Purposeful Faith

Category - doubt

When God is Punishing You

God is Punishing

You kind of figure, because of you,
because of all your bad actions,
he’s going to open the heavens,
rain down lightening like pocket knives
​and  land one straight on your head.

Maybe it is already happening. All is plummeting and God is: hitting you with health issues, cutting into finances, shredding a marriage, stabbing emotional well-being, hurting your kids, slicing out pain at work and dicing up trials for your course du jour.

And, it has to be you, right? All you have done, you deserve it. All you keep doing, it makes sense. All of your past, you get it. You are a degenerate in so many ways.

You may not hear his words from his mouth, but you certainly hear them in your head:

 “Get your bad self to your room. Don’t return until you act better.”
“Get yourself together.”
“What is wrong with you?”
“You can’t do anything right.”

Exasperated, you wait to hear from him, expecting a whole lotta words on how you are a royal mess-up and a giant loser. You expect to hear a list of practial law and rules and insights and plans that you need to stick to.

Instead, a whole different picture rises – a picture that puts God’s truth first.

It is painted.  Not in muted shades of pained grey, but with the spectrum of new life. It beckons you to step in and to feel the warmth, to participate in growth and to enjoy the ride, so you listen and hear things like: 

1. You see all you do wrong, I see so much that you do right.

2. You’re my first love. I don’t want to hurt you, I want to prosper, grow and see my glory shine through you.

3. You see your mistakes, I see how your mistakes are the starting of new.

4. You get discouraged and defeated by relational hiccups, but I see the pauses as space for me to work.

5. You’re the child I created, I love you exactly the way you are – strengths with weaknesses, weaknesses with strengths.

6. You don’t have to have it all figured out in the today, because I have it all figured out in the tomorrow.

7. Your repentance is the start of my next best thing. You turn away and then you see me.

8. Other people acting badly, is the best chance to show holy.

9.  When you turn towards me, in turn you see my kindness.

10. When you say you’re sorry (and mean it), I say, “I forgive you” (and mean it).

Staring at the image, your mind dwells on the new story:

“God’s face looks a whole lot different than mine. His love is ten times more infusive than mine. His ways are galaxies more compassionate than mine. His grace is tanks more abundant than mine.

While I look at the immediate, he sees the long-term. While I get defeated in battle, he cheers the victory over the course of the war. While I get angry, he knows that anger does not produce righteousness (Ja. 1:20)”

The LORD is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and rich in love. Ps. 145:8

The LORD is slow to anger, abounding in love and forgiving sin and rebellion. Nu. 14:8

You, Lord, are forgiving and good, abounding in love to all who call to you. Ps. 86:5

Good and upright is the LORD; therefore he instructs sinners in his ways. Ps. 25:8

But with you there is forgiveness, so that we can, with reverence, serve you. Ps. 130:4

Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. 1 Jo. 4:8

God calls you in.
Deeper.

God calls you out.
To head towards grace.

God dares you to hear him.
To listen to his true sounds.

For to know him,
is to know love.

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Regular Contributor, Katie Reid, is delighted to have a memoir piece published in Tales of Our Lives: Reflection Pond by Matilda Butler. The book launches today on Amazon for only 99 cents! Don’t miss it.

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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I Doubt, Now What?

I doubt

It creeps. It crawls. It slithers. We move fast, running with a paper towel to try to kill that blasted thing before it shows it’s disgusting face. We. Must. Kill. The. Yuck. We can’t see that. We can’t admit that. Don’t let anyone know that exists…

It would change the face of everything.
It would risk who we are.
It might make us reconsider things.
It might make others declare us un-Christian.
It might make God angry.

Just the other day, feeling overwhelmed by the this’ and thats of our great joyride called life, I stood in the center of it all, dropped my arms and practically screamed, “God, can you really help me get out of this mess? Do you really help?”

I have probably said it a hundred ways, on other days –
sounding something like this: 

God if you are so good, why haven’t you saved me yet?
Jesus, if you are all love, why did that happen?
What if my beliefs are all wrong and I chose the wrong way?
Why would you let the innocent get hurt?
Do you really want me?
I can’t be good enough (which truly is saying Jesus isn’t good enough).
Does prayer really change anything?

Even writing these things evokes feelings of shame. Shame that I would much rather gather between my fingers, pinch and let the insides squirm out. Shame that I want to hide for fear of a quick rebuke, but hiding never went unseen in the garden and it doesn’t on earth either.

