My 4-year old son asks me a million questions a minute. Rapid fire, it’s like a barrage of bullets that I feel I can’t dodge sometimes. But, he wants to know, he must know. He won’t quit until he DOES know.
It’s a personal pursuit for him; he is trying to figure out how he fits into this grand ole thing called – the world.
I answer. He always believes. And asks more. And is eager. Hungry. Hopeful. Listening. Ready.
Willing to learn. Expecting to hear.
My son makes me think…
We love to focus on this verse: Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. Mt. 11:28-29
We jump up and down when we read this one: For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light. Mt. 11:30
But, we hardly consider the verse just a couple lines above it:“I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that you have hidden these things from the wise and understanding and revealed them to little children; Mt. 11:25
Could it be that verses are related?
Might we not feel our burden is light, because we haven’t really established God as our sight?
Perhaps, we haven’t fought after God’s ways like a child would – like my son would.
A child might beg,“What things do I need to learn? How do I do it? Tell me. Tell me. Tell me. Show me too. I want to learn! I want to do it!”
Do we want to learn? Not in a heady, heavy and show-offy sort of way, (like the wise and understanding ones that God hid truth from), but like the hungry, listening, watching and active children that are rambunctious for truth.
God easily hands out rest to those seeking children; they need it – they tire themselves out with their relentless pursuits. He lays them down in the comfort of his safe pastures, under the wings of eagles and in the safe refuge of his mighty tower.
God lets the hungry be full – with his nourishment that never stops filling.
They seek God and they find him.
They hope for an answer and they hear one.
They wait and they receive the power of his Word.
Hungry. Hopeful. Listening. Ready. Eager to know the one driving them around all the time, leading the way, staying close minute by minute to make sure they stay in good health.
All things have been handed over to me by my Father, and no one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him. Mt. 11:27
The Father knows the son, the Son knows the Father.
How can we expect to know the Son, without asking to see him?
Pleading to see him,
leaning in to know him and crying for a chance to behold him.
God picks up the whiney children wailing for more, and carries us to make our loads lighter.
Then, we lay up against rest and lean on trust.
Gone, is the weight of striving and, present, is the hope found in abiding.
Our daddy takes good care of us, as he always does for a loved child. Our souls find the rest after listening to the answers for our million questions we were always hungry for.
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I am delighted to welcome a new regular contributor, Angela Nazworth. She is not only a friend, who I adore, but an eloquent writer who always teaches me a lesson about God’s goodness. I hope you relish in her words the same way I do. Welcome Angela!
My hair has issues. Or perhaps the more honest statement to make would be for me to write that I have issues with my hair. I always have. Not even when I was five and my golden locks rivaled those of Rupunzel did I like my mane. Oh, I liked the length, and when it was properly curled and styled I pretended to be a princess, but I did not like the tangles. Even less did I enjoy the pain and aggravation caused by the untangling process.
My mom, being the one who had to listen to my whining protests, decided that my long hair had to go. This decision was made when I was in the fourth-grade, and it was one with which I agreed.
There was a downside. It was the year of the mullet. Not only is the mullet an eye sore, it’s a lot of work. My hair still easily knotted in the back and a brush was no longer the sole implement required to style my baby fine tresses. Each morning my mom had to stand over me with a hot curling iron to make the top portion of my head look more feminine, which in 1984 meant high and fluffy.
Fast-forward 30 years and you will still find me complaining about my hair. I have dyed it various shades. In my attempts for the perfect color, my hair has been green, pastel orange, purple, gray, and pink. All unintended. I have also tried myriad styles: short and bobbed, long and spiral permed, short and spiral permed, pixie, etc.
Once, as I sat in the salon chair of a former stylist eagerly waiting for her to transform me into a super model with just a few clips from her scissors, (I tend to have high expectations) she said the most peculiar thing to me.
“You are so lucky to have straight, fine hair.”
“You’ve got to be kidding me,” I said with surprise. “I wouldn’t wish this hair on anyone, plus what is with my crazy hair line in the back that grows upward and that hideous cowlick?”
“It’s much better than having hair like mine,” she bemoaned. “It’s so thick and coarse.”
I looked at her long, voluminous, perfectly coiffed blonde hair and giggled.
“This is too funny,” I said. “You have my dream hair!”
“Well, I guess we all want what we don’t have,” she replied.
How true that is. For sheep, the grass is always greener on the other side. For women, the hair is always prettier on the other head!
