Purposeful Faith

Category - doubt

The Incredible Power of a Small Pause

I gripped my chin, thinking, I need to reach out and ask her if there was a problem with me. I couldn’t figure out why she didn’t seem to be progressing forward with the work I had turned in. I knew, it must be – what I had done wasn’t good enough. She thought my work was horrible, trash-worthy, and she just didn’t know how to tell me. She was avoiding me. The hair on my skin rose with the awkwardness I was about to approach.

I typed the email.

Too much talk leads to sin. Be sensible and keep your mouth shut. (Prov. 10:19 MSG)

Rather than pressing play on my mouth
was God called me to press – pause?

I waited, staring at the cursor. So much time had passed and she had given me nothing. Still, God says it wise to wrangle wild words. I minimized the screen, considered the thought and went along with my day, wondering, often, if I should text.

What harm would it do? At least I would know. At least I could tie down my emotions, rather than having them fly everywhere.

pause

Often, our greatest goal when we charge is to change our feelings. I knew many of my words were about me feeling good, and not about producing a good and Godly outcome. They were about me knowing – now. They were about me feeling – happy. They were about me getting answers – so I knew I was worthy.

He who restrains his words has knowledge, And he who has a cool spirit is a man of understanding. Prov. 17:26

A cool spirit. It sounds light. It sounds like a refreshing breeze. It sounds easy. Understanding arrived: She is busy. I can offer her space.

Press pause, Kelly.

A week passed, and an email arrived. It was from her. She saw my work and not only wanted to use it, but in a more prominent capacity. God knew all along.

You never know God’s good cause,
being worked through your pause.

You want his hand ruling over your outcome, not your hasty mouth.

What I know now is I could have ruined it all by racing in to rectify my feelings. I could have spoiled what God was growing up in the perfect timing. I could have missed a growth opportunity in patience. They can be the hardest kind.

How do you do with opportunities of patience?
When do your feelings call out to you to “fix” things?
Do you speak a heap of demands or from a heart of love?

I realize now. I can lay back. Why?  Because what I want to rush into, God is already in.

One God and Father of all,
who is over all and through all and in all. Eph. 4:6

He is in it and is carving spiritual and emotional strides.  He is ironing everything out. He is making all things work together for his good, my good and the good of the entire story that extends beyond my here and now. I can trust that. I can believe in that. I can hope in that.

pause
For everything God created is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving… (1 Tim. 4:4)

And, so, what small wait, what unheard response or what dead end – in those, I will remember God is there and because he is there, goodness is there. It is who he is, it is what he does and it is simply the only thing he can ever produce.

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Take Courage

Take Courage

Post by: Karina Allen

We live in a beautiful world. But, we live in a scary world that appears to be becoming increasingly so. To be honest, it has been a bit difficult to navigate but I must. We must. We cannot rely on our emotions or even our perceptions of what is going on around us. We cannot allow that to dictate our lives/behavior. We are only to rely on the God who never changes and whose Word is a sure foundation.

The world we live in and actually my very city is in a state of pain and anger and frustration. I don’t have any answers or advice to offer but I do know that I am not to fear. I am to rise up and stand strong in the midst of confusion. I am to be a light in the midst of darkness.

How we do this is simple, not easy, but simple. We look to God. It sounds cliche but really, it’s not. Jesus is the solution to EVERY problem.

He is our anchor.

He is our hope.

He is our truth.

The key to not living in fear is to remember the truth of who the Lord is in spite of circumstances that surround us.

Trust the nature of God.

John 4:8 says that God is love. Ephesians 2:4 says that God is merciful. Ephesians 2:8-9 says that God is gracious. And Psalm 136:1  says that God is good. The nature of God never wavers or falters. He cannot be anything other than Himself. I love that! He doesn’t change according to circumstances or moods. He is not a man that He should lie. He is who He is and that’s all there is to it. He is peace in the middle of our storms. He is our rock when all around us is shaking.

Trust the faithfulness of God.

