Purposeful Faith

Category - blessings

7 Biblical Benefits: Why You Must Get Quiet

Get Quiet

The majority of the time I can seem to keep quiet.

It is not so much that I am always talking, but it is much more that I am always retorting, rebutting or formulating in my mind.

They should do this…
I wonder if he has considered…
I have to say this next…
I can’t forget to mention…

When talking, it is very hard to be listening.
When planning, it is very hard to be receiving a plan.
When speaking over God, you simply can’t hear him.

Yet, when you allow your selfish ways to create space for his sacred will – God has a stage to show off. When you allow dialogue to give way to deep seeking – direction makes an appearance. When you strangle fear – fear of God lets you breathe again.

7 Biblical Benefits of Getting Quiet Before God

1. When your mouth shuts, you appear wise and discerning to others.

Even fools are thought wise if they keep silent, and discerning if they hold their tongues. Prov. 27:28

2. You dwell in the the comfy and cared-for knowledge that God cannot and will not leave or forsake you. Not only this, but you find Godly prosperity and good success.

This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success.  Josh 1:8

3. The filing cabinet of your mind has room to store fear of the Lord – and all the resulting wisdom that accompanies it.

Only fear the LORD and serve him faithfully with all your heart. For consider what great things he has done for you. 1 Sam. 12:24

The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding. Prov. 9:10

4. By listening, considering and blocking the VIP door to your mind, you make space for things that bring peace, life and renewal.

Whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.  What you have learned and  received and heard and seen  in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you. Phil. 4:8-9

5. The impossible becomes possible by the strength of prayer. You can walk down the painful, but glory-filled, roads you’d normally run from.

And rising very early in the morning, while it was still dark, (Jesus) departed and went out to a desolate place, and there he prayed. Mk. 1:35-36

6. You land at transformed, rather than conformed. With more confidence you head towards what is good, pleasing and perfect in this world.

Do not be conformed to this present world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may test and approve what is the will of God–what is good and well-pleasing and perfect. Ro. 12:2

7.  You ponder, praise and get passionate about your fist love – and then God delivers you.

The angel of the LORD encamps around those who fear him, and he delivers them. Ps. 34:7

Solitude gives way for the magnitude of the gospel to resound.

Rather than God fighting the rush hour of the world, trying to move above fray of a believer’s heart and or squeezing into the small space left for Godly awareness – quiet makes space . In the quiet, God bakes activated love.

We find more than we could ever ask for.
Not by posturing for it, but by seeking him in it.
When we seek him, we find him.
When we find him, we can’t help but share him.
We open our mouths, we speak life. 
We speak life, because we found life.
​Loudly. Confidently. Boldly.

“Quiet” works out loud proclamations of glory.

He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation. Mk. 16:15

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When We Smother God’s Fire With Well-Meaning Activity

Blog Post by Abby McDonald

I poked at the fire, frustrated that it wouldn’t stay aflame. This girl was no scout. The temperatures outside had reached single digits, and our furnace was having a hard time keeping up.

After spending an hour trying different techniques, adding wood, scraps of paper, and using more fire starters than any person should, the flame blazed hot enough for the wood stove’s fan to cut on, circulating the heat throughout the house. My mouth spread into a victorious smile.

The problem was, I didn’t know what I’d done right.

Later, after my husband returned from a business trip, he explained the basics of fire building to this city girl. I listened intently, determined not to have the predicament repeat itself.

Even my son, the cub scout, knew the basics of fire 101. I guess I should have asked him, right?

As any seasoned camper may know, fires need three basic components: heat, fuel, and oxygen.

It turns out, I had given my fire plenty of heat and fuel, but I’d neglected oxygen almost altogether. Instead of giving my flame room to breath by spreading the wood in a triangular shape, I’d smothered it.

Fires need room to breathe. And much like the flame I’d suffocated with its own fuel, I often adapt the same pattern in my spiritual life.

