Purposeful Faith

Category - devil

Fight Trials Like Jesus

Fight Trials Like Jesus

What if Jesus was ready to redefine the way you endure hardships?
Would you listen?

What if – rather than trying to run from that tsunami of terror,
you were to find some peace as you head into it?

For me, it sounds kind of crazy, because normally when I see trials on the horizon I ball up like a hundred and one rubber bands balled up and ready to break at the same time. My tension is high, my anticipation is big and my worries run fast.

Jesus though, didn’t run from what threatened him, he threatened what tried to make him run.  We may not think of Jesus as an aggravator or a reprimander, but hold tight, because in one way his strategy was just this.

Before we get into that, Jesus teaches us much about resetting our mindset when we are being set up to be torn down.

Here’s how his ways can restructure ours:

People hated Jesus for no reason. Jo. 15:25
He said they will hate us too.

God had the power to save him from suffering through prayer. Mt. 26:42
Prayer is the one door that never closes. When we walk through it we always find God.

His “kingdom did not belong on here.” Jo. 18:36
When we know our true home, we don’t get as concerned when our earthly one gets ransacked.

He had complete authority, always and at every minute. Jo. 19:11
When we know that Jesus is in complete control, suddenly we realize he holds the handle on all that wants to sweep us under.

“I have told you this to make you as completely happy as I am.” Jo. 15:11
If Jesus could find some happiness in the road leading to death, we can too.

Jesus knew he was under control of the one completely in control.

To walk Jesus’ walk, we have to walk, like him, doubtless and faith-full.

I get Jesus’ approach, because every time I let the doubts creep in, the faith creeps out.

The devil said,

“If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread.”
“If you are the Son of God,” he said, “throw yourself down.
“All this I will give you,” he said, “if you will bow down and worship me.”

The devil challenged Christ’s ability, status and loyalty.

Do you ever feel challenged in doubts of what you can do,
what God can do for you and how he will get you through?

Jesus, doesn’t stick around playing games with these kinds of words, these change agents of faith, instead he fights back by:

1. Using the word of God as his best weapon.
“It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’” Mt. 4:4

2. Telling what is bad, what is full of questions about God, to move aside.
Away from me, Satan! Mt. 4:10

3. Knowing who is in control of all control that ever controlled and that will control.
For it is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.’” Mt. 4:10

When the devil started to show Jesus a way out of the trial, Jesus knew, sometimes the calling is through the fire. He wasn’t going to sit around while his strength was depleted.

Even when the man after God’s own heart, Peter, spoke doubts as he pulled Jesus aside, Jesus spoke: “Satan, get away from me! You are thinking like everyone else and not like God.” Mk. 8:33

If we think like God, God will help us think in a way where we endure, where we make it, where we aren’t burdened, but blessed by our trials.

He will get us through.
He will hold our hand.
He will fight on our behalf.
He will pave a way to eternity.
He will lead us in all truth.
He will hold us on the pillow of his love.
He will not leave our side.

Let’s fight back like Jesus.

When we do, we will see, like Jesus that:

God is for endurance and the devil is for discouragement.
Doubts pull us away from our mission, yet faith commissions.
The Word of God is the Word that helps.
God’s control, brings our heart under control.

Fight trials like Jesus. Go in his faith. Know that God is with you.

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5 Lies You Believe (Yet May Not Realize)

lies you believe

What if I told you that as you walked outside there was a predator looming in your bushes? He not only wanted to take a bite of your skin, but entirely rip it off – savor it and devour it.

Sound creepy? Yes, I completely realize it does.

But, if this were the case, would you keep your eyes a little more open?
Might you look a little more left and right?
Prepare yourself in case of attack?

Might you do everything you could to find out who had the power to get rid of this creeper?

Of course you would.

But, do you?

Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. 1 Pet. 5:8

Usually, we live more like busy-bodies than watch dogs.

We don’t look up – or around – we only look down – at our iPhones. 

We look to our extensive to-do’s, rather than our exponential God.
Destination rules on high.

Feelings of worthlessness, uselessness and hopelessness often whip us around.
Meanwhile, we don’t see the abuser standing next to us.

He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies. Jo. 8:44

When the devil lies, he often makes us lie down in defeat.  Are you discerning is voice?

