Purposeful Faith

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The One Acknowledgement that Truly Satisfies

Blog Post by Abby McDonald

My love for an audience began with unexpected heartbreak at nine years old.

I sat on a piano bench in auditorium filled with people who watched with anticipation. Although nerves were palpable, I played the beginning of the piece with confidence. The practiced rhythm in my fingers was instinctual.

Until it wasn’t.

In a moment of confusion, I did the unthinkable. I thought about the next phrase of music. Rather than trust my fingers to remember the notes, my mind raced ahead.

My sigh was audible to everyone sitting in the audience. Hundreds of eyes stared and after what seemed like an eternity, I proceeded the only way I knew how. I played the next section I remembered, bowed, and hurried off the stage.

At the time, I wasn’t sure how I survived, but I was sure of this: it the worst day of my life.

Isn’t it funny how even when our experiences on stage leave scars, we often desire more? Whether it’s in front of hundreds of people or in a small group, we have this innate desire to be seen. We want to know our work is valued, and when we don’t receive affirmation we often become discouraged.

That night on the stage so many decades ago, I was recognized. It may not have been in the way I desired, but the hour following the performance was filled with affirmation from total strangers.

“You handled that situation so well,” one person said.

“It could happen to anyone. You should be proud of how you responded.”

With each word of encouragement, the sting of disappointment hurt a little less. And whether the performance went the way I anticipated or not, I was sure of this: these people saw me, flaws and all, and they applauded me for it.

This audience satisfied one of our deepest human desires: to be seen and valued.

The problem is, many of us spend our entire lives looking for this acknowledgement in the wrong places. We wonder why we are never satisfied, waiting for the next “like” on social media, nod of approval from a friend, or accolade from the workplace.

This is what I spent most of my life doing. When my friends and family complimented my strengths and work, I felt like a conqueror. But when I wasn’t acknowledged for my efforts, I sank into depression and questioned my worth.

Once I got married, had my first child and stopped working, I reached a crossroads. I could either spend my entire life on an endless ride of highs and lows, or I could discover who I truly was.

What I didn’t realize at the time is that we will never fully know who we are until we know who God is. I spent years trying to “find myself,” but I didn’t know my Savior.

When we begin with God, everything else falls into place. When we begin with ourselves, we roam in circles.

I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me.”

Galatians 2:20 NIV

“I no longer live,” Paul says. His entire life was dedicated to glorifying the One who stopped him on the road to Damascus and changed his life forever. Though we are still moved by his faith today, his mission was never about his glory. It was about magnifying the name of the one who saved him from a life of aimlessness.

I’ll never forget the evening in early November when I sat on the couch reading, The Purpose Driven Life with my husband. We were reading the opening chapter, which is aptly titled, “It’s Not About You.”

I realized my entire life had not been about my Creator, but about me. And in making everything about me, I had missed my purpose entirely.

There is freedom in knowing this life is not about us.

Do you know why? What the world gives, it can also take away. All of the praise, the fame and celebration can disappear faster than we can click “like” on Facebook.

But what God gives is eternal. And they way he sees us? It is complete. He sees beyond our insecurities and into our hearts.

Once we make Him the center of our lives, we gain purpose. His Word and character do not change like the trends on Twitter. We can trust Him and know if we humble ourselves before Him, He will exalt us.

“Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time.”

1 Peter 5:6 NIV

When the Lord exalts us, he is exalting a reflection of himself and his Spirit in us. And friend, there is nothing more spectacular than that. 

 

Abby McDonald is the mom of three, a wife and writer whose hope is show readers their identity is found in Christ alone, not the noise of the world. When she’s not chasing their two boys or cuddling their newest sweet girl, you can find her drinking copious amounts of coffee while writing about her adventures on her blog. Abby would love to connect with you on her blog and her growing Facebook community.

