I have continuously found myself distracted and sidetracked from writing this post this (Sunday) afternoon. It’s not that I don’t want to write it, but it’s just that it is so much easier for me to craft words that entertain and make people laugh than to craft words to share my heart and be vulnerable. But here goes anyway. . .

Our Pastor taught an amazing message this morning (which can be played directly from the main page on our Church website – it’s well worth the listen). When I got into church, the title on the notes page immediately caught my attention, and I was excited to hear what God had spoken to him about this topic.

The title was:

Can He Not See…Or Is It Me?
A Theology on setting your heart to seek the Lord.

This is so where I’ve been for quite some time in my spiritual life. In my pre-Mommy days, I had some amazing spiritual highs and depth and very personal relationship with Christ like I didn’t even know was possible. Of course I had my spiritual valleys as well, but the amazingly passionate spiritual highs always made up for them.

However, since I had Ali, my life has really, in a lot of ways, become much easier. The stress that I had (working as an Accounting Manager) that continuously drove me to God’s word for strength and sustenance is no longer there. I also was dealing with two years of infertility that I had to seek God to be able to trust Him through the hard times.

Now, I have so many more close friendships, and I love my life as a Mom.

However, a potential pitfall of an “easier life” is definitely spiritual stagnation. And it seems like no matter what I’ve tried in the past couple of years, I can never even get close to the depth of relationship with Christ that I had previously.

Hence, I immediately knew that this sermon would apply to me. And, of course, it did.

The passages that Pastor Walls taught off of were in 2 Chronicles 14-16, about the ups AND downs of King Asa’s walk with God.

Ups AND downs. I can relate to that.

Asa was a very relatable man. He was not a “good guy” or a “bad guy”. He had some times of amazing spiritual highs where God did some unbelievable miracles for him, but he also had some times of forgetting God, compromising, and depending on human solutions, which led to destruction, defeat, and ultimately, his death.

The introductory verse was a familiar one, 2 Chronicles 16:9:

For the eyes of the LORD move to and fro throughout the earth that He may strongly support those whose heart is completely His.

Pastor Wall’s premise was that God is searching for people whose heart is loyal to Him so that he can show Himself strong and show his capacity through them to glorify Himself. Our lives have the potential to be enriched and fulfilled beyond our wildest dreams if we set our hearts toward God. And, if Christians truly did this, the evidence of God in everyone’s lives would be undeniable by everyone around them.

I can totally relate to that statement – when my walk with the Lord was at it’s deepest, despite the overwhelming stress and difficult situations in my life at the time, I was so unbelievably joyful, enriched, and passionately excited about God and what He was doing in my life. He was using me to help others more, He was showing up in real and tangible ways in my life, and my love for Him overcame most other priorities in my life.

The sermon was captivating, convicting, and encouraging. I take notes in outline form – I find it easier to go back and read – so here are my notes:

(but I highly recommend listening to the sermon – there is SO much more depth in it than I could possibly relay)

(and as an added bonus, you’ll get to hear him use his famed big words – including “axiomatic” at least twice!!)

How to Set Your Heart to Seek the Lord:

  1. Decisively choose and proactively seek exclusively after the Lord God. (2 Chr. 14:1-7, 15:1-4, 15:12-15) Do this in the following ways:
    1. Formally (2 Chr. 15:12) – make an intentional commitment.
    2. Wholly (2 Chr. 15:12) – give your whole self with no held back compartments of your life.
    3. Seriously (2 Chr. 15:13) – know that your decision will effect your life and your family’s.
    4. Joyfully and Hopefully (2 Chr. 15:14) – It’s a moment of excitement and anticipation because it is a decision that will unleash the unrivaled capacity of God!
    5. Earnestly (2 Chr. 15:15) – Make it a passionate priority. We will do all sorts of things for our hobbies, we need to do the same and more for God. “When you seek with ALL your heart, you WILL find me.”
    6. Biblically – We can’t do God on our terms. Yes, we all have a personal relationship with God, but that doesn’t dismiss the fact that God ordained His church on His terms.
    7. Sunday (Ps. 27) – The Holy Gathering of God’s people is the biggest testimony of God’s glory, and very necessary for our spiritual growth.
  2. Get rid of ALL rivals to God – throw out and clean out all barriers to seeking God and remove all competitors to God. (2 Chr. 15:8,16)
    An idol is ANYTHING that takes precedent over God. Don’t have anything to do with anything that is a rival to God or even promotes a rival to God, compromise, or a divided heart.
  3. Stay the course (Ps. 24:1-6, Mk. 7:18-23) – Be steadfast and loyal no matter what the consequences. When we rely and depend on God exclusively, God is huge in our lives. When we forget this and start to compromise and depend on ourselves, things go south (2 Chr. 16:1-9).
  4. Deal with your sin. When God confronts failures, humbly respond and repent (2 Chr. 16:10-12).

The most convicting point to me today was to get rid of ALL rivals to God. This is so difficult, because there are most definitely things in my life that are rivals to God that are not in and of themselves bad.

Most obviously to me was, you guessed it: blogging. It is not bad in and of itself – it’s not like my hobby is snorting cocaine or grand theft. Blogging has many benefits and good qualities. But it does most definitely rival my relationship with God at times – sometimes I put it first. So it’s a matter of dealing with the heart issue rather than just dumping it out of my life.

I prayed long and hard for God to give me specific direction on how to remove this rivalry without throwing the baby out with the bathwater, and I feel like He gave me a word to start with: mornings.

I typically wake up at 7am, take a shower, have my bible time, then come downstairs and do blogging-related stuff until Ali wakes up (she’s normally a late sleeper). However, this creates a rivalry, because if I have something on my mind that I want to get done or write about, I am distracted and rushed in my time with God so I can “get everything accomplished” before Ali wakes up.

