Monday, March 13, 2017

Don't Be An Asa

Crown
Photo by: Dennis Jarvis (archer10)
Asa was by and large a good king of Judah. He honored the Lord with his life and in how he led the people for the majority of his reign. He helped turn them away from idol worship and removed many false gods and the associated images and heathen behavior. At one point, he led the army of Judah and Benjamin against an army of a million men in which they were outnumbered two to one. Despite these overwhelming odds, he trusted in the Lord and asked Him to overcome their enemy. The result was a resounding victory.

A prophet came to Asa after this victory and said, "the Lord is with you when you are with Him. And if you seek Him, He will let you find Him; but if you forsake Him, He will forsake you." -2 Chronicles 15:2b Asa went on to lead Judah in following the Lord with resulting blessings for many years.

However, towards the end of his reign, Asa decided to go outside of God for assistance and do things in his own thinking, his own ability, and with the resources available to him. He ended up hiring a mercenary army to fight on his behalf. While this might have had a semblance of sense from a military and secular perspective, he did not seek out guidance from God or ask for His power to handle the situation. As a result, God withdrew his blessing from Asa and his final years were marked by war and illness.

There is wisdom and practical application that can be drawn from this passage. You may be very skilled at a particular task, profession, relationship, activity, social situation, or any number of different areas of life. In your own ability, you may be able to make things happen and advance your goals. However, if you try to do this without God's involvement or seeking his counsel, at some point, you'll either fail or fall far short of where you could have ended up.

By including Him in the process, He can open doors that otherwise would remain shut. He can create opportunities that would not be available to you. He can make a way in what would be an impossible situation. He can guide you away from making mistakes or aligning yourself with people who may mislead you or be a poor fit. He will allow you to do it without Him but more times than not, avoidable heartache and far less favorable outcomes will result.

As you go through life, don't follow the example of Asa in his latter years; pursue God's best and allow Him to provide for, bless, and lead you.

In pursuit of His best,

Andrew

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Letting God Orchestrate Your Story

Orchestra
Photo by: Fir0002/Flagstaffotos
Have you ever thought of the metaphor of God as a conductor, orchestrating the story of your life? If you allow him to, he will orchestrate a masterpiece.

When the story isn't going the way you think it should, it can be hard to resist grabbing the baton and start conducting differently. Maybe things aren't moving as quickly as you'd like professionally, or something you'd hoped for relationally isn't going the way you'd expect, it could be a challenge with a family dynamic, or perhaps an illness or injury is preventing you from living life the way you'd want.

Do you ever feel that God is not in charge during these times? It certainly can be confusing when you don't see the end of the story while still in the middle. God knows where things are going and has a master plan he's orchestrating even in these times of difficulty and frustration.

There are other times that life hits on all cylinders. You've got great health, work is rewarding, family is spending quality time together, your walk with God is deeply connected, and your goals are being met all around. Basically, all you do is win. In these times it's still essential to maintain focus on The Orchestrator and keep your eyes on His baton. "Fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith..." Hebrews 12:2

Whether things are going swimmingly or if it's a darker part of the story it's important to keep talking with Him. He'll provide insight that you wouldn't otherwise have. In Jeremiah 33:3 He says, "Call to me and I will answer you, and will tell you great and hidden things that you have not known." The best thing you can do is to continue to stay plugged in to the master orchestrator in both the ups and the downs. Allow Him to progress the story in His time and in the way He would choose.

As hard as it can be to trust in your heart and not just from an intellectual perspective, keep looking to the master orchestrator. As He queues the different parts of the story, watch as He unfolds a beautiful story arc. His ways aren't always on the path we might choose but you can trust that He loves you and will be faithful to the end. "He will never leave or forsake you." -Deuteronomy 31:6

In pursuit of His best,

Andrew 

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Silent Night Guitar Instrumental


Merry Christmas y'all! Hope you enjoy this instrumental finger picking guitar arrangement of Silent Night that I put together for you.

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Stewarding Your Season of Life Well

How do you feel about your season of life? Is it everything you want it to be? Are there some things about it that you wish were different?

Whatever your response, God loves you, sees you, knows where you’re at, and desires good things for you in this season. Most of all He wants to walk with you and for you to know and experience Him more deeply.

