Preparations for the New Year: Planning in Humility

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James 4:13-17

“Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit”— yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.” As it is, you boast in your arrogance. All such boasting is evil. So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin.”

Psalm 39:4-5

“O LORD, help me understand my mortality and the brevity of life! Let me realize how quickly my life will pass!  Look, you make my days short-lived, and my life span is nothing from your perspective. Surely all people, even those who seem secure, are nothing but vapor.” (Net Bible).

Proverbs 16:9

“In their hearts humans plan their course, but the LORD establishes their steps.” (NIV)

It has been a joy for me to go through the process of blogging about planning and aligning our hearts, minds, bodies to God’s will and evaluating through His lens.  The planning process is necessary and often neglected because it is not a once and done occupation.  I want to dare to dream and try to do things that I would normally limit myself on, but simultaneously surrender it all to God, delighting in the truth that His way is best.

There is a fine line between planning for temporary pleasure and planning that is divinely inspired.  By saying divinely inspired, I mean it is something God truly placed on our hearts, and not us manipulating to have it be a part of His plan for our own desires.  Sometimes it is not clear.  We plan and wonder if it is what we are supposed to be doing.  That’s ok – as long as our plans are submitted to God and we trust His will.

At the root of our plans our motivation might be difficult to discern, but it reveals the impetus behind the inspiration for our goals.  Pride, insecurity, fame, jealousy, popularity or any other carnal catalysts toward a goal will be burned up in the end.  But purifying our motives before God can confirm whether a goal really is worthwhile, after all, and have eternal rewards. Recognizing that we are just vessels doing His work, not ours is paramount.

Planning in this way leads to encouragement rather than discouragement; if a venture or pursuit fails, then I know either the LORD was not in it or that I need to go back to Him again.  Self is removed when I consider the whole purpose is doing His will and I lay it at his feet again, praying whether it is something I need to cease or whether it is an opportunity to grow in character and not give up.  If I look for outward signs only, including man’s praise rather than an inner peace of walking in His plan, then I can easily become confused and misled.  Being hyper-spiritual is also not a beneficial solution to discerning whether God is in our plans.

If our goal truly is God’s glory, though, then the results are completely up to the LORD.  Failure or success in goals is not what matters most. The success of a goal might even just be the character earned in the process.   We must just be faithful to seek Him daily and press on toward our goals in Christ. Ultimately, our time investment needs to be with eternity in mind and the recognition that everything we have comes from Him.  Everything we set out to do is only by His grace.  Everything is all about Him.

Here’s to planning a godly year in 2015!  Happy New Year’s Eve!!

Lord, our time is in Your hands.  Your will be done in every aspect of our lives!  To you alone be all glory, honor and praise for any accomplishments You allow.

Preparations for the New Year: Evaluation

Romans 12:3

“For by the grace given to me I say to every one of you not to think more highly of yourself than you ought to think, but to think with sober discernment, as God has distributed to each of you a measure of faith.”

Each year typically most people have some form of a goal or resolution for the new year.  Sometimes we do not want to utter it out loud, lest we fail again.  But we all can benefit by looking over the past year and assessing what worked and what didn’t.  Even as tough as it might seem, it is actually quite liberating.  Come on in and let’s get started.

In the past few days I have explored the preparation of our mind, heart and bodies for God in the coming year.  Now to the practical application.  Knowledge gained is not as effective as knowledge applied.  Today’s blog is a lot more practical, but I pray beneficial, in your planning for the new year.

I came across a wonderful blog that is very beneficial for the “how” and “why” of successful planning – “6 Steps to Crush Your Goals in 2015” – found at: .  I worked through the steps the author suggested and then used an application called “Trello” to itemize, categorize, strategize and quantify my goals with due dates.  I also used Word to place the goals all on one page, answering the questions contained in the blog.  It was a time of investment of one to two hours and will require maintenance and consistency, in order to be effective.  Therein lies my challenge.  It is highly probable that I will not achieve all of the goals on my list, but that is not holding me back.  Planning means more will be achieved than not planning at all.  God bless you all in the new year!  May we achieve more than we dreamed possible all for Christ’s glory.

May God grant us wisdom and grace in planning and may we seek His will in all aspects of our lives!  Carpe Diem!

Preparations for the New Year Begin with the Body

1 Timothy 4:8

“Physical exercise has some value, but godliness is valuable in every way. It holds promise for the present life and for the life to come.”

