Purposeful Faith

Category - awe

Let’s Count the Ways: God Watches You

“Are you watching me?”

My 6-year-old son puts on shows. Willy Wonka, Moses in the wilderness, Box Car Children- you name it, and he acts it out. And he always asks this question.

“Are you watching me?”

Half the time, I’m not. I mean to be, but I’m also human. I’m trying to tackle things like bills, emails, text messages, phone calls, dishes, laundry, dinner…you get the point.

The fact of the matter is, our parents didn’t watch us non-stop either. I know there were times I put on shows and my mom or dad didn’t watch. It’s not because they didn’t want to, but because they were human.

But you know what? God is not human and He is watching. This fills the desires of all our hearts. The desire that says, “Someone, please, be watching me. Watch out for me. Watch me and know my ways. Watch me and protect me. Watch me and help me.”

God watches, carefully.

God is always with us.

“Where can I go from your Spirit?
Where can I flee from your presence?
If I go up to the heavens, you are there;
if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.” Ps. 139:7-8

God’s watched our days before they’ve even happened.

“Your eyes saw my unformed body;
all the days ordained for me were written in your book
before one of them came to be.” Ps. 139:16

God’s intimate thoughts about us don’t stop.

“How precious to me are your thoughts, God!
How vast is the sum of them!
Were I to count them,
they would outnumber the grains of sand.” Ps. 139: 17-18

God is aware of our most intricate workings, habits and ponderings.

“You discern my going out and my lying down;
you are familiar with all my ways.
Before a word is on my tongue
you, Lord, know it completely.” Ps. 139: 3-4

He watches you to protect you.
“You hem me in behind and before.” Ps. 139: 5

God watches it all. Every song, dance, move, time you sit down, stand up, and twirl around. You are precious in His sight.

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I Can’t Do This All

One way to succeed at life is to take inventory of what sets you off.

Ask: What makes your chest well up with discomfort? What makes your stomach turn in rolling knots of nervousness? What makes your hands sweat?

There’s some very good news coming to you soon. With this, I’ve had to do some very hard work to see it through. Hard work makes me feel under much pressure. And being under pressure makes me feel I must perform.

Performances steal the presence of God.

It becomes all show and no rest. Performances are about: doing, striving, working stuff up, making things happen, generating results and presenting a good face.

They’re about getting somewhere. Meanwhile, God just wants to be with us.

Maybe you are there. Maybe you are saying to yourself, “I try so hard, but get nowhere. I don’t know how I’ll do it all. I am stressed out. I am overwhelmed. I am burdened.”

Right now, I believe God has an invitation for you and for me.

As I see it, I believe it reads like this…

Dear (your name),

I invite you to step away from the soul-crushing burdens of all you feel you “must” manage. I will manage those things as you trust in me. I can do far more than you can think or imagine when you trust me. I can accomplish in one minute what it takes you 5000 to conceptualize. Will you trust me? Will you let me take lead? Will you hand to me what you’re death-gripping and mishandling? Will you let go of those unruly emotions and trace them for promised lands of peace? I promise to take good care of what is most important to your soul. I won’t leave you behind. I am always true to my word.

“Defeat does not come to those who trust (in God).” Ps. 23:5 GNT

“(God) is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.” Heb. 11:6 NKJV

Above all, please know: I am with you. I am on your side. I am helping you. My hope is to give you the deep desires of your heart. (Ps. 37:4)

Love,

God

 

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What if Jesus Drove Your Life?

Him: “Mom, I want to ride my bike with you on a major highway.”
Me: “Hmm… No.”
Him: “Mom, I want to ride my bike to a far-off neighborhood I’ve never been to before. I want to go far and get somewhere.”
Me: “You know, son? I care far less about our destination and far more about just being with you.”

As soon as I said it, the words hit me like self-reversing bullets at brute force speed. God cares far less about my destination than He does about just being with me.

I say: “God, I want to do things for you.”
He says: “Come and sit at my feet. Be not worried about many things.”
I say: “God, I want to do things for you.”
He says: “It appears being first is the right way, but sit with me and you’ll find being last is your true joy.”
I say: “God, I don’t know if I’m doing enough for you.”
He says: “People look at the outward appearance, but (I) look at the heart.” (1 Sam. 16:7)

In all my going, am I missing the fullness of God? In pushing fast, am I really pushing God away?

God is the driver; I am the passenger. God knows where I’m going; I stay near to Him. God has the heavenly GPS; I pay attention to where He wants me to go.

Can a passenger ever go anywhere if she isn’t seated next to the driver? If she’s off in her own land, trying to drive her own pretend car to her own Never Neverland…can she ever arrive?