5 Lies the Devil Wants you To Believe (and you usually do)

1. God doesn’t really love you that much.
How could a god that big, love one who is so small?

Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. Jo. 15:3
God’s love is the only thing that is always permanent and always present.

2. Your scars of the past will always blind your eyes in shame (abortion, alcohol, depression, anger, mental issues, insecurity).
You messed up so bad, you’re marked as forever bad.

He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds. Ps. 147:3
God doesn’t blind us with what we did wrong, he binds us up in what he did right.

3.  You will be destroyed by your circumstances, your relationships and your trials.
That thing is going to take you down and ruin your life; you won’t be okay.

The Lord is on my side; I will not fear. What can man do to me? Ps. 118:6
If God is on your side, you are on the winning side – walk in His stride.

4. You deserve no trials.
A good god would never let you hit bad trials.

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” Jo. 16:33
Your good God knows bad trials will make you even better.

5.  The bible doesn’t really say that. That would negatively impact your happy meter.
God wants all happy, happy, joy, joy feelings for you – go and get it (under breath: you spoiled little brat). Consume it – the world is your oyster.

And he said to all, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. Lu. 9:23
God doesn’t say consume, he says exhume your ways and reassume his.

The devil almost always says, “God can’t – and you can’t – unless you can –  with sin. The world will eat you up, the bible will fake you out and your past will kick you out of God’s purpose.”

The devil offers: same lie, different day.
But we have: the same God, everyday.

Our best defense is knowing God is on offense.

God is not human, that he should lie,
    not a human being, that he should change his mind.
Does he speak and then not act?
    Does he promise and not fulfill?
​Nu. 23:19

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Where Are My Blessings, God?

where are my blessings

That girl has it together.
She has what counts.
She speaks, and people listen.
She lights the room.
And blesses so many.
Who am I?

That girl, she is special.
She must be God’s favorite.
She must be the apple of his eye.
He really loves her.
Who am I?

Look how he blessed her.
Who am I?

Who am I if God doesn’t show me that I am worth something?

Who am I if God doesn’t push me a little bit further ahead than her?

Do I still count?

Sometimes, we look at our faith walk, like a race of worth. Sometimes we look at our blessings as medals of accomplishments.

It only looks like we are winning when we are not losing.

Do you ever feel this way?

Imagine for a moment, if the disciples had let this kind of thinking creep in.

If Peter looked at John to say,
“If you are beloved, I am not loved.”

If Elizabeth looked at Mary to say,
“You birthed Jesus, my womb is now worthless.”

If Jesus turned to his father to say,
“You reign higher, my lowly position has no place.”

How would Christianity look today?

Might living this way send us down a similar road as Satan? A road of orphanhood?

I praise God that these movers and shakers of faith didn’t move away and shake frozen in their boots – as God chose to bless some and not others.

Sure, the disciples had their moments, “A dispute also arose among them as to which of them was considered to be greatest.” Lu. 22:24

I have these moments too. I have moments where I want that girl’s stuff so badly. But, I am realizing that my needy declarations are, more than often than not, just proud questions demanding his marks of approval.

Questions like: “God do you love me?  Do you count me worthy enough to bless me too? Why are you forgetting me and exalting her?”

I kind of want to be God’s favorite loved child. Do you?

I kind of want to finally secure my place in his eyes.  I want people to think, “that’s the girl God blesses.”

I am prone to think my blessings count me worthy,
but God says – and always says –
my son has already marked you approved.

He was marked, to forever mark me  – loved.

He has saved us and called us to a holy life–not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace. This grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time 2 Tim. 1:9

God pursues our holiness, many times, on our behalf; he knows what is best for our heart, our needs and our spiritual development.

He looks at his gifts to us, much like we look at ones for our children, likely asking,
“Will it delight them or spoil them?” 

“‘My son,’ the father said, ‘you are always with me, and everything I have is yours. Lu. 15:31

He is less concerned with the everyday, all the time blessings because he knows, everything he has is already ours.

He is not so much interested in playing into our insecurities, he is interested in healing them.

I wonder, do we realize, just like the lost son at home with his father,
that we aren’t missing out on anything? 

That the whole time, even though a brother strayed and was blessed,
we already had everything we needed to begin with?

