Purposeful Faith

Author - purposefulfaith

Dealing with an Annoying Person

Dealing with an Annoying Person

I had friend; she was sweet, beautiful and helpful, but sometimes, she had a way of getting under my skin. Normally, I just shoved my irritation through the door of my heart and locked it there with a key. After all, sometimes it feels easier not to deal with things.

I remember one specific day – she asked me to borrow a coat. But, as I handed it to her, she looked at it with disdain. I knew her. I knew she had her eye on one specific coat in my closet. I knew her mind was set, even though she put me through a song and dance trying on each one – I knew where this charade was headed.

In that moment, I wanted to say, “Wear the coat I gave you. I am wearing this one.”  I wanted to send a message that I knew what she was up to. I wanted her to see that her approach was wrong.

But, as I evaluated how to deliver this message, the quiet whisper of my heart said, “Do not seek revenge or bear a grudge against anyone among your people, but love your neighbor as yourself. I am the LORD.” Lev. 19:18

God’s truth spoke to my heart saying, “Others may annoy you, but it doesn’t matter what they do, it matters what I tell you to do. What matters is – love.”

We headed out. She, wearing the beautiful coat – I, wearing the old one.

As I returned from dropping her off at her house, I recounted all her offenses against me. My irritation levels were on high alert in general, so you can only imagine my frustration when I arrived at the front door, to find it locked and dead-bolted, with absolutely no way in.

Try as I may, this house was impenetrable – and my heart felt imbittered.

But, as I shoved my hand into my old not-so-nice coat, the coat, I felt something; it was just what I needed- a bobby pin – one she has left in my pocket while trying my coat on.

It was this bobby pin that allowed me to pry a screen off a window, so I could climb in to unlock my front door.

In that moment, my whole perspective shifted. I found the key to unlock both my resentful heart – and my front door. 

It unlocked all the small annoyances.
The truth is, the hurting person is hurt. They need love.

It unlocked the power of seeing over small offenses.
God rewards a heart that forgives, that shows mercy and that looks beyond offenses. He rewards a heart that sees a heart.

It unlocked the power of sacrificial love.
True love means we put another before our self. When we look past the exterior, God wows us with the interior of the one who stands before us.

It unlocked my mind from anger and resentment.
When we open the door of our hurts to the great God who understands hurts, all we can do is run into his open arms to receive forgiveness. Then, we can start seeing the ministry work the Lord has set before us to do in the heart of another.

It unlocked a new reality; true love costs something.
Love means we lay down what we have, so we can see how God wills us to reach the other. Sometimes it may cost us a coat, sometimes our time, but no matter, we lay it down in love.

We are all fallen, hurt and imperfect, but as we see past these things, our well-maintained fortresses are penetrated, our walls are taken down and true relationships are forged.

Truly, love surpasses locked doors. It opens up a whole new world.

Get all Purposeful Faith blog posts via email – click here.

Worthy of God’s Call (Linkup)

Worthy of God's Call

CLICK HERE  TO LISTEN (2)

I remember afternoon after afternoon staring at flash cards. I would try to articulate the right word, while having no idea what to say. I could see the frustration in my parents eyes. I could sense the air of irritation at my stupidity. I just wasn’t getting it. I didn’t know what I was doing.

I was behind. I was a mess of a reader – and I felt like a mess of a person.

It’s no wonder I was held back in third grade.

My lack of performance made me inadequate.
My inability to succeed made me a failure.
My incapability to please my parents made me feel out of control.
My perception that I had nothing to offer, made me feel like giving up.
My shortcoming made me feel I would always fall short in life.

Have you ever felt this way?

Have you ever felt less than, unsure and demotivated because you were afraid you weren’t good enough?

Sometimes, I feel like I return right back to that table; it’s as if the piles of flash cards stand before me. I see myself trying and trying, yet failing and failing. I see myself giving my all, only to feel like I know what the result will be – failure.

But, today, the voice of my eternal father is louder than feelings of the past; he speaks new words to a weary heart.

Words that change the game.
That mark me anew.
That free me from situations that come to cloud over me with insecurity and fear.
That save me from the rains that try to soak me with inadequacy.

