Purposeful Faith

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Relying On The Spirit & Weekly Encouragement Video

Relying on the Spirit

New! Weekly Encouragement Video.

Every Monday (because don’t we all just love Mondays?), I am going to be doing an encouraging word (2-short minutes!) via video. Hope you like them!

POST: Relying on the Spirit

Days pass.
The alarm clock goes off.
The bible happens.
The kids wake up.
Grace and lunch is served.
Play happens.
Grace, dinner and bed.

Sometimes, I can live my life in routine. I can go through the motions. I can live on auto-pilot.

But, did you know?
In a way, the kingdom has already come – in your own heart?
Can you grasp how transformational this is?

Jesus replied, “Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching. My Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them. Jo. 14:23

We. Will. Come.

Who is we?  Christ. The Spirit. One – living in us.

They don’t live in some corner of the attic, but they have moved straight into our living rooms. All the areas of our lives where we live – every corner and every crevice.

They have made their home in us. 
They have settled in, taken over and we work their power out.
They’ve come to clean us up and to root love deep down.
They throw out the lies written on the walls of our heart, with the truth that is them.

Like blood, they are the sustenance that works through us.  They keep pumping strength, courage and meaning.

This is why we are instructed to operate by the Spirit and not the flesh.

So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. Gal. 5:16

The Spirit:

– verifies light, love and the Word of God. Our flesh verifies feelings, shame and regret. 
– prepares our way, in today, so that Christ is always at play.
– gets all things in order for the big day of Christ’s return.
– decorates our interior with the presence of God.
– confirms that one day we will walk into our eternal home complete in Christ Jesus.
– welcomes God in as our prized guest, he gets the best seat at our table called life.

Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? 1 Cor. 16:9

It is the works that pour out from the temple that will survive the fire.

Now if any man builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, each man’s work will become evident; for the day will show it because it is to be revealed with fire, and the fire itself will test the quality of each man’s work.  1 Cor. 3:13

I want the fire of God to be lit in me, so that the fire of God will reveal quality in my life.

Lord, let me understand the power of the Spirit that you have placed within me. Rightfully place my eyes on the power of Christ. Let me go knowing the extreme presence that you have imparted in my innermost being. Let me not live in routine, but solely by the power of your Spirit at work in me. Give me eyes to see and to walk with you.

Finding Renewal in Christ

Finding Renewal in Christ

The other day, as we (meaning my husband) shoveled back the snow from our house, I spotted this:

IMG_7142

I was amazed at how, even though 2-feet of snow had covered these daffodils for months, they will were still pushing up from the ground.

How does that happen?

The truth is – nothing can thwart God’s plan. Nothing can hold back his growth.

Things may look covered by foot-after-foot of weight,
but he is still at work underneath it all.

When the time – is the time – his seed will grow.
When our hearts are ready – he will bloom us.
When our life is perfectly prepared – our beauty can be seen by all.

Yet, the deep freeze is part of the process. We sometimes have to endure the cold times to get to the warm times, blooming times. And sometimes we have to endure the cold times, to appreciate the warm times.

So, when life gets grey, dull and gloomy, this does not mean that God is not at work, because he is. Even if we can’t see what he is doing, even if we feel like we are buried under pounds of pounds of snow, even if it seems that spring will never come and our season will never change, God is always at work.

We don’t have to see it to believe it.
We believe it because he has promised it.

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

I have felt buried so many times. I have been buried under finances, under a promised diagnosis of MS, under relationship strains, under worries, under anxiety, under my past, under a hopeless future – my friends, you probably name it – and I have been under it.

Yet, looking back, I see that God was always growing me. He was always restoring what should have been dead. 

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

I will restore to you the years that the swarming locust has eaten, the hopper, the destroyer, and the cutter, my great army, which I sent among you. (Joel 2:25)

Whether the locusts ate it, the land froze it or
your heart buried it,
God restores, rebuilds and renews..

He renews the buds that are within and waters them to grow again.