Jesus never sets a value on one child over another.

All the same, all the time, equally adored, accepted and loved, he waits with arms wide open for: the losers, the winners, the victorious, the downtrodden, the proud, the humble, the rich, the poor, the sinful and the less sinful, the loved and the unloved.

He doesn’t have super-pipes of one-directional love. His love flows unhindered, ungated, unrestricted, all the time, into all the hearts that need his love, his gifts, his blessings and his perfect ways.

We are all worthy, every moment of every day, because Jesus Christ was crucified, covered, guarded, uncontained, glorified and magnified.

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Updates for #RaRalinkup Friends:
1. Visit this Thursday when Abby McDonald will share another powerful sucker punch to the devil’s work.
Don’t miss it!
2. Join us on the #RaRalinkup Facebook page for an almost daily dose of encouragement.
3. Attending She Speaks? Sign up for the #RaRalinkup breakfast.

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Denying Discouragement

Denying Discouragement

It’s days like these that can really cause havoc…

Days where these kids head to time-out, over and over, despite the repeated talks on love.
Days when work doesn’t work-out.
Days when the marriage just goes off kilter.
Days when friendships irk.
Days when finances continue to dwindle.
Days when God doesn’t immediately show up. Days that can turn into weeks…

It’s days like these when you wonder
why in the world things don’t work better when you are working so hard?

It’s days like these that compel your heart to want to give up, to run and hide.

Why is it that the train-wreck days sometimes
 seem far easier to get over than these kind of slow-gnaw-type-of-days?

At least with the train-wreck days, you can clean up the toys at the end of the day and start over with a clean slate. You can file these days away in the “once-in-a-blue-moon” cabinet knowing they won’t repeat too soon.

But, slow-gnaw days are called faith-busting day. Over time, they cut your faith away.

They make you question your worth, your heart, your value, your plans, and your God.

They make me lay in the bed, look up at the ceiling, and say, “Why do I even try, God. When are you coming through? What do I have to do?”

We tend to think that way, don’t we?

That for some reason, we are responsible to fix the hand of God.

As if our actions are the precursor to his decisions.  

Who owns the hand of God – HIM or me?

Yet, I think of another who had a serious loss of heart. I think of another who had a series slow-gnaw days that could have eaten him alive – if he let them.

Imagine hearing these words: But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail.  Luke 22:32
And then hearing this: “I tell you, Peter, before the rooster crows today, you will deny three times that you know me.” Lu. 22:34
Only to do this: “I don’t even know him!” Lu. 22:57

Might Peter thought, “I’d never! That day will never come! I am strong!” Likely.

But he did – 3 times he did. And he wept. Beyond that, I imagine the next days must have been excruciating as he, probably left in discouragement and despair, saw his savior crucified, dead and buried.

What happened to his purpose?

What use was his life, after in Jesus, he practically twisted the knife?

Peter’s actions must have gnawed worthlessness, pain and struggle.

But, Jesus never leaves the failures, the forgotten or the futureless.

Peter’s inability to stick it through in the moment didn’t disqualify him from Jesus’ love, neither did his past actions.

Nope. Remember this? “But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail.”  Luke 22:32
And, it didn’t.

How often do we arm ourself up with faith like Jesus did for Peter? His prayer was answered.

How often do we pray preemptively for war? We are at war.

I can only speak for myself, but with faith like mine,
I should make this prayer my living-mantra.

Because it worked for Peter who:

  • Was bound up in forgiveness and recommissioned by Jesus with the words: “Tend My sheep.”
  • Was filled by the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, to preach and lead 3000 to Christ.
  • First cried for himself, and later cried with passion for the church built above his foundation.
  • Spread the gospel far and wide with crazy love for his Savior.
  • Completed his life as the rock – to the point of death, not as sand – breaking under the pressure of life.

We think Jesus uses heroes, he often used the ones who felt like zeros.

We think it’s about perfection, but it’s simply about his resurrection.

We think Jesus looks for the perfect, but he always finds the willing.

We try to be faultless, but God grows the repentant faulted.

Peter was never disqualified because he doubted.

His days were never marked as fake and tossed out like bad meat
(we read his lessons time and time again).

He wasn’t left in the dust without a purpose or a cause.

