Purposeful Faith

Category - faith

Letting Go of Control

control

I just read a book. It’s not even on a topic I thought I was struggling with, but good words always tend to find a good home in one ready to receive them.

These words did more than just that; they took my heavy baggage, bent them up and dropped them at my feet in a time-to-let go kind of way (dang, Lord, I wasn’t intending this!).

You see, when baggage breaks, it’s time to dump ’em, toss ’em and be done with ’em. And, now, I can see how messed up my baggage really is; it’s filled with stolen items, things I could only pretend to fully own. Things I tried to make myself believe would always be mine – that I could use to fill my needs.

But, I never owned them to begin with.

What we think is ours, always has and always will
belong to God.

He lends us what we love,
so we can see his love – for us.

What is lent is always called back home sometime, in God’s time.

In my heart, God is calling back the idea that I own my kids, my husband and my dreams – because I don’t. They always have and always will belong to him.

But letting go, feels like letting a dog run without a leash. It’s scary. Risky. Uncertain.

To let go of what I clench, to release my imprints and to undo my harness – it’s not work for the faint of heart. For so long, I have relied on these crutches as my own personal hopes of glory, hidden, but golden tickets to personal satisfaction and fulfillment.

But, what happens, one day, when God decides,
that I can no longer clutch and crutch –
right around his great promises?
What happens then?

Because, you see, something like this could happen: “My son purchased drugs which, combined with a beer later that evening, caused respiratory distress, resulting in death.” (Dance With Jesus, by Susan B. Mead)

What would I do then? When the kid that I supposedly owned, ruled and managed ended up – gone? Would I go down with him? Would my crutches be so swiped out from under me that my face would break in a million little pieces?

I think it might. I don’t know what I would do.

The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away; may the name of the LORD be praised.” Job 1:21

I suppose I am learning, it is in the taking away, that we often find the praise. At least that’s what happened with Susan, when she lost her son.

She says, “Do I want him back with me? Yes- for a moment. Then I realize how selfish that would be because he is now in Paradise with Jesus.”

Amen, sweet Susan.

Her words knock me in the head. She found her praise as she rose up her hands in abandon to the one who held her most prized possession.

She found her praise – in that. Wow. And, rightfully so, he can take care of her child far greater than she ever could (no offense dear).

He can take care of my family far better than I can too.

The more I let go, the more space my loved ones have to learn HE IS
who I am preach HE IS.

The more I let go, the more they know the great rescuer God,
verses the great rescuer mom, wife, daughter, sister.

The more I let go, the more they see Jesus step in,
rather than my need-based insecurities step up.

Then, people can start to Dance with Jesus – without crutches that limit their movements before a great God who delights in them.

They dance.

And, I dance – as I let my child climb in his seat by himself, as I let my husband make that mistake I know he is about to make, as I see a disaster ready to happen and trust God, as I step back when my kid may take a learning-lesson tumble, as I don’t give the advice a sister really should follow and as I humbly listen to all God’s plans for the main characters in this game called life.

I am free.

To find glory in the death of my goals.
To find renewal in God’s new breath of life.
To find hope outside of my 5-inch working hands.

Where do you need to be freed – to dance? To rely on the gentle guidance of one who cares?

This movement is powerful;
it’s a waltz that follows the lead of a One true God
who we actually believe is the One true God.

Real needs surface, then the rescue happens, but what we find out is that – it was always intended for us.

Finally, our hands open, our praises fly, our hopes belong to him. We no longer have strings attached to others. We cup and offer, and he answers and pulls these hearts even closer to him (whether they be on earth or in heaven).

Why do we let go? Because we love them, but most of all, we love him, we know him, and we trust him. In this, as Susan so vividly pictured in her book, we can let them – and us – dance with Jesus.

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God's miracles

My thoughts on Dance with Jesus: This book transports me to a different time and a different place. It wraps its arms around me to pull me into the life of Susan B. Mead, and boy, does she take me on a ride. The unique and charming characters in this book rally your heart and lure your soul into deep healing, joy and release all at the same time. The miracles of God’s wonder move you from a place grief to relief. Thank you Susan for jump-starting me on the journey of letting go.

 

Learning to Find Rest

Find Rest

My 4-year old son asks me a million questions a minute. Rapid fire, it’s like a barrage of bullets that I feel I can’t dodge sometimes. But, he wants to know, he must know. He won’t quit until he DOES know.

