Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Exposed

The other day as I was enjoying my quiet time in the comfort of my La-Z-Boy, I looked across the room and my eyes fell on an unsightly mess.  The sunlight streaming through the windows had directed my gaze to the parquet floor beneath my husband's desk and revealed a nasty accumulation of dust.  Although I had vacuumed the floor just a couple of weeks before, it was once more covered with dust.  Yuck!

Sin is like that dust beneath the desk.  Even when we think that no one sees it, the light of God's Word exposes it every time.  No matter how hard we try to cover up our sin, it is never hidden from God.  He shines His light on our sin in hopes that we will invite Him in to purify our hearts and wash us clean with His precious atoning blood.

Sin is the great separator.  We cannot walk in sin and maintain a close relationship with God.  We are only fooling ourselves if we think we can.  The Bible tells us, "If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us.  If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness" (1 John 1:8-9). 

If you think that your sin is so bad that God will never be able to forgive you, think again.  "Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death.  For what the law was powerless to do in that it was weakened by the sinful nature, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful man to be a sin offering" (Romans 8:1-3).  Jesus died for you and His blood washes you clean.  "For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through Him" (John 3:17).

Never fear what the Light will expose.  Rather, confess your sins and draw near to the One who loves you no matter what!

Sunday, January 29, 2012

My Favorite Things

(to the tune of "My Favorite Things")

Hot frothy lattes and meowing kittens
Blue jeans and smartphones and life with a mission
Snuggling all comfy 'til the alarm rings
These are a few of my favorite things

TV with Joy and a pizza with Chris
Moments with Steve, all are moments of bliss
Long conversations with Jesus each day
Learning to balance my work and my play

When my bank account is empty
And I'm feeling sad
I simply remember that God's in control
And then I don't feel so bad

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Breaking the Cycle of Debt

Lately I have been thinking a lot about money, particularly my poor stewardship over the past thirty years which has resulted in a mountain (can you say "Everest"?) of debt.  Most days, the shovel I use to dig myself out of the financial hole I'm in is about as effective as a plastic spoon that too easily snaps under pressure.  I told my eighteen-year-old son that "debt is like a life sentence without the possibility of parole."  Really, doesn't it feel that way sometimes?

I grew up in a home where money wasn't really discussed much.  Dad's work was seasonal and he traveled a lot.  When he worked, there was money to cover the expenses of a large family.  When his work ran out, Mom did the best she could to make ends meet without showing the worry that she surely felt.  I never really saw how money was managed in our household; I just knew we had all we needed and were never without the things that truly mattered.  There wasn't an emphasis on financial education in those days -- everyone simply did the best they could with what they had, and that was that.

Unfortunately, I grew up without the benefit of a Dave Ramsey or Larry Burkett to teach me prudent financial management or the spiritual maturity to understand the concepts of God's provision and our responsibilities as stewards of that provision.  The only real understanding I had of money was that we were supposed to give an offering in church and use the rest of our money to get things we needed and wanted.

Upon graduating from college, I landed my first full-time job while living at home, which meant I could spend freely on anything my heart desired.  I had no concept of saving nor the responsibility of paying rent or buying groceries, since my basic living expenses were met by my parents.  In the early years of our marriage, my husband and I began tithing, which I am convinced was our only saving grace, and buying on credit the things our parents had taken years to save for and acquire.  As newlyweds without children, we both had full-time careers and relatively few responsibilities, so we were prone to spend freely, even borrowing for things we could not afford.  We easily justified the purchase of new cars and dining out as things we deserved because we were working so hard, never realizing the future impact and consequences of those foolish decisions.  Now, twenty-five years and two children later, we have learned, just a little too late, how money is supposed to be used.   Although we have become better stewards of what God has provided, we are reaping the consequences of the financial mistakes we made early in our marriage.  But, we have hope!  God has promised His provision in His Word and we continue to see His faithfulness in this area of our lives.

By placing possessions ahead of our relationship with God and acquiring things we did not need and could not afford at the time, we have only added misery, not quality, to our lives, and have become slaves to debt. The deteriorating economy in which we find ourselves only makes matters worse. Sadly, we are not alone in this prison.  Many people, even Christians, struggle in this area of life, always looking for hope and anticipating the day when their debt will be paid in full.    So, what is the solution?