He hit gnawing days, battling days and downright discouraging days, yet Jesus chose him, ate with him, replenished his heart and restored his mission so he could go awesome, outstanding and amazing distances for God’s glory.

He waits to do the same with us; Jesus waits to recharge us into his purpose.

What is really amazing is, after all was said and done, Peter, wasn’t just changed for himself, so he could reach some high-and-lofty goal like sitting at the right hand of God, or going before God, or looking good to man, but he was changed to one who learned to deny self (no matter the cost).

He became chief-tender over Jesus’ greatest love – the sheep, just as Jesus always believed he would.

Jesus said to Peter (pre-denial), “And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers.” Luke 22:32

And, Peter did.

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2 #RaRalinkup Updates:
1.  Sign up for the NEW Cheerleaders 4 Christ #RaRa Facebook group page (this is different than the prayer one I set up). We will be rolling out a new element to the #RaRalinkup that I want you to be a part of. Details are forthcoming soon. Join here.

2. RSVP for the #RaRalinkup breakfast at She Speaks. Exciting news, prizes and challenges will be shared at this event.

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Drowning in Inadequacy

Drowning in Inadequacy

Just yesterday, I watched my husband and son in the pool. For them, it was fun and games. Laughs flew left, water flew right, my son bounced up, yet all that splashed into my heart was fear. 

Cold, bitter, shiver-inducing fear.
Fear that erases smiles and creates armors of protection.
Fear that ruins snap-shot moments in families.

“I am not as good of a mother as he is a dad.”
“My son really doesn’t like being with me that much.”
“I stink at connecting.”
“I can’t seem to approach him right.”
“He will never love me.
“Let’s be honest, I am not really that good of a mother.”

Drenched with inadequacy, my fears were ready to send me out to fight or on a far-off flight.

All that seemed to bubble out of my heart was the idea that I am not lovable, not worthy and not good enough. It made me want to march right out to say, “Hey, what about me? Do you all even see me? I am good too! (imagine the hands on the hips)”

And, let me tell you, there would be consequences if I wasn’t acknowledged.

That’s how demands of “what about me” work.  These ploys serve as the antithesis, the foil and the opposite of love. They topple down opinions, values and truths of others to erect their own statues of needs.

They basically say:
Hey, you, it’s all about me.
If I can’t fill that hole inside me, I will beat around the bush until I get what I need.
You better or I’ll ___________ .
If all else fails, I’ll  simply shut down shop and take off!

Far from any cooler soaked victory, my feelings place me on the sidelines as if I play for team “better luck next time.”

Better luck, loser momma!

Why must I always be the winner? The SUPER MOM to the rescue?!

Perhaps, luck isn’t what I need, Jesus is.

It’s not super amazing, double with a half-twist dive into family praises that transforms me, but God’s entire wrapping over my life, my heart and all the steps I take. Because, the hard and fast truth is that some days, I will feel like a Super-loser (_____) (momma, worker, friend, spouse, sister, daughter, church member).

But, I can’t help but think that there are other loser _____s out there who need an understanding shoulder on which to rest their head. I know I need theirs. Because, there will be days, I won’t feel  good enough and there will be days they won’t be good enough too.

When we open up our hearts to share “I-am-not-good-enough” moments, they become the passing point to the love of Christ. It is as if the doors of the drawbridge open and Jesus sails straight through to our precise destination of need.

Yet, so often we shut this part down. We say, “I am a loser today, I better put on some makeup.”

But, Jesus never said he cared much for makeup. And, he doesn’t care much for us making ourselves over with fake products to get what we need. They don’t work to well at covering shame anyway!

Winning status’ aren’t on his play board either- unless it’s about pouring out the victory that has already been won in Christ.

He has heard our prayers, now he wants our heart.

Jesus, convicts my heart. The truth is it’s not about my feeling good, looking good or winning good, but it’s about you loving good through me.

“So those who are last now will be first then, and those who are first will be last.” Mt. 20:16

Jesus models this so well.

He takes the those limping like the least of these,
to make them the most of these.

He rides in on a donkey,
with the power of God behind him, to save the world.

He gets down onto a dirty floor, cuddles up next to the grime of another’s feet
and shows us the way.