“But the Lord is faithful. He will establish you and guard you against the evil one.” 2 Thessalonians 3:3

There are countless verses about the Lord’s faithfulness but this is one of my favorites! I live in Baton Rouge and as you’ve probably seen on every media outlet, the atmosphere here has been tense and angry and hostile at times. I need to remember this. Our enemy is not flesh and blood but Satan. It is God who works within His children and gives us strength and causes us to stand strong in the face of any opposition. He never leaves us to fight battles alone. He encamps us on all sides.

Trust the sovereignty of God.

“I declare the end from the beginning, and from long ago what is not yet done, saying: My plan will take place, and I will do all My will.” Isaiah 46:10

This one of those verses that blows my mind! God knows the end from the beginning. He’s knows everything that would ever happen before even the foundations of the world. I don’t know about you, but that can be trusted. Nothing in our lives or in the world around us comes as a surprise to Him. He is faithful to make a way when there is no way. Often times, our pain and struggles and hardships catch us off guard and we wander around dazed and confused. The Father isn’t. He knows every detail inside and out, upside down and right side up. He never causes tragedy, but He does sometimes allow it. I’m not sure we’ll ever know why but I am willing to live in that mystery knowing that He will bring about the outcome that brings Him the most glory and is for our good.

He is our anchor.

He is our hope.

He is our truth.

He is our very present help in our time of need. Let’s praise Him! And let’s stand up boldly and take courage…not in our our own strength, but in the strength of the one who placed it inside of us.

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Karina AllenKarina
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.”

Defeating Distraction with just 2 Words

I came home from a prayer meeting all full of Jesus and with new plans to let his love flow.

Sitting down at the computer, I knew three things:

1. God was using me to roll-out his glory.
2. I am encouraging others with words that only God could ordain. He is bringing unity.
3. Jesus’ pulse was beating in my heart.

I pressed into my work with fervor. But, as time passed, my mind strayed. It wondered what people were up to? It pondered, what am I missing online? It called me to Facebook, then to my emails. God’s work will be waiting when I return…I figured.

I scrolled.

But, as I did, three things captured me:

1. The face of someone from the past. They brought me straight back into a bad memory.

2. Images from the Dallas catastrophe. It tried to rip the idea of unity apart in my heart.

3. An email from my husband, reminding me we have no idea where we are going to live or what our plans are.

What God established,
distraction was determined to demolish.

Like a perfectly organized shelf, my heart was arranged just right. It was oriented towards God, only to all be knocked down, at a moment’s notice, by my own carelessness in keeping my heart set straight.

This kind of thing happens subtly. This toppling of God. It happens somewhere between morning devotion and child carpool. It shows up in a day somewhere between worship and workers with paint cans who never show up. It arrives through the voice of a boss who sounds like he hates you.

How do we stay devoted to God
when distractions get stuck to us? 

“Only God knows,” I thought. And he did.

What God put on my heart was two words: Purpose and Protection.

1. Purpose: If we don’t purposely pursue his plans, our plans will fail.

Unless the LORD builds the house, the builders labor in vain. Ps. 127:1

This means, no matter how blaring the noise, no matter how worthy its notability, we don’t welcome it in for coffee. Sure, this alert, notification or ding can arrive at the doorstep of our heart, saying, “Hey look at me. Look at me! I need your attention.”

But, we can act differently by saying, “I see you, but right now, I am on a mission from – and with – God. I need to focus on his face; he has plans for me that I cannot be deterred from.”

2. Protection: If we don’t guard against discouragement, we will swim in it.

What good are we to spread love, if we walk in defeat? We must consider what sends our heart astray and then, like we are holding a leash to a dog that is biting us, break the leash and send that yapping dog astray.

We need to let go of the leash that has actually kept us captive.

What is it? Facebook? Comparing? Jealousy? Performance numbers? Words from a friend that really is not even a friend?

Cut the leash. 

Friends, I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to be beholden to the world, pinned down by it. I want to be a running and raging fire, releasing the love of Christ.

To do this, I must protect the sanctity and the sacred connection to my King. You must too.

For as we target our focus,
what will come in focus,
is the very focus of all our affections,
the King of Glory,
the Hope of Nations,
the drink of living water,
the way through all our existing questions.

