Purposeful Faith

Category - envy

When You Are Left Out of The “In” Club

left out

Everywhere I have been there has always seemed to be an “in” club. There has always been an exclusive group of women who have it better than me.

When I was in middle school, I can remember all the girls faces. They pulled together like a band of linked BFF necklaces. They were unbreakable, together and unified. I was not part of it.

While they laughed, skipped and played – I always hoped to be seen.

While they hung out at one area of the pool – I was on the other.

While they whispered funny jokes – I wondered if they were talking about me?

I was left out.

Even growing up, I keep on seeing these “in” clubs…

At work, there was the “powerful group”, they were always a pay-grade and title above. 

Around town, there are social classes. You either have the goods – or you don’t.

In writing, there is the “made-author” group, these are normally the untouchable women via email or social media because they have “people” who take care of that.

No matter what club it is, one thing remains the same:

They are in the light, I am in the dark.
They are center stage, I am in the back row, breaking my neck to see.
They are fun-and-games, big lights and cameras, I am alone.
They are loving life, I am just trying to figure out how to see the action.

I am in the back row and they are in the front.

They have the best seat, I have the worst.

In a way, I feel victimized. I feel left with no decision, just left out.

Have you ever felt this way? Excluded?

But when you are invited, take the lowest place, so that when your host comes, he will say to you, ‘Friend, move up to a better place.’ Then you will be honored in the presence of all the other guests. Jo. 14:10

What if God has placed us in the lower seat,
because he can best use and grow us there?

What if, over time, that exact seat is what gives us a
freeing view of life
only observable from that vantage point?

I can’t help but notice that those sitting in the lower seat, he refers to as “friend.” In a low seat, you almost can’t help but grow in relationship with God.  You call on him. You need him. What if we were to see our seats differently?

Because, God says, what we consider our detested seat,
soon enough will become – our honored seat.

I don’t want to hate what he loves.

Do you?

I can’t help but think of how he grows a person as they sit down low and in the center of “abandoned”

He looks at them and says:

You don’t need other people, you just need me. You don’t need status, you just need my righteousness. You don’t need looks, wealth, intellect or ability, you just need my purity. I didn’t seat you high, because where I can best mold you and make you is when you are low. Then, I can dig my hands in deep and let them recreate the best you, the you that is truly made in my image. So, keep not your eyes on things or fads, that will come and go, but keep your eyes on me, for I will last forever. And, forever we will go. I love you child and in my club, you will forever reside.

The lower we go, the higher our view of God.

We must decide.

Will we spend our life crying that we sit low,
or will we spend it in peace,
as we remember that God never fails to bring his loved ones high,

in due time?

Whether on earth or in heaven, at the proper time, we will be exalted.
We will be exalted to glories unexplainable,
to words unspeakable,
to life unknowable,
to hope unbreakable,
to peace unfathomable,
to community unparalleled,
to love unsurpassed.

And we will know, we have just uncovered the seat that has been waiting for us all along.

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A Change Of Mind

A Change Of Mind

Post by Karina

I’m a worrier.

It’s not something that I’m proud of, but it is very much like second nature. I have always been super independent and that has contributed to me being a worrier. I like things my own way. I like to be able to control everything that is within my power to control. If something is fixable, I fix it. I don’t wait around for someone to offer help, I just handle it. I worry about things past, present and future.

This apparently, goes against the whole being dependent on God lifestyle. He and I are working on that. It’s a slow and steady process. And it’s a process that starts in the mind. That is where all of our motives and actions stem from. My thoughts give way to worry and worry gives way to fear and fear gives way to worry. It is a vicious cycle. And I want out! So, this year, He and I are working on changing my mind.

When I think about how I think, a few questions come up about where the thoughts originate and what direction they are heading. A few verses even stick out to me in those areas.

“Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth.” Colossians 3:2

Where is my affection?

One definition of affection is a feeling of fondness or liking. Heaven and earth are complete opposites. The Bible is very clear that all that happens on earth is counter to what goes on in Heaven. Generally, the person or thing or situation we like is where we spend our energy.

Attention always follows affection. 

