Like a teenager under the overwhelming weight of pressure – I did not choose the right road.
The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. Gal. 5:19-20
I let my internal pursuit for feelings of acceptance compel my feet right to the place of wanting more for myself.
I wanted to get from God rather than enjoy him.
His blessings, rather than his presence.
Big confirmations, rather than his small dispensations of love.
Doors open and people to push me forward.
Only His best – for my advancement.
I wanted God “my way”.
An I-will-do-it-all-for-you god.
A tailor-made god that fit my needs.
But, my teenage tantrum to feel good,ended with the repercussions that always come when we bend in to disobedience.
I slammed the door to my room and locked myself away from God, scolding myself for doing the wrong thing, in the wrong way. I didn’t want to look at him; I had done so wrong – I acted badly and was deeply afraid to admit it.
Yet, Jesus is the door and he has all access to our rebellious hearts as we say we are sorry.
He walked in to comfort me with his love and the words, “Continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose.” Phil 2:12-13
Praise you God!
You take us out of us, and give us you – so we know what to do. As we work to know and fear you, you work to help and heal us. The presence of the Spirit in us is greater than power of the flesh over us.
The truth is God that I can never work hard enough to remove my flesh; God never gave me that ability – the actual act would hurt far too much. To wrip off my flesh by myself is to live in a constant mode of chastising self-finger wagging.
Only God has the power.
He releases us on the inside so we can act right on the outside.
Then, we “do not use our freedom to indulge the flesh”. Rather, we “serve one another humbly (not pridefully) in love. Gal. 5:13
Humble love says, “God your face is all I need.
Rather than, “God, pour out what I want.”
Lord, as your Spirit guides, your faithful servant will obey, because your ways are greater than mine. Give me a heart to endure what you did on the cross, so my life may reflect the magnitude of your love. Amen.
As we release our life to God, we find it. He works, and we, like needy children drawing instruction – listen. And, he leads us.
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How could he do that? What was he thinking? What am I doing wrong now?
Everything he did, said and thought seemed to be a judgement about who I was, am and one day will be. His eyes spoke volumes about the magnitude of his disdain for me.
So I shut down. I shut things down faster than a prison cell at lockdown. I packed it all up, made it all tight and kept myself behind the distance of bars. The risk of injury was too high and I had been hurt one too many times to know that you don’t go around prison like a sitting duck waiting for its next attack.
Nope. I got smart. Not this time. You can’t get me again.
Yet, as much as I felt I was doing the right thing, I didn’t. The other side of me hated that I was locking it all up, closing it all down, hiding myself away. I didn’t want to be isolated, I wanted to be free. Free of pain, free of the looks of condemnation, free of having to pretend I am someone I am not.
It was like I was at tug-of-war with myself.
God wants me to be open, vulnerable and transparent. Tug.
No. God wants me to protect my pearls and not be injured again. Tug.
I am not being a good Christian by not loving. Tug.
I am better able to love when I don’t feel so hurt. Tug.
He has treated me cruelly. Tug.
I am to die to self as Christ died for me. Tug.
What do you do when “relationship” means
forging into enemy territory feeling alone and open for attack?
Do you take the risk, the barrage of open-fire,
for the dream that you can one day be free?
I did. I headed straight in.
Because God was saying: check your own eye, daughter. Just as much as you think his eyes can’t see you – yours can’t see him. I want restoration for your heart and for his. I want to clean things out for your good.
“Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?” Mt. 7:3
Really God? I want it to be all his issue.
But, the truth is that as I analyzed his wrongs, so I was wrong.
Isn’t how it so often happens? What we see in another as their main flaw is really the flaw that we carry around – we just try to hide it under an inch of makeup, don’t we?
As I figured it, the only natural place to go after you realize you have wronged is to make right. So I did.
I confessed to him that I judge and can’t seem to hug, that I sneer and can’t be near and that I fail and often feel frail.