So it makes me consider, what if speaking doubts
is the best way to speak in new faith? 

What if talking with God about the unknown
is the best way to make him more known?

I think about one man. His name was John. He baptized. But, before he did that, he went to the wilderness and started to preach and to call people to repentance. People came. They came from Jerusalem and Judea and the whole region of Jordan (Mt. 3:5-6). They confessed and were changed.

This man. He was on fire for the Lord. This man. He was preparing the way for Christ.

This man. Not too long after, doubted.

When John, who was in prison, heard about the deeds of the Messiah, he sent his disciples to ask him, “Are you the one who is to come, or should we expect someone else?” Jo. 11:2

Sometimes our prisons of despair make us feel certain
God doesn’t care.

Sometimes when we get all alone, our loneliness makes us believe God left us too.

Sometimes, when doubt kicks in, we have to kick out our fears to Jesus’ feet
and let him stomp them out.

That is what John did. He sent his disciples to Jesus with his question.

Jesus replied, “Go back and report to John what you hear and see: The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is proclaimed to the poor. Blessed is anyone who does not stumble on account of me.” Jo. 11:4

When we remember what God has done, we start to realize how much more he can do.

When we see all that he has fulfilled, we begin to believe he will fill in our gaps.

Jesus doesn’t tell us to go around squashing and squishing every question, fear or uncertainty that arises. He doesn’t chide John for his question and send him off without any care. Jesus tells us to come to him, to dive into his Word and to taste and see that the Lord is good.

Taste and see that the LORD is good; blessed is the one who takes refuge in him. Ps. 34:8

When we feel blocked in by the bars of life, we can reach out to receive the Word of life, in order to be refreshed by the Spirit who provides life.

Then, with new strength and new hope, we can call out and say something like: “I believe; help my unbelief!” Mark 9:24

And God does, because he is. And our heart becomes stronger; it beats louder, gets more oxygen and pumps more blood and we know that we did the right thing by being honest for he honestly changed our doubts into belief. We become confident he answers prayer.

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God’s Love Letter for You

love letter

Dear Father God,

I am struggling.
My heart is ripping in two with the thought of how I hurt you.
My defensiveness is boiling, spilling over, with the burning effect of protect or be harmed.
My guilt is cascading onto those I love.
My fears seem to keep me stuck immobile, feeling more like a pillar of salt than the salt of the earth.

There is a insidious inclination to look at myself, in these moments, and to say, “I hate you.”

“I hate how you can’t get things right.
I hate how you don’t love properly. I hate how you make others feel.”

In these moments, it seems like I’m riding a roller coaster that is only descending, that is only heading into the swamplands of no movement, no progress and eternal frustration. I don’t want to go…still though, I move there, even despite my best efforts.

God, why can’t I be all you want me to be?
Why can’t I do better and be better?
Why do I fall into my own traps of defeat?
Why can’t I beat my mind so I can be a “good” follower of you?

Kelly

Dear Child,

Love. Do you feel it? Do you know it? This is all I have reserved for you. It is the only seat I offer you, it is front row to my unending offering of everything I have. For you are mine and I am yours. Love. Move in and let it sink in.

Even when you may feel like you are pulling up the covers, turning off the lights and laying down in disappointment and discouragement, flick the switch, see the light and dead-stare into my eyes. I wait, not to give you the evil eye, but to let you know that you are mine. 

Inhale.

I want all of you. I delight in all of you. The places where you are falling, are the places I am uprising. Will you trust? You see the skinned knees, I see the miraculous renewal. I don’t just bandage and regrow, but heal and remake a zillion times more abundant than your smallest comprehension of new.

My work transcends earthly and rebounds into the spiritual
which far surpasses what you consider – natural.

For nothing will be impossible with me (God). Lu. 1:37

So, dear child, don’t be angry at yourself, for this is all part of the process. Don’t cast your efforts into class “loser”. Don’t tell yourself you need to go to bed with no dinner. You will fail, fall and falter. But, here is the truth:

I don’t want to return you to the orphanage and wipe my hands of you.
I don’t want to drop you off on the side of the road, unless you put a smile on your face.
I don’t want you to know that you better – shape up or ship out. 

I just want you, all of you, in my hands, moldable, breakable, pliable, makeable and malleabe so that I can make you incredible as you lay back into the warmth of my will.

Stay with me.
    Take heart. Don’t quit.
I’ll say it again:
    Stay with me.