Moreover, it doesn’t stop with hairstyles. I will be perfectly happy with my blog’s design until I see the makeover another writer’s site recently got and then, suddenly, I determine that my online space needs spiffing up. I will feel content in my house until I overhear the sales rep at Home Depot tell another customer that “Aqua Chiffon,” is the most popular color for living room walls and I realize that I don’t even have anything close to that shade anywhere in my home.
It’s easy for me to brush off this cycle of comparison as innocent, human nature, but in reality it’s unhealthy and emotionally dangerous. Disparaging what belongs to me opens the gates of envy, coveting, and bitterness. Focus shifts from God and His goodness to selfish desires and I begin to lose sight of blessings that surround me. When I’m in the mode of comparison, discontentment and want, the vision of my heart blurs and I open myself up to being more susceptible to commit other sins in the name of pride.
Why is it so much easier for me to want something I cannot have than to thank my savior for the many gifts I possess?
My counsel for you is simple and straightforward: Just go ahead with what you’ve been given. You received Christ Jesus, the Master; now live him. You’re deeply rooted in him. You’re well constructed upon him. You know your way around the faith. Now do what you’ve been taught. School’s out; quit studying the subject and start living it! And let your living spill over into thanksgiving.
Watch out for people who try to dazzle you with big words and intellectual double-talk. They want to drag you off into endless arguments that never amount to anything. They spread their ideas through the empty traditions of human beings and the empty superstitions of spirit beings. But that’s not the way of Christ. Everything of God gets expressed in him, so you can see and hear him clearly. You don’t need a telescope, a microscope, or a horoscope to realize the fullness of Christ, and the emptiness of the universe without him. When you come to him, that fullness comes together for you, too. His power extends over everything. – Colossians 2:6-10
So while the grass may appear greener, hair prettier, furniture grander, homes bigger, and figures thinner … I now try extra hard to not be so interested in the proverbial other side. I am going to focus on how to make my inside look more like Jesus and foster a spirit of thankfulness for all He has given me.
What about you? Please use the comment section to share something about your life for which you are thankful and no longer desire to change.
Angela Nazworth is a flawed and forgiven recovering perfection who writes mostly about the beauty of grace, faith, friendship, vulnerability and community at angelanazworth.com. She is a wife and a mother of two, who manages philanthropic communications for a nonprofit, national healthcare association. Angela’s also an encourager, a lover of good books, coffee, girl’s night out, sunshine, and waterfalls. She believes the creator of the universe is both the author of and lead character in her life story. With every experience she learns more about who she is in Him … and takes another step on her journey to love others better. You can also chat with Angela via Twitter.
Fear freezes us. It keeps us from moving ahead. It stops us from witnessing. Fear paralyzes us when God tells us to serve Him. It mutes us when He says, “Speak!”
I don’t have to know what is ahead.
God knows, and when I walk by faith, that is enough.
Friend, what fears are holding you back today?
Learning to depend on God will be the greatest blessing you can experience.
Through my disability (loss of sight), God gave me abilities.
He enabled me to trust him completely.
He gave me the ability to serve him and to encourage others through writing and speaking.
He has shown His mercy, because four years later, I still have some vision.
My Reflection: Perhaps it’s not so much what we see, but what God wants us to see as we trust our disabilities to him.
Anytime we flip the switch in our minds and hearts and focus on pleasing God more by pleasing our mate something changes deep inside our heart. It’s like the door called self opens and love and light flow into the place once darkened by negativity or complaining.
Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Ephesians 4:2
My Reflection: Sheila says switching power is found through clenching God’s Word. This is how we flip the switch. Then we see the truth and we walk differently.
Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. Colossians 3:2 (ESV)
I needed help with my shopping tendencies, so I told my bible study girls to “get in my business.” Something radical had to happen. I gave them a pass to speak truth into my life even if it meant my own embarrassment and humiliation.
P.S. I felt led to sell a purse at a consignment store as an act of obedience. When I went to pick it up, the owner told me that she couldn’t understand why it didn’t sell.
But I knew.
God gave that purse back to me, and now I carry it as a reminder of His mercy and grace—with confidence! Whenever I carry that one, I am careful to share my story of grace with anyone who will listen!
My Reflection: How can we grab the support of others to finally push through that loitering sin?
When I saw him, all I can say is that what I felt was pure joy. After 3 years, three months, and two days (of agony-filled waiting), my child who was lost had been found, and that was all that mattered.