It’s a personal pursuit for him; he is trying to figure out how he fits into this grand ole thing called – the world.

I answer.
He always believes. 
And asks more. 
And is eager. 
Hungry. 
Hopeful. 
Listening. 
Ready.

Willing to learn. Expecting to hear.

My son makes me think…

We love to focus on this verse: Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. Mt. 11:28-29

We jump up and down when we read this one: For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light. Mt. 11:30

But, we hardly consider the verse just a couple lines above it: “I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that you have hidden these things from the wise and understanding and revealed them to little children; Mt. 11:25

Could it be that verses are related?

Might we not feel our burden is light,
because we haven’t really established God as our sight?

Perhaps, we haven’t fought after God’s ways like a child would – like my son would.

A child might beg, “What things do I need to learn? How do I do it? Tell me. Tell me. Tell me. Show me too. I want to learn! I want to do it!”

Do we want to learn? Not in a heady, heavy and show-offy sort of way, (like the wise and understanding ones that God hid truth from), but like the hungry, listening, watching and active children that are rambunctious for truth.

God easily hands out rest to those seeking children; they need it – they tire themselves out with their relentless pursuits. He lays them down in the comfort of his safe pastures, under the wings of eagles and in the safe refuge of his mighty tower.

God lets the hungry be full – with his nourishment that never stops filling.

They seek God and they find him.
They hope for an answer and they hear one.
They wait and they receive the power of his Word.

Hungry. Hopeful. Listening. Ready. Eager to know the one driving them around all the time, leading the way, staying close minute by minute to make sure they stay in good health. 

All things have been handed over to me by my Father, and no one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him. Mt. 11:27

The Father knows the son, the Son knows the Father.

How can we expect to know the Son, without asking to see him?

Pleading to see him,
leaning in to know him and
crying for a chance to behold him.

God picks up the whiney children wailing for more,
and carries us to make our loads lighter.

Then, we lay up against rest and lean on trust.

Gone, is the weight of striving and, present, is the hope found in abiding.

Our daddy takes good care of us, as he always does for a loved child. Our souls find the rest after listening to the answers for our million questions we were always hungry for. 

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Linking with #DanceWithJesus and #FiveMinuteFriday.

Winning Your Battles: 2 Strategies

Winning Your Battles

What precedes victory?
What sets up a strategy that wins?
What helps solidify an unsure direction?

You probably haven’t heard this explained this way before. Or, maybe you have and have written its power off because it seems too simple, too ordinary and too commonplace. But, activating our hearts in these small two steps, often activates our hearts in new hope.

Let’s look at King Jehoshaphat, named “Yahweh has judged.”
Sound like a scary name?
It would to me. I would probably hide from myself with a name like that.

But, you see, Yahweh had judged him in a good way.

And He not only judged, but also in many cases he also blessed – because Jehoshaphat removed idols, cleaned up the land, purified hearts in truth and focused hearts on the one true God. Sure, he made a mistake or two, but his heart was right.

Mistakes come and mistakes go, but a heart sold out for God, is one God blesses.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled. Mt. 5:6

Yet, despite his goodness, Jehoshaphat had enemy Moabite armies stacked up to his neck.

Notice, God doesn’t remove hardships from good people –
often, he confronts us with them to release us from them.

Jehoshaphat certainly wasn’t spared – and he wasn’t so scared he couldn’t move.
He pushed harder against the force that wanted to push him down.
Did he realize he would grow stronger in faith by being faithful?

Like Jehoshaphat, our help isn’t found in our artillery,
but it’s found in humility before our God.

Pushing into God pushes us into his plan.

Suddenly we see – God’s deliverance is always had –
it is just a matter of when.

When we push into God, we get all we need to proceed.

So, what did “Yahweh has judged” do to push in when the forces of the Moabites stood against?

2 Things:

1. He prayed: Alarmed, Jehoshaphat resolved to inquire of the Lord, and he proclaimed a fast for all Judah. The people of Judah came together to seek help from the Lord; indeed, they came from every town in Judah to seek him. 2 Chron. 20:3-4

Notice that although he felt “alarmed,” he still “resolved.”

