Purposeful Faith

Category - guilt

A Love Letter for Guilty Hearts and Shamed Parts

Letter For the Guilty

Child,

I forgive you. In fact, I’ve already forgotten about what you’ve done. I’ve tied a weight around your worst and thrown it into the great abyss of my endless, all-consuming waters never to see it again.

So, why do you still hold on to it?

I’ve separated it from you. I’ve removed it hemispheres from your mind, being and soul. It’s so far, there is no sight of it in my eyes. There is no value to it in my economy.

So, why do you still hold on to it?

You expressed your remorse. You asked for forgiveness. It is done. I judge you not and I consider it not stuck to you, not even a grain.

So, why do you still hold on to it?

Hear this, I declare your righteous, holy and blameless. When I look at you, this is what I see. This is the sum of you are.

So, why do you still hold on to it?

Do you believe clinging on will help you improve? Be better? As if your fear will produce righteousness? As if slapping your own hand will finally make you act better?

If I don’t require this of you, why do you require it of yourself?

You want to hurt yourself so that you can finally be better. But, guess what? Jesus already took the hurt. He took the pain, for you. For moments just like these.

Jesus was forsaken, so you could be forgiven.

So, why do you still hold on to it?

It is not charges upheld, inflicted, that will mark you changed. But, charges released, absolved, that will give you hope, freedom to find my voice that will change you. In the space of forgiveness, you have room to hear my voice, to listen to my words, to find a new way, a different way. Here, your mind doesn’t talk like jury and judge. Here, you accept the fact – I’ve thrown out the court proceedings. Here, there is only new ground, a fresh day and the start of new opportunities – with me. Here, you find peace, you see my way and you uncover my revelations, progress and growth.

May I suggest you, let go?

Let go of what you can’t let go of. I’ll take it for you.
Sit down.

Lay back in the knowledge I’ll hold you. I won’t ever let you go.
Rest easy.

Unclench your hands and believe I will lead you on your best path.
Seek me.

If you run after me, you will find me, when you search for me with all your heart.
Wave goodbye.

What mistakes you keep seeing, have no value in the space between your eyes and mine.

For where we are going together, there is no need for dead weight and there is no necessity for you to control your own progress. I am the one molding you. I am the one keeping you. I am the one leading your family. I am the one in charge of your day. I am the one who you need. So, turn, face me and let’s go to where you haven’t been able to go because you’ve been holding all that.

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

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

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When Routine Is Robbing the Romance

Robbing the Romance

Welcome Sharon Jaynes! Sharon is authentic, real and brings practical and applicable tips to win in your marriage. Plus today, she’s giving away a free book if you comment. 

What do you do when you’ve lost that lovin’ feelin’ in your marriage?

Maybe you truly adored your husband in the beginning, but now you can’t remember why.

Maybe you honestly admired his finer qualities, but now you can’t remember what they were.

Maybe you appreciated his wonderful attributes, but now you take them for granted.

Between taking out the garbage, paying the bills, running the car pool, mowing the lawn, disciplining the kids, and folding the laundry, sometimes the passion of marriage gets lost. It happens to all of us at one time or another.

We can get so busy taking care of life that we forget to take care of love.

None of us got married so we could have a long list of chores. If you’re like me, most likely you got married because you were madly in-love and couldn’t imagine life without your man! You got married because your heart skipped a beat every time you laid eyes on him.

You couldn’t wait to tie the knot and build a life with this incredible person God had miraculously brought into your life. Maybe you still feel that way. But maybe you could use a little reminder—a re-stoking of the romance.

In the book of Revelation in the Bible, God had this to say to the church at Ephesus: “I hold this against you: You have forsaken the love you had at first” (Revelation 2:4).

Ephesus was one of the most loving churches in the New Testament, and yet somewhere along the way they lost that initial thrill of knowing Christ. Their love for each other and for God had grown cold.

So how do you get that lovin’ feelin’ back?

God gave the church two simple steps, and I believe we can apply them to our marriages as well. “Consider how far you have fallen! Repent and do the things you did at first” (Revelation 2:5, emphasis added).

Remember how it was in the beginning.

Return and do the things you did at first.