For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. (Eph. 2:10)

The truth is, that I am God’s unique work – the ultimate work of his hand. He has chiseled me just the way he wants me. Piece by piece he has cut little areas within me to make me more like him. Piece by piece he has shaped me into who he wants me to be. Yes, at times, it has hurt, but his small cuts have made all the difference –  so that I may bear a greater resemblance to Him.

He has created me to be more than enough in Christ Jesus.

His grace is sufficient for me.
God worked and he loves what he has created.
He loves the beauty that is Him – in me.

God not only has given me good things to do in this world, but He has shaped them beforehand for me to do. If he has predestined these plans, it assures my heart that he can use even the most lacking child.

He created me and knows where I will go.
He sends my feet in the direction they should head as I trust them.
I can rest in the fact that I won’t “miss it” as long as I am trusting him “through it”.

The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps. (Prov. 16:9)

These are my roads, created for me to walk in. They are your roads, created for you to walk in.

With Jesus, we no longer need to walk in fear, because as he draws near and he wipes away every old tear.

It doesn’t matter what our past record is because God makes all records new. He clears the slate to put on our plate what holds eternal weight. That is our fate. Not flash cards, not old names, not old feelings – our fate is once-crucified Jesus Christ sitting in glory and us standing in heaven right there with him. That is our fate.

The works I am walking are pre-established, set forth for God’s glory and will be brought to completion on the day of Christ Jesus. There is no pressure to succeed or to be better, because these are his pre-prepared works.

“…being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” (Phil 1:6)

Step-by-scary-step Jesus walks with us. He walks in front of us and behind us too. He is always with us.

In this, we can take risks.
We can step out when we feel fearful.
We can walk into rooms with flash cards and now cower.
We can live in the face of our inadequacies.

His roads lead to peace, joy and purpose. Insecurities fall to the sidelines. We can run confidently, knowing where our strength comes from because when you have God behind you, you don’t need baggage.

With Christ, there is an understanding that you are less than,
but there is also an understanding that through him
you are more than.

Be assured, friend, Jesus knows our way and in him we lack nothing.

Get all Purposeful Faith blog posts via email – click here.

 Loading InLinkz ...

God, Why Did You Lead Me Here?

God Led Me Here?

CLICK HERE  TO LISTEN (2)

I remember a time where I prayed and prayed for direction, only to feel certain that I was being led down a specific road.

I sought direction. I sought God through his word, but when I went down that road, things started going wrong.

While I had prayed God would provide; there was no money.
While I prayed God would make things succeed; there was no success.
While I prayed God would bring me through; it seemed God was stopping me.

With everything going wrong, I was tempted to wonder what was wrong with God. I was tempted to wonder why he had abandoned me to my fears.

Faced with doubts, I nearly embraced them.

What kind of God brings you to a scary, desolate land?

He brought me after I  honestly asked, prayed and knocked.
He brought me after I honestly called out.
He brought me after I honestly sought Him.

Why would God guide me into pain? Into suffering?

But, much like me, there was another, who was led into temptation.

Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. (Mt. 4:1)

Can you imagine that the Spirit led Jesus into temptation?

That the Spirit led Jesus into a place where he didn’t eat for 40 days, a place where he was “with the wild beasts” (Mark 1:13) and a place where he had to stand up against the ultimate accuser seemingly alone?

For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are–yet he did not sin. (Heb. 4:15)

His identity was questioned.
His authority was scrutinized.
His power was negated.
His trust in the Father was tested.
Yet, he did not sin.

He combatted every lie, with truth. He combatted every temptation with the active Word of God. He fought every blaspheme with courage.

“However, when He, the Spirit of truth has come, He will guide you into all truth …” (John 16:13)

Jesus spoke all truth. Guided by the Spirit, he was a truth breather, a temptation extinguisher and a loved child of his most high King.

For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God. (Romans 8:14)

He knew his place.

Truth led him to the wilderness – and truth would bring him through.

We are under the authority of our Father, the Spirit and the Son. We are loved. Adored. Led.