Jesus never said, “Yo! Over here! See me! See my height, my stature, my awesomeness.”
He never said, “You better be perfect.”
He never said, “You will never feel bad.”

He simply says, “And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’  The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” Mark 12:30-31

So, as I start to put on that can-never-match-up cape, I hope I can stop to remember:

1. The Word of God drowns inadequacy with the promises of God.

2. Jesus tramples the idea that we should beat ourselves down for who we are today. He came to rescue us this way.

3. Less makeup = more chances to make up with our faith-floundering heart. Then, we can send it out to make up the world with the markings of Jesus’ love.

4. I would be a loser if it wasn’t for Jesus, but he stripped me of that status when he died on the cross, forever securing my title of “victorious in him.”

Bottom line: Jesus doesn’t care so much about feelings of superiority or even adequacy, as much as he does about his all-nourishing adequacy.

There is no one like him,
no one above him,
no one who can match him, or beat him or control him,
no other name reigns like his.

He is the everything of all we want to be…
he is the gate that opens to the humble road
that leads to the ultimate filling place of our deepest desires.

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Bloggers, are you attending She Speaks? Let’s meet for breakfast first thing Friday at the Embassy Suites (people not staying can still eat or have coffee there).

If you are going to She Speaks, there are 2 things to do:

1. Please RSVP here for the morning #RaRalinkup get together/breakfast.
2. Join the #RaRalinkup FB page to exchange more details and specifics.

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5 Ways to Fight the Tricks of the Devil (& 2 Min. Encouraging Video)

Join me for an encouraging word.

Get your week started off on the right track with this 2-minute encouraging video.

5 Ways to Fight the Tricks of the Devil

This past week, my eyes were on God, but it felt like my heart was being towed to Never Never Land. I didn’t want it go, but away it went. People, issues, problems, doubts, uncertainties and fears all came into sight, as my great God moved far from sight – into the horizon of peace, where I surely wasn’t.

Shame backfired in my heart, burning me with the thoughts, “You have issues. Big issues. God doesn’t value a girl like that. God has left you.”

Ahem. What?!

Now we all know that these words aren’t true.

But in the moment, lies seem as true as the rabbit that magically appears out of the hat,
don’t they?

Sometimes, in order to see truth,
we have to take a different position to see the reality of what is happening.

Then we get a chance to shift our mindset from the destructive power of feelings
to God’s instructive hand of healing.

We begin to see:

“You stink” is really sent from one who wants us to sink.
“Not enough,” is an attempt by the great thief to replace Gods’ “more than enough”.
Utterances excluding grace are like shots of mace sent to blind our face.

The devil loves to use fear as the springboard to inadequacy. Because then, he can plunge us into the ocean of shame, if we don’t step off that mind-dizzying, nausea-inducing board of agony quick enough.

God never condones oceans of condemnation.

For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. John 3:17

Knowing Christ never condemns helps me see the one who always does.

I don’t want to be listening to his lies.

5 Ways to Drive out Lies and to Drive in God’s Truth

1.  Determine which Father to serve. The father liar or Father God?

You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father’s desires…there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies.
Jo. 8:44

When we acknowledge our wrong direction, we can finally get on the right one.

2. Let God take his rightful standing. God is higher than opposition, man or my feelings.

But he turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a hindrance to me. For you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man.” Mt. 16:23

When we tell the devil to get back, we invite God to step forward.

3. Pledge allegiance to the one who has already claimed me. Allow the General of Love to rule over thoughts and actions.

I will no longer talk much with you, for the ruler of this world is coming.
He has no claim on me… Jo. 14:30

When we realize who has already claimed us, we also realize who has no claim on us.

4.  Get low to grow. So I don’t have a hard go.

Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Ja. 4:7

Submission leaves no permission for the devil to enter in. He flees.

5.  Recognize: what God sees goes much farther than me.

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,”
declares the LORD. Is. 55:8

The vantage point of God is all-knowing, all-powerful and just-right. His will will be done. We can fight by our might or let go by his will. The choice is ours.  

God is always waiting for us. His truth will always set us free.

As we break down God’s truth,
lies break down,
leaving space for God to breakthrough.

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Bloggers, be sure to join us tomorrow for the #RaRalinkup on Purposeful Faith. All are welcome.