I know my heat comes from the Holy Spirit living inside me. I feed the flame with his Word and plenty of good reading material, podcasts and worship.

I gather with other believers. I lead and serve.

But often, I don’t allow space to breathe. To digest what he’s teaching me. To sit in his presence and be still with no agenda, no checklist or index of requests I need to present.

While we fixate on the lines of our life story, God often speaks in the margins.

In the spaces in-between the carpools, the play dates and the prayer meetings. In the moments where we slow down, we sit and we wait. Because the voice of God is always worth waiting for.

“Be still, and know that I am God;

I will be exalted among the nations,

I will be exalted in the earth.”

Psalm 46:10 NIV

So instead of piling more stuff onto my never-ending to-do list, I’m carving out time to listen. Even if it starts with fifteen minutes before my kids roll out of bed, it will be worth it.

I’m creating a space to not simply read the Word, but hear from the Word.

Have you stacked too many scraps on your fire, suffocating it so it has no room to breathe? Have you placed a list of chores on the altar of life, forgetting what God wants most is our hearts?

I have. I am guilty. But thanks be to God, his mercies are new every morning.

It is never to late to realign our priorities, to make a change or create a new beginning. Today is the day.

Fan the flame.

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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, and Facebook.

6 Verses About Second Chances

Second Chance

Lately, I have been speaking one word over my family “Presence.”

I have been telling myself:
“Don’t let your mind wander.”
“Stay active and involved.”
“Pour out love.”
“Give space for calm.”
“Cease worry.”
“Give your best.”

My intentions are good, but the outcomes have been lousy. Days go haywire, accidents happen, kids scream, family irritates, pressures arise, crises happen, distractions lure, people call, I divert my attention, I get frustrated, I speak in a mean kind of way, I demand action, I get terribly afraid, I push people away and then I feel horrible.

I walk out of the day head down.
Face dejected.
Self-doubt metastasizing.
Abilities deteriorating.
1,205,200 fails plus 1.
Jail cell number: 201 please.
I won’t come out until I act better.
I won’t return until I figure things out.

Each fail is another stripe added to my uniform of transgression. It is another weight that both declares who I am and what I cannot seem to do. It is another lash I add onto my back.

Have you ever done the same?

Have you ever confined yourself to a cell God never put you in?

Those who lean in to growth, often fall down into defeat.
Those who try, and try and try again are clay ducks for the devil. “Bang! Gotta stop her!”
Those who do bad, usually feel that they deserve punishment.
Those who walk into new, usually hit the barrier of old habits so they can climb over to freedom.

I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. Ro. 7:15

I am not alone.
If Paul didn’t get his lousy behavior, I guess it gives me some permission not to get mine.
I guess it gives me some permission to say, “Agh! I hate that I do this. God help.”

And God does, he helps with 6 truths like these:

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 1 Jo. 1:9

But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Ro. 5:8

If I confess, God suppresses my offense.

I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world. Jo. 16:33

But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus… Eph. 2:4-6

While it appears worldly transgressions stand over us,
we sit on – and over them – with Christ in the heavenlies.

But you, O Lord, are a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness. Ps. 86:15

“Who is a God like you, pardoning iniquity and passing over transgression for the remnant of his inheritance? He does not retain his anger forever, because he delights in steadfast love.” Mi. 7:18

There is not a thing that can make God change a thing about his character.

He is who he is and who he is – slow to anger, abounding in love, faithful, steadfast, delighting in giving.

Even when we say: For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. Ro. 7:15

Then, the neurons connect, the forces of truth collide and we realize something very powerful:
Paul didn’t hate himself – he hated what he did.

Paul might have hated the act –
but didn’t let that become a chance to react in complete defeat.

He didn’t allow his injury to become his identity. Christ’s blood was his permanent marking.
He didn’t erase who God said he was. He acknowledged who he is prone to be – and do – without him.
He didn’t throw down his uniform and give up his life – he made his jail cell an open door for the gospel to flow.
He didn’t cast himself into punishment for his past transgressions, he claimed his grace and freedom in Christ.