First of all, we must break the cycle of debt in our families by openly admitting our failures rather than covering up our shame.  We need to educate our children and encourage and enable them to make better choices.  Part of this requires us saying "no" to some of their wants and ours.  We must also teach them how to create and stick to a budget so they will have a sense of what it costs to live.  We need to help them understand the pain of paying for things that have long since been forgotten, discarded, or given away because we were unwilling to wait or do without them in the first place.

We also need to prayerfully consider what constitutes a need versus a want, then reprogram our thinking accordingly so we do not become so obsessed with "getting stuff" that we "forget the pain."  The tablet pc I have my heart set on, which would make a great tool for my business and ministry, is really just a convenience, not a necessity.  With a laptop and smartphone, I already have everything I need.  Every time a desire to purchase something arises, I must shake off the impulse to buy it and simply walk away giving the desire time to dissipate.  With God's help, we can all do that.

Following the advice of proven financial managers like Dave Ramsey and Larry Burkett, we need to plan a budget (tell our money where to go) and implement the practice of "giving, saving, spending."   All of this is possible if we pray, budget for our needs and plan out a strategy for eradicating debt, then stick to the plan.  As Dave says, we need to get mad -- so mad about our past failures and all the debt collectors' calls -- that we actually do something positive to turn the boat around!  A positive step in that direction is to enroll in a class like Financial Peace University or seek counseling from a certified financial planner or credit counseling agency.  Larry Burkett's Debt Free Living and Dave Ramsey's Financial Peace are excellent and inspiring resources for helping us break the cycle of debt.

God doesn't want His children to live like paupers.  After all, we are royalty -- children of the King of Kings!  It is time we stop worshipping our idols, keeping up with the Joneses, and listening to the lies of the enemy, who capitalizes on our weakness by tempting us to spend what we don't have for things we don't need.  We must remember that "you (we) are of God and have overcome them, because He who is in you (us) is greater than he who is in the world" (1 John 4:4, NKJV).  "And God is able to make all grace abound toward you, that you, always having all sufficiency in all things, may have an abundance for every good work" (2 Corinthians 9:8, NKJV).

Make this the day that you start depending on God rather than Mastercard to provide what you need. Stop buying into the lies of the enemy (the costliest mistake any of us can make!), and decide to commit this area of your life to the Lord.  Begin looking to God's Word and seek godly counsel from those who can help you learn to be a better steward of all that God has loaned you in this life (yes, He really does own it all). 

God is not in the bailout business. You will have to pay back all that you owe and will likely suffer the unpleasant consequences of your past mistakes.  But, if you will give, save, and spend as God's Word teaches, before long you will begin making progress and find the hope you need to eventually walk out of debtor's prison for good.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Happy Hour

Satisfy us in the morning with your unfailing love, that we may sing for joy and be glad all our days. (Psalm 90:14)
My friends know that unless I am sick or away from home (and sometimes even then), I get up early each morning to spend time with the Lord, reading His Word and praying through my day and for loved ones in need.  It truly is the happiest hour of my day, though that wasn't always the case.

When I graduated from college and entered the work force, my heart was far from God.  Sure, I attended church, was a member of the choir, and knew the right things to say and do, but I didn't have an intimate relationship with Him as I do today.  To me, God was just God.  He wasn't a friend or someone I felt I needed to depend on since I was so cocky and self-assured.  Rather, He was a deity somewhere off in the distance.  I knew He controlled the universe, but He didn't control me.

My first job was as a customer service rep in a bank located in the heart of the medical center.  Every other Thursday afternoon our lobby would be filled with hospital employees who had come in to cash their paychecks.  On those stressful Thursdays I would often stop off at a local lounge on my way home to drink away the tension that had built up.  Yet those "happy hours" turned into unhealthy, self-destructive binges which could easily have resulted in unthinkable tragedy had it not been for the grace of a loving God who waited patiently for me to see the folly of my ways and return to Him.  After about four years of a battle with alcohol and the complete erosion of my character, I hit rock bottom and realized that the only solution to my problems was to surrender my life to the Lord who have saved me as a little girl.