Do you “resolve to inquire of the Lord” when alarm bells sound?
Offering the resolve of your heart, your mind, your soul and your strength, will resolve them to God’s will. 

2. He worshipped & trusted: You rule over all the kingdoms of the nations. Power and might are in your hand, and no one can withstand you…‘If calamity comes upon us…we will stand in your presence before this temple that bears your Name and will cry out to you in our distress, and you will hear us and save us.’
2 Chron. 20:6, 9

Seeing God in his true place sets his true ways into place – in us.

Looking up helps the things around, not bring us down.

Remembering Jesus’ victory locks our heart into His victory too.

What might true and faithful worship, in the face of battle, do for you? In the face of finances? In the face of arguments? In the face of poor health? In the face of fear? In the face of wayward children?

Let’s see what it did for Jehoshaphat…

Then the Spirit of the Lord came on Jahaziel…as he stood in the assembly.  He said: “Listen, King Jehoshaphat and all who live in Judah and Jerusalem! 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. 20:14-15

The Spirit showed up. God gave instructions on how to win and he also gave his presence that said, “I will be with you.”

When we seek God, we find him. 
When we find his face, he faces us with real truth.
When we know where our help comes from, our help often comes.

What I love even more is how Jehoshaphat literally headed foot-by-foot into war.

“Give thanks to the Lord,
    for his love endures forever.”

As they began to sing and praise, the Lord set ambushes against the men of Ammon and Moab and Mount Seir who were invading Judah, and they were defeated.  2 Chron. 20:21-22

What if our battlegrounds became praying and praising grounds?

​What would go do in us, through us and for us?

This sounds like unstoppable, not easily defeated, winning faith.

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Linking with Holley Gerth.

Protecting What God Loves Most in You

God Loves Most

There are voices that speak devastation, demolition and destruction to the temple of God.

Can you hear them?

Ordinary words that travel extraordinary distances to injure.
Words that cut deeper than a machete and further than a scalpel.
Ones that appear to rip the seams of God right out, if you let them.

They are ready steal your passion for bended knees, raised hands, and uplifted eyes. They charge into your face, yelling, “You little, …(fill in the blank.) You always…. You never…. You can’t….”

Maybe the voice isn’t even so loud, but the injury is.

Words a mile a minute – the pressure can seem inescapable. These declarations of powerlessness became my anthem song, they defined my ins and outs, my worth and value, and my hope and future.

Yet, God moves technology, just as he does our hearts and these old cassette songs became just that old – it was time for something that doesn’t take up so much space and without the weight. God gave me a new song.

If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy that person; for God’s temple is sacred, and you together are that temple. 1 Cor. 3:17

My temple is sacred.

Am I protecting it? Am I keeping it strong guarded?

Sometimes you have to. People seem to come at you.

But I will encamp at my temple to guard it against marauding forces. Never again will an oppressor overrun my people, for now I am keeping watch. Zech. 9:8

The temple of God always was and always will be a monument God calls us to enforce.

As temple carriers, we must strong-guard it from foreign objects, set up to desecrate and devastate it’s beauty.

Remember Jesus in the temple? He flipped false goods, on their heads. Just the same today, he doesn’t want us accepting falsities or hyperboles about our self – in his house.

What have you let dwell in the temple of the most high God?

What labels, libels and litanies from years past still hang out?

What humiliation, intonations and accusations from today won’t leave?

What doesn’t start and end with God, usually starts and ends with shame. What stands outside his holy grounds, usually tries to force a way in to ransack his house.

God is a fan of forged walls, when they are ones that protect his sonship covenant with us – a covenant that always says: I love you. I am for you. I will not hold you – against you. I will rush back every time you call on my name.

When we let God’s promises become do what they were intended to do – protect, we no longer:

Push out godliness to usher in helplessness.
Wash out purity to welcome in fragility.
Remove honest humility to greet a faith disability.

God’s temple always waits to be our refuge, our safety, our barrier, our new confine, our hope, our insight, our wisdom, our future. We don’t need a magic ball, because we have the majesty of Christ’s Spirit in us.

The walls of God’s temple wrap us in love and fortify our hearts in truth. They continually confess our hope of glory. 

When atomic warfare is thrown at God’s temple, the temple that bears his name, we can take refuge under the bomb shelter of his love.