Isn’t God calling us to the same?

When we know who and whose we are, we live in a way where we nod at failure and move on to progress.  We say, “I am not perfect, but I am growing. I am thinking about things that count, that are good, that are noble and trustworthy and valuable and right – and you know what, that is worth something.”

Then we pray: God, I can’t do anything without you. I can’t find the first door to progress without your wind of help behind me. Come to my rescue. Lead me on. As if I am a blind baby, come, pick me up and take me to where you want me to go. Keep my self far and keep selflessness close, for then I know I will find my way. Thank you that you can’t give up on me. Thank you that you will never abandon me to my self-confined chamber of torture – the one where I am mark myself convicted by my own mind. You are rescuer, redeemer and restorer. You are the remaker of old things and you do not despise new beginnings. I thank you. I serve you. May I forgive others as you forgive me. Amen.

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The Hidden Good in the Bad

Good in the Bad

I tried my best. I put my whole heart into it.
I sought God and followed him.
I didn’t give up despite the big barriers.
I kept my focus and kept going…
Only to hit hard times.

Ever noticed, how when you give your all,
all of a sudden, you somehow start to believe – 
God should give his all too?

Silently, longingly and righteously you start to say things like:
“I did my part. Now, you better do yours.”
“You helped me through. Now bring me all the way.”
“You are giving me this? I have done good by you.”

Somehow, I believe my following, trusting and abiding with him DESERVES some sort of sundae with a cherry on top (don’t miss the hot fudge, God) – from him. That is the sticking point. 

God’s blessings are not dictated by our demands.
God’s blessings are always good, but not always easy.
God’s blessings are given and not demanded.
God’s blessings are unearned and, often, unexpected.

Perhaps, God doesn’t always payback hard work,
because he wants to payout the better gift.

Think of Mary.

Just a young girl, did she ever expect an angel to visit her from high? Likely not. Blessing.
Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favor with God.  Jesus. Lu. 1:30

Might she have thought having a baby, unwedded, was more of a curse than a blessing? Perhaps, but again it was a blessing.
You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus. Lu. 1:31

Might she have been let down by the fact that ultimately Jesus was less great and more humble? He was a King nailed up against a cross. Still – a blessing.
He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High…his kingdom will never end. Lu. 1:32

What we see as unusual, unwanted and often unwarranted –
are often unknown blessings in the process of being baked to done.

Done to the point where:

  1. Things spiritual are cemented forever. Jesus reigns over earthly forever.
  2. Wars are won as people are pressed against difficult. Jesus proclaims it is finished – man will be saved from themselves.
  3. Things of darkness are trampled on. Jesus put everything underneath his feet; he stands above it all.
  4. Lives are saved. The Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many. Mt. 20:28
  5. God is glorified. Jesus cried out in a loud voice, Father, into my hands I commend my spirit. Mt. 23:46
  6. You are changed. Whoever says he abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which he walked. 1 Jo. 2:6

Blessings can look like nails. They can also feel like crosses being carried. Yet, at the end of the day, what springs forth from the winter of cold agony is the warmth of new Spring – overflowing with Christ’s majesty and strength.

The LORD reigns, He is clothed with majesty; The LORD has clothed and girded Himself with strength; Indeed, the world is firmly established, it will not be moved. Ps. 93:1

The cross was an unusual, often unwanted and unwarranted (for a perfect lamb), but it was a blessing that would change the tides of the earth forever. 

As Mary’s love was being nailed to the cross, as he cried out as and as she likely wondered why it all had to lead to this – she was being blessed.

What seems to be nailing you? Might it actually be blessing you?