Placing too much emphasis or lack of emphasis on something can lead to error.  If we do not take care of the temple of the Holy Spirit, how will we be able to carry out what God has placed in our path to do?  So many fleshly reasons for exercise exist; being the right size or weight, fitting into a certain outfit.  None of these please God, but choosing to exercise, fast, or to eat healthily to be fit for God’s kingdom and glory does.

Running, walking, whatever form of exercise, can be a great catalyst to more effective, godly life.  Why?  Making our flesh do things it does not want to do helps lead the way to us not walking after fleshly desires, but after God, instead.  I have often thought of the first half of the verse above, but the second half of the verse stands our to me now, vividly.  Exercise holds promise for this life and for eternity?  Wow.  Because it is capable of producing godliness, which endures forever.

So what stands in our way?  Lack of discipline, motivation, self control, distraction?  Probably, but there is also a great tool which can help us to overcome these commonplace struggles: fasting.  Not to lose weight, not to be pious, but to deny self and refocus our intentions and priorities.  We can get lost in our daily regime and somehow there is a mystery in setting aside food for a day and taking that time to pray instead.  Things seem clearer and our eyes are opened to what really matters.  There are, of course, health benefits to fasting, as well, which can also help clear our foggy minds and provide a little detoxification.

There are many reasons why a believer would choose to fast.  While it is not required by Scripture, it is a discipline that humbles us and reminds us of our humanity and desperate need for God.  It catches our attention and breaks up our routine enough to make us stop ourselves and consider our lives, and more importantly, which wall our ladder is leaning up against.  I pray we all prepare our mind, heart and bodies to set goals that honor God in this coming year and push ourselves to do things we are not capable of so we can lean hard on Jesus.

Lord, may we worship you with all our heart, soul, mind and being now and in this coming year.  Help us to pause long enough to seek your will and prepare our whole beings for service to You!

Preparations for the New Year Begin with the Heart

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Psalm 26:2

“Test me, O LORD, and try me, examine my heart and my mind.”

Matthew 6:21

“For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” 

Proverbs 3:5
“Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding.”  
Psalm 51:10
“Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.”
Psalm 73:26
“My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.”

Psalm 37:4

“Delight yourself in the LORD and he will give you the desires of your heart.” 


As I begin to contemplate what goals the LORD would have me set in this coming year, there is not just the battle of the mind, but the battle of the heart.  What we think about matters to God.  What our heart longs for does, too.  Our hearts can be drawn to many worthwhile and unworthy passions.  What we desire, we will often succumb to, unless our minds are girded with the word of God and our flesh saturated with God’s perspective.

Although the mind and the heart have many similarities, when I refer to the heart, I am referring to the strong emotions which affect our will and thoughts.  Catching myself craving something that might not be in accordance with God’s will can be difficult to discern.  I confess that I struggle with disciplining my flesh when it comes to exercise and food.  My thoughts can be well intended regarding both of these important aspects of life, but my emotions, my heart, can deceive me.  I wake up excited to run on my treadmill (ok, maybe excited is a stretch, but motivated, nonetheless).  I overcome the mental block inhibiting me, then my heart comes in and tempts me with the Lazyboy recliner and a cup of joe.  I begin to think on it and I am ashamed to say that my heart usually defeats my mind when it comes to food and exercise.

The rationalization might be dressed in righteousness.  Time with God, ministering to my family or friends.  But physical training is of some value.  Around and around the battle goes.  So, how do we cultivate and foster a heart towards righteousness?  How do we crave what pleases God?  What we meditate on in the mind is paramount, but when our heart feeds our mind, we can call out to God to help us walk after the spirit and not the flesh.

Disciplining the mind and heart is not all drudgery, though.  One of my favorite verses is Psalm 37:4, which contains a precious promise of God granting us the desires of our heart.  What precedes this promise of God is our delight in Him.  Turning our heart toward craving the things of God instead of the things in this world is possible.  Christ being our joy is also far more rewarding than any other occupation or endeavor this world has to offer.

As we plan for the coming year, may we consider our heart and lay it bare before our Maker.  He knows what is best and what I desire must be checked by the Holy Spirit and submitted to my God, my King.  Retraining our heart to run after the things of God will feel unnatural at first.  That’s ok.  Practice makes perfect.  Despite our failures, there is great hope: God is our strength and our portion forever.  He really is all we need.

Preparations for the New Year Begin with the Mind

Romans 12:2

“Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.”

2 Corinthians 3:18

“And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.”

