Purposeful Faith

Category - grace

When You Let God Down

Let God Down

Half my life I lived like this man, saying: “What good thing must I do to reach eternal life?” (Mt. 19:16)

Within my mind, I figured the answer was, “Kelly, fix everything you’re doing wrong.” Jesus responds in a similar fashion to this man, “If you want to be perfect, go and sell all you have…” (Mt. 19:21)

If I want to be perfect, go and offer more play time to my children.
If I want to be perfect, go and make better dinners.
If I want to be perfect, go to the store and buy tableware for get-togethers.
If I want to be perfect, go and find God and stop feeling guilty.
If I want to be perfect, go to Africa or India and be a missionary.

What do you need to do to be perfect?
What are you constantly criticizing yourself about?

Jesus goes on, “It’s harder for a rich man to get into the Kingdom of God than for a camel to go through the eye of a needle.” (Mt. 19:24)

I know a person who feels so guilty about money. Their money makes them feel like they’ve been caught red-handed and God will slap them for having it. They nearly hate themselves for it. I am sure, they’ll probably hand it all out the very second before their last breath, just to make up for the guilt of holding on to it so long. Just to make sure God knew, they didn’t really need it after all.  I think they’ve missed the point.

But, who am I to judge? I am guilty too. I am just as rich…

I am rich in my self-sufficiency.
I am rich with my desire to manage daily happenings.
I am rich in comfort.
I am rich with my judgments of others.
I am rich with own opinions.
I am rich with the desire to have earthly security.

I am hardly poor and deeply in need of Christ. I am hardly poor and wanting the fullness of him in every moment. I am hardly poor and wanting less of my flesh and more of his Spirit.

I am so rich. So rich, I feel Jesus might not like me anymore. You’ve ever been there? Feeling so off course that you’ll land shipwrecked and stuck frostbitten in Antartica without a God to save you?

Jesus’ disciples finally asked, “Who, then, can be saved?” Jesus said, “This is impossible for human beings, but for God, everything is possible.” (Mt. 19:26)

And, there it is. Like the ending to an epic movie – in sweeps the hero, the rescuer, the knight who saves the day – it is Jesus. He knows what we are without him is — ruined. But, he also knows, who we are with him is – rescued.

Jesus knew we’d never be perfect.
Jesus knew we all act – rich.

And this is the point. Jesus’ on-earth arrival points to the fact – there is none perfect, nor rich, except Jesus. Yet, in the gap of our wealth, we have available the wealth of Jesus. When we accept it, we intercept spiritual riches earth could never muster.

Jesus hands out what we believed the world never could. Jesus changes what we figured was written in stone. Jesus blasts through barriers, even when the barriers appears like our own wretchedness.

Underneath everything, Savior saves; he brings the kingdom on earth as it is in heaven, not to enforce Christian guilt, but to relieve it.

Inhale. Jesus knows failings; he releases them in the sight of his grace. And, what we are left with is not only an amazing ending, but an amazing here and now. A place we can rest.

Related Reading:
When Life Comes Down On You
When You Feel Abandoned By God
5 Personal Vulnerability Points That the Devil Attacks

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When It Appears God Hurt You

God Hurt You

Have you ever felt like you were following through on what God called you to do? But, it seemed he was punishing you?

Perhaps, he’s called you to love a difficult person.
Perhaps, he’s called you to serve in a difficult spot.
Perhaps, he’s called you to wait on him.
Perhaps, he’s called you to stay put in a place you don’t want to.

Paul went to Macedonia saying, “God had called us to preach the gospel (in Macedonia).” (Act 16:10)
There, he cast out a demon in a woman, saying, “In the name of Jesus Christ I command you to come out of her!” (Acts 16:18)
Only to land himself in prison when the owners of the woman realized they lost “their hope of making money.” (Acts 16:9)

If I was Paul, I might throw my hands up in the air and say, “Thanks a lot, God. You really know how to send a woman out and then let her down.”

Paul and crew were stripped, flogged, beaten and thrown in jail.

What do you do when it seems God – led you, but now he’s fled you?

It’s easy to feel angry, frustrated and indifferent in this place?