Really, Do Not Worry

I have got so much to do and I don’t know how I can ever take care of everything because there is not enough time in the day plus I can’t even begin to get on top of that laundry and the family needs clothes and I wish I was a better organizer…it seems everyone else has buckets and labels for all the things they have so that everyone knows where things are located…and I can’t seem to keep track of where the scissors went…plus I am hardly making dinners, most nights it is quick-eats, not gourmet dinners and I need to get my kids more nutrients because they need to have strong bones and I really should be taking my daily vitamins but I am not even doing that and what if when I get old my bones crack in half and I am hunched over and have to spend the rest of my life sitting in a lawn chair or strapped to a recliner…

“Don’t worry about such things. These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers all over the world, but your Father already knows your needs.” Lu. 12:29

God knows our needs.

“Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and he will give you everything you need.” Lu. 12:30

Seeking the Kingdom first = Getting everything you need.
Letting go of the mind-rubbish consuming you to let God’s plans consume you = Getting everything you need.
Seeing the world as God’s drawing board and you as the paintbrush = Getting everything you need.
Getting love loosened from you and into the world = Getting everything you need.
Keeping your eyes on the kingdom of God, versus the kingdom of your every-waking-need= Getting everything you need.
Being watchful through prayer and diligently pursuing God = Getting everything you need.

God knows what we need. He has a good plan to give it to us. We need not worry about our fiefdom; it is all about His kingdom.

 

Kelly’s new book, Fear Fighting: Awakening Courage to Overcome Your Fears has been called “A must read,” “Breathtakingly honest” and a “Great Toolbox to Overcome Fear.” Read it today.

Discover how to flee from fear and fly in faith through 4 Days to Fearless Challenge.

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

Invite More of Jesus In

“While we were still sinners…” Ro. 5:8

Take notice, the line above does not read…
“While we were trying really hard to improve…”
“After we had started to get wise…”
“Once we read the book of John three times…”
“As soon as we looked like Mary, not Martha…”
“After a huge and long prayer that really showed God you loved Him…”
“After we proved we would have Christian value for the future…”
“Because you did better things than the other woman…”

No. While you were a sinner. . . while you had dirty knees and an unclean heart, while you still were doing that horrible blasted thing you always do, while you brought nothing to God on your own…right then, Jesus chose to die for you.

“Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners.” 1 Tim. 1:15

Jesus, sans sin, saves sinners. Lamb of the world. King of Kings. Lord of Lords. Lion of Judah. He came (and got) what he was after: our sin and our hearts. What we hate in us, Jesus annihilates. He throws it as far as the east is from the west, and remakes us into His image. Glory.

What love is this?!

Right now, love calls you deeper. Will you respond? What must you clear out so Love can make His way in and renew your spirit? So that you can abound in freedom?

No matter how unworthy, messed up, horrible or guilty you feel, there is nothing that can separate you from Jesus’ love. There is no amount of feelings that can devalue the price Jesus paid on the cross. There are no lengths that can’t be erased by his grace.

Invite Jesus in, no matter how badly you feel about things. No matter how wrong you may have been. No matter how bad that thing from the past really was. No matter how hurt you feel. No matter how badly you’ve been sinning.

Jesus will take it, then remake you. It is that simple.

“But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Ro. 5:8

He loves you.

Prayer: Jesus, all of you is what all of me needs. Everything else is of no merit in comparison to your glory and grace. Fill me with you and lead me in your ways. Thank you for the price you paid, to love me. I love you so very much. I confess, (share with Jesus here). I need your help (share more with Him here). What do you have for me, God? In Jesus’ Name, I pray. Amen.

 

Kelly’s new book, Fear Fighting: Awakening Courage to Overcome Your Fears has been called “A must read,” “Breathtakingly honest” and a “Great Toolbox to Overcome Fear.” Read it today.

Discover how to flee from fear and fly in faith through 4 Days to Fearless Challenge.

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

This Person Taught Me a Huge Lesson

There’s an unsaid celebrity who said unsaid things. I don’t want to say much about this person because: 1.) I’m not a fan of gossip. 2.) I do not know this person’s heart 3.) I bless her and hope she gets all her heart desires (aka. Jesus). 4.) The point of this story is not really about her, but about me. (and perhaps, you)

However…the whole story really spoke to me. Here’s the clandestine background you need to know: This individual is at the top of her game. She is loved. She has been beyond successful in every single and solitary sense of the word. The world stops and gawks, “Wow, look at her. She has it all.”