But, our power always comes from remembering who is in charge, not who tries to be.
Our power comes from the one who is the definition of good not the tempter of bad.
Our power is found in knowing who is for us, not listening to who is against us.

Jesus’ final words to the devil were, ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.’ (Mt. 4:10).

No matter what comes against, despite how “in God’s will” we feel, we are to know our role is to worship God – always. To lift him high- forever. And to trust him – in all things. To serve him – above all.

Because we can trust – if we truly have sought the will of God through the Word of God – that the we have been led to this precise place, for a precise purpose – in order that we may be shaped into Christ’s image with precision.

In this, fears, doubts and sin fall by the wayside.

As we combat temptation, we grow in faith.
As we fight the devil, we submit to God.
As we face our fears, we become fearless.
As stand alone, we seek God and we see him.
As we speak truth, we see the truth.

When we are courageous in the face of fear, bold in the face of fire, we do come out the other side – and we come out more faithful.  

The Spirit led us there for a reason.

Did you know that Jesus grew during this time of suffering too?

Even though Jesus was God’s Son, he learned obedience from the things he suffered. (Heb. 5:8)

Make no doubt about it, the Spirit always has a purpose when he leads.

While we can’t always say what it is, or even question why it is, we can know that likely we are being built up through the trials to endure the big purposes the Lord has prepared for us in advance (example: Jesus on the cross).

We are being built up, so we won’t be torn down. We are being built up, to be strong. We are being built up, to endure the fires of life.

The question is – will we trust God or will we allow ourselves to fall into temptation?

Get all Purposeful Faith blog posts by email – click here.

Kicking Shame to the Curb

Kicking Shame to the Curb

I want to be closer to God, don’t you?

Sometimes, I want to grab all that he is so I can be all that I am. I want to just get over me, be done with my ways, and move straight into his.

But then, shame shows up.

Shame comes to tell me that I am bad.
Unworthy.
Unloved.
Worthless.
Without a plan.
An orphan of God.
Distanced from love.
Unheard.
Unvalued.
Unbelievable in my actions.
(Fill in the blank)

Shame takes us by our hair, drags us to the ground and then beats us up, until all we can see is defeat. It’s the ultimate sucker punch from the devil.

If he can succeed at shaming he can succeed at defaming God.
If he can succeed at shaming, he knows we’ll stop proclaiming.
If he can succeed at shaming, he can make sure we aren’t flaming for Jesus.

I have become more and more aware of this cycle – and I am fighting back, my friend, because life is too short to live laying on the ground with bruises. You can’t get up and serve God when you are always injured.

Because the Sovereign LORD helps me,
I will not be disgraced.
Therefore have I set my face like flint,
and I know I will not be put to shame. (Is. 50:7)

Fighting back shame means 3 things:

1. We allow the Sovereign Lord to help us.
2. We hold fast to the truth that Christ makes us without all shame, without any blemish – essentially “unbruisable” in him. He paid the price to absorb all shame as he took his last breath on the cross.
3. We set our faces like flint.

What? What does it mean to set a face like flint?

flint
noun

  • a piece of flint used with steel to produce an igniting spark, e.g., in a flintlock gun, or (in modern use) a piece of an alloy used similarly, especially in a cigarette lighter.
  •  a hard type of rock that produces a small piece of burning material (called a spark) when it is hit by steel  – Google Dictionary

We, like a rock, keep our face motionless in the face of impending shame. As the devil leans back to deliver his punch of shame, we stay hardened, fearless and impenetrable.  We don’t make it easy for him to hit us, because hitting a rock is never comfortable. It’s not normally something you set out to fight.

And, did you catch the result?  The result is staggering, my friend. Oh, how I love it – a spark is produced.

A spark of courage.
A spark of hope.
A spark of light.
A spark in our heart.
A spark that brightens the situation.
A spark that paves our way.
A spark of renewal.

This spark does not hold us back from the plan of God, but lights the way for it. This spark lights God’s ways in our heart. It sets us on fire for him.

It sets God’s plans in our hearts, not our insecurities in where we walk.