Seasons come and seasons go, but God’s love endures forever.

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Mercy Inspires Worship

In View of God's Mercy

Post By: Angela Parlin

Everyone worship the Lord.

Ascribe Him the glory due Him. Proclaim His majesty.

Be in awe before such power.

Come worship wonderful Yahweh, in all His holy beauty.

Give Him the honor due His name!

(Excerpts from Psalm 29, NIV & Passion Translation)

One of my highlights this year has been sitting with the Lord alone most days, praying without multitasking. In this time, I worship and adore God, confess my sins, thank Him for an incredible amount of blessings, and pour out my cares before Him, asking for His help.

I had no idea worship would become the part of my prayers I long for most.

I didn’t realize I would set out to give the Lord the honor due His name–yet I would receive so much blessing.

It’s not that I failed to worship the Lord before. It’s just that I didn’t take regular time away from other people–and other tasks–in order to worship Him alone. To worship without multitasking.

But what is worship, really? Worship is often more than sitting with God alone, in prayer and song.

Look up the definition of worship, and you’ll find a number of ideas. Some think worship is a service you attend, a feeling you have toward a deity, or homage paid to God or another sacred object.

Oxford Dictionary defines worship as “the feeling or expression of reverence and adoration for a deity.”

Paul, the apostle, offers another definition of worship in Romans 12:1-2,

Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God–this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind… (NIV)

True worship begins with a view of God’s mercy.

We have done nothing to deserve His kindness, yet He heaps it upon us.

His mercy includes His unending love for us, even while we were yet sinners, His grace and forgiveness, eternal life by faith, our reconciliation to God, the gift of the Holy Spirit, newness of life, peace, joy, hope, freedom, and even more than all of this.

Just try to remember God’s mercies toward you, without being moved to worship. It’s impossible!

So we worship God, by focusing on His mercies, by preaching the gospel to ourselves again and again, because we so easily forget who God is, the depths of His love for us, and all we have IN Him.

Paul urges us further, to offer our bodies, our whole selves, to God. This is our action step.

We present–or give over to God’s control–our bodies, including our heart and thoughts and attitudes. We do not follow the pattern of the world any longer, because as we offer ourselves to God, He cleans and changes and renews us. 

This practice of viewing God’s mercies, of simply remembering who God is and telling Him, has surprised me this year. The more I worship God, the more I adore Him in my heart.

My whole life falls into clarity when I adore God and remember who He is, and who I am in light of Him.

My cares and concerns don’t disappear–but they fade behind the majesty of God.

So everyone, let’s worship the Lord. Let’s remember who He is, in all His holy beauty, and give Him the honor due His name.

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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.

 

Do I Need to Forgive?

Do I need to forgive?

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I wasn’t aware I had unforgiveness in my heart.

But, I wondered, “Do I need to forgive?”

So, I sat before the Lord and asked the Spirit to reveal to me if there was anyone I needed to forgive. Someone did come to mind. Someone rather unexpected.

This person had hurt me again and again.
They had stepped on my toes.
They had left me annoyed.
They had let me down.

I had forgiven them in the past, but new offenses had taken the place of their forgiven place.

I thought, in my mind I thought, “This person – again? How many times do I have to go back to this person?”

Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother when he sins against me? Up to seven times? “Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.” (Mt. 18:21-22)

Jesus doesn’t call us to forgive and be done. He knew that one who is forgiven once, likely needs to be forgiven and forgiven again and again. He doesn’t call to a blanket statement forgiveness system, but a system of ever-flowing, ever-aware and ever-outpouring forgiveness.

How many times does Jesus forgive me?

He calls us to seek out the unknown pits of resentment  we hide- in us –
to uncover the known depth of love that he stands ready to outstretch – through us.

A moment of prayer highlighted my black tar within. I never would have realized it if I hadn’t asked. I had forgiven this person so many times, I thought they were covered. I thought I had forgiven.