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When God Makes Your Bad Day Worse

Bad Day

Faith is easy when life is simple.
Faith is tested when life gets infested.
Infested with: trials, trauma, ticks, testing, tainted people, tiny bank accounts, T-Cell Cancer

Then, we start to lose our marbles, we run after them as they spread left and right and downhill and diagonally. We think that somehow they are our source of pleasure, our primary need, our must haves to stay in this competitive game called life.  When they go wild, we go wild. We zig and we zag, frantic with the what ifs, the how comes and the if onlys. We run tired with metastasized doubt.

Just the other day, my bag spilled out.
Kids were going to bathroom in places they never should go.
Water was being poured faucet-to-floor.
Shoes were being protested as we headed out the door.
Bad news was arriving via telephone.

Later, I sat in my car, zoned, and seeking: “Dear Lord, please help me right now. Send me some encouragement that will uplift my heart.”

I stared out the front windshield, a tad dazed, yet I still saw it, a beacon of hope, a blessing in the making and a little valentine from God – I was sure this card tucked under the wiper was the answer to all my days wrongs.

“God, this must be it. What is on that card, you have written for me, to encourage me. Please Lord, let it be.”

I plucked the card out and, with excitement, read it, sure of my oncoming peace. But, what it said shocked me, it nearly broke me, “Alert: You park like an idiot.”

bad day

And, boom! There it was, the hammer that broke the frozen dam of pent up wild, the final condemnation I needed to lose and the final word on what was already written up as horrendous day.

Have you ever been there? Just needing a little pat on the back, only to get a great whack?

What I never considered, until I got the chance to consider how much of a parking idiot I really am, is that no one ever really knows our situation.

While that person placed a card on my windshield to help all mankind, they had no idea that a man of my kind was near her breaking point. They had no idea that I parked the car like that because kids will not be able to open the backdoor if the car is too close. They had no idea that leaving two littles in the center of a crazy parking lot to back up and load them in is frankly idiotic.  They had no idea that my head was going to explode from the pressure of all the marbles that were already hitting all the walls of discouragement.

How often do I judge someone before I know?

How often do I see bad moves and curse the person
for not moving another way?

How often do I miss the chance to love and lift
for a decision to kill and destroy?

That person had the chance to change my whole day for the better, I bet they had no idea.

All the same, in that moment, for a split second, another marble came loose. It was the marble with the name God on it, for a split-second it started to roll – away, far far away.

I watched it.
Would I get it?
Not sure.

And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. Ro. 8:28

I know this verse, but sometimes it is hard to believe this verse. Sometimes it is hard to live in the eye of tornado and still keep an eye on truth.

Truth like:
God cares less about wiping our feelings clean and more about wiping our souls clean.
God sometimes let’s us go through the fire, so we get a chance to see the miraculous undoing of our self. 
God is holding our heart, even when we lose heart.
More important than earthly mayhem is spiritual peace. Mania makes us motivated to find it.
People don’t drive our standing in God’s Kingdom, Jesus did.

If I stop chasing marbles, I start to get back into God’s game. I start to think strategy, promises and peace to myself. I start to find life abounding in the face of myself rebounding.

I start to think of how all this bad is made for all God’s good.

I start to feel calm again, steady and ready to stick solidly to all that really matters in this world.

Sense starts to boil up from all the nonsense – and that is enough for me.

Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. James 1:2-3

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5 Ways Your Faith is Tricking You

Your Faith is Tricking You

There is under-the-table game you cannot see.
Its aim is to trick you, to train you and to teach you in ways other than Christ’s.

You think you are doing good,
because good you try to do,
but the only good you really do is for you. TRICKED.

You are too busy with life,
to find life in the Word. TRICKED.

You let people consume your time,
then you find no time with God. TRICKED.

You believe the more you control your world,
the more your world won’t batter you. TRICKED.

You believe your yesterday is at work to invalidate
the love God is showering on you today. TRICKED.

You believe that you can’t be forgiven,
for forgiveness could never cover the vast sea of your wrongs. TRICKED.