Years back, God called me to start a company. I seeking God with all my heart. I was obedient in the work, diligent in the process and hopeful in prayer, yet it didn’t happen. It tanked so badly, there were tens of thousands of dollars on the line. That was tough.

What is tough place has God called you to?

Here’s how Paul responds, within the walls of his prison: About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening to them. (Acts 16:25)

Imagine that? Beaten, wounded and imprisoned, yet still singing, praising and evangelizing…

This act, brings me to a place of pause: What if rather than seeing my disgrace, I believed God, for me, would about-face my situation? 

And, in this I could give praise?

Did Paul believe this?

Did he know his good God would most certainly do a good thing?

Suddenly there was such a violent earthquake that the foundations of the prison were shaken. At once all the prison doors flew open, and everyone’s chains came loose. (Acts 16:26)

When we believe in God’s power, his power tools break down high walls. When we are in the center of God’s will, God works a way out for us. When we are worshipping, God is working on our behalf to open doors.

I think Paul believed in the power of God. What if we believed too?

When that person hurts us. God can shake us in love that heals.
When that dream fizzles. God will quake new dreams in us; He has a plan.
When pain surfaces: Through God all things are possible. We will wait.
When we see no way out: God will mine gold in our heart through this.
When we feel bad: Jesus’ forgiveness rattles our soul in unwarranted acceptance that feels like peace.

God will show up and when he does the power of his work – will set you free. Until, then, like Paul, “Wait for the LORD; be strong and take heart and wait for the LORD.” (Psalm 27:14)

The Care and Keeping of a Mean Girl

Post by: Jami Amerine

At a recent doctor’s appointment, I learned my physician suspected that the greatest health crisis I was facing was… dehydration.  That’s right, I am thirsty.

I consider myself fairly intelligent when it comes to health and nutrition.  I confess, I am embarrassed by this diagnosis.  Alas, I knew he was correct.  And the fact of the matter is, I don’t have time to drink eight, 8 oz. glasses of water a day.  On the days I do get that much water in my thirsty body, I don’t have time to make it to the bathroom in an efficient ratio of water in, urine out… so I am fairly miserable for 90% of the 64 ounces.

Needless to say, I left my doctor’s office feeling defeated, depleted and discouraged. There isn’t any way that my scale can be ten pounds lower than his. Is he just a vindictive mad scientist?  I sat in my car and had a hale and hearty cry and then as I examined myself in the mirror, I began to multitask. I reapplied mascara and lip gloss while listing all things I find most awful about myself.

Fat.
Loser.
Lazy.
Dehydrated.
Whiner.

Horrible at math, mostly weights and measures.

Exasperated.
Phoney.

And the worst of all… mean.

I am a very mean girl.

I called the friend who was babysitting our young son and two foster placements and told her I would be there in an hour. I went to the store and bought her a lovely fall floral arrangement and the ingredients to put a fragrant squash soup in her crock pot for dinner. Crusty bread and an apple pie were added to my basket.

I would take great care of my friend for helping me.

On my way to the checkout, I stopped and grabbed chocolates for my sister, my husband’s favorite cookies, and the children’s favored frozen pizza.  I scurried to the other side of the store and thoughtfully picked lovely greeting cards to bless my friends, our foster-daughter’s birth mom and her caseworker too.  Just before I checked out, I filled my basket with an abundance of toiletries for our three oldest children  who are at college. Then I made my way to the gift wrapping aisle to find bright colored bags to put the shampoos, shaving gels, creams, lotions, and deodorants in;  if I hurried I could leave the bags at their dorms before I picked up my babies.

When I climbed back in my car, quite pleased with the purchases, I would bless my darlings with, I caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror. Immediately I began to admonish myself, I forgot to grab myself any water.  I rehashed the list of my faults:

Chubby.

Dumb.

Slothful.

Parched.

Grumbler.

Frustrated.

Fake.

And the worst of all… mean.

I am a very mean girl.

About that time my daughter called to ask about my doctor appointment. I reported to her my struggle and she chirped, “OH MY GOSH MOM!  You must get this new app!  It’s called plant nanny!”

I followed her instructions and downloaded the app. I picked a cute little cartoon plant and begrudgingly entered my weight and read my results. The plant nanny decided how much water I must drink to keep my little imaginary plant conscious alive. The little seedling blinked at me with trusting animated eyes and I cooed at the psychological entrapment that would force me to drink enough water to nurture the cybernetic life into a blooming dependant illusion.