Now, you’d think with so many awards, cheers, and recognitions, this person would know: I am amazing. I am so happy. I have all I need.

Yet, in a recent report this person lamented something the equivalent of, “Waa…my friend didn’t call me today to tell me I did a good job.”

When I heard this person say this, I considered it deeper. It is like an Olympian saying, “I didn’t hear the 4-year-old clap for me, so I must be no good.” Or like a professor becoming furious that on the first day of class that no one stood up and cheered for him. Or the genius saying, no one was happy for me that I completed the Spokane Post crossword puzzle.

And here I realized: If you are always looking for people to recognize you, you always will. You won’t just reach the pinnacle of success one day and say, “Well, looky here…now I need nothing from anyone. I have arrived at happiness…”

This just isn’t happening.

The truth is if you base your worth off of others’ opinion, it will never stop. The ferris wheel keeps going. Sure you may rise to the top because you’re getting seen, but before you know it, it swoops to the bottom and you are in obscurity, feeling bound with insecurity. Then, you lament that your husband didn’t cheer for you as you finished your bike ride.

We can undo this, you know?

Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’[a31 The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.” Mk 12:30-31

What if we weren’t as much bound up by what we do as how much we love?

If who you are is loved and what you do is love others, how can mankind ever block a goal like that? His love sets us free.

Prayer: God, it is not trophies, metrics or applause that I serve, but you. Fill me with your love, so I can pour it out. Equip me with your heart, so I can enjoy it above all. Do a mighty work in me, but let it be all about you. Everything else pales in comparison. In Jesus’ Name, I pray. Amen.

 

Discover how to flee from fear and fly in faith through 4 Days to Fearless Challenge.

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

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A Word on Other’s Advice

What is advice?

It is that which makes you feel guilty that you aren’t on the right track.
It is that which pressures you into doing something you don’t really feel right about.
It is that which tends to speak over God’s voice.
It is another person’s perceived answer to your deep heart problem.
It is unsolicited input that creates average output.

What opinions are coming at you? Are you reliant on them?

I spent years reliant. I needed your answer to my problem. I didn’t believe in myself much. I didn’t know if I could trust myself enough to not make a fool of myself. I thought you knew better than me. If I had an idea, I would change it if yours was different.

I was horribly pulled in every direction and completely unsure of my life-path.

Until, one day, I realized: I was on man’s course, not God’s.  Maybe this is the case for you too?

Little by little, voice by voice, we can become so swayed by others’ insight that we have no sight to see God’s unfolding plan for us. We hear all the swirling voices but miss God’s.  We may be sure we are on the right path, only to have someone else doubt us.

This is why prayer is paramount.

Praying hearts understand this truth: you can ask and expect God to answer. Often He answers by giving you peace. Peace for a specific road you want to travel. Or, He answers with a random word through a person (it often doesn’t sound like advice, but a random comment that strikes you). Or, He answers with a verse in your mind.  Or, He answers by putting a situation right in front of you.

The vital component to the answer is waiting. When we wait on God, we create space for the move He wants to make. Then, we gain certainty.

What advice does your heart need to turn away so you can turn toward God in prayer and follow Him?

Prayer: God, we want to hear you first and foremost. Soften the loud voices around us so that what comes through is your heart and your heart only. Give us a view of our best path. Lead us, with your arm around us. Grant us peace and certainty in our walk. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.

Kelly’s new book, Fear Fighting: Awakening Courage to Overcome Your Fears has been called “A must read,” “Breathtakingly honest” and a “Great Toolbox to Overcome Fear.” Read it today.

Discover how to flee from fear and fly in faith through 4 Days to Fearless Challenge.

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

The Danger in Letting Others Define Who We Are

Blog Post by Abby McDonald

“Don’t ever say you’re just a mom.”

