Purposeful Faith

Category - Freedom

Living From A New Identity

By: Angela Parlin

As a preschooler, I learned I had a sin problem and needed Jesus to save me from it. When I asked Him to be my rescue, I became dead to sin and alive to God. I learned the old had gone, and the new had come. But I was also encouraged to put off sin and put on Christ.

Just one little problem. How exactly do you put Christ on? That was a hard idea to wrap my head around.

Then I grew up a bit and realized–I really don’t feel so dead to sin.

So I managed my sin by trying to hide it, trying to look the way I was supposed to, or pretending it wasn’t there. Back then, there was a Sin Rating System floating around, and for the most part, my sins stayed off the really naughty list.

To be honest, sin didn’t grieve me. I didn’t think holiness was possible, for me or anyone else. And so I occasionally asked God to forgive me of “all my sins”–without owning any of them.

When I grew closer to the Lord as an adult, I started to care more about holiness. I didn’t want sin to control me, to be my master, in any way. I wanted to live in victory, and began striving for it. But that didn’t work out so well.

Victory over sin begins with belief. Not only belief in Jesus as the Resurrection and the Life. But also belief in our new identity in Christ.

Romans 6 says,

Count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus.

To count yourself means to accept it as true, believe it, and act as if it were true.

Once we call out to Jesus for salvation, we are IN Christ. We identify with Him. This is our position—our status before God: dead to sin.

We have been baptized with Christ. We have died with Christ and been raised with Him to a new way of life. Sin no longer controls us. It has no power over us.

Now we can LIVE FROM a place of victory, instead of trying to attain victory.  

But our position often does not match our practice. The Bible says we have been made new (positionally), but we are being made new (practically). For the rest of our lives, the way we live should grow closer and closer to our position IN Christ.

I struggled to believe my position, my new identity in Christ, because I knew what was in me. I lived out of that reality, which I could see and measure—more than I lived by faith out of my position in Christ.

Even as new creations, sin deceives us. We get entangled in it sometimes. We forget who we are, and we need to remember our identity in Christ.

IN Christ, we are dead to sin and ALIVE to God.

We are new, but we are also in the process of being made new.

So put on Christ and learn to see yourself this way. Offer yourself to God day after day, and He will enable you to live the life you were meant for.

 

Angela Parlin

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

When Facebook Hurts

When Facebook Hurts

Tears welled up in my eyes. I felt hurt.

I saw the fun.
I saw the laughs.
I saw the friends.
I wasn’t there.
I wasn’t invited.
I was left out.

How do we cope when Facebook hurts you?  Because frankly, people open their lives up like books and sometimes we read into things only to feel left behind or insulted.

How do we overcome the laughs we weren’t a part of?
How do we get past the offensive words?
How do we move forward in love, when we feel hurt?
How do we let go of annoyances?

These were all things I struggled with as my heart broke a little.

I guess for me, it wasn’t just this person that hurt me, but it was all the little ways I saw I wasn’t being included.

I felt left out of the pictures, the recap comments and the moments.  I saw the smiles. I saw the joy. I saw the fun.

Where was I? How could they leave me out?

The small offenses all rushed over me.

But, then I got to thinking – have I really been pursuing others?

Because, no one is going to invite you into relationship if you aren’t available.
No one is going to welcome you to laugh, if you never welcomed them into your house.
No one is going to remember you, if you let the busyness of your day steal the good intentions of your heart.

I am so busy.

These Facebook pains walk me right up to truth –
the Lord loves relationship.

They also remind me that I can’t control what others do. They can do what they do, but God will always be here to help me through. People will hurt me. They will abandon me. They will drop me at the door. They will write things that offend. They will insult too.

But, we can find refuge in the Lord. We can seek his ways. So can you. Let’s open up to take risks, because we are kept under the safety of his wing – kept close, like a protected child.

Under his protection, he will show us how to act.
He will instruct us in truth.
He will arm us with the right mentality.

He releases us from the power of others’ insulting actions, so we may find freedom in the power of his unending love.

Frankly, we all offended Jesus. We actually offend him daily. We insult, we overlook, we leave him out.

But, does he stop loving us? Does he stop pursuing us? Does he still call us into relationship?