If you have discovered, as I did, that happy hour only temporarily takes the edge off your pain leaving you empty and unsatisfied, try a different happy hour.  All the cocktails in the world won't quench your thirst or heal your brokenness.  Only Jesus, the Living Water, can satisfy your thirsty soul, wash you clean, and make you new.  Rather than stop by the local watering hole for happy hour at the end of a stressful day, begin each day with Jesus and let Him make you happy all day long.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Seeking God's Will

Some days I think I have a handle on God's plan for my life.  Other days I'm not so sure.  What's that all about?  Somehow, I don't think I am the only person who experiences a "crisis of faith" in the course of daily living.  Yet that is where I find myself as I pray and seek God's will for the ministry to which I believe He has called me.

Yesterday, our pastor preached a sermon on faith, sharing the story of Abraham, a man called by God to "go to a place which he was to receive as an inheritance; and he went out, not knowing where he was going" (Hebrews 11:8, NASB).  God also promised Abraham an heir, a son born from the union of this aged man and his wife, who was well beyond child-bearing years.  "By faith he lived...." (v. 9).

If someone were to look at your life, what would they see?  A man or woman of courage, fearlessly embracing the unknown with the certainty that God has a special purpose to accomplish through you?  Are we courageous enough to do as Abraham did, leaving the familiar to walk into an unknown future with only God's promises to guide us? 

Only God's promises.  When you think about it, what more do we need than His promises? 

Some days I'll admit that I feel I am walking into ministry completely blindfolded, unable to see the next step in front of me.  I am overwhelmed with a sense of lostness that can only be illumined by God's Word.  "Thy word is a lamp to my feet, and a light to my path" (Psalm 119:105).  When I cannot see a way to fund a book order or writing conference, God provides.  When I stress over not finding time to market my books, God opens a door for a speaking engagement or the opportunity to give a book to someone in need, who in turn purchases a copy for someone else. 

As long as I am seeking God's will day by day, He moves me forward one step at a time even when I can't see the road in front of me.  It is a hard journey at times, but one that I wouldn't trade for all the comfort in the world.  You see, without a crisis of faith none of us would ever truly learn to depend on God.  If we had all the answers, we wouldn't need Him, would we?

May we never be so confident in the direction we are going that there is no place for God on our journey.  If you are struggling to determine His will for you, "Rejoice always; pray without ceasing; in everything give thanks; for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus" (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18).

One Thing Is Certain (from A Pleasing Aroma: Inspiring Devotions for Joyful Living)


I the Lord do not change. -- Malachi 3:6
I know a lot of people who are going through changes of one sort or another. I am one of them. Change is something we know well. It happens every day, whether or not we want it to. Change happens to us by force or by choice; we either choose it, or it is thrust upon us with little warning.

What changes are you facing today? A new job, the loss of financial position or health, a new relationship, or the breakup of an existing one? As surely as the seasons change, one thing is certain: God never changes. “He who is the Glory of Israel does not lie or change his mind; for he is not a man, that he should change His mind" (1 Samuel 15:29).  That is one truth upon which we can depend.

Because God never changes, neither does his Word.  No matter how tolerant of sin our society becomes, what was sin in the garden of Eden is still sin in our lives today, and we will reap the consequences of our sinful choices.


Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. The one who sows to please his sinful nature, from that nature will reap destruction; the one who sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life. -- Galatians 6:7-8
Are you looking for a sure thing in your life, something you can hold on to when everything else comes apart at the seams? Look no further than Jesus and the Word of God.  Jesus’ death on Calvary assures you of an abundant and eternal life with him if you receive him as Savior. The Word of God will guide you into all truth, instruct you in every area of life, and encourage you in your relationship with God and with others. The promises it contains are for you.

Today, take hold of God’s grace and the promises of his Word and know, with all certainty, that “if we died with him, we will also live with him; if we endure, we will also reign with him. If we disown him, he will also disown us; if we are faithless, he will remain faithful, for he cannot disown himself ” (2 Timothy 2:11-13).

Saturday, January 21, 2012

A Different Plan

Each day I rise to meet the Lord
To read, to pray and plan
The work that He has given me --
To reach the souls of man.
My list I make with things to do,
Too many things to mention,
But oftentimes He'll change my plan
To accomplish His own intention.
Although my plan might noble be
At the start of each new day,
Sometimes God has a different plan
To do things in His own way.
As I submit my plans to Him
I know that come what may,
He'll work through me to encourage someone
In His own special way.
Sometimes the work I plan to do
Is done at the end of the day.
But if indeed He intervenes,
I can trust in His better way.
When I surrender my plans to Him,
Of this I can be sure --
Each step I take with Him to guide
Is one great big adventure!
If sometimes God does something
That your mind can't understand,
Just know His best will come to you
When You follow His different plan.