One day I took John’s words in Revelation to heart, and decided to remember and return by romancing my husband for fourteen days straight.

Can I tell you, I was a little bit nervous about it?

What if he thought I was silly?

What if he didn’t respond?

But I took a deep breath, push the fear aside, and began to romance my man like I did in the early days.

Everyday wasn’t earth-shaking romance, even though there was some of that.

One day I simply put a sticky note on his bathroom mirror that said, “I love you.”

Another day I placed a box of Red Hot candy on his car seat with a note that said, “You’re a hottie.”

One morning I warmed up his towel in the dryer and had it ready when he got out of the shower.

And you know what happened? At the end of the fourteen days, Steve had a skip in his step and smile on his face like a Cheshire cat.

And what happened in me? I can hardly describe the love that welled up in me, as I loved my man well. Hear this…I changed.

I don’t have a big, bad personal story of how God took a terrible, tumultuous marriage and miraculously transformed it into a storybook romance filled with white-knight rescues, relentless romance, and rides into the sunset leaving all danger and darkness behind. Although our marriage has been all that at one time or another, it’s no fairy tale.

Our marriage is a daily journal, one page after another, one day after another. I’m guessing just like yours.

Some entries are smudged with tears; others are dog-eared as favorites.

Some days are marred by unsuccessful erasures that couldn’t quite rub away hurtful the words said; others are finger-worn by the reading of precious events time and time again.

But on those days when I see my marriage slipping back into the mundane cadence of passionless routine, I pull out my list of ideas, and put a smile on Steve’s face.

And that’s my challenge to you and to me today. When we see the fire needs stoking, remember and return. It may be a little scary at first, but be brave and begin!

What is one thing that you can do for your husband today to remind him of how much you love him?

***Leave a comment and tell one thing that attracted you to your husband when you were dating. We’ll randomly pick one name and send a FREE copy of Sharon’s new book, A 14-Day Romance Challenge: Reigniting Passion in Your Marriage.

Sharon Jaynes is a conference speaker, devotion writer for Girlfriends in God and Proverbs 31 Ministries, and author of 21 books. Her latest book, A 14-Day Romance Challenge: Reigniting Passion in Your Marriage will help you step out of the mundane routine of life and captivate your husband all over again. With encouraging stories, Biblical principles, and over 250 simple ideas on how to romance your husband, Sharon will show you how to put a smile on your husband’s face. Just in time for Valentine’s Day!

Don’t forget to leave a comment to win….

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What Do You Blame Yourself For?

blame Yourself

Is there something in your life – you can’t forgive yourself for?

There is something, even today, I am still angry at myself for doing. I can’t tell you all the full story, although I wish I could. There are people, and places and things, that have to be protected.  But, what you need to know is this: for a long time I’ve walked around with a pile of regret, loaded up with the bricks of fear that I can never rewrite the past.

I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better. Eph. 1:17

Peace, Child. I call you blameless. 

“And you also were included in Christ when you heard the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation. When you believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession–to the praise of his glory.” Eph. 1:13-14

Peace, Child. I call you blameless. 

Did you hear me? I. call. you. blameless. Col. 1:22

Not blamed a little bit when “that girl” stands taller, thinner and richer.
Nor blamed when you royally drop all the marbles of so-called great faith.
Nor blamed when your mind starts to dig deep tracks into despair.
Nor blamed when you can’t seem to be sinless enough to win my accolades.
Nor blamed when don’t have as good as a comeback as that other person.
Nor blamed when you look like a walking zombie of motherhood.
Nor blamed when your house is messier than a city demolished post-tornado.
Nor blamed when you feel lowly, last or marginalized.

Blameless. Child. Blameless.

For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. Eph. 1:4

Peace Child. I call you loved. Jo. 3:16

Not loved just when you’re performance is perfectly stepped and played.
But loved just as the unique creation I formed.
Your imperfections are what I call beauty. I know them and I love them.
Not like I love “her”–and for a good reason. She is not you, nor does she have your call.
I know how to love you, just as you need.
I know how to help you, just as my will prescribes.
I made you to be you, because I like you.
I made you to be you, because I have plans for you that no one else owns.
I made you to be you, because you know how to love the hurt that were hurt like you.
I made you as you, because there are people that need the most authentic being–of you.
I made you to be you, because I want you as mine. I enjoy you. I like you. I call you friend.