I faced the captor knowing that One already had secured the victory on my behalf.
He may have looked bruised, beaten and defeated himself, but he never was – he won my freedom.
In this, I was freed to love.
Who do you need to apologize to?
Might they look like someone who has a mile-long list of wrongs?
Perhaps, you the tiniest power to make things a little more right?
I won’t say that all things are right between me and him, but what I will say, is that we moved a step closer to intimacy, to openness and to healing. The door to my cell is open. I am starting to take more walks towards him so he can see who I am is not all bad – maybe sometimes good even – and what I am starting to see are the same things about him.
It’s amazing what forgiveness can do when you let it work.
So often, we see the one who really needed healing is – us.
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They start small until they climb on your back and squeeze the air of faith right out of you.
They have a way of making the stack of bills reign higher than the power of God.
The medical issues stand taller than God’s capacity to care.
The relational problems break you into tears rather than into submission to the One who knows.
They are called mounting issues. Personal. Medical. Relational. Financial. Mental.
They take you on a ride like this:
1. You start with faith, looking straight ahead at God.
2. You talk with people, think of the issue and dwell on the problem and get afraid.
3. Your eyes start to look left, and right and left and right.
4. Your worst nightmare starts to take form.
5. You become sure of it’s overwhelming power to take you down.
Then they make you feel like this:
I’m going down.
It will never work out.
God, where are you?
They will always hate me.
I will never recover.
I will never be left the same.
I can’t do it.
I am horrible.
Problems of today have a way, of making us fear the feelings of yesterday.
I remember the fortress of my school.
The incapability of one girl who was powerless to change anything.
Who was uncertain about the next pain that may come my way.
Who felt the result of people’s issues rather than a product of their love.
I remember the embarrassment.
That past mocks all my dreams. It reminds me that pain will repeat.
It reminds me I either need to fight or flight.
What does the past claim true about you – today?
The reality is – it’s gone, and fighting proves worthless because you can’t fight something that isn’t real; if it’s not truth it simply doesn’t exist.
But, hushing away feelings never works. The only way to go is to see the one who sees far more than the stalker of fear living in your mind. To see the one who waits, looking, hoping, believing that you will see him – the one who is always following you.
And, while you may think it is over, he doesn’t.
He knows it has only just begun.
Because he is ready to come close, to know, to stay with. He is ready and willing to aid and assist.
He is amazing that way.
He sees the inadequate, unable, and unsure one and says, “You can do it with me, because of me and for me. Stay right there with that truth. You will be okay.”
He spoke these same kind of words to Joshua -the second string, the rookie. He spoke belief into a man who had monumental issues in front of him: uncertainty, a sea that stood in his way and a towering fortress shining his incapabilities.
He said, “As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you.” Josh 1:5
What if God was to show up and to say that to you?
“Hey (fill in name here),
I was with Moses,
so I will be with you (name),
I will never leave you or forsake you.”
Might these words make a difference?
Might you remember the bush, the manna, the Red Sea, the God, the hope,
the promises, God’s faithfulness to you?
Not if you just heard them, but if you really believed them.
Perhaps, then, you, like Joshua, might think,
“Wow, this God is really for me.”
Perhaps then you would have the courage to open your sea of despair to allow a new heart of courage to carry you to your promised hope. “Consecrate yourselves, for tomorrow the Lord will do amazing things among you.” Josh. 3:5
Perhaps then, you might set your forehead-to-floor knowing one stands higher than all your perceptions. Then Joshua fell facedown to the ground in reverence, and asked him, “What message does my Lord have for his servant?” Josh. 5:14
You might even hear the way to go, the heart to have and the whispers of truth
rise above the status of your bank account, your health check-up or your kid’s report card.
You might even have the heart to march around what stands against you to shout the truth of God over it, around it and before it to see God work through it. And to, even, maybe, see it all fall down (if that is what God has planned for you).