Jesus knows that people hurters (like you and me) are likely to hurt again and he calls us to forgive them again. Why? Because we are called to something greater – agape love. Not love that says, “I love this day, I love your hair, I love that shirt. I love this place.” Not a shallow, convenient or useful love, instead we are called to the hard depths of real love. We are called to a love like Christ loved.

To love with a love that says, “Despite what you did to me (Example: nailing me to a cross):

I see who God made you to be.
I offer unconditional benevolence towards you.
Nothing can hold me back from offering deep goodness to you.
Christ shows me how to turn the other cheek.
Nothing can conquer the deep heart I have for you.

“…The greatest of these is love.” (1 Cor. 13:13)

“As the Father loved me, so have I loved you, now remain in my love.” (John 15:9)

Does a bag of unforgiveness weigh you down? Have you been carrying around load of unneeded junk?

I noticed, the only back unforgiveness was breaking was mine.

It didn’t cause pain to the person that hurt me.
It didn’t teach them a lesson.
It didn’t make them change.
But, my shoulders slumped, my heart felt a little more heavy and my walk with God was burdened.

Yet, as I sought God; he revealed to me new view that changed my perception on forgiveness.

“Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord,” (Acts 3:19)

“Truly I tell you, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven. (Mt 18:18)

When we forgive and we remove junk out of our purse,
the Lord doesn’t leave us with an empty hole.

He doesn’t leave that space unoccupied.

When we forgive the Lord comes back in to fill us up again.

You see, forgiveness is an exchange of our weighted junk for his refreshment.

Refreshment that offers wave after wave of grace, mountain after mountain of joy, an eternal hope of glory, solid-rock security, never ending significance and a waterfall of constant renewal.

Will we accept all that he has for us?
Will we reach out and grab it?
Becuase he holds this refreshment out to us.
The question is – will we seek to forgive?

Let’s ask God who to forgive.

Then he will remove the weight of unforgiveness that ties us down to resentment, so we can run our race unencumbered.

As we humble ourselves in love, God fills our bag. He fills it so high it brims with his goodness. 

We let go of the stronghold we have on the straps, we realize we are strongly held by him. He removes the weight of our straps and lightens our load in his love – to love.

The power of forgiveness is immense. Love transforms, lightens and lifts. Don’t miss the chance to ask God who you need to forgive today. He will pack your bag so full, you will finally see that what he offers is far greater than that ugly bag of junk you have carried around so long.

“…Therefore I tell you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven—for she loved much. But he who is forgiven little, loves little.” And he said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.” Luke 7:47-48 

How God Makes All Things New

God Makes All Things New

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There was a woman sent from God. Her name is Kelly.

When once she was sad, lonely and afraid,
today she’s found peace.

When once she used to fear dark land mines set in her room,
today she only hears the whisper of Jesus confirming, “You’re mine.”

When once she used to look to anyone to confirm her worth,
today her worth is found in the unsearchable riches of Jesus Christ.

When once she used to try to be the Savior to a family of 8,
today she is a simple mom of 2 – with a Savior of One.

When once she lived afraid of whom she was, what she would become
and what others might do to her,
today she walks with confidence of God’s purpose set before her.

When once she crafted her words and actions to meet other’s needs and desires,
today she crafts her heart around the one who crafted hers.

When once she held herself to the standard of perfection,
today she let’s walls fall so Jesus can address her imperfections.

No doubt, I am this Kelly.
I am the Kelly that was lost – lost to fear.

Lost from life. Lost from love. Lost from hope. Lost from purpose.

But we had to celebrate and be glad, because this brother of yours was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found. (Luke 15:32)

But we had to celebrate and be glad, because (Kelly) was dead and is alive again; (Kelly) was lost and is found.'”

My knight and shining armor came – and rescued me – and he will come again. He will come in on a white horse to save the day…

…to more and more set us free.