Today, we walk shameless. Jesus took every last bruise on our behalf, so we don’t have to walk in shame. Now, we walk with the light, the spark, of Christ Jesus that leads us in complete holiness, complete surrender and complete security in him.

Get all Purposeful Faith blog posts via email – click here.

Today I am joining Suzie Eller for her fabulous #livefreeThursday, Susan B. Mead for #DancewithJesus and the Five Minute Friday linkup.

When You Don’t Have It All Together

Do you ever play a situation over and over in your head kicking yourself for that slip of the tongue or shrug of the cold shoulder?

Do you ever wonder how everyone else seems so much better at this life than you?

I love this picture of my family. We froze this moment in time just after the birth of our sixth child. It captures smiles precious to my heart, and sometimes I sit and stare in amazement at God’s blessings.

DSC_0006

BUT …

This picture froze A moment. What you don’t see is everything that led up to this. One. Moment.

Just minutes before, our 3-year old daughter stretched out on the floor screaming, crying and kicking. The dress Mom chose did not meet her standards, and she let us know about it. We pulled out all the tricks. Treats. Tickling. Bribes. Anything. It’s a wonder we kept the dress on her body and the bow in her hair. But for that one moment, we did.

Then, as we gathered around the pretty white couch in the cascading grass, our 4-year old son stepped in ants. He squirmed and itched and yelped as ants marched from his toes to his nose. We picked the photo-busters off one by tiny one as fast as our fingers could find them. Then we perched him in his place on the couch and screamed Cheeeeeesssse!

And now this masterpiece hangs on my wall.

You know why? An artist.

The photographer we chose for this job – she knows us.

Donna Cummings has been snapping our moments for years. She’s caught us throwing sno balls during a Texas snowstorm. She’s captured the boys shooting hoops in the driveway. She knows us. She knows how to make it work, and she Makes. It. Work. She’s an artist.

Did you know? You have an artist, too. One who knows you, and knows how to make your life a masterpiece.

But now, O LORD, you are our Father; we are the clay, and you are our potter; we are all the work of your hand.” Isaiah 64:8 (ESV)

We often look at the beauty before us without considering what it took to get there. We see the victories in others’ lives and applaud, but we never look for the pot holes along the road that brought them there.

When a potter forms clay he engages in a process of molding and forming it. When imperfections arise, the potter mashes the clay back down only to build it up again, forming and shaping it into exactly what he desires.

Constructing a masterpiece takes delicate hands, willing to get dirty. And friend, God wants the job.

And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.” Philippians 1:6 (ESV)

God sees your masterpiece. Let Him work.

When you feel the pressure of His palm in your life, give way. And in the meantime, be confident of this – We all have moments we would never want hang on the wall. But, if we let them, those moments will move us to cherish great artwork and exalt the Artist who formed it.

Katy

Get all Purposeful Faith blog posts via email – click here.

I left my job as a television news reporter to join my husband, Luke, on our adventure in the National Football League. 10 years, 12 moves, 6 kids, 5 teams, and 4 states later, it's safe to say the road has been anything but predictable. Our dreams today don't look quite like they did ten years ago, but I've learned along the way dreams do come true ... even if you're not a Disney World. I blog about a football wife's life at www.katymccown.com and I'd love for you to visit me!

I left my job as a television news reporter to join my husband, Luke, on our adventure in the National Football League. 10 years, 12 moves, 6 kids, 5 teams, and 4 states later, it’s safe to say the road has been anything but predictable. Our dreams today don’t look quite like they did ten years ago, but I’ve learned along the way dreams do come true … even if you’re not at Disney World. I blog about a football wife’s life at www.katymccown.com and I’d love for you to visit me!

 

 

 

A Sure-Fire Way to Get What You Most Want

A Sure-Fire Recipe for Blessings

Most of the time, and I hate to say this, I do anything but what is right.

I get frustrated at crying kids.
Get irritated at the load of work I have to do.
Feel annoyed with people who get in my way.
And grab hold of a discontent heart.
I look at others and judge.

I gravitate towards sin, especially when I am not filtering life through God’s Word.  With the burden of my sin and the distance it causes between me and God, I have been considering how to approach this. Because, like Paul says, I normally end up doing the exact things I don’t want to do. Then, I hate myself for doing them.