On the seventh day, march around the city seven times, with the priests blowing the trumpets. When you hear them sound a long blast on the trumpets, have the whole army give a loud shout; then the wall of the city will collapse and the army will go up, everyone straight in.” Josh 6:4-5
Imagine seeing the walls of pain and piles of grief standing before you crumble. They aren’t bigger than your God.
The truth is that in all cases he may not make them completely disappear, but God has the power to crumble circumstances authority over your feelings.He has the authority to set you on a new path, to forge a new way to bring you into the promised land of his peace.
Hear the words the Lord said to Joshua as he was preparing to be courageous and do not let them lightly pass over you (seize them as he seized the city): “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.” (Josh 1:9)
Mounting issues, the past and our feelings are not our inheritance, God’s promises are – and we have already made it to the Promised Land, let’s lay claim to it much like the Israelites.
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2. RSVP for the #RaRalinkup breakfast at She Speaks. Exciting news, prizes and challenges will be shared at this event.
3. Visit next Monday. All of the bloggers who submitted guest posts will be featured on July 13. I couldn’t pick just one, this is not the spirit of the #RaRalinkup or this blog. All win, all are chosen, all are loved! Mark this day in your calendars. Support your sisters by retweeting and mentioning them on Twitter. 🙂
And when I mean wrong, I mean – wrong. Really wrong. Horribly wrong.
Wrong where it makes your heart beat out of your chest because you are a good Christian blogger girl and those type of good girls aren’t supposed to act in these types of bad ways – in a mean-girl kind of way, in a self-righteous kind of way.
This person was loaded to the brim with a huge loss and I let their response to my prayer throw me off the my clear running pattern of love.
To add insult to this horrible injury, I also retaliated. I retaliated with vengeance over a mean dispute about – (brace yourself) – prayer.
I can only imaging God’s delight as I fought so vehemently for his truth, can’t you
(please sense the sarcasm)?
Instead of arguing over theology,
what if I was set on praying for humility?
Have nothing to do with foolish, ignorant controversies; you know that they breed quarrels. And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil… 2 Tim. 2:23-24
I let my pride walk like a bully
in front of another’s aching need to vent a pain-ridden heart.
I let her shot take me down,
completely missing the fact that she just needed a straight shot of love.
Her words weren’t ever about me, they were all about her and her dire situation.
Why is it that sometimes in the moment we can’t see?
I can’t help but think, this is why our wise God so often instructs us
to listen more than we talk.
When we can see that others piercing words are really just responses to their own threats, we can act in compassion.
How can we get angry with those people who are in deep pain, frustration and irritation?
So often people block what they most need, because the severity, the weight and the presence of their issue is suffocating. And, sometimes, coming above water means miles of vulnerability that is frankly too scary to swim through. The distance can seem daunting and shoreline can seem unreachable, so they act in fear.
And, fear is never known for staying contained, it seeps out to reach its gnarly arms around all those it encounters, it hurts those it never intended to. It causes pain.
Yet, when grace meets another’s fear, God’s supernatural placating abilities are activated.
die to self no matter how the opposing side treats us,
see another’s needs above our own,
remember that we have acted much in the same way,
grab on to the truth that God has placed us in this person’s path for such a time as this,
extend a hand when it looks like the other person might cut it off
and we believe, hope and trust that he will forge truth in the unsaid… we are operating from grace-power accessed at God’s throne.
Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need. Heb. 4:16
Christ’s grace is the lifeline to hope.
It’s the split-second that a person has to find the light of Christ through their moment of need.
Not by our rescues, or by our insults, or our control or our power, but through his small words spoken in the silence of need.
Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms. 1 Pet. 4:10
Then, the door to safety, truth and fearlessness appear – to us and to them. All are granted an opportunity to see the way, the truth and life of Christ in this moment.
For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men. Titus 2:11
Grace changes hearts – including ours.
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Proud, happy and all buttoned up, I’ve been the good-girl Christian skipping along my merry way.
Moving just a little faster.
