Live Intentionally

“We become what we want to be by consistently doing what we want to become.”

I have lots of good intentions.

But my good intentions don’t always wind up becoming a reality.

I set out to exercise regularly.

To write encouraging notes.

To eat less sugar.

To pray more.

Unless I am intentional about these good intentions, they fall by the wayside however. Having good intentions is far different than being intentional.

Just like faith without works is dead, so are good intentions without follow through.

Early in our marriage, my husband would often say to me at the end of the day, “I drove by a flower store and thought about buying you some flowers – but it’s the thought that counts.”  Nothing infuriated me more than to hear him say this because in reality, he never bought me flowers.  He just thought about it. For years. (He’s change though!) Thinking about doing something and not doing it is in my opinion worse than merely not doing something.  It means that I actually gave it some thought – perhaps was even convicted to do something – but did not follow through.

In our highly distracted, noisy, fast paced culture, our human default is to become more random and haphazard in how we conduct our lives.  We spontaneously live out our days, by doing what feels right and good at the moment. By the mere fact of how easily we can communicate with each other, we have become more spontaneous.  Instead of planning our days, making and keeping commitments, carrying our our good intentions, we go into a spur-of-the-moment mindset, responding emotionally to distractions of the hour. By the end of the day, we are often ragged, worn out and frustrated by a big list of “to dos” still undone.  (No wonder dinner time can be a challenge for families!)

Being intentional requires a deliberate approach to how I walk out each day. To be intentional means to determine in advance what I will say and do – what my priorities and values are.  To live with intention is to have fixity of purpose, a firm determination that is marked by boldness and steadfastness!

Oswald Chambers said that  “there is a potential hero in every man – and a potential skunk!”  It will be determined by what one is intentional about.

  • Will I be intentional about how I speak and treat others, especially those right within my home? The natural default is to allow self seeking interests and personal needs to drive what I say and do.
  • Will I seek the Lord daily on my knees inviting him into everything I do? The natural default is to fall to my own  thoughts and determinations.
  • Will I be intentional about how I spend my time? Or will I regularly  fall prey to the distractions and to the “tyranny of the urgent.”

Nothing impacts today’s  students more than this snare.

With the availability of distractions at their fingertips at all hours of the day and night, students are easily lured by what they feel like doing at the moment- especially when they are not feeling like doing school work!  A lack of intentional focus greatly increases the amount of time required for them to obtain mastery. Furthermore, it encourages  inattentive mental habits, and decreases their desire to even learn. Instead, students find more and more enjoyment in attending to distractions- to whatever pops up on their screens; responding to every text message or email immediately; choosing to focus on the haphazard things and not to what is matters most.  Then a different set of values begins to replace their original good intentions.

And what about our faith?

When our spiritual life lacks regular determination to remain and grow in Christ; when we fail to daily seek Him in all things, our natural inclinations take over and we grow dull to His voice. We find ourselves on “the path of least resistance” where our human minds and emotions take over and we forget about the things of God. For the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, nor can he know then, because they are spiritually discerned. (1 Corinthians 2:14)

We must intentionally set our hearts upon the things of Christ or we will unintentionally set our hearts on ourselves and on the worldly values. What we set our hearts on will flow out of us; and spontaneous combustion from the heart can be a destructive way to live unless our hearts are intentionally filled with Jesus.

If we intentionally draw near to God he will draw near to us. If we intentionally resist the devil, he will flee from us.  (James 4:7)

My walk with Jesus requires that I am intentional about the journey.  One day at a time, I need to remain in Him.  Jesus said this to his disciplines in John 15: 4-5: Remain in me, and I will remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me, you can do nothing.

Does your marriage need work?

Then sincerely and deliberately become intentional as the Lord instructs you in the process. (and He will if you willingly listen!)  Just because it’s hard, does not meant you shouldn’t follow through on doing hard things.  It’s never easy to do the right thing.  In fact it is quite easy to do the wrong things.  It’s the natural man – the default within.

Do you need to be more intentional with your kids, training their spiritual hearts and improving your relational time with them?

It starts first with you and how intentional you are with your own relationship with God.  Finding time for spiritual matters is not easy; especially for mommy’s with young children.  Yet, God gave us each 24 hours and He longs for us to fill it with His presence.  He does not place us in this season of our lives to lose Him in the midst of it. While you working at your own intentionality, encourage your kids to find something to be intentional about as well: to read with more comprehension; to improve their math facts; to decrease the time it takes for them to complete an assignment; to watch less TV; to be intentional kind to their siblings; to memorize scripture.

Finally, seek Him early in the day to commit the days happens to Him.  Seek Him at the end of the day as well to bring closure to the day’s events. Begin and end with Him. Intentionally – even if it is just a few minutes.  The bookends of success are in the starting and in the finishing.  When we start and end our days intentionally focusing on the One who created everything including TIME,  chances are that what takes place between will be more intentional as well.

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