CATastrophe!

 "The righteous care for the needs of their animals,  but the kindest acts of the wicked are cruel." (Proverbs 12:10)


This is Gypsy, a cat we adopted from a neighbor who moved to Mississippi a few years ago with her big dogs and indoor cats.  An outdoor cat and neighborhood vagabond, Gypsy was standoffish when my son first tried to befriend her.  Once she became ours and we started feeding her, she slowly began warming up to our family, even to the point where she would occasionally tolerate being picked up and brought inside our house.

Over the years Gyspy has truly become a member of our family.  Her ways have become predictable to us and she never fails to greet us at the kitchen door with a fervent "Meow" to let us know that she is ready for her breakfast!  One day this week, however, after a long night's rest in her favorite chair, Gypsy failed to meet me at the door.  I walked over to her chair in the garage and petted her, looking for signs of injury or illness but finding none.  It was only when I took her food to her and she attempted to sit up that it became obvious that she indeed had an injured leg and was in considerable pain.

Having never owned a cat, I wasn't really sure how, or even if, I should move her to take her to our vet.  So I called her former vet, Dr. Lippy, because I know that she makes house calls and was familiar with Gypsy.  Dr. Lippy came to pick her up in her mobile vet office and took her away for the day to examine her between other calls.  When she called later in the afternoon, we were not prepared for the diagnosis:  "Gypsy has been shot."  Our Gyspy?  That gorgeous sweet kitty who lives to kill the moles and chipmunks that have caused so much damage to our yard and flowerbeds?  Needless to say, I was shocked and angry that someone would inflict such pain on a defenseless animal, and none-too-thrilled with the expense of having her treated for her injury!  Fortunately, Dr. Lippy says that Gypsy should make a full recovery with a month's rest inside.  My kids, who have long wanted a housecat, couldn't be more thrilled even though they are both allergic to cats! 

Although this CATastrophe was not on my radar or in my plan for the week, it was apparently God's plan for us.  Thankfully, He provided a substantial portion of the money to pay the vet through the generous donation of a neighbor who recognizes the value of having a hunter like Gypsy around to control the rodents and squirrels that can damage homes and lawns.  It is my prayer that God will use this incident to raise awareness of animal cruelty and illegal gun use in the town where I live so that others won't have to go through what we have this week. 




Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Sticks and Stones

And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. -- Ephesians 4:30
How many times have you read the above Scripture verse?  If you are like me, you have either heard it or read it many times throughout the course of your life.  But have you read it in the context of the passage in which it appears, Ephesians 4:25-32?  If you will take a few minutes to do so, you may see for the very first time exactly what I saw when I read this passage the other day.

We have heard it said that "sticks and stones will break my bones but words will never hurt me."  But in this passage of Scripture, which deals with the words we speak and the way in which we treat one another, we are cautioned not to grieve the Holy Spirit.  For all the times I have read the verse above, I have never realized that it was written in the middle of Paul's passage regarding our verbal behavior. 

How many times have I spoken harshly to a member of my family, said some backbiting remark about a fellow Christian, or complained about what I don't have instead of praising God for what I do have?  Aren't we all guilty of these things?  When I am at odds with someone I love, my heart grieves.  Yet how many times have I grieved the Holy Spirit by speaking harshly to my own children or husband?  Kind of makes you stop and think, doesn't it?

The next time you feel tempted or even justified to hurl a verbal grenade at another child of God, remember that not only do you risk the chance of saying something that will hurt the other person, but also the risk of grieving God himself.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

This Same God

I'm a die-hard NIV fan.  The New International Version of the Bible is easy to read and understand for most folks.  But familiarity with a certain favorite translation or paraphrase of the Scriptures can cause us to become complacent when we read God's Word, so it is important to switch things up every now and then. 