Standing just a little taller.
That is, until my face meets the concrete and a land flat on my face, bruising my image.
Injured and shocked, the impact of the hit
impacts my heart with the truth, I’ve been missing Christ.
Have you ever gotten so concerned with your image that you missed His?
Believed your faith is what makes others want his?
Or, let your high standing in Christ’s family, make you feel just that – high and better off?
When performance leads our charge, when we think we have all our stuff packed perfectly, tightly and detailed into our favorite bible of choice, when we parade a little taller, a little higher, with a little more insight, when others are not doing things right all the time – we better yell, “Stop” to our heart, because we are about to fall.
I know I should have done that.
Perhaps, I would have saw things more clearly, before letting the critiques of others spill out on the floor. Perhaps then, my contents wouldn’t have displayed a load of pride and a pound of judgement and a dash of negativity. These things don’t taste good and they certainly don’t go down with feelings of Christ’s love.
For the most part, others turn and run at their stench.
Oh Lord, let this not be me.
Yet, somewhere along my way, I mistakenly began believing that godliness equates to giftedness, goodness and greater access.
I became that unfavorite person I so often look down on.
A Litmus Test: Are You Better-Than-Thou?
Do our prayers sound more like this? ‘Oh, God, I thank you that I am not like other people—robbers, crooks, adulterers, or, heaven forbid, like this tax man. I fast twice a week and tithe on all my income.’ Lu. 18: 12
Or do we come and pray more like this? “Meanwhile the tax man, slumped in the shadows, his face in his hands, not daring to look up, said, ‘God, give mercy. Forgive me, a sinner.’” Lu. 18:13
When we see our sin nature as a worldwide epidemic that hasn’t left us spared, we see we really are just like the taxman slumped in the corner of mistakes, turmoil and pain.
We see we are that jacked up. No better or worse than others – just saved.
Saved, not from neediness, but from eternal fallenness. Our embrace of this truth gives legs to humility
not a heart set on growing in earthly nobility.
Perhaps this is why Christ looks at the first man, the Pharisee, and says, “If you walk around with your nose in the air, you’re going to end up flat on your face, but if you’re content to be simply yourself, you will become more than yourself.” Luke 18:14
I learned the hard-knock way.
I am more a Pharisee than a needy sinner, and it feels good to see. Christ does not condemn me. He loves me. This realization returns my heart to Jesus like the slumped man needing a fresh touch. It returns me to the place of need, where I, like all my fellow man, sit.
This place is a place of unity, togetherness, hand-holding, anticipation of Christ’s work.
A place of relief; it removes my show-off, to turn the power of God on.
It brings Christ to the places that I can’t deal with –
leading me to the most downtrodden, contagious and dirty people.
It brings him into my weakness, into my pain.
May I boast only in my weakness. Paul knew this is the power prayer.
May it be one of our favorites too: God, help us to boast only in weakness. Forgive us God, sinners. We miss you and need you. Teach us your ways God and lead us in your paths, lest we fall on our face. May our humility be the artery that allows your work to flow to us and through us. Amen.
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She’s the one who offended me.
The one who deserves my annoyance.
The lady I really didn’t want to see.
It’s nearly impossible to wrap your arms around the word “love,” when you have your arms crossed with hate.
She didn’t hit me like a monster truck might, with an intentional crash, but still she her hit-and-run approach was something I took note of. Intentional or not, she caused damage.
And, I wasn’t going to let her get away without paying damages.
How do you let go when another doesn’t realize the damage they have done?
Don’t they deserve to know how they’ve injured you?
I wanted the reparations that should be mine. My heart was demanding it, although know one would ever know about that little secret.
I knew my insides were ugly, but I couldn’t seem to get my insides – out – out into the hands of God.
She was seen with a halo, while I felt like a zero.
Sometimes, though, God works circumstances for our good, because he loves us and he knows our heart intends to be called according to his purposes (kind of Ro. 8:28).
