Soul Hunger: What Are You Starving For?

Nearly two years ago,  I was terrified when my Pastor assigned me a specific song to learn.  I didn’t really have a hunger for holiness; I guess I figured if I got in the vicinity of holiness most of the time, I was doing pretty good.  But that wasn’t God’s standard.  Holiness is God’s standard.  So my Pastor handed me a CD about a month ago and asked me to call him for my assignment after I’d listened to it.  I should’ve expected it, but I was caught off guard.  As I popped the CD in while driving home from church, it took me about 40 seconds to realize, “Hey, this is the same song that I’d been running from two years ago.”  Obviously, I didn’t run fast enough.  Clearly, nobody can outrun God or His will.  So what’s the title of the song that caused me to tremble when I thought about me having to sing it?  “Hunger for Holiness” popularized by Helen Baylor.  Who knows – if I’d taken the assignment seriously when he FIRST gave it to me, maybe I wouldn’t need Weight Watchers…

I had to swallow my fear of “what next?” in order to tackle this assignment with the right mindset and attitude.  Because as much as it might bless others, I know that I will also be blessed when I obey the Lord.  God wants me to be able to minister every song I sing with conviction – which means I first have to experience the song before I can ever convince someone else to become a partaker of its message.  I hadn’t denied my flesh any food it wanted in quite some time.  So my course of preparation to minister this song effectively entailed feeling hunger.  Because I hadn’t allowed myself to be hungry in a while.  My hips are a witness…

So regardless of the day’s circumstances (which included a church gathering that ended with a nice buffet lunch), I consecrated myself to God and asked Him to birth the truth of this song in my spirit.  And He was faithful to fulfill my request because it was in line with His will!  He kept me so safe under the shadow of His wing that I didn’t even consider reneging on my vow while doing the weekly grocery shopping or when a friend came over to the house and made dinner for my entire family.  Because it’s not really about food at all; it’s about my relationship with Him, and whether I’m putting Him first – before anything else I want.

I procrastinated learning that song for weeks, months, and years.  And now I’m at the place of repentance.   In spite of the fact that I’m just a vessel created for HIS glory, in essence, I had told the Master, “You’ll have to wait until I’m comfortable and ready to sing this song, even if You have a plan to use it to touch someone’s life in a powerful way.”  How presumptuous of me – the vessel – to tell the Master Potter, “You should make me into this, and this is how I think You should use me, Lord!”

I diligently practiced all week.  So slothfulness was part of my procrastination?  Yeah.  Cute, right?  NOT!  Unintentionally, I’d become complacent about songs I already knew and had sung before.  This time was different.  I made intentional choices to be holy this week, to walk worthy of the calling of Christ on my life.  Lo and behold, the night before ministering, the song sounded better than it had all week.  I was astounded because the music track was a little high for my range.  But since it wasn’t about my personal comfort level to begin with, when I got all that flesh outta the way, God stepped in and did the miraculous – He touched my voice.  After all, He’s more concerned with how we yield to His process than whether we achieve our own desired outcomes.  So I take no credit whatsoever – He sang and ministered through me.  And I’m grateful that He chose me – because He didn’t have to give me another opportunity to complete the assignment.

What do you hungrily crave?  Passionately desire?  Wistfully long for?  Is it Christ?  The glib initial response is, “Of course!”  But check your actions and heart motives to see if that’s really the case.  You might be surprised at what appetite you’ve really been feeding.

“Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled.”

(Matthew 5:6)

© Copyright 2011 by Kayren J. Cathcart

Which Way, Lord?

Hint:  Ask God first before making a major decision.  You’ll be glad you did…

“I call heaven and earth to record this day against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore choose life, that both thou and thy seed may live:”

(Deuteronomy 30:19)

“Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.

In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.

Be not wise in thine own eyes: fear the LORD, and depart from evil.”

(Proverbs 3:5-7) 

 

“For the commandment is a lamp; and the law is light; and reproofs of instruction are the way of life:”

(Proverbs 6:23)

“He is in the way of life that keepeth instruction: but he that refuseth reproof erreth.”