Do I like the here and now more that I like eternity? Which do I long for more? I’m sure you’d agree with me that we should long for Heaven more. We will spend more time there than we will here on earth. All that is seen is temporary and fleeting. I want my thoughts to fall in line with the life I will live forever, a life spent with my Creator and Father.

“You will keep him in perfect peace, Whose mind is stayed on You, Because he trusts in You.” Isaiah 26:3

Where am I expecting peace to come from?

Peace is a tricky thing. We, as humans are so prone to think that people or circumstances will bring us peace. But, they don’t. They can’t. It’s a false peace because when they change undesirably, we are now in a state of unrest. Peace is a person and His name is Jesus. The peace He brings transcends understanding and circumstances. It is unchanging and unwavering. It remains constant no matter what is going on around us because it is grounded in the truth of God’s Word and the truth of the nature of Christ.

“And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.” Romans 12:2

Do I think as the world does or do I think like Christ?

From the moment we accept Christ as our Lord and Savior, we are forever changed. We now have a new nature. The only problem is is that we are still wrapped in flesh, flesh that craves old habits and ways. Then, we are still living among broken and lost people in a broken and lost world. When we understand this, we understand that we have some work to do. We have a role to play. It is our job to renew our minds through delving into the well of God’s promises. The more we become acquainted with Him through His word, the more our thoughts align with His. The more our thoughts align with His, the more our actions catch up with our new way of thinking.

So this year, I’m changing my mind! Are you with me? What area of your thinking do you need renewed?

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BjBC4hzUKarina 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.”

5 Ways The Devil is Scheming To Nab You

Devil

Hey, little child of God, I have something to tell you, so listen up.

Happiness is over there. Do you see it? Go ahead, suck in what it could be. Feel it. Relish in it. Why not? Don’t you deserve it – for all you have suffered? Aren’t you tired of being stuck?

I mean, look at you! You idiot!

You marginal fool, why aren’t you doing anything,
something,
to change everything?

You are stuck in a church that is not ideal.
You are stuck in a house you don’t want to be in.
You are stuck with a family who doesn’t get you.
You are stuck with a job that is horrible.
You are stuck with friends that don’t really care.
You are stuck in a life that constrains.
You are stuck with kids who are unruly and disobedient.
You are stuck with a spouse who irritates.
You are stuck with a body that is ugly.
You are stuck with health issues that you can’t beat.
You are stuck with pressures and problems.
You are stuck being overweight.

Look at you, your life is horrible. I think, I really think, you should have so much more.

Psst…did you know? It doesn’t have to stay this way…you can do things about it. Now listen up before your whole life is ruined, before all the marbles are dumped on your head and before you find yourself in a burnt heap of ashes, here is my charge for you:

1. Take control. What God hasn’t stepped in to do, you can do. Those he hasn’t changed, force them to change. Drive your power in.

2. Seek happy at all costs. If something doesn’t make you happy, flee from it to find frolicking fun elsewhere. You only live once, you don’t want to sit around missing out. Fulfill your desires and feel good.

3. Remind yourself of all you don’t have. 

“You dumb idiot. While everyone else is getting ahead, you are falling backwards. Do something about it. It’s not like you are that good of a Christian anyway; you always mess up. You failure. Give up.”

Speak like this to yourself and you will be bound to get somewhere.

4. If you can’t get what you want, find another way to make yourself feel good.

Drugs, sex, alcohol, shopping, porn, controlling, demoralizing, taunting, instigating, stealing, worry, abusing – it doesn’t really matter – just fill your deep need to numb the real belief you are unloved, uncared for and shipwrecked. The moment of controlled power will feel intoxicating.

5. Put yourself first. You are the only one who can fulfill your deep needs. You have to fight hard to get what you want. Defend yourself, arm yourself, distance yourself and put up an armored stronghold around your body. You are a walking fortress; keep it that way or you will be ruined. Shoot, if necessary.