Recently I read a familiar verse, Philippians 4:19, out of the New Living Translation and was absolutely wow'd by the power in the promise:   "And this same God who takes care of me will supply all of your needs from his glorious riches, which have been given to us in Christ Jesus."  This same God.  The same God that created the universe, parted the Red Sea, and converted a die-hard persecutor into a zealous disciple, Paul, who not only penned this verse but also radically influenced his world for Christ.  That same God is at work in you and me, and as He did in Paul's life, is able to do in and through us "immeasureably more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us (Ephesians 3:20, NIV).

This same God.

What is it that you desire to see God do in your life this year?  Know that Jesus, who has walked on water, turned water into wine, and taken upon Himself the very sins of the world so that we might live with Him for all eternity, desires nothing but the very best for you. Live in the light of the promise that "this same God will supply all of your needs."

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

New Year -- New Website Design -- New Ventures

In an effort to simplify things for both my readers and myself, I have merged my blog, Living the Dream, with my ministry website.  You can now access all my blog posts, bookstore, and ministry information in one place at www.deedeewike.com!

Beginning February 1, I will be the featured Saturday contributor for a collaborative blog called Sisters in Cahoots.  Originated by Amanda Stephan, a fellow author and new friend, this blog will feature a wide range of interesting articles that you won't want to miss. I encourage you to click here to catch a sneak peak!

My contribution to Sisters in Cahoots will be "Dear Dee Dee," a weekly column designed to give relevant biblical answers to everyday life situations.  Readers are encouraged to write in with their questions.  I will pull one or two each week to answer on the blog, but will endeavor to personally pray over and answer every letter received.  I will not publish full names or locations of the writers, and in some cases may even change a name to protect your privacy, but God will know your name and I will pray for you by name.  Please email your questions to deedeewike@bellsouth.net or write to:

Dee Dee Wike
PO Box 193
Collierville, TN  38027-0193

As God continues to open doors for ministry, I covet your prayers for wisdom, anointing, and God's provision as I move forward with my goals (more on those later) and pursue His calling. 

Blessings to you and yours in 2012!

Dee Dee Wike

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Shows You What I Know

The big topic of conversation on social media sites and in the news today is last night's victory of Alabama over LSU in the BCS championship.  I am almost ashamed to admit this, but I had to Google BCS to even know what it stands for!  Shows you what I know.

Obviously, I am not a big sports fan.  When I go to a Superbowl party (now I do know what the Superbowl is), it is because I enjoy the food, fellowship, and commercials.  I could no more tell you who is even in the running to play this year's bowl game.

I will never put down a sports fan.  In fact, I admire sports fans for their knowledge and enthusiasm about something so near and dear to their hearts.   But it saddens me to think that many Christians are more vocal about bowl games, athletes, and sports trivia than they are about Christ and all He has done for us.  What if we got that excited about the true Superstar, Jesus Christ?  Do you think the world might take notice?  What is it about sports that excites us so much that we feel compelled to share our love for the game with every one we meet?   On the other hand, why are we not as enthusiastic to share our love for Christ and His love for the world with those we encounter everyday?

I am embarassed to be so dumb when it comes to sports, but "I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile.  For in the gospel a righteousness from God is revealed, a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written:  'The righteous will live by faith'" (Romans 1:16-17). 

I may not know much about sports or be a fan of football, but I am a HUGE fan of Jesus Christ.  If you are, too, then show the world what you know about His love, forgiveness, mercy, and grace.  If we as Christians can get as excited about our relationship with Jesus as the rest of the world gets about football, just think what could happen!  Don't hold the faith football and try to run it downfield all by yourself.  Pass your faith along and see how many people you can get to follow you across the goal line!

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Are You Ready for the Test?

The other day as we were driving to school, I asked Joy, "Do you have any tests today?"  When she replied that she did, I said, "Did you study?  Are you ready for the test?"  She assured me that she had looked over her material and felt prepared enough to do well on it.

I wish I had Joy's confidence, but some days I  do not feel prepared for the tests that come my way.  The Bible tells us, however, that we will be tested and that we should, in fact, "consider it pure joy, my brothers (and sisters), whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance" (James 1:2-3). 

As a student, I never considered it a joy to be tested in the subjects I studied.  But all the effort that went into preparing for those tests, as difficult as the effort and those tests were, yielded a joyful result when I received my grades.  On those few occasions when I failed to adequately prepare for the test, I received a low score and felt tremendous regret that I had not done more.