Even when we don’t know how to work or are too busy working on the wrong think or are thinking in the wrong way or are messing up, God often still works things out when we turn to him and let him work out the knots of our tangled up his purpose.
When we come back to God, he backs near to our heart again.
When we see an opportunity to love, and put it above ourselves, the love of God shows up.
A friend approached me and basically said, “You know, you have something, a little piece of information, a little inside scoop that could help that woman (aka: frenemy) out. Why don’t you go over and share it with her.”
With her? The blessing-taker, the joy-kill, the bane of my burdens?
How can I give to the one who is loaded to the brim with liquid gold while I am drinking out of the plastic cup of nothingness? How can I give when she practically made my drink to taste so bad.
I don’t know about that.
My feet moved, but my heart stayed still. They moved me right in front of her. My mind said, “You can’t,” but my Spirit said, “You can.”
So, I did.
I poured out the information that she had been on the hunt for. I told her I would be her helper. I instructed her on the in’s I could have kept in, but instead I helped her out.
And, what I noticed, is that fears and pain and anger went out too.
They scurried away.
Giving took the eyes off of my pain and placed them onto my gift. A gift much like the one offered for me, a sinner who didn’t deserve love.
An undeserved gift, especially the act of forgiveness,
brings Jesus right to the center of relationship.
My arms came undone and fell open to receive and pour out love.
But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, (Mt. 5:44)
If your enemy is hungry, give him food to eat; if he is thirsty, give him water to drink. (Prov. 25:21)
God knows something we don’t (ok, a lot actually) and it is this: When we give to someone, we start to love them. We start to feel for them. We start to see that their issues are more about them, than they are about us. We start to see that they need us – and that we need them.
A generous person will prosper; whoever refreshes others will be refreshed. A generous person will prosper; whoever refreshes others will be refreshed. The generous will prosper; those who refresh others will themselves be refreshed. Prov. 11:25
As we reach out, we start to see all that is reaching into us through the act of love. We start to see it is not all about us and our rights, but it is simply about giving our rights to another, just as Christ did for us.
He is the justice-keeper, we are are the love extenders.
I learned, the joy is never found in the harboring of rights,
but it is always found in the helping of the hurt.
Forgiveness is the heart and soul of Christianity.
It is the feet – to love,
and the heart – to relationship.
As you let your feet move,
your feelings eventually follow.
For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. Mt. 6:14
I felt down. Sometimes my emotions move with the wind, with the circumstances.
Certainly, I know God says not to be like one tossed to and fro like the doubting waves (Ja. 1:6). I’ve got this. I understand this. But, I still do this.
I don’t want to, but I do.
And then I hate myself for doing it – for being a doubting Thomas, demanding to see God’s purposes for the surrounding injuries.
Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.” Jo. 20:27
You arrogant girl, God doesn’t bless girls like that! He hates that.
Good “Jesus girls” don’t have to witness the details of the wounds to trust there is a better plan. So why do I?
I don’t have to see the holes to know that God put them there for a good reason. Can’t I trust? Can’t I just see that the pain of today is there because God has a plan in tomorrow?
Many times I can. Other times I can’t.
And, when I can’t, shame becomes the holding cell that distances me from God.
Certainly, grace keeps the jail cell doors wide open, unlocked and unobstructed, but shame holds me in, telling me this is where I belong – contained and convicted. It bars my mentality to a purposeless state. It makes me feel like a life-sentenced prisoner doomed to isolation for my bad behavior as a Christian mess-up.
Girls who act like that never get out. They can’t be used without faith.
The bars of this cell open and close like clockwork:
1. Emotions of fear lead to…
2. Doubts about God which lead to…
3. Shame about my doubts, which leads to…
4. Distance (due to: embarrassment, worthlessness, anxiety) from God
But, I am tired, dead tired of being trapped in a cell – a cell that doesn’t have to be literal to trap you. I am tired of breathing in the anxiety of God’s wrath and the fear of my worthlessness.