I spun around, startled at the realization that my conversation wasn’t private. I was talking to the cashier at a local toy store about school and pursuing a career in writing. Both my boys were tiny at the time, and before I knew it the statement that I was “just a mom” spilled out of my mouth.

It wasn’t that I didn’t think mothering was important. It had more to do with other’s perception. Or at least, that’s what I thought.

When I turned I saw an older man standing there. He looked me square in the eye and said words I desperately needed to hear during that season.

“What you’re doing is the most important job there is.”

I nodded and thanked him, not sure what else to say. I was amazed at God’s ability to use a complete stranger to encourage me during a time of my life when I felt lost and defeated. And in an instant, I knew I was where God wanted me. My doubt and apprehension was replaced with confidence and security.

But old habits have tendency to resurface, don’t they?

Eventually, I had more time to devote to things I loved and opportunities knocked at my door. I was filled with gratitude and awe at how God was using me.

Encouragement from other strangers came. Strangers who eventually became friends and confidants. I linked arms with others who shared a passion for communicating a message and pointing others toward the hope of Christ through words and stories.

But before I realized what was happening, gratitude turned to comparison. Awe turned to impatience. My timeline and God’s were not the same, and goals I thought would take months turned into years.

I fought for affirmation and approval. Sometimes it came, but when it didn’t my security blanket was ripped off like a band-aid. Rejections stung. Silence and waiting stung even worse.

If we let others define who we are, our security will change like the rising tide.

We will constantly lower our buckets into the well of compliments and accolades until we hit the bottom. And one day, the bucket will come up empty. Our source of sustenance will be parched.

But you want to know the good news? There is Living Water. It never runs dry. And his definition of who we are? It never changes, once we’ve received Him.

Friends, we don’t have to fight for our seat at his table.

“And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus.”

Ephesians 2:6 NIV

 Our status has nothing to do with our abilities, and everything to do with Christ’s finished work. It is because of his grace and love for us that he allows us to participate with him in his divine work.

Perception changes everything. So the next time we’re tempted to compare and fight for our seats at the table, let’s remember this:

Christ’s finished work = our eternal worth.

This world and the people in it do not determine who you are. The One who hung on a tree and paid a price more precious than pure gold does.

Never forget who claimed you as his. Take your seat, and remember your identity comes from him alone.

 

Abby McDonald is the mom of three, a wife and writer whose hope is show readers their identity is found in Christ alone, not the noise of the world. When she’s not chasing their two boys or cuddling their newest sweet girl, you can find her drinking copious amounts of coffee while writing about her adventures on her blog. Abby would love to connect with you on her blog and her growing Facebook community.

Making Space + New Stuff with Purposeful Faith

Remarkably, Jesus called out the Pharisees and religious types repeatedly for their loss of what mattered most. While they were dead set in following the law to the T, Jesus was all about letting love out abundantly.

The schism between these two in Jesus’ time often seemed great. It still is, in many ways.

It is not that the law is bad; it is not. It is surely good. However, when the letter of the law triumphs over love in a way that restricts the heart of God, this creates problems.

My heart here at Purposeful Faith is to feed you the heart of God day-in and day-out. Yet, to do it five days a week, I am coming to realize, feels more like abiding by a rule of daily law than impromptu love.

I think back to the stories throughout the bible. So many times, religious, pious or scholarly folk missed Jesus’ heart. He’d reply to them with wisdom, instruction or the way to go and they’d either rebuke him, walk away from Him or miss the point entirely.

But one time, the tax collectors responded differently — like this, “”Teacher,” they asked, “what should we do?””

I have asked God what to do about my love for each of you. “Teacher, what should I do so I love my readers and you, well?”

A couple things came to me: pray bigger, love better, encourage more and open the doors to new writers.

You can expect all this in the New Year. You can also expect less weekly blog posts (3-4 times a week), with more exposure to me via video prayers and encouragement on social media.

What would you like to see from me? What topics would you like me to cover? How would you like to connect? What sort of video encouragement would you like to receive? Let me know.

And, beyond this… what if you were to ask Jesus this New Year, “Teacher, what should I do so I love those around me well?” You might be astonished what he says.