Crack Shack to Love Shack to Judgement Free

Judgement free

This shack caught my eye. Roaming chickens looked for their next meal. A swing set made of tires and recycled metal stood as an eye-sore. Men congregated in chairs on top of a dirt yard. And, one man climbed through the side window as if it was his front door.

Is this a crack house?

That man hanging out by the front door, he must be out of work.

The woman, whose knees I could just barely see through the open front door, she must be baking in that 100 degree house with no A/C.

Then I saw her, a little girl. One much the own size and stature as my own little girl. One who would make your heart say, “Awww”. She came running out of the house with all her might and beelined to the play set next to my traffic-stopped car.  Her mom, rose from her sitting postion, chased her, swooped her deeply into her neck and gave her one giant love hug.

A mother, much like me.
A mother driven by love.
Overwhelmed with God’s gift of motherhood.

My heart instantly connected to this woman because her great love was apparent. It shone like the top of the Chrysler Building.

And it touched me.
It reached over the fence to say, “You may live miles away from this woman. You may live entirely differently, but you are still driven by the same thing LOVE.

By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another. John 13:35

Love is the universal language that meets all hearts.
You may not know what to say, but love does.

Love transcends the boundaries of society, etiquette and race.
It is the greatest wonder of the world.

Love tramples down the barrier of initial perception;
it is the amplifier of real connection.

This woman pierced my heart. We may live miles away – she in Costa Rica and me in the US. We may have entirely different lifestyles, me in comfort and she with little, but she was the one with the lesson to teach me.

She taught me that when I judge, and often when I feel badly for someone, there is pride hanging out under that hood. If I really take a hard look into my inner workings, there is a girl wanting to stand a little taller, be a little prouder and seem a little wiser.

There is a girl that says, “Too bad they aren’t like me.”

It may be disguised in a heart of service or care, but I should never fool myself into thinking I am the great giver. Because when I make the choice to stand above, rather than with, I lose the opportunity to let God work – in.

I wear the guise of power-girl instead of seeing God as power-full!

Where do you hold power, see your power and exert your power?

How might God be calling you to lay down your status of power,
to raise up the power of his cross?

Judgement is often derived from one who (knowingly or unknowingly) thinks they stand in the power position – or at least that is how it worked for me.

Judgement is:

1. an attempt to rise above our own weaknesses, so we feel better about ourselves.
Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? Mt. 7:3

2. self-mutilation.
Judge not, and you will not be judged; condemn not, and you will not be condemned; forgive, and you will be forgiven. Lu. 6:37

3. a quick-opinion on what could stand as a life-long struggle for another.
Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her. Jo. 8:7

4. a roadblock to the grace which is available to all hearts, at all times in all ways.
For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith–and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God. Eph 2:8

5. a prohibition of authenticity in our relationships.
We become fearful that others may smile and slap us in the face much in the same way we have done to others.

Judgement rides your worth high for a moment and then drops you in shame before you know it.  It puts an ocean of differences between two people who have much of the same mess, playing out in different ways.

We are all people on the great hunt for love.

We are all just crazy, sometimes lonely, often emotional, people
in search of something to bring us peace, hope and joy.

We are all searching, but if we are judging,
how can we help others to go about finding the answer – Jesus?

I don’t want to be so caught up in the wrongs of others, that I forget to reach them with the rights of Christ.

In this, I will never forget this woman, not because of where she lived, which is memorable, but because of how she loved. In that moment, I saw our great connection – she and I could be friends.

She taught me to see the things that are the same, to see the love and to make that the connection point.

I never expected to get this lesson from her, in this way, but, there are probably many who have gotten a lesson in pride along a trafficked road.

Did you like “Crack Shack to Love Shack to Judgement Free?”
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Rubbed Raw with Worry

raw with worry

When I saw it, I immediately knew something was wrong.

The A, B, Cs where there. I was anxious, burdened and out-of-control as I cast my eyes on what was asymmetrical, border-weird and color not-normal.

My days of laughs in the sun,
felt like they were being exchanged for tears at the mirror
as I looked at my back from every angle known by man.

The possibility of cancer, the pain of removal and the fear how long it had been there swung like a wrecking ball in my chest. Whatever was resurrected for Jesus, was all broken today.