Order Kelly Balarie’s new book, Fear Fighting today! Or, get all her blog posts by email. Get all Purposeful Faith blog posts by email – click here.

More Reading:
10 Ways to Develop Rock-Solid Faith
5 Transformational Tips: Make God’s Word Come Alive

Where Are My Blessings, God?

When Your Good Intentions Fail

Good Intentions Fail

In order to put on my ski clothes, I had to tug on long johns. Then, I’d layer super-tight, hard-to-get-on socks. One after another, I’d put everything on until my legs felt like they were the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man. Only then, would I pull on my snow pants, the final covering that prevented all cold water from entering the warmth that was under the coverings.

There was a process to the putting-on. I couldn’t just start and end with the outer shell of snow pants. If I did, I’d go through the night freezing.

Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.  Col. 3:12

Compassion. Kindness. Humility. Gentleness. Patience.
These are great things. We run after them. Daily we attempt to put them on, don’t we?

I know I do…

I wake in the morning and tell myself, today, I am going to be compassionate and kind. I am going to speak gently and tenderly to my children. Two minutes later, I blast them. Their faces look plastered with shock at my poorly chosen words. Sorry?

I also whisper to the Lord, “I am humble. I want to walk in low places with you.” Ten minutes later, I think, “I could have done that ten times better.” Whoops! 

I try to move towards gentleness and patience, saying, “Watch out world!” Halfway through the day, I am tapping my toe and giving the evil eye to the car that’s moving at a snails pace.” Go figure.

What God calls me to put on – falls off halfway through the day.

Ever noticed this happens to you? Every wondered why?

I’ve noticed, I put on the shell of good acts, but what lays under is empty. Underneath, I have not layered myself up, with God, so I can endure the cold times of my day. This discourages us. It causes me to think, “I can never do this Christian faith thing,” “I will always fail” or “There’s no use for me.”

Do you feel like there is now hope for you too?

Like try you may, but you will always fail?

What if we have it all wrong? I can’t help but think, God didn’t just tell us to “do”, there is a whole other component – a component I often forget about. Take a second look at the first part of that verse above: “Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved…” (Col. 3:12)

First things first, friends.

Embracing the goodness of God, lets you live the goodness of God.

To feel embraced, you must layer up:

Layer 1: You are chosen. God picked you. He wanted you. He will use you. He has plans for you.

Layer 2: You are holy. His hanging on the cross, earned your holy status. Nothing can remove that from you.

Layer 3: You are dearly loved. You are loved from above and even when you act dumb, still, you are loved.

As obedient children, do not be conformed to the former lusts which were yours in your ignorance… (1 Pet. 1:14)

As ones internally covered with God’s garment of grace, mercy and love, like children who need what God has, let us draw near to God’s warmth, so we may go to the cold places of the world.

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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

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

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.

 

 

 

When Life Goes Not Good, Not Good at all!

Not Good at all

I love Annie’s all-chocolate graham cracker bunnies and only the all-chocolate graham cracker bunnies.

At this point, you are probably asking 2 questions:

  1. Why is she telling us this?  I promise there will be a good point.
  2. Why is she eating something so childish as that? Because I try to pretend my kids love them.

So, sometimes, with these all-chocolate graham bunnies, they run out of stock (probably because they are so amazing). Then I have to settle for the mixed bag – with vanilla and chocolate chips. I try to pick out my favorites. But, my all-time fave bunnies, well, they don’t taste the same- the other flavors rub off on them.

Almost every time, after I do that, I vow not to buy that mixed bag again. But, yesterday, I did. My sugar craving won over bad memories.

When I sat down with the bag at home, I considered…

What if I saw things differently?

What if rather than expecting that these bunnies taste exactly as planned,
I expect a different plan,

but not an all-together bad plan?

What if rather than pushing my demands,
I open myself up to delight in these bunnies as they are – in a new way?

I can accept:

They won’t be as flavorful as before, but different.
They won’t crunch exactly the same, but different.
They won’t be my all-chocolate bunnies; but different.