How do I do what is good to do and forgo what isn’t?

How do I find God’s  joy and his blessings
as I cast sin aside?

God delivered a simple recipe of truth to answer these questions in the sequence of these verses:

1.) Delight yourself in the LORD; And He will give you the desires of your heart. (Ps. 37:4)

It’s simple. Delight.
Delight in his truth.
Delight in his love.
Delight in his law.
Delight even more in his grace.
Delight in his power.
Delight in his sovereignty.
Delight in his being.
Delight in his guidance.
Delight in his mercy.

The more I delight, the more he will help me and offer me the deepest desires of my heart – the things I want the most. The things that I often try to obtain by sin. These are the things he wants to give me.  With this, God pushes out any works based approach as I delight in him.

The power of delighting casts out all fear of the future, people or circumstances, because God casts out any control they have over my future.

When we delight, they have no weight on God giving us what we most desire in the deepest recesses of our heart.

2. Commit your way to the LORD, Trust also in Him, and He will do it. (Ps. 37:5)

If my ways are committed, then my ways are likely in his will. In this there is no disappointment, because I will what he wills. We are working in unison. It comes as no surprise to me that he says “he will do it.”

We delight and commit  – and he sees us through it.

When we delight in who God is and what he can and will do, all we want to do is commit to and trust in his amazing ways.

3.  He will bring forth your righteousness as the light… (Ps. 37:6)

What is the result of delighting, committing and trusting?

He gives us the desires of our heart.
He does what we most desire.
​He brings righteousness.

The recipe for blessings is clear – we delight, commit and submit.

As we proclaim his goodness, sing songs of praise from our lips, we discover the joy that is God. We discover his ways, and we let go of our fears.

He makes us righteous solely by residing in him more. He delights us with the most amazing gifts of our lives, things we may not even be aware of, and he will do his will, which we also will in unison.

Let’s stick to this recipe, my friends – it will yield amazing results.

Get all Purposeful Faith blog posts via email – click here. 

When God Did Not Give Enough (Linkup)

When God didn't give enough

CLICK HERE  TO LISTEN (2)

“I want that one, Mommy! No, that one…”

“Pick the one that you like the best,” I said, laying the two books before him.

“This one!”  He skipped with excitement to the checkout line.

Excitedly, I got into the car, envisioning his joy in the back seat. He got a new book –  action figures and all. I bet he is so happy. I want to glimpse his joy. I want to see his face.. We will play and play and play. Boy, will he be so happy with his mom now!

But, day dreaming was cut short to day screaming, as my 3-year old repeated incessantly, “I don’t want it Mommy.”

He screamed and he screamed because what he got wasn’t enough.
He screamed and screamed because what he left behind was better.
He screamed and screamed because it wasn’t the way he wanted it.

My heart broke. I had wanted to give him something special, enjoyable and exciting. I wanted him to enjoy the moment. I wanted him to delight in it, yet my little son, was anything but delighted. It was no longer about his toy and joy, because now he was completely annoyed.

A seed of discontentment was growing. The more he thought about it, the more angry he grew – with me. The more he thought about his other toy, the more he looked at his and hated it.

While my insides wanted to yell, “Be grateful boy, Momma could have gotten you nothing!,” my outsides knew I’m just the same.

I see it’s shine, then forget it and start to whine.
I hold joy tight until complaints come into sight.
I see another’s toy and lose all my joy.
I look back, and think, I didn’t want it like that.

I wonder why he gave me this – instead of that?
I mutter a thank you, then secretly wonder why it isn’t bigger and better.
I can’t even see what he has given me, because all I can see is what I didn’t get.

I say I want what God’s blessings, but do I really?

It seems I want it on my terms, my way and according to my plan. 
But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. (Mt. 6:33)

I want it in a way that puts me ahead and that makes me important.
But many who are the greatest now will be least important then, and those who seem least important now will be the greatest then.” (Mk. 10:31)

I want all gifts and no patience. All blessings and no pruning. All things and no holds bar.
He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful. (John 15:2)

I want it all now and pout like a baby when I don’t get it.
But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience. (Romans 8:25)

God is better than empty demands for illusions of peace, significance and happiness.

