Purposeful Faith

Category - Obeying

Acts of Kindness Matter

Acts of Kindness Matter

There is power in the unseen acts of a friend.

Not so long ago, I had been delivered soul-crushing news.
News that gave me a new revelation of the past.
News that made me wonder if I was still good, worthy and valuable.

It made me see myself in a new light. It was I-don’t-know-if-I-can-handle-it type news.

I knew God says, “They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.” (Lam. 3:23)

But, did God really have faithfulness stored in this?

It seemed this news, this turmoil, and this trouble now excluded me from His promises.

Attempting to push past feelings, I called out to God with all my heart, saying, “Come Lord. Save me in this situation. Heal me and help me.”

Shockingly, as I drove up my driveway later that morning, something caught my eye. A white as snow gift-wrapped box leaned against my garage door.

I couldn’t find a name, but when I opened it and was awe-struck with its contents. What it contained inside changed my entire perspective.

It was as if the very heart of God was delivered to me in a box. It was as if a giant hug and a note of his faithfulness was sent.

Inside lay a picture frame with the words, “The LORD will fight for you; you need only to be still.” (Ex. 14:14)

These words were the exact message that I needed; they healed my heart and spoke to the depths of my pain.  I was touched by God, but I was so deeply touched by the love poured out by a friend.

She had been used as an angel of God that day.
She never sought recognition or acclaim.
She had no idea of my pain, but did a nice act all the same.

What she probably doesn’t know is that this act meant all the difference. It changed my vision. 

It wasn’t about her recognition or acclaim. She had no knowledge regarding my issue – but, all the same, she offered a gesture of love. Love that was sacrificial, that took her time, that used her money, but that healed a heart.

I was brought to my knees. I was touched. I felt so loved.

I don’t know who this woman is. I may never know. But, what I do know is that God has special rewards for her in heaven. I also know that she taught me a lesson in friendship that day.

She makes me wonder:

Do I go out of my way to make small acts of love?
Do I give my time and money intentionally?
Do I see the friend who is likely hurting?
Do I shower them with advice or do I love them under the radar?

This friend inspires me to love through the power of God. Because friends are often the messengers of God’s faithfulness. I want to deliver Jesus’ messages.

Small acts of kindness do matter and love does conquers all. Friends are the best vehicles for his love, mercy and grace. They drive his truth home in our hearts.

Small acts of kindness matter; they completely transform lives.

“Friendship is unnecessary, like philosophy, like art… It has no survival value; rather it is one of those things that give value to survival.” – C.S. Lewis

“The next best thing to being wise oneself is to live in a circle of those who are.” – C.S. Lewis

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Actually Keep your New Year Resolutions

Keep Your New Year Resolutions

Lose weight. Work out. Be patient. Act kind. Grow closer to God. Stop a bad habit. Is it possible to actually keep your New Year resolutions?

We all want to be better, act better and do better – but often our well-intentioned resolutions – end up as New Year illusions, leaving us tied up in confusion.  We wonder where we went wrong? How we dropped the ball?

Many times, it’s easier to altogether avoid New Year claims then to deal with the fear of their pending shame.

But, Christ doesn’t model stagnant living.
And, he certainly doesn’t call us to avoid improving because we fear losing.

So, how can we truly change?

In my mind, I want to change, but my heart fears that I can’t. I fear I’ll drop the ball. I fear that my dreams will become just that – dreams – unattainable distant images. So I raise a wall of indifference out of fear that I’ll let both God and myself down down.

As always, the Lord doesn’t remain silent when truth needs to be grasped. And, in his always-faithful way, he answers saying, “Look! I am placing a foundation stone in Jerusalem, a firm and tested stone. It is a precious cornerstone that is safe to build on. Whoever believes need never be shaken.” (Is. 28:16)

And, it’s just this cornerstone that makes all the difference. It’s this stone that holds it all together.  It’s the foundation.  The stone that prevents everything from falling.