Over the next few days, I became more diligent in my pursuit of water. My iPhone would alert, my little make-believe Japanese succulent would bat her eyes at me and I would drink, click, and apply “water” to my H2O conscious companion.  I treated that animated being like royalty, then on the 4th day, a tragedy arose.

I lost my phone.

I turned the house upside down, it was nowhere to be found.  Later that evening, I recovered my phone between the  couch cushions.  When I opened the plant nanny app I knew immediately, the app had died of thirst.

Fat.

Loser.

Lazy.

Dehydrated.

Killer of simulated Japanese succulents…

And the familiar voice hummed in my ears, “You are so mean… you were so good to tend to that imaginary plant.  You are so kind to your neighbors, orphans, and case workers. You observe such careful and tedious attention to everyone, but you are so mean to My girl.”

I know this to be true.

The things that come out of my mouth toward myself are brutal. The TLC I afford those around me is stellar. The attention I bestowed upon the animated succulent … was criminal compared to the neglected efforts I make to grab myself, His girl – an artless glass of water.

I am most convicted of this, I may look as though I love my neighbor… but how could I possibly when I so blatantly despise myself?  How can I be so hard and ugly to the daughter of the Most High?  How can I spend so much energy on what I deem righteous and be so cruel to myself?  He who died for me, that I might be called blameless… His girl. I agreed with Him. It was not what He wanted for me. He wants me to recognize, I am clothed in His goodness. He sees me as perfected. He adores me as His own.

I have neglected the gift of my inheritance, daughter of Jehovah.  I deleted my plant nanny app.  I applied mascara and powdered my nose.  I grabbed my glass off the table and filled it with new water.

Water that this beautiful girl needs to bless the nations with wealth, prosperity and the Good News of Jesus Christ.

A champion for the little guy, a woman on a mission. Refreshed and adequately warned, don’t mess with His girl.

And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave Himself up for us, a slain offering and sacrifice to God – a sweet fragrance. Ephesians 5: 2

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

 

 

 

Grace for One Who Self-Condemns

Self-Condemns

I sat in the car, head down and thoughts heavy.

I can’t get things straight with this person.  I seem to bother them. I seem to aggravate them. I seem to be a burden on their life.

She who feels condemns condemns.

Have I been condemning?

The thought pressed closer to my chest, piercing my heart. Does their lack of approval regarding me, act like a boomerang,  and move right back on them?

They seem irritated, so I get irritated because they are irritated and we stand at an impasse. They snap at me, later, I fear they’ll do it again, so I use a harsh voice. They don’t listen. I come down hard and demand to be heard.

Anger at myself settles. Once again, I’m the problem. I hate that feeling and its abysmal return.

She who is beating herself up can’t heal another one up.

More anger at myself settles in.

She who is not freed by grace can’t free others by grace.

More anger at myself settles in, except with it also comes the thought that if I really want progress, I really need to accept grace. Not just accept it in a way where I wear it on the outside, but instead, wear it, internally, like a stint that keeps the oxygen of my life flowing. One that keeps my heart beating and moving in ways that are transformational and life-giving to be both me and others.

Therefore let us [with privilege] approach the throne of grace [that is, the throne of God’s gracious favor] with confidence and without fear, so that we may receive mercy [for our failures] and find [His amazing] grace to help in time of need [an appropriate blessing, coming just at the right moment]. (Heb. 4:16 AMP)

I am welcome to walk right up to God’s grace; I can approach the throne of grace with all confidence and no fear. When I walk up to it, I need not think, I will be turned away, but I may just know mercy will be mine. It will be mine for every failure and it will work for me in my time of need. It will be an “appropriate blessing, coming at just the right moment.” I like this.

With this, I may approach this person differently.

Grace lets me move forward with imperfections and with room for my mistakes, faults and failures in Christ Jesus.

God’s love removes my need for a defensive spirit.
God’s mercy covers my guilt with new life.
God’s forgiveness is not something I should feel shame for receiving.

I am being developed into this likeness of Jesus and this takes time.

What might grace, seized with confidence and no fear,
look like in your life?