There he is enthroned,
empowering his people,
pleading on our behalf,
equipping us with what we need.

And we will feel it,
we become certain,
eager even,
heart pulsing, we want to move.

And we do,
we rise into his purpose.
Unrestrained.
Uncontained.
Unbelievably effective for his cause.

We find ourselves.

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Are you Fooling Yourself Faithless?

Fooling Yourself

Bang! The thunder sounded like a shot in the night, except it was morning. Either way, the shrieks that ensued caught us all off guard. “Quick, get under the blankie! Let’s hide,” Madison shouted at her toddler brother.

They tumbled down like miniature-wrestlers, grabbing the comforter and maneuvering it over their heads.

They felt safe. But, what I could see from the height of my vantage point went beyond two sets of covered heads – to the 3 feet of remaining limbs laying uncovered. These soft legs, arms and hearts were still vulnerable – vulnerable to thunder, destruction and all the fierce consequences of lightening.

Fooling Yourself

All I could think was, “Those cute little fools aren’t safe. They’re hardly covered.”

In the same way, I act like a fool.

Do you?

Do you take cover with defensiveness, escape and busyness to escape the danger of reality?

Are you afraid to deal with mounting problems and the excruciating weight of your own emotions?

Do you figure Jesus won’t be able to handle the likes of you?fooling yourself

It’s embarrassing, ugly even, to admit, but I cover. I grab a leaf and pretend it will hide the ugliness of my nakedness. Yet, what didn’t work for Eve, still doesn’t work for me. 

These thoughts…
“If I can’t see my problems, my problems can’t see me…”
“If I pretend it isn’t there, maybe it will go away…”
“If I can fight back with strength, I won’t be so weak…”
…these thoughts, leave me vulnerable, exposed and aimless – running like a rabid dog in hunt of life. 

Even worse, my tricks go bust, because no one is tricked. My family sees my limbs flailing about. My God sees everything. And, my insides see a hole too deep to climb out from.

The tension mounts, my heart asks:
How can I deal with my feelings without fleeing?

An answer settles: What pain we give God an opportunity to see, he’ll free.

Because God is a God of clear vision…
From heaven the Lord looks down
and sees all mankind;
from his dwelling place he watches
all who live on earth— he who forms the hearts of all…(Ps. 33:13-14)

…who cares.
who considers everything they do…. (Ps. 33:13-14)

And He sees deliverance and delivers deliverance to those who desperately hope in him.
But the eyes of the Lord are on those who fear him,
on those whose hope is in his unfailing love,
to deliver them from death
and keep them alive in famine. ( Ps. 33:18-19)

His tender mercy wants to approach us (Lu. 1:78). It doesn’t look like a hand raised. It doesn’t squint with eyes furrowed. It doesn’t pontificate with a red face. No. It is a cupped hand that holds you tenderly, as if you were a shell about to break into his glory.

Unfailing love wants to heal you. He wants to heal me too.

Will we let Deliverer deliver us from fear to faith?

We don’t need to hide from tender mercy. For it is, after all, what we most crave, isn’t it?

So today, gather your courage, put it in a line, get it ready to launch, and pray with me: “Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts (Ps. 139:23), make them plain to my eyes, Lord. Help me be able to handle them. Show me the way to go. Teach me. I am open.”

Then prepare your heart to be flooded by He who is – LOVE. He will lead your way through the muck and yuck. Through thick and thin. Through tears and healing.

fooling yourself

He won’t let you down, as you look up.

It may not always feel easy or safe, but, every time, his ways are (Mt. 11:3o).

So, let’s no longer pull the comforter over our eyes, for the Spirit is comforter (Jo. 14:26) and his vision will see us through.

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8 Ways To Prepare to Win Against the Devil

Win Against the Devil

The devil loves us weak.
God loves it when we renew our S.T.R.E.N.G.T.H.

Do you know what this looks like?

“But those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.” Is. 4:31

Can you imagine not growing weary or faint?  Do you soar?
Or has the devil  kept a toe-hold on your coattails, preventing you from ever flying?

It’s easy to let that happen. To stay down.