It’s the stone that holds me together. It’s the stone that will be my foundation. It’s the stone that cements all resolutions.  The one that allows the entire structure to stand firm. The one that we can build upon safely. The cornerstone – Christ Jesus.  

What is the foundation of your resolutions?  Is it your own work?  Your own might?  Your own strength?

Or, do you rely on the stone that will never let you be put to shame (1 Peter 2:6)?

The stone that let’s hard work stand.

Because the truth is, without Christ, all resolutions disintegrate.
By ourselves, we will crack, chip and crumble.
In our own strength, we’ll build foundations of quicksand.
Quicksand that will swallow up all our well-intentioned efforts.

For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ. (1 Cor. 3:11)

Many of my own works, desires and New Year pursuits have been built on my own goals, ideas and dreams – rather than the foundation of the Lord. In this, they were almost all destined to fail.

Build your Resolutions Upon a Firm Foundation

This year, my resolutions will be built upon a firm foundation. A foundation that is completely reliant on the chief cornerstone. A foundation of intentions that are derived from him, focused on him and rooted in my trust of him.

Because if they aren’t – all resolutions will quake to the floor – and the only resolution that I will be left with is a resolution to clean up a mess of well-intentioned goals.  

Christ changes it all though. With Christ as a foundation, our buildings are secure, established and indestructible. Yet, without him, our work is in vain.

“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)

  • We can safely build upon the cornerstone, by seeking the will of the cornerstone – Christ Jesus – in our lives.
  • We can safely build upon the cornerstone by submitting ourselves to his work.
  • We can safely build upon the cornerstone by asking for his help daily.
  • We can safely build upon the cornerstone by embracing his grace when we start to slip.

Then, at the end of the day – when we gaze at the Lord’s work, we will marvel at it’s beauty. Rightfully and naturally, all glory and honor will go to him – the master carpenter, who builds in perfection.  

It won’t be vain or about our glory – or our demise – but it will be all about the ultimate builder.  The one who builds beauty, holiness and eternal structures of significance.

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Duped by Darkness

God does not desert us

Darkness can be alluring. It calls us, saying, “You won’t get hurt. Come and see what I have for you. Go your own way. No one will ever know. No one will see you.”

But often, what we hide in the dark ends up snagging us, catching us and having us for dinner. What we think is carefully hidden away, bites us when we least expect it.

It reminds me of the story of Little Red Riding Hood. She was cute. She was adventurous. She had good intentions. She was bringing delicious food to a sweet old grandmother, after all. It doesn’t get much more honorable than that!

Eager to give, happy to serve and ready to love – she was the ideal target for a hungry wolf. A wolf hiding and waiting to snatch her, so that she could not live out her calling.

He succeeded. Because our adorable Little Red Riding Hood, skipping with her basket of fruit, jumped at the chance to do things her own way…

…Continue reading this story at (in)Courage.  You will love where this story leads!

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Labor vs. Love

Post by: Katy

With the Thanksgiving feast only a few weeks away I can’t help but think about the feast preps made famous by Jesus. One feast that two women treated completely different. One woman loved. The other labored.

Jesus’ disciple, Luke, recorded the exchange: Martha invited Jesus into her home then went to work. But her labor peeled her away from His presence. Mary, consumed by her Savior, chose to sit at His feet.

Labor cumbered Martha. Love consumed Mary.

I can’t blame Martha. I imagine her chopping away in the kitchen thinking, “If I don’t do this, who will? Somebody has to do it!” Her chops grew harder. Her blood boiled a little hotter then finally, “That’s it!” she silently screamed.

“And she went up to him [Jesus] and said, ‘Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her then to help me.'” Luke 10:40 (ESV)

Woah. Crazy lady alert. Can you see her standing in the doorway, hand on hip, jaw clenched, tapping her foot? In this story it’s easy to spot the girl gone wild and her major misstep. Hello! Jesus is in your living room! And you’re complaining about what? Sit down and shut up already!

