Purposeful Faith

Category - dreams

Winter Means Waiting

Post by: Christine Hoover

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

This is what God did with the prophet Jeremiah:

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

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

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

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

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A Truth I love

“Believing we can have it all, all the time is a myth and a lie and a joy-stealer. What I do believe is that we can have God’s best for us. A full life and a life to the full are two very different things. One is about grasping, the other is about receiving. One is about cramming in, the other is about room to breathe. One is about striving, the other is about trust. One is about control, the other letting go – sometimes for a moment and sometimes for always.”

When I read this, in Holley Gerth’s new book, Fierce Hearted, all I could think was, yes, yes, yes. She nailed it and was saying everything I was living. You see, God recently invited me into this beautiful place of, “Set it all down Kelly. Come. And follow me.

Set down the social media stuff. Follow me.

Set down your plans. Follow me.

Set down your busy work. Follow me.

Set down your dreams. Be with me.

My answer was, “Yes, God!!!”

But you see, it’s easy to speak, but much more difficult to do. To leave behind the striving to be seen, to turn away from the control that comes with manhandling my schedule and to surrender my busyness that covers over the sense of lack I don’t want to see. . . well, it all sounds nice, but. . .

It leaves me feeling exposed. What if I am not doing what I should be? What if I miss out? What if I am left behind? What if I don’t get what I dream of? What if my time spent with God ends up (and I’d probably never vocalize this). . . wasted? What if I get disappointed?

Yet I am finding it is always in the letting go that God works his way in. It is always in the relinquishing that we get a broad-stroke view of what God is doing. It is always in carved-out space that we see God draw new stories right over the old versions of insecurity.

But we must give leeway to His ways. It’s the only way.

When we clear out everything so God can come, He does. With power, strength, dignity, honor and a pen that redraws all we ever wanted – and more. He also has an eraser. One that doesn’t feel like denial, remorse or pretending, but recovery.

“Our everything” is not found in “our doing,” but “His everything” is found in “our undoing” before Him.

Ahh…peace.

Come, Jesus. Restructure us. Let us let go of what we clench so tightly so we can find ourselves held tight in the power of your love. Amen. (and thank you Holley!)

Buy Fiercehearted: Live Fully, Love Bravely on Amazon or wherever books are found.

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Getting What You Need, First.

Me first.

Me first.

Me first.

I’d never walk up to you and say it, but underneath my smiling and warm veneer, my heart often says…

Me first. I’m not sure I can trust you enough to give to you.

Me first. I want to make sure I am provided for.

Me first. I need to get my words understood before I understand yours.

Me first. I must hold my money tightly to make sure there is enough.

Me first. It is better to keep distance from you, so you don’t irritate me.

Me first. I need to be seen/recognized/loved first, before you are.

Me first. If you serve me, then I can serve you with peace about doing so. 

Me first. If I feel good about me, then I can feel good about you.

Me. Me. Me.

My mouth would never say it, but overwhelmingly and often, my heart does. This is a massive problem.

“People look at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.” 1 Sam. 16:7

What is your heart speaking that your mouth would never admit?

Where are you putting yourself first instead of last?

“So the last will be first, and the first will be last.” Mt. 20:16

Where are you making it about your interests, not theirs?

“Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves.” Phil. 2:3

Where do you figure because others act this way, you can too?

“When they measure themselves by one another and compare themselves with one another, they are without understanding.” 2 Cor. 10:12

Often, we think it’s in going first, getting first, and securing our place first that our life becomes full. What a lie. The enemy was the first liar. He put himself first, before God, and now suffers the consequences: eternity-long discontentment. Me-first mentalities never bring ultimate fulfillment. They may abate an insecurity for a moment, but to the detriment of overflowing soul-contentment.

Contentment is only found when our heart is content in God. And joy is found only God’s way, not via our hyper-dense, over-packed mega-highway to self-glory, achievement and fulfillment. On this road, we only get stuck. In miles and miles of congestion that leaves us breathing in choke-inducing fumes, not peace.

What me-first mentality might God be calling you to surrender today?

 

Kelly’s new book, Fear Fighting: Awakening Courage to Overcome Your Fears has been called “A must read,” “Breathtakingly honest” and a “Great Toolbox to Overcome Fear.” Read it today.