You believe that all joy, riches and happy days should follow Christians. TRICKED.

You seek knowing and loving the blessings over the blesser. TRICKED.

You are so much better than that other sinful man. TRICKED.

You cling, like a mother with a delinquent child, to avoidance and denial rather than crying out to your maker. TRICKED.

When we seek after rainbow, puppy dog and flower Christianity,
we end up loaded with cute things, but far from Jesus.

As a result, our heart holds bitterness and anger at the one who failed us. We see God as a failed Santa, rather than a gracious father. We see God as a punisher rather than a lover. We see God as an acquaintance, rather than a trusted confidante.

There are some hard lines to Christianity – and rather than tiptoe around them as if they don’t exist, sometimes, just sometimes, it is valuable to take a deep and hard look at them to say, “This is what I am called to and, heart, please follow through. God help me.”

5 Ways We Need to Get Real with Faith

– 1. As Jesus called the disciples to leave treasure behind, we must leave behind treasure that stands above the riches we find in Christ.  

“Do not get any gold or silver or copper to take with you in your belts—  no bag for the journey or extra shirt or sandals or a staff, for the worker is worth his keep. Mt. 10:9-10

– 2. Expect to find unexpected persecution.  

You will be hated by everyone because of me, but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved.” Mt. 10:22

– 3. If you can’t stand or speak in the face of pain, the Spirit will give you the words.

At that time you will be given what to say,  for it will not be you speaking, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you.” Mt. 10:19-20

– 4. People will hate you.

You will be hated by everyone because of me, but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved.” Mt. 10:22

– 5. Standing firm in faith, means standing in joy in heaven. 

“Whoever acknowledges me before others, I will also acknowledge before my Father in heaven. But whoever disowns me before others, I will disown before my Father in heaven.” Mt. 10:33

Dying to self, means coming alive to Christ.

“To live is Christ and to die is gain.” Phil. 1:21

When we keep our eyes, not on the sleight of hand, but on the hand of God – we see that we can endure to the end with his help. We see that there are tricks, traps and talks set to deter us. We see we must “be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves,” (Mt. 10:16) so that we can be sure that no one deceives us. (Mt. 24:4)

We get real about faith and we are equipped to really stand to the end.

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Surviving Holiday Drama

Holiday Drama

We are all gathered around the table. I can’t keep my eyes off the pumpkin pie, the mashed potatoes, and the creamed corn. I want to devour it all. My mouth is watering.

But, as I smile, as I look, as I sit, deafening sounds quickly pull me out of my delightful daydream, and throw me back into reality. A storm is brewing. Someone is annoyed – again. Agitated -yet again. Frustrated – just like last year.

Who knows what irritated them! It could be one of many things – drinks weren’t served fast enough, a rude piercing reply was launched or a digging question was fired over the table. The “why” is not of as much concern as “how” this sinks my holiday south.

Joy stolen.
Agitation mounting.
Disappointment abounding.

Why can’t we give thanks in peace?

Why can’t we all get along?

Why does it feel that we have to endure holiday rather than enjoy it?

This is should be a time of thankfulness – of gladness – not a time of madness.

Thanksgiving and Christmas are days we expect to be perfect gems of sparkle, joy and peace. Somehow, we think, because we control the preparations, the decorations and conversations, everyone should meet our expectations. But, when they don’t, we tend to get bloated with disappointment.

Yet, God calls us to enjoy this day, rather than endure it. He calls us to leave perfect in the kitchen to embrace imperfect at the table, so we don’t end up hiding in the bathroom with tears.

5 Tips to Survive Holiday Chaos:

1. Seek to embrace verses erase the person in need.

Jesus ran to the people in need. His heart was inclined to those in pain. He didn’t demand, but gave his best.

But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (Romans 5:8)

Sit under the shade of the cross. Then you will find compassion for the meaningless jabs, frustrating arguments and aggravating words. Heck, you might even see you are just as sinful as they.

