city.  He set about carryout out his plan to bring the Ark home and he did it with praise and thanksgiving – always the best way to carry out any plan!

Here’s another instance from scripture with a different outcome:

After the king was settled in his palace and the Lord had given him rest from all his enemies around him,  he said to Nathan the prophet, “Here I am, living in a house of cedar, while the ark of God remains in a tent.”

 Nathan replied to the king, “Whatever you have in mind, go ahead and do it, for the Lord is with you.”

But that night the word of the Lord came to Nathan, saying:

 “Go and tell my servant David, ‘This is what the Lord says: Are you the one to build me a house to dwell in?  I have not dwelt in a house from the day I brought the Israelites up out of Egypt to this day. I have been moving from place to place with a tent as my dwelling. Wherever I have moved with all the Israelites, did I ever say to any of their rulers whom I commanded to shepherd my people Israel, “Why have you not built me a house of cedar?”’  2 Samuel 7:1-7 (NIV)

David has now brought the Ark home and has now finally subdued the Philistines and another plan begins to form in his mind.  He now wants to build God a temple (and by extension, move the Ark into a permanent resting place instead of the movable tent that it was in at the time) and “upgrade” God’s dwelling.  And this sounds like such a great idea that Nathan, a highly respected prophet and man of God, immediately agrees with him.

That night, most likely as Nathan slept, God gave Nathan a message for David.  David’s plan was not God’s plan, at least not yet.  We know from history that Solomon, David’s son, was tasked with building God’s temple but that was not to be David’s task.  God had other plans for David and He used Nathan to deliver His message.  This time, God stepped in and asked David to change his plan and, to David’s credit, he listened to God and did as he was asked.

It comes down to trust and acknowledgement.  We must trust God with our plans and trust that He will lead and guide us as we go.  We must also acknowledge that only He has the authority to change us, change our lives and change our direction.  He has the final say and we must give Him the opportunity to change our minds, change our circumstances and ultimately to change any plans that we might have.

His plans are perfect.  Ours tend to be less so.  Do we trust Him with our plans and then acknowledge His authority in our lives as we go?

Project 2020

goals, plans, dreamsI started a new writing project recently, one that is quite different than anything that I have attempted before.  I don’t want to go into to much detail just yet.  Many things about it could change before it is completed but at this point there are a couple of things that I know for sure and can share.

  1. It will be one of the longest pieces that I have ever written if not the longest.  It won’t be anything like book length (at least I don’t think it will) but it will be much, much longer than the weekly blog posts.
  2. If things go as planned it will take around three years to complete and there’s a very specific reason for that length of time.
  3. I will be releasing it in stages as I reach certain milestones.
  4. The genre will be loosely “documentary” and I plan to mix my writing with photos and video.
  5. When all is said and done it might only be interesting to me but that is the kind of risk you take with something like this.

It’s hard to say exactly when the seed for this project was planted but the process that I will be documenting is based on a decision I made a couple of months ago.  From the beginning I’ve wanted to write about this particular topic but until I really thought and prayed about it I didn’t really understand how I could incorporate it in to Matthew515 properly.

That praying, thinking and planning process is continuing and will continue because this will be an on-going project with a definite goal at the end.  I said earlier that I thought it would take around three years time to fully complete and that is because I have a specific goal of age 45 for completion and I will be 45 in March of 2020.

Although 2020 is my target I always, in everything I do, want to be sensitive to God’s will and His plan for my life.  From the beginning I’ve let it be known that I give God full authority to change my course and alter or do away with the project and the goal completely.  This project is human initiative but I want it to be human initiative under God’s direction and in a way that would be pleasing to Him.  That might mean that the goal gets pushed back (if it moves at all it would be more likely to be pushed back than to move forward and those reasons will be discussed within the project itself) because ultimately the timing is in God’s hands, not mine.

On a personal level, thinking about and planning for something that is several years out is difficult for me to do.  I have always been a “right now” person (which is both good and bad) and I’ve not given the future as much thought as I probably should have.  I am not a visionary or someone who tends to set grand goals and I tend to stay focused on the here and now.  That’s not to say that I never think about what is to come (I am very excited for what God has in store for His children!) but just that I don’t tend to spend much time thinking about what happens next here on earth.  For me to have set a goal that is that far out is something brand new and feels as exciting as it does daunting.  It’s something that’s not really in my nature so I know that in order for it to be completed the focus, inspiration and energy will have to come from the Lord.

That’s all for now and I hope to have more to say about this in the very near future.  My God bless and keep you as you go!

The Choice Between Vision And Blindness

vision, goals, sinHopefully by the time that you read this today you will have eaten a meal.  Can I ask you a silly question?  Why did you do it?  Why did you eat or drink what you did?  My guess is, it was because you were hungry and thirsty and your body was telling you that you needed nourishment.  In other words, you had physical motivation to eat and drink.  Motivation is important, both in the physical realm and in the spiritual realm.  With that in mind, let’s consider the following quote by a fellow blogger:

It’s the vision that motivates the practice. – Tom Smith

Do you know what else can serve as an excellent motivator?  A vision, or a goal (I will use these two terms interchangeably from here on out).  As Mr Tom Smith so aptly stated, the practical work of whatever it happens to be can be motivated by the goal that we have in mind or the vision that we have been given.  This is an important truth that is applicable in many areas so I will ask you, do you have a vision?  Do you have a goal or goals that you are working towards that helps to shape your thoughts and actions?