 

Kelly’s new book, Fear Fighting: Awakening Courage to Overcome Your Fears has been called “A must read,” “Breathtakingly honest” and a “Great Toolbox to Overcome Fear.” Read it today.

Discover how to flee from fear and fly in faith through 4 Days to Fearless Challenge.

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

What is in a Name?

a name

Names. What is in a name?

I didn’t used to think a name amounted to much. Until years later…

Now, you all might see me as a fighter kind of girl. If you’re read this blog long enough, you know I wrote a book called, “Fear Fighting.” But, what you may not know is I am also writing a book called, “Battle Ready.” You’ll meet it come July.

The point is not me; it is my name. My name means “warrior”. Kelly is warrior. I never knew that. I never knew I was a warrior, until God called me to write these books.

Before this point I would have laughed at this idea. But, now. Now I say,  “Wow, God, I really am who you say I am. You knew day #1 who I would be, even though I never believed in who you made me to be.”

He is amazing.

Even though I used to call myself other names, like… “You stupid!,” “You idiot!”, “You worthless piece of…”

Still, God never had names like those for me.

What names do you give yourself? What name might God give you?

Did you know, even if your name has no obvious meaning…God gives you names: daughter, loved, friend, royal priest, light of the world? These are your names, even if you can’t believe them now, Christ’s fulfillment is written over each and every name, just like I learned mine was.

I pray you come to see…

Sometimes, I doubt my name. I am all…I am not a warrior today. But, do you know what is best of all? Jesus always is Jesus. Father always is Father. Daddy is always still there.

Knowing the firm names of God supersedes the names of doubt we call ourselves.

This is why, this Christmas, I delight in the names included in the Christmas book, “The Unwrapping of the Names of Jesus” by Asheritah CiuCiu.

Jesus is:

King of Kings (the height above any height moving on our behalf)
Light of the World (the light that casts out all darkness, always and forever)
Lion of Judah (the roar that makes every knee bow)
Alpha and Omega (the start of everything and the end that has no end)
Prince of Peace (the only answer to peace and the fulfillment of it in our lives)
Bread of Life (the only truth we eat to feel full)
Lamb of God (the lamb slain so that we don’t have to be when we feel self-doubt and shame)

Jesus’s name is the height of all names. It gives cause to my name, even when I doubt myself. This does not matter, because God remains the same, consistent and power-full.

This Christmas Season, what if you were to usher in, not just the baby, but the power of Jesus’ name with a humble in-awe view of the saving light it casts on you?

How might, through Christ, you begin to see yourself differently?

Learn more about Asheritah’s new book, Unwrapping the Names of Jesus: An Advent Devotional.

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

When Your Mouth Speaks Stupid

Speaks Stupid

It was an odd encounter. I am not sure why. I didn’t intend to make it odd, but my mouth got ahead of my mind. What was meant to come out as, “Wow! You are so talented…” rolled out as, “What do you think you are being led to do in life?”

As if she wasn’t already doing enough.
As if God wasn’t already using her.
As if there was more to life than the moment she was currently in.

The second my question made its weird appearance, I wanted to withdraw it. I wanted to grab it and stuff it back into my mouth because I could see what it was producing: a seat-shifting sense that she should be doing more. That where God planted her feet today wasn’t good enough.

Yet, where she was — was entirely good enough. In fact, I was very much struck by the individual. And although I’d just met her minutes ago (another reason my mouth should have shushed it), I knew her wisdom and insight would have an impact on my life, as it has with so many others.

I left the gathering. On the way home, all I could think was: She thinks I am an oddball. I came off as prideful. She feels put down…not used enough…like she should have some greater mission…all because of my fast track mouth.

My hands clenched the car seat. My ears tuned out my husband and my embarrassment stuck on me like icky glue. It kept on bothering me — for days.

Yet, something hit me as I wrote this story down, after seeing it in black and white. What if the big deal I made about my words was really only a small deal to her? And what if her shifting around was only because she was bound to a clock and needed to start the meeting? What if her short response was only because she was thinking about what she needed to do next?