Other quick tips:

– Keep your eyes on what you see before you; make a snap judgement and abide by feelings.
– Don’t let the word “patience” fool; God really isn’t working for you.
– Don’t serve anything, or anyone, that doesn’t lead to success.
– There’s no one who can come through – like you can.
– You’ll miss out if you don’t grab the world’s cup tightly – and suck it up.
– Put yourself first, no one else will take care of you.
– Get super wise and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.
– Mock those who are poor in spirit, “Weaklings!”
– Doubt “hope” and stick with “despair” and you’ll fill up with indulgences of the world, for sure.
– Embrace shades of grey and blurred lines between good and evil – you can rationalize things that way.

devil

With this, applause to you! Cheers for you! Great glory to your work! Great progress to your name! Great power to your charge! Great impact to your step! You will do it; you will find pleasure in all you ever wanted, in the enticements and in the lure of your eye.

You know you want it.
So, step in, grab it and bite –
it is the best apple you will ever eat,
even it it makes your blood run cold,
even if 10 minutes after you feel nauseated,
even if the shame adds thirty layers of chains to your hide,
even if you trap yourself into a box you can’t seem to claw your chained way out of,
at least you will have joy for a moment, ecstasy for a minute and rule for an hour.

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I (Jesus) have come that they may have life, and have it to the full. Jo. 10:10

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Breaking Normal to Find Phenomenal

Breaking Normal

The coach stopped me in my tracks with this soccer drill. It was meant for toddlers, but it was sent by God for me. It burst my bubble of known, it tossed out the waste of old and it rolled in eye-opening insight that would redecorate my heart with truth.

Who knew soccer was so good for mental health?!

4 cones.
One square.
No space.
3 Kids.

“Go!”

My son tried to move, no dice (or rather, no goal!). He tried to inch forward, but couldn’t gain traction. He tried to kick, but his ball bounced off his companions’. He tried to run, but, the two collided like blind bulls. Boing!!!

Yet, amidst the mayhem and the maniacal movements of the inept, the coach broke through “crazy” with two words, “Break Out!”

And so they did.  Kids, ran left, right and nearly out of sight! Like bees set free they could chart a destination on a course that was possible, feasible and liberating all at the same.  If I could have I would have cheered this moment, saying, “Go, free ones, go. Now you can fly!”

The coach would too and, together, we would breathe a sigh of relief.

What small confines are you stuck in –
trying to plow your way through?

What is not giving you an iota of movement,
yet still, you fight for tooth and nail?

When we are so pressed against everything, we can’t enter the huge field of opportunity the Lord has set before us. We see the Promised Land, but our eyes keep us kicking around in the small perimeter of everyone else’s movements.

They are set on our competition.
They become obsessed with personal performance.
They see each kick like an eternal report card of worth.
Moves become belabored and burdensome.
Irritation mounts.
Aggravation scores.
We lose!

God becomes distant.

“He’s out in left-field somewhere!”

Break Out! 

When we get hyper-focused on numbers, feedback, criticisms, critiques, God says, “Break out!”
When we start looking at everyone else’s progress, toys and accomplishments, God says, “Break out!”
When we start fearing our ability to succeed, God says, “Break out!”
When we start feeling our chest constrict into the fist of anxiety, God says, “Break out!”
When we start to be man’s responses, God says, “Break out!”
When we are obeying strategies and growth plans first and foremost, God says, “Break out!”
When we are sure we will surely be marginal at best, God says, “Break out!”
When we start making the past the predictor of our future, God says, “Break out!”
When we see the bad surrounding, the pressing in indwelling, God says, “Break out!”
When we doubt calling, God says, “Break out!”
When we wonder if we are any good, God says, “Break out!”
When we box ourself into sameness, God says, “Break out!”
When we look at boundaries and limitations, God says, “Break out!”

Get out of the box, push over the boundary and fly to the place where God is.

If you’re goal is to be with him, it is a goal that can’t be blocked.

It’s a goal that wins the game every time – heck, it wins the World Cup, for that matter!

Run into the freedom of open air.
Bask in the place of his prompting.
Skip to the place of true calling.
Jump to the heights of unrestrained love.
Fall into the depths of incalculable peace.
Sit in the field of rest.
Move to the new places, no one has transversed.
Win there! That is where you win!

We find our little slice of heaven on earth, carved out for us in the here and now,
in the freedom found, not in doing what the world and demands and people tell us,
but found in the unusual, uncharted and unknown callings of him.