What form might God’s – “appropriate” and timely blessings  –
take as you make space for them?

My heart is called today to be a grace-getter. Do you know what a grace-getter looks like?

It looks like a person who shoves fear down a ditch, then runs up to the foot of the cross. She waves her arms and says, “Hey God, over here. My ways aren’t working so well, God.  I need you to relieve me of my pain.”

She who gets grace –  gives grace.

She knows, in her time of need, God has things covered and the blood of Jesus is just enough.

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Have You Lost Peace?

Lost Peace

I am delighted to have Susan Pettrey from Brooklyn Tabernacle join us. Susan is a tremendous force for the Lord. She is used in ways, I know, she can’t even begin to imagine. She has impacted my life through prayer. It is a pure delight to welcome Susan today for Women’s Ministry Monday.

It was another night of going through the normal bedtime routine I have with my 6-year old son, Levi. Something was wrong.  It had been for days.  He was unusually hyper, unfocused and distant from me. I knew why.

We had recently moved to a new neighborhood, and within the past month, Levi had to adjust to a new home, school, peer group and, even, a new nanny.  It was a lot.  It would be for any child, but Levi is adopted and, as I’ve learned, adopted children intensely crave security.

I can only imagine what goes on in his little mind as he tries to process the implications of his adoption and life, but it was no mystery that all of the recent changes were creating extreme anxiety in his heart.

As Levi jumped up and down on his bed, I decided that a reprimand was not what was needed at that moment.  Levi needed to be ministered to.  I asked him what was bothering him only to be given his typical response of “nothing”.

The more I probed the more Levi tried to change the subject until, finally, I said, “Honey, it’s very clear right now that you don’t have peace in your heart.”

With that, Levi got quiet and waited for me to continue telling him what he couldn’t find the words to express himself.  I did my best to validate his feelings. Then, I encouraged him with words of hope.

I told him that I knew God had led us to this new home and, so, we could trust He had a plan. It would be for all of our good.

He laid his little head on my chest. I could feel his body slowly begin to relax.  It was as though my confidence…or peace about Levi’s life and future was transferring into his own heart.

We prayed together. I kissed him goodnight with an assurance that his anxiety had subsided.  I was grateful for that moment and thanked God for it without realizing the deeper truth He was going to teach me.

When I opened my Bible the next day, this is what I read- “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” John 14:27

As I pondered the verse, God showed me my exchange with Levi was just a dim reflection of what He desires to have with me.

So often, when life has been difficult and seemingly out of control, I’ve prayed for more peace.  As if the process involved God giving me the power to muster up my own peace in the midst of my troubles.  But, now, what Jesus was saying became so alive to me as I remembered my experience the night before.

Just as Levi received my peace as his own,
so Jesus wants to give us HIS peace.

When we were saved, God’s Spirit took residence in us.  Our old man was put to death and, now, it is no longer we who live but Christ who lives through us.  How often I forget the benefits that come with this great truth.  I don’t have to be a better “Susan” anymore.  All I need to do is look to my Savior who longs to give me everything He is.  Not only does Jesus want to fill me with things like His love, His strength, and His wisdom, but He desires to fill me with HIS very own peace too!

Not a peace that is manufactured by me or dependent on imperfect people or an unstable world. It’s a divine peace rooted in the one, true God who has all authority over heaven and earth.

It’s a supernatural peace that can never be moved or shaken by the circumstances of life. It’s a peace that comes from the One who knows how the story really ends.

Whatever the challenges we might be facing at this moment, Jesus invites us to lay our head on His chest and receive His peace today.

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Susan Pettrey’s Bio

img_8712_2Susan Pettrey is the second daughter of Jim and Carol Cymbala, who pastor the Brooklyn Tabernacle in Brooklyn, NY.  Susan grew up witnessing great moves of God and His power to change the most hopeless of lives.  As an adult, Susan has been all over the spectrum of ministry at the Brooklyn Tabernacle.  She has served as a worship leader and soloist in the choir.  She is the director of the women’s ministry, as well as, the BT Drama Company, where she writes and produces full-length plays that are used to minister to the church and evangelize her city.  Her greatest priority, however, is her wonderful husband, Brian, and four amazing children, Luke (19), Claire (16) and Levi (6) and Charlotte (1)

5 Ways to Be (and Stay) at Peace

steadfast faith

Are you at all like me?

