Purposeful Faith

Category - faith

I Get Complain-y and Want Sympathy

sympathy

There are two ways I tend to look at things:

1. Good
2. Not so good at all.

Unfortunately, I usually default to the bad outlook. Somehow I figure if I focus on what is wrong, I can fix it. Or, if I see what is not right, I’ll have a better handle on it. Or, if I know every detail of the problem, I can lay out a plan. I also like sympathy from people.  Emotionally, when I feel hurt, I want someone to make it better. Or, I want someone to really grasp my pain.

In these cases, I may:

1. Complain
2. Whine
3. Act negative
4. Feign tiredness and weariness

After a bit these actions cause issues. On-loading problems onto people almost always off-puts them. There’s a threshold people allow. They may walk away, roll their eyes, tell you to get over it or not call you back. You really have to be careful about going “too far”, I’ve found. But more important than this is – we don’t need sympathy from man, what we really need is empathy and love from God. He is the only thing who will ever fill us up.

So, how do we find this?

Psalm 57 has some interesting answers.

David complains, “I’m surrounded by fierce lions…” (Ps. 57:4)
Shortly thereafter he says, “Be exalted, O God, above the highest heavens.” (Ps. 57:5)

David whines, “My enemies have set a trap for me…” (Ps. 57:6)
Shortly thereafter he says, “My heart is confident in you, O God.” (Ps. 58:7)

In the place of “not so good at all” thoughts, David gets back to “good”, quickly. His mouth runs ahead of his mind for a second. Then, he catches up to “good” with God’s truth.

We can do the same. Even if we think “not so good” thoughts, we can catch right back up to goodness, by immediately changing course, just like David. We can dwell on thoughts of:

1. Praise
“I will waken the dawn with my song.” (Ps. 57:8)

2. Protection
“I will look to you (God) for protection.” (Ps. 57:1)

3. Promises
“…God who will fulfill His purposes for me.” (Ps. 57:2)

4. Power
“He (God) will send help from heaven to save me.” (Ps. 57:3)

5. Passion for God
“My heart is confident in you, O God.” (Ps. 57:7)

David didn’t always think perfectly, but he returned to the Perfect One, quickly and readily. We can do the same. We won’t ever be perfect, but above us, around us and for us – is the Perfect One who has all our answers. He answers when we call. Not only this, He sympathizes with our pains, holding our every tear in a bottle (Ps. 56:8).

All we really want is sourced from God.

 

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“When Faith Doesn’t Take the Pain Away”

POST BY: Kendra Broekhuis

It would have been our daughter’s third birthday. At least, in a perfect world where mothers don’t bury their babies, it would have been.

I laid in bed imagining what our baby might have been like as a three year old. A curly red head like her mom? A brown eyed brunette like her dad? A sassy pants like her older sister? On the third anniversary of her stillbirth, the only thing that streamed as heavily as my imagination were my tears.

Sometimes I think it’s a miracle my faith has remained intact since this devastating loss. I chalk that up to a huge dose of mercy, really. My beliefs about Jesus are no longer phrases I learned to regurgitate in Sunday School, rather truths that anchor my soul:

He is victorious over death. {John 11:25}

He is working all things for my good. {Romans 8:28}

He is close to the brokenhearted. {Psalm 34:18}

But even though faith stuck around, that hasn’t stopped grief from practically bulldozing me over sometimes – like the day our daughter would have turned three. And on those days I learned that the presence of pain doesn’t mean there is an absence of faith.

Our pain simply reminds us that not all is right with the world, that we aren’t dwelling in the perfect garden paradise God first created us to. And therefore, our faith and our pain are forced to coexist. Nancy Guthrie describes this coexistence well:

The day after we buried {our daughter}, my husband said to me, “You know, I think we expected our faith to make this hurt less, but it doesn’t. Our faith gave us an incredible amount of strength and encouragement while we had Hope, and we are comforted by the knowledge that she is in heaven. Our faith keeps us from being swallowed by despair. But I don’t think it makes our loss hurt any less.” {Guthrie, Holding On To Hope}

Before Jesus returns, there will always be tension between our hope in heaven and our current reality living in a broken world. It’s not a matter of either/or, but and. We can have faith in a sovereign, victorious God and admit to Him the heavy pain we are bearing. We will face trials and God will strengthen us through those trials. We will walk through valleys and He will ultimately rescue us. We will grieve and one day He will wipe away all of our tears.