Wasn’t that how I came to God?
Wasn’t He the one who was waiting for me,
watching for me in the far-off distance
when I wandered home in my ruinous pain?
Before there was an explanation, a repentance, a hope of restoration, there was that moment when I walked right up to Abba in my brokenness and pitiful rebellion, and we embraced. I can only imagine that for Him in that moment with me, all that mattered was that His child who was lost had now been found.
I was found — in that moment. I was home.
My Reflection: How might you be running from God today? How might he receive you if you would only return? I think he would cry tears of joy to see you return in that one small way to him.
The world may not see my pain, but God does. The duties may not go away, but God will walk beside me and help me to carry the load.
Not only does God see my pain, but He is near to my pain. And he has promised to heal my broken heart.
Can you picture that?
God wants to pick you and me up gently in his arms and hold us tightly and remind us that even when the world is crashing down around us…
He loves us. He is in control. He is good. He has conquered the world! There is HOPE.
“Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30
God called me away from everyone else’s thoughts and ideas and invited me to spend time in His word. Just the two of us. No other influence or interpretation. No other filters or explanations.
Just him talking to me through the Bible.
Friends, I’m not kidding taking a break from bible study was scary for me. I was afraid of loosing the accountability. Afraid I’d miss the social aspect. Honestly, I was afraid I wouldn’t understand a thing I read. I’m still somewhat new to this whole bible study thing.
God kept gently calling, asking me to trust Him.
He was right.
My reflection: Sometimes getting away from talking heads, helps you to hear the one who is at head. Sometimes, all we need is his voice.
The LORD is on my side; I will not fear: what can man do unto me? Psalm 118:6
Are you facing something new? Did you hear God call? Are you questioning whether you heard correctly?
Make a calculated decision in the face of fear, with eternity in focus. Continuing the venture into new territory, I learned about and submitted various stories and articles, often proceeding with knees knocking (Kristi took the risk of facing rejection and walked intentionally even though she was scared).
It was about God, about eternity, not me. Battles in the Old Testament were calculated as well. Think Jericho. They “heard” what to do, then they “did” what God called them to do. The victory wasn’t as quick nor easy as a snap of the fingers. They didn’t eat from fear’s plate. They ate of the Lord’s faithfulness instead. You and I can too.
My reflection: We may not feel safe, but we can move forward with whatever stands before us knowing that we are!
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This may be the oddest blog post you have ever read, but I am just going to go with it – brace yourself…
My writing chair, is more of a writing chaise, it faces my patio where I watch birds peck around for their next God-promised meal, pesky groundhogs graze on my grass and raccoons duck their heads into the light.
But, what my eye is drawn to the most is that small, sweet little chipmunk – the one that so often pounces around my (ahem, dead) flowers.
I love these little chipmunks. They are so sweet, so precious, so free of long tails, glowing night eyes and stinky smells. They touch my heart because when I look at them – I see innocence.Pure, humble innocence. Not savage instinct, but a joyful presence. They are the good amidst the smelly. The humble amidst the powerful.
Christ kind of looks this way too – the spotless lamb that shines out among dirty humanity. The pure vessel amidst the ugliness of sin. The joy to behold in a world that has a ravage hunger for everything it can consume.
“He committed no sin, and no deceit was found in his mouth.” 1 Pet. 2:22
Singular purity. All-encompassing morality. The definition of unity.
Jesus – a walking breathing sacrifice, always giving, completely offering, genuinely treading earth for those who need his touch – a spotless, sweet, pure and whole example.
And, while the chipmunk is no equal to the Savior of the World, the chipmunk surely has been created by him. And, he shines his glory all the same, because all creation has been made in adoration.
all things have been created through him and for him. 1 Col. 1:16
I guess this is why God kind of stopped me in my tracks this morning (literally).
You see, as I drove my car, I saw him. Right in the center of the road – my chipmunk.
Dead. Pure. Humble. Small. Run over by the world.
My heart broke.
Just lying there, on the ground.
Slain, undeserving of that pain.
Like the pure one. The beaten one. Driven over by our sin. Thrust down even though he offered so much. White as snow and humble down the road to death.
We forget that image sometimes. I forget it.
But, I don’t want to forget. I want to remember. I want to hold it like a locket over my heart that protects all the goodness, the love and the renewal packaged within.
I want to hold it so tightly that it seeps right out of me into the savagery of this world.