Proverbs 4:23

“Keep your heart with all diligence, for out of it are the issues of life.”

“Just Do It”, the famous Nike slogan is a manifesto to exert our will and make the necessary change to better health.  The problem is, our flesh is strong and often our wills are weak, and we fall short of our goals.  Recognizing that the source of our struggle and of our motivation is in our minds can be the key to victorious planning and living.

It is on my heart to take the days leading up to 2015 and lay a foundation for the inevitable resolutions and plans that are being formed.  How will we use our time in the coming year?  What goals will we set?  What changes do we need to make spiritually, emotionally, physically, or in our relationships?  Since we cannot control circumstances or those around us, let us begin with ourselves.

God is so merciful to give us new days, new seasons and new years.  Another year approaching is an opportunity to take inventory from the past year and take an honest assessment of what went well and what needs to change.  Of course changes are not easy to make and habits not easily undone or formed.  The insanity of it all is that year after year we can try to make some of the same changes and fall short each time.  Does that mean we should cease attempting to change?  No.  The battle lies in the mind.

Beginning with the One who was perfect in how He lived and fulfilled His plan is a great place to start.  The only truly sane mind is that of Christ’s.  Basking our minds in His word is the first step toward a godly perspective in our lives.  Our minds infused with God’s word helps us to see clearly and to rid ourselves of obstacles which impede our progress.  Christ quoted Scripture when He was tempted, demonstrating how the Word of God is our source of strength in time of need.  Perhaps we need to put God’s Word in front of us when being oppressed and lay down the mental baggage that has been plaguing us.

If only it were as simple as knowing and understanding God’s Word to be able to accomplish our plans.  Our minds become cluttered with many things.  Being aware of the distractions is a first step, but overcoming them is another.  Others around us can either help us achieve our goals or impede them.  Mental turmoil via manipulation, guilt, expectations or controlling can wield a devastating blow to being inspired to live the abundant life that God has called us to, but it does not have to.  The choice is ours.  Do we believe that?  We do not have to be held hostage by another person’s perception of us – just God’s view of us matters.

It will take a significant amount of effort to form plans and fulfill them, but as we submit them to God we find that He gives our plans back to us altered.  It is not about us, after all.  Those things I wish I could change about myself I leave in the Master’s hands and surrender to Him to make the changes.  In dependence and trust I yield to His ways and take each day, each breath, each moment as another opportunity to invest for God’s glory.  My plans might lay in ruins if they were of the flesh, but if they are for and by Him, they will last forever.

LORD, help us to seek You and the plans You have for our lives in the coming year and to walk in obedience and discipline to Your Word.  May we not grow discouraged but focus on your truth and know that ultimately, it is Your work in our lives, not us, and You will complete the work You have begun in us.  Amen.

God’s Perspective on Time

2 Peter 2:8

“Now, dear friends, do not let this one thing escape your notice, that a single day is like a thousand years with the Lord and a thousand years are like a single day.”

Ephesians 5:15-17

“Therefore be very careful how you live–not as unwise but as wise, taking advantage of every opportunity, because the days are evil.  For this reason do not be foolish, but be wise by understanding what the Lord’s will is.

We are always in a rush.  Deadlines loom large and there is never enough time – or is there?  Perhaps our discontentment with the prescribed number of hours per day comes from not trusting God to complete His purposes in our lives within the confines of the time He in His infinite wisdom, has given.  I confess that I have wished there were more than 24 hours in a day.  Foolishly spoken, I know.

God is eternal, from everlasting to everlasting, outside time.  We are in this capsule of time for a brief breath.  How important it is, then, to be aware of the need for our time to be used well.  If we understand what God’s will is, both given in His word and led individually by His Holy Spirit, then each day should be invested toward that will and not squandered on things that do not matter for eternity.  Our challenge is that this utopia of just doing what God has willed is quickly dismantled by constant interruptions and distractions.  Does anyone identify with me on this?

I wake up with good intentions; fix my husband breakfast if I am awake enough, then thank God for the day and dive into His word with a cup of coffee.  My littlest one usually peeks his head out of his room about this time. I give him an assignment to do and then back to God’s word.  Then an animal needs care, or the phone starts beeping.  I begin to contemplate my day and getting my children up for breakfast and ready for school.  Phew!  Although I do not have near her number of children, I can identify with Susanna Wesley, mother of nineteen children, who hid underneath her apron to have her solitude and time with God. In this day when everything is moving faster, we do not have to have nineteen children to have the same challenge of having consistent time with God.