I crunched, munched and considered them a whole bunch…and by golly, I liked them. I really liked them. I do like green egg and ham, or rather the vanilla-coated chocolate bunnies in my hand.

If I failed to consider them from a new angle,
I would have failed to grasp the joy present in the moment.

How might you need to see things from a new angle?

What might God be prompting you to let go of – so you can grab hold of – a new view?

Times change. People move on. Days look different. Life evolves, turns and seasons change. And what I find can be the hardest thing to contend with are good times, gone. Good memories, lost. Good laughs, evaporated.

What is it you are still grasping for – that is long gone?

Might you consider a new angle?

Perhaps what is good is gone, because what is great – is coming.

Have you considered that?

See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?
I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland. Is. 43:19

When we look at a job as dead-end, we miss the little path God has jutting out to a new opportunity. When we see a marriage as failed, we miss the rail that leans us onto God’s great love. When we see finances as doomed, we miss the door God wants to open to save us. When we see our anxiety as endless, we miss the small prompting of new life God calls us to. When we see life only as overwhelming, we miss the wind of God directing us where to go.

What are you missing?

Maybe something has taken new form because God wants your heart to take new form.

We are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit. 2 Cor. 3:18

Next time something seems lost, paused or different than expected, ask yourself these three things:

  1. Might God be doing “a new thing”?
  2. Am I open armed or closed armed to his movement?
  3. Will I believe that God is moving me from glory to glory,
    or will I walk against his wind, trying to step back into an old story?

Friends, I know it is hard. I hate it too. I stomp my feet, I chide change and I turn my back on things outside of comfortable. But, I am going to assure you – and me – we are not sitting with a mixed bag of blah. What we are sitting with is a bag of blessings. God is moving us into spiritual progress, greater spiritual blessings. There is fullness God so desires we enjoy.

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7 Ways to Speak Grace Into Your Life

God Will Punish

Every week, after church, I ask my son what song he sang. I wait. Half the time, I get no answer, the other half, I exert patience until he starts to belt it out from the back of the car.  Almost always, a smile spreads across my face. Almost always, I can’t wait to hear his little voice reflect on God, but this time, it was different…

“Pat, the bible. Pat the bible….,” he sang out a couple of times….
“Or, you will get a con. se. quence.” he finished off.

Every time he sang it, it got a little louder, until the full volume of his voice filled the car. Sister joined in. It’s been the song of the week.

God will punish

Is it the song of my life?

Why do I pat the bible?

Do I do it out of love or do I do it out of fear?

Do I draw near to God, because I fear God’s disapproval or
to sit under Jesus’ undue, but already-gifted approval?

To perform, due to fear of disapproval sounds like this:

– I must pray more.
– I really need to be more loving.
– I have to do my morning reading time.
– God won’t bless this.
– I will never meet his expectations of me.
– I will be less loved because of it.
– I am obligated to go to church.
– If I mess up, severe punishment awaits.
– I am a bad Christian.

God will punish

I feel these ways sometimes, friends. I fear God will want to disown me because I haven’t paid the right Christian dues. I haven’t paid the piper enough. It is a horrible way to live; it serves the wrong kind of daddy – an impatient, punishing and demanding one.

“Pat the bible. Pat the bible – or you will get a con. se. quence.”

“The LORD is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and rich in love.” (Psalm 145:8)

God knows I sin. God knows, even my good acts are bad (Is. 64:6).

I know it too; this is my fear. I look at my heart, it strays. I look at my mind, it doubts. I look at my ways, they reek of impatience.

God, do you hate me for the ways I hate myself?

There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love. (1 Jo. 4:18)

With gentleness, these words remind me, He waits for me – not like a jailer, but like a releaser, with the key. He’s ready to fling wide the gates of outpouring love as I truly draw near to his heart. To get there, I have to find myself sitting under grace.

To sit under undue approval sounds like this:

I am sorry, God. Thank you that you still love me.
I don’t need to do anything, for it is only you that I need.
If I find your love, I will find my life.
I seek your Word, because I love your Words.
My best is not good, but your good is all I need.
Your kindness leads to repentance, so walk me to it, God. (Ro. 2:4)
Thank you that you continue to love me, even though…

God will punish

The gentle truth is: God doesn’t look at our performance, he looks at our heart. He goes beyond curtains and stages and facades to get a look at the behind the scenes footage. Why not, let God in more?