I saw heaven standing open and there before me was a white horse, whose rider is called Faithful and True. With justice he judges and wages war. (Rev 19:11)

When once we were in the world, surrounded by darkness,
one day we will rejoice with our maker in the eternal light of significance and security.

On no day will its gates ever be shut, for there will be no night there. (Rev 21:25)

When once pain, cancer, conflict and wars prevailed,
one day we will Jesus Christ prevail at the right hand of God on his mercy seat,
reigning and pleading in all power and might.

Who then is the one who condemns? No one.
Christ Jesus who died–more than that, who was raised to life–
is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. (Ro. 8:34)

When once we sang songs of earthly despair crying tears of agony,
one day the angels will sing “Holy, Holy, Holy” and every tear will be no more.

He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more,
neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore,
for the former things have passed away. (Rev. 21:4)

When once we ached to find more,
one day we will learn what the definition of “more” really means.

…To be put into effect when the times reach their fulfillment-
-to bring unity to all things in heaven and on earth under Christ. (Eph. 1:10)

From freedom to freedom.
From power to power.
From love to love.

God is always moving us deeper and deeper into his love.

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. (2 Cor. 5:17)

Jesus erases the power of “once” to delight us in the power of “new”. God makes all things new.

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Today I am linking up on #LiveFreeThursday and Five Minute Friday.

Finally, Know Full Well He Will Keep You

he will keep you

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I try, I fail.
I parent, I don’t do a good enough job.
I try to do right with my husband, but I take the wrong approach.
I reverse my car and slam it into my babysitter’s.
I serve another and get anxious in frustration.
I pray to be patient, but I’m impatient with the never-ending tears.
I want to be a good daughter, but feel like I have no time.
I say more of you God, but get distracted by life.

All the time, I feel not good enough, not together enough and not smart enough to do things right.

All the time, I drop the ball in one way or another.

But, under the surface of all my failings, below the layer of trials that lay on me, I have a choice to make.
Under the muck that seeks to keep me stuck in little lies that could lead to my demise, yes, this choice still remains:

Will I believe what God says about me?
Or will I believe what I feel about me?

Because the truth is, my feelings will sink me deeper and deeper into guilt, shame and a feeling of hopelessness, while God’s truth will lift me higher and higher into peace, power and a sense of fullness.

The truth is: God will keep me.

He will keep me in the palm of his hand.
He will keep me from harm.
He will keep his presence in front of me, behind me, above me and below me.
He will keep me in the beauty he displays through the sun, the wind and the waves.
He will keep my foot from slipping.
He will walk me in truth.
He will show me another way when the enemy comes to tempt.
He will guide me by the Spirit.
He will pray for me when I don’t even know how.
He will forgive and throw out every stone of sin I have confessed.
He will never let me go.
He will never forget me.
He will always keep me.
He will prepare a room in heaven for me.
He will comfort me in the meantime.
He will listen to my every prayer.
He will work all things together for good for me, because I love him and am called according to his purpose.
He will always be for me.
He will always advocate for me.
He will help me in my moments of distress.
He will give to me as a father gives to a beloved daughter.
He will be by my side.
He will always know my heart.
He will always know my thoughts.
He will always provide me his truth.

And, he will never pluck me from his hand.
He will never say goodbye to me based on my actions.
He will never ever no-way, no-how, stop loving me.

This is how good my God is!

His words speak like a permanent love letter to my heart.

Because God is who He is. He is the great I AM.  If you just ARE, you can never change.

I can change, but he can’t.
I can do a bad thing and feel plucked from his hand, or fall and feel less than or I sin and feel unforgivable, but his character can’t be altered.
I can change how I act, but he is always the same. He is always one ready to forgive, standing right beside me, hand on my shoulder – willing to love.

The question is, “Will I believe it?”
Doesn’t it really come down to faith?

Will I believe he will keep me?

I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
    your works are wonderful,
    I know that full well. (Ps. 139.13-14)

Did you notice this line – “I know that full well”?

Do you know it full well that you are always his, eternally adored and always accepted because you are a child of the living King?