So whatever trials, valleys, or grief you are facing today, let God’s promises both anchor your soul and remind you that He is near, carrying you and tending to your broken heart.

Pray that even when faith doesn’t take the pain away, hope will remain steadfast too.

 

Prayer:

Lord, I pray that in Your great mercy You will strengthen the faith of Your people. Remind Your children in mighty ways that Your promises are true, even when life’s circumstances can take remarkably painful and unexpected turns. And show us through Your miraculous provision that You are mending our broken hearts. Amen.

 

Bio:

Kendra is the author of Here Goes Nothing: An Introvert’s Reckless Attempt to Love Her Neighbor. The book highlights her 30 Day journey to recognize the Lord’s “I love you’s” in her daily life, as well as her somewhat awkward attempts to be the Lord’s “I love you’s” to her neighbors. For her day job, Kendra stays home with two of their children, Jocelyn and Levi. She and her family live in Milwaukee. Kendra’s love language is Dove chocolate.

 

Amazon Link:

https://www.amazon.com/Here-Goes-Nothing-Introverts-Reckless/dp/0718083261/ref=cm_cr_arp_d_product_top?ie=UTF8

Website:

www.kendrabroekhuis.com

Facebook:

https://www.facebook.com/kendrabroekhuisauthor/

Instagram:

@kendrabroekhuis

Trading Fear for Confidence in His Unshakeable Grip

Blog Post by Abby McDonald

If you were completely confident in God’s unchanging, irrevocable love for you, would it change how you walked? If you knew that no matter how many times you fell, he would be right there to catch you, would it change the way you lived your life?

I believe it would.

Several years ago, God showed me what confidence in a daddy’s grip can do. Our firstborn was six, and he set out to conquer a new set of monkey bars at a state park we were visiting. But after climbing the ladder and surveying the height, fear overtook him. I could tell he wanted to cross, but he convinced himself he wasn’t able to do it.

After spending a few minutes observing our boy, my husband walked over. He spoke words of encouragement and told him he would walk with him, arms out and ready to grab him if he slipped.

Our six-year-old hesitated another moment and then went for it. He made it all the way across without falling, and then there was no stopping him. He immediately went back for more.

The smile on his face spoke for itself, but for the rest of the afternoon he told everyone about his new accomplishment. Our friends. The neighbors. People he met on our hike to the waterfall.

Everyone heard, “Daddy wouldn’t let me fall, so I knew I could do it.”

It’s amazing what that kind of confidence can do for us, isn’t it?

When we know someone is walking with us and cares about every detail of our lives, we can move forward without fear. Even when circumstances look bleak, we can put one foot in front of the other because we know we aren’t doing it alone.

Can I tell you something? You have someone too.

If you’ve surrendered your life to the living God, he goes with you, behind you and before you.

“You go before me and follow me. You place your hand of blessing on my head.” Psalm 139:5 NLT

Even if everyone in your life has let you down or abandoned you. Even if your earthly father never gave you the love and assurance you needed.

God’s love is not fickle. It is patient and enduring. It withstands in the places where human loves fails.

This is the type of love that transforms our walk. It’s the type of love that enables us to do things we would never do before, because we know with him standing in the gap with us, we will never be alone.

Claim this truth as your own today. Speak it out loud when the lies of the enemy threaten to overtake your thoughts. I can promise when you do, you will see a change. And the change will be in you.

 

Abby McDonald is the mom of three, a wife and writer whose hope is show readers their identity is found in Christ alone, not the noise of the world. When she’s not chasing their two boys or cuddling their newest sweet girl, you can find her drinking copious amounts of coffee while writing about her adventures on her blog. Abby would love to connect with you on her blog and her growing Facebook community.

God Fights Our Battles

My son is at a new school.
He’s still getting used to making friends.
He’s not on the basketball court during recess.
He’s a little shy.
He’s pretty small for his age.
I’m quite sure he’s desperately wanting to be liked, approved and wanted.

We all are.

At his school relay race I hoisted him on my back. As I did, the little guy bent down towards my ear and said, “Mommy, run as hard as you can.” Something took over me. I was going to do this run for him. I’d carry him so well, so proud, so fast – he could finally have a moment to feel proud.

And I did just that. At “Go!” I exploded. Fast. Focused. Almost wild-like.

A mom told me, “Kelly, you ran so fast. I was a little worried, but you made it.”