Do you get in the car and, immediately,
start running down your list of worries?

Do you try to keep calm
but inevitably lose your cool with that one person?

Do you try to be near to God,
only to get caught up with fear things won’t turn out well?

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

I’ve got to figure out what it means to be steadfast because one thing I know is that – I want peace.

Lately, I’ve been moving my two kids in duck-formation; they know by now, they better follow Mama.  I am going places. Doing things. Accomplishing stuff. There’s order, discipline and diligence in our house. People, best follow in line.

I think it is pretty apparent to all – I’m running my house like a jerk. I’ll be the first to admit it.

Wake. Breakfast. Don’t spill it on the floor. Get your plate to the sink. Get those clothes on. Why isn’t your lunch box in your bag? Can’t you get those shoes on yourself. Shuttle. Home. Dinner. Get a book. Hustle kid. Move it. Don’t talk back. You are getting time out. Clean that floor. Lights out.

I look like the wicked step mother, my kids look like Cinderella incarnate. I horrify myself.

You will not keep in perfect peace,
those who minds are controlling, obnoxious and abhorrent
because they trust only in themselves. Kelly 1:1

You all, I am not God, but I am a woman who knows the opposite of Isaiah 26:3 and it is what I wrote above.

I feel convicted.

Truly, to only see my way is to miss God’s.
To be demanding is to raise the flag of pride. 
To bark marching orders is to lose pleasure in Him. 
But, to release a mind into the fullness of his Word, leading, promptings and character – is dig up perfect peace.

I feel released.

Able to see more clearly, I realize: She who stays in peace is she who dwells on Him, who is Peace.

On the other hand, she who stays in worry and anxiety is she who settles for fakes. She’s like a girl who walks down the streets in New York City and grabs imitation handbags when she has wads of cash in her pocket. She’s the rich girl, the one with everything, who picks up and studies 5th rate Chinese Chanel bags because she thinks she doesn’t have enough. She forgets she is rich, so she settles. She suffers. She buys up stress instead of the real deal – God’s peace.

I buy up stress instead of staying steadfast and certain in God. Do you?

Those who pay regard to vain idols forsake their hope of steadfast love.” Jonah 2:8

I don’t know about you, but I often rely on vain idols:

The Facebook F: Here, I focus in on a girl’s clothes, and completely forget about my devotional time.
The Pinterest P: With this idol, I figure my friends will judge me based on napkins and centerpieces.  I try to be perfect.
A mirror: I stare at it and criticize myself.
My bank account: I think it will protect me more than God.

The prized possession of steadfast peace is lost
when a girl bends down to grab lower shelf goods and gods.

What are you reaching for?

Let me remind you, steadfast love always sits high and mighty.

To identify it from fakes, it looks like this:

In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us
and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.”
 1 John 4:9-10

Steadfast love looks not like a crazed girl on an elliptical trying, sweating and endlessly pumping – but a gal just being, just sitting, in Christ’s love. It is one open, ready and willing to receive his riches. One who lets God determine her value.

What does this practically look like?

It looks like:

Seeing devotional time as sitting time,
not striving time, with God.

Viewing success as Godly-connection
rather than always-perfection.

Letting go of the psychotic pace to
continually dwell in God’s grace.

Quieting your inner-hater,
to find the Always-Lover.

Relaxing with God in the moment,
rather than demanding he reconstruct your future.

Remembering all Jesus did,
not what you need to accomplish.

To be steadfast is to walk steady in the idea you will not move fast.

It is to walk steady at God’s pace – moving only with him.

So, today, rather than rushing, huffing and puffing – and blowing our house down, this truth we can cling to. We don’t have to push ahead. We don’t have to yell and scream and feel anxious that people are going to mess up. We only need to slow down, grab his hand and trust, He will carry us through- straight up to perfect peace.

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Seizing Spiritual Confidence: 4 Foundational Keys

spiritual confidence

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

More like Jesus?

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

How does God see confidence?

Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence,
so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need. Heb. 4:16

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

Lasting confidence.
Enduring confidence.
Unwavering confidence.