Because the truth is, this cell is dingy, old and full of fear; it’s not helping me much anyway.
I have the bounty of grace right before me, and it’s about time I seize it.
“The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free” Lu. 4:18
And I did something different and it worked! I was astonished.
Let me explain:
1. Know your past. Where you were hurt in the past is likely where you will feel damaged in the future. Old dog, same tricks. The devil knows our sore spots and he loves to reopen them.
2. Identify in God’s word the truths that hit your past and current pain points.
3. Speak these truths over yourself. Proclaim them. Speak them. Preach them. Teach them. I don’t care, just get up and walk around and own them. Rather than sitting like a prisoner waiting to be someone’s fresh bait, step up and realize Jesus was already the (perfect and complete) bait for you. He won and you will win too – come the day of Christ Jesus.
4. Believe in the words you say. Receive the full authority that Christ has placed in you, by the power of his Spirit, when you believed. Don’t half heartedly pray or meekly say, “I trust.” Make your words your anthem, your pledge of allegiance, your covenant. Let them be binding truth and declarative words.
(Please note: I am not talking about declaring riches or blessings over yourself, I am talking about declaring truth about who God says you are and what he has done.)
Here is what it looked like for me:
(Imagine: Standing Kelly, walking Kelly, powerful Kelly, vocal Kelly, speaking aloud) Lord, you reign. There is none beside you. There is none more powerful. You don’t hold doubts against me, as I confess, you forgive me. You free me to your purpose. There is absolutely no condemnation in Christ Jesus. I am loved, entirely, fully, completely. You bring all truth to light and you set captives free, you will set me free. You have a plan and you will see it through…(and you get the point).
But, the point is, the more I spoke, the more I believed, and the more I believed, the more I felt relieved.
His active Word cut sharply through the sludge of my mind to unveil the new creation that I am – to myself. As the junk moved, the truth shined.
Christ’s power, mixed with the illuminating light of the Spirit, always uncovers truth.
Yesterday, I came doubtful, afraid and as spazzed as a kid on sugar, but through belief and ownership of his Word, I seized God’s renewing power for myself. I didn’t see the enemy near. I didn’t see my problems. I didn’t see trepidation. I didn’t see my regrets. I realized that the enemy cannot stand against one standing up.
I am a warrior for Jesus – and he doesn’t need wimps, he needs fearless children unafraid to speak truth.
Who run to the tomb no matter the cost.
Who see a mission during their long wait for the Promised Land.
Who see the dead things around them and speak life into them.
We are these warriors.
Blessed be the Lord, my rock, who trains my hands for war, and my fingers for battle; he is my steadfast love and my fortress, my stronghold and my deliverer, my shield and he in whom I take refuge, who subdues peoples under me.
How can we be warriors when we sit downtrodden in cells of worthlessness and shame?
God has life-altering power ready to be poured out over us. Do we speak it like we believe it?
Lets us live in the purpose that Christ has already won for us.
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Bloggers, there are a couple things to take note of:
What I don’t see anymore is the weight of not being enough…
of not matching up,
of striving to win affection,
so I feel valuable enough
and caring enough to get into heaven.
All that has faded as God’s life-giving truth has surfaced…
I no longer see my Savior as a taskmaster
who lays down the law requirements of love.
Or as an authoritarian father ready to slap my hand if I do bad.
Or as the One who keeps me from feeling good about myself.
I no longer walk as a scared little girl who knows it’s nearly impossible to win his affection or who feels, even if she won it in a second, it could be gone the next minute.
The weight of the world is no longer on my shoulders. It doesn’t strain my black and blur my vision to barely make out the way to heaven, now it now sees the super-highway straight in.
The world and all it’s trappings, the rules and all it’s details, others and all their expectations, a heart for perfection and all it’s burdens…all of those things are now distanced. They fade behind the horizon of Jesus Christ’s all-consuming grace.