The reality is: I wanted to redeem my son’s story. I wanted to give him a moment to be proud of. I wanted him to understand his mommy would always carry him.

God does the same for us.

We aren’t struggling alone. We aren’t stuck in some environment where no one sees us.

“When I called, you answered me; you greatly emboldened me.” Ps. 138:3 NIV

Almighty God has a mighty eye on us.

“I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my loving eye on you.” Ps. 32:8

All-knowing God understands what we’re going through.

“This is what the LORD says to you: ‘Do not be afraid or discouraged because of this vast army. For the battle is not yours, but God’s.” 2 Chron. 20:15 NIV

All-powerful God is working on our behalf even when we don’t think he is.

“Do not be afraid of them; the LORD your God himself will fight for you.” Deut. 3:22 NIV

All-loving God would do anything to see our breakthrough.

“Blessed be the LORD, my rock, who trains my hands for war, and my fingers for battle.” Ps. 144:1 NIV

Already-two-steps-ahead Father has a good plan in motion.

“I will go before you and will level the mountains; I will break down gates of bronze and cut through bars of iron.” Is. 45:2 NIV

Altruistic Daddy would carry us, knight-in-shining-armor style out of any predicament.

“‘Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit,’ says the LORD Almighty.” Zech. 4:6 NIV

Always, we are not alone, not left behind, not destroyed, not ruined, not the laughing stock, not forgotten, not ignored, not destroyed, not crushed, not left to rot. Always, we are helped, loved, carried and guided.

“But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” 1 Cor. 15:57 NIV

Oh yes. I thank God for this today. What about you?

 

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How to Prevent Yourself from Stumbling

Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. “Never, Lord!” he said. “This (suffering, pain death) shall never happen to you!” (Lu. 16:22)
Jesus replies to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the concerns of God, but merely human concerns.” (Mt. 16:23)

What is a stumbling block?

It is anyone or anything that tries to stumble you as you move on God’s road. Like Peter, people may have good intentions. Their words may even be comfortable, harmless, or normal, but if they’re stumbling you, they’re worth investigating.

Stumbling blocks often make us say, “Wait, was I really meant for all this? Will God really pull through for me? Is He really that good? Is his Word really true?” 

When I consider stumbling block words, they tend to: question God’s plan, doubt his ability to show up, discourage what He is imprinting on a heart.

They speak fear instead of life and doubt instead of faith.

Will God really…?
How is that possible…?
Are you sure you want to…?

Wise people receive wise words from others.

But like Jesus, we are wise to rebuke voices contrary to the clear moves of God happening in our heart. Indeed, Satan often uses people to do his worst handiwork.

However, we can recognize his schemes. They tend to deter us from…

  1. Holiness
  2. God’s clear call for our life
  3. Loving people as God is calling us to

Here, we can:

  1. Rebuke the enemy within our mind, and ask God to give us fresh courage to see things through.
  2. Forgive others if their words hurt us.
  3. Pray and ask God what he wants us to learn through this situation.

Just because someone said something, doesn’t mean we have to own it. And just because we don’t own something, doesn’t mean we ignore what others have said. Perhaps they have a good point. Wisdom knows to sift it through God’s Word and prayer before deciding to accept or reject it.

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Your Faith Isn’t Up to Them

You need to know this: It’s not up to them – the pastors, the teachers and the ones who stand on big platforms. It is up to you. Seriously. You are a royal priesthood. You are a saint. You are chosen.

Sometimes, I look at all the people who are doing big things. Then, I think my stuff is small. I think my work is unworthy. I believe it’s them doing the stuff God wants, but not me.

Lies. Lies. Lies. Pit of Hell lies.

The truth is: your stuff is not small. I get the messages from you all. You have just as much fabulous insight, wisdom, and lessons to teach as I do. You have things to say. You have stories to tell. You have people to love. You have lives to change. You are being used by God and He IS doing mighty things in you and through you.

Believe it. Do not despise small beginnings. And do not negate God in you.

Do you want to be used? Then ask God to be used. It is almost always as simple as “an ask.”

Ask, “God, will you use me today?”

Then, ready yourself to be used. Look for the woman who can’t handle all her bags at the grocery store. Listen and discern God’s heart for the woman dumping out her heart on your couch. Believe God has things He wants to do, say and release through you. You are not inconsequential.

Stop disqualifying yourself. You are mighty, because the same Spirit who raised Christ from the dead is in you.

Hello?! Can you even believe that?

It is true.