To the customer service lady who drives me up the wall.
To the husband who had too quick of a retort.
To the bills that stack high.
To the children who need a little too much.
To the poor who I would rather not see.
To the friend who really does need a helping hand.
To the coveted time I don’t want to dole out.
To my heart that can’t forgive – or forgive itself for that matter.
May his purity laid down for us, seep right into us and out of us. He loves us that much.
Cleanliness, slain – to reach our pain.
Hope, released – and purpose gained.
Life, secured – so we may endure.
None for him and all for me.
Today, let’s join the impending orchestra of all creation as we sing his truth:
Then I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and on the sea, and all that is in them, saying: “To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be praise and honor and glory and power, for ever and ever!” Rev. 5:13
One day, every knee will bow, tongue confess, mouth sing, heart see, eye understand who is King.
One day all will know,
until then, let’s live today like we do.
Knowing, not just saying…
Giving, not just mouthing…
…to the one and only. To the one who deserved royalty, a crown, an 11-course tasting menu, the heights of glory, the strength of power, but who endured the status of the worst sinner, the ridiculed idiot and the lowly donkey rider.
Let’s lift our hands to him today.
Let’s see his glory reign today.
To the one who lives, holds all power and waits for our much-anticipated arrival.
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I have been on a wild and crazy hunt to figure out how to get more of God – into me.
It’s wild because I often live in the wilderness – in the rocky ups and downs of faith. It’s just wild that a great God like him would want to dive into the disobedient heart of a girl like me. My head says yes, but sometimes, my heart says, it’s too off his beaten path.
It’s crazy because, I can’t even conceive how someone so “everywhere” and “always”, so above-it-all and so robe-laden, someone who made everything and with so much to do, could want to reside in measly me? Aren’t there a lot more exciting and missional places that he wants to focus?
But, it’s true.
God practically offers us all of him on a golden platter saying, I give you my heart. Will you take it? He doesn’t offer a part, a sliver, a shard, a splinter; he takes his whole body and throws it on the table for us, for vulture-like beings who did nothing to earn his gift of death.
“Take and eat; this is my body.” Mt. 26:26
He offers, but do I even value his gift?
The truth is the presence of his body, his life and his power is the greatest gift I could ever receive.
But, I must make a choice to eat his spiritual nourishment.
When my stomach turns in knots,
when holes trip me up,
when I shake in the darkness,
I must look up, verses looking around and see the one who is always ready to be found.
He is always ready to lead me in right ways.
His hand leads to truth.
Truth leads to love.
Love leads to fearlessness.
Fearlessness leads to passion and joy.
There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love. 1 Jo. 4:8
I wonder how often I hold back me – from God?
I wonder how much I fear his presence in me
because he seems too great above me?
How often I fear condemnation?
Even though I know his condemnation doesn’t even exist for me (Ro 8:1).
I forget “he who began a good work will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” (Phil. 1:6)
How often do you hold back because you feel unworthy?
Or try to gain worthiness?
Even though it’s impossible to be the weight lifter of his power.
Only one can carry (and carried) that weight.
that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. Eph. 3:16-17
The reality is, we need to the strength of the Spirit so that we can welcome in the strength of the Savior.
Then, the strength of the Savior more and more pushes out
the strength of the sinner.
It’s like the Spirit does the internal cleaning,
so the temple is clean, prepared and ready to be inhabited.
Jesus silences sins through surrendered faith. The sinner is siphoned away and more and more the new creation takes over. The sinner’s fears are left in the dust; the Spirit and Jesus become the only ones to trust.
I want this to happen more and more for me, don’t you? This happens when we call on the power of the Spirit to expand the territory of the Savior.
It doesn’t matter where you live – in the wilderness, in trials, in temptation, in sin – confess and call. That’s it.
Then we will find the power of God will move in – to move out – all that keeps us from him.
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It’s summer vacation, and our family loves to spend these days at the beach, just a couple hours from home. Our first morning here this year, I opened my Bible to these fitting and beautiful words:
How priceless is your unfailing love, O God!
People take refuge in the shadow of your wings.
They feast on the abundance of your house;
You give them drink from your river of delights.
From this day forward, I think I’ll refer to the Atlantic as–The River of Delights.
Which makes me feel like Anne Shirley, but it’s true. Is there anything so irresistible? Crowds pour onto the sand each day in agreement.