No one ever got anywhere by kicking around in the complacent and crazy confines of controlled chaos. Just ponder. Many of the “Great Remarkables” became remarkable because they stopped caring if the world called them remarkable and they just followed God.

Simple. He is speaking. Are we listening?

Look at the woman at the well. She became well because she broke free from confines at the well – so her mouth could not confine her truth of liberation.

“Come, see a man who told me everything I ever did. Could this be the Messiah?” Jo. 4:30

She had to break out of world-made form though. Do you see this power yet?

She had to trample form that told her Jews don’t talk with Samaritans.
She had to push through the fact that talking women should have husbands present.
She had to push away the fact that rabbis shouldn’t speak to sluts.

She had to break out!

To step out of the box of confines to be unconfined.

What is God ready to break out on your behalf as you break out?

God isn’t found in the small boxes of safe, of expected, of normal, of man and of “steps for success”, he is found in the wild land of adventure, pursuit and nonconformity in him, by faith and through Christ.

Break out! Today, see what holds you in and push past it in the name of Jesus. Zig and zag his way. Run arms open. Sprint into his fields of purpose.

Don’t just read this and move on, but listen and press in. Promise me that. If you don’t think this is for you, think again, it is, especially for you. What is he calling you to?

My break out: I will not intentionally look at post or visitor statistics. My words are an incense being released solely on behalf of his beauty – from my heart to his, uncensored, untouched and unchangeable by man. And so they will be. And so I will go into the field of his providence, trusting.

What is yours?

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The Joy Found Four Steps Back

Joy Found

I started running around a little.
Seeing other people.
Jumping in with them only to realize I shouldn’t be doing it.

Well, it is actually not as bad as it sounds, but it is actually still really bad. You see, I got online and started looking at all the people doing more than me. I started looking at how God is using them, gifting them and providing for them.

I saw their glow – and my mediocrity.
Their gifts – and my struggles.
Their smiles – and my sadness.

Like an album of poised perfection, as they radiated –  all my faults were punctuated.  Facebook seemed to exclaim, “Your really not that special.”

I hate it when it does that, don’t you? It can be an obnoxious friend. It’s shiny albums so often lead to dirty shame.

They have that? I wanted that too.
They went there? Why not me God?
They accomplished that? I will never.

Tsunamis in motion cannot be stopped; the hand of a human man doesn’t have the strength to hold them back. The thoughts roll in and they seem to take us down.

The stuff I have? It’s cruddy.
My clothes? They’re ugly.
My summer trips? They are small fry.
My status. It’s average.

How do I stop feeling this way God?

I don’t want to live like a pauper amidst your riches.

I don’t want to live thinking you won’t pull through,
when you already have.

I don’t want to live coveting,
when your life-injection power is found in praying.

How do I flip the switch of my hungry soul
to access the power of your nourishing being?

But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully-grown brings forth death. James 1:14-15

God’s truth: By the time we have gotten to sin,
we have arrived too late.

The holiness party is long gone;
it was found 4 steps back.

Here is how it works:

1. We have a desire. I want more happiness and more riches and more recognition.

2. It tempts us. Kelly, don’t you deserve more happiness, more riches and more recognition?

3. It lures us.  Look at them. See what they have. See what you don’t.

4. It gives birth to sin.  Covet! Envy! Judge! Be prideful!

5. It leads to death.  Take what should be yours, at any cost. Put to death the temple within.

We beat sin not at the point of sin (#4), but at the point of disbelief (#1).

What is the impetus to your disbelief?
What little whispers coerce dissatisfaction in your life?

For me, it’s the whisper that I deserve to be happy, like really happy, slideshow-picture-perfect happy, glow-in-the-eye happy, arms-wrapped-around-each-other-so-tight-your-shoulders-get-smooshed happy.

MapQuest better send me there! A straight shot and no accidents please! That would throw off my happy meter.

It’s the whisper that small beginnings don’t count.
Do not despise these small beginnings, for the Lord rejoices to see the work begin…” Zech. 4:10

Even the disciples started as fisherman so they could understand the words, “Be fishers of men.”
David started by first being faithful to sheep.
The tiny amount of loaves and fish were only the beginning of God’s miracle.
God rejoices in the motion of faith-reliant beginnings.