When we stop believing we are weak, we start seeing we are strong, in Christ. You don’t have to see yourself as weak anymore. Sure, see yourself as a servant to Jesus and to others through love, but don’t look at that as weak. Don’t say, “Woe is me, I can’t do anything of value…” That is not Christ’s call or lot for you.

Jesus never lessened himself to appear to man as being super-humble. Neither should we. Jesus did the works God called Him to. He always stepped out no matter how it looked to others.

The world needs us. Let’s step out.
The hungry need to be fed. We know the Bread of Life.
The angry need to find peace. We are well-acquainted with the Prince of Peace.
The depressed need to know joy. We have found it, more than ever, through Jesus.
The isolated need to know they are not alone. We are the body.
The world needs answers. We know The Way.

Be in Christ and be used. Be prayerful and be discerning. Be strong and loving. Be bold and vocal. Be free and bring that freedom to others. This is our call.

Prayer: Father, thank you that you have put passions inside each one of us. I ask that we would walk them out with you. I ask that you would unleash us in our purpose. Help us to do all things, in love and with your love. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

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Praying Prayers that Work

When I need to confront a friend with an issue, I pray before.
When I finances go amuck, I pray.
When I desperately need something to change, I pray.
When I want breakthrough, I pray.

I pray kind of like this: “God, please, I need you.”

Like a kid, I lob my prayers upward, hard, hoping they’ll catch heavenly-hold. But inside, I wonder and I fear. I fear they’ll back at me and expose me as a fool. That they’ll return void.

Prayer sometimes feels like wishful thinking. We want, but we aren’t sure if we will get. We ask, but we wonder if we’ll be left empty-handed. We once dreamed and never saw things come to pass.

We write off verses like this:

“Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.” Mk. 11:24 NIV

Why? Because we’ve gotten jaded, over-spiritual, and cynical. Or, at least I have.

Rather than praying, believing, contemplating and thanking God for the outpouring of his blessing, I groan and moan over the issue. I doubt it will ever change. I remain unprepared to receive his better thing and stay unstable in doubt.

“Prayer doesn’t work,” I think.

But prayer isn’t broken. My faith is.

In Hebrews 11, God highlights what great faith looks like:

By faith, these people overthrew kingdoms, ruled with justice, and received what God had promised them.” Heb. 11:33 NLT

Faith is not just measured as the by-product of doing. It is also measured in the believing that is tied to receiving. If we pray for friends but don’t want to answer the phone when they call, guess what? Our prayer will go unanswered. It is not because God didn’t give, it is often because we didn’t receive.

We “must believe” that God “rewards those who sincerely seek him.” (Heb. 11:6 NLT)

We must pray in belief that God rewards those who sincerely seek him. It is that simple.

God will reward my search of him.
God will come through with this prayer.
I can believe and trust Him to show up on this.
I don’t know the how but I know the Who and that is enough.
I can’t wait to receive the answer God has for me on this very thing.
I can rest in his care with great expectation.

This kind of prayer works and this kind of faith pleases God.

 

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The Pain of Insensitivity

“Oh you’re fine. It wasn’t even a hard fall. Get up, you’re okay. You fell softly,” the grey-haired lady said repeatedly to the 4-year-old who fell off her seat.

Oh really?

After watching this all play out, I consider her words. How can one “fall softly?” I’ve never heard of such a thing. Second, I have no idea how a warehouse metal floor could be soft.

The little girl threw a fit for the next 10 minutes afterward.

Now, I recognize: I’m eavesdropping at this coffee store. I also recognize: I’m judging. Even more, I recognize: I’ve probably done the same thing to my kids at times.

God help me.

But, there’s a point to all this. When we negate people’s fall, or feelings, we fail to be there for them. When we brush off another person’s reality, we hurt them even more. Thus, this 4-year old girl’s 10-minute tantrum post-fall. No one was there for her.

She threw a fit.

Just because we brush off someone else’s pain, doesn’t mean it disappears. In fact, insensitivity to pain often heightens it. It causes tantrums. Explosions. Depression.

How did Jesus deal with people’s pain?

A “man who had died was being carried out” by his mother.

“And when the Lord saw her, he had compassion on her and said to her, “Do not weep.” Lu. 7:13

“And he said, “Young man, I say to you, arise.”  And the dead man sat up and began to speak, and Jesus[d] gave him to his mother.” Lu. 7:14

Through compassion, Jesus cleared the way for life. Our approach should be the same.

