With the new year always comes traditional new resolutions and a fresh resolve to change something in our lives. In the same spirit, I’ve been taking a hard look once again at my life vision and goals and restructuring some of my schedule and priorities for 2008. I thought it might be cool to start a series of posts on the practical points of a life vision and the process of setting goals to achieve them with the help of the Holy Spirit. In these first few posts, I want to provoke you to actually look at your life vision in a new light, or if you don’t have one, to get one and start running with it.

When you fall asleep at night, what do you dream of for your life? What is your ultimate life vision? Is it to be a great business person with a large home and a nice BMW? A great father or mother? A great preacher with a large church and a large impact on your city or region? You may be very surprised if you ask your friends or family this question because there are not very many people who have actually thought about a vision for their lives and where they want to be when they begin to get older. Many are content just to glide through life just hoping to make the best of every circumstance.

Even when “vision” and “goals” are mentioned in a normal...

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God has placed one of the most amazing privileges available to us in our grasp - walking in the Spirit. The Father has chosen to release His presence and power of the Spirit in us and through us, but this promise will not simply happen in a vacuum. He made it clear that He would not release His power to us outside of an ongoing relationship with us.

Many times we wait and long for God to change our circumstances, come with physical healing, or come with breakthrough on our hearts – but we fail to realize He is waiting on us. He does not wait in anger, but He is so patient and kind towards us. What is He waiting for? He says “we can only move forward together if you consciously relate to Me and let your eyes, tongue, time, and money come under My leadership.”

Relating to God is simple for everyone to understand, yet almost too simple that so many actually never really do it with perseverance. In John 14, Jesus tells us about these two ways of relating to Him so that His power is manifest in us and through us.

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Understanding how God feels, thinks, acts, and who He is in His nature radically changes the way we live our lives. Our view of ourselves, others and life in general is fundamentally and profoundly affected by our idea or view of God. A.W. Tozer says that “all of the problems of heaven and earth, though they were to confront us together and at once, would be nothing compared with the overwhelming problem of God: That He is; what He is like and what we as moral beings must do about Him. The man who comes to a right belief about God is relieved of ten thousand temporal problems.”

In light of understanding who God actually is, the issues in our lives always will decrease in their apparent magnitude. What God is like, how He feels, how He interacts and deals with His creation, what His motivations and desires are, and what moves His heart are more than just concepts we should know intellectually or conceptually. They are truths that must be encountered on a deep heart level. The knowledge of God - though filled with many intellectual concepts - is really a theology of the heart.

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I have recently been pondering the word Christians throw around all the time - "grace". By definition, grace is the unmerited favor of God. He gives us something we are undeserving of. I am so thankful for His grace!

But as we read in 2 Peter and Jude, one of the great pressures in the end times will come from false teachers within the Church.

For certain men have crept in unnoticed...ungodly men, who turn the grace of our God into lewdness and deny...our Lord Jesus Christ. (Jude 1:4)

I believe one of the most common areas of false teaching that we need to be aware of as believers is that which perverts biblical understanding of the grace of God. These false teachers pervert God's grace by reducing its message to receiving forgiveness without repentance and seeking to make people comfortable with God while continuing in their sin. They present grace as an insurance policy while we continue to sin.

The difference between grace and mercy

Mercy extends God's forgiveness and grace imparts God's enabling power to our inner man. Mercy is NOT receiving what we deserve. We escape something negative - God's wrath.

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The Lord has stirred my heart lately with these passages from James 1:

"My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing." (James 1:2-4 NKJV)

"Blessed is the man who endures temptation; for when he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him." (James 1:12 NKJV)

James begins his epistle with a clear perspective on eternity. As I was reading it, I realized how temporally minded I am. So often when I am hit with a trial or a disruption in my life I complain, moan, and wish that it had never happened. But after spending much time in this passage in James I realized my perspective needed to be changed.

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