(Proverbs 10:17)

“Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.”

(Matthew 7:14)

© Copyright 2011 by Kayren J. Cathcart

Chronicles of a Backward Glance: The Power of Suggestion

Yes y’all, I’m tellin’ it ALL about what I’ve learned.  Why?  Prayerfully, my missteps will prevent someone else from taking the same detour from God’s will.  I encourage you to stay the course He has charted for your life…

The funny thing – or perhaps more accurately, the ironic thing – about me getting into that home-based business last year?  I’d done it before and seen that it wasn’t the best fit for me and my family.  I knew it wouldn’t cause me to “get rich quick” – but I still secretly hoped it would.  I knew it would take more time, energy, and effort than I currently had available – but I foolishly wanted to try anyway.  I saw the “Bridge Out Ahead” signs – but I valiantly forged ahead (maybe I absurdly thought I’d sprout wings to keep me from busting my backside).

I even called myself praying and asking God what His will was for me concerning entering this venture.  My biggest mistake:  I didn’t wait to hear His response!  I asked, then while waiting for His answer, someone called for my decision…and I leaped before I looked closely enough.  I thought, “THIS time will be different!  I can do it now.”  I allowed someone else to influence my decision instead of relying on the Holy Spirit to lead, guide, and direct me.  I could’ve said, “I’ll get back to you.”  But I didn’t.  There was an (unseen by me) undetected desire to gamble, get something-for-nothing, get a hook-up, see a huge return on my small investment…and I ended up paying for that – because the house always wins – the system is intentionally set up that way, folks!!!

I initially reasoned, “It doesn’t cost that much – it’s the equivalent of a couple of lunches!”  Well, in the end, I discovered that my peace of mind and having a settled, undisturbed spirit was more priceless than that “small” initial activation fee.  At the beginning of the year, I was starting to get rid of my household clutter, but in the end, getting products in the mail gave me more reason to accumulate stuff.  Do I wish my husband had told me, “No sweetie, you can’t do this” from the beginning?  Yes.  But would I have gained the depth of appreciation for this lesson if I hadn’t gone through the process?  Probably not.  I really don’t wanna go down this wearisome path again.  Trying to do things in my own strength was like running on a hamster wheel and being unable to stop.

The person who invited me to the opportunity was not the problem; she is a great person who I enjoy being around.  The problem was that I allowed myself to be distracted from God’s original, primary assignment for me in that season by an external suggestion.  I lost focus, and it cost me.  But I am grateful to know what was really in my heart, because when I stopped denying the ugly truth, God was able to remove those impure desires so I could agree with His will for my life.  And so I run on…

“Teach me thy way, O LORD; I will walk in thy truth: unite my heart to fear thy name.”

(Psalm 86:11)

 “For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.”

(Hebrews 4:12)

© Copyright 2011 by Kayren J. Cathcart

Target Acquired: Aiming at the Wrong Goal

Last year, I deliberately chose to get into a home-based business with the stated purpose of bringing in a little extra cash for my family.   My personal goal was to make a minimum purchase once a quarter to maintain active status and be available to supply products when people requested them.  Let the website do the majority of the work – I wasn’t going to hassle anybody.  I had a pretty laissez-faire attitude about the whole thing – no pressure, no stress, have fun.  Little did I know that my underlying desire was to prove that I could juggle more balls than I already had flying through the air.  Was I ever in for a lesson – God will show us what’s really in our hearts!

When the “carrots” of recognition and potential to increase my earnings were dangled in front of me, I started chasing them – hard.  I didn’t realize I was that competitive, because that was not the purpose I initially expressed before undertaking this venture.  When I saw my level of consistency recognized while I wasn’t even trying to gain acknowledgement or accolades, I began to think, “What could I accomplish if I actually put some concentrated effort into this thing?  I can really make it work for me!”  And the flesh took off…but in the process, I allowed someone else’s standard to become my own.  It became impossible for me to maintain.  And I had to admit that I wasn’t truly trusting God to be my Source.  I was trying to be my own waymaker…a major no-no!  By extricating myself from the business by the end of the year (when I finally saw the light of my true, ugly, impure motives), I wasn’t admitting defeat – I was confessing that I’d started out on a faulty premise and built on a shaky foundation.  Humbling?  Yes.  Less costly than continuing to charge until I ran smack into the wall?  Thank the Lord, yes.