Let’s go from believing by the power of our mind to believing by the depths of our soul.

It will make all the difference in the world – to know full well.

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Linking with #livefreeThursdays and Five Minute Friday.

Pray Without Multitasking

By: Angela Parlin

We are two weeks into the new year, and I’m ready now to declare my word.

Near the end of last year, I thought it might be strength—as in living in God’s strength and not my own. I wrote it on the front page of a new journal, but it didn’t feel like “the one”.

As I studied strength, it took a backseat to prayer.

Because there’s no living in God’s strength without wholehearted, earnest prayer.

So this year my commitment is simply to Pray–in a consistent, intentional, wholehearted way.

I don’t know if it’s the same for you, but I think some prayers are easy. Many years ago, I read about practicing the presence of God, and started a habit of talking to Him throughout the day, believing He’s near.

I whisper lines of thanks or requests for help to God throughout the day. I ask Him regularly for wisdom, especially as a Mom. I keep a list of family and friends’ needs, knowing He waits for us to come to Him, and He listens.

I trust that God is able to do more than all we ask or imagine. 

We have needs, and God is able to meet them. Furthermore, we are busy, so these throughout-the-day, on-the-go prayers work for us.

But other times, prayer feels hard, even unnatural. Other times, prayer requires us to put down everything else we’d like to do at the same time.

That’s the kind of prayer I struggle with. To put that more honestly–that’s the prayer I often don’t pray. The one where I close the door to my world, and enter the presence of God, with only God and nothing else.

What about you? Do you regularly slow down to be with God alone?

I don’t think it comes naturally to most of us, to make a full stop in our lives and stay with Him a while.

We tend to do everything in our power, first.

We rely on ourselves instead of relying on God.

We value self-sufficiency, and pride ourselves on independence.

Or we’re rarely alone, and when we are, we turn on something noisy, so we don’t feel alone.

In my quiet times, I love studying books of the Bible. But the hard part? Pouring out my heart to God and listening for Him through the silence. Which is to say–I like to learn about God, to get to know Him through His Word, but I struggle to just sit with Him.

Back in December, I wrote down a few goals for this year. Since then, I’ve realized my goal above all goals for 2015 is to spend time each day, praying without multitasking.

I commit to daily adore God, thank Him, confess my sins, and lay my requests before Him. And then to wait in the silence for His Holy fire to fall upon my heart.

At each and every sunrise you will hear my voice as I prepare my sacrifice of prayer to you. Every morning I lay out the pieces of my life on the altar and wait for your fire to fall upon my heart. Psalm 5:3, Passion Translation

Will you join me? If the Spirit is calling you to spend time daily, praying without multitasking, let me know and I’ll be praying for YOU. Come, Holy Fire…

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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.

5 Truths to Replace The Lies Servants Believe

Lies Servants Believe

I love writing.  I love sharing. I love encouraging.  I love following the call of the Lord so that I can call others to know the Lord more. I love giving it all for the one who gave it all.

Yet, sometimes, when my eyes stray from the Ultimate Servant, I start to think I am the ultimate giver.

When this happens two things normally happen:

1.) I start feeling insecure, because I think results rely on my shoulders.
2.) I attempt to steal the Lord’s glory.

Tired. Worn. Weary. My eyes wander from Christ. I desire appreciation and require affirmation.

It’s so easy for the servant to be replaced with one wanting to be served.

With just the slightest perspective change, we are lured in. Why? Because serving is hard. Being less than is hard. Ministry is hard. It’s tireless. It’s sacrificial.  It’s never ending. 

It’s easy to think, “I have given so much, what about me?”

Have you ever felt this way?

Often, we servants have 5 predominate lies that grow thick and take over our mind.   God stands ready to cut them down with his awesome two-edged sword of truth.

1. “I should be doing more. My work isn’t enough.”  