Ps. 27:14 MSG

Don’t fear my process of remake, but open yourself up to it. Let love sink in – into the cracks, into the chaffed edges and into the unseen – so I can revive every cell you believe is of disrepair. I promise, I work wonders for beauty.

You see, my love is the healing point of all pain.
My love is the answer to your lash-outs.
My indwelling love is the answer to your out-dwelling peace.
My love is the end of condemnation and the beginning of affirmation. 
My love is the termination of avoidance and the conception of acceptance.
My love is arms around you when agony is too.
My love is the only current that removes the constant buzz of unbelonging.

The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again;
rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship.
And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.” Ro. 8:15

Will you give it a chance? A chance to just – be? A chance to sit on your heart as you sit quiet on your couch? A chance to change you? A chance to remake you?

Cherished child, don’t let love become cliche. Common. Normal. Ordinary. See it afresh. Consider it anew. Resign yourself to know that you can never know the fullness of my love; there is always more and more to it.

So, step back, hold on tight and let it flood your insides so that it floods your world, not with proper actions, but with me.  

You will be astonished at what comes out when you let my love move in.

Forever yours,

Daddy

 

Daddy,

When I find your heart, things change. What was up is down and what was down is up, meaning you, God, move down, and the enemy moves far, far, away. Rather than feeling like all the walls are caving in, rather than feeling suffocated by sub-par Christianity, I feel young again. I feel uninhibited, released and restructured. I feel like running downhill, arms wide open, body receiving, will disappearing, all the same emerging. Emerging into a better me, not because of me, but because of you.

The wind of your gentle Spirit strips away the old, the useless and the unneeded, to pack in new, useful and entirely needed. You bring me to your destination and, as I trust you God, it is great adventure, with great joy and great power in distinct and purposeful movement. God, keep me there. Keep me in the place where my heart says let’s go! Let’s go wild and free down your journey of adventure.

For I know that my Redeemer lives, and at the last he will stand upon the earth. Job 19:25

You love me, oh how you love me,

Your daughter

 

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Bloggers,

  1. Exciting news! We will now be linking up #periscopes every Friday. I have created a new Facebook group for this. I will share tips, tricks and insights on Periscope with encouragement along the way. Join now! Invite friends. Get linking!

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Celebrating Conflict

Celebrating Conflict

It is that thing that pretty much all of us hate.
It’s what we would rather run from – than run straight into.
It’s what makes us think bad thoughts, nasty thoughts and mean accusations to our closest.
It’s what drives us batty and crazy because we wonder if we will ever be understood.
It’s what sends us to mindsets of sin instead of the peace of holiness, faster than one can whip out a quick retort.

It’s conflict. The worst 8 letter word around.

It is that thing that we don’t know why, we as Christians even have to deal with, but, still, we do. Somehow and sometimes, we are bound to hit it. And as ugly as it is, we often stand right in the midst of it, wondering how something so icky, so yucky and so unsavory, could exist in one who is trying to pursue God so hard?

How a God seeker could turn into more of a raging lunatic than a calming saint?

How this very growth of mold could threaten to swallow whole God’s very light shining on it?

But, yet, if we stop and think, this is the point isn’t it? There still is light. God’s light is still shining on it, right? There is no amount of disgrace, shame and darkness that can remove the ray of light that is above you. Light won’t let go of your hand, it won’t stop warming you and it won’t stop quenching darkness. So, even though you feel your feet stand in the death and decay of relationship, have you ever considered…

…maybe it’s more about focusing your eyes on the land of repair, instead of the face of despair.

Let’s reflect…

Maybe, just maybe, instead of focusing on all that person didn’t do, it is much more about focusing on what God is about to do – in you…
How God is preparing you.
How God is molding you.
How God is bettering you.
How God wants outstanding for you.
How God uses people to reconstruct you.
How God cares more about his life in you, than your happy life around you.
How God can fix the most complex junkers into complete beauties in his perfect timing.

In any rotten moment,
God extends his hand of love out to you.

Will you take it?

Hold on to it. And let him lead you?

Conflict is the body shop of God’s repair, for it is here that he points out, kneads and buffs out the greatest defects of our hearts.

But, it requires we get open, real and ready for his work; it means we get humble.

For a heart bowed down, clears more space for the light of Christ to rest over it.