Just this morning I was driving and a little bug kept hitting my car. I started to get frustrated, “Why is he tailing me? He’s making a mess of my window,” I thought. What I failed to realize was that only 2 minutes before, I had been worshipping. This little pest stole the moment.

win against the devil

We all have pests chasing us. They try to steal God’s place of glory in our heart. These little nuisances are often what the devil uses to drive our hearts away from God. We usually allow it.

What tends to be hard for us to accept is that straight up bible knowledge won’t always save us. Why? The devil doesn’t care how much scripture you know. He doesn’t even care if you have the whole bible memorized. He doesn’t care if you have a PhD in Christian Apologetics. He’s never worried about the mind, the devil is always worried about the heart.

My warning to the church? Let’s not get so enthralled with our mind, that we lose our heart in the process. Some churches, I believe, are allowing this.

This horrifies me. I don’t want to live my life as a bible-toting mouthpiece, but as a woman wielding Jesus’ power in the world. 

What about you? Might it be time to fortify your heart, the inner place? So the inner radically changes your outer world?

8 Tangible Tips to Renew S.T.R.E.N.G.T.H.
and Win the War against the devil:

war against the devil

1. Scripture list: Hunt the bible and dig out the best verses. Carry these on a sheet with you, post them on your morning mirror or hold them in your wallet. No matter what, rely on these words as if they are your crutches and you have no legs.

2. Train your mind to immediately notice the taunts of doubt, discouragement, devastation and despair. How? Take inventory of your feelings. When you hear those stinkers hit you, refer back to #1.

3. Respond with truth. The devil takes ridiculous statements and massages them to sound plausible in your mind. If you answer back with a hard-lined, get-out-of-here, truth-filled comeback – he will not as easily want to come back.

Example:

Devil: “If you are the Son of God,” he said, “throw yourself down. It is written…” Mt. 4:6
Jesus: ‘It is also written: ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.’ Mt. 4:7

After 3 attempts and 3 successful comebacks, Jesus won his wildnerness encounter with the devil. Keep on fighting the fight and the fight will subside.

Then the devil left him, and angels came and attended him. Mt. 4:11

4. Engage your mind with holy and you will find yourself committed to peace.

“Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about such things.” Phil. 4:8

5. Need Jesus all the time. All the time. Not a little bit of the time, but every time. Just think, if you are always calling on Jesus, how can the devil be calling you astray? 

“For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost.” Lu. 19:10

This means, call out, when you feel unsure. Call out when you feel heavy. Call out when you feel hungry. Call out when you feel tired. Call out when you need wisdom. Call out when you hit boredom. Call out when life gets futile.

6. Glorify God, out loud. Speak proud. Speak with the full strength of Jesus Christ behind you. Speak like one whose team, every time ends up as overcomer.

It sounds like this:

You reign and rule Jesus. You will win. Every time.
You are holy and mighty to save Christ. You will bring me through.
I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. Period.

7. Thank God. If you are saying thank you, the devil can’t as easily put a bag over your head and plumage your mind with the idea that you are being stolen, ruined and left in some far off land where God can’t see you. Instead, you will rise up in wonder at all the riches God is raining down on you. Thankfulness is like a rainbow on a dark and rainy day. 

8. Hope. Endlessly believe in the power of God.

This is what it sounds like when put in action:

God is greater than my problem.
God will win in the end.
My light and momentary affliction is creating for me an eternal glory that far outweighs the here and now. 2 Cor. 4:17
Jesus stripes healed me once and they will do it again and again. He is healer
It may look like a windstorm today, but God is pushing into me his image and I will stand firm.
The Lord is doing an inner work; it transcends my vision. 
God will always be faithful. I can walk in complete assurance of this. 

war against the devil
Soar.
Grab hope.
Fly high.
Glide.
Find new heights of faithfulness,
God will be your strength.

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3 Ways to Embrace Positivity

Embrace Positivity

I sulked. I whined. I cried. My knee hurt.

Ever noticed when things feel bad,
the whole world turns bad in the blink of an eye?

I will not like the school my kids will attend.
My summer will amount to boredom.
My future book will go bust.
My efforts will not succeed.
People are going to laugh at me.
I will never laugh again.