 

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All to the Glory to God

All to the Glory of God! I got over an eating disorder from college that could have killed me.

All to the Glory of God! I also beat depression.

All to the Glory of God! I don’t have Multiple Sclerosis like all the doctors once thought.

All to the Glory of God! I am a mom who is growing and learning leaps and bounds.

All to the Glory of God! My child doesn’t have Cystic Fibrosis like that test thought.

All to the Glory of God! I am a writer, even though I wrote letters backwards and couldn’t read as a child.

All to the Glory of God! I am far less fearful than I was and increasingly more faithful.

All to the Glory of God! I moved to a new place and made a whole bunch of new friends.

All to the Glory of God! Fill in your blank.

All to the Glory of God! Do it again.

All to the Glory of God! Keep doing it. 

All to the Glory of God! More. 

All to the Glory of God! Don’t stop.

Jesus said to her, “Did I not say to you that if you believe, you will see the glory of God?” (Jo. 11:40, emphasis added)

To remember where glory showed up is to remind your heart:

1. I saw
2. I will see.
3. It is all because of God.

It is to give God due victory.

Let it sink into your heart: What I saw, God can/will do again.

 

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When You’re Afraid to Take That Step of Faith

Blog post by: Abby McDonald

“Don’t look down, Mom!”

Immediately, I wish my son hadn’t said that. I can’t help myself. My eyes drift to the expanse below and my feet wobble. What was I thinking when I agreed to do this?

I try to regain my composure and remember my harness. The 4-story high ropes course stretches out before me, and I know there was only one way out: through it.

If you fall, the harness will catch you.

I tell myself this repeatedly as I inch across a rickety bridge that seems a mile long. My son moves to the other side with ease, turning around at the end to cheer me forward.

“You’ve got this! Keep going!”

When I get close enough to the next platform, I take a giant step to the safety of a solid surface. I stop and breath deeply, thankful for a minute to relax my legs. As I survey the rest of the course, I take a mental note of how much further we have to go before we can make the trek back down to the bottom. My mouth is dry and I can hear my stomach starting to rumble.

When my husband suggested I embark on this adventure with my boys, my first instinct was to say no. First, I am not a fan of heights. And second, our one-year-old daughter was the perfect excuse for me to stay on the ground.

But then I felt a little nudge.

Say yes.

My parents were with us, and they were more than happy to watch their granddaughter. So I went. With harness tightened securely around me, I made my way to the top. And with my nine-year-old as my cheerleader, I kept going even when my balance was awkward and my footing unsure.

Even though I was afraid, I moved forward.

Even though my stamina was tested, my resolved to finish was greater. And you know what? I will never forget those minutes spent amongst the trees with my family.

When my feet were firmly planted back on the ground, I realized God was teaching me a valuable lesson. Without my even realizing it, he painting a picture.

You see, lately God’s been asking me to be brave. He’s asking me to step out of my comfort zone and do things I wouldn’t normally do. Speak more. Lead more. Trust him more. And my first instinct, like it was with my husband, is to say no.

God, I’m not qualified.

God, you have the wrong person.

God, I have no experience in this area.

But he keeps gently nudging me forward, waiting for me to take the leap. Desiring obedience, even when I stubbornly keep my feet planted in one place.

After making a lot of excuses, I said yes to one step. And then another. With each one, he shows me his presence never leaves. Even when my feet falter, he’s there.

Having a forward-moving faith doesn’t mean we’ll never fall. It means we trust a God who never fails.

So when we slip, he’s the harness that catches us and keeps us from hitting the ground. When our balance sways, he’s the secure grip that steadies us and enables us keep going.

“It is God who arms me with strength

and keeps my way secure.

He makes my feet like the feet of a deer;

He causes me to stand on the heights.”

 2 Samuel 22:33-34

Friends, we serve a God who wants us to live life to the fullest.

He wants our faith to move us to new heights so he can show us the depth and width of his love. A love that surpasses all understanding. A love that will change others’ hearts, minds, and lives. But we have to be willing. We have to get off the ground.

When we do, the view is spectacular. When we do, our image of God expands with each shaky step.

 

Abby McDonald is the mom of three, a wife and writer whose hope is show readers their identity is found in Christ alone, not the noise of the world. When she’s not chasing their two boys or cuddling their newest sweet girl, you can find her drinking copious amounts of coffee while writing about her adventures on her blog. Abby would love to connect with you on her blog and her growing Facebook community.