The light is always the answer. It is the proving point to a mind that thinks like this:

Be not discouraged, he is helping us.
Be not dismayed, he is with us.
Be not disgraced, he calls us to see.
Be not downright angry, he leads us to listen.
Be not debased, he calls us to set our ways down.
Be not defeated, he calls us to victory in Christ.
Be not dejected, he calls us to new ways of thinking.
Be not defamed, you are always loved in his eyes.
Be not defensive, the correction spoken might be your ticket to fullness.
Be not down and out, you are always Christ’s new creation, created in his image.
Be not disqualified, nothing can remove you from the hand of God.
Be not denied, Christ already died to fully accept you.

Thinking like this leads a person. When they feel ready to fall prey, they simply fall down and pray. Suddenly and often, what they find is – God has the best way. Imagine that.

They find themselves being and doing the wild and crazy things they never dreamed they had in them or available to the mean folk who love to come against them:  Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Col. 3:12

And, what they find is – real love. From God and to man.

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The Unexpected Repairing Ground

Repairing Ground

Dear eyes, you have looked through the glasses of not enough for so long. You have gazed upon other’s lots wishing to grab their “a lot”. Their kids, cars, houses, smarts, clothes, cars and blessings. You crave it all. You have hoped and dreamed, pleaded and called, but still, your eyes constrict when you see all you don’t have. There is hope.

Dear hands, you are trying, you are fighting and you are walking by faith, but sometimes the work of your hands falters. You trip up and chip up your nails, your best efforts, which only seems to send you into a cycle of defeat and discouragement. You feel like you can’t make it holy enough. Don’t give up.

Dear mind, you carry around the self-condemning thoughts of “I wish I could be better, love more, do more and be more.” You tend to miss the mark and punish yourself for doing so. Honestly, the way you run circles, chasing the tail of “perfectly all together,” may just rip you apart. There is more. 

Dear feet, you go to the places of need. You rise to the moments of emergency. You run to help others. You go far lengths. But, still, you wonder, do these feet travel far enough? Are they making a difference? Are the steps futile? They count.

Dear other person, I wonder, will you still love me entirely with my flaws? Will you be able to look past all my frame is not to see all I am? What would happen if I trusted you? Take a risk.

For he holds the whole body together with its joints and ligaments, and it grows as God nourishes it. Col. 2:19

Suddenly, my eyes open, my ears listen, my mouth waits, and my hands reach out to see God’s nourishing truth. While I always thought the freedom was centered on me, I am realizing it transcends time-sensitive bodies – it transcends our body. It is not just about one flawed and damaged part, but it is entirely about the whole part. The part he is moving and making into his greatness, for his greatness.

His body that makes my body. Why? Because my body is his body (I am his temple). His body is the church (we are his people). The church is God’s primary mission field to repair damaged bodies (if we let it work).

Founded in Christ and deployed through our willingness, we – together – become the healers of the awkward thoughts, the repairers of hidden shame and the bringers of the most hope inducing words ever – “me too.”

Unity creates immunity. An immunity that wards off loneliness, unsteadiness and unsightliness. We were at our worst, but together, we hit the potential to become our best.

If we give unity a fighting chance, we give let progress walk in – shuffle around –
and do it’s victory dance.

For then, a collaborative voice emerges, saying, “We can do it, make it and conquer it. We can see our bulges, our wrinkles and our indents and say, this body is very good.” (Gen. 1:3) Not because everything is perfectly beautiful, but because everything is beautifully transparent in a way where one needs Christ, where one needs another.

Holding hands, there is joy, there is a sliver of something – a glorious sunrise emerges in the center of the darkness of night and what appears is the new beginning to a story that we thought ended.

We see our ill-formed bodies, as a whole, formed into the image of Christ.

Our body emerges remarkable, radiant and restored.

You are altogether beautiful, my darling; there is no flaw in you. Song 4:7

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The Burden is Off, My Friends

The Burden is Off

What would happen if I packed up, crammed all my stuff into a moving van and found a new home – God’s dwelling? Might God whisper “The burden is off, my child”?

If I truly said:

God, you own these kids, so I release myself from the burden of mismanagement.
God, these goods are under your roof, so if you don’t like them – for me, you can remove them.
God, when things break down in our house, you care – it is your house too.
God, you’re in the very center of the air in this marriage. You are in our midst in this house.
God, this home doesn’t actually belong to me, it belongs to you.
God, these plans I make are under your owned roof, help me come to you first, before I steamroll ahead.
God, you care about the mother and father who walk these rooms, their feelings and thoughts you oversee.

Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High
will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.
I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress,
my God, in whom I trust.” Ps. 91:1-2

If I put everything I own under his roof, his bullet-proof roof will wrap me with protection.