Why not, lay down our shows?  Sure, we won’t rule the hows or the whens, but God will mold us in the reflection of his face of love and adoration.

Getting “Good with Grace” Prayer

God, I am not who I pretend to be. I want you to see me as a good girl. So often, I feel like a bad girl, though. Thank you that, with you, there is no need for masks and makeup. You want to see me as I am; I don’t scare you. You can handle my worst as I bring it to you. With this, I no longer want to cower before you, I want to kneel – arms-wide-open – and look into your face of love. I want that face of love to change me. I want to know there is no fear present in your love that will always flow towards me. I want to sit under the cross of Jesus, knowing that it shades me from your contempt. Help me stay there. You are the face of freedom. I thank you for Jesus.  I love you; may it prove genuine. Amen.

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Extending The Benefit of Grace

The Benefit of Grace

I’ve noticed, I am the type that reacts:
A person says something slightly offensive. I take it personally.
My friend makes a comment on how I can improve. I feel thrown off.
My husband gives a suggestion. I get sensitive.

I have noticed this internally too:
I mess up. I get angry at myself–even after I have confessed it.
I get far from God. I burden myself with things I must do to get closer.
I get distracted from people and life. I feel that coming back around to them will be hard.

It all comes down to doubt, doesn’t it? Doubt that God is good enough to handle my baseline fears. Doubt that God will come through when I can’t. Doubt that I really can be better than I am today, right?

Doubt is the undercurrent that drags us away from God.
Doubt is the driver of most dumb moves.
Doubt is the deliverer of the desperate to dealings with the devil.

I know this sounds extreme, but it is true. Push Jesus 5 steps away from your heart and that is a 5-step opportunity for the opponent to rush in to make you question everything.

We tend to believe in this thing called,
“the benefit of the doubt,”

but I think what we really need to believe in is
“the benefit of grace.”

That person cuts you off on the road. “She must be having a hard day. God bless her as she drives home.” 
Benefit of Grace!

That supposed friend ignores you at church. “Perhaps she has her own fears. Maybe I can send her an email and check in.”
Benefit of Grace!

That kid again doesn’t listen. “Hmm…it is not that they don’t respect me, but it’s that they want to have a little say. Let me remind them of God’s love and his never ending source of power in them a little later.”
Benefit of Grace!

That man wants to be a show off and be prideful again. “Maybe he so fears loss of control, he has to overcompensate by having all control. Affirm him.”
Benefit of Grace!

I did that thing I didn’t want to do. Now, I can’t ever let it go. “Jesus already let it go on the cross. He keeps no record of wrongs. He waits for you.”
Benefit of Grace!

I am far from God. It is all my fault. I have no idea what to do. “Jesus knows this too; he is not angry with me. He waits and hopes that I can draw near and find his love.”
Benefit of Grace!

Finding the benefit of grace, means we finding a wellspring of peace. Discouragement gets covered by the sacrifice of Living Water and we wade in the encouragement that this hope brings. 

Grace makes us see perspectives differently.

With grace, we notice:
God works far better than we ever could.
The small thing he’s doing, rather than what we’re ruining.
We build into relationships, rather than destroy them.
Our hope for the hopeless situation – and a will to continue on.

We notice that mistakes, errors and offenses aren’t beacons of our future,
but undercover blessings helping us to forge trust that lasts.

Stepping back means we get to see God’s restoration step in, both in our lives and in the life of another.

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Move From Detrimental Fear to Reverential Awe

detrimental fear

What is most effective thing at stopping someone?

Fear.

It makes you sleepless and hurried and doubting and fretting.
It makes you freeze like a statue of uncertainty in the face of family issues.
It makes you lash out at those you love because of how they’re treating you.
It makes you avoid truth, because you can’t handle facing it.
It makes you not want to leave your house, breaking at the thought of happenstance situations.
It makes you turn from the face of God towards the face of your man-made solutions.
It makes you run ineffective circles to try to calm and fix yourself.
It makes you quiet when you know you should be speaking out.
It makes you grab on to those you love in unhealthy ways.
It makes you a worrier, an anxiety ball and a mangled line of hooks that hurt.
It makes you a spectator and not an promoter of Christ Jesus.
It makes you forget God and remember self.
It makes you takes your “this little light of mine” – and hide it under a bushel.