Surrender is to allow God to be the driver. It means you become a sitter at the feet of Jesus. It means allowing your heart to become in awe of Him and His every word. It is to humble yourself under the mighty hand of God, knowing at the proper time: He’ll do the exalting. (1 Pet. 5:6) It is peace. It is joy. It is our portion. It is our calling. It is our ultimate destination.

Why? Because the destination that is Jesus always leads to a destination of vision. We find out who we are in the boundless nature of His love. Here, He reveals the “go” we always wanted to find.

Another note: My new book Battle Ready: Train your Mind to Conquer Challenges, Defeat Doubt and Live Victoriously is available for Pre-order. This summer, I want you to read the book with me. We’ll be going through the book (200 people get a copy) in my private launch team group. I’ll also be providing free support materials, printables, scriptures, prayer time together and fun stuff from me. If you want to learn to abandon discouragement, doubt, and disappointment, come join me on the launch team. Just pre-order a book on Amazon, then sign up here.

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Where Did God Go?

I believe some of you counted yourself not valuable or unable to make a difference. It’s not true. This is why I want to invite you, again, to join my launch team.

Friends, every bit helps – how you share Battle Ready with a friend in need, or do a post on Facebook, or encourage me along the way, or share it in your small group, or bring unique excitement to the team. Don’t discount yourself.  You all mean something to me; I want you to be a part of the launch team.  I want you to do this with me. Big or small, whether you feel important or meaningless, join me as we gain new confidence, seize new thoughts and spread Jesus’ liberating truth far and wide.  Pre-order a book on Amazon, then join the team here (and get a ton of video devotionals, scriptures, accountability, team support, prayer with me and little gifts from me: www.iambattleready.com/launch 

I love you all. Now here is the post:

Consider a random picture frame in your house. See it? When you wake up the next morning, do you know where it is? Are you confident it is there? Think of another one. When you walk into that room, are you sure you will see it?

What about the frame of your bed? How sure are you that when you return to your room, you’ll find it? Pretty confident, right?

The permanence of these objects is obvious. Yet, why doesn’t it feel this way with God?

It’s like God’s with us one moment and gone the next. We’re full of God one night, but down the next day. Trusting fully, then stuck in swirling ruminations the next hour.

We go from God with us to God is gone. God is here to God, are you really here?

Why does eternal God seem less real than the passing world around us?

“So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” 2 Cor. 4:8

Because there’s a re-framer in our house.

The enemy constantly attempts to steal our view and reframe it with his. He takes our pictures of God’s nearness, assaults them with doubt and tries to move them out of our line of sight.  We say, “God’s good and gone.”

Same tricks. Different day.

Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?” Gen. 3:1

Suddenly, Adam and Eve bit the fruit and were standing stark naked, ashamed in front of a far-off God.

What has the enemy reframed in your life? What has he subtly led you away from? What has he put between you and the God of closeness and fullness?

Remove it. Remove it fast and get with God. Do this repeatedly. All the time. God IS with you. He is. He will never leave your side.

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How to Love Like Jesus

Once inside the trolley, I realized it was not a tourist ride. It was a public transportation trip through the inner ghettos.  As people poured in, I noticed them. I noticed the torn up pants. The week-old dirt. I noticed the tattoos. The Narcotics Anonymous recovery backpacks. I noticed the teeth grill of gold and the huge smile at me. The family community feel. The waves hello. The guy exiting the bus saying, “Be blessed you all! Keep faith today.”

I also noticed I had love. For them. I could see the reality of their life. Instead of being stuck in my own world, avoiding others’ hardships, I was struck face-to-face with people’s real pain, history, tears, hopes, dreams and difficulties of escaping poverty.

How was I ever so oblivious? Oblivious not only to poverty, but to emotional hardships, to anger, to marital issues, to health concerns, to people needing help…to loving ones who feel like lesser people because no one sees them?

Jesus saw the lesser man and raised him up to be a greater man. May I do the same.

To see the reality of mankind, we must enter into their reality. We must confront what we avoid confronting. It’s the only way.

So, I’ve asked God, what does it look to really love?

To love we:
– Seek to understand the reality of the hardship
– Allow ourselves to feel their feelings for a moment
– Remember how we ourselves felt those painful feelings at one time or another
– Pray for understanding on how to fill gaps of pain
– Let God do the saving
– Submit to His leading
– Fill the gap by seeing through His small call to step out

No person is too far gone. No pain is too far beyond God’s ability. No soul is one He doesn’t care for. No child is left behind.

What would it look like for you to begin seeing what you avoid seeing, feeling, or relating to? What does it look like for you to step out of the world you live in and into the one you’re cynical of, apathetic to and uninvolved in?

That’s what Jesus did. He went to the Samarians. He touched the plagued. He loved the untouchables.