Using a very relevant example, I write these posts and run this blog because God gave me a vision of sharpening and encouraging His people by writing and speaking His truth.  I have been charged to teach and to edify both with the written and the spoken word until the Lord tells me to stop or calls me home to be with Him.  For me, this is an excellent motivator to do as He has asked.

I believe that God wants the very best for us.  I believe He wants us to be who He created us to be before Sin entered the world and caused us to be evil and less.  I believe that He has a vision for each of us based on the talents and abilities that He has given us.  He wants to use our experiences, our personalities and even our worst failures in combination with His power and His grace to produce something marvelous and something unique to each of us.

Do you have a God-given vision and purpose?  Have you asked for one and sought it out?  I am certain that He has one for you but until you come to the place where you are ready to receive it, you will remain blind and directionless.  The great news is that you have a choice.  You can choose to receive all that God offers by crying out to Him and seeking His will for your life.  When you want it more than anything else, you will have it.

October 2013 recap

Goals,Dreams,PrayersAnother month of blessing, surprises and new discoveries in our journey of faith.  Isn’t it good to be a child of God?  I hope that you know that it is a very good thing indeed!

With the “official” launch of the site several months back I decided I would record, for accountability and posterity sake, several different statistics and compile them in a recap post on the first of the following month.  It gives a good snapshot of how the site is doing in terms of traffic and growth and also gives me a chance to publicly show any gifts received or income made.

At this point I should note that income is very secondary to what Matthew515 is all about.  My prayer is that the site would be self-sufficient (hosting costs are not large but are an ongoing expense) but even if it isn’t, my God owns the cattle of a thousand hills and I trust Him completely.  He will provide through other avenues so long as I am faithful to do what He has called me to do.

If you would like to help support the site there are a couple of very easy ways that you can do that.  I have affiliate status with both Amazon.com and Dayspring.com and there are banners for both companies on the site here.  If you click on one of those banners it will take you to that company’s website; Amazon banner to Amazon.com and Dayspring banner to Dayspring.com.   If you happen to make a purchase after clicking on the banner from Matthew515 then a small percentage of the price of the product you buy will be given to Matthew515 as a referral fee.  It doesn’t cost you anything extra to do your shopping this way so it’s a win for everyone.

And now for the numbers:

Unique Visitors: 1,120 (957 last month) +17%

Number of Visits: 2,441 (1,871 last month) +30%

Pages Viewed: 10,439 (8,363 last month) +25%

Income: Amazon Affiliate sales $2.60 ($1.45 last month)  +79%

October was a month of lower lows and higher highs than September in terms of weekly and daily visits and views.  Up until the very last week the overall numbers were very close to last month but then the site hit two attendance records on back to back days on the 29th and 30th.  This helped end the month on a very positive note and was very encouraging, especially in light of Mr. Denver Harris’s post on the 30th.

If you’ve read any of my previous monthly recaps then you know that I have a giant goal for this site that is frankly far beyond my ability.  That goal is for the site to one day hit 10,000 unique visitors in a month.  And it’s not a goal that I have set simply because I want a lot of visitors to the site, although that would be a fine thing as well.  It’s a goal that only God can accomplish, in His timing and in His will, as long as I continue to work like it’s up to me and pray like it’s up to Him.

I will continue to sow and I will leave the increase up to Him.  Thank you for reading and God Bless!

 

 

 

The Goal Post

Goals,Dreams,PrayersDespite the title, this post is not going to be about football.  (Although it is rather appropriate considering today is opening day for most college football teams.)  More specifically, this is going to be a post about goals for Matthew515.com with a look back at the previous month.

I want to be completely transparent about Matthew515.com. As the site grows and begins to accept donations and generate income I will, at the end of each month, post those numbers here for all to see.  My hope and prayer is that the site be self sufficient and generate income for my family and to the glory of God’s kingdom as I try to do what He has called me to do.

A word about supporting the site:  Any book or product you see with linked text is an Amazon link.  If you click the link and end up purchasing a product through Amazon this site will get a small percentage of that sale.  Likewise the Amazon banner on the right side of the page; if you click it and then buy anything from Amazon the site gets a small percentage.  It’s a very quick and easy way of supporting the site that doesn’t cost you anything extra.

I have also set a goal for unique visitors each month.  It’s a big goal, and frankly, it’s probably impossible for me alone.  Thankfully, I am not alone.  I have placed my faith and my trust in the Lord and I believe in setting goals that only God can accomplish.  That way, there’s no doubt that He provided and He gets all the credit and all the glory.  I am praying for 10,000 unique visitors per month as a site goal.  Like I said, it’s a very big goal.

August is the first complete month for Matthew515.com after the site was completed on July 23rd.  This being the last day of the month I will post the numbers for August and when we reach the end of September I will post those numbers and so on.  This will give us a very real picture of how the site is growing, how God is working, and hopefully be of interest to you as well.

This has been and will continue to be a journey of faith.  I am excited about what God is going to do and I look forward to each step along the way.  I will work like it’s up to me and pray like it’s up to God and leave the results to Him.  I want to be found faithful and I want to do exactly what God has called me to do.   Please pray for me and my family as we continue this journey.

And now for the numbers:

Unique Visitors: 759 (This is the number we are praying will one day meet or exceed 10,000.  We have a long way to go but this is an excellent start!)

Number of Visits: 1,521 (Avg. of 2.0 visits per person)

Pages viewed: 7,458 (Avg. of 4.9 pages per visit)

Income: $1.57 (Via Google Adsense Ads viewed)

 

Thus ends our first monthly summary and I appreciate you taking the time to read it and to support the site and the ministry.  As always, please leave any comments or suggestions in the spaces below.