So, I am going to give my mornings completely to God. I am making a commitment to spend time with God until Ali wakes up, to remove the rival of getting downstairs to have some “me” time. I’m sure He will lead me through those times of more things that I need to adjust, but this is a start – and that’s what’s important.

And, by telling you this, I have some measure of making that formal commitment – speaking it publicly makes it a lot harder to disregard or compromise my decision. (Not to say that you need to get onto me if I have a blog post at 6am (like this one) – I promise you that I never blog at 6 am – that’s just my typical “scheduled” post time when I write things ahead of time.)

However, feel free to ask me how I’m doing on this commitment and on my desire to put God first and foremost, with no rivals at all.

If you made it this far into this long and serious (for me) post, thanks so much for hearing my heart. It is exciting to know that I am making a change – a decision that will hopefully help revitalize my relationship with Christ. Because I never want to look back on my life and wonder whether my compromise or indifference in my relationship with Christ effected my family negatively. I want to leave the legacy of personally experiencing Christ, not always trying to make my Christianity fit into MY life.

15 thoughts on “Setting my Heart: Accountability.

  1. It's amazing what we will do to make time for the things we really want to do, isn't it? Like blogging. But here's the thing about spending time in God's Word, the more we do it the more we WANT to do it and then we will make the time. Not that I have arrived. Oh, my goodness, your post was encouraging and convicting at the same time.

  2. Wow, that last sentence really got me. I am so guilty of this as well and just yesterday in our pastor's sermon he was talking about glancing or gazing at God. And it got me thinking. If I had major problems in my life, I would lean on Him more. I don't have to do that now and I find myself not as close to Him as I once was. I'm not on a mountain nor am I in a valley. I'm kinda somewhere in the middle.

    Anyway, I love that you wrote this post. I need to challenge myself more as well, especially when "life is good" and I feel like I don't need Him as much (but that's not true, I need him every day, you know what I'm sayin' :)). Thanks for the kick in the pants.

  3. Thank you so much for sharing this Rachel. I had to work in the nursery yesterday, but I heard from several people how powerful his sermon was. I will definitely go listen to it when I have time today.

    I am actually seriously considering doing away with FB. It's been a rivalry way too much lately.

  4. Thanks for sharing so authentically Rahcel. The Lord is so good to work in us and give us the desire/will to do his purpose in our lives(phil 2:12). I am glad for that or else we would all be in trouble. :) I sure all your readers will be blessed as I am.

  5. The fact that you posted this shows that you are moving in the right direction. I remember those first few years with a little one. It was hard to find that balance. Hang in there. You have the desire and the rest will follow.

  6. This speaks to me, as well. Like Mama Hen said, I am both encouraged and feel awfully convicted simultaneously. I know that I fall short quite often in taking the time for God before I do "my" stuff. I pray that this will go well for you and that I can learn by your example!

  7. I listened to the sermon on the website this morning and it was very powerful and did speak to me. I am terrible about letting other things take the place of God's time. It is something I too hope to work on.

  8. Beautiful post Rachel. You've ministered to me today. God is dealing with me right now about who I am in Him and how that should manifest itself in my life in a MUCH more powerful way. Your post drove home some thoughts that I have had as well as presented some new ones.

    I pray that God will be magnified in your morning time with Him.

  9. Well, thank goodness I am not the only one who felt totally convicted by today's sermon. Thanks for blogging about it. Maybe we can stimulate each other to good deeds in the area of putting God first, over computer and "me" time.

  10. Thanks for sharing Rachel. I definitely felt some conviction as well. It was a GREAT sermon and ministered to me as well…

  11. Thanks for posting that! I think it's good to be reflective every now and then…it helps us stay on track. I too struggle with putting things before God. It happens so slowly until you're already there before you've realized it.

    In the last six months I've been really working at spending time with God without being distracted (hard with a toddler!), and I'm starting to see some progress. I hope you are encouraged and that your time with God becomes all that you want it to be!

  12. Ryan and I also loved the pastor's sermon, we are always challenged by him, because he speaks directly from the Word. I also found my time with the Lord dwindling after I had Luke, which I felt so guilty about because He blessed me with such a wonderful, healthy, & happy baby, but I couldn't find the time in my new schedule to spend time alone in His Word. After we moved to Birmingham I made a commitment to spend Luke's morning naptime with the Lord, but when we transitioned to one nap that is usually not very long that time started to slip away again. My blog reading, composing, TiVo watching also usually happens during his naptime; so, I have also felt the Lord leading me to start having my quiet times in the morning…thanks for sharing your heart with us, it's been an encouragement to me.

  13. I think this post is amazing and I will definitely listen to the whole sermon. Your commitment is very commendable. I try to do my bible study when I get up and then there are days like today when I just wanted to drink coffee and read the paper, which I know is accomplishing nothing. So here I sit and have not done my bible study for today. Very important points taken. LYB

  14. Rachel,
    Thank you for sharing your heart. It is appreciated more than you know. I will most definitely listen to your Pastor's message on this topic.

    This is exactly where I've been for some time now. I have not felt that my relationship with Christ has been as close as in times past. I have my quiet time in the morning and I pray throughout the day, but it still isn't enough. I haven't fully devoted myself to seeking after Him wholeheartedly as being a mom takes up so much of my time.

    I will be praying to see what I need to change in order to deepen that relationship. Blogging is most recently at the top of that list.

    Thank you so much for voicing what has been on my heart and mind, but hasn't been spoken. I'll be lifting you up in prayer.

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