Ever noticed, after you think badly, you think God hates you badly?

Negativity makes you fall further….

God doesn’t bless people who wallow.
He doesn’t help those who can’t help themselves.
He doesn’t want a sour puss like me.
He gets angry when I can’t dwell on truth.

He has distance reserved for me, because I am distant…I figure.

Are you heading down, down, down too? Thinking of all you aren’t, don’t have and will never get?

Half of me is tired of feeling tired. The other half is ready to pull out some fighting gloves to get positive again. Care to join me?

3 Ways to Embrace Positivity

1. Acknowledge you are feeling down. Let God grab that feeling and hold it. Know that he doesn’t get all red-faced, hot and bothered about it. He doesn’t steep with hot air when he thinks of you. Instead, he looks at your trial with tenderness. He cares.

The LORD is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit. Ps. 34:18

2. Confess & return to His presence. embrace positivity

The past is in the past. With this, there is no reason to wad your bad rap sheet and to stuff it in your pocket. Christ doesn’t require you to carry it around. Simply, say I am sorry, really mean it – and throw it out.

So if you who are evil know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him! Lu. 11:13

3. See faith in all things.

If you believe in what a good God can do, rather than what you can’t do – just imagine what he could do – through you. This is faith.  Consider it a weapon for worriers. Something we can pull out, stand tall in and believe in.

We can pull it out and say:

This kingdom may look against me, but God is for me.
Justice on earth may seem impossible, but God will be just.
Promises seem far away, but God’s Word is as good as gold.
Lions want to snap my head off, but God can keep their mouth shut with a blink of his eye.

“For time would fail me to tell of Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, of David and Samuel and the prophets—Who through faith conquered kingdoms, enforced justice, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions.” Hebrews 11:32-33

We can conquer kingdoms, no matter our size. We can uphold justice, even if we are a stay-at-home mom. We can obtain promises, despite our continual failings. We can stop the mouths of lions, who may look like teenage boys with ferocious appetites and foul-sounding speech. Who knows what we can do – if only we believe.

With God, all things are possible.

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A Titus 2 Wake Up

Wake Up

It is with great excitement that I welcome Debbie Hopper to Ministry Monday! Debbie brings heart, wisdom and passion. Her experience shines. Even more, I found her words to be a soothing lesson for a worrier like me. I hope you enjoy this post as much as I did! 

It was the first week of January 2016 and my goal setting was in full swing.  But as I looked ahead to the next six months, there was a date looming on the horizon that stopped me in my tracks :  my 60th birthday.

It just didn’t seem possible…
Children growing up?  Yes! 
Daughters getting married? Yes!  
Becoming a grandmother? Yes!  
Caring for aging parents?  Yes!  

But turning 60 and getting the infamous AARP card?  I had only blurred images associated with this decade and they were scaring the daylights out of me:

·       My Dad died at 63 after spending his last 8 years in a wheelchair

·       My Mother did a few adventurous things after he died, but her health declined by 70

·       Most women ahead of me on this journey seemed to be slowing down or checking out

The Lord needed to give me a fresh download, a picture of what He saw for my sixties, to give me a new vision and a renewed spirit about embracing this milestone.

And of course, He answered.

“Call out to me and I will answer you,
and will tell you great and hidden things
that you have not known.”  
Jeremiah 33:3

First, He very sweetly (but firmly) reminded me of all the great and marvelous things He had done in my life over the past 59 years.  Times He rescued me, protected me, redeemed me and poured favor over me when I didn’t deserve it.  The thought that kept coming to me was:

You gave me my first breath and will take away my last.  Who am I to question any breath in between?

Next, He led me to dig deep and study what it really means to be a Titus 2 Woman.  Whenever younger women had referred to me as their Titus 2 in the past, I would just shrug or smile and accept it as a compliment.  But study it?

