Purposeful Faith

Category - grace

5 Ways to NOT get distracted from God

NOT get distracted

My son can’t keep his eyes on me when I talk to him. Granted, he is only six, but his small eyes wander left and right when I’m giving instruction. It drives me nuts.

“Hey boy, Mama is over here, not under the table…”

I hate it the most during those lean-in kind of conversations, the ones where I really need him to pay attention because I have something important to say. When his head starts spanning the ceiling, I just know he isn’t listening. I’ve lost him somewhere. It is usually hard to bring him back and get him to hear me.

Like my son, we can’t easily hear God when our eyes are off him.  We can’t easily follow what He is doing when we look left and right and all around.

We miss His directions. God may be standing in the center of our intersection called “life,” waving his arms, trying to tell us where to go. But if we have our head turned in other directions, thinking about random thoughts, annoyances, pestering people and pain-soaked problems, we won’t see what he is doing or saying to lead us.

So how do we keep our eyes on God so we can follow him? How do we focus our attention on his Word, on prayers and on his beauty so we find ourselves full of his joy?

I’ve mulled over this question long and hard, day after day, week after week and the more I consider it, the more I am finding these steps keep intimacy in this crazy world.

5 Ways to Keep Focus on God:

  1. Give yourself allowance. You have a human mind that does human things. It gets distracted. It wonders about random people. It notices ancillary objects. It tallies up its list of to-dos.Don’t hate yourself for getting off track. Just choose to get back on.
  2. Go back to where you last were with God. Example: If you are reading the bible and you find your mind has gone off another trail, return it back to where you last were.Pick up on the last place you remember being with God.
  3. Swap what you listen to. I watched a Nazi film last night. I couldn’t think about God, nonetheless sleep. But on the nights I pray before bed, I go to bed thinking, dwelling and at peace with God.Sometimes you have to swap what you watch or partake in.
  4. Ask for God’s help to stay awake to him.Then, act like it’s Christmas. Know that today, God has something good for you and you don’t want to miss it.

“Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know.” Jer. 33:3

     5. Shut it all down. Literally.Shut down your phone, computer and your active-lifestyle. Pick a certain amount of time and call it off limits. Let no one, no how, no way encroach on that time with God. Then, during this time, refer to items 1-4 above.

“You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you.” (Is. 26:3)

The more you practice these things, the more these things will seamlessly and effortlessly become part of your life. They’ll soak into your thinking, living and doing. . . and before you know it, you’ll find yourself walking with God far more often than you’re not.

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.

Get all Purposeful Faith blog posts by email – click here.

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The Simple Way to Strength

“He gives strength to the weary, and to him who lacks might He increases power.” (Is. 40:29)

When I read these verses, do you know what I think?

I think: That’s great He does all that – for them.

It’s great that he cares for the weary people who have cancer, or the poor people in India or the single mom in Detroit. He is SO loving to all them. But, I never apply God’s Word to me…

…even though I fall entirely in this camp. I am weary from packing up my whole house and carting boxes all the way to a new state. I am weak from trying to sell off my whole house and I am lacking might in the kindness department as night gives way to another night of no sleep.

But, I hardly count myself like them. I hardly place myself in the camp of the needy and poor people who should get God’s best.

“Blessed are those who have regard for the weak;

the Lord delivers them in times of trouble.” (Ps. 41:1)

What about you? Do you regard yourself?

Do you easily admit you are:

  1. Weary
  2. Weak
  3. Lacking might
  4. In trouble

What strikes me is that when we admit these things, we receive strength and power. It’s what this scripture says will happen. But, part of it happening is allowing it to happen.

You know, we can stop it from happening…

I’ve never been able to shove a popsicle in a kid’s mouth who didn’t want it. Nor have I been able to make my husband accept time of rest when he didn’t want it. Nor have I been able to fully feel God’s love when I didn’t make time for it.

David, the man who wrote this Psalm, even said, “Have mercy on me, Lord, heal me, for I have sinned against you” and “Even my close friend, someone I trusted…has turned[ against me.” (Ps. 41:9)

He admitted his gunk. What’s yours?

Psalm 41 says God:

– protects
– preserves
– does not give people “over to the desire of their foes”
– sustains
– restores those who are weary and lacking.

Seems like everything I need. What about you?

 

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.

Get all Purposeful Faith blog posts by email – click here.

Renew Your Weary Perspective

A few years ago, I thought I wanted a big house. I wanted massive square feet. I wanted a big yard, a long driveway and grass to plant flowers. I wanted it all. At least I thought. Until, I realized what I didn’t want: I didn’t want house problems, like leaks. I didn’t want snow plowing, every winter. I didn’t want, lawn mowing bills every week. I didn’t want house cleaning all the time. I didn’t want furniture bills up to my neck. I didn’t want housework without kid playtime. I didn’t want to live far away from friends. And, I didn’t want to feel like I was drowning under house chores.

