Purposeful Faith

Category - awe

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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Growing Love

love

I love that I love each of you.

I also love that as I love you, I get a chance to learn who you really are. You send me emails and thank yous and little stories of the giant hurdles you’ve made in life. And yes, even though you call them small, God and I know they’re giant.

You all are great. You make me smile. You make me shed tears. You make me pray. And while I can’t always respond to every email via the computer I always try to respond with God. I ask him for the best for you, for your situations and for your heart. I ask him to show his lavish love in your life.

You are amazing. You gift me a lot more than I gift you. Daily, so many of you give to my heart. Quietly, I know others inwardly offer up thanks. Readily, I know there are prayers going out for the wider community of gals who read these words.

To know we are fighting together, battling through our hang-ups, and sticking to the King of Kings on this road is beyond helpful to my heart.

We rage on – in love.

I once thought this blog was about me “getting my healing.” Now I know it is about all of us “becoming healed” and supporting each other along the way. Thank you for helping me realize I need you just as much as I need God.

You are often a vessel for His voice. A voice of encouragement that pops up via email at just the right time. A prayer note that I needed. A living testimony of what you are reading.

All glory to God! He is working right here. We read and write only holy ground, together. And I love it! I cherish it. I rejoice in the fullness of what He has prepared for such a time as this.

While social media rages with hate, anger and dissension, we pull together in love. We smile and keep on with Jesus. We do our part to do our best to change our little slice of the world one small act of love at a time.

I am grateful for you. I want you all to know that. God has given me so much in this community of lovers. I praise Him for you today.

My prayer for you: Sweet Jesus, thank you for the reader of this post today. Thank you that you see her heart. Thank you that she pursues, loves and follows you. I ask you to open every door unto her, so that she can meet and know you with immense passion. I ask that there would never be a question in her mind as to how much you love her. I ask that there would never be a question in her mind about how immensely loved she is. I ask for an increase of your heart on this very blog that reaches hearts day-in and day-out. I ask for your activating faith to pour out on every reader in profound ways in the coming days. I ask for your will to be done in all ways. We thank you Jesus. Amen.

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When You Feel Undeserving

Do you ever think, “Everything is going so well…I wonder when is God going to pull the carpet out from under me?”

Or, “I don’t deserve good stuff.”
Or, “I feel guilty for accepting…”

I think this way sometimes. As if God’s given me too much and suddenly needs to put me in my place. Or as if I’m spoiled by the fact He is good. Or like He is a killjoy who is out to punish me for my happiness.

Why do I do this?

Recently, I asked God for something. It was small, but I prayed for it to “get better”. Amazingly, I immediately did, to a degree. I saw God move in incredible ways. Then, I wanted to ask him for something else, something more. I almost prayed…but then I heard:

Bad Kelly! You want too much.

Bad Kelly! You think God is there to give you everything.

Bad Kelly! You are selfish.

Bad Kelly! You know there are others who have it much harder than you.

Afraid to take too much from God, I almost missed the opportunity to see how much He really loves me. I almost stopped asking. Why? Because I counted the nature of God equivalent with the nature of man.

God gives abundantly. Many give, but then take for themselves.

God does even more than we ask or imagine. Man does and then expects something in return.

God continually pours out the best of who He is on our behalf. Man halfway gives and then gives up.

When we assign the track record of man to God, we always lose. In fact, we close down the opportunity to see the abundant nature of an abundant God. We essentially hold an arm up to God and say, “You’re a little bit good, but not that good.”

What are you believing about God today? In what ways have you held an abundant God back? How have you let the past hurts of man create a false view of God?

“I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.” Jo. 10:10

“For the bread of God is the bread that comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.” Jo. 6:33

 

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What True Trust Looks Like

I lived with fake trust in God for a long time. During those years, I thought it was real trust. Now I realize it was like dressing up a pig and calling her pretty. I focused on actions so much that I missed the heart of the matter.

I showed myself beautified by giving advice to others.

I dressed up my Christian life by doing bible study dinners.

I put on a thinking hat to prove I was smart on bible knowledge.

I believed if I read 10 minutes of God’s Word before breakfast, all His words would work for me.

I thought myself better by sizing myself up against those who were rude, struggling, arrogant, a know-it-all, or sinning.

“Do not throw your pearls to pigs.” Mt. 7:6

May I remind you? I was the pig.

I knew the Word of God, but missed God’s heart behind it. Ouch! I worked up faith, but faith that was all about me. I loved God, but it was the brute force of Kelly Balarie trying to make it happen. I believed God via my words, but doubted him deep in my heart.

Real love is not determined by what is shown on the outside, but by what compels us on the inside. Love does not originate from our good work, but from Jesus’ perfect work.

This thought and truth freed me. No longer am I looking to prove my worth. I am trusting Jesus’ worth to be my worth. I can breathe again. And beyond this, I can rest again.