He promises to meet our needs according to his all-knowing power regarding what we need.
And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus. (Phil 4:19)

He is greater than any earthly toy I could covet. Greater than any pile of plastic. Just having and knowing, God, is the ultimate treasure.

It reaps rewards far greater than any empty, breakable, momentary toy I want.  God offers me deep, deep meaning that touches my insides with the deepest healing touch.

Enduring love.
Everlasting peace.
Empowering character.
Extreme perseverance.
Eternal rewards.
Endless faith.

I can only imagine who I would be, where I would be and how empty I would feel if he gave me everything I have demanded of Him. Or, if he gave me what everyone else has in order to quell my discomforts. Or, if he ran to fix every dissatisfaction that resides within.

I may look quite similar to a spoiled toddler and I am not even sure I would like that person too much.

In my pursuit of things, might I lose my pursuit of him?

God is infinitely better. Moments pass, desires wane, but Christ endures. His love never ends. Sure, he loves to give us what we desire for today, but as a Father would, he delights in giving us what we will need for tomorrow.

‘Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I will depart. The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away; may the name of the LORD be praised.’ (Job 1:21)

God desires to meet our deepest hungriest, soul-quenching needs. Certainly, God often gives us things that we want, because he loves us, but his heart beats for what lasts, for what is not plastic – to be burned in the fire – but for what counts. But, for what will give us deep lasting contentment.

“…each man’s work will become evident; for the day will show it because it is to be revealed with fire, and the fire itself will test the quality of each man’s work. If any man’s work which he has built on it remains, he will receive a reward.…” (1 Cor. 3:13-14)

Toys often burn, land in the trash, end up broken in a closet or shoved in a corner. The things of the Lord never burn, never break and always endure. They survive the test of fire.

Let’s take joy in the small gifts of today, because our contentment today may prepare us for the big eternal gifts the Lord is planning tomorrow. Everything we have is a gift, because God loves us. He is using it all for his purposes. We are being transformed – to be a perfect and holy living sacrifice to the Lord. The ultimate gift of beauty for him.

Let’s take our eyes off our deficiencies
and place them on to his all sufficiency.

We have so much to be thankful for. God loves us so much that he gives in a way that answers the deepest cries of our heart. He knows what we need better than we know ourselves.

Dear friends, God’s not a holy Santa, handing us everything on our wish list. Likewise, he doesn’t drop coal at our door step either when we don’t match up. He is so much better than that.

And, the fact of the matter is, even if we don’t get anything, we still have everything – in Him.

Get all Purposeful Faith blog posts via email – click here.

 Loading InLinkz ...

Let Jesus Embrace Your Sadness

Let Jesus Embrace Your Sadness

There was really no real reason to feel down, it was just a sad day.
I couldn’t blame it on my husband because he was as loving as always,
I couldn’t blame it on my friends, because they did nothing wrong,
I couldn’t blame it on my kids because they were being great.

It was me.

And I didn’t know what to do.

How do I put that smile back on my face?
How do I start feeling like the energetic smiling “cheerleader” that I always am?

We know we shouldn’t feel this way, but we still do.  The longer we sit, the harder it becomes to get up.

Sadness falls like dominos:
We feel bored, which knocks over our plans for the day…
Which knocks over a bad response from a friend…
Which makes us feel more hurt…
Which makes us want to stay in more…

One after another, the dominos of pain fall until all we feel is pain.  
At the end, we are left – fallen.

But, God sees us in this condition, he loves us in this condition and he knows how to nurse it back to good health.

The LORD is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit. (Psalm 34:18)

Our Father comes near to pain.
No matter what we are feeling, he is always willing to start healing.
He is always willing to come close.
Always willing to rescue.
Always willing to see the cry of our heart.

God never leaves us.

He is always waiting to receive us.

The LORD himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged. (Deut. 31:8)

Friend, let me draw you a little closer to tell you God loves an authentic, real and honest heart. He hears these cries; these cries make us seek him.  However, tears of resentment and anger do not help; they block our eyes from beholding – and receiving – the love of Christ.