A new year is coming and it is always daunting as I ponder whether or not I should make new year’s resolutions and what they should be.  As we approach a new year, may we not take it for granted and ask God to help us to use the time wisely which we are given.  We do not know how much time we will be given, but we can offer it back to Him and ask Him how we should use it.  May His perspective be ours – each moment an opportunity to know Him more and bring glory to His Name.

Thoughtful Thursday: Merry Christmas from Seeing Deep!

Philippians 1:3

“I thank my God every time I remember you.”

Thank you to everyone who has stopped by this during this Christmas countdown and this past half a year while I began to blog.  Your feedback and encouragement have been a tremendous gift.  Blogging has become an integral part of daily devotion time and it is always exciting to see what the LORD has in store when I come before Him in His Word. As we prepare for a new year, LORD willing, I welcome any requests if there is something that you would like me to blog about.

In the meantime, Merry Christmas to you all – words cannot express how thankful I am for God’s gift of His only son – and for you, too!

All for Jesus,

Denise Pass of Seeing Deep

Christmas Count “Up” Day 24: Jesus is coming! The Purpose of Traditions

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Isaiah 7:14

“Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.”

1 Corinthians 11:2

“Now I commend you because you remember me in everything and maintain the traditions even as I delivered them to you.”

It is the night before Christmas and I am deep in thought and wonder.  This entire month I have reflected on what Christ’s birth meant and what He accomplished by coming in the flesh.  The culmination of this reflection ends tomorrow when we celebrate Christ’s birth.  Yet I feel I have barely scratched the surface.  I do not want to let another Christmas pass me by without being completely overcome by what our God did.

Traditions vary widely and each one represents something deeper than what is on the surface.  Often we can follow and adhere to traditions not knowing why we do.  There is a certain comfort in doing things which we have done before, even if we have forgotten why.  The original intent behind traditions has often been long forgotten or the initial meaning can become trivialized, yet we tend to cling to what is familiar.

Celebrations of Christian holidays, in particular, can lose their significance when secular ideologies come in, often with tantalizing counterfeits replacing the former tradition.  Tonight I attended a Moravian Christmas service; honestly, I had not heard of the Moravian faith and was surprised that it is said to be the first protestant denomination, emanating from a hundred years before Martin Luther nailed his Ninety-five Theses on the door of the church in Wittenberg.  I wondered as people anticipated each portion of the service, if the symbolism behind each aspect of the service was still known.  We can all have good feelings when a song is sung, or a candle is lit, but do we know the meaning behind the worship we are giving?

Although I am sure many of us have last minute items we must attend to, far greater than a perfectly planned Christmas, a superbly cooked meal, or a beautifully decorated home, is pausing to worship Jesus.  The repetition of a well-known poem can spark good cheer, but sometimes even better than tradition is a new verse penned.  In closing, here is a spur of the moment poem; may it cause us to worship God in Spirit and truth.


‘Twas the eve before Christmas and the world was unaware – That soon their God and Creator would be there.

Not as a King ruling from a throne, but ruling in our hearts as His home.

A crude welcome He received, but offered salvation for all who would believe.

His cooing pierced the air and filled his parents with wonder; the unfolding of God’s plan to put our sins asunder.

Miracle of miracles, God in the flesh came, to bear all our sins and take our shame.

The enemy of our souls sought to thwart His plan, but none could outsmart the Son of Man.

The world was blind and could not comprehend, this Promise of God that He did send –

Was the answer to our need, and God’s purpose as well; to restore us to Himself and keep us from Hell.

Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night – Your Savior has come, to bring you from darkness to light!


May you all sleep in peace and bask in the knowledge of God’s radical selfless love for you – He came for you and gave Himself to you.  No greater gift has been given – why not give Him ourselves, as well?

Lord, thank You so much for coming to earth that we might know You.  Help us to see how great this love is and to never cease to be in wonder and amazement at You.

Christmas Count”Up” Day 23 – Baby Jesus, our Covering

Romans 6:23

“For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

Ephesians 1:7

“In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace.”

Romans 4:7-8

7Blessed are those whose lawless deeds are forgiven, and whose sins are covered8 blessed is the one against whom the Lord will never count sin.”

Romans 5:18-19

18 “Consequently, just as condemnation for all people came through one transgression, so too through the one righteous act came righteousness leading to life for all people. 19 For just as through the disobedience of the one man many were made sinners, so also through the obedience of one man many will be made righteous.”