Cooking, caring, helping, guiding, serving, homeworking, loving, speaking, thinking and teaching will no longer rest on me, but it will reside under him. Every time I look up, the ceiling will remind me of whose shelter I am under. Every time I feel pressed against a wall, it will remind me I am not trapped, but wrapped with his love. Every time I feel it is too much, I will remind myself that God is much more in this place then I could ever be. Every time, I fear the dark, I will remind myself that he keeps me in his shadow, because he wants me close, not far so he can hurt me.

He will cover you with his feathers,
and under his wings you will find refuge;
his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart. Ps. 91:4

Covered.
Gliding.
Moving.
Progressing.
Understood.
Safe.
Sound.
Armed.
Alarm set.
Tucked in tight.
Into the arms of the father.
Within our own home, which is his.

If you say, “The Lord is my refuge,” and you make the Most High your dwelling,
no harm will overtake you, no disaster will come near your tent.
For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways;
they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.
You will tread on the lion and the cobra; you will trample the great lion and the serpent. Ps. 91: 9-13

As God rules a refuge, he protects it. As if he places an invisible bubble of armored protection around it, harm hits it hard and falls, disaster is diverted, angels are concerned, my foot is not stubbed, the opposition walks scared and I walk defeating them.

The burden is off of me – and onto God.

Lord, God, come into my home and make your home. Everything belongs to you. I belong to you. My children belong to you. My goods belong to you. My heart belongs to you. My faith belongs to you. My life belongs to you. Rule in your shelter as I live under it. Help me stay in your ways and within your heart, never to depart. Amen.

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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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How to Fight to Win

Fight to Win

It is that thing that pretty much all of us hate.

It’s what we would rather run from than run straight into.

It’s what makes us speak accusations
instead of affirmations.

It’s what drives us bat crazy,
feeling like we are chasing a shifting shadows of ever changing goals and needs.

It’s what sends us to mindsets of sin rather than pastures of holiness.

It is called conflict.

It is that thing that we don’t know why, we as Christians have to deal with – yet, we do. Somehow and sometimes, we just hit it. And as ugly as it is, we often stand, right in the midst of it, wondering how something so icky, so yucky and so unsavory, could exist in one who is trying to pursue God so wholly? 

How a God seeker could turn into more of a raging lunatic than a calming saint?

How this very growth of mold could threaten to swallow God’s very light shining on it?

But, yet, if we stop and think, sometimes our heart actually lands at the truth, doesn’t it?

God’s light is still shining – even when our heart isn’t.

There is no amount of disgrace, shame and darkness that can remove the ray of light shining on you. Like the rays that follow your tin can of transport, so does God go. Like the light that reflect off the tiny pieces of dirt on the side of the road, so does God go. Like the moon that shines even in the darkness, so does God go.  You can’t stop the places his light shine.

God’s light shines hope into every endless pit of death and decay –
it can’t help but make things grow.

The glow of repair is always available – and the glow is a He and he waits for our call, so that he can run to our rescue, operating tools and all, to reshape us into glory, faster than one can mutter “Thank you.”

God didn’t save his glow for the perfect, he shines it on the sinners.

The only hindrance for us receiving it, is us believing dirty rotten scoundrels can really handle it without ruining everything.

It is moving in, rather than running away.
It is waiting, rather than hiding.
It is believing grace rather than fear.
It is relaxing into his work, rather than resisting it.

Conflict is the great body shop of God’s repair,
for it is here that he points out the greatest defects of our hearts.

The amazing part is – when those who are defected,
continually run to him who is resurrected,
we can’t help but find ourselves more and more perfected. 

So, be not discouraged, he is helping us.
Be not dismayed, he is with us in the heat of the moment, despite the coldness of our heart.
Be not disgraced, he calls us to see, not our bad moves, but his great ones.
Be not downright angry, he leads us to listen, so then we can understand.
Be not debased, he calls us to set our ways down, so we can come alive to his.
Be not defeated, he calls us to victory in Christ, so then we may be free.
Be not dejected, he calls us to new ways of thinking, so we don’t live furious.
Be not defamed, you are always loved in his eyes.
Be not defensive, his correction spoken might be your ticket to fullness.
Be not down and out, you are permanently Christ’s new creation.
Be not disqualified, nothing can remove you from the hand of God.
Be not denied, Christ already died to fully accept you.

The key is to pray so we don’t fall prey, but so we find God’s way. His way is the greatest cease and desist order to the devil and the most potent concoction of peace there is.