I don’t have to force my way, because God’s way rules.
I don’t have to pretend faith, because God gives it.
I don’t have to make you think right of me, because God defends me.

The difference is: I get faith from God. He gives it to me; I don’t work it up.

I never have to prove myself more worthy, because Jesus is worthy. In this gap, I can confront my inadequacies, my vulnerabilities and my inabilities without fear of the unknown or unseen. Why? Because God has me.

He has you too. Naturally, He has you. He has you even when you don’t speak Christianese. He has you when you miss your morning devotional time. He has you when you mistakenly throw out a cuss word. He has you when you don’t know what to do. He has you when you think everything is crumbling. Your work won’t make up for what you owe Him…Jesus already paid for all that.

 

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.

Dealing with the Demands of the World

People are fickle. In Jerusalem, Jesus was popular one day. Many days later, similar crowds yelled, “Crucify Him! Crucify Him.”

This is why we don’t live for man, but for God. This is why our worth isn’t dependent on how we’re received, but on how we are freed through Christ. This is why we don’t bend backwards to do what God is not calling us to do.

Yes, we love. We do what God calls us to do…but not to the point of hating ourselves, our answer or the decision that we knew we shouldn’t have made. (but felt obligated to say yes to)

Jesus says “love your neighbor as yourself.” (Mk. 12:31)

We can only give the best of what is in us. There must be love in the water reservoir in order to hand it out to the city.

I considered this recently when I talked to my husband. He said, “We can give money at the start of the year, rather than on a monthly basis because this is what I feel is right for the family…” I can feel at peace about it. I can love myself enough to take care of my family the right way – rather than feeling obligated to give the wrong way.

I also considered this when I got behind on writing blog posts. I can love myself enough to say I need to slow down and be around my family. I can be kind. If you noticed, a bit back, I wrote a little less.

A few moments ago, the phone rang. It wanted my attention. But to give attention to whoever that person was would steal my attention from you. I love myself enough to keep the peace of where I am, rather than being rushed to the next thing.

When we rightly take care of “us,” we can rightly take care of “them.”

In what ways have you gotten this backwards? In what ways have you tried to take care of them, so you could feel good about you?

This kind of sacrifice tends not to breed sacrificial love, but resentment and bitterness. Only when the well of our heart fills with God-given rest, hope and love does our well never run dry.

 

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.

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The Practical Side of Confidence

I remember sitting on the beach, watching a man who owned the water. Unlike the lady I watched five minutes before, he ran up to the gigantic waves and dove straight into them. He didn’t inch forward with trepidation. He didn’t put his arms out to balance. He didn’t look back to his wife beach-bumming-it on the sand. He owned that water. He went in, looking far stronger than the waves. I couldn’t help but think his water-approach said much about our spiritual life approach.

When we walk out on the world with the confidence of God, we aren’t easily knocked over.

To say, “My heart is confident in you, O God” (Ps. 57:7) is the equivalent of saying, “I can run up to that 6-foot wave and dive right into the middle of it and be fine.” Why? Because God is greater than any force that wants to pummel me. Nothing can eat me alive.

To say, “This I know: God is on my side” (Ps. 57:9) is to silence opposition in just eight words. Distraction and irritations lose their effect. If God is for me, who or what can be against me?

To say, “God will fulfill his purpose for me.” (Ps 57:2) is to dismantle doubt. God will do what He purposes to do.

To say, “All the Lord’s promises prove true” is to walk fortified with the solid rock of Christ in you. All that God says is real and God really is good.

How will you approach the waves of your life? Ready to be tossed around or ready to thrust right through them?

“How blessed is the one who trusts in the LORD.” Ps. 40:4

 

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Winter Means Waiting

Post by: Christine Hoover

In winter, I spend an inordinate amount of time holed up in my home under a blanket, guzzling hot coffee, and longing for spring’s arrival. It’s not my favorite season, but favorite or not, winter is important. Despite what we see with our eyes, the earth in winter is busy creating life. We only know this is so because spring eventually comes, and then we marvel at what that life looks like.

Is it possible that God designed winter and the earthly cycle of life, death, and renewal in order to speak a deeper truth? I believe, because the Bible says it’s so, that everything in creation is designed speech about its Creator. Just as we find him on warm summer days, standing in the sand, listening to the waves crash against the shore, we find him in the stillness of winter.

Winter, however, often speaks of a barrenness we don’t want to hear about.

Annie Dillard writes, “All that summer conceals, winter reveals.” And so we need a life with winters, because we need our hearts revealed. Winter comes to strip us bare of our delusions, to make us face reality: we have imperfections that we can’t perfect. We are helpless to find a formula to reason or act our way out of our helplessness. We are human, and we, in our barrenness, must be acted upon if we’re to experience eternal life, joy, and the supernatural.