The LORD was giving it to me as marching orders:

1.     Tell everyone to follow God’s Word

2.     Teach older women:

  •  To be holy in their behavior
  • Not speaking against others (gossip)
  • Not addicted to wine/drink/food
  • Teaching what is good

3.     Teach younger women:

  • Love their husbands
  • Love their children
  • To be self-controlled, wise and pure
  • To be a model of good works at home
  • To be kind, show integrity and dignity
  • To yield to their husbands

4.     Always use the Gospel as the source for godliness

The limitations we seWake Upe, are often doors God knocks open through Godly instruction.

Where do you need to see past
limitations, restrictions, age or beauty?

For the first time, 60 held the promise of fulfilling work as I pursued that inseparable link between faith and practice, belief and behavior.   There was a renewed excitement in my spirit. He had not only answered me, but offered purpose and meaning to the days and years ahead.

I felt new wind behind me. In fact, I began planning a harbor cruise with the Daughters.  For it seemed worthy of celebrating all He has done. I was ready to sail into sixty with new hope.

Are you dreading a date on the calendar or waiting anxiously for a new day? Wherever you are, Sisters, let’s embrace the days with His goals instead of our go-to worries.

And, maybe, if you are fortunate, like me, you may even end up with a Senior Discount or something…

Debbie Hopper bio

debphotoDebbie felt called into the ministry at age 16, and spent the early part of her life serving the body and working in the corporate world until her God appointment into full-time ministry 8 years ago.  As a Minister and Director of Women’s Ministry at Seacoast Church in Mt. Pleasant, SC, Debbie has the honor of serving under the leadership of Pastor Greg Surratt, the ARC network founder.

Married for 22 years to an amazing man of God who is a Project Engineer by day and a Leader of Men by night, they have 3 Daughters, 2 Son-in-loves and 9 Grands.

To recharge from long days of ministry, Debbie enjoys Date Nights with The Hubby, long chats with The Daughters at Starbucks, reading, gardening, archery and photography.  You can connect with her on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram: debhopper

Gospel for the End of your Day

End of your Day

I am delighted to welcome Kimm Crandall. Kim brings words full of grace in both her post and her just-released book, Beloved Mess. Thank you Kimm, for letting us know that we are okay, just as we are.

“There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death.” Romans 8:1-2

Last night I told my daughter that she needed to stop thinking about her day and just go to bed. It’s something that I have to tell myself often because there is a natural self-examination that happens at the end of the day; an examination that tries my faith and leaves me with a scorecard in hand.

For some reason, I find it necessary to look over the events of the day, tally up my sins vs. my successes, and place myself in one of two categories: “good enough” or “not good enough.”

It’s my law bent heart that drives me to always check to see if I’m making the mark or not. And do you know what happens when I do this? I’m either left feeling like I can’t go on or feeling proud and self-righteous, all of it depending on my performance that day.

You see, we all having a longing to justify and prove ourselves. When we forget the gospel and live by the law our lives become all about our personal performance. The law tells us that we must perform to meet its demands. But the gospel reminds us that the demands of the Law are met and we can now rest. Jesus said it Himself, “It is finished!” Our hearts can rest because of Christ.

If we don’t have Christ to still the pendulum in our hearts, swinging between pride and despair, we will go on trying to justify ourselves by what kind of day, hour, or moment we’ve had.

Without the gospel we will live for what other people think of us and what we think of ourselves. We will judge ourselves by whether or not we make people happy, whether we had all the right responses, and if our hearts really wanted to be serving our neighbor.

Jesus Christ came and perfectly loved, perfectly obeyed, and was perfectly humble on our behalf because He knew that we would snap at our husband, join in the chaos of our fighting kids, or throw the towel in and quit.

As we come to the end of our day we don’t have to weigh the good against the bad and hope that we are still in God’s favor. Christ came and threw away the scale of the law to set us free.

Because of His finished work for us, we don’t have to go to bed and scheme about all the ways we need to try harder and do better the next day. We don’t have to beat ourselves into obedience with judgment and condemnation. We can rest knowing that Christ is the keeper of our souls and the purifier of our hearts. We don’t have to live wondering if we’re accepted. We don’t have to convince ourselves that we’re good enough.

It’s true that our actions certainly deserve the condemnation that our hearts want to live in. We can even agree with the accusations of the enemy that we’re not good enough because his accusation is surpassed by the proclamation of the gospel.