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

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

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

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

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

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

On what ground does your confidence stand confidence?

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

4 Foundational Truths that Breed Confidence

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

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

This kind of confidence? It makes all the difference.

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1 Way to a Better Day: Challenge

Better Day

At risk of sounding like a narcissist, I observe myself. I notice how I am. I take inventory of the little things I do – or know I shouldn’t do, but do them anyway. I see it all. The thoughts that go helter-skelter and wishy washy and down-in-the-dumpsy. It’s a cartoon. Me.

I just moved somewhere new. Everything was late. The whole house didn’t show up. The family got sick. You’ve all heard about all this before. People acted up. Blah. Blah. Blahdie blah.

These things happen a lot:

Sky-high plans throw my emotions overboard.
Devastating days end up tossing me to and fro.
The unexpected sinks me.
Clouds hang low and dim.
Threatening.
I watch them move in; I see how they work me.

better day

Paul says to he’s learned to be content in all situations.
I’ve learned to be content in none – that aren’t advantageous.

Why can’t I just be Bible Barbie – all beautiful, shiny and perfectly obedient? Dang. I have to deal with me.

The other day, thinking along these lines, and all that wasn’t right, I drove my kid to school. I recycled the same junk in my head: “I will never get things done, I can’t do that, I don’t know how to handle that person, I feel like crud, it is hot, I am sweaty, how fast can I get them to school?”

But, something flipped, in a moments notice. At first, I hardly noticed her – the little old lady shuffling by…

…until she worked her way directly in front of me and my two nearly-leashed kids. She stopped, turned, looked, smiled and said, “It is such a beautiful day isn’t it?”

I wanted to glare.

“No. It’s not beautiful. It’s humid – over 100 degrees humid, hot and uncomfortable out here.”

I didn’t say that.

Instead, I remembered from somewhere deep within, “Respect old-folk.”  I half-smiled, nodded, “Yes.”

She sauntered off, knowing her job was done. The old are wise. They know, less words hit with more power. Anyway, now, not so much glaring – and more staring – I stood, watching as she worked her way to the door.

Old-lady was a day-changer. 

 She chose to hand out good, even when she stood right in the center – of bad.

I can be like her.

Because, what I see determines how I will be.

If I see the good, I will feel good.

If I see the dire, I will feel dire.

If I see hope, I will feel hope.

If I feel hope, I can give hope.

If I see the King, I will shine him. So others might see too.

I started observing other things, things outside of myself.

The next day, I came across that same crossing guard lady – the one I’d seen every day for the past week. The one with a smile as wide as a mack truck. Yep, there she was.  She waved at me – again. I got the goosebumps. She not only chose to see her day as good, but handed it out like food. With every passing car, she offered morning love, well-wishes and abounding hope. Only her arm and face moved, but that was enough. She was a day-changer.

Could I be like that?

Might a small shift towards God’s goodness make me ooze goodness? 

Could I be a day-changer in a world heavy, dense and dark with distrust and defeat?

Thinking further, I remembered – that janitor. She worked as if she was in heaven. I’d go in the gym locker room and there she’d be, singing her heart out. My husband told me there was something special about her. She never stopped smiling. One day, I asked her, “What’s the deal with you?”

“Jesus,” she said. “Jesus.”

Go figure.

She is a day-changer.  She doesn’t have to spill one bible verse; people get to see him- face-to-face – through her. Despite the deplorable job of cleaning the over splash of toilet seats, the crevices of odorous lockers and the pool water piles near sweaty benches, she finds her joy  – and shares it – unhindered. She lights up that locker room like no one’s business.

better day

A day-changer.

A day-changer is someone, who, by faith,
believes in the everlasting joy of God more than the ongoing pain of this world.

A day-changer is someone who sees the outcome of good,
before she trusts the outcome of bad.

A day-changer is someone who knows that a small word of encouragement
can make a world of difference.

A day-changer is someone who grabs grace like a much-needed brace,
so God can show good face.

A day-changer is someone so sold out to God’s mission
that people take one look and feel recommissioned.

 

Simply said, a day-changer is one who stops continually processing bad
and starts 
– incessantly processing God’s good.

 

Could you and I be day-changers?