Gravel Path In Woods with Fence © Andrew Allen Photography

Many times we can get so focused on the immediate concerns, priorities, challenges, stresses, or difficulties of a season that we forget to really live in and fully experience the unique opportunities in it.

In a season of singleness, people have time and freedom that is a wonderful blank slate on which to craft a story and engage in an abundance of fun, meaningful activities, time with God, traveling, serving, running races, hiking in nature, writing and reading books, playing songs, and deep friendships. For those who are newly married, there are the joys of a new life together and learning about each other more deeply. For those with kids, there are all kinds of intermittent seasons throughout the various phases: newborn, toddler, elementary age, middle and high school, then sending them on to college or other pursuits in life. The empty nest phase similarly affords much greater time to reconnect with your spouse and engage in fun activities.

From a career perspective, a first job while still in school provides good insight into responsibility, learning to relate to people, and manage money without the full weight of providing for oneself. The first professional job provides a completely new perspective as you learn the ins and outs of an industry and go from book knowledge to practical skills. Mid career can bring a different set of responsibilities where you may be looked to as an expert in your field and provide leadership to others. Late career holds opportunities for possibly selling a business, transitioning responsibilities to others, and investing in a younger generation to carry the torch. In retirement, you again have the potential for significant time availability and can use it in leisure, studying the Bible, traveling, reading, volunteering, spending time with family, and a host of other activities.

There are seasons of joy, seasons of pain, seasons of meaningfulness and seasons that seem mundane, seasons of intensity and seasons of relaxation, seasons of health, seasons of sickness, seasons of plenty and seasons of need. In each of these, God is with you.

It’s important to steward the opportunities in each season and allow God to work in and through you to accomplish the plans that He’s laid for you (Ephesians 2:10). Don’t let busyness, disappointment, others’ expectations, or anything else hold you back from fully living in and pursuing God’s best in your season. It may last for a while or be gone in the blink of an eye. Whatever the season, steward it well and allow God to guide you in each step of the journey.

In pursuit of His best,

Andrew

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Fleeing Temptation


This video illustrates the concept of fleeing from evil as well as anything I've seen. The iguana runs as if his life depends on it, fights, jumps, and escapes the clutches of certain death. Notice also the parallel of joining up with another iguana at the end as a way to watch out for each other and avoid sin.

"When tempted, no one should say, “God is tempting me.” For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; 14 but each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire and enticed. 15 Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death." -James 1:13-15

"No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it." -1 Corinthians 10:13

"Flee from sexual immorality." -1 Corinthians 6:18

"But he left his cloak in her hand and ran out of the house." -Genesis 39:12

Saturday, November 12, 2016

I Am With You


I Am With You
I am with you and you are mine
I'll go before you at all times
I am with you and you are mine
Don't be discouraged you'll be fine
Cause I am with you always child of mine

When the trouble comes and you feel alone
keep pressing on and standing strong
I'll be by your side and I'll fight for you
hold you in my arms and comfort you

I am with you and you are mine
I'll go before you at all times
I am with you and you are mine
I love you deeply and you'll be fine
Cause I am with you always child of mine

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Like I'm Loved By You

When I think about my life and observe others, I’m sometimes struck by how differently we might live if we truly lived as though we were walking out the knowledge of God’s love for us. The motivations, fears, doubts, lies we’ve believed, shame, hurts, pain, and simple selfishness that drives behavior would fall to the wayside. Really living out of confidence and knowing that God loves us beyond anything we can imagine would transform the way we live.

When uncertainties creep in our certainty comes from Him and the knowledge that He is all powerful, and knows what’s happened in the past and what will come in the future. Our actions and words would be different when embracing His love in our lives. While difficult life circumstances, other people, spiritual attacks, and selfish desires will always be challenges to contend with, the more we can lean into His love, the more we will pursue His best in our lives.

This song was written out of reflection on these thoughts.


Like I'm Loved By You
I want to live like I'm loved by you
I want to live like I'm loved by you
I want to live like I'm loved by you
I want to live like I'm loved by you

No more doubt no more fear love has won and peace is here
All the lies were crucified when you died and gave me life
Shame has gone it has no place grace has come and sin erased
You heal my heart and heal my pain there is power in your name

I want to live like I'm loved by you
I want to live like I'm loved by you
I want to live like I'm loved by you
I want to live like I'm loved by you

In pursuit of His best,

Andrew
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