According to the law we will never do enough, be enough, or even care enough. But, according to the gospel, Christ is enough on our behalf.

So we can be free to lay our heads down at the end of the day. We can be free of condemnation, shame, and pride because God’s love for us is not based on how hard we’ve tried today but rather on the every day reality that His Son lived perfectly on our behalf.

“There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Rom 8.1), not today, not tonight or tomorrow morning. Now that’s freedom!

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

About Kimm Crandall

End of the DayI come to you as a very real sinner (with a cleaned up profile picture) in need of a great Savior. Think of the words I pen as a hand to hold as you walk toward Jesus. All of life is about walking each other home. It’s a much better journey when we are holding hands.

About The Book, “Beloved Mess”

End of the DayIn Beloved Mess, Kimm Crandall frees you to live with the assurance that God loves you right here, right now. He’s not waiting for you to clean up your act before you’re worthy to come to him. In fact, he wants you to stop trying to fix the mess and allow him to wash it away.

Follow Kimm

twitter: @kimmcrandall
facebook: @kimmcrandallauthor
instagram: @kimmcrandall
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Out of Sight and Out of Mind

Out of Sight

I want to extend a warm welcome to Kari Stainback. Her words hit the tender places of not being seen and chosen. I couldn’t be happier to feature her words as part of the Ministry Monday Series. Welcome Kari!

Not long ago at a family gathering, I happened upon an endless version of the game “Peek a Boo” with a toddler.  Over and over and OVER again I put a scarf over her little head and said, “Where did Lucy go?”

Then I’d yank the scarf off to her gleeful shrieks and reply, “There she is!”  The giggles and the fun lasted for longer than I thought possible for a game to continue with a baby.

What made Lucy giggle so profusely as she participated in this game is that she was learning something called “object permanence”.  It is the developmental process that allows children to understand that an object continues to exist when it can’t be seen, touched or heard.  Prior to this stage, in the first few months of a baby’s life, they think when an object is “out of sight”, in their minds, it ceases to exist!  So when Lucy couldn’t see me, she just thought in her tiny toddler mind, “she’s not gone, she’s right there and boy howdy that is hilarious!”

Object permanence is very important because it gives us the ability to understand that objects that we may have never seen in our lives actually exist.  For example, I’ve never been to France nor seen the Eiffel Tower, but I know that it exists even though I’ve never physically seen it.  Throughout our childhoods as we become adults, object permanence moves from the physical to the abstract as we gain more experience with the world around us.  And, by God’s grace, it lays the foundation in our brains to develop faith in the triune God.  We can know, by faith, the One who we have not seen physically, but we can be sure He is with us.  In Christ, He is our ultimate permanent object.

Some of my favorite verses that teach us this truth are:

“My presence will go with you and I will give you rest.”  (Exodus 33:14)

“Just as I as I was with Moses, so I will be with you.” (Joshua 1:5)

“Where can I go from Your Spirit?  Or where can I feel from Your presence?
If I ascend to heaven, You are there; If I make my bed in Sheol, behold, You are there.” (Psalm 139:8-9)

“…I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:20b)

“I will never leave you nor forsake you.” (Hebrews 13:5b)

Sometimes, I don’t feel God is near.  Perhaps, you, like I, tend to think, “Does God really care? Does He know I’m feeling alone and forgotten?”  

For years, I thought I experienced loneliness because of my singleness.

I find, loneliness tempts us to find comfort by escaping through activity, or shutting down or drowning our sorrows in food or drink, or my personal favorite: cruising the mall on Saturday nights.  It’s easy to give in to despair and resentment, to stop reading the Bible or praying. I keep learning, none of these leads us to lasting peace.  What does lead to peace is something Amy Carmichael wrote about in her poem, “For In Acceptance Lieth Peace”.

Our loneliness may not go away,
but it can be accepted as God’s will for today and that turns it into something beautiful. 

Recently I had an ugly bout with loneliness, all of my familiar temptations to doubt and escape swirled around me.  I did not feel God’s presence.  All I felt was the dread that the loneliness had returned and that it would only get worse in the days ahead.