Suddenly, what we find is – it’s not so much about winning, but much more about letting Christ win our hearts over in love – so everything flows according to HIS plan.

Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Col. 3:12

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10 Bible Verses: How Jesus Prayed

How Jesus Prayed

Last night, as I was booting down the day in prayer, I realized something. Something kind of significant. I figured what it said about me just as important as what I actually believed about prayer.

It struck me that while I often pray to stop worrying, I always pray mid-struggle – in the heat of a thought that has run haywire, like a wire with far too much current and no outlet.  Now, I won’t say by that point it is too late, but I just wonder, why do I wait until that point, rather than getting out in front of it defensively?

Why don’t I build an action plan, a game plan and an attack
to beat down worry before it runs wild?

When we fail to prepare with big preemptive prayers, we prepare like paupers. 

But, when we prepare in advance, not fearing to ask for massive deliverance,
God prepares our hearts in the unimaginable.

Why is it we are afraid to ask for the enormous, the unthinkable and the life-changing?

1. We are scared that our big God will only deliver us small answers and thereby disappoint us.
2. We feel guilty for not praying righteous prayers, so we pray empty prayers.
3. We wonder what we will end up believing about God, if we end up seeing him not come through.
4. We figure that we are somehow supposed to conquer, what God stands ready to.

Yet, Jesus, he teaches us to pray unrestrained, unbelievable and uncensored prayers. Let’s take a look.

10 Bible Verses: How Jesus Prayed

1. But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed. Lu. 5:16

Getting alone gives our mind the white space it needs to conceptualize life-transforming spiritual needs.

2. And going a little farther he fell on his face and prayed, saying, My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will. Mt 26:39

Jesus was not afraid to ask for big deliverance. Our big God can handle big prayers. In fact, he loves a heart that believes by faith he can do all things. Just ask it!

3. My Father, if this cannot pass unless I drink it, your will be done. Mt 26:42 

Jesus knew God’s will takes precedence over earthly will. When we pray, we should let our heart convey needs, yet trust that God ultimately knows what we best need.

4. And rising very early in the morning, while it was still dark. Mk. 1:35

Jesus knew that seeing God first in his day, sets the foundation of a day – in God. When we place our morning eyes on God, he gives our eyes sight on great strength in our day.

5. Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name. Mt. 6:9 

Jesus knew who he was talking to, do we? God tells us that the name of the Lord is a strong tower, the righteous can run into it and are safe (Prov 18:10). Do we believe this?

6. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one. Mt. 6:13

Praying to be delivered from what has not already hit, prevents your feet from getting swept out from under. Jesus teaches us to pray preemptively, and for good reason.

7. I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children. Yes, Father, for this was your good pleasure. Mt. 11:25-26

Jesus praised God for what man could easily find fault with. Praise God for the things you can’t understand. When we know that a good God is over our bad problems, we find calm waters.

8. But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers. Lu. 22:32

Jesus knew the value in praying on behalf of faith. May we ask for more faith, so we can walk into the unseen with power, authority and courage, just like Jesus.

9. I am praying for them. I am not praying for the world but for those whom you have given me, for they are yours. Holy Father, keep them in your name, which you have given me, that they may be one, even as we are one. Jo. 17:9

Jesus prayed for his beloved children. Let’s pray that our heart, and the heart of all God’s children, will endure, stay pure and persevere together until the end, for this is God’s will for us.

10. Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” And they divided up his clothes by casting lots. Lu. 23:34

Jesus forgave when he could have cursed the world for his breath labored pain and agony. He didn’t. Let’s forgive those who cause us pain and agony, for what we will find is that forgiveness is what ends up causing us far less pain in the long run.

Prayer.

It is our power.
It is our strength.
It is our direct connection to the greatest ruler of this earth.
It is our cosmic shift from selfish plans to God’s plans.
It is our ability to be an influencer, a pleader and a worker in a kingdom that counts.
It is our ticket to our greatest needs being met in awe inspiring ways.
It is our hope that confirms to our heart we have a hope.
It is our peace that the creator is still creating. 
It is our power found in uplifted hands and in the quietness of a solitary room.
It is our ability to call the Great Physician to a family member in need.
It is our emergency exit door for what the devil has already cooked up to destroy us.
It is our greatest weapon in a world that is building bigger and bigger weapons.
It is our lifeline when we feel we have lost all life.

It was one of Jesus’ greatest tools,
shouldn’t it be ours too?

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