The ocean overwhelms me, with shades of blue as far as the eye can see. Something about standing in front of this vast body of water lulls me home inside. When I’m here, I remember–this power is God, this beauty is His, these constant waves roll in like good gifts He’s always giving.
God serves up drinks, from His river of delights. He lays out a feast, from the abundance of His house.
Other scriptures say:
He shows us the path to life.
He fills us with joy and eternal pleasures.
He blesses us.
He fills us with good things.
It is good to be near God.
We could fill pages with similar lines from Scripture.
Is this how you see God?
Sometimes I’m oblivious to His delights. I miss this part of Him. Yet joy and abundance and life are part of who He is and what He offers us.
I wonder how we ever walk through days without this consciousness.
Maybe delight is crowded out by a critical spirit or cynicism or complaint. Maybe we’re focused on what we bring to the table instead of who God is. Maybe we fail to understand the whole picture of Him or we simply forget.
His living and active Word and His stunning creation repeatedly remind us. We feast on the abundance of His house; we drink from His river of delights. But who?
Who enjoys this abundance? People who take refuge in the shadow of His wings.
When I think of taking refuge in God, I assume there’s danger–some kind of storm. A cancer scare, a searing loss, a terrifying fall or some other difficult trial. Many verses speak of taking refuge in God as our shelter from danger or sickness or troubles.
But I find an interesting connection between taking refuge in the shadow of His wings—and joy + delight + abundance.
What does it mean to take refuge under His wings? Some versions call this hiding ourselves in Him or putting our trust in Him. It also means we find JOY in Him. We seek Him above all else, and we see all these earthly pleasures as gifts He sets before us.
Every sunrise, every sunset. Every ocean. Every mountaintop experience. Every encounter with people we love. Every delicious meal. Every ordinary day. Every vacation or adventure.
It all comes from the abundance of His house, another satisfying drink from His river of delights.
In sickness and in health, through storms or sunny days, may we revel in His gifts, with hearts turned toward God.
May we live, deeply grateful as we hide in Him, taking refuge in the shadow of His wings.
For with you is the fountain of life ~ in your light we see light. Psalm 36:9
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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.
It’s a lonely place. A-no-one-cares-about-me place, an I’m-never-going-to-amount-to-anything place, an I-will-always-fail kind of place, a God-will-never-use-a-girl-like-me place.
It’s risky, because this hole of hopelessness can easily become a trapping cave-of-no-return. A cancer that grabs the anesthesia of alcohol, addiction, disorders, complexes, shopping, porn or whatever else if not careful.
Due to my past struggles with this place, I’ve realized, you have to watch for the invitations to this place of isolation.
Because this place makes you miss Gods’ face – and it leaves you in disgrace.
It makes God small and problems big.
It takes shame and guilt and places them on the centerstage of the heart.
It places you so deep into yourself, you can’t see others that need you.
Our God is not a haunter and taunter and he never developed a hell-hole like this.
Now I know, I have to run like the wind
when the devil starts to lure me in with lies.
I run hard, and I run fast because even the smallest step into that blackness
includes a return trip with miles of internal turmoil.
Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Ja. 4:7
Sometimes we think our resistance is recognizing this place or praying against this place or throwing some truth out against this place, but oh no, my friends, it involves even more…
We aren’t called to sit around and have a light coffee before we leave,
we are called to flee- ASAP!
We aren’t called to go through the motions of life, but to eyes open and to kick ourselves into high gear.
We aren’t called to wait for a rescuer – a knight in shining armor. We already have one – his name is Jesus – and we are already rescued.
And if your right hand causes you to stumble, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to go into hell. Mt. 5:30
God is not afraid of instructing us to take big measures against our small steps into these dwelling places of lies. This means we see beyond our world, into the transcending world around us. We become aware, looking, understanding, interpreting, searching, fighting and surrendering. We flee.
We flee by not throwing out verses, but by letting them become the knitting of our heart.
We flee, not by praying for our will, but by praying for his.
We flee, not by accepting or excusing sin, but by rejecting it.
We flee, unveiling our heart of agony to our maker. (Feelings aren’t bad, but distrust of God is.)
We flee by choosing the right counselors to instruct us when we become blind in our life.
We flee by letting go of the tide of our emotions, to grab on to the ocean of God’s truth.
We flee by extending grace to ourselves on hard days.