We prompts us to extend grace, just as he has.

So, let’s remember:

1.  We are who Christ says we are. Our identity is secure in Christ, not dependent on Facebook.
2.  We can’t expect to be pursued when we are not pursuing relationship.
3.  People are quick to speak and slow to think. We can be like this too.
4.  Jesus shows us unending grace; we can fall into his grace to extend grace.
5.  If we can let go of how others act on us, we can grab hold of how Christ wants us to act to others.
6.  The more we keep our eyes – and heart – on what is true, noble, upright and of good report, the more peace and joy that will be ours. Offenses lose their power.

The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these. (Mark 12:31)

Do to others as you would have them do to you. (Luke 6:31)

It strikes me that we can let go of insults, injury and inadequacies, when we grab hold of truth, God’s truth.

Because, truly, there is only one book that defines us – and it’s not Facebook.

How to Go with Jesus

How to Go with Jesus

Life gets so hectic. It gets busy. It gets overwhelming.

Many times, I sit with two children screaming their heads off and I don’t even know what to do. Or, I look at a pile of work that needs to be done, but I have no time. Or, look at the Mount Everest of trials and I have no idea how to ski down.

In these moments, I have to wonder – what do I send?

Do I send love?
Life?
Encouragement?
Empowerment?
Peace?
Joy?

Or, do I send irritation, aggravation and frustration?

Because a lot of the time, the world seems to act on me. It seems to send me into a tailspin. One where I just spin in circles trying to grab hold of a tail I can never quite reach.

And, my aggravation, at my lack of control, often sends me on a rampage to dump frustration on those I love.

My environment becomes a result of my circumstances.

I know God calls me to rise above this, but why can’t I? What holds me back?

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about such things. (Phil. 4:8)

Is it that I send my mind down roads of thought that they shouldn’t be traveling on?

When life breaks down, when circumstances come to topple – I can choose to send my heart to Jesus. I can choose to send my thoughts to the Word of God. I can choose to send out to others a heart that ministers to their needs, instead of one that is being swallowed up with mine.

Jesus will help me.
He understands trials.
He knows the chaos of life.
He has the right answer for me.
He can get me through.

Jesus, you have told me to go. Send me down your paths, send my according to your ways. Send me, so that I may find true, joyful and meaningful life – because when you send, no one who is encountered by you is ever the same.

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Let the Lord Fill your Inadequacies

Let the Lord fill your inadequacies

Lately, I feel like I have been operating in the weeds.
I can’t seem to catch up with the constant list of to-dos in my mind.
I can’t seem to organize my disorganized life.
I can’t seem to find peace amidst the shuffle of bills that need to be paid.

How do you do it all?

I feel like I am running after the impossible, yet I know the Lord has called me to run towards Him. I have heard his call loud and clear.

So, I run towards my calling. I run to offer soul-quenching words to weary hearts. I run to be a full-time mom to two kids. I run to be a great wife to an extraordinary husband.  I run to be a strong bible leader in my community.

I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. (Phil. 3:14)

I want to live my life in a way, where at the finish line called heaven, I fall down at Jesus’ feet knowing I gave it all to him – and for him. I want to run this race with my whole heart. I want to run this race with power. I want to run this race with focus.

I won’t back down on this. God has placed this desire in my heart for a reason. I won’t pretend that who he made me to be is not good enough.

Because, really, aren’t my organizational deficits just eternal badges of honor for the heart work that I am laying for the Kingdom of the Lord?
Aren’t the to-do’s that I can’t seem to do, just things that are in the peripheral view?
Aren’t they things that I will eventually get around to do?

Why let them rule me?

Why let them define my worth?

Why let them dictate my effectiveness?

Because, momma can’t do it all. She can’t do it perfect, all the time.
It’s impossible.
God doesn’t call us to that.

And, perhaps it’s ok to feel overwhelmed sometimes, because feeling flooded by the waters of life, gives us the chance to walk on the waters by faith. It gives us the chance to reach our hand out to Jesus so that he can help us supernaturally walk on water. Here, we can rise above the flood. Here, we can trust the living water.

But Jesus immediately said to them: “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid. (Mt. 14:27)

And, maybe, it’s much more about trusting than doing.
And, maybe, it’s much more about being than striving.
And, maybe it’s much more about being filled than being skilled.

Because the Lord says, when we pour out, he will pour right back in to us.

Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.” (Luke 6:38)

So we can give up our hearts. He will fill them.
We can give up our time. He will hand it back to us.
We can give up our closets. He will return us something much greater.
We can give up our perfection. He will pour into us his love.
We can give up our anxieties. He will dump peace all over us.
We can give up our fears. He will measure back courage.
We can give up our own ways. He will return to us His.
We can give up our best efforts. He will shower us with his love. 

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. (Romans 5:13)

Let us fill up on Him. Let us fill up with his ways. Let us fill up so we can run hard. Because, when we do this, we will be filled with joy and peace – ready to be poured out abundantly, on others, as we run our race for the Lord.

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Prepare Your Heart for the Birth of Jesus

Prepare your heart for the birth of baby Jesus

Mary and Joseph knocked on the door to inn, but there was no room.  There was no space.  Every inch of the inn was occupied.

“…She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them.” (Luke 2:7)

As we prepare for Christmas, we are wise to create room for the greatest gift of Christmas to be delivered.  We are wise to make sure we don’t say, “Jesus, I don’t have room for you.”  Because, if we fill our mind, our actions and our hearts with other things, we will have a big sign on our hearts that shines “no vacancy.”

This means, we have to slow down, and clear out some internal junk to make room for Jesus. We must open the doors of our soul and say, “Yes, Lord, we have room.” We must look him in the eyes and say, “Let us roll out the red carpet – the VIP treatment – for you Lord!” We must say, “You are the preferred guest in my heart.”

Making room for Jesus means we:

Pray and ask Jesus to make himself apparent in our hearts.
– Acknowledge to God that we are prone to stray.
Keep our eyes focused on the word of the Lord.
Meditate on the story of Christmas and the gift called Jesus
Repent of any idols we are putting before the Lord.
Let go of worries, anxieties and busyness to find Christ.
Find joy in the grace and glory that Christ brings.

Prepare your heart. Make room for the King.  He is coming.

Don’t let your heart blink with a no vacancy sign. Don’t turn away the greatest gift ever given.  Create room for the arrival of baby Jesus.

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Softening the sharps and tuning up normal

softening up sharps

Post by: Christy Mobley

Proverbs 15:1  A soft word turns away wrath but harsh words stir up anger. (NIV)

I scurried into the store and  made a bee line for the customer service counter. It was the holiday season and I was in a hurry to find a specific gift.

There was one other lady standing beside the counter and several  customer service clerks meandering behind it. When I got to the counter one of the clerks immediately approached me and asked me if she could help. I no sooner got  the words, “I wonder if you could tell me where…,” out of my mouth before the woman standing beside me erupted into a soprano sounding hysteria. With sharp staccato inflections, she belted, “Is there something wrong with you? Can’t you see I’ve been waiting and you’re breaking in line? And… you’re taking my help!”

I felt the blood rush to my face and the hair on the back of my neck stand up as I glanced around and saw there was no line and plenty of help available. I have to admit my first reaction was to blast her right back with a big fat piece of my mind. But Someone bigger than me got the better of me. I almost couldn’t believe myself, when I turned to the clerk and asked softly, “Has anyone helped this woman? If not, will you help her?”

Someone bigger than me got the better of me.

Just as the key verse from Proverbs states,  the soft words I spoke turned away this woman’s wrath.

What made her act that way?  I suppose it could have been the holiday rush, too much to do on her to-do-list, or she might have gotten up on the wrong side of the bed, but maybe, just maybe, what I witnessed was her normal.

I say that because thirty years ago she, might have been me. Because on many a day that was my normal.

I grew up in a family of yellers. Yelling doesn’t have to mean being loud. Yelling can refer to the tone of your voice as well.   Quick and sharp can sound harsh and brash.  I didn’t  necessarily like some of the tones played out  in my childhood but it was my normal. And you don’t change normal.

But God does.

In my early twenties, it was no coincidence that I married a peacemaker, my polar opposite, a man who could charm the skin off a snake.  Needless to say,  my often sharp and abrupt approach was a shock to his system. He would say to me, “Christy, the way in which you deliver a message is just as important as the message you deliver.”

The way in which you deliver a message is just as important as the message you deliver.

Those words gradually went from my head to my heart. While raising our two boys, and watching them grow, I was growing too  – spiritually. My deepest desire was for my boys to grow up to be godly men with gentle spirits. But whatever children see their parents do in moderation they will do in excess. It was then the Holy Spirit convicted my heart that if I was to be a brighter light I needed to have a softer voice.

Whatever we do in moderation our children will do in excess.

I needed to soften my sharp words and tune up my normal. To make this change I had to do 3 things, admit, commit, and submit.

1. Admit, I was a yeller. I had to admit my approach was often wrong.

2. Commit it to prayer. I couldn’t do this on my own, I needed to ask God for help.

3. Submit to accountability. Finally I had to have a few somebody’s to hold me to it. My boys were more than willing to oblige in that department.

Thanks be to God, He is still at work in me everyday changing me to be more like Him.

Today, I hope all my words will carry the sweet harmony of Jesus, whether it’s to family, friends, the bag boy at the grocery, the girl at the drive-through window,  or a hysterical woman in a department store.

What about you?  At the end of the day, don’t you want to be someone’s melody rather than their malady?

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Post by: Christy Mobley

The Key to Freedom

Blog Post by:  Abby McDonald

“It’s not about you.”

The words hit me with a palpable force. My pride wanted to take over and convince me that the statement was a lie.

But deep down, I know it was the truth. How long had I been running from God? Months? Years? I couldn’t remember the last time I just rested in the comfort of his presence.

Like so many young adults, my feelings toward the church had become jaded after high school. Leaders who I looked up to had let me down. I’d been hurt by people I trusted, and projected their faults onto a perfect God. I turned my back on Him and the church and for many years, I ran.

Now I had a new baby and a husband, and I knew I needed to somehow get it together. I was trying so hard to behave, to be the perfect wife and mother, but I knew I was failing miserably.

We had recently moved to a new area and begun attending a church, and I attempted to play the role I thought I was supposed to play. I abandoned destructive habits. I watched my mouth. But my heart was still guarded and hurting.

A bitter root had planted itself deep within me, and I didn’t know how to displace it.

As I was sitting on the couch one chilly fall evening, I read those words in the opening chapter of a book about our life’s purpose.

“It’s not about you.”

Something inside of me unlocked. I realized that all of my focus for so many years had been inward, but freedom comes when we fix our eyes upward.

When I turned away from God my focus was on myself. When I strove to behave and be the model church attendee, my focus was on myself. Suddenly, instead of fixating on me, I centered my thoughts on the One who gave me life.

Our sacrifices will never replace what God desires from us the most: a surrendered heart.

James 4:10 says, “Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you.”

Humbling myself begins when I say, “God I may not understand everything that’s happened in my life or what you’re doing, but trust you.”

I trust that He is God and that if I love him, he will work it out for my good. (Romans 8:28) I trust that his thoughts are higher than my thoughts and his ways higher than my ways. (Isaiah 55:8)

With a surrendered heart, I see that God is sovereign even in the midst of uncertainty, turmoil and heartbreak. I see that because we live in a fallen world, suffering is inevitable but also a means of growth.

As I focus upward and outward instead of inward, that bitter root begins coming undone, and what was once resentment turns into gratitude.

Is there an area of your life where you’re holding on to bitterness toward God? Can I encourage you to take the following steps?

Pray. Ask God to give you clarity. We serve a big God and our questions do not scare him away. You may receive answers and you may not, but presenting your requests to him will bring peace.
Be honest. God already knows your heart. Don’t be afraid to tell him.
Thank. Thank God for all the blessings in your life. One of the best ways to displace bitterness is with a thankful heart.
Read. Immerse yourself in God’s word. His Spirit will speak to you and bring you understanding.

Friend, as you read this today, I am praying for you. I believe that God is going to do amazing things through you. There’s only one step left to take: Surrender.  Find the Key to Freedom.

Until we meet again,

Abby

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