We wrongly think that God values big things, big endeavors and huge results. We feel marginalized by God. Less than. We believe our work won’t count until it is bigger and better.  Sometimes, we can wonder why we are even trying…

Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much… (Luke 16:10)

 TRUTH: If you are being faithful with what God has given you to do, you are being faithful. Period. The big – or small – the Lord has set before you is just what he wants you to tackle.  At our days end, we will be valued – not by how big we did things – but by how we loved, how we believed and how we trusted God with what we were given.


‘Well-done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things.
Come and share your master’s happiness!” (Mt. 25:23)

 2. “Look what they’re doing. They are so much better than I am.”

The second we take our eyes off of Christ is the second we start getting big eyes for other’s accomplishments. We see. We want. We envy.  

Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. (Phil. 2:3)


TRUTH: We are all working for the Lord.  We have the same boss – and the same goals. True joy is found when we co-labor with our neighbor.  God desires community, relationships and teamwork. He never intended for us to mark our territories – as we pursue our agenda’s. 

Instead, he tells us to consider others better than ourselves.  Why?  Because he wants us to experience the full joy of serving, working and loving others.

3. “I feel worn down. I can’t find strength.”

Tired. Worn. Weak. Weary.  We feel that ministry has become a daily grind.

…but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint. (Is. 40:31)

TRUTH: We renew our strength by renewing our relationship with the Lord.  Meaning: we remember why we are doing this, whom we are doing it for and why we have been called.  If he called us, he will clear a way for us.  We can stop striving and start resting in his plan. As we do this, he will renew our strength.

4. “Does what I do, even matter? I am not making a difference.”

We doubt the difference we are making.  We question our purpose.

The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me. (Mt. 25:40)

TRUTH: If we affected one, we have pleased One.  God values the least of these. He is not looking for numbers; he is looking for changed hearts.  What you are doing does matter.  If someone has been changed, your work has had huge impact.  And, imagine all the people you have impacted who have never even told you.

5. “No one has affirmed me.  I am not any good.”

We can feel discouraged, waiting to be encouraged. We need people to fill us up, in order to feel full.

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

 TRUTH: When we seek after God, his kingdom, and his righteousness, we don’t need to gas up on approval. Because know we are already approved. In this, we can stand secure.  This means we don’t have to spin wheels seeking approval and affirmation. He has everything covered. 

The Lord sees us. And, as he sees fit – he gives.  He gives it right to us as we are seeking after him.  He makes it easy, he just tells us, “Seek after me and I will give you all the rest.”  

We were created to serve. When we serve based on the promises of God, we can serve from a whole-hearted place, instead of an insecure place.  It makes all the difference in the world.

For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve others and to give his life as a ransom for many.” (Mk. 10:45)

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Cheerleading Link Up –

Hey Bloggers, I hope you had fun encouraging each other yesterday on Twitter (#RaRaLinkup). I sure had a blast. Click the button below to participate in the Cheerleading Linkup.  Be sure to return every Tuesday as the fun continues.

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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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Will They Love My Gift?

By: Katy

“Hey when ya get a chance today, find one of those big empty boxes in the garage and have the kids start getting stuff to give away.”

A text from my hubby on his way to work one morning just before Christmas last year. How sweet. How noble. What a great Dad. None of those, however, crossed my mind. Instead, I kinda went, “Ugggggghhhhhh.”

Doesn’t he know we all still have the flu? Doesn’t he know I have disinfecting to do? Doesn’t he know the kids all have attitudes?

But in the spirit of Christmas I turned off the television, grabbed a box, and sat our little army all in a row.

“It’s time to clean out the toy box.”

They know the drill. We do it bi-annually. Once before birthdays. Once before Christmas. Clear out the clutter before we add more. I know what stays and what goes before we begin. Toys on top we play with on a regular basis. Those stay. Toys on the bottom – those are the forgotten, broken or replaced toys the kids are willing to part with.

Except for last year ….