Discover how to flee from fear and fly in faith through 4 Days to Fearless Challenge.

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

5 Ways Waiting is a Blessing

I drive up to a stop sign and hate that the car in front of me lingers an extra ten seconds. I go to grab some food at Chipotle and find myself annoyed at the gap in the line being caused by that texter. I go to the grocery store and size up the length of the lines to get out quickly.

I hate waiting.

What are you waiting for? A marriage to finally work its way to peace? A time when you can finally quit your job and work toward your dream? A child who will come back home and change his or her ways? A prayer that you so desperately want answered? A future that you no longer need to worry about? A solution to the problem that you just can’t piece together?

Waiting can feel like agony. It can also feel like injustice. Or torture. Or frustration because you don’t know why your good God isn’t pulling through.

May I tell you something? He is pulling through.

Waiting is not about destroying hope, but renewing you.

“How?” you say.

The 5 Ways Waiting is a Blessing

  1. Waiting addresses your heart-issues.
    What you can’t see through times of abundance becomes the red hot potato in your hands during waiting. Here, you can see the burning anger, irritation, bitterness or frustration at God and others. Waiting points a finger to the places God is ready to bring restoration through a heart of confession.
  2. Waiting creates a deeper dependence on God.
    When I really need my husband’s help to hang a picture or to get something done, I hang near him. I want him to see me and be reminded of what it is I asked him to do. We do the same with God. We hang closer to Him when we really need him.
  3. Waiting reworks our vision.
    I can’t tell you how many times I’ve wanted a lesser gift from God. Years ago, I thought it was a silver convertible that was going to be my joy. I prayed for it, desired it and got it. That day was glorious. A couple of months later, it was just another car on the road. I realized I longed for a lesser gift, when what I really wanted was joy. In a wait our vision often adjusts, and rather than asking for a lesser thing, what comes to light is our need for a greater thing.
  4. Waiting sends us out in ministry.
    You are not alone in your wait. Thousands of other women and men sit in the same shoes with the same hope, deferred. Waiting helps us to get our eyes off of our demands and to see the dejection of others. As we reach out to them, see the needs and address them, the weight we placed on ourselves lightens. The desire to help and love them increases. Peace swoops in like a dover of hope.
  5. Waiting prepares your heart today for the abundance coming tomorrow.
    It’s in the waiting that God does his preparing for the gifts, goodness and greatness he will bring tomorrow. As we wait, impurities fall, so we’re ready to walk into His best with purity. Waiting prepares us to become holy vessels.

 

Kelly’s new book, Fear Fighting: Awakening Courage to Overcome Your Fears has been called “A must read,” “Breathtakingly honest” and a “Great Toolbox to Overcome Fear.” Read it today.

Discover how to flee from fear and fly in faith through 4 Days to Fearless Challenge.

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

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One Thing you Can Do to Bring Peace

Bring Peace

A couple weeks ago we left our house to prepare for Hurricane Irma. There were so many moving parts. We had no idea when school would resume. My husband needed to take a business trip. The storm had no real direction, and we had people telling us to leave and which houses we could live at. A million decisions were thrown up in the air, with a storm barreling towards us.

And so many worries…would our car be okay? Would our place get flooded? Would our life ever return to normal? Would power take months to go back on? Would schools ever start up again? How could I get my manuscript done for the next week with a hard deadline on my shoulders?

Add to the ride screaming kids, a phone that was blowing up with texts, bad news after bad news and it all could add up to: too much.

My husband looked at me and said, “Kelly, we need to take things one day at a time.”

These words released me from the burden of knowing it all. They spoke to me: Kelly, it is okay to be where you are today. Just stick here, in today. . .you can figure out the rest later.

Inhale. Exhale. God has this.

Where do you need to “take things one day at a time?” How might keeping your thoughts in today prevent you from rushing into quick, sandy thoughts of tomorrow? Thoughts that want to sink you emotionally?

“Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” Mt. 6:34

What we have here, in this moment, is what God works with. It is what he impacts, as we trust him. It is what we feel peace with, as we address it. It is what calms us, as we know we did our part.  It is what sets us free from overwhelming and heartbreaking worry.