Jesus never permitted cynicism to rule,

even though He most certainly could have.

Jesus knew it is love heals;
Love is the complete fulfillment of all He came for.

And as Jesus puts it:
Love is our one cause and our only cause.
May we never forgo love.

“Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.” 1 Pet. 4:8

Love goes. Heals. Speaks. Breaks divides. Understands. Sacrifices time and treasure. Calls people somewhere new. Lays down old stereotypes. Leans not on its own understanding or inclinations. Cares not if people see it work. Is governed by a mind of the Spirit. Brings life. Always. Continually. Eternally.

What would it look like for you to step out in love today? Ask God. Write it your answer here: ___________

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What Surrender Looks Like

What does surrender look like?

On a steamy track, the coach ran after my heels screaming with her timer, “Go, go, go!”  No one talked. It didn’t matter how we felt. Sprints gave way to more sprints. Tiredness ended up sprinting. So did exhaustion. Near-death feelings were supposed to somehow push us harder.

With that little glint of belief in her eye, the coach non-verbally pressured us that there was “more in us”. So we somehow found it and kept going.

During tryouts the coaches hovered over me, trying to figure out where I fit in on the track field. Would I be a long distance runner? A shot-putter? A sprinter? A hurdle-runner?

As she assigned everyone to his or her spot, I imagined all the potential of one person: me. I imagined myself running fast and with intensity along with all these other pre-Olympian superstars. But when she looked at me with beads of sweat on her face and in her hair, she said, “You’re my race-walker.”

Your what?

Your walker?

The loser. The one who looks all weird with her hips swaggering from side to side? 

I wanted to quit. While everyone else was something, I was nothing. The embarrassment.

Have you ever felt like the things you dream of are blocked? Like you can’t access what you’re supposed to be?

That day, I stood on that field shell-shocked. Then, I started walking. I walked so hard and fast, a year or so later, I made it to the Junior Olympics and got a bronze medal. Oddly, this moment is one of the greatest joys and the greatest gifts of my life. That track team had heart and taught me heart. I learned it is not what you think you should do that matters, but what God has for you that fills your heart.

What if what you’re made for looks different than you think? Will you accept His best in belief that it will one day become yours?

This is surrender.

 

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He Knows Your Name…Even If I Can’t Remember It

POST BY: Kendra Broekhuis

It takes roughly 2.7 seconds after meeting someone new for me to forget his or her name.

I’m certain that when people tell me what they are called, that information goes in one ear and bounces off a fluffy cloud out the other ear. Because I fear the embarrassment of not remembering this critical detail, I’ve become hyper-sensitive to sparing other people from the same potential embarrassment upon meeting them a second time:

“Hi! Nice to see you again. I’m Kendra.”

Now please do me a solid and follow suit.

Some days I consider giving up on trying to acquire this skill I so greatly lack. It sounds way easier to just become that person who greets everyone with a, “Hey there, Sport!”

I mean, what’s all the fuss about remembering a person’s name anyway?

“The Fuss” became clear when my husband and I tried to pick names for our children. We argued for no less than nine months over what to call them. We knew that whatever label we chose would stay with them their entire lives. Their names would be tied to their faces, which would be tied to their personhood, which would be tied to memories and deep meaning.

Their names would be the first way they were known.

I was recently reminded of this when I read John 10. Jesus described Himself as the Good shepherd, and His people as His sheep. At first skim, that description might not seem comforting – like we’re all just a bunch of ambiguous animals gathered in a flock of millions.

But the way Jesus explains His relationship with His sheep is incredibly tender: He leads us closely enough to feel the warmth of His presence. Engaged enough that we can distinguish His voice from that of a stranger or a thief. Nurturing enough to bring us to pastures of abundant life. Protecting enough to lay down His life to the wolves that come to snatch and scatter. Treasuring enough to know each of us by name.

But he who enters by the door is the shepherd of the sheep. To him the gatekeeper opens. The sheep hear his voice, and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. {John 10:3}

Our world can feel incredibly cold and impersonal at times – like we really are ambiguous among billions.

But when those days come, may you remember that the Good Shepherd not only sees you, but He knows your name.

He knows you.

Prayer: Lord, I pray that you will help us remember that we are not only loved as an entire church, but also as individuals. In times that we feel lonely, insecure, or worried, remind us that You are close enough to know each of us by name. Thank you for being our very Good Shepherd. Amen.

 

Bio:

Kendra is the author of Here Goes Nothing: An Introvert’s Reckless Attempt to Love Her NeighborThe book highlights her 30 Day journey to recognize the Lord’s “I love you’s” in her daily life, as well as her somewhat awkward attempts to be the Lord’s “I love you’s” to her neighbors. For her day job, Kendra stays home with two of their children, Jocelyn and Levi. She and her family live in Milwaukee. Kendra’s love language is Dove chocolate.