He has all of those things wrapped up in love and covered by his blood-soaked grace he won thousands of years ago on that cross in Calvary.
– lifts the fear of what you are not, so God’s love can shape all that you are. – permanently places unsteady feet on the steady ground of acceptance. – uncovers the heart of Jesus from the Word of God. – wins the worst souls a spot in the best place – eternity. – is never deserved but freely given through the blood of Christ. – is the impetus that launches a heart to act in pure, holy and unselfish obedience. – is the only thing that given to your failings, to make them whole.
Grace is like giving a the best gift to your worst enemy. It transforms them into your best friend. It brings the unity, it unites your spirits, it brings healing. It’s beautiful.
God’s grace can’t stop. It’s like a faucet that can’t be turned off. It’s ready to fill us up to overflowing. It’s ready to pour out into the hearts of friends, family as friends as we take a fresh drink. It will nourish us more than we ever thought.
But he gives us more grace. That is why Scripture says: “God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble and oppressed. Ja. 4:6
Are you in humility turning to your Father non-stop to get grace
or are you assuming that you have all you need?
Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need. Heb. 4:16
The more grace you find for the big things, for the little things, for the I-messed-up moments, for the arguments, for the accidental hiccups and for every little detail of your life, the more you can pour out onto a world in desperate need of a little love.
Grace makes us different. We are no longer acceptance suckers, we become whole. The world takes notice.
God stands ready to extend grace to all, but first all have to want it.
For the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people. Titus 2:11
Let’s make God’s grace known.
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He didn’t want to get out and all I wanted to do was climb back in, cover my head and ponder how one can be so completely incapable of handling a bad situation.
But, instead of retreating into myself, I grabbed his legs and pulled. I pulled with all my might and – like a rubber band – his body extended in and out of the car – over and over again. This cat-and-mouse game seemed to be the workout that would never end. It continued to the point where his pants were nearly coming off.
Annoyance melted away and in its place was a big smile and a spirit of fun.
Sometimes, when life gives you the worst, you just gotta return it back your best. Sometimes, when things get hard, changing your approach changes your feelings. Sometimes, when you don’t know what to do, you don’t have to.
You just do what will keep your head on, your heart in and love pouring out.
I was kind of proud of myself in this moment for not letting that 3-year old defeat me. Yet, as I turned around one stood ready to bring me back to that place of defeat.
I met man. He stood staring, eyes laser focused right on me. Right on my antics. Uh-oh.
I realized, he had been waiting right. next. to. me. Waiting for what must have been a very long time. I was blocking his door.
All I could muster was “Oh, I am so sorry. Have you been here long?”
He answered, “You know, I have been where you are. Just know, I completely understand.”
Meeting his words was like meeting a doctor filled with compassion.
His understanding quenched my thirst for acceptance.
His tone let me know that I was not alone.
The simple words “I understand” changed the game.
And, this really gets me to thinking. So many times, we think we are alone, we think we can’t walk, we think we need to retreat in our cars, we think we are the only person screaming out amidst thousands. We think we can’t handle things.
We think no one gets our situation.
But one does. One always understands.
One looks and says, “You know, I have been there. I understand.”
When life breaks down, this one says, “I understand.”
When feelings pound over you like a boxer in a ring, he says, “I understand.”
When you have to go somewhere you don’t want to go, he says, “I understand.”
When people don’t do what you want them to do, he says, “I understand.”
When (fill in the blank), he says, “I understand.”
This one is Jesus.
For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are–yet he did not sin. Heb. 4:15
As we see that God understands, he:
changes our hurting hearts to hopeful ones.
no longer seems far away, but near in today.
confirms to your spirit that if he got through, you can too.
doesn’t appear to point at your inadequacy, but he simply points out love.
In every case, at all times Jesus understands. He is well acquainted with pain and suffering. He doesn’t look to beat you down, but he understands to build you up. He doesn’t look to condemn, but to conform your heart to his as he configures your emotions to his truth.