Have you ever considered?

Perhaps fear is the exact place the enemy wants you to be.

For then, you won’t see God. You will miss him only to see the shape of dark clouds taking form over your head. You’ll see them move, like a harbinger of all you don’t want to happen, they’ll consume your eyes with the possibilities and then divert them from the one moving them all along. Suddenly, you become so fixated on colors of dark and shadows of gray, you become certain you are alone, unprepared and ready to be drenched.

Yet, all this while, what you did not realize, is that the Lord, with his clouds and his movement, was creating a dramatic masterpiece in this sky. Perhaps, he was just showing his ownership of everything below it. Perhaps, he was showing his ability to water the world, not to ruin it. To create new seeds, not to demolish them.

What will we see? How will we see it?

But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favor with God. Lu. 1:30

Truth is – you can’t follow fear – and the Lord – with the same fervency.

You can’t be a shiner and a hider.
A complainer and a worshiper.
A victor and a cowerer.
A force and a fort of self-protection.

You will either be thrilled by God
or thrilled into shock of all that surrounds you.

You will either walk on water, keeping your eyes steadfast,
or you will sink fast into the waters around you.

You will either walk by faith, and not by sight
or your sight will become marred, mangled and, ultimately, blind.

You will either be determined, diligent and dedicated to the race or you will fall on the sidelines.

Small choices make all the difference.

Think Judas. This disciple took his own life.
Think David. He fell right into adultery.
Think of Lot’s wife. She looked back towards sin, and became a pillar of salt.

Fear makes a whole lot of people do a whole lot of things they never wish they did –
but still, they did.

We have a decision to make.

Will we move nowhere in fear, or will we move somewhere – even towards the face of God – in spite of it?

Is this too intense for you? Maybe this is the point, intense is what we need. Intense is what we crave. Intense is what we have to be to fight back intense.

Intense times call for intense measures.

I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth. Rev. 3:15-16

Never let your mind forget: God is not a fan “I fall somewhere in the middle.”

He is a fan of small movement towards something different, of small beginnings, of pivots…and he is a tremendous fan of you …

A big fan.
A huge fan.
A fan that he wants watching his game.
The game of encouragement, hope and life.
The game that will rise you out of your seat and make you chant his name.
That is the game that counts – the one to watch.
The one where its fans get a little roudy – on his behalf.
The one that never ends.
The one that looks bad, but ends well.
If you watch this star, you are sure going to win.
You are sure going to make strides.
You are sure going to do his will.
You are sure going to find hope.
You are sure going to be sure.
You are sure to be equipped.
You are sure to be carried through.
You are sure to get all you need.

“Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews?
We saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.” Mt. 2:2

The star in the East.
​It hits us.
Dropping us first to our knees.
In submission to the magnitude
of the force that is forcing nature to move.
Then it raises us up in worship,
it beckons us to look high,
to notice what is high,
to take notice of our lows,
and to thank God for this glow.
Our hearts are compelled to worship,
and worship him we do,
then our feet move to follow.
They follow to the place,
a place we don’t know,
but he does,
and that is all that matters,
for he is there,
the beating love of Jesus.
And he waits for our will to want him,
to pursue,
to arrive,
to be,
for then we can
breathe it in
and consume every part of goodness.
We can inhale love
and exhale grace.
And when we do,
nothing is ever the same again.

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5 Ways to Beat Defeating Thoughts

Defeating Thoughts

Trends.

What is trending in your life?

Where is the tide of your emotions moving?

Where is that one current that you can’t seem to get past?

For me, it has been thinking that I am not good enough. It has been thinking that I stand on the brink of “mistake” that will send me careening to quick destruction in no time. It has been listening to destructive criticism that simply wants to wash me up shore, breathless, nearly lifeless and without a rescuer.

If I am not a better mother, this kid won’t end up liking me much.
If I can’t stop being quick to speak, I am never going to make strides.
If I don’t live pleasing people, I will never be happy.
If I fall to mean speaking, I am a shame-wrecked failure.
If I live for selfishness, I am a faith-wrecked failure.