Have you ever noticed that,
a heart that dwells on the looming possibilities of fear,
tumbles down the great possibilities of God?

I’ve noticed.

It’s a pack-up-your bags, furious move from residing under the shadow of God’s wing to living in a battle-soaked village of doom and gloom.

The more I looked at that mole, the more I knew I had to do something. So, I picked at it. Then, I started to rub. With no progress, I grabbed the great tool of exfoliating cream and dug into it.

This thing was coming off!
I rubbed some more…

Until all that remained was the bloodied marker of all that was threatening me
and an open sore filled with discouragement and embarrassment.

That’s how it is with worry, isn’t it?

The more we move the chair of our thoughts back and forth over that same spot,
the more we dig deep tracks of distrust into our heart.

We rub, and rub and rub – the same spot.

The more we dig deep these tracks of distrust,
the more we follow these ill-conceived tracks to illogical solutions.

We rub with exfoliating cream.

We ruin the floor of our faith with the imaginations of our future. We take action to things only God had the best action for.  What ruminates in our mind, dominates in our life.

Then we ask:

God, where are you? 
God, why did you let this happen? 
God, do you not care? 
God, are you going to let _____ happen?

It’s like we allow our all-powerful problems
convict our seemingly low-power god –
a god who is entirely lacking in the love department.

We get squinty-eyed at the one who loves us most. We do what we don’t want to do.

God, return my heart and my presence back to you. I am sorry.

Confession is the flashlight to clarity.

Worry doesn’t stop what destroys, it just steals joy.

Worry self-centers us. People, needs and ministry move to the outskirts.

Worry erases the idea that we are living for God’s glory, his plan and his will.
It makes invisible the prayer, “Thy Will be done.”

Worry is like a bouncy ball stuck in a box, it will keep you up all night and get you nowhere.

Worry places our eyes on our present problems, rather than our present God.

What do I really believe?

Do I believe God is an all-sufficient problem handler or
do I believe that he is absent, I am all alone, in the woods, by myself, fending against all my worst fears by the strength of my own might?

Is God the warrior or am I?

The truth is: God has us, he won’t let us go, he has a plan, he will bring us through all pain, he will provide for our every need, he will not forsake us, he will never let us go, he will not let our foot slip, he will pick us up if we fall, he will guide us through suffering as he has suffered, he will bring glory to our pain, he will lead others to know him through our trials.

But the real question is, do I believe this deep down -where it counts?

Hearts that believe God is good, give thanks for their good God.

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. Phil. 4:6

Thanks breathes in God and exhales bitterness.
Thanks makes us see all we have versus all we could lose.
Thanks brings into remembrance all of his past faithfulness.
Thanks puts into perspective our present perspective.

And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Phil 4:7

What can you find to be thankful for?

What praise can you immerse your one-track mind in
so that you don’t rub yourself raw
with feelings of God-has-left-me?

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Running When You Feel Like A Loser

When You Feel Like A Loser

My mouth says I want to “run with endurance the race that is set before (me)”, (Heb. 12:1), but my feet often go in the opposite direction.

I get set, and ready to go, until I fall and am ready to cry.

It’s a dichotomy I just can’t beat.

I snap back at my husband when I know a kind word turns away wrath.
Prov. 15:1

I think bad thoughts towards a rude person when I need to forgive as I have been forgiven.  Col. 3:13

I yell at my children, when God says to bear up under one another in love.
Eph 4:2

I judge a sister in Christ when God tells me to first look at the log in my own eye.
Mt. 7:3

I take pride in my work when God tells me at the proper time I will be exalted.
1 Pet. 5:6

While my mind says, it’s all for you God, I am running hard and fast for you, my actions say, “it’s still kind of all about me.” I can’t let go. I can’t break through. I can’t succeed with God.”

The pounding of my feet on the sidewalk of God’s mission, start to turn into fists pounding on my heart, saying “Why can’t you just do better?”

Pound. You gotta get it together.
Pound. People won’t see Christ in you.
Pound. Are you really a Christ follower when you mess up so much?
Pound. You are selfish.