2. Be truly thankful – for both the yummy and the yucky of life.

I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. (Phil. 4:12)

True thankfulness takes abundance and scarcity, trials and triumphs, jerks and joy – and gives thanks no matter. Why? Because all are from the Lord. All have a purpose. All are meant to refine.

3. A storm may brew, but without a doubt, God will bring you through.

For I am the LORD your God who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you. (Is. 41:13)

It’s ok to feel weak, but unnecessary to feel ruined because God stands ready to help. Call out to God. He waits to run to your rescue.

4. Know you stand secure, no matter what others do.

For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers. neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Ro. 8:38-39).

People can do what they are going to do. But, none of this impacts our standing with Christ. We are in Him. We are secure. We are loved. We are a new creation. If we stand in Christ, we can’t stand outside of him.

5. Find a heart of thanks for the burnt food.

True gratefulness is not just being thankful for all the delicious pickings, but also for the burnt food. If we have food – or family to complain about – we are already blessed. We are blessed with the perfect, but also with the imperfect. Why? Because through the imperfect, we see our need for a Savior. Through our failings, our trials and our frustrations, we find hope in One who is greater than these things.

God makes imperfect burnt food taste delicious when we see it for what it is – an undeserved gift.

That’s why I take pleasure in my weaknesses, and in the insults, hardships, persecutions, and troubles that I suffer for Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong. (2 Cor. 12:10)

Bonus Tip (consider it your second helping): Realize it is impossible to control others.

We can’t control things. We can only control ourself. And, no one can take our spirit of thanks away, without us allowing them to do it. No one can steal our heart – unless we allow them to.

When we stop looking for everyone to be perfect, we can start enjoying them for who they truly are.

When our standards aren’t higher than the twinkle-lighted roof, we can see people’s hearts, history and pains.

And, we sometimes, can even empathize and minister to them.

So, this holiday season, let’s celebrate and see all that we have – burnt food and pickings. People will always disappoint – and we will disappoint people. No one is perfect – except One. But, the ultimate truth is that God’s grace never ends. It nourishes us when the spread leaves us hungry for more love.

Let’s lay this truth on the table so we can pass, dish and eat up all the goodness of grace – in our own hearts and towards the hearts of others.

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When Friends Turn The Unfamiliar Into Home

Post by: Christy Mobley

There we sat, my husband and I, uncomfortable in the unfamiliar.

We were in an unfamiliar class in an unfamiliar church, with unfamiliar people in an unfamiliar city.

Hubby and I had just moved away from twenty years of comfortable and I was desperate for a friend to help me get from the prickly new to the worn and smooth feeling of home.

So while I looked like I was listening intently to the Sunday school lesson being taught, my eyes were actually discreetly scanning the room. Much like a woman scans a shoe department for a good-looking, well- fitting pair of shoes, I was shopping for a friend.

Ah ha! The right side of the room held promise. On the end of a row perpendicular to mine sat a lady in a “smart” suit wearing classic pearls. I thought to myself, she and I could be friends. Her articulate answers and slow southern draw sweetened the package.

Yes, classic-pearl lady was friend material and after class I would go introduce myself and ask her to meet me for lunch the following week.

That was the plan

Proverbs 19:21 “ You can make many plans but the Lord’s purpose will prevail.” NLT

On the opposite side of the room sat a lady with spiky blonde hair (with one strand of purple in front) and with a thick Rhode Island accent she asked the Sunday school teacher … well, a lot of questions. She reminded me of the kid in school who always held us up from recess, and that irritated me.

I thought to myself, she’s not my type. We have nothing in common. Spiky-hair lady and I will never be friends.

1 Samuel 16:7b, “…The Lord doesn’t see things the way you see them. People judge by outward appearance, but the Lord looks a the heart.” NLT

After class, David and I went to grab lunch.

We arrived at a restaurant a short ride from the church, a trendy place that was beyond crowded.