Freedom and grace are packaged in the understanding
that God understands.
Freedom and grace are packaged though people who show others they understand.
For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you through his poverty might become rich. 2 Cor. 8:9
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This came as a surprise to me. I certainly didn’t mean to go there – to the place where my voice got a little louder and my eyes watered a little greater – only to end pouring out in an avalanche of tears.
Ever been there?
To that place where you hate going?
The one where you regret visiting after all is said and done?
I don’t like that place. It distracts my heart from the day’s duties, it disrupts my sleep and it usually leaves me guilt-ridden for days.
Yet, there I was – feelings busted open. Wide open. Lying on the floor open.
It felt, this person was crippling my authentic heart towards God.
Negating my pure intentions. Saying I was inadequate. As if, she was not for me.
I took insult.
And, while forgiveness seemed further than Antarctica yesterday, isn’t it amazing how the gift of time can move our hearts rapidly into God’s light? His light where he brings all truth.
His light exposed my aching and rapidly pulsing heart. Here, I was able to identify a resounding theme – She made me feel ____________ about _____________.
If God is God – and, I am not…
If God is God – and they are not…
How can another define who I am?
How could they ever define the intentions of my heart?
They can’t. Only God defines me. Only He knows the inner workings of Kelly. Only He knows the deep intentions and the pulse of my life, which no one else is privy to.
So, why did I absorb all her words as if they were greater than His?
Why did I overreact instead of act with love?
When you hold someone accountable for that which Christ has already given you, you wrongly exalt them above your Maker.
Sure, words, instruction and wisdom are vital to a strong Christian walk. We should receive these things. And, indeed, the body of Christ is surely put in place to build up, but one thing is true – people never hold greater authority than the work of God or the Word of God.
God never gave people make or break status. They don’t have that ability – unless we let them.
Our job is to keep our eyes constantly set on him above, so we can always walk in love.
So doubt doesn’t set in.
So fear doesn’t win.
So, others don’t steal our grin.
Then, God enters in.
For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. (Mt. 7:2)
When I think of this friend, I realize I can’t hold her accountable. Likely, she didn’t know how badly I strive to be pure, she didn’t know how much I pray to be used, she didn’t know how much power her words held. She likely didn’t know her words would cripple. How could she?
Her only responsibility is her own heart, before her great God – something I am entirely not responsible for.
But, I am responsible to respond to God. To forgive. To see past. To release. To love. To heal. To build into. To encourage. To see past. To bear under.
God calls me here because forgiveness is often about them, just as much as it is about me.
We don’t have to approve what happened,
we just have to approve that God is best equipped to handle it.
We don’t have to feel healed,
we just have to trust he will heal us.
We don’t have to fight,
but simply let God fight on our behalf. (Ex. 14:14)
We don’t have to dwell in misery-mode,
God is calling us to ministry-mode.
This is the call of God. The calling of our heart. The calling to lay down arms, in order to pick up an arm to love, to hug and to wrap around the one before us.
But the LORD said to Samuel, “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The LORD does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.” (1 Sam. 16:7)
God sees hearts. Only God.
As we seek God, he reveals our hearts to us. You know what I see when I look deep, deep into my heart? The heart that fought so hard to be right before God? Embarrassingly, I see that nasty word, that mean word, that ugly word – the one we never want to admit or see – PRIDE.
How many of our arguments are based from this place?
If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. (1 John 1:9)
Forgive me Father. I have sought to look good before man. I have sought to win approval from a sister in Christ. Yet, all that matters is your view of me. You know me and you see me. Forgive me for my anger at not being seen by her, because all that matters is – YOU. Amen.
The Lord changes hearts, with these types of prayer. He replaced my pulsating hot heart with a radiating softened heart of love. When someone hurts you, God will use it as an opportunity to rework you – if only you let him.
Receive one another, then, just as Christ also received you, to God’s glory. Ro. 15:7
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