How can we, as Christians, prepare for the tests that will surely come our way?  How can we even begin to imagine how difficult those tests might be?  I remember well the conversation I had with my sister weeks after her daughter suffered an injury that no one could have expected.  She told me of the many times she had sat in her car on her lunch hour listening to Bible study CDs and taking in God's Word.  We talked about the importance of having a daily quiet time, of talking regularly with God, and of being in fellowship with our church families.  Years of "preparing" for life's tests gave her the strength she needed to deal with that tragedy, and to help her daughter as well.  Together, with God's grace and as a result of their own preparation through prayer and Bible study, they emerged from the test better and stronger, both spiritually and emotionally, and walked through their trial with such grace that God was glorified every step of the way.

What will you do when the phone rings in the middle of the night and you are handed your most difficult test?  Will you panic and fall to pieces knowing that it is too much to bear, or will you start preparing now by opening God's Book, searching for the answers to the questions that will inevitably arise, and trusting in the One who alone can see you through?  As my pastor says, "people are going to school on you," so make sure you are studying the Word and walking in the promises that were written there for you.  Put your faith and trust in Jesus, who has every answer you will ever need in this life. 

James writes, "Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him" (James 1:12).  And that crown trumps an A+ any day!

Thursday, January 5, 2012

The Candles (an evening poem)












The sun now set, no longer warm,
Has kissed goodbye the day.
The candle flames dance wearily
As my head on the pillow I lay.

A night of restlessness awaits me,
Perplexing dreams that steal my sleep
As a bandit carries away a treasure
From a hidden place so deep.

Throughout the night I tumble and toss,
Sleeping fitfully, never truly resting.
Each night I pray that I may sleep
Without dreams my patience testing.

Extinguished now, the candle's flame
No longer lights the room.
Night shadows fall, the quiet comes,
And so will morning soon.

And long before the birds awake
To sing their morning song,
Once more the candle flame I'll light,
And wait for day to dawn.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Learning to Say No in a Yes World

No.  It's the one word we don't like to hear and perhaps the hardest word to utter on any given day.  Yet, learning to say no is one of the greatest gifts we can give ourselves, provided we learn to seek God's will and be sensitive to the leading of His Holy Spirit when making decisions whether or not to do a particular thing.

Recently I had the opportunity to purchase a tablet pc I'd had my heart set on for quite some time.  With my husband's blessing as well as the means to pay off the charge before the credit card statement could cycle, I ordered the tablet and began anticipating its arrival.  Somehow, though, there was no joy in the decision to purchase the tablet.  As I considered better uses of that money, I reached the conclusion that there was only one thing to do -- cancel the order and use the funds to pay off other debt.  It was a hard decision, particularly since I knew I would get a lot of use out of the tablet, but I had a greater desire to pay off debt than to acquire another tech toy when I already have two computers and a smartphone available to use.

There have been other times that I have found it appropriate to say no, such as when my time is already overscheduled and I am called upon to do a favor someone else could do, serve in some aspect of church life, or attend a meeting that isn't really necessary.  During those times I risk disappointing those who hope my answer will be yes, but in the end I know that by saying no, a greater yes awaits me and an opportunity to serve awaits someone else who might not have been asked or stepped up on their own to serve.

As we begin a new year, let us take a good look at our priorities and prayerfully consider how God might have us re-order them.  Is there a financial goal, such as debt repayment, that would suffer if you bought a new outfit you don't really need?  Perhaps there is a professional or personal goal you desire to achieve that might be compromised if you spread yourself too thin by taking on additional activities.  As important as we may think we are, the world will not grind to a halt if we decline a dinner invitation or someone else's request to serve in an area of ministry that is really not in our area of gifting, especially when we are already committed in other areas.  Certainly we all need to do good to others, especially within the Church, but it is okay to say no on occasion and let someone else carry the baton for a season.

If we overextend ourselves and leave no time for fellowshipping with the Lord, bonding with our families, and getting the rest we need, then before long we will find ourselves burned out and walking in defeat.  Let us resolve this year to consult the Lord before saying yes to anything or anyone.  If we will surrender our plans to Him and walk in obedience to His Word, He will accomplish -- with or without us -- His purposes and plans for those of us who seek His will.