It is time to play a Wild Card! Every now and then, a book that I have chosen to read is going to pop up as a FIRST Wild Card Tour. Get dealt into the game! (Just click the button!) Wild Card Tours feature an author and his/her book's FIRST chapter!
You never know when I might play a wild card on you!
and her book:
FaithWords (September 3, 2008)
Australian born Rebecca St. James is a Grammy Award winner and a multiple Dove Award recipient, with international success that has driven her record sales into the millions. In January 2008, she was named Favorite Female Artist in Contemporary Christian Music by readers of CCM Magazine for the seventh consecutive year. Rebecca also won Best Female Artist of 2007 from Christianitytoday.com--her fifth consecutive year to be given this honor. She's been involved in several film productions and voiced the character of Hope the Angel in VeggieTales' bestselling DVD production The Easter Carol.
Visit the author's website or her MySpace page.
List Price: $13.99
Paperback: 272 pages
Publisher: FaithWords (September 3, 2008)
AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:
In Tune with God's Purpose
God's love is meteoric, his loyalty astronomic, his purpose titanic, his verdicts oceanic. Yet in his largeness nothing gets lost; not a man, not a mouse, slips through the cracks.
—Psalm 36:5–6, The Message
When I was twelve years old, I attended a program at my school that significantly impacted my life's story. A speaker asked people to come forward if they felt God leading them to give their gifts and talents to Him. I felt led by God to respond and ask for His direction in discovering His will and purpose for my life. It was that same year that God began to lead me into music. At age thirteen, I released my first album in Australia. It was a worship album titled Refresh My Heart. I've been asked a number of times, "What do you feel most called to do?" I feel that my God-given purpose is to encourage people to stand for God, to live radically for Him, and to live a life of worship. The roots of this began when I responded to God at age twelve.
This devotional journey is all about seeking purity of mind, body, and spirit. And to seek after purity, we must begin in our minds. One definition for pure, when used in the sense of a musical tone, means "free from harshness or roughness and being in tune."1 God has a purpose for every one of our lives, and He invites us to get in tune with His plan. To be pure is to seek His purpose first and foremost in our lives. If we want our lives to have an impact, that begins and ends with discovering and living out our God-given purpose. Without purpose we have no clear direction, and we may not know which decision to make when we're at a crossroads. Purpose gives us focus to discern what is important. And purpose gives us the strength to do what we need to do. One of this world's greatest tragedies is a life lived without discovering one's God-given purpose. We need to be careful to not just go through the motions without knowing our life purpose. We aren't really living unless we know why we're alive.
Since the beginning of time, God has made everything "on purpose." He created the sky for a reason: to separate the water of the earth from the waters of the heavens (see Gen. 1:6-8). He made the land with a purpose: so there would be dry ground between the seas for us to live on (see Gen. 1:9-12). He designed the sun and the moon with a plan in mind: to mark off seasons, days, and years (see Gen. 1:14-18). And as the crowning glory of creation, He fashioned human beings in His own image (see Gen. 1:26-27). If He thinks highly enough of you and me to put His fingerprint on us, we can be assured that He has a purpose for every one of us. The apostle Paul put it this way:
Everything, absolutely everything, above and below, visible and invisible . . . everything got started in him and finds its purpose in him. He was there before any of it came into existence and holds it all together right up to this moment. (Col. 1:16-17, The Message)
Living It Out
Are you in tune with God's purpose for your life? In order for your dreams and His plan to live in harmony together, you have to cooperate. If you are not on the same page with Him, ask God to show you what He has in mind and to give you the courage to follow His plan. He wants to make the journey with you toward finding the purposeful life for which He destined you.
Who Determines Your Worth?
What's the price of a pet canary? Some loose change, right? And God cares what happens to it even more than you do. He pays even greater attention to you, down to the last detail—even numbering the hairs on your head! So don't be intimidated by all this bully talk. You're worth more than a million canaries.
—Matthew 10:29-31, The Message
Several years ago I embarked on a five-week life-changing experience in Switzerland. I needed spiritual, emotional, and physical recuperation, and I found it at L'Abri (which means "shelter"), a community study center where Christians and non-Christians can seek honest answers about God and His purposes for their lives. It was there that the Lord spoke to me of my God-worth to the point that it began replacing my selfworth. Before this experience I don't think I had ever really discovered the sense of wholeness in God that I felt there.
One of the things I had to confront in my life was the issue of perfectionism. When you are a perfectionist, you tend either to push yourself all the time to be better or to go into failure mode and give up, believing that you'll never succeed. My tendency was to live with a sense that God was disappointed in me—that I was not good enough. Through study and prayer and time alone with Him, the Lord assured me that I am loved and secure. I know that I'm His princess, accepted and cherished.
Because many people spend much of their time trying to please others, they're uncomfortable in their own skin and don't know who they are. Unfortunately, they derive their sense of worth from what they do or don't do for others. It's all based on a false and conditional love. We can get so wrapped up in our selfishness that we can't see beyond ourselves to find our worth in God—who we are in Him.
If you've read The Lord of the Rings trilogy by J. R. R. Tolkien, or have seen the movies, you're familiar with the creature Gollum and his obsession with "my precious," the ring. He was willing to do anything to keep it, and went to great lengths in an attempt to reclaim it. Ultimately, his selfish fascination with the treasure cost him his life. Unlike Gollum, God's love for us is purely selfless because He was willing to give up what's most important to Him—His only Son—to redeem you. He cherishes you as His precious creation. The apostle Paul put it this way:
Christ arrives right on time to make this happen. He didn't, and doesn't, wait for us to get ready. He presented himself for this sacrificial death when we were far too weak and rebellious to do anything to get ourselves ready. And even if we hadn't been so weak, we wouldn't have known what to do anyway. We can understand someone dying for a person worth dying for, and we can understand how someone good and noble could inspire us to selfless sacrifice. But God put his love on the line for us by offering his Son in sacrificial death while we were of no use whatever to him. (Rom. 5:6-8, The Message)
Living It Out
How much time do you spend in the morning thinking about how others will perceive you based on what you look like each day? How could you spend some of that time contemplating your worth in God's eyes? Look in the mirror and realize how precious you are to Him.
1. Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary, 10th ed., s.v. "pure."
Copyright © 2008 by Rebecca St. James