Do you know what is trending? It is easy to let our thoughts move like passing clouds, without giving them a second chance. But, stop, today. Think, today. Don’t just move with the wind of your life. Lean in to what your thoughts are working within, so that you can work out what God wants to push out.

What voice inside your mind speaks judgement over enlightenment?
Disappointment over God’s appointment?
Punishment over realignment?

Our voices inside shape our voices outside.

Defeating Thoughts

“You’re not a good mom” produces a snappy chide spoken to the kid asking for water.
“You speak in all the wrong way,” produces a defensive comeback.
“You deserve punishment,” produces guilt that makes me want to hide.
“You will never make others happy,” produces a why-bother attitude that no one wants to be around.
“I will always be selfish and I can’t stop sinning,” produces defeat that turns around to wave hello to more sin.

Our voices inside shape our voices outside (I am saying this twice for a reason).

They have the power to flip relationships 
inside, outside and upside-down – for either good or for bad.

What thought has been plaguing you? Stop. Seek. Look. Press in. Think.
Passing glances produce lasting problems.

God doesn’t leave us on the side of the road, an anxious hitchhiker, with no one around to bring us to his destination of promise, fulfillment, enjoyment, safe pastures and comfort. He doesn’t ride by, wave at us, and scream “Don’t be anxious about anything – continue on and good luck!”

God tells us instead to:

1. Rejoice. Find worship – and you will find worry is no longer convicts you as an guilty bystander. (Phil 4:6)

2. Pray. Pray the name of God, pray the hope of glory, pray against evil temptation (to think negatively), seek wisdom and pray, “Help me!” (Phil 4:6)

3. Ask. God tells us to pray and then he tells us to ask (Phil 4:6). Point is: Keep on praying, asking, pleading and then go about believing. Repeat.

4. Give thanks (Phil 4:6). If you are saying thank you, you can’t be saying, “I hate my life.”

5. Focus on what deserves focusing: what is true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent or praiseworthy, not once but continually – and then continually focus there again. (Phil. 4:8)

When we get stuck in the place of worship,
we find ourself stuck on the mind and the heart of God.

It is no wonder that God explicitly tells us in his ever-redeeming and reconstructing Word that for one who keeps with this momentary, hourly or daily process that the peace of God will show up, literally transcending understanding to guard their hearts in Christ Jesus (Phil 4:7).

When we submit to God’s ways, he shields ours.

What do you need to submit? Rejoice, pray, ask, thank, and make your mind-prose “praiseworthy”. 

This means asking yourself:

Is saying “I am a bad mom”, is that a “praiseworthy” thought bringing glory to God?”
Is saying, “Things will never improve”, is that a “praiseworthy” thought bringing glory to God?
Is saying, “I will never stop sinning,” is that a “praiseworthy” thought bringing glory to God?
Is saying, “I deserve punishment,” is this a “praiseworthy” thought bringing glory to God?

If not, get yourself back to step 1. Pray for sanctification of all things entering in your mind.
Because, what you let in, will work into every crevice of your day.

We look at a glass of water you see, and we say, “Ehh…what we can’t see won’t hurt us. What is small, shouldn’t make a difference.” But, what we miss is the fact that there is clear poison dropped in that glass. If you knew that, would you drink it?

No. And so it goes with our thoughts.

Small poison = big negative results.
Small poison = a heavy and hardened heart.
Small poison = an angry, bitter, victimized or jealous spirit.

But, Jesus. Did you hear that? But Jesus. Even if we have been guzzling poison, he rushes in with the antidote. 

Jesus said, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. Mt. 9:12

With no slaps, whacks or breaking of our backs, he heals up what we let in, so that we can move out through his faith and through real transformation, sanctification and reformation of our mind. 

Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Ro. 12:2

For me? I will remember, my family and friends and my God – they love me. I am secure in Jesus’ love. I am a sinner sinning, being rescued by a Savior saving. My God is good. This is praiseworthy!

When we think like this, we live no longer as a hitchhiker seeking our next best ride to some unknown land, but we watch on as God escorts us to transformation. A place where green pastures of peace and resulting fruit are plentiful.

Breathe deep. What could be better than that?

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