Let it go. You have full permission, today, to take things one day at a time.

 

Kelly’s new book, Fear Fighting: Awakening Courage to Overcome Your Fears has been called “A must read,” “Breathtakingly honest” and a “Great Toolbox to Overcome Fear.” Read it today.

Discover how to flee from fear and fly in faith through 4 Days to Fearless Challenge.

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

How is Your Heart?

I’ve been watching the show, The Partner. In this show, Marcus Lemonis, puts many to the test but is selecting one right-hand-man or woman to be his partner. He puts each person through the wringer: he tests their knowledge of financial statements, has them run their own businesses, and places them in high-tension sales situations.

In a different way, God, also, is looking for just the right person…

…will He find you?

For the eyes of the Lord range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him. (2 Chron. 16:9)

Just as Marcus noticed how his contestants endured under fire, God notices as well. Not with the goal of eliminating us, but much with the same goal – of promoting us.

Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much. (Lu. 16:10)

Have you considered, the tests God is permitting are because he knows you’ll prove yourself strong, steadfast and worthy to move to greater things? Have you considered – he believes in you? Have you realized – he desires to move you into great and glorious things for his making?

At the end of the show, The Partner, there was 2 woman left: one was a Harvard genius the other was humble and willing to learn.

Marcus chose the second. I believe God often does too.

Where is your heart? Are you willing to learn? Or, are you set in your ways?

Notice: In 2 Chronicles 16:9, God didn’t say his eyes roam the earth for the best person, the wisest or the most qualified, he said he roams the earth to strengthen hearts “fully committed” to him.

To have a heart “fully” committed is to:

  1. Ask God to search your heart.
  2. Be willing to see what needs change.
  3. To be humble enough to consider doing things differently.
  4. To be open to God’s leading as he helps you do things differently.
  5. To recycle, over and over again, items 1-4 above.

I believe, for this person: new doors are opened, their life is changed, and God’s hand blesses them in tremendous ways. Today, check your heart.

 

Kelly’s new book, Fear Fighting: Awakening Courage to Overcome Your Fears has been called “A must read,” “Breathtakingly honest” and a “Great Toolbox to Overcome Fear.” Read it today.

Discover how to flee from fear and fly in faith through 4 Days to Fearless Challenge.

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

Alarm: You Need Help & It is Okay

We have a broken fire alarm in our house. It’s either that, or well working. At the first hint of bacon, or scents of meat or scorch in a pan the thing fires off.

At first, we freaked. We didn’t know whether, with this obnoxious sound, we should run outside to grab a hose or just sit around and chill out. But, after the 11th or so time, we realized – all will be okay. We just have to address the issue and move on with our day.

Some of us, need to do the same: We need to hear a fire alarm sounding in our mind, address the issue with God and know it will be okay.

What fire alarm should be sounding off in your life? Is it harsh words? Is it a mean attitude? Is it a shut-down heart? Is it a busy lifestyle? Is it a spending habit?

Usually, we try to go through our house, our life, acting like everything is okay when it really is not. This is not okay. We need to hear that fire alarm, the sound of God reminding us – Hey, look over here, there are some things you need to address. There are some areas that I want you to see, so you can better see me. 

It is not a sound of condemnation, it is a sound of restoration, meant to bring us to Jesus’ consolation. Jesus loves us. He wants to help us. He is for us. He is with us. He is our advocate. He is our relief. He is our way. He is our life.

Why not let him heal us from what hurts today? Why not call out to him, instead of trying to soldier on with bandages around our knees and a limp to your spirit? We were meant for more than this kind of living, weren’t we?

You’re not faking him; I am not either.

And, even though I try to “fake it” in my house, today I admit: My heart feels fragile. It feels needy. It feels wanting. I am a little weary.

But, no weight is not too much for God to carry.

In fact, renewed power and passion comes to types like me and you, who admit need. For, with Christ, our weakness becomes our strength. We need not feel ashamed to abide in the place of wanting, of longing and of helplessness. Here, he who is help, brings help, speedily. He rescues us. He rushes in. He saves.

“The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.” (Ps. 34:18)

Be not ashamed if there is an alarm sounding in your life; he who saves will show up.