We engrave these truths upon our heart like stone:
We are more than just conquerors in Christ Jesus. Ro. 8:37
Nothing can overtake us, because God has overtaken the world. Jo. 16:33
There is no weapon forged against us that can prosper. Is. 15:47
We know nothing can really ever come against – no cancer, no abuse, no financial issues, no heartache, no agony, no marital issues, no heartaches, no _______.
We know it doesn’t matter,
because if we’ve lived it, he has beaten it.
So, dear friend, be not discouraged, but be wildly encouraged: If he conquered the world, he can conquer your agony, your despair, your hopelessness and your fears.
I have this one friend – almost everywhere she goes, she gives gifts. Roses to teachers, journals to me, and flowers to so many. She is a gifted in gifts.
She is so impressive!
I am normally the one loaded with 2 kids, a purse loaded with the rock of baby wipes and a to-do list times one thousand. Getting out to buy gifts feels as impossible as moving a herd of animals through the eye of a needle.
Giving is something I always want to do, but it takes a back seat to my life.
It’s something that I love to get, but have a hard time extending.
I know it blesses, but it also heightens my stresses.
Yet, research has proven that giving:
– increases the health of those with chronic illnesses (Stephen Post, Why Good Things Happen to Good People)
– decreases the risk of dying in the elderly after volunteering (Doug Oman, University of California, Berkeley)
– lowers stress and blood pressure.
Clearly giving is a great thing. The more we outpour the more that in pours to us.
A woman came with a special sealed jar. It contained very expensive perfume made out of pure nard. She broke the jar open and poured the perfume on Jesus’ head. Mk. 14:3
This woman outpoured a ton – a year’s worth of salary. Her deep sacrifice was a true outpouring of her heart. There is no mention of the kids screaming at home, the wipes in her bag or the lists of things she had to do, she just poured out.
When we keep our eyes on Jesus,
suddenly our excuses grow small and our causes grow big.
This woman poured out great love through this great gift,
a great sacrifice for a great God
and a great example for the great, great, great…grandchildren of Jesus today.
What would happen if we poured out like she did?
Might Jesus say to us: She has done a beautiful thing to me… Mark 14:6
Might our name be more greatly etched into the world and eternity?
What she has done will be told anywhere the good news is preached all over the world. It will be told in memory of her.” Mk 14:9
As she stood…weeping, she began to wet his feet with her tears. Then she wiped them with her hair, kissed them and poured perfume on them. Lu. 7:38
When we pour, like this woman and then our hearts melt like wax. The wick of our pride, selfishness and complacency melt down to the ground, leaving us on our knees, where we receive and give our very best. We take our hair and we wipe the feet of others. We get into the nitty gritty of grime, into the places where it feels uncomfortable, into the places where we prepare others for a new life.
It’s in the offering of our greatest – in the wiping of the dirty – that we get to kiss the feet of the one who walked into desolate dry hearts to make abundant new life.
When we touch these needy, unseen and untouchable places with our greatest gift, love, we find our hearts are restored.
We find it’s so much less about the other and so much more about Jesus reconfiguring our vision.
We find deeper connection with the recipient and with the one who is all sufficient.
My friend’s outpouring of love inspires my heart to see…
Giving is the only gift that hands-back more than we could ever hand-out. It’s one of the only ways to get more than you ever asked for.
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I come on this blog and talk the talk, but then at home, I drop the ball.
I raise my hands to pray, only to turn and go the opposite way.
I say in Jesus’ name, and seconds later, wonder if my name still counts in his book.
I love other people, until it gets inconvenient.
These actions make me feel like an inadequate daughter, a lazy child and a no-good-worthy christian. They make me wonder if Jesus could really love a girl like this?
A girl who is so often just a Christian poser.
While I know Jesus extends me grace (which I gladly receive – in abundance), I still wonder – what rules – the flesh or the Spirit?
I say, “your will be done,” and then say “I don’t know when He will show up.”
I utter, “you have this God,” only to start to worry.
I seek his face, only to come face to face with the fact that he may not be happy with me.
I have looked at God in all the wrong way, because he is not: a “convenient” Sovereign god. a “genie-in-a-bottle” god. a “call-in-case-of-emergency” god. a “I-see-you-from-afar” god.
or a “I’ll-only-love-you-if-your-good” god.
The truth is, the real truth, the I-have-to-cling-to-it truth is: he is the “I-will-always-be-with-you, the I-will never-leave-you, the you-can’t-do-anything-to-make-me-stop-loving-you GOD.