Hebrews 2:17

17 “Therefore he was obligated in all things to be made like his brothers, that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make atonement for the sins of the people.”

I am quite sure if we committed a crime and were required to pay the penalty for that crime that we would not lay the burden of our sin debt on a baby.  It would seem so cruel.  The sacrifice of animals was sickening enough, but an innocent human life?  It still causes my stomach to churn when I think of an innocent lamb being slaughtered for someone else’s sin. It does not make sense to us because we are not fully acquainted with God’s standard of holiness.  How much more, then, would the death of a baby for someone else’s sin be considered tragic and heartless?

But our sin payment cannot be completely covered for all eternity by an animal or sinful man.  The death required should awaken us to see how very repulsive and wicked our sins are to God.  Sin destroys lives and separates us from God.  He required our sins to be eradicated, and the only means is by a perfect One, of which only God can meet that criteria.

Today we can stand in the presence of God because Christ covers us completely.  The loving compassion of our God, choosing to clothe us in His righteousness is beyond comprehension.  To Adam and Eve, guilty of sin in the Garden of Eden, God provided animal skins, symbolic of the need for a covering.  To the Israelites He specified a a system of animal sacrifices by which they would not be condemned for their sins.  He could not, in His righteousness, excuse sin, but He could Himself provide for a covering for His children.

Moms have big plans for their children.  I cannot fathom the anguish Mary felt when her son was killed ruthlessly.  But Our Savior, our Covering, Christ Jesus, was born to bear our sins – willingly.  That was not Mary’s plan, but it was God’s.  As I reflect on a baby born to bear my own iniquity, it serves as an impetus to help me refrain from costly sin, which cost my Savior His life.

Lord, thank You for giving Your own life for ours.  May we live a life worthy of Your sacrifice, all for Your glory.

Christmas Count”Up” Day 22: The Unbiased Baby Jesus

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James 2:1, 9

1 My brothers and sistersdo not show prejudice if you possess faith in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ. But if you show prejudice, you are committing sin and are convicted by the law as violators.  

John 1:46

“Nathaniel said to him, ‘Can any good thing come out of Nazareth?’ Philip said to him, ‘Come and see.’

John 7:41

Others were saying, “This is the Christ.” Still others were saying, “Surely the Christ is not going to come from Galilee, is He?

With the current climate astir with racial accusations, the circumstances surrounding Jesus’ entrance to this world filled my mind.  Christ confused those Who thought He would come to just a certain race in just a certain way.  Jesus is not a snob. No, He came as a poor infant Jew to Galilee and Nazareth and confounded the supposed wisdom of this world.  He gave value and spoke with women, even letting them discover His resurrection first.  He demonstrated compassion to those of a different race and treated all as equals.

So many prejudices exist and have since the world began.  Gender, age, financial status, education, color of skin, culture, anything that can define one as unique can also be fodder for bias.  Not so with God.  He loves how each one of us is different, and it is beautiful in His eyes.  Christ came to abolish our sickening racism, prejudice and preferences and show us what it means to truly love unconditionally.  His unbiased acceptance is absolutely amazing when we consider He had every right to look down on us.

Ethnic purity is not a new term.  The Samaritans were persecuted for not being a pure race, yet Jesus viewed them no differently than any other race or people.  It is, in fact, laughable and ridiculous that we should view any race as superior to another when we all consider that we came from Adam.

Why are we still so ignorant?  We should be able to learn from the atrocities that history has to offer, but instead we reinvent the insipid racism in a new fashion and repeat the same sins as our predecessors.  Perhaps it is insecurity – each person, each family, each race wants to be the best?  In reality, we are all chief of sinners, in need of a desperate Savior. Or it could be jealousy.  God did choose the Jewish people as His own, but then He shared this salvation with all.

If we are honest, we will admit we have all had moments of prejudice in some fashion; pride in which we thought we were better than another.  There is still hope.  We can turn the tide where we live.  Jesus came to set us free from discrimination, too.  May we look to the infant Savior this Christmas and how He grew in wisdom, always demonstrating loving kindness to all.  The irony is that Christ was sometimes the hardest on the Pharisees – may we not think to highly of ourselves, our denomination, our color, our culture, or anything else that is a part of who we are – and simply accept others as we were accepted.

LORD, thank You for accepting all Who would call on Your Name for Salvation.  Help us, God, to stop labeling and judging one another and to love as You did.