That year, we sold the house – at a huge loss.

In retrospect, I realize, after selling the house, I stood at a decision point…

I could either wallow in my misery, thinking, I always lose money. I wasted so much cash on furniture I didn’t need. I cannot figure things out. I’ll always be lost. I’ll forever feel I don’t belong.

Or, I could recognize the issue, bring it to God, reframe my situation, and think differently. Like this:

Money comes and goes, but God’s care and providence for me endure forever.

Worth is what I invest in heaven, not what I see here.

My value is not my home, but God’s vast love for me.

What issue do you face? What seems to impossible to fix? How might you reframe it?

Begin by infusing into your problem what you’re thankful for. Then, move to praising your God for who he is thru your problem. End by requesting from God for eyes to see your problem afresh.

And always remember: There is no victory Christ can’t bring.

 

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.

Get all Purposeful Faith blog posts by email – click here.

When Your Past Returns to Haunt You

Blog Post by Abby McDonald

“Are you a pagan?”

I sat in a body-piercing studio with the owner gazing at a tattoo displayed on the nave of my back. It was a gnome, sitting on a mushroom and playing a fife. Everything about it screamed pot-smoker, hippy and apparently, pagan.

And to think I got it because I thought it looked cool. To me it said, “Outsider,” a label I gave myself during my younger years.

The man’s question caught me off guard. I was twenty-one at the time and wasn’t sure who I was, let alone what I believed.

“I don’t know,” I answered honestly. The artist seemed as surprised by my answer as I was. Immediately, I felt ashamed.

Who was this person, anyway?

I spent the next eight years trying to figure out the answer to that question. Eventually, I realized all of the places I ran to seek my identity were fickle and fading.

It wasn’t until I started with the One who gave me my eternal name that I would know my true self.

These days, my tattoo is usually hidden. But the other day, while on family vacation, I was changing into my swimsuit and my five-year-old saw it.

“Mama, what’s that on your back?”

I told him what the picture was and explained how a tattoo is like a permanent picture on your skin. Then, my mind went back. Back to the person I was. Back to the mistakes I made and the years I spent wasting my life. Things much bigger than a silly tattoo that shape the person I am today.

For a little while, I let the voice of condemnation darken the light in my soul.

Scenes of things I wish I’d never seen replayed in my mind. Faces of people who left this life for the next one burned in my memory and left my heart heavy.

Perhaps you’ve been there? You’re walking in the new life Jesus freely gave you, and then all of a sudden you’re hit with a blatant reminder of the mess you used to be? That, despite your best efforts, some days you still are?

In those dark moments when I’m not sure I can escape my past, God often gives me a reminder. This time was no different.

We arrived at the pool and found it closed because of an incoming storm. After playing for a while in the arcade next door, we made our way back to the campsite. As we made dinner, a beautiful site caught my eye.

A spectacular sunset over the river.

The sun was big and radiant, dipping to the horizon in a circular blanket of clouds. I hurriedly got my camera and ran down to the beach.

I must of snapped a dozen pictures, but when I flipped through them in my viewfinder I was disappointed. This huge ball of light and fire looked tiny and dim. I couldn’t capture its draw. It was uncontainable.

As I sat in our camper later that evening, I felt that gentle whisper in my spirit.

Don’t try to put limits on my grace, Abby. It’s more limitless than the sun.”

And from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace.

John 1:16 ESV

I was putting God in a box again, thinking I could somehow run outside his grace. But it doesn’t just cover me. It drenches me.

We can’t put finite limitations on the grace of an infinite God.

And the moment we stop trying to put God in a box, we find we don’t want Him there. We find freedom. We find joy and rest.

So today, if your past is trying to haunt you, take a lesson from my tattoo. Remember it shapes you, but it doesn’t define you.

God can take the shattered pieces of your life and turn them into something far more spectacular than a sunset. He does it each and every day. Sometimes we just need a reminder of who he is.

Sometimes we have to take him out of the box and come to the altar. 

 

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.

A Big Blog Correction from Kelly Balarie

Last week, at the end of my blog post, I wrote, “He who saves just might show up.” I want each and every one of you to know, I spoke a LIE. I was wrong. Dead wrong.

I completely botched that message– right on the last line. Nothing could be further from the truth.

So, here is my correction: “He who saves just might (WILL) show up.”

There is a 0% chance that God “might” show up in your life. There is a 100% chance God will show up. Revise this in your mind. Cross it out and post this one on the doors of your heart.