I found His presence.

I opened my Bible and read it, listening for the Word He had for me.  It came!  I prayed and thanked the Lord for being the One who would never leave me or forsake me.  He gave me peace. The very next day God sent me a surprise of His love in the mail, something only He could do in His perfect timing.  It was a quarterly magazine from the seminary from which I graduated.  On the back was a graphic of a tree, rooted in Christ Jesus, with its branches filled with names of single men and women who have furthered God’s Kingdom throughout church history.

To my utter amazement, in the far right branch I saw my name.  Underneath the graphic was written the verse, “Whoever does God’s will is my brother and sister and mother.” (Mark 3:35).  

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

About Kari

CounselingandCare (1)Kari Stainback is Director of Women’s Ministries at Park Cities Presbyterian Church in Dallas, TX.  She coordinates women’s Bible studies, discipleship and special events.  Kari is a Licensed Professional Counselor and does pastoral counseling for women in the church.  She is also a board certified supervisor of counselors.

Kari joined the staff of PCPC in the fall of 1999.  She has been in her present position for 15 years.

When Someone Is Better Than You

When Someone Is Better Than You

I have this thing that I promise myself, “If I keep my eyes on God, I won’t end up far from God.”

This is actually a battle mottto, because no less than 100 times a day, I have to fight to keep the forces of my mind moving in tandem with it. 

Kids go haywire. Battle.
Someone speaking things that threaten me. Battle.
Anxiety creeping in. Battle.
Girl disses me. Battle.

One thing, I always promise myself not to do, is to look at other people’s journeys and compare them to mine. I know this is the equivalent of shooting yourself in the foot. Suddenly you can’t get anywhere.

The blessing you believe is yours turns black, tainted. The progress you felt you were making looks like lint. The value that God places on you resembles a jail jumpsuit, lettered: CAPTIVITY.

someone is better than you

Comparing is the quickest way to go about killing spiritual progress. It really is.

Suddenly, you believe you are:
A. Never going to get anywhere.
B. Never, ever, going to be as good as that other girl.
C. Going to fail, so you might as well pack it all up now.

Comparing is a kid on Christmas who only sees the one toy he didn’t get and sissy did. It is his red scrunched up face that glares at  – he misses the 19 others wrapped goodies intended to bring joy.

Maybe you are like me saying, “Whoops! That is me. What do I do now, God?  “

Friends, I want to offer you a solution here, but let me tell you, I’ve never been that good at giving myself the benefit of the grace (my inclination is to give myself a smack on the face).

I had a friend who knew how to love herself with grace. She got shunned by a boy, she said, “Oh, he is busy.” She had a teacher be rude to her, she said, “Oh, she’s having a hard day.” Me? No. He hates me and she is about to fail me.

Thinking of this friend, though, it inspires me. She lets love – love her.

When it comes to comparing, I am not unliked by God, nor deemed the bad child, but am the selected child. Hand-selected to impact the world in my own way. Hand-selected to dwell in his love.  Hand-selected to minister to my family around me.

When Someone Is Better Than You

He is paving a way for me; that only I can walk through.

He is doing the same for you.

Just opening that small door of grace, let’s new ideas walk in:

People can succeed and I can too.
God has enough to go around.
Every woman’s journey is different but equally as important in God’s eyes.
God cares far more about big faith than he does about big progress.
What is good for her, can be good in me too, as I applaud her.
No one has the power to subtract joy from me unless I let them.
God’s singular mission carved out for me – is mission critical in his eyes.
I am always approved, no matter how much my feelings may disapprove my work.
I am not the sum of accomplishments, I am a testament Christ’s love.

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

3 Tools for Bloggers

1.  Is there an online resource that blew you away with social media and marketing tips? Link it up to this resource- The Best Social Media Tips of 2016. Let’s create a one-stop-shop of all things social media to help us all move forward. It should end up being a treasure trove of info to help us all market better.

2.  Have you found any great writing tips online?  Linkup on the page – the Best Writing Tips of 2016.  Let’s all help one another hone our craft.

3. Join the Cheerleaders for Christ Facebook page for continual writing encouragement.

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