Ask yourself, “Did someone else set this goal for me?”  If so, that makes for ill-constructed aspirations.  You’ll reach the finish line and you won’t even appreciate or enjoy the prize – because it’s what someone else wanted you to want.  Selah.

Are you currently championing something you don’t really believe in?  It’s not too late to ask God to redirect your trajectory…

“God is my strength and power: and he maketh my way perfect.”

(II Samuel 22:33)

“Can a man be profitable unto God, as he that is wise may be profitable unto himself?

Is it any pleasure to the Almighty, that thou art righteous? or is it gain to him, that thou makest thy ways perfect?”

(Job 22:2-3)

“As thou knowest not what is the way of the spirit, nor how the bones do grow in the womb of her that is with child: even so thou knowest not the works of God who maketh all.”

(Ecclesiastes 11:5)

“Behold, I will do a new thing; now it shall spring forth; shall ye not know it? I will even make a way in the wilderness, and rivers in the desert.”

(Isaiah 43:19)

“Thou hast made known to me the ways of life; thou shalt make me full of joy with thy countenance.”

(Acts 2:28)

© Copyright 2011 by Kayren J. Cathcart

Standard of Measure: Who Are You Trying to Keep Up With?

Weariness of body, mind, and soul ensues when you’re running a race and competing with the wrong motive.  Adding a layer of self-deception to veil your true intentions just complicates matters and prolongs the arrival of an inevitable outcome.  Trust me, I know…

Are you racing yourself?  Trying to overcome something from your past?  What are you out to prove – or disprove?

Are you racing someone else?  How do you know what’s driving them?  If you surpass them, what will it benefit you?  Have you considered that they may not be an accurate measuring stick by which to gauge your own personal progress?

Will a temporary “win” really translate into a permanent loss?  Carry it out beyond the finish line…what does your “dream win” look, feel, taste, smell, and sound like?  Is it worth what you’re putting into it? 

Are you more stimulated by the “thrill of the chase” than the desire to attain your set objective?  What will you do once you achieve your perceived goal?  Will you be content and satisfied, or will you keep striving for an elusive and nebulous ambition?

God created each of us to be unique – we are fearfully and wonderfully made.  No need to be a cookie cutter impression when you’re designed to be an exclusively distinct original!  Just some thoughts to consider while counting the cost and reflecting where the bulk of your time, energy, and effort are being funneled….

“Again, I considered all travail, and every right work, that for this a man is envied of his neighbour. This is also vanity and vexation of spirit.”

(Ecclesiastes 4:4)

© Copyright 2011 by Kayren J. Cathcart

The True Cost of Accuracy: Are You On-Point?

It’s time to file taxes again!  Don’t I know it?  Last night, I was digging through my old calendar, post-its, receipts, online account statements, and hand-written chicken scratch notes to find documentation for my tax preparer related to a home-based beauty business I’d jumped into last year (without waiting to hear God’s answer of whether it was time to jump in or not).  It’s great product, great people, and great earning potential.  So what was my problem with making the business work for me?  Time, energy, and effort required…vs. the amount I had available of all those resources.  I grossly underestimated the quantity of each that it would take for me to be successful.  Through trial and error, I’ve learned that no amount of desire or enthusiasm can make up for hard work.