Because:

  • God is faithful.
  • God is true to his Word.
  • God redeems all, today, tomorrow or in heaven.
  • God is Savior and he keeps saving.
  • God is aware of everything you are going through.
  • God draws near to the brokenhearted.
  • God cares about those who are suffering.
  • God has a plan.
  • God knows your way.
  • God is in the details of your life.

None of this is dependent on you. Not anything.

“If we are faithless, He remains faithful, for He cannot deny Himself.” (2 Tim. 2:13)

Faithful even if we’re faithless, that is our God. Working, even if we haven’t the faintest idea how, that is our God. Mending, even if we don’t know where to even begin, that is our God.

He loves us anyway. He’s there for us always. And, our God? He WILL show up. No matter what you are facing, doing or believing. Faithful and True is faithful and true.

 

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.

Get all Purposeful Faith blog posts by email – click here.

The One Thing We Must Always Return To

Love see people

Post By: Angela Parlin

 I was out-of-my-mind frustrated.

He had spewed mean words to his younger siblings too many times that day. We had talked. And talked. And prayed. Well, I had prayed. There’s no telling if he prayed along. This battle had been brewing a while, and I was over it.

So I sent him to his room, thinking I needed a few minutes to cool down before I could deal with his most recent outburst {in a calm manner}.

Unfortunately, I didn’t leave it there. I followed him, giving him an ugly earful of my own thoughts and feelings about the situation he created and the ways he was ruining my day.

I dealt with his outbursts by having an outburst of my own. And then I left his room with a sigh and that rotten feeling.

This is not the way I plan to, hope to, want to parent. But it’s the way I sometimes do.  

As I walked down the hallway, the phone in my pocket chirped. I pressed the home button, only to be greeted by the Verse of the Day. Oh, shoot. I had just signed up to receive these verses as a text each day, but it had to arrive right then?

1 Corinthians 13:2 brightened up my screen.

“If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing.”

If I do not have love? Of course I have love for my kids. But I wasn’t acting in love. During the course of that challenging day, my thoughts had shifted to me. Instead of acting in love, I focused on how I felt like a victim of my child’s nasty behavior.

So I asked God to help me, to move toward this boy with love. 

My son quickly softened at my apology, and he asked for my forgiveness as well. It doesn’t always happen that way, but this time it did. We talked for a while, and as I listened to the way he viewed things, I began to see him with different eyes. Love does that for us, doesn’t it?

Love helps us see through the lens of compassion. It reminds us that everyone, even the kid currently mistreating his siblings, is struggling in their own ways. I’m not excusing the behavior, just handling it with compassion.

I hope to love well, not only as a Mom but in every relationship. So I’ll keep on asking for supernatural help and listen for God’s voice–even if His words come through and afternoon text from the Bible app.

Love makes all the difference. It’s the one thing we must always return to.

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. 

How to Fess Up

Fess Up

I am horrible at fessing up. Maybe you are too.

Here’s why I think we hate to do it:

  1. We feel so guilty.
  2. We don’t want to bring attention to it.
  3. We would rather pretend it didn’t happen.
  4. We are embarrassed.
  5. We hate to admit we aren’t perfect.

It’s number 5 that really gets me; I try so hard to be perfect, so to break the porcelain veneer is like dropping grandma’s ancient heirloom. I feel crushed. I feel caught. I feel like someone might want to yell in my face.

Yet, when my son started pointing fingers at everyone else but himself. When he couldn’t admit doing things wrong. . . well, all fingers pointed back at me. I can’t blame on him, what he learns from me. He’s really just a reflection of the environment that I create for him.

I declared it was high-time I start to change something – about me.  And, sooner rather than later. It is far easier to say you want to change than it ever is to actually do it.

I still tried. I noticed when I got that little prick of anxiety in my heart and admitted why: I pushed a little too hard on my husband to get my way. I paid attention to the small sense of guilt I previously ignored and acknowledged my wrong: I brought up a sensitive topic at the worst time. I looked at my child’s face when I chided with too much force and reacted: I am sorry.

Nope. And, I wasn’t perfect. Sometimes, my pride inhibited my humility. Pride made me take an hour, where humility would have shown up right away. But, I am learning: it is a learning process.

Sometimes, the act of being honest with yourself is the first act. You have to cheer yourself on for this. I am doing this. YAY!

Maybe you need to join me? Have you built up defenses so high even you can’t see over them to the truth? Have you found that you don’t ever want to be wrong.

This verse has been such an encouragement to me: “Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time.” (1 Pet. 5:6)

I used to think an apology meant I needed to go dwell in a dumpster or something. Now I see an apology is a welcome by God to a higher place with him. It is my letting go so that I can welcome his glory and peace in. When I do this, I find my way back to his heart more easily.

I go low. God brings me high.

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.

Get all Purposeful Faith blog posts by email – click here.