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Micah Sean, my rough and tough 3rd born with a hard head and a soft heart, sat on the rug with his little legs crossed. One of the first toys out of the box – Dad the Moose. Micah named him. Micah loves his Daddy and loves his moose, so it seemed appropriate.

Dad the Moose sleeps tucked under Micah’s arm. Dad the Moose travels with us wherever we go. Dad the Moose is Micah’s buddy, maybe even his best buddy.

So when I pulled the moose out of the box and said, “Give or keep,” I already knew the answer. “Keep!” Micah yelped and squeezed Dad the Moose close. We continued with several more “keeps.” Then,

“Wait,” Micah said with urgency. “I want to give Dad the Moose.”

And he tossed him into the box. I looked at Micah. Did he really mean it? Does he know what he’s doing? He’ll miss that moose! A few minutes later Micah changed his mind and dug the moose back out of the box. Three times this happened. Moose in. Moose out. Moose in. Moose out.

I watched this little boy struggle. Something inside him said give. Give away your moose. But something inside him also ached. Dad the Moose belonged to Micah. He chose that moose. He named him. He loved him.

And then he did it. Once and for all, he gave his moose away.

“Mom, someone else can have Dad the Moose.”

Elijah, our resident animal lover and stuffed animal collector, warned, “Micah, another boy or girl may not call him Dad.”

For fear of Micah’s tender heart breaking any more than it already had I jumped in … “But that’s okay. Because when we give, we also trust, that whoever gets our gift will love it as much as we did.”

I put my hand on Micah’s little leg and through tears I praised him for his selfless act. I told him about the boys and girls who won’t have much on Christmas and how happy they will be to receive this special gift.

Then I watched … as one gift of love spilled over.

“Okay, Mom, I’ll give Louie.”

Louie, Elijah’s stuffed owl. Just a few weeks earlier, Elijah walked all over the store, carefully considering every option before he picked Louie. He chose him. He named him. He loved him.

“I’ll give away pythor too, Mom.” And here came Jonah with his prize python. Jonah didn’t even like his siblings to play with this stuffed animal. Pythor morphed into a jump rope or super hero sling. His scales were blue, Jonah’s favorite color. Jonah chose him. He named him. He loved him.

But Louie and Pythor joined Dad the Moose in the box.

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All of a sudden this box seemed so cold. How could these gifts given from such a tender place land in a torn, dirty, plain, brown box? They mean too much. They don’t belong here …….

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” John 3:16 (KJV)

For God so loved the world, he gave. He gave his Son.

He chose Him. He named Him. He loved Him.

Did He really mean it? Does He know what He’s doing?

God knew some would not call him by his Name. Some would not call him Savior. King. Emmanuel. But still, God gave.

He means too much. He doesn’t belong here. How could His gift land in such a torn, dirty, plain world? 

But Jesus did.

“And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.” John 1:14 (ESV)

Our box filled up pretty quick after that.

Turns out once you give away what you hold dear, everything else is easy to release.

“And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.” Philippians 2:8 (ESV)

God gave it all, because He loves you and me. May that truth grace your heart in a new way today. And by His grace, may this greatest gift of love ever conceived spill out of your life into the hearts that surround you.

Katy

I left my job as a television news reporter to join my husband, Luke, on our adventure in the National Football League. 10 years, 12 moves, 6 kids, 5 teams, and 4 states later, it's safe to say the road has been anything but predictable. Our dreams today don't look quite like they did ten years ago, but I've learned along the way dreams do come true ... even if you're not a Disney World. I blog about a football wife's life at www.katymccown.com and I'd love for you to visit me!

I left my job as a television news reporter to join my husband, Luke, on our adventure in the National Football League. 10 years, 12 moves, 6 kids, 5 teams, and 4 states later, it’s safe to say the road has been anything but predictable. Our dreams today don’t look quite like they did ten years ago, but I’ve learned along the way dreams do come true … even if you’re not a Disney World. I blog about a football wife’s life at www.katymccown.com, and I’d love for you to visit me!

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