 

About the Day-Changer Challenge:

Grab hold of the most overwhelming thing in your life right now. Do you have it by the neck yet?

Start here. Let go of your stranglehold. Know, God can, where – you can’t. Ask Him to believe, by faith, and not by sight. Ask him for a positive outlook over your negative one. Ask him to unveil his banner of love, like a parachute, high and wide, over you.

See it. Hope in it. Respond to it. Let grace seep in. Let grace seep out.  Claim it.

We just wanted you to know how much we love and appreciate you! Thank you for everything you do for us. -) (2)I am not talking prosperity gospel – getting fame, fortune or fantasies. I am talking about walking – in the light of God’s promises instead of – the death of your day. 

 

Bottom-line challenge:  Find God’s positive before you dwell on your negative –
and then let it ooze into the world.

 

In a backup on the highway?
Thank God for the moment longer you get to stay with him – and smile at the person stuck next to you.

Have screamers in the back of the car?
Praise God that he protects them. Delight them and play the screaming game too.

Confronted a testy family member?
Remember how God has loved you in weakness. Give them a hug.

Dealing with a medical issue?
Consider the ways it makes you rely on God. Encourage that other sick person in the waiting room.

Let his love transfer – reach deep for him; his compassionate arms will extend. Like the wise old lady, he’ll step in front of you with simple words with profound impact. You’ll do astounding – because of Him.

Become a day-changer.

God can do anything, you know—far more than you could ever imagine or guess or request in your wildest dreams! He does it not by pushing us around but by working within us, his Spirit deeply and gently within us. Eph. 3:20-21

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Lost in The Wilderness

Lost in The Wilderness

Today, it is my joy to welcome Tracey Rogers to Women’s Ministry Monday. Her words both uplift and remind my heart that there is safety in my struggle and hope in my longings. Thank you, Tracey. 

I got lost in the wilderness.

I hadn’t planned to even go out there, but there I was right in the middle of unfamiliar territory. I did, however, know what was on the other side. THAT I knew, so I was confident on how to maneuver myself through the uncomfortable deserted land.

But I got lost.

No, not literally. The deepest I have been in any kind of wilderness is a color-coded, well-worn hike through many Tennessee State Parks; hardly a place for loss.

No, my wilderness was God’s doing. Leading me out of my comfort and leading me into a place of uncertainty and trial and pressure and temptation.

The wilderness is not an unusual place for God’s people.

He often leads them into the wilderness. 

Moses was called by God from the burning bush while Moses was in the wilderness.

Elijah receives encouragement from God while spending 40 days in the wilderness.

The children of Israel spent 40 years in the wilderness
unlearning the pagan influence from Egypt and becoming a people of God.

They found their identity in the wilderness. 

Even Jesus, Himself spent 40 days in the wilderness being tempted before beginning His earthly ministry.

David, too has a season in the wilderness. 

David was anointed king of Israel as a young man, and through a series of God-ordained coincidences he found himself in service of the present king of Israel, Saul. I imagine David saw the path to kingship. He imagined that he would learn from Saul; be mentored by this present king so he could one day step into the role that was destined for him. Although David knew the way the story would end, with him being king, I think the process ended up being very different than he expected. Saul began to see David as a threat and David was forced to run for his life. Where did he run?

To the wilderness. 

The wilderness is a place ripe for God to shape and grow David into the king He called him to be.

1 Samuel 21-31 record David’s time in the wilderness. I don’t think this turned out to be the way he expected God to grow him into a king, but that is exactly what God did. In the wilderness, David went from shepherd to leader. 

David learned how to handle opposition.
David was met with challenges, yet followed God.
The wilderness was where David found shelter in caves, yet knew the shadow of God’s wings.
It was where David found rest beside still waters and found his soul restored.
And David, had tests and temptations, but resisted them and proved worthy of the call.

The wilderness isn’t just for God’s people in the Bible. He is still calling His own into the wilderness today, and that is where I found myself.

But I carved the path. Wondering, how can I get out. How will God actually work things out?

Real surrender is not the act of acknowledging hard times,
but of letting God walk you through them, altogether.

What path do you follow? Is it providing refuge?

Be gracious to me, O God, be gracious to me, 

For my soul takes refuge in You;

And in the shadow of Your wings I will take refuge

Until destruction passes by.