These two visitors fog the windows of our heart so much that
we miss seeing the love of God pouring down on us.

I crave his love in these moments, don’t you? I want him to reach down to my pits, don’t you?

God holds love out in place of abandonment.
Hope instead of rejection.
Healing for pain.
Grace for disgrace.

Jesus was well acquainted with pain and he never ran – from it.
He ran – to it.
And brought truth – through it. 

The Truth is:

– God has a hope and a future carved out for us.  It is waiting for us.  (Jeremiah 29:11)
– Christ is at work to strengthen us.  (Philippians 4:13)
– Jesus makes us MORE than just an ordinary conqueror.  (Romans 8:37)
– Power, love and a sound mind rule us not fear and timidity. (2 Tim. 1:7)
– We are protected, loved and secure.  (Hebrews 6:19)
– God is an ever-present help in a time of trouble.  (Psalm 46:1)
– God will never abandon us. (Deuteronomy 31:6)
– When we call on God, he hears us. (Matthew 7:7)
– Even when we are faithless, God is faithful. (2 Timothy 2:13)

These words lift us up; they speak life and truth and joy and future into our hearts.

We still may not feel entirely great, but we can trust God that he is entirely faithful.

He will bless us as we pursue Him.

Being close with God is not dependent on feelings; it is dependent on the work of Jesus Christ, which has already been completed.  

He endured, so we could be “secure”.
We are never beaten down for feeling down.
But he desires we draw close to the one who loves us the most.
And not to fall prey, to the one who sees us as prey.

David called, “Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation.  (Psalm 42:5)

He was down, but he also saw a way out – a hope in God.

Hope is always present.
God always hears our call.
Faith never ends.
Love always endures.

But those who trust in the LORD will find new strength. They will soar high on wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not faint. (Isaiah 40:31 NLT)

We don’t faint, because Jesus carries us in our time of need.

Not Gathering Near Others- Will Hurt You

we gather

Why am I always so hesitant to gather?
Why do I always see the distance I have to drive?
The screaming kids I have to transport?
The house I have to clean?
The work I have to prepare?
The things I need to remember?

I’m like the anti-Martha, I don’t want to do anything to get ready because I am already tired. I just want to sit around at Jesus’ feet, but I want to do it alone. I am not sure I am much of a Mary either, because I am pretty sure Mary didn’t plan to close the door on the disciples before they arrived.

Can you even imagine that?
How could I want to shut out modern day disciples of Christ?

Disciples who are ready to:

Stir up Good Works and to Encourage:
And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near. (Heb. 10:24)

Bring Christ with them:
For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them. (Mt. 18:20)

Light a House on Fire with Wisdom and Joy:
Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. (Col. 3:16)

Teach me Humility:
Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited. (Ro. 12:16)

Build Love, Compassion and Sympathy:
Finally, all of you, be like-minded, be sympathetic, love one another, be compassionate and humble. (1 Pet. 3:8)

Foster Stronger Faith:
So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ. (Ro. 10:17)

The real roots of Christian life are watered when we gather.
They are watered when we look at a brother or sister and say, “I need you…”

Not when we say,
I have figured out the way.
In my home I am going to stay,
so I can stay above the fray.

When we do this, we start to spiritually decay.

Christianity is meant to be an “I need you…” kind of thing. It’s supposed to be an “I-can’t-be-all-God-wants-me-to-be-without-you” kind of thing.

Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it. (1 Cor. 12:27)

If we all make up his body, is there a use for a head, without a neck?  If we don’t have each other, can we, the body, really operate effectively?

Rolling heads really can’t serve God and they surely can’t carry out God’s mission on earth with any power. Rolling heads can’t even speak coherent words because they haven’t been fed by the body.

Faith is really developed as we feed the body and build each part stronger.  Then each part can go and accomplish what it was set forth to do.

As the body meets, Christ meets the body.
As the body gathers, Christ equips it.
As the body prays, Christ is present.
As the body moves, Christ prompts it through his word.