But if I give it a minute to soak in, this picture hits uncomfortably close to my home. Look at these two gals. Martha stands for chaos, frustration, fatigue. Mary points to a calm, peaceful, purposeful presence. I want to be Mary, but when there’s much to be done it’s hard to choose love over labor. The key word there is choose. Love, often mistaken for a feeling, is actually a choice.

Love serves with a smile as her thoughts swirl around who her hands will serve and how they will benefit. Labor grinds with a grumble as she stands preoccupied with what must be done.

In the very midst of writing this post, opportunity knocked.

My toddler alerted me to the mess with squeals of despair. I hurried around the corner to find him on his back in a growing puddle of water. By the time I arrived, an overflowing toilet bowl had turned the bathroom into a wade pool and threatened to expand into the hallway. I have no clue about plumbing, so I couldn’t make the water stop gushing over the edge. I pushed, pulled and twisted everything on the toilet that moved. Finally, I jammed a bottle of hand soap under something.

I lovingly mopped up the minor flood, piled the sopping towels in the middle of the bathroom, shut the door and ordered no one to use that bathroom until Daddy got home.

No, we did not all have a hearty laugh in the midst of the bathroom fiasco, but we did escape the chaos caused by panic, raised voices, and an overwhelmed spirit. We worked together. The big boys gathered towels and helped the little ones grab a snack.

No, I did not feel like smiling and speaking softly as the kids galloped through the water like I intentionally put it there for them to splash through; but the choice to love made the moment easier to manage.

My Jesus, may my chore never become greater than your choice to love me first, so that I may love. (1 John 4:19)

Leave a Comment! Who do you identify most with? Mary or Martha? Why?

I’d love to hear from you friend!

Sincerely, Katy

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

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

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How to Run Hard for the Lord

How to run hard for the Lord

God doesn’t answer based on what we want, he answers based on what we need.

We may think we need peace and he says no, you need trials. We may think we need joy – he says perseverance.  We may think blessings – he says endurance.  We may think money – he says contentment.  We may think appreciation – he says love.

I was on the hunt for “encouragement”…

After my “big rejection”, an amazing friend who is wise beyond her years, strong in the Lord and faithful to his call, sent me this verse:

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us.”  Hebrews 12:1

I think she wanted to encourage me in my race, to help me with endurance, but what God revealed was something far deeper and even more convicting.  Let me explain…

I love a good race.  I love competing and I love pushing through my personal barriers physically and mentally. I get the idea of running a race for the Lord.  Why?

I feel ready to give it all. I feel ready to explode off the starting line and to push no matter what my body feels.  I want to arrive at the gate of heaven and fall in front of my King with a fast beating heart, with sweat on my brow. I want to fall before him out of breath, knowing I gave it all.  I don’t want to have an ounce of push left.

I want this so badly.  But still, I get caught looking at the sidelines. I look at the crowds of people telling me to follow them, I look at my own inadequacies and I pump my arms with pride.

God knows this.  He sees this. And, as any fine coach would do – to make me the best runner for his kingdom – he trains me. He pushes me.  He sends me through hard training days; days with some pain – some trials. These trials serve to mold me into a champion runner for his kingdom.  They strip me of my own ways and the world’s ways – to make me more like him, the ultimate champion.

Even so, sometimes I wonder, despite all this, why I still slow down?

And, this was why Hebrews 12:1 was so powerful.  It was this part…“Let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up.”  

God bugged me with this verse to see that: I can’t run loaded with weight.  I have a part in this race.

Sin weight slows me down.  It trips me up.  It keeps me from Him.

And, when sin is strapped on, its burden is heavy.  It’s consuming. It stops us in our tracks. It distracts us and trips us up.  We can try to pretend it is not there, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t.  

God is faithful to keep bugging us to address it.  When we do, we grow.  If we don’t, we fall.

I may have been trying to run a “victory”, but sometimes a “failure or a disappointment” ends up being the greatest “victory”. Why? Because as we fail, we can see our own faults and we hear him whispering, “Confess.”