It’s the whisper (and quite an embarrassing one) that I need you to love me. I kind of want that – for you to see all of me and say “Oh, wow, that girl, that gal, Kelly, she has it. I want to be her friend. I want to know her.”

Jesus died open handed and he calls us to
open the hands of our desires, our longings and our hopes to him.

The prospect of the righteous is joy, but the hopes of the wicked come to nothing. Prov. 10:28

Then I see what is really in my hands – nothing.
And who entirely fills them – Him.

I can:

Deal with sin and be delivered from pain.
Run to him like a prodigal child runs to a long-lost daddy.
Be shocked by radiant truth that liberates needy hearts.
Suck in his gift of always-love that never runs out as I open my heart.

When we find God, we find what our heart was always searching for.

I want that. Do you?

It is called joy – feeling-ruling, comparison-busting, overpowering joy.

It sees Him, who hands out his best.
Eye on the prize, it knows who is active and adorned.
It envisions the heavenly banquet table of camaraderie waiting.
It sits in a place of hardship with a smile of gratitude.
It often grows from pain (earthly crosses and nails water it).

It’s unlike any album on Facebook.

It is unlike any heart that seeks a new and shiny
bridegroom or idol online.

It is unlike anything we could scavenge up on earth.

It’s joy in the all-consuming presence of the one who consumes our deepest longings. It’s atypical, absolute and anesthetizing.

It’s fruit that keeps on satiating and replenishing our soul’s ravage hunger. It keeps us going.

Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, 
​because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Ja. 1:2–3

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5 Lies You Believe (Yet May Not Realize)

lies you believe

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

Sound creepy? Yes, I completely realize it does.

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

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

Of course you would.

But, do you?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Our best defense is knowing God is on offense.

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

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When You Cannot Have It

You Cannot Have it
I am delighted to welcome a new regular contributor, Angela Nazworth. She is not only a friend, who I adore, but an eloquent writer who always teaches me a lesson about God’s goodness. I hope you relish in her words the same way I do. Welcome Angela!
My hair has issues. Or perhaps the more honest statement to make would be for me to write that I have issues with my hair. I always have. Not even when I was five  and my golden locks rivaled those of Rupunzel did I like my mane. Oh, I liked the length, and when it was properly curled and styled I pretended to be a princess, but I did not like the tangles. Even less did I enjoy the pain and aggravation caused by the untangling process.

My mom, being the one who had to listen to my whining protests, decided that my long hair had to go. This decision was made when I was in the fourth-grade, and it was one with which I agreed.

There was a downside. It was the year of the mullet. Not only is the mullet an eye sore, it’s a lot of work. My hair still easily knotted in the back and a brush was no longer the sole implement required to style my baby fine tresses. Each morning my mom had to stand over me with a hot curling iron to make the top portion of my head look more feminine, which in 1984 meant high and fluffy.

Fast-forward 30 years and you will still find me complaining about my hair. I have dyed it various shades. In my attempts for the perfect color, my hair has been green, pastel orange, purple, gray, and pink. All unintended. I have also tried myriad styles: short and bobbed, long and spiral permed, short and spiral permed, pixie, etc.

Once, as I sat in the salon chair of a former stylist eagerly waiting for her to transform me into a super model with just a few clips from her scissors, (I tend to have high expectations) she said the most peculiar thing to me.

“You are so lucky to have straight, fine hair.”

“You’ve got to be kidding me,” I said with surprise. “I wouldn’t wish this hair on anyone, plus what is with my crazy hair line in the back that grows upward and that hideous cowlick?”

“It’s much better than having hair like mine,” she bemoaned.  “It’s so thick and coarse.”

I looked at her long, voluminous, perfectly coiffed blonde hair and giggled.

“This is too funny,” I said. “You have my dream hair!”

“Well, I guess we all want what we don’t have,” she replied.

How true that is. For sheep, the grass is always greener on the other side. For women, the hair is always prettier on the other head!

Moreover, it doesn’t stop with hairstyles.  I will be perfectly happy with my blog’s design until I see the makeover another writer’s site recently got and then, suddenly, I determine that my online space needs spiffing up. I will feel content in my house until I overhear the sales rep at Home Depot tell another customer that “Aqua Chiffon,” is the most popular color for living room walls and I realize that I don’t even have anything close to that shade anywhere in my home.