There was no available seating except at a six-top where two people were already seated. The pair were none other than Mary, the spiky-hair lady, and her husband, Craig. They spied us searching for a seat and waved us over to join them.

As we shared and broke bread together or more accurately the best flatbread pizza in the world, we discovered, even though we didn’t necessarily mutually agree on style, the four of us melded on matters of the heart. We had a hunger for Jesus, a desire for authenticity and a feeling of being displaced.

You see, even though Mary and Craig had been living there for three years, like us they felt restless. It was as if God had another place for them to be and they were in a holding pattern. If Mary had owned a pair of ruby-red slippers she would have surely tapped them together and chanted, “There’s no place like home, there’s no place like home.” But neither Craig nor Mary were sure where the feeling of home was.

From that day forward because of what we shared in common, God forged in us a deep and lasting friendship. Mary and Craig became like family. Our hearts blended together like warm bread and butter.

At the end of three years, doors opened for David and I to return to Jacksonville.

Oddly enough within a few months of us leaving, God pointed Craig and Mary to Seattle Washington where they found their resolve.

A multitude of God things took place during the three years we lived in Tampa not the least of which was our friendship with the spiky-hair lady, and her husband Craig.

I’m not writing this story to school you on choosing friends (though this is a good lesson on what not to do!) but to say, as believers we are all on mission for God and sometimes that means we find ourselves serving in the unfamiliar.

If and when you find yourself there, in the dwelling of the new and prickly, let me encourage you, the God who hears your cries and sees you heart, will fill your needs as he promises in Philippians 4:19…

“My God will will meet all your needs
according to the riches of his glory.” 

And that includes providing a friend who will help you get from the uncomfortable space to the well-worn place that feels like home.

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Purposeful Faith Contributor

Christy is a wife, mother, writer, mentor, and Life Purpose Coach. She is passionate about encouraging women to move forward, and press on through their struggles, seeking God’s presence in every bump and turn in the road.

You can find Christy at Joying in the Journey, Twitter, and Facebook.

5 Ways You (Inadvertently) Fight Off God

Fight Off God

I don’t know about you, but if someone was to ask me, I would say, “Yes, I want more of God.”

In fact, I would probably even go on to tell them, “I want God’s everything. I want to be so close to him. I want to draw near.”

And this is the truth. But, in a way, it is also a lie. Because I notice I play other tricks with God – tricks where I motion one hand, saying, “Come close”, all the while holding one arm out saying, “Stay back.”

It’s like my inside is at war with my outside, which truly I guess it is – and this is the point.

For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever you want. Gal. 5:17

Do you call for God to come near, all the while fearing that he may?

When we step back to see the war for what it really is, we see it. This tug of war is truly our greatest fight, our ultimate conflict and the most important war of our lives.

Will we fight to win or lay back and prepare to lose?

5 Ways We Get in a Tug-of-War Against God

1. The Spirit tugs: stay close to God.
The flesh tugs: you can’t trust him.

Come near to God and he will come near to you. Ja. 4:8

2. The Spirit tugs: Believe He can heal, help and harness what is coming against you.
The flesh tugs: God wouldn’t do something that amazing for me.

Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us. . . Eph. 3:20

3. The Spirit tugs: Open your real heart, so God can do real work in you.
The flesh tugs: Run from vulnerability, God will hate you.

I think of God, and I moan, overwhelmed with longing for his help. Ps. 77:3

4. The Spirit tugs: Listen to my small voice – and obey – and you will find your way.
The flesh tugs: That is too hard, too inconvenient and too uncomfortable.

He replied, “Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and obey it.” Lu. 11:28

5. The Spirit tugs: God’s change is the beginning of your hope.
The flesh tugs: Run from change, it will change everything good about your life.

There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. 1 Jo. 4:18

When we let God in, he changes everything within.