Christ equips his body, because his body is him. He comes to strengthen us, the body carriers, who are all at work building up the body of Christ, attaining the unity of faith and the knowledge of the son of God, until we attain the full measure of Jesus Christ (Eph. 4:12-13).

I want a “full measure of Jesus Christ”, don’t you?

Until then, I am starting to think the secret to unity is found in this verse:

“Be humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.”  (Eph. 4:2-3)

Perhaps, the biggest reason why I may not want to meet is that I fear I won’t bear up under another or I will get annoyed or I will judge. I am afraid. Perhaps, it’s not even about them, but it is about me and my fears.

But, here is the thing, if we are the body of Christ and Christ lives in us, then in a sense, there is nothing for me to fear. Because “there is no fear in love. But perfect love (the perfect love of Christ) drives out fear…” (1 John 4:18)

Gathering as a body, unites the body in love and, through the power of Jesus Christ, fear is cast out.

Who needs to fear
when Christ has already made me entirely secure in his love
and incredibly significant through his promises?

In this, there is no longer fear when others gather near, but only a deep knowledge that Christ is near.

Get all Purposeful Faith blog posts via email – click here.

Today I am joining #LiveFreeThursday and Five Minute Friday.

Where is Your Hope?

Blog Post by Abby McDonald

“What’d you do that for? Because you wanted him to lose?”

My husband recalled the conversation he had with the scout master just minutes earlier as we sat in the fellowship hall, waiting for our son’s turn to race his pinewood derby car. Those words were directed at my husband after he’d explained that we let our six-year-old do the majority of the work.

I was seething. I wanted to march over to the leader and give him a piece of my mind. However, as I watched the joy on my son’s face when his car raced down the track, my anger dissipated.

He saw what so many others in the audience didn’t: the joy in the journey. He followed the rules of the game, and put hard work into making his vehicle just the way he wanted. Now he was reaping the benefits of his dedication.

Win or lose, he was proud of what he’d accomplished. His excitement filled the room.

As we conversed with others at the race, we became aware that several placed their hope simply in winning. It was in the end result. And isn’t that the same pattern so many of us fall into?

We see that goal in our mind’s eye, and we put all of our hope and faith into achieving it. We brush past anyone or anything that gets in our way, seeing obstacles as a nuisance rather than a chance to grow.

We claim our dreams and say God gave them to us, and this much may be true. But God’s timeline is often different than ours. Some growth may be required before we are prepared to handle the spotlight of success.

When we place our hope only in the end result, we face overwhelming disappointment if things don’t go the way we envisioned. Often, we beat ourselves up and call ourselves failures, not realizing God often uses setbacks to mold and develop us just as much as success.

I am reminded of Hebrews chapter 11. Commonly referred to as the “faith chapter,” it lists many heroes of the faith who are set as examples for us to emulate. However, none of these men and women received what was promised to them in their lifetime. If their eyes were simply fixed on the end result, they surely would have been crushed.

No, God had something much better awaiting them in their eternal destiny. And so do you and I, my friend.

“These were all commended for their faith, yet none of them received what had been promised. God had planned something better for us so that only together with us would they be made perfect.” Hebrews 11:39-40 NIV

Do you know where the Bible says we should place our hope? In Christ alone. Not in measurable results, not in the final destination or end goal, but in Him.

When our hope is put in the only place where it can be securely held, it renews us. We have the strength to move forward.

“But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.” Isaiah 40:31 NIV (emphasis mine)

Having goals is not ungodly. Being competitive and wanting to do your best isn’t negative. But when we place our hope in the outcome alone, we will be continually frustrated.

So keep your eyes fixed on the unseen and put your hope in the only place where it can stand firm: in the arms of Christ your King.

He is preparing a place for you. Do you believe that?

Let us run forward with renewed vigor knowing that our hope will not disappoint.

Guest Contributor

Abby McDonald is a writer who can’t contain the lavish love of a God who relentlessly pursues her, even during her darkest times. When she’s not chasing her two little boys around, she loves hiking, photography, and consuming copious amounts of coffee with friends.

Abby would love to connect with you on her blog, Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest.