Purposeful Faith

Category - God

You’re a Daughter, Not a Slave to Fear

Blog Post by Abby McDonald

I like to watch my kids when they don’t know I’m looking.

I eavesdrop on interactions between firstborn and little brother. I overhear whispers of imagination, hide-and-seek and Legos.

It’s not because I’m trying to catch them doing something wrong. On the contrary, I catch glimpses of their lives I might otherwise miss.

When they notice me, their response is always the same.

“What?”

And then comes the shoulder shrug. Like they’re waiting for a rebuke. As if I’m going to chide them for running or yelling.

I realize it’s partly my fault. Because many times, I do those things. And while I don’t apologize for it, I also want them to know I watch them because I relish in seeing them grow.

I’m a witness to these lives I helped create, and I love seeing them discover new things.

The other day as I was driving to the market, the new David Dunn song I Wanna Go Back came on the radio. It describes how as we grow older, we often lose our childlike faith and belief that we can do or be anything. Instead of being grateful we have neighbors next door to play with, we feel like we have to keep up with them.

So what does the artist want? To go back. He says he wants to go back to “Jesus loves me this I know…”

As I sat in the car listening and singing along, I thought, “Don’t we all?” I realized somewhere along the line, I forgot God watches me the love of a Father instead of an angry parent waiting to punish me. He sees me as a beloved daughter and a new creation, not a messed up kid who can’t ever get anything right.

But often, I’ll hit a road bump in life or a detour and say, “What?” Just like my kids. I think, “God must be punishing me for something I did wrong.”

I think, “Oh snap, God is watching me again. He must have seen that time I raced past the meet and greet or the time I avoided the prayer meeting.”

I don’t notice all the days he’s kept his eye on me and delivered me from harm. I race past the time he showed up through an encouraging note on an awful day and a friend’s offer to help.

What if we spent each day looking for glimpses of God’s love? Instead of fearing his rebuke, what if we looked for evidence that he’s watching us with admiration in his eyes, the same way I watch my kids?

If I see my kids with the joy of a mother’s heart, I know he sees me with a joy that surpasses my understanding. I know because the same God who created them created me. He created you.

When I got home from the market, I picked up our baby girl and put her on the bed. I didn’t try to hide the fact that I was watching her.

I smiled at her and she smiled back, her eyes all bright with the newness of an infant. As I took in her sweetness, I realized that’s how I want to be.

I want to smile back at God with the confidence of a daughter. A daughter who knows I’m worth more than many sparrows.

A daughter who knows he watches me with love.

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

How Faith Decays

Faith Slowly Decays

I walked to the car. Laying on the driveway at my feet was a flower, pulled out by the bulb. My heart dropped. It was disturbing.

Leaning over to pick it up, I tossed it around in my hand, considering how it hadn’t been picked like a normal flower, it hadn’t been cut at it’s stem so it could sprout up next year. Nope. Instead, it was ripped up, its core yanked from the ground. Never again would there be growth, renewal, and hope for this little thing.

The worst thing – ever – happened to this little flower. Hope was gone.

The devil wants to rip us, the same way, right from the bulb out of the hearty soil of God’s love.  He wants to cut us, not at our stem, so that we can grow again, but at the core of who we are. He wants to take away our heart that believes we are son or daughter. He wants to remove the mustard seed of faith. He wants to hijack the truth we are saved from our heart. He wants to cripple our ability to ever bloom again.

The farmer sows the word. Some people are like seed along the path, where the word is sown. As soon as they hear it, Satan comes and takes away the word that was sown in them. Mk. 4:14-15

His tactics happen subtly. I don’t know one person who said: I want to become an alcoholic. I want to someday cheat on my spouse. I dream of becoming addicted by drugs. I am looking forward to becoming a shopaholic. I hope to one day fall far, far away from Jesus, never to care much about his ways anymore. His tugs are slow-coming.

Little-by-little, he yanks. Little-by-little, we are removed just a little more from the soil we were planted in. Day-by-day, it happens until, one day – pop! – we’re a plucked bulb from the ground. Faith is gone.

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy.  Jo. 10:10

What are we doing, anyway? Are we waiting and watching or are we just going – la, de, da –  living as life passes us by?

Just as a predator loves a woman head down, wearing earbuds (how better to grab her) – so does the enemy love when we are distracted by the noise, commotion and the distraction of the world. Snatch!

Friends, be aware. Don’t just go through the motions of a day. Intentionally draw close to God.
Come near to God and he will come near to you. (Ja. 4:8)

Don’t just wait for faith to happen. Move into it. Grab it.
Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word about Christ. (Ro. 10:17)

Don’t just be a lukewarm Christian. Let God set you on fire. Go out.
So, because you are lukewarm–neither hot nor cold–I am about to spit you out of my mouth. (Rev. 3:16)

Don’t sit around and live a distracted life. Stay focused. It matters.
Keep your eyes on Jesus, who both began and finished this race we’re in. Study how he did it. Because he never lost sight of where he was headed – that exhilarating finish in and with God… (Heb. 12:2 MSG)

The days are short. The weeks are numbered. The mission is huge. The stakes are high. God is what matters.

I replanted that bulb, by the way. That is what God does. He replants us, no matter where we’ve been ripped up in life. He grows us again. And, we show up even more beautiful.

Kelly’s new book, Fear Fighting: Awakening Courage to Overcome Your Fears has been called A must read, Breathtakingly honest and a Great Toolbox to Overcome Fear. Read it today.

Discover how to flee from fear and fly in faith through 4 Days to Fearless Challenge.

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Have you Put Yourself in a Position of Worry?

Position of worry

Do you often put yourself position of worry?

My husband and I decided, after I returned to the car from grabbing coffee inside a busy supermarket, the answer to this question is the difference between peace and panic.

We pondered this thought because he’d literally just placed himself in a position of worry. You see, while I was inside procuring two grande Americano’s, he could have chosen to wait in a peaceful low-stress parking spot, however he didn’t. Instead, he drove his car right up to the front lane and waited right where all the traffic was. Sure, he pulled to the side and put on his hazard lights, but, by doing this, he put centered himself in a lane of stress, worry and anxiety.

The whole time he fretted: I don’t want to be in anyone’s way. I don’t want to cause any issues. I don’t want to annoy people.

In his haste to be efficient, he had wasted precious moments of peace. How often do we do the same thing? How often do we place ourself – front and center – right into a position of worry?

Recently, I’ve been waking up, putting the final touches on my blog post and sending it out. Usually, no more than 1 minute after I press send on the blog post – a kid wakes up. Then, I stress.

Because of my distraction, I missed connection with God. I was rushed. I’m angry at myself.

Day-in and day-out, though, I do the same thing.

Why am I putting myself in a position of worry?

Why am I repeatedly subjecting myself to the same outcome?

I can make a change. I can decide to take 10 extra minutes at night to do what the morning is stealing away from God. I can choose to place myself, not in the center of worry, but in a place of peace. You can too.

Creating a place of peace is:

Considering what to reschedule to make more time for your kids.
Relaxing your mind in prayer instead of regurgitating your ongoing mistakes.
Choosing to speak less rather than speaking in a way that hurts a loved one.
Deciding to stop ruminating on the past, so you can remain present in the moment.
Eating breakfast in the morning, so you don’t turn into a ball of anxiety by 11:30.
Letting people handle own their problems, rather than feeling you have to fix them all.
Asking God to handle what you can’t.
Halting your place of worry, by taking pro-active steps to figure out a new path to peace.

What might need changing so you can park your mind in a place of peace?

With 3 Words, Cut the Negative Power of Fear

This time of year is full of angst. At least it is for me. It is mostly this feeling that I need to do something bigger, better and bolder than last year, but the problem is – I have this sinking feeling – I won’t.

Add this to the swirling questions:

What if something catastrophic happens in 2017?
My children get hurt?
I find out I have cancer?
My husband and I lose our great relationship?
What if I accomplish nothing of importance?
I let God down?
Terrorism hits close?

This list goes on and on and the fears grow bigger and bigger the more I recite them. Before I know it, the bump on my face will surely become cancer and heartburn is, no doubt, a heart murmur.

Me + Fear = An atomic combination

It blows up my life, because I walk around with the destructive air of anxiety. This bad air, then makes others glow with frustration at my bad attitude.

Fear clouds my view of God. While once I could see and admire him, front-and-center – my constant trepidation quickly makes me lose heartfelt dedication… Worry covers wonder, action plans cover the idea – God-has-the-best plan, and prayer gets lost under despair.

Breathe deep.

Sometimes this is the best first step, I think. Any separation from the trepidation falling on you, is always good. If you give God an inch, He can work with that.

And, as I do, as I step back from the angst of 2017 in full motion, 3 calming words and 3 consoling verses come to mind:

Know: “Be still, and know that I am God…” (Ps. 46:10)

Grow: But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. (Mt. 6:33)

Go: So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand (Is. 46:10)

These 3 words help me see, I’ve complicated things. I’ve worried about the future, yet, God is in the present. Have you missed God too?

Perhaps, we don’t need to know the future, but we simply need to know that God is God. Perhaps, we don’t have to fear growth, progress or accomplishments, but simply seek first his righteousness, knowing we’ll grow as he adds everything to us Perhaps, we don’t need to get paralyzed by what ifs and hypotheses, but simply Go! in God’s strength and protection.

We move as he moves and trust him; he is trustable.

This idea awakens my heart, because when we fear, it is hard to be in God’s plan. Yet, when we know God is near, we lose fear.

This 2017, these 3 words will be my Fear Fight. A rather unconventional fight – one where I remember Jesus has already fought the fight – and won. In this, I’ll stand in his victory. Will you?

 

Interested in joining the Fear Fight? Want to leave behind your tremblings to walk into unbelievable calling? Order my book, Fear Fighting, today!

Sign up for the 4 Days to Fearless Challenge!

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Finding the Good in Your Bad

Good in Your Bad

I cuddled with coffee (which is no doubt one of my favorite things to do). It warms me better than mittens on a cold day, which it was. I was sitting on my outside bench and enjoying the frosty morning. Not expecting to see what I was about to see…

Because, after you’ve sat on your porch day in and day out, things start to look, well…monotonous. Been there…seen that – the tree placed on the side of the yard, the bird house a little off to the side and the neighbors car – almost out of line’s site.

I know what’s out there – I can see everything.

My kids? I know their story and what their day will entail. My husband? I know him well, if not, too well. The blog? I know what I do each day. My problems? I can see them ruining me.

I know things – and maybe, this is precisely my problem.

What if by knowing everything, by relying on what I see, I am missing the chance to believe in what I can’t?

What if by seeing things as they are, I am not seeing by faith?

What if, by slightly changing perspective, I could change everything?

If, by believing in what I do not see,…

Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. (Heb 11:1)

I might receive what is best for me…

…so that what was promised, being given through faith in Jesus Christ, might be given to those who believe. (Gal. 3:22)

Why don’t I full rely on God’s eyes to see…

I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people, and his incomparably great power for us who believe. (Eph. 1:18-19)

Maybe my life feels dull and ordinary because I’ve relied far too much on my own vision. God wants me to push pasty my might so I adopt his sight of that frees the captive, that brings beauty out of ashes and that overpowers the forces of darkness. I think I’ve missed out. And, what hits me is – when I seek to see like God sees, I experience a new way to be.

What appears like a shut door,
is really God’s way of sending me off in His new way.

What looks like a kid with a bad attitude is
really an opportunity to bring the gospel to her heart.

What lives like a long waiting period is really time
for me to prepare my heart for what God might want to do.

What comes at me like an in-your-face rejection,
is really a reminder God gives better gifts.

What appears to be time-lost is the chance to see
God reclaim, miraculously, what was lost.

If we don’t believe, how will we ever see – God’s greatest works?

For the one who believes God can do all things, for them, they get to see these things – and greater things.

When did I become such a jaded Christian? I am sorry God. Heal my unbelief. Restructure my faith. Pour out grace. Enliven me in belief with no bounds. I don’t want partial faith in your goodness, but an all out allegiance to your way, your truth and your life. Amen.

And, as I sit there on that bench, surrounded by commonplace things on a commonplace day, I see something far less common. I see, beyond a stone’s throw, a leaf – one I had never seen before in my life. It was oddly shaped, as if it should be in some exotic locale. It is beautiful, awe-inspiring and special. It teaches me – when we get expectant to see, God puts his beauty before us.

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More Reading:

When You Long to Do Something Bad

How to Find Rest in God

Do you Need a New Perspective?

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The Gift I Have Refused…

Post by: Jami Amerine

My dad and his older brother have a favorite tale they expose about their youth. Their younger brother was a studious boy. He would finish his homework and then go to bed before the sun went down, in an effort to be well rested for school the next day. After he’d been sound asleep for about an hour, my dad and his brother would wake their younger brother for school.  The poor boy would get up, dress, and scramble upstairs for breakfast.  Their mother would be the first to alert the poor dupe of the prank.

Recently, alone in a hotel, I was so duped. I fell asleep at 8:45 in the evening.  We have seven children, and I had been hectic away from home at speaking engagements. I was exhausted.  When I woke I barely recognized my surroundings. I got up, made a pot of coffee, pulled on my cozy robe and opened the light blocking drapes. I was pleased to see the sun wasn’t up yet. As I opened my computer, I smiled to myself; I would have an entire day to work alone in the hotel and I was eager to get started.

That is when I saw the time.

It was only 12:15 am.  I had been asleep less than four hours.

Granted four hours of uninterrupted sleep at home is nothing short of a miracle. Between the teens texting to ask me if I am awake, the toddlers requiring comfort after a nightmare, and the baby demanding a bottle – I rarely get unremitting sleep.

I turned off the coffee pot, closed the drapes, and climbed back into the crispy, hotel grade, Egyptian cotton sheets.

It was both a relief… and a burden.

I lie there giggling to myself.  And then, I worried about my husband, home alone with our brood.  He was probably exhausted too.  I felt dejected I wasn’t there to help him.

Unable to fall back to sleep, I got up and worked until 5, fell asleep on my keyboard and was startled awake at 7:20 when the neighbor in the adjoining room started his shower.

I felt all the pangs of a protracted night and my keyboard was firmly imprinted on my left cheek.

I drug my weary body to the shower and stretched the kinks out of my neck and back.  Steam chased me from the bathroom and I poured a cup of stale coffee into a sorry little Styrofoam cup and added powdered cream. I stared out of the window at the foreign town, straining to spy a Starbucks on the horizon.

As bitter java assaulted my tongue, I bemoaned the day before me.

The sun poured out the freshness of a new morning, yet I felt less than fresh. Scripture floated into my mind, “Come to me all you who are weary, I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11:28)

Yet, in spite of the rest, He offers me, I sleep on my keyboard and then bathe in culpability when I put my feet up to take a break.

Rest.

I associate rest with something shameful rather than a blessing.

Curious, the Maker of Heaven and Earth produced this body for survival in an unconscious state. Eyes closed, breath steady, mind in a playground of non-sense, unprovoked folly, escapism, and suppressed considerations.  Occasionally, darkness creeps in and a chase ensues or great terrors play out, still, He fashioned me for slumber.

To rest.

Society demands I work harder, invest more and rest less. He waits for me. The blessing of rest in His gentle hand, and instead of wrapping up in His majestic creation of slumber, mind, and body – I analyze, supervise, and contrive.

I am weary. And I am most weary of the weariness. Self-induced standards of being most effective, crowning production, and the bragging rites of minimal repose.

If He were here now, if I stood before my Lord and He presented me with a lovely package; a medium sized box wrapped in shiny paper, an enormous bow, glitter, and streamers, would I decline the offering?

Would I boastfully retort, “I don’t need that from you.”

Oh, my stars! The mere thought slays me. Yet, I refuse Him… often.

But not today. Today, I closed the heavy swathes of my room. With lotioned flesh and a soaking wet head, I slipped back into the pajamas I had tossed aside before my shower.  I hung the “DO NOT DISTURB” sign on the outside doorknob.  A mischievous smile crept across my face. I poured another cup of coffee and snickered when I uncovered two tiny cups of liquid creamer underneath the packets of dehydrated Coffee-mate powder. How had I missed those?

A gift.

A gift of rest.  I might write.  I might watch the I Love Lucy marathon on channel 18.  I might nap. A package of crackers and bottled water sit on my nightstand. Today, I accept the gift of rest.  This is a rare occasion, still, I wonder, how many days I neglected the gift? A load of laundry dominates the opportunity to cuddle on the couch with my babies. Running to the grocery store in lieu of a lunch date with my husband, or staying up another hour to catch up on that which will never actually ever be fully settled.

Coffee with a friend; bubble baths or just a moment alone on the closet floor begging His help maneuvering homework and dinner – so that I might sleep just an hour before the baby wakes.

A good Father, Creator of the gift of rest.  And more than this rare occasion where I celebrate loneliness, I know I will need the rest He offers in times of worry, heartache, and grief.  What will I say then? Lord, I pray I remember you stand in wait with the majesty of rest. Rest only you can bring me.

Thank you for that, my Lord.  Thank you.

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547592_3961306391397_890561921_n (1)Jami Amerine is a wife, and mother to anywhere from 6-8 children. Jami and her husband Justin are active foster parents and advocates for foster care and adoption. Jami’s Sacred Ground Sticky Floors is fun, inspirational, and filled with utter lunacy with a dash of hope. Jami holds a degree in Family and Consumer Sciences (yes Home Ec.) and can cook you just about anything, but don’t ask her to sew. She also holds a Masters Degree in Education, Counseling, and Human Development. Her blog includes topics on marriage, children, babies, toddlers, learning disabilities, tweens, teens, college kids, adoption, foster care, Jesus, homeschooling, unschooling, dieting, not dieting, dieting again, chronic illness, stupid people, food allergies, and all things real life. You can find her blog at Sacred Ground Sticky Floors, follow her onFacebook or Twitter.

Seizing Spiritual Confidence: 4 Foundational Keys

spiritual confidence

I got to the end of the day, pulled into the driveway, stared out the front windshield and laid down a verdict, “I didn’t succeed at loving. My morning goals – looked like a blown-out tire by afternoon.

Sure, I began the day with aspirations a mile long – I’d do great things with God, we’d pour out love on people, we would encourage the world with the love of Jesus.  But then, life happened. Ugh.  I felt much more like a woman on a treadmill – working up a sweat and getting nowhere – than a woman on a mission of grand importance.

I exhaled. Scrunched down in my seat. Clenched the steering wheel.

I stink.
God, I am sorry that I didn’t win for you today.
I am sorry that I let you down.
My heart is to go all out for you, but I lost.

Have you sat like me –
wanting to make progress only to end up discouraged?

I recently signed up for Michael Hyatt’s Free To Focus Productivity Summit. Reason being? I have a minuscule amount of time to complete a massive amount of ministry. I need help.

Learning a ton, Michael said something that struck me; it clicked: Not keeping up, makes you feel like you are losing. Feeling like your losing diminishes productive confidence.

My confidence ride likes waves. I go high when I am confident, but when the waves crash – so do I. I eat it.

With this, I wonder, shouldn’t my confidence look more steady, more consistent?

More like Jesus?

More grace-filled, less about getting ahead?
More locked and loaded on eternity, less concerned with check-marks?
More set on God’s big mission, less engrossed with endless busyness?

How does God see confidence?

Let us then approach God’s 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

I might say, “Do more”,
but God says,
Be more with me. Come more – to me.”

Lasting confidence.
Enduring confidence.
Unwavering confidence.

What if I no longer lived like a temperature gauge –
hot and on fire with passion one day, cold in defeat the next?

I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish;
no one will snatch them out of my hand. Jo. 10:28

Godly confidence is knowing that God will never let you go.

It is less in what we do,
or how we see things, and more in who He is – and what he does.

He has our future. Confidence!
He knows our way. Confidence!
He will be faithful. Confidence!
We can fly arms wide open into his will. Confidence!
We can fall and he will still make my fly. Confidence!
We can not know the way – but he will. Confidence!

Confidence in Jesus, can’t be stolen, revoked or denied. It is a solid rock; it does not waver.

On what ground does your confidence stand confidence?

Achievement? People pleasing? Perfection? Performance? Busyness?  Perhaps it is time to exchanges confidence that crashes like waves for rock-solid confidence that can’t be stolen.

4 Foundational Truths that Breed Confidence

  • There is no effective building of anything unless the Lord truly resides over everything.
    Unless the LORD builds the house, the builders labor in vain.
    Unless the LORD watches over the city, the guards stand watch in vain. Ps. 127:1
  • God’s work is less about what you do and more about what He’s already decided to do.
    For I am confident of this very thing,
    that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus. Phil. 1:6
  • You don’t need to fear, God protects you from the snares.
    For the LORD will be your confidence
    And will keep your foot from being caught. Prov. 3:26
  • You don’t have to know where you are going, just that God is going there with you.
    Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.  Heb. 11:1

The real power of confidence transcends our natural eye. When we pull our strength from the supernatural, something amazing happens – we often do the supernatural. Suddenly, focus is exactly what we have and progress is exactly what we get. It never comes by our strength – but always comes by His. This removes the pressure. It is a heavenly movement on our behalf, not a heart-attack ridden movement by our striving.

This kind of confidence? It makes all the difference.

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Standing firm in Faith Over Fear

Standing Firm

Occasionally, you know you met someone with a heart of gold – this is how I feel about Gwen Smith. Her all-in pursuit of Jesus, her authentic spirit and her ability to instantly connect, as both a teacher and a girlfriend, is a gift that is so unique to her. I have gotten a chance to deep dive into her new book, “I Want It All” and her words have helped me grab hold of the fullness of God’s extraordinary that he has uniquely carved out for me. Thanks Gwen.

I am delighted to welcome Gwen Smith to Purposeful Faith. I hope you will too. 

Post by: Gwen Smith

The book of Esther shows us what our lives can look like when we trust in the sovereignty of God and expect Him to be powerful in the midst of desperate circumstances that could cause us to cower in fear. God positioned this young Hebrew girl to be queen of Persia so that she could rise up in His strength and courage when her people, the Jews, faced imminent death. She fasted and humbled herself before the Lord through prayer. And though it was risky to the point of death, she went to the king and courageously spoke up on behalf of the Jews. The result? God used Esther to save her people from genocide.

I want to be brave like that. I want to live with so much God courage that I don’t go soft when life gets hard. So I take note of what Esther did. She didn’t cave in to fear; instead, she fixed her focus on God and His power to save her and His people. She fasted and prayed and asked for Him to intervene.

Like Queen Esther, we can live with great expectations of God because He loves to do amazing things through average people— people with worries and warts and weaknesses, like you and me. If we want it all, we need to be women who stand firm when our emotions threaten to overwhelm us and courageously believe God for big things.

So… how CAN we stand firm in faith like Esther
did when our knees knock?

The first step to standing firm in faith is to know Him.

Generally speaking, I don’t trust someone I don’t know. Plain and simple. I’m guessing you don’t either.

God spoke to the prophet Jeremiah about the importance of our knowing Him:

Thus says the LORD: “Let not the wise man boast in his wisdom, let not the mighty man boast in his might, let not the rich man boast in his riches, but let him who boasts boast in this, that he under- stands and knows me, that I am the LORD who practices steadfast love, justice, and righteousness in the earth. For in these things I delight, declares the LORD.” (Jer. 9:23–24 ESV)

The apostle Peter also wrote about the importance of knowing God. At the beginning of his first letter, he stated that the grace, peace, and power we need are connected to our knowledge of Christ:

Grace and peace be yours in abundance through the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord. His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. (2 Pet. 1:2–3)

How can you know God? Read your Bible, study His character, and remember the ways He has delivered in the past. Such things are Faith 101. When you are overwhelmed by life, don’t shy away from God. Don’t isolate: investigate. Look to Him. Explore His goodness.

I learned recently about the familiar “trust God” verses in Proverbs 3. You know them. “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths” (vv. 5–6 ESV).

The second part never made sense to me. I wondered, Why would my acknowledging God motivate Him to make my paths straight? In the New Testament, even the demons acknowledged that Jesus was the Son of God, so why would my acknowledging Him make my paths straight?

I looked up the root word and found a gold mine. The Hebrew word for “acknowledge” is yada’,1 the primitive root of which means “to know.” It means “to understand, to grasp or ascertain; especially to be familiar or acquainted with.” So, “in all of your ways acknowledge him” really means this: in all of your ways yada’ Him; in all of your ways know Him and seek to understand Him; be familiar with Him; be acquainted with Him, and He will make your paths straight.

Ah! Clarity!

The key to a straight path, the key to trusting God when doubt shoves me off balance is way less about my circumstances and way more about my God.

When we’re intimately familiar with God, when we don’t just know about Him but really know Him, the most crooked roads we travel are made straight. Not because life is easy. Sifting through emotions like anger, depression, hopelessness, insecurity, and so on is hard stuff! But because when we know God, we know all of this as well:

His STRENGTH that is accessible in our weakness

His COMFORT that meets us as we mourn

His MERCY that withholds the punishment our depravity readily deserves

His PEACE that defies our unrest

His JOY that kisses the cheeks of our sorrow

His COURAGE that makes our weary hearts brave and casts away fears

His REDEMPTION that reworks our brokenness into beauty

His LOVE that binds us to eternity and delights over us with singing

Even when the one-two punches come and feelings are frazzled, I can confidently trust God by faith. Not because I understand all the circumstances, or even like them, but because I know Him. And because I know Him, I can trust that He will provide all I need to process pains, heal from wounds, and move forward in strength, grace, and peace.

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Gwen Smith, author of I Want It All: Exchanging Your Average Life for Deeper Faith, Greater Power, and More Impact, (March 1, 2016, David C Cook) unapologetically urges her readers to want more. “You and I were born for greatness,” Smith writes. “Not for the world’s greatness, but for eternal greatness: to know God and showcase God.”

Standing firm

Smith is quick to say that she is not saying more is better. More may include setbacks, more may include being misunderstood and discouraged, and more may include suffering. But more also means knowing God more deeply, even in the midst of pain. The deepest question behind this search for more from God is this: Do I trust Jesus? Smith helps readers explore this question in light of disappointment and unmet expectations in life.

Pre-order today: I Want It All: Exchanging Your Average Life for Deeper Faith, Greater Power, and More Impact; it is 40% OFF… plus, Amazon is offering a $5 coupon (found under Special Offers section)! This means, you get a book that retails at $16.99 for only $5.11.

More on I Want It All:

About Gwen:

Screen Shot 2016-02-15 at 6.47.00 PMGwen Smith is an author and volleyball enthusiast who lives in sunny North Carolina and has been married to her college honey, Brad, for 23 years. They are tired parents to three tall, competitive-sport-playing teens who keep them on their toes and on their knees. Her online friends meet at GwenSmith.net to connect and be encouraged, and her goal is to help women think big thoughts about God and be inspired to live out the grace and truth of Jesus. Gwen’s new book, I Want It All, (David C. Cook) released on March 1, 2016. She speaks, leads worship, and eats potato chips at women’s events everywhere, and she is a cofounder of the conference and devotional ministry Girlfriends in God.

CHANCE TO WIN: Bloggers & readers, Gwen will be selecting one of you at random to win her books and music. Support Gwen today:

    1. Join her Thunderclap!
    2. Share this post.
    3. Tweet the below tweets or Facebook updates about “I Want It All”!

Tweet: I want to live with so much God courage that I don’t go soft when life gets hard. @GwenSmithMusic #iwantitall http://ctt.ec/ezUl_+

Tweet: We can live w/ great expectations of God bc He loves to do amazing things thru average people @GwenSmithMusic http://ctt.ec/Yg3cU+

Tweet: “The key to trusting God when doubt shoves me off balance is way less about my circumstances & way more about my God.” @GwenSmithMusic

Facebook: “If we want it all, we need to be women who stand firm when our emotions threaten to overwhelm us and courageously believe God for big things.” @GwenSmithMusic #iwantitall

Facebook: “The key to trusting God when doubt shoves me off balance is way less about my circumstances and way more about my God.” @GwenSmithMusic #iwantitall http://amzn.to/1Tk179P

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Talking Like God Would

Talking Like God

Not too many days ago, which, if I am completely honest with you – is about once a week – I have one of those pull-out-your-hair types of days.

Most of the time the impetus is my kids, and either some crazy mishap like poo on the floor, water all over the place, cooking extravaganzas gone horribly wrong or something else that is impossible to clean up.

Then I start playing the mole in the hole game as one thing after another pops up to drive me mad:

I start stubbing my toe.
The cabinets look a mess.
I can’t organize worth a small stack of T-bonds.
I needed to throw out everything (about 10 years ago).
I am the worst mom.
I can’t do things well.

Before I know it, I grab my AK-47 and start firing.

Normally the bullets hit my kids first, leaving what I assume are critical care wounds from words like this:

You are not listening.
You are not obeying.
You are frustrating me.
You are going to be punished.
You better do ____, or else!
I don’t want to be around you.
I am leaving you here until you can shape up.
Why can’t you __________?

Perhaps you shoot down your spouse this way too,
this kind of thing has been known to happen.

It’s interesting, isn’t it?

The ones we most love are the ones we most love to shoot.
The ones that are closest always land our stray bullets. 
The ones most invested in us are the ones we most often try to rob.

It is as if somehow we know that their belief in us –
is also our greatest risk.

The wise woman builds her house, but with her own hands the foolish one tears hers down. Prov. 14:1

God’s spiritual inclinations repel from our earthly inclinations.

He’s basically like:

If you have a house, why are you ripping it apart?
If you are building something great, are you really going to be so dumb as to ruin it?
If you are wise, get wise about the words of identity you declare –
they determine the path of the ones you love.

Then, he graciously teaches mom his love and how to speak love.

He says, My Child, watch what I do,
then you will see and know how to speak.
I say things like:

I love you always, no matter how badly you mess up (or how bad your cabinets look).
I want to help you listen and obey.
I am with you and will guide you in the process.
I won’t leave you or push you aside when you fail.
I want to encourage you in all your ways.
If you have questions about my approach, just ask.
I won’t keep reminding you of all you have done wrong.
I love how I made you; I approve of you.
I love watching your small steps of improvement.
I wait for you to be near to me; I love being close to you.

What if I was to talk – like God talks to me?

What if rather than tearing down, I start laying down new bricks of life-long security?

What might that do to a dwelling? To the attitudes inside – and to the mom who feels subpar?

Somehow, I can’t help but think, when we start speaking grace, we start believing it.

Then, when moles sneak out of their holes, rather than believing they are creating dugouts that will sink our house, we remember what we have built. We step back, we see our foundation and we know God’s words and reinforced love made it strong.

We gently hear his voice say: “I will be with you. Just do your best and I will take care of the rest.”

And, things feel okay – and so does everyone else.

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When Others Make you Uneasy

Others Make you Uneasy

When I was with her, like a mind-reader, I could sense her emotions.
I could feel her temperatures rising – to the heights of Pluto.
I could sense all was not well with her soul.
Her words were shorter, her breathing tighter and her laughter less.

And all I could think was – what can I do to make her feel better?

Do you ever feel like me? Responsible to make others happy?

It wasn’t that life was crashing in. She was just handling groceries, dishes and daily clean up.

Yet, still, no matter how I talked, or what I did, her feelings didn’t seem to clean up. They didn’t. Despite my underlying words of: “Pull it together, so we can have fun together,” she didn’t budge.

And, then, what I did made it ten times worse, I’ll tell ya’ll, because I literally walked over, picked up her feelings and placed them inside me. I attached them to my heart like a fungus that even armies can’t beat. I wore anxiety just the same as her.

If you can’t beat ’em, join em,
unless you’re trying to minister to ’em,
and then you have probably just wrecked ’em.

Stepping back has given me the chance to see some things:

  1. The wounded can’t easily be rescued by the wounded.
  2. The wounded often need the Master Physician not the master fixer.
  3. The wounded are hurting and sometimes space is the place where their heart finds peace.
  4. If you want to minister and not manipulate, you have to terminate your need to placate.
  5. If you want to stay at peace, you have to let others own their own feelings.

I am not the peace-maker, the joy-jester or the emotion-keeper, I am just as much a sinful soul that could fall down right next to that person if I am not careful.

I could fall down with the thoughts:
I did something wrong.
It is all my fault.
She will not return to happiness today.
I will have a horrible day.
I don’t know what is about to happen.

Knowing this, there is only one place to land oneself in a moment like this –
at the melting-point of God’s Word:

The Lord is on my side; I will not fear. What can man do to me? Ps. 118:6

Casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you. 1 Pet. 5:7

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. Prov. 3:5

There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear… 1 Jo. 4:18

If God is in charge, I don’t have to be.

If I can leave him with my anxieties, I don’t need them.

If I trust him, I can trust he will work out that persons issue.

If I let him work, he will accomplish change in atmospheres better than I ever could.

If I let go of worrying about others, I can find peace.

If I step back, I can see his power at work between the space of me and them.

If I lean on God in the turbulence of fear, I can find strength in the face of hope.

Where might God be calling you to lean in?

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