We Will Not Stay Down

Post By: Angela Parlin

We had been going over the same set of details for days.

Each sit-down, hour-long discussion felt like we were walking around in two separate circles.

I could see how he was wrong, but he couldn’t.

He could see how I was wrong, but I couldn’t.

Add in miscommunications, assumptions, and misunderstandings, and there you have our reasons for walking in lonely circles of our own making.

I wouldn’t say we were angry with each other, but we both felt misunderstood. We were waiting for the other person to see our own point of view.

It took a few days before the light turned on and we joined hands and walked together again. In the light, I read through my journal and saw some things I hadn’t realized before.   I saw my own sin and the resulting sadness. 

I had been deceived.

We can be so deceived by sin, and fail to see it. Or admit it. Or turn from it. Sometimes, we don’t really want to see where we are wrong. It would feel better if only they  were wrong.

When were you last deceived by sin?

Every one of us chooses to sin at times, and others, we fall into sin. We are works in process. Sometimes, we fall and refuse to get back up for a while. Or we make a huge mess and track it everywhere, and then find remnants in hidden corners long after we’ve come clean.

Sin sticks like mud sometimes. And it’s messy. It can be lonely and make us feel trapped.

I pray with the psalmist, Lord, keep your servant from willful sins; may they not rule over me. (Psalm 19:13) And I remember His unending love.

He freed us from our sins, so they will not rule over us.

We are being transformed, and He’s not finished with us yet.

So Child of God, you may fall into sin, but you are not going to dwell there.

Jesus changed everything when He made a Way for us to be near God. He paid the penalty for all of our sin–and set us free from our slavery to sin. When we first trusted in Him, He planted love deep in our hearts, for Him and others. His new law of love.

“I will put my laws in their minds and write them on their hearts.

I will be their God, and they will be my people.” Hebrews 8:10b

You see, the old covenant failed because of the people’s unfaithfulness. But the new covenant cannot fail. The new covenant is based on what God did and does and will do.

The Lord who frees captives will continue to rescue us–every time we call to Him–out of any pit where we’ve fallen.

He is our God, and we are His people.

So we may fall, but we will not stay down.

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.

7 Ways: From Manic Mode to Peace

Manic-Mode to Peace

Pots and pans where flung everywhere. I didn’t really know what I was doing, except I knew dinner needed to get on that table, before the two screaming heads even more flipped a lid. Move faster, Kelly.

I tried to maneuver around the crumbs and grease that were splattered everywhere. I tried to manage a deep conversation with my husband while pulling the salmon out of the oven. I threw it on the stove, checked the hardness of the fish (yep…rock-solid, alright) and then proceeded to grabb the handle with my bare hand….Yeee-oww!!!!

I burnt the living-cells right off my palm of my hand.

I’ve decided, in manic-mode, I do dumb things.

I guess you could say this is a theme in my life.

Manic-mode at work: I’d rush so fast, I’d send the “I am so frustrated at my boss” email not to my co-worker two cubes over, but directly to him.

Manic-mode in the car: I pulled out so fast out of school, I crush metal like it’s nobody’s business. Car’s totaled.

Manic-mode with kids: I fear someone is going to fall in the bathroom, so I lean over to shut the door with a baby in hand and her toe gets slammed. It busts wide open. Baby gets stitches at the ER.

My heart longs for manic-mode, sometimes. I don’t know what is wrong with me? It’s like somehow I think I am more productive there, like the hot-flashes of anxiety are going to produce something, like more will get done and somehow I’ll end up being recognized as the shining star mom of the universe. It never happens.

What is it producing?  Burnt hands. Angry bosses. Ruined cars. Babies with stitches. Internal frustration. Residual guilt. Kitchens left half cleaned up because I’m either dealing with the likes of insurance agencies, ER rooms or burn marks. FAIL.

What is manic-mode producing in your life? Where do you see it show up? Why do you chase it?

I think I believe if I rush, the loud sounds of my life will hush and  I’ll make space for peace. Like, I’ll run to the destination real fast and then I’ll have time left over to chill there. To lay down. It doesn’t work that way, I’m learning.

“My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.” Ex. 33:14

To make peace, it works much more like this:

  1. You ask God to be with you through everything.
  2. You trust him to be with you through everything.
  3. You don’t become a marathon sprinter.
  4. You look out for God to be with you through everything.
  5. you still don’t let yourself become a marathon sprinter.
  6. You notice God be with you through everything.
  7. You find some peace, and even some rest, through the process.

Why? Because He’s taking lead. The destination is not your destination, but God is the destination. And, when God is the destination, you’ve arrived.

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.

Get all Purposeful Faith blog posts by email – click here.

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.

Get all Purposeful Faith blog posts by email – click here.