What if I read into things? And what if her words were far less about me, because she was already on to the next thing?

What if she didn’t really think I was:

the weirdo
the oddball
the arrogant one
the insensitive girl

What if she just thought I was a new person who seemed nice, who she is interested in getting to know as well?

How many times do we personalize predicaments and let them name us poorly? How many times do we let the enemy declare us bad when God is trying to set up a good friendship? How many times do we see our failings when others aren’t seeing that at all?

That night at the prayer gathering, I lost my prayer mojo because I kept thinking I injured her. I lost the chance to plead for, impact and change the hurting lives of others because I was caught up in my own mind-story. I lost God’s better plan.

When we personalize issues that really are not personal, we always lose God. We let our feet venture off his track and we head down some windy road with the goal of making man love us. We divert love. We walk away from Him who is love.

“Am I now trying to win the approval of human beings, or of God? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ (Gal. 1:10).”

 

Kelly’s new book, Fear Fighting: Awakening Courage to Overcome Your Fears has been called “A must read,” “Breathtakingly honest” and a “Great Toolbox to Overcome Fear.” Read it today.

Discover how to flee from fear and fly in faith through 4 Days to Fearless Challenge.

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

Drawing Near Will Make You Want Him

draw near God heart

Post By: Angela Parlin

Long ago, our kids asked for a dog. A puppy is a lot of work, I said. So we gave them fish. But nobody can cuddle a fish, and next we appeased them with a guinea pig. That’s a long, smelly story for another day.

Soon we were back on the puppy train. The dachshund train, because I grew up with this sweet breed. I don’t know if you’ve encountered many dachshund owners, but there are no other dogs in the world, once you’ve loved a doxxie. My husband simply humors me.

The day came to choose a dog, and we picked Blaze. If we had known about his issues—how he would chew through shoes, bag straps, blue jeans, and even mess with the legs of our kitchen table—we might have named him Marley. 🙂   But we only knew his sweet baby eyes, that tiny whimper, and the way he snuggled into our necks and stopped crying when we sang to him.

Eight months later, the little guy’s quirks and offenses are clear, but so is the laughter he inspires.

Blaze lays at my feet nearly every day when I’m making dinner. He sits down and places one little paw over my foot. As I move about the kitchen, he follows me. While I know he wants to be near the food I drop, he also wants to be close to me.

No matter what I’m doing or where, if his eyes are open—they’re usually on me. He wants to be near me, all the time, no matter what.

It’s had me thinking about the way I long to be near God, and the times I’ve been too busy to be with Him.

God loved the world so much, that He sent Jesus to pay for our sins—not to condemn us, but to save us.

When we believe in Him, we are given the privilege–the blessing–of being in His presence.

We are able to talk with God and listen to Him. To come to Him for all the help we need. To go to Him boldly and with confidence as His beloveds, without any fear.

Jesus came near to us, so that we might move toward God.

And when we come to Him, we find incredible joy, blessing, and goodness. He fills us, He satisfies us, until we echo the psalmist’s words, His nearness is my good. There are many benefits of drawing close to God, but these can only be understood by experiencing Him. When we draw near to God, we experience His love, and we want more.

Let us draw near to God with a sincere heart and with the full assurance that faith brings, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water.” Hebrews 10:22, NIV

Have you moved toward God with a true heart and full assurance of faith? If not, will you call on the Lord in a prayer of belief today? Will you seek out someone who knows the Lord, to show you the way?

Those who believe—think about your heart. Are you drawing near with a true heart? Let us lay at His feet, longing for more than the food He drops, longing to be close to Him.

Angela Parlin is a wife and mom to 3 rowdy boys and 1 sweet girl. In addition to spending time with friends and family, she loves to read and write, spend days at the beach, watch romantic comedies, and organize closets. But most of all, she loves Jesus and writes to call attention to the beauty of life in Christ, even when that life collaborates with chaos. Join her at www.angelaparlin.com, So Much Beauty In All This Chaos.