He is the God who doesn’t see me through the face of my mistakes,
but by through the power of his sacrifice.
It’s as if he simply sees through my inadequacies,
straight into the reflection of his heart.
He fully loves. He doesn’t love when all goes well as I am so prone to do – and so prone to expect him to do – but he loves infinitely, incredibly and unduly.
God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ… Eph. 2:4-5
I am not alive to me. I am dead to me. I am alive to Christ.
In this, he doesn’t call me to be put together, he calls me to be broken apart so that he can do his part. His part is creating me into his work of art.
Today, we walk with a work-in-progress sign on, but tomorrow we won’t need a sign. In heaven, all signs will point to the Father, Son and the Holy Spirit – the complete fulfillment of all meaning.Here, God will be faithful to unveil, us, his greatest completed works of art in his perfect glory.
We won’t have to worry about imperfections, inadequacies or incapabilities, because we will be simply in awe of who he made us to be.
God created the earth and that is astounding. Can you even imagine how astounding we will look as God completes his final strokes? A painting is never completely understood until the very end. It will all become clear.
God is the definition of artistry. We never think of him that way, do we?
All of today, are the small workings of his beauty. Rest, my fellow work-in-progress sign carrier, we will one day be completed.
For by one sacrifice he has made perfect forever those who are being made holy. Hebrews 10:14
A HUGE PRAISE:
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We are on a constant hunt to find pleasure in all we do.
We are seeking a God that is palatable, tasty and pleasurable. We go to big conferences, with big screens and big pastors. All is good as long as it points to Christ, right?
This makes me wonder. It makes me wonder whether the fan-fare would be a delight or a fright to Jesus?
We know it is all about his glory for his story.
We know it is all about his name and not our fame.
But, somehow the famous draw us, the powerful captivate us and the big lights lure us.
Is lowly and humble Jesus found against the big lights of Christianity?
Is he found in the lights of the big show or in the shadow of the big Father?
I can’t help but think that when we demand church be an experience, we miss the experience that is Jesus. We miss the stillness of a moment where it is just us and him. We miss the quiet heart that says, I don’t need all that – I just need you. We miss the convictions of the Holy Spirit at work within us, because we are too focused around us and we can’t hear what he is saying to us.
Entertainment becomes an opiate to hide us from reality.
A crutch to keep our anxious minds in motion.
Novocaine to dull our suffering.
But, perhaps suffering is just what God has set forth for us to feel in the moment, because it will move us towards deeper love and faith.
It’s not the big lights we need to keep our eyes off of ourselves, but simply the light of Christ to shines truth into the hidden places of our aching hearts.
That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong. (2 Cor. 12:10)
But, for us entertainment seekers, silence, quietness and stillness of mind scares us. It’s uncomfortable.
Instead, we become so focused on what others are saying and doing, that we often miss what God wants us to say or do for another. We expect the producers to make the show good enough for us to consume and when we don’t we leave disappointed.
But, did Jesus seek to put on a show to make Christianity glow?
He didn’t seek big followers in order to make new followers.
“When a Samaritan woman came to draw water, Jesus said to her, ‘Will you give me a drink?'” (His disciples had gone into the town to buy food.) (John 4:17)
This woman went alone. She went with her thoughts. She went with a simple bucket, most likely. But, what she got was an encounter with Jesus. Jesus, who stepped away from the other disciples, away from the crowds to meet a woman in a simple way, through simple words, that would simply change her heart forever.
Jesus’ approach was simple.
He simply approached man with straightforward truth to let the power of the living Word transform dying hearts.
Jesus knew the Word of the Lord is more than sufficient – and more than capable – to accomplish all it is set forth to accomplish.
He withdrew from the crowds for quiet prayer with his Father. He calls us to do the same – to talk without noise, without pretense and without the show being our idol.
Praise the Lord! Praise God in his sanctuary; praise him in his mighty heavens! Praise him for his mighty deeds; praise him according to his excellent greatness! (Ps. 150:1-2)
Our call is to praise the Lord, to seek his soul, to seek his face.
Perhaps it doesn’t come down to what others do, or what people offer us, or who says what or how many people are at whatever event or the amount of lights, but it comes down to how we enter into church and how we approach the Father.
It comes down to who and what we follow.
It comes down to what we expect, to what we demand and what we seek. It comes down to: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ (Mt. 22:37) and ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ (Mt. 22:39)
It comes down to – it’s all about Him.
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