Kelly’s new book, Fear Fighting: Awakening Courage to Overcome Your Fears has been called “A must read,” “Breathtakingly honest” and a “Great Toolbox to Overcome Fear.” Read it today.

Discover how to flee from fear and fly in faith through 4 Days to Fearless Challenge.

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

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Your Greatest Defense in Life

Greatest Defense

Backing into my driveway today, from my rear view mirror, I could see the sign planted in the ground adjacent to the garage. It said, “This house is secured by ADT.” I needed this reminder from God.  Because, while I might forget it — while I might feel alone, left behind, broken or tired, the truth is: I have personal security. And, so do you.

We all walk secured and protected by God: He holds our hand, He keeps our foot from slipping, He gives us his name, His strong tower and He always defends us.

“The LORD himself will fight for you. Just stay calm.” (Ex. 14:14)

We have personal security!

This is a vital truth to remember. It is one to return to often, because, like colanders, we only hold Living Water until the gravity of the world pulls it out.

When empty, we wonder:

Is God good?
Will he really help me?
Do I have what it takes?
How will I ever survive?
Does God really care?

I found myself in this place today: I was drained, discouraged and down in the dumps. Who knows why!

But, I pulled on security. Quiet time with God is my security. It is likely yours too. It is what protects our mind in Christ Jesus.

As I prayer walked, God reminded me:

  1. He can do all things. He created this world; he can create new circumstances.
  2. In the world I might feel weak; but when I walk with him, I am strong.
  3. Appearances mean nothing; his truth and my status as daughter means everything.
  4. He has created me in advance for good works and these good works he will see through.
  5. If I keep coming to God, He’ll keep showing me what to do.

We all have home security. It is called getting alone with him who assures you, you are: 1. safe 2. loved and, 3. His, forever.

In Christ, you cannot be invaded.

 

Kelly’s new book, Fear Fighting: Awakening Courage to Overcome Your Fears has been called “A must read,” “Breathtakingly honest” and a “Great Toolbox to Overcome Fear.” Read it today.

Discover how to flee from fear and fly in faith through 4 Days to Fearless Challenge.

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

A Power Boost in Christ Jesus

We can be like tires, after a lot of mileage, we run down. We loose our traction to God’s Word. We slip and slide into worldliness. We can feel it happening, we sense the tug, we know we are a little out of control, the problem is, sometimes, we are not so sure what to do about it.

I feel it in my life. I’ve had a series of frustrating situations: the babysitter backed our car into the mailbox, my feelings got hurt by a friend, and my prayer life with God landed in the doldrums.

Fortunately, I’m beginning to get eyes to see, if I don’t change something at the first sign of a slide, I’ll land in a ditch of faith.  I don’t want this. Neither do you, I bet.

And, what about you? Are you, like me, slipping and sliding today?

– Letting arguments or distance with another dictate your worth.
– Finding yourself alone, tired and doubtful in your house.
– Resting on your own abilities to accomplish things, and not God’s.
– Endlessly worrying about your “situation” and having a hard time giving it to God.
– Recounting all that went wrong and not knowing how to get your mind off it.
– Returning to the sense that you are not really cared for by God.
– Battling your own will to avoid the temptation before you.
– Forgetting your quiet time or prayer time with God.

No matter where you stand, even if you feel completely on fire for the Lord, our goal is to boost your traction. So you cling on to the King of Kings, grip his paths, and stay on them.

The first step along this path is to:

  1. Offer Forgiveness: Even if you need to forgive the same person 50 times. God endorses this behavior. He tells us to forgive 77 times – times 7 (Mt. 18:22).
  2. Ask God: Will you help me to receive your Words and believe your words in a way where they relieve my heart?
  3. Proclaim Godliness: Speak the truth (out loud). Speak it over yourself. Now, don’t fear, while you might feel dumb, you don’t look dumb to God, you look quite wise, actually, for getting your little self back on his path.

    Speak this:I am beloved; I am God’s child and nothing can ever change that.

    I am chosen; Father God never turns his back on those he wants.

    I am helped; in everything I do, God will help me.

    I am equipped; the Lord gives me what I need to accomplish his will.