I will cry to God Most High, 

To God who accomplishes all things for me.

He will send from heaven and save me;

He reproaches him who tramples upon me.     Selah.

God will send forth His lovingkindness and His truth.” Ps. 57:1-3

And so I remained in the wilderness, but no longer felt lost. I found comfort and I think that is exactly what He had in mind.

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About Tracey Rogers

View More: http://keonik.pass.us/traceyrogersTracey Rogers is a gifted Bible teacher who brings passion and enthusiasm to the life-giving Word of God. Tracey speaks with authority and authenticity leaving her listeners wanting to spend more time with God in His Word and inspiring them to live lives that shine His light. Tracey has also taken her revealing teaching lessons and unique insights and put them in her new book, Life Lessons from the Book of Job.

She lives in Franklin, Tennessee with her husband of almost 19 years, Kevin, along with their children Preston, 15; John John, 13; and Josie, 10.  In addition to serving on the adult groups staff at Church of the City, she has been incorporating her love of scripture by teaching Christ-centered yoga for 4 1/2 years.

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Do you Unknowingly Worship Perfection?

Pursuit of Ideal

First house: Smelled like urine.
Second house: Was painted orange and red.
Third house: Was on a super-highway.
Fourth house: Was a construction zone.
Fifth house: Felt like a cave.

Every house didn’t work, yet, every city before this one didn’t work either.

First city: Wasn’t business-centric enough.
Second city: Wasn’t pretty enough.
Third city: Wasn’t modern enough.
Fourth city: Wasn’t exciting enough.
Fifth city: Wasn’t clean enough.

I crashed on the couch, tears streaming. We had 3 more weeks left before kid had to go to kindergarten and, with an expiring lease, we were going to be homeless. In dark and non-impressive hotel room, I wondered if it wasn’t the fault of the city, or the houses, or the climates or the ice or the people? Who was to blame? I also, resistantly, wondered if the problem was much, much worse.

Was the problem – me?

Did I want to give up because God didn’t give me
every check-marks-the-box item on my list?

I stood up, staring at the city’s horrid heatwaves, the dirt, the grime and the lack of hot restaurants – from on high. I wanted something better than what was pretty good. Each place, there was a something that prohibited me from my everything.

pursuit of ideal

When you search for perfection like a flawless diamond,
you pretty much always walk away with nothing.

I turned my hands; I hold nothing.

Lately, I’ve been spinning my wheels, considering how to market a book I am desperately afraid of. The idea it won’t do well – blockbuster even – stops me in my tracks. It makes me nervous.

So I waste days. I hold nothing.

God puts someone on my heart. He gives me a gently nudge to gently love. I don’t want them to think poorly of me. I don’t want to seem overbearing. I don’t want to rub them wrong way. I get insecure I won’t handle it well, right even.

I turn away. I hold nothing.

What have you been subconsciously turning down because you figure there is no way it will:
1.) Be good enough?
2.) End up good enough?
3.) Make you look good enough?

When we seek ideal, we usually make idols out of desired results. 

We set up perfectly folded and lined items on our shelves and dictate they sit perfectly, yet if one should unfold – or look out of place – we get ruined. The image haunts us.

But the truth is, God has, nor never will be, a God of false images. He is a true God who calls on his children to have true faith. Abiding faith that knows things don’t always have to look well – to end well.

For we live by faith, not by sight. 2 Cor. 5:7

Do I believe this way? Do you?

What would happen if rather than sulking in self-pity,
we rose up in selfless-thanks for what God will do through a small seed of trust?

I haven’t done this, but I want to. I’m resolute I will.

Starting right now, in order to beat my inner-demands for perfection, I will start a new cycle:

  1. Pray
  2. Believe
  3. Wait (& act if prompted)
  4. Pray
  5. Believe
  6. Wait (& act if prompted)
  7. Give thanks – even if it’s no-man’s-land.
  8. Pray
  9. Believe
  10. Wait (& act if prompted)
  11. Give thanks – even if it still appears to be no-man’s land.

Lord, all my desire is before You; And my sighing is not hidden from You. Ps. 38:9

O LORD, You have heard the desire of the humble; You will strengthen their heart, You will incline Your ear… Ps. 10:17

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