Frankly, last night’s activities were tiresome…and I became more tired as I looked at my overloaded 2010 calendar and saw how much I’d been ripping and running in the crux of my mad entrepreneurial dash last year.  I think my hubby had compassion on me as I peered into the computer screen, longing to be finished when the end was nowhere in sight.  I’m not a “numbers person” to begin with, so having to capture this numerical data was already taking me outta my comfort zone.  I’m so used to “eyeballing” something or “rounding up” to estimate a total.  I’ve “eyeballed” my food portions, only to discover that what I thought was 1 cup of cereal was actually closer to 2 cups – oh the horror of that discovery!  I’ve also rounded the estimated price of each item on my grocery list to the nearest dollar so I have an idea of what I’m going to spend on groceries each week.  It’s helpful, but not completely precise.  Both of those scenarios have proven to yield less than accurate results for me.  So why do I keep relying on those methods?  Because it’s easy – the path of least resistance.  But comfort and complacency are enemies of lasting change.

It will always cost more later when you take shortcuts now.  I wanted to report my tax information with honesty and integrity (i.e., not artificially inflating or misrepresenting anything) because that’s part of my Christian witness.  When my tax preparer told me the preliminary numbers I submitted last week looked a little low, she asked me to revisit my mileage log, the training I’d participated in, etc. and confirm the accuracy of my figures.  So back I went to the piles of stuff (no, I didn’t even have it in a shoebox).  Mind you, the standard evening household activities still needed to be done – checking homework, corralling young bathers, making lunches, laying out clothes for the next day, etc.  Since I had a time deadline to meet for turning in the tax info, I felt the pressure beginning to mount.  Yet, because I didn’t stay diligent throughout the year and keep my records in a more organized manner, it cost me extra time to assemble the required information – weeknight time I’d planned to use in a different way.  The final result of my labor was a higher tax returnw(hich was definitely a positive aspect that made it worth the investment of time), but did I have to wait and gather everything at the last minute?  No!  Through this tedious experience, I have learned a valuable lesson – one that I hope not to repeat in the same way again!  Ask God to show you where He wants you to be on-point today…

“Whom shall he teach knowledge? and whom shall he make to understand doctrine? them that are weaned from the milk, and drawn from the breasts.

For precept must be upon precept, precept upon precept; line upon line, line upon line; here a little, and there a little:”

(Isaiah 28:9-10)

© Copyright 2011 by Kayren J. Cathcart

Initial Progress Report: Operation Science Fair Project 2011

God is a WONDER!  He kept me calm yesterday while I helped my son navigate the waters of selecting a Science Fair Project (SFP) idea, and he turned in his Initial Progress Report today (complete with testable question and materials list) – ON TIME!  If this sounds trivial, please reference my aforementioned aversion to Science Fair Projects.  This is nothing short of a miracle. 

We were so excited about getting started that we did the experiment part together (thanks to a Monday night homework sheet designed to jump start the SFP process) – I guided him to something not-too-intricate…for both of our sakes. 🙂  Through this learning opportunity, my young apprentice will learn “What materials float best on water.”  We selected a piece of wood, a hair pin, a penny, a cotton ball, a plastic ring, and I added a Cheerio at the end because I was DETERMINED to see something float.

I even backed up (from hovering over him and controlling the process like the helicopter mom that I am) to let him put each item in the water and take it out, too.  Ooooh…ahhhh!  The point of the SFP is for the student to enjoy the delight of discovery, right? Yada, yada, yada…my point is to get it over with, but I know God is working on my attitude with this set of circumstances.

As if that weren’t fantastic enough for one day, I also pulled my daughter’s second tooth and made my hubby’s requested pancake dinner…in spite of the fact that a fresh batch of whole wheat spaghetti with ground turkey was already lovingly cooked during my abundant free time this weekend – LOL!  Yes, God gave me His strength because I chose to obey Him and allow Him to change my heart, and I’m grateful.  Not because it was Valentine’s Day, but because of His unconditional love that keeps us from failing.  We’re halfway through the SFP – yippee!  Okay, maybe not halfway through, since there’s also a research paper to do (I will cross that bridge when I come to it), but we’ve made progress.  As my dad says, “How do you eat an elephant?  One bite at a time!”  Here’s to digesting our first bite…

Needless to say, SuperWoman has left the building…I am duly exhausted.  G’nite! 

“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.

 Nevertheless you have done well that you shared in my distress.”

(Philippians 4:13-14, NKJV) 

© Copyright 2011 by Kayren J. Cathcart