The name of the LORD is a fortified tower; the righteous run to it and are safe. Prov. 18:10

Dodging The Arrows of Life

arrows of life

Here I am.
This is me, Lord.
I am waiting.
And just trying to dodge the arrows of life.

Will you run to my rescue and save the day?

I stand in a field of open vulnerability – arms wide open, head lifted, hoping. The darkness is thick and the opponents are many. I can cut the weight of circumstances with a knife and it seems they might cut me too. 

Am I going to get hurt?  Much like the good samaritan,
will I be left crying, on the side of the road?

They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead. Lu. 10:30

Why do you leave good people, with bad problems God?

My beating chest is unsure,
but you say – what comes to beat me, you’ve already beaten.

What terrorizes to take me down,
was already taken down when you were lifted up.

What appears to be breaking will not only be fully molded and made, but also fully established.

And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you. 
1 Pet. 5:10

So, though my heart feels arms wide open to pain, my soul relishes in the idea that I am rescued from it.

I wrap my arms around the here, the now and say, if I don’t have faith, I don’t have anything – except fear.

Faith makes God my primary weapon.

It hushes “I can’t” and loudens “I can.”

It restores what life tries to steal: Peace in you, through you and for you.

It takes hold and makes you go.

So, I tell myself: God will do it.

He won’t abandon me to fear.
He’ll make a way for hope.
He won’t let peace go.
He will shield me from the arsenal of arrows.
If they seem to hit me, he will seemingly restore me one day.

God is closer than the pain – if I really let him reign.

He flips bad circumstances so they never look the same.
What seemed down, gives us new meaning as we look up.
What looked dark, becomes light.
What wanted to leave me for dead, leaves me with new life.

He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, brought him to an inn and took care of him. Lu. 10: 34

As the good samaritan is rescued, so am I.

Do you see your rescue? Do you believe in it?

Like the good samaritan, left for dead, you are being brought back to life:

He was despised & forsaken. 
A man of sorrows & grief.
One from whom men hide their face – despised.
We did not esteem Him.
Surely our griefs He Himself bore,
And our sorrows He carried; 
Yet we ourselves esteemed Him stricken…
But He was pierced through for our transgressions, 
He was crushed for our iniquities; 
The chastening for our well-being fell upon Him, 
And by His scourging we are healed.  
Is. 53:3-12

The more we hook up to this truth, the more we strengthen in the recharging power of amazing grace.

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Linking with #FiveMinuteFriday and #DancewithJesus.

 

Filling Your Discouragement Hole

Discouragement Hole

God do you see me?

I know you say:
You are with me,
you strengthen me,
you help me,
you take my hand and keep me from falling. (Is. 41:10)

I know you say these things, I do.

But, do you really see me? Because sometimes I feel alone.

And sometimes, I look for your uplifting voice to be carried in by a messenger of your life-giving word. Sometimes I look for that. I watch for it. I wait for it’s arrival.

Is that bad God?

Certainly, I don’t want to get all of man’s approval only to lose yours.

Am I now trying to win the approval of human beings, or of God? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ. Gal. 1:10

If we are seeking our utmost for our highest,
we won’t demand utmost from our neighbor.

Be careful not to practice your righteousness in front of others to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven. Mt. 6:1

With God, our plays to be seen, only result in us being unseen.
Our dreams to look good, only steal our good robes and crowns.
A heart that is set on the scale of perceptions, is simply led in deception.

Yet, the crumb-size difference between reliance on man and reliance on God resides in the heart. Its always here that we can magnify our intentions to see if there is any true value in our pursuits. 

The heart that says, “God you are my master. I am serving you at all times” is the heart that God pours into. God uses all of his resources to healthily build into this kind of person: two of which are his Word and the word of others.

And, boy, you know I need it, sometimes, don’t you God?

God has placed us in a world among man for a reason.  God is the author of a timely spoken word for a reason, because he wants to fill our heart – with him.

Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing. 1 Thess. 5:11

And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works…encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near. Heb. 10:24-26

Sometimes, it’s that detailed word or a shared celebratory victory dance
that beats off despair, discouragement and doubt.

It’s the fist bump with a co-laborer
that often brings God’s next big dream to the surface.

It’s that small word of love that wipes away
the tears of “I can’t do this anymore.”