 

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Seriously, let’s not act like satan

act like satan

Imagine your heart wanting to protect Jesus.

You’ve been with him for so long now. You know, love and treasure Him. He is God. Jesus cannot be harmed by common men who aren’t God. You must protect Him. You must keep Him from harm. He must remain with you.

You pull Jesus aside to address his comment that He must suffer. You say, “Jesus, far be it with you. This will never happen with you.”

You’re only trying to help. You’re only trying to save Him. You’re only trying to preserve Him from harm.

Jesus replies to you, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the concerns of God, but merely human concerns.” (Mt. 16:23)

You were a stumbling block. Why?

You had good intentions, but you injected yourself where you weren’t invited to intervene.

The plan was owned by Father & Son , not Father & Son + disciple.

We can do the same thing in the lives of those we love. The plan is between Father & son or Father & daughter. Yet, we weasel our way right in, saying, “Nope this right here is about Father & Son + me + my opinions + my fear!” We take out our chisel and crack into God’s good plan. Woe to us who break what God is building in others.

We often break God’s good plan in others when we:

1. Tell people what to do.

2. Decide how people should think.

3. Instruct people based on our opinions.

4. Try to run in and fix bad situations.

5. Demand others think well of us.

6. Rescue people from their feelings of sadness, loneliness, etc.

7. Excuse away people’s issues, rather then letting them confront them.

I assure you: when a lesson is delivered by us, it’s forgettable. But delivered by God, it is unforgettable, undeniable and unbelievably life-changing.

Let’s make room for what God is doing. He has things handled.

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At Least I am Not Like Her

For weeks, months even, I observed this gal on social media. Because she regularly posted, I could easily keep track of her. As I saw it, every picture was a sob story about her life. Every post seemed to be a call to the world saying, “See me! See me! Pay attention to what I am doing!” She prickled my nerves.

“At least I’m not like her,” I thought.

I thought this way for a very long time. Until. Until I discovered the reality. Reality is not social media. Reality is the voice behind it. And when I heard her voice on the telephone, I discovered the true pain of her recent struggles. I saw her heart to come to the aide of others and saw the true line of Jesus’ love running right through her.

I thought wrong.

A friend came to my house. To every question I asked her she replied with a one word Humph-like answer. She wasn’t a very good friend. She must be angry at me.

At least I’m not like her.

Only later, when I asked how I could pray for her did she share, “Please pray for my marriage.”

I thought wrong, again.

“The Pharisee stood by himself and prayed: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other people—robbers, evildoers, adulterers—or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.’” Lu. 18:11

Oh really, Mr. Pharisee? You are not like them? Certainly, you “must be” a whole bunch more godly, more wise, more thoughtful, more successful, more holy…but, there is only one issue: You carry around brick-heavy weights of pride.

Yes, pride. It is the thing that makes you judge others without knowing the full story. It is the thing that makes you see one side but not the other. It is the thing that makes you consider others’ sin at a moments notice, while missing your own.

“I tell you that this (tax collector) man, rather than the (Pharisee), went home justified before God. For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.” Lu. 18:14

Today, my aim is new: I will not judge what I don’t know. I can never know the inner story behind a person’s outer persona. The pain that resides inside usually works its way out. My job is not to pin it to the wall in condemnation. My job is to love until its appearance smoothes under the love of Christ.

I can do this with myself, and with others.

 

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All to the Glory to God

All to the Glory of God! I got over an eating disorder from college that could have killed me.

All to the Glory of God! I also beat depression.

All to the Glory of God! I don’t have Multiple Sclerosis like all the doctors once thought.

All to the Glory of God! I am a mom who is growing and learning leaps and bounds.

All to the Glory of God! My child doesn’t have Cystic Fibrosis like that test thought.

All to the Glory of God! I am a writer, even though I wrote letters backwards and couldn’t read as a child.

All to the Glory of God! I am far less fearful than I was and increasingly more faithful.

All to the Glory of God! I moved to a new place and made a whole bunch of new friends.

All to the Glory of God! Fill in your blank.

All to the Glory of God! Do it again.

All to the Glory of God! Keep doing it. 

All to the Glory of God! More. 

All to the Glory of God! Don’t stop.

Jesus said to her, “Did I not say to you that if you believe, you will see the glory of God?” (Jo. 11:40, emphasis added)

To remember where glory showed up is to remind your heart:

1. I saw
2. I will see.
3. It is all because of God.

It is to give God due victory.

Let it sink into your heart: What I saw, God can/will do again.

 

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