    I am restored; Jesus didn’t come to earth to leave mankind broken and he won’t leave me this way either.

    I am forgiven; what was done on the cross is as permanent as marker
    there is no erasing its power.

    I am renewed; I am being transformed into the image of Christ Jesus.

    I am not perfect; I am growing and moving from glory to glory.

    I am strong. In Christ Jesus, I have all I need to walk into this life;
    his grace is more than enough.

    I am able. There is nothing that God can’t help me do;
    there is no mountain I can’t move, through prayer.

    I am destined. I am destined to the fullness of heaven and
    no scheme of the enemy can take that from me.

    I am alive. This is my one life to go all out for God – and I will.

    I am talented. God has given me works to do in advance,
    not so I can doubt them, but so I can unleash them.

    I am in love. Father, Son and Holy Spirit are my affection. Through them, I spread love.

    I am called. I will go as God calls me to go.

    I will lay it all down to follow my King, Master and Prince of Peace.

    I am daughter; I am cared for in the kindest ways.

    I am covered; God’s faithfulness will bring me through.

    I am safe; God’s protection never breaks.

    I am whole in Christ Jesus and if he is for me – no one can be against.

    Believing and speaking these words restores tread and traction in our heart. We reattach to the vine and abide in his love, so much so, our mind realizes, we are not operating in this world but in HIS world. Getting to this place, to the place of spiritual eyes, is what brings us back to a heart that is on fire for God. It is what makes us go out in the world and pass the torch to another person. Rest here.

Kelly’s new book, Fear Fighting: Awakening Courage to Overcome Your Fears has been called “A must read,” “Breathtakingly honest” and a “Great Toolbox to Overcome Fear.” Read it today.

Discover how to flee from fear and fly in faith through 4 Days to Fearless Challenge.

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

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What Are You Waiting For?

waiting king of world

Post By: Angela Parlin

My last semester of college, I moved to North Carolina for an internship at a giant computer corporation.

I hated to leave school early, but they offered me a chance to work into my first real job, and I couldn’t pass it up. Just before I moved, my boyfriend proposed, and we decided to get married less than 6 months later. Just after college graduation. It was an exciting time, to say the least.

So I transitioned into a new job, and moved into what would become our first apartment. I learned our new city and made some new friends. And after setting up our apartment with just the basics, I laid out pieces of wedding paraphernalia on the nightstand beside my bed. It was a daily reminder of my new life to come, the life I was eagerly waiting for.

Do you remember a time when you longed for something new, just around the bend?

I studied a verse earlier this week, and it reminded me of this anticipation.

“So Christ, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to deal with sin but to save those who are eagerly waiting for Him.” Hebrews 9:28, ESV

Let’s talk about that last phrase for a minute. To save those who are EAGERLY WAITING for Him.

Jesus will come again, not to deal with sin but to save those who are eagerly waiting for Him.

I have a question for you, and it’s probably going to hurt a little. But I hope it brings you to a better place, and a new perspective.

Are you eagerly waiting for Jesus?

He is coming to save those who are eagerly waiting for Him. But there’s just one problem.

We love the world instead.

We are eagerly waiting for all our dreams to come true in this life. We are waiting, for everything we love right here—for the work and accomplishments and people and events and promotions and possessions and all the plans we desire for our families, for our lives. Right here.

I hate to admit it, but my desires and dreams for this life compete with my desire for Jesus.

I’ve been involved in a love affair with this world, and it has prevented me from waiting eagerly for Jesus to come again. But the Holy Spirit used this passage to make me aware, and to lead me to repentance. There’s no better place to be, because repentance brings refreshment.

“Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord.” Acts 3:19

I don’t want to be waiting on all the amazing possibilities of this world.

I want to be waiting for the King of the world.

Let’s hope He finds us waiting for a new life to come. Waiting eagerly for Jesus.

Angela Parlin

Angela Parlin is a wife and mom to 3 rowdy boys and 1 sweet girl. In addition to spending time with friends and family, she loves to read and write, spend days at the beach, watch romantic comedies, and organize closets. But most of all, she loves Jesus and writes to call attention to the beauty of life in Christ, even when that life collaborates with chaos. Join her at www.angelaparlin.com, So Much Beauty In All This Chaos.