And one who is beaten to the ground, can’t be running a good race for Jesus.
One who is pounding themselves, can’t be pounding the ground.
One fallen, can’t be encouraging others.
They can’t “Run in such a way as to get the prize.” (1 Cor. 9:24)

As I investigate my heart, my sin, and my desire, I am coming to see that God understands this roadblock too.

In order to run, run, run, we are instructed to unload, unload, unload: “let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance…” (Heb 12:1)

Why?

so that in the day of Christ I may be proud that I did not run in vain or labor in vain. (Phil 2:6)

Jesus understands the struggle of a heart striving towards him. He doesn’t come to point our our lagger tendencies. He tells us to unload and rise up. To let go, and to move our feet. To say I am sorry, and to speed into his love. To send the failure fits to the sidelines and to move forward in faithful fury.

I’ve noticed, as I can let that go, I no longer feel like a girl running in circles, I no longer feel like the big loser on Olympics day, but instead I start to move forward – in a straight line – gliding into forgiveness, forging into peace, wholeheartedly striding into hope and joyfully pumping into the cheering applause of my loving Savior who roots me on with all that he is.

So I do not run aimlessly; I do not box as one beating the air. 1 Cor. 9:26

The question is not will I fall, because I will. The question, is – will I unload, confess and believe the promises of God (aka – get back up again), because this is where the race is won. This is where I stop pounding myself for every bad action and start pounding the streets with the message of Jesus Christ crucified and glorified.

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How To Keep Standing When The High Winds Hit

How To Keep Standing

I want to stand upright when hurricane winds come. “With God, I am strong.”
I want to not be concerned with the earth falling all around me. “God has me.”
I want to not let my fruit not get dried out by circumstances.“God has the best in mind.”

But I don’t, instead I tend to fall over like a redwood with no roots when the winds come.  Worry grips me and the crash resounds so loudly in my heart. It’s the weight of I should have done better, I wish I acted differently, I can’t believe I didn’t trust.

But God says, the man who trusts in the Lord is blessed. (Jer. 17:7)
I want to be that woman – full, complete, with entire trust in God.

And what God says in verse 8, really gets my heart pumping for more:

They will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream. It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit.” (Jer. 17:8)

We can steer clear of fear, stay green when life gets mean,
not have bouts of doubt in the drought
and share the spirit rather than throw a fit?

Now, I am listening.

If I can just plant my roots down.

so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend…and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. Eph 3:17-19

One who has faith in Jesus – and believes what he says –
is nearly unreachable by the devil.

One who has their deep earthly arms wrapped around the love of Jesus, 
can’t be pulled off of him when circumstances strike.

One who knows the cost of the cross and 
draws strength from the purchaser of all sin – 
let’s that sacrifice keep them in a place of eternal standing.

One who clenches the truth with all their might, isn’t afraid to some roots show.
They glow to the world and highlight the giver of all sustenance.

One who is rooted, gets the fullness of God,
not just for themselves but to share with the world.

God holds the one upright whose arms reach deeply  and steadfastly
into his Word to seek out all that he is.

This one stands tall, firm and powerfully.

All of this gets me wondering,
how can the devil cut down a tree with roots so plentiful,
so deep, so meaningful, so abundant and so apparent?

Must be hard.

IMG_1592

When we deeply plant roots into the love of Christ, we become standing trees who raise our branches in continual worship.  We suck in the living water of Jesus Christ and are renewed with his life-giving nutrients, embraced by his creation and stand tall in adoration and appreciation.

Deep roots, forged down, grip the heart of Christ; this is where strength is derived.

They extend needily into his sacrifice and hungrily into promises and God blesses that with renewal, replenishment and revival to the world.

From dead and wanting, to fed and giving in the blink of an eye.

From down and discouraged, to up and encouraged through the nails on the cross.

From hopeless and ruined, to hopeful and 100 feet tall through roots that can’t be touched by the world.

God’s fruit becomes our great food bank and it is the best tasting thing after fried ice cream.

I’ll take some of that – and all of the benefits of deep roots.

The bottom line? It comes down to:
I (God) love those who love me, and those who seek me diligently find me. Prov. 8:17

We love God, we seek God, we find God, we find peace, we find life, we find love for others, we find hope in this world, we send it out and nothing can knock us down. Period.

Love = God
God = Love
Love = Deep roots that receive his love.
Love = The way to endure this life.

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