At times when you feel like you can’t lift another foot.
When you don’t know if your making a difference.
When you can’t understand how God could use a person as jacked-up as you.
When you are unsure if his great purpose will ever be fulfilled.

It’s those times, encouragement is vital, called for and a great power play in the toolbox of God.

If we need these words, these confirmations, then how much more might others need them too?

The other day, God dropped this at my feet (literally), as I was walking my son to his Vacation Bible School. A cross was lying on the floor by the door, it said:

The Lord will fulfill his purpose for me;
    your steadfast love, O Lord, endures forever.
    Do not forsake the work of your hands. Ps. 138:8

God will fulfill it. He will do it. He will bring us through.

But, how often do we listen to the other voice, “God won’t do it. He will drop us. He will leave us. We can’t do it.”

Who reminds us of this truth-line? 
Do you remind others? They are dying for it.

God calls us to broadcast this truth with a megaphone – not in a shy, guilty or self-seeking way, but in a loud, proud and glory-inducing way.

For, the time is now. The stakes are high. The purpose is huge. The call is great. The hands must unite. The people must pull together. The sisters and brothers must live like sisters and brothers, because God’s church is waiting.

The bottom line is, I need you sisters and brothers. If I want to keep going on this thing called perseverance of faith, I can’t do it alone. You can’t either.

We all need that little push to push us beyond our own self. Christ did it when he died on the cross to push us into the unreachable places of hope and he calls us to do the same here on earth – to push others into new hope.

Hope that spreads faith,
then spreads his power,
to spread new purpose.

The more we spread it, the more God ends up spreading his own love on the slice of our heart that needs it most.

discourgement hole

So, I ask you all with the most humble heart, will you come alongside me?
Will you come alongside others?

Will you upbuild the most prized possession of God – the church –
the most active movement of Jesus Christ on earth?

This means speaking thank you to that person who can’t do it alone.
This means sharing how a message impacted you.
This means offering a small act of kindness to the one who constantly gives week after week.
This means sending a verse of love to one who may be on their last leg.
This means keeping in prayer those who always keep you in the faith.
This means generating faith in those who are starting to feel weary.

Encouragement is more than lip service
it is active service to those in need.

ANNOUNCING #UROCK!
It is your way to get involved in building the church up so high that it reaches the full heights of heaven.  #UROCK is a day of encouraging the encouragers. Whether it is your pastor, women’s minsitry director, worship leader, bible study teacher, mentor, favorite radio host or whomever, send them a tweet, FB message or email using #UROCK to tell them how much they mean to you. Offer them a prayer, a hope or a verse – it may make all the difference. Learn more.

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Wrecking Trying

Wrecking Trying

I am wrecked by this one idea. It throws me off every time. It surprises me in its truth. I almost can’t accept it and so many times have difficulty doing so. It’s the one thing that rains down and can never be blocked with the umbrella of self. 

When I spew that nasty comeback. Its rain flows.
When I yell at that innocent face of the 4-year old before me. Its rain flows.
When I bark orders like a militant leader in need of children followers. Its rain flows.
When I let the house problems send my soul into a tizzy. Its rain flows.

No matter how hard I try to look the other way. It flows. It pounds.

It downpours on my soul, knocking my umbrella of self-condemnation and mutilation away. This rain wrecks my heart in the wild oceans of love, in the turbulent seas of Christ’s sacrifice and calms it by God’s rushing still water of his forgiveness.

to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves. Eph 1:6

Even when I slap God’s hand, it is still given.

Grace is not just given, but unlike normal dealings, it comes with no strings attached, no paybacks, no debts owed and no loan shark trying to chase me down for what it appears I stole.

What sweet relief Jesus! Without you, Jesus, I couldn’t, I wouldn’t…

I am simply wrecked by the idea that you are not wrecking me.
I am floored by the idea that you are not pressing me to the floor.
I am humbled by your humility in your approach towards me.

Who am I to get your best?

Best of all, I don’t even have to try to win your smiles, hugs and applause. Without my lame attempts, war plans and business objectives, it is still effective!