It’s easy for me to brush off this cycle of comparison as innocent, human nature, but in reality it’s unhealthy and emotionally dangerous. Disparaging what belongs to me opens the gates of envy, coveting, and bitterness. Focus shifts from God and His goodness to selfish desires and I begin to lose sight of blessings that surround me. When I’m in the mode of comparison, discontentment and want, the vision of my heart blurs and I open myself up to being more susceptible to commit other sins in the name of pride.

Why is it so much easier for me to want something I cannot have than to thank my savior for the many gifts I possess?

My counsel for you is simple and straightforward: Just go ahead with what you’ve been given. You received Christ Jesus, the Master; now live him. You’re deeply rooted in him. You’re well constructed upon him. You know your way around the faith. Now do what you’ve been taught. School’s out; quit studying the subject and start living it! And let your living spill over into thanksgiving.

Watch out for people who try to dazzle you with big words and intellectual double-talk. They want to drag you off into endless arguments that never amount to anything. They spread their ideas through the empty traditions of human beings and the empty superstitions of spirit beings. But that’s not the way of Christ. Everything of God gets expressed in him, so you can see and hear him clearly. You don’t need a telescope, a microscope, or a horoscope to realize the fullness of Christ, and the emptiness of the universe without him. When you come to him, that fullness comes together for you, too. His power extends over everything. – Colossians 2:6-10

So while the grass may appear greener, hair prettier, furniture grander, homes bigger, and figures thinner … I now try extra hard to not be so interested in the proverbial other side. I am going to focus on how to make my inside look more like Jesus and foster a spirit of thankfulness for all He has given me.

What about you? Please use the comment section to share something about your life for which you are thankful and no longer desire to change.

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

______________________________________________________________________

Angela Nazworth is a flawed and forgiven recovering perfection who writes mostly about the beauty of grace, faith, friendship, vulnerability and community at angelanazworth.com. She is a wife and a mother of two, who manages philanthropic communications for a nonprofit, national healthcare association. Angela’s also an encourager, a lover of good books, coffee, girl’s night out, sunshine, and waterfalls. She believes the creator of the universe is both the author of and lead character in her life story. With every experience she learns more about who she is in Him … and takes another step on her journey to love others better. You can also chat with Angela via Twitter.

Where Are My Blessings, God?

where are my blessings

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

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

Look how he blessed her.
Who am I?

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

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

Do I still count?

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

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

Do you ever feel this way?

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

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

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

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

How would Christianity look today?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

He was marked, to forever mark me  – loved.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Jesus never sets a value on one child over another.

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

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

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

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Updates for #RaRalinkup Friends:
1. Visit this Thursday when Abby McDonald will share another powerful sucker punch to the devil’s work.
Don’t miss it!
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What God Gave – Stinks!

What God Gave

God abandoned me in my time of need.
He left his daughter in the desert of nothingness.
The blessing-keeper forgot his role.
The one who was supposed to come through, didn’t.

I am not afraid to admit for a moment, I whined like this – like a baby.

I didn’t get what I wanted.

Waaa!!!! I cried, until I found my daddy and found consolation in his arms. As he held me in love, I could start to grab hold of the truth: not getting could be God’s bigger gift. It highlights the barriers blocking contentment.

It was a lightbulb, sight-in-the-darkness, there-is-power-in-the-pain kind of moment.

Surely, when we “get” – all is good. We are happy, joy-filled and thankful, but, what happens when we don’t get the good gifts we expect?

Here, we start to see what our heart is really after.
Our spiritual thought life surfaces.
We can take notice of our sprint (or crawl) time to prayer.

Do we throw a temper tantrum
or do we temper our hearts in the truth of God?

The desire, idols and pursuits of our heart shine in this place. We can see them for what they are.

What do you see when God doesn’t give to you?

Our tantrums highlight the great heart work will complete.
He sees our pain and it certainly doesn’t pains him too.
But, he allows it because he is working something even more magnificent, more fantastic and more glory-filled than our initial want.