When we lay down walls, he plows through with a mission of love.
When we break what keeps us stuck, we trample over the past with a vengeance. 
When we let him in – to see through his eyes – we start to see compassion and faith anew.
When we unarm, he arms us in indwelling truth.
When we seek his face, we are staggered by it.
When we come undone, he undoes the pain we have walked in for so long.
When we let him plow the fields of ruin, we find new buds of life forming.
When we back into his loving arms, we crash into hope – straight up hope.
When we realize we can’t do it without him, we start to see that we can do it.
When we bare the ugly, he makes it beautiful.

When we live intimate with God, we start to imitate God.

From the ends of the earth, I cry to you for help when my heart is overwhelmed.  Psalm 61:2

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The Myth Of Control

I am more than delighted to welcome a true woman of the Lord, Karina, to the Purposeful Faith blog. From the minute I met her, I could see love, joy and passion written all over her. Karina is an example of transparency and authentic pursuit of God. I couldn’t be more happy to have her on Purposeful Faith as a regular contributor. I hope you enjoy her heart as much as I do.

Post by Karina

I have this struggle. I’m sure I am probably the only person who struggles with this issue. I kind of, sort of, maybe, like to be in control. Just a little bit. When a say a little, I mean a lot!

The last 6 months or so have been a bit paradoxical in nature. What I mean is that many amazing things have happened to me! I went out of town several times, have had a few exciting writing opportunities, connected with dear friends and met some new ones! During those exact same months, I have been searching for a roommate. I’m 35 and single and living alone is ridiculously expensive. I normally have a sense from God in which direction to go in when making decisions, but this time around, I had no direction.

I, under no circumstances, like the way that feels! I did my part. I exhausted every avenue to find a roommate and searched high and low for other housing. Nothing made sense. Countless options came and went. No other housing option fit my budget. Again, still no direction. My sweet friend Holly prayed for me one night a couple of months ago after small group. She told me the Lord wanted me to know that this situation was not my fault. I hadn’t done anything wrong. That filled me with such peace and yet still, there was no direction.

Over the past few weeks, the Lord has been so faithful to remind me of the truths that I so easily forget.

For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord.
For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.
Isaiah 55:8-9

God is God. I am not. He is omniscient.

He know all things…the past, the present and the future. His timing and mine are rarely the same thing. After all, He is the one who created time itself. I can effortlessly believe the lie that what I see is all there is or that my time line is perfect. That is NEVER the case. There is a great deal happening in the supernatural that I cannot see and may never see. I am learning to embrace the mystery in knowing God and trusting His ways and His heart especially when I can’t see Him at work.

And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good,
for those who are called according to his purpose.
Romans 8:28

The never changing truth is that God loves me deeply and He loves you deeply. What He does or doesn’t do, what He says or doesn’t say is always for our good. That is what He does and who He is as our Heavenly Father. He doesn’t send pain or suffering or doubt or confusion. Every good and perfect gift comes from Him. When our circumstances are not good and perfect, it breaks His heart. And His desire is to come in and bring healing, purpose and restoration to our lives. I am learning to let Him do just that.

Are you? Is there an area of your life where you have been believing the myth that you are in control?

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Karina is a devoted follower of Jesus from New Orleans, Louisiana, but has made her home in Baton Rouge for the past 15 years. She spends much of her time leading worship at church, writing, reading, dancing and mentoring the next generation. She has a huge heart for serving and missions. She is an advocate for the local church especially the one that she attends, Healing Place Church. She also enjoys working out, traveling, photography and going to concerts/conferences.

Karina believes that every woman has a God-sized dream on the inside of them and it is up to an encouraging community to help nurture that dream. Her goal in writing is to see women get a revelation of God’s Word and discover how to apply it to their lives in order to walk in freedom and live the life that God intended. But the most important thing to her is to live out the call of Isaiah 26:8…For His Name and His Renown are the desire of our souls! You can connect with her at “For His Name and His Renown.”