Winter then, after stripping us bare, points us to the invisible motion as if in invitation to these very things: life is happening. God is at work, acting upon us.

The harshness of our waiting winter tells us that this world has nothing for us and that we have nothing for ourselves. We have this hope–one, and only one–that there is life waiting for us beyond death.

Although we are not yet in that world, we have reasons for our hope: the words of God. With words, he formed the earth and its seasons and cycles. With words, he continues creating. We can trust his words. In our winter, we must draw ourselves under the warm blanket of God’s promises, a sure comfort in the darkest of hours.

This is what God did with the prophet Jeremiah:

“And the word of the Lord came to me, saying, ‘Jeremiah, what do you see? And I said, ‘I see an almond branch.’ Then the Lord said to me, ‘You have seen well, for I am watching over my word to perform it.'” (1:11)

In Jerusalem, the almond tree, the first to bud in the spring, was said to “watch for spring.” God used the almond branch to comfort Jeremiah in his lamentable circumstances. The almond branch was a reminder that God is always in process of keeping his promises, that he is, at this very moment, hurtling all of us toward eternal spring. He pointed to the almond branch—the coming of spring—and told Jeremiah to watch and wait.

We too watch and wait, not in fear of this winter in which we live, nor in fear of our own spiritual poverty or even final death. We watch and wait, comforted, because all of this God is right now working for our true life, when winter will forever turn to spring.

Christine Hoover is a Bible teacher and the author of several books, including Messy Beautiful Friendship. Her latest book, Searching For Spring: How God Makes All Things Beautiful in Time, frames the life of faith according to the seasons and according to Ecclesiastes 3:11: “God has made everything beautiful in its time.” Searching for spring is really a search for God’s redemptive work, where suffering and death become fruitful life. Christine invites readers like you, who may be weary and withering, to join her on a treasure hunt for beauty in both familiar and unexpected places.

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What Faith Does

Look back and think of some miracles God has done in your life.

My miracle: He completely healed me from an eating disorder.

My miracle: He brought money into my mailbox on the very day I believed, many years ago when I couldn’t pay rent.

Your miracle: ____

Your miracle: ____

These past miraculous mile-markers serve as huge celebrations. Essentially, we said to God at that time, “Father, I want to ____. I need to ___. Only you can ___.” Then, Jesus did.

Times like this are recounted again and again in scripture. For example, a blind man said to Jesus, “I want to see!” (Lu. 18:41)

Jesus replied: “Receive your sight! Your faith has healed you.” (Lu. 18:42)

It was this man’s faith that healed him. Faith permitted him to receive his healing versus doubting it and blocking it. He opened up his arms to a new idea, versus crossing them. Doing this was powerful, because look what happens. . .

We are told, “Instantly the man could see, and he followed Jesus, praising God. And all who saw it praised God, too.” (Lu.18:4e)

Notice the progression at work here…
Our faith leads to our receiving: This becomes our seeing.
Seeing leads to following Jesus.
Receiving and seeing creates a life of praising.
Our praising makes others start praising.

Where might your small mustard-seed-size faith start a wildfire of praise in this world? Don’t discount a small beginning of faith; God does not despise it. Instead, remember the wonders of old and recount the faithfulness of yesteryear. Re-establish that your God is able. And believe. Get ready to receive God’s new thing.

 

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.

Let Jesus Stop you In Your Tracks

My tracks tend to be on auto-pilot. What about yours? Routinely, I’m interested in what I need to get done, who needs help around me, and what tasks need to be accomplished for the family and God. The order of our day does matter. Our priorities reflect what we believe about our identity.

Let me explain…

A religious man said to Jesus, “I’ve obeyed all these commandments since I was young.” (Lu. 18:21)

Essentially he said, “I’ve done what mattered, I’ve obeyed you, I am good.”

His identity was: A Rule-Follower.

Jesus replied, “There is still one thing you haven’t done. Sell all your possessions and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” (Lu. 18:22).

Essentially Jesus said, “Your treasure is not what you’ve done, but is found by continually following me. In me, is your identity.”

In Christ we are:

Children of God.
Beloved.
Adored.
Restored.

Whole.
Holy.
Wholly Blameless.

Yet, as we let other treasures cloud the treasure found in following Jesus, we start to believe we: must work hard to be loved, follow every rule, do more to achieve eternal glory, look good to man, and get everything done in our day to be successful.

Where is your treasure? Is it in following and staying close to Jesus? Or is it in doing stuff, accomplishing more, and keeping up with the world in order to stay protected and safe?

What is the one thing that tends to distract you from following Him?

The best lovers of Jesus are the best releasers of what they hold tight to. The more they let go and cling to the robe of Jesus, the more they find their world healed by His love. They follow Him at all costs. They find treasure.

Jesus says to you today, “Leave that one thing behind and come. Follow me.”

 

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