Many times, he doesn’t settle for the immediate gift, because he is working an entire heart makeover.

“Not getting” teaches us how to put this (often seemingly impossible) verse into action:

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

God’s best gift is learning how to keep our dedication
as steady as an arrow
and our feelings as sure as a bullet,
despite the size of the enemy coming against.

Then we can find true joy and peace.

This gift lasts forever.
It doesn’t rust and end up in the attic months later.

When we find God, we find stability. Not stability due to a circumstantial blessing, hope, dream or wish, but steady footing in the knowledge he is bringing us to a better place.

I pray, today, that I can see all that I don’t get as an indicator of all that I already have. I pray that I will take notice of my heart condition to see how it may need a course-redirect. I ask God not to always give me what I want in order that I can receive the better gift, which is him. The power is not in the getting, but in the beholding.

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Tearing Down Your Tower of Self

Tower of Self

Sometimes I scare myself.

I see that ugly side of me, the side I normally try to hide from the camera.

The Kelly who wants to be someone.
The Kelly who wants adoration, affirmation and appreciation.
The Kelly who needs to be seen and loved.

It normally appears in a crutched moment of inadequacy where I require dose of feel-better medicine to get me feeling good about myself again.

In these moments, I start believing:

Greatness and prominence trump Christ’s gift of significance.
That no one notices humility, but they notice desirability.
That recognition is fuel and that submission is old school.

I am learning I have to keep an eye on the thermometer of my heart, because when the its-about-me heat starts to rise, my heart grows cold, love freezes over and I lose track of the one I love most.

Me. Myself. I.
How am I seen? What will I do?
What will I build? Am I as good?

Come, let us build ourselves a city and a tower with its top in the heavens, and let us make a name for ourselves, lest we be dispersed over the face of the whole earth. Genesis 11:4

To make a name.

Is that what I want?

Because, I full well know, it is only about one name: The name above all names, the alpha and omega, the lion and the lamb, the great I AM, the hope of glory, the Savior of the world, the beginning and the end. It all starts and ends with him.  

At days end, my name will be worth nothing and his will be worth everything.

At days end, accomplishments will fade and all that will remain is love.

At days end, stages vanish.  The great stage of godliness, purity and humility will be all that endures.

Anything done in my name will be a signature destined for a shredder upon my final days, but anything done in his name will last forever.

Unless the LORD builds the house, the builders labor in vain. Unless the LORD watches over the city, the guards stand watch in vain. Ps. 127:1

Without Jesus, my best words are babble. If it’s not spoken in the dialect of love, it’s spoken in the dialect of stupidity.

It’s like speaking worthless syllables of a tribal language to a two-year old – they are destined to be edited, obliterated or forgotten. They just speak confusion.

Therefore its name was called Babel (close to Hebew word confusing), because there the Lord confused the language of all the earth. Gen. 11:9

Am I babbling in futility or am I loving in humility?
Am I striving by my efforts or am I receiving love through his?

Everyone loses when agendas move away from the foundation of Jesus. Love is averted. Unity is destroyed. Life-change is missed. People get hurt.

Heaven is missed.

I don’t wan’t to miss that glimpse, not even one slice of heaven – of goodness. I want the whole pie! I want to be so doused in the sweetness of heaven that I have no teeth left and I don’t even care.

If any man’s work which he has built on it remains, he will receive a reward. If any man’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire. 1 Cor. 3:14-15

May our eyes soak in the height of the mercy showered on us. May we embrace a vagabond hearts to become traveling temples of God. May we not see any service as meaningless, but ask Christ if he agrees with this mentality when we begin to.

With Jesus, no person is too low, no place off-limits, no heights untouchable, but if it is not done with him, it is done for self.

Jesus, let every ounce of us be poured out for every ounce of your blood – your love.

A job well done. May the person end up loving you more.
An amazing ministry time. No pride, just deep praise for the great God at work.
An awesome business opportunity. May more know Christ.
A financial outpouring of blessings. A means to bring an end to someone’s captivity.
An outstanding compliment. A way to point to the glory that is God.

If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing. 1 Cor. 13:3

If we can’t do it in love, we may as well be doing nothing.
Lord, let our love mean something!

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