Grace:

1. Moves us from orphanhood to sonship.
It’s not earned through trial and error, but through believing and receiving his grace.
No! We believe it is through the grace of our Lord Jesus that we are saved, just as they are. Acts 15:11

2. Makes a construction zone out of our heart.
The more grace showers down and seeps inside the more we look up and are changed inside.
Now I commit you to God and to the word of his grace, which can build you up… Acts 20:32

3. Has benefits that never end.
It is the only free gift that keeps on giving, again and again and again – and forevermore.
Now I commit you to God and to the word of his grace, which can build you up and give you an inheritance among all those who are sanctified. Acts 20:32

4. Gives us VIP access to God.
The door swings open so we may converse, confide and collaborate with the author and perfecter of faith.
through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. Romans 5:2

5. Sets warring hearts at complete peace with God.
we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand.  Romans 5:1-2

Grace is not a trying zone, but a high-flying zone for people that are anything but ship-wrecked.

They are just wrecked by the word of grace and God’s power to never stop loving, working, pleading, helping, shielding and revealing on our behalf.

Grace moves to friend status, instead of foe.

And, for that, in the unending downpour of rain we will forever dance – free, uncharged and unobstructed.

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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.

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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.

Finding Holiness When You Feel Unholy

Finding Holiness

I went in praying, but I left repenting.

It was supposed to be a time of joy, connectedness and unity, but everything went wrong. My heart didn’t want to align with God. It didn’t want to follow his marching orders, and instead marched to it’s own beat: a beat of I have to figure this out, I have to work to get right with God, I have to be better than myself and I have to stop sinning.

Sure, God does tell us to put off our old self, which is “being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.” Eph. 4:22-24

There is a taking off of the stinky, the putrid and the worn out shirt of self and a putting on of the new, sparkly, purposeful and intentional dress of holiness and righteousness.

Sounds amazing right?

Certainly, I knew what I wanted to wear, but somehow it seemed like that new dress was out of my price range. It was out of my reach. It wasn’t so easy to obtain.

Why try?

My ears became so focused on my bad self-talk, that I couldn’t hear God talk. His small promptings passed right over my shoulder.

I was so so focused on, “I have got to figure out the mess than I am, God” rather than the “Come with me, Kelly, I have something for you.”

We speak words of condemnation,
but God stands ready to hand out words of consolation.

When we get to the end of our self, we get to the start of God – and that is what happened to me.

It’s not just about not sinning – about removing the old stink and putting on the new outfit – but it’s about the renewal of the mind. Only then, can we walk forward in the new.

We renew our mind by:

Bringing it to the altar of transformation, which is prayer.
Immersing it in the irrevocable truth of God’s Word.
Knowing that the one in us is greater than the world around us.
Making it new in the promises of God.
Finding a space with God when we feel like we have no space for him.

I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. Jo. 15:5

I listened.
I stopped.
I prayed.
I asked.
I humbled myself.
I waited.
I listened.
I heard.

“My presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.” Ex. 33:14 
God rests my soul, as I find rest in him.

Give your burdens to the LORD, and he will take care of you.
He will not permit the godly to slip and fall. Ps. 55:2
As I hand my burdens over, God hands me his hand that holds me upright.

The answer to putting on the shiny dress of new self is giving God the first chance to suffocate the old. Then, we leave clothed in promised robes of righteousness and holiness.

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You Are Welcome Here

Come As You Are by Katie M Reid for Kelly Balarie's Purposeful Faith

Post by: Katie M. Reid

Have you ever tried on a dress that was just not your style—ill-fitted for the shape God gave you?

I have been “blessed” with a pear shape figure, smaller on top and curvy on bottom; literally.

Straight, fitted dresses are a death sentence for my body type. I need extra material down south to cover the bulk.

Last week I tried to wear a style that was not flattering on me. No, it wasn’t a dress style, it was a writing style. I tried to pull on a style that looked good on others, but it was not a good fit for who God has made me to be.

I was trying to wear something shiny and sleek so that I would gain attention and maximize impact.

But, it didn’t lay nicely and it felt uncomfortable.

I was conflicted. I was trying so hard for it to fit, but it just wouldn’t. It did not complement how I was made, much to my dismay.

But here’s the thing, God made each of us a certain way, completely on purpose.

While we might be irritated with the largeness or smallness of our mold, Our Creator was intentional when He spun us on the Potter’s Wheel.

Come on over for the rest of the story as Katie hosts the #RaRaLinkup over at her place, katiemreid.com, today