I didn’t want trials.  I didn’t want pain.  I didn’t want rejection.  I didn’t want humiliation.

God said, “It’s not about you. Confess.”

I confess Lord, I have sinned.  I want all of you.  I can’t mentally pursue the race you have set before me when my mind is weighed down by my own desires and my own sin.

It is easy to want joy, peace, contentment and blessings.  It is easy to want encouragement and motivation, but God is operating from the throne of all knowledge, all power and all sovereignty.  In his seat, he sees yesterday, today and tomorrow.  He knows precisely what we need to finish our race. He knows precisely what will hold us back from finishing.

He wants us to be champions. He wants us to run with speed and power and strength.
He wants us to finish strong and joyful. 

We are more than just conquerors in Christ Jesus.

What baggage holds you back?  What do you need to confess?  What trials might God be using to train you?

When we confess, God has a greater gift in store.  The gift of speed and endurance that helps us run our race unencumbered.  

You are Likely Making These 3 Prideful Mistakes.

The 3 Mistakes:

1.  We run to be first.  While Jesus sits and says “be last”.

Sitting down, Jesus called the Twelve and said, “Anyone who wants to be first must be the very last, and the servant of all.” Mark 9:35

When we join Jesus, and sit down by his side, we tend to rely on him.  He is faithful to take care of us as we listen, relax and trust him.  When we just enjoy his presence, he equips us with all we need to serve others.  What an honor.

2.  We show off who we are, so we appear the star.

In the same way, you who are younger, submit yourselves to your elders. All of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because, “God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble.” 1 Peter 5:5  

“Pride” has it all together, needs no one and appears perfect.  “Humble” comes open to receive, ready to listen and eager to change. Is it any wonder that God shows favor to the humble?

3.  We fear the world, our finances, our husband, our wife, our health, our kids, our work.  We fear everything, but the Lord.

Fear of the LORD is the foundation of true knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and discipline. Proverbs 1:7

Fear of the Lord means that we know who is sovereign.  We know who rules. We know who reigns – and we relinquish our reigns as we trust that he will provide.

When we trust in our own work and our own efforts we are left empty, lonely and tired.  Let’s turn towards the King and confess our hearts.  Let’s approach our friends and family with authentic hearts.  Let’s seek to lift the Lord on high rather than our own accomplishments.

When we stop making prideful mistakes, a true sense of self God awakes.

Rules are His Tools

“Mikey, don’t stand on Maddie’s stroller.  Mikey, step down.  Michael, now!”  He looks at me and steps up higher and higher, until he starts to lose balance.  When I see the stroller tip backward and Mikey slam on to the ground, my heart drops.  If only he listened.

His sad eyes look up at me. Through the tears he asks, “Mommy, why?  Why did I fall? Why did you let me Mommy?”

I want to grab him and yell, “Because I told you to get down.  Why didn’t YOU listen to me?”  But instead I say, “I am sorry you fell.  I love you, little Mikey.  It is important to listen to mommy.  I am watching out for you when I tell you things. I want you to be safe.”  I give him a hug.

How often are we like Mikey?  How often do we push the boundaries just a little bit more?  We think, I can get away with this – I’ll be ok.  We want to do things our way.  We fool ourselves.   We think God isn’t watching.  We think he won’t punish us.  We think we can work our way around consequences with a little smart thinking.  We think that grace will just entirely cover us, so we are okay.  But, even though by grace we are secure in heaven and with God, consequences to our actions do arrive.  When they do, like Mikey, we often look up at God and say, “Why God?  Why did this happen? Why did you allow it?”

In many ways, we never grow up.  We are on the verge of tipping over our own life strollers because, in the moment, it feels worth it.  We step up, just a little higher, right to the very edge.  Why?  Because, many times, we view God’s commands as restrictions – rules – set in place to hold us back from fun, pleasure or relief.  These “rules” rain on our parade. We step up a little higher on our strollers; we take the risk.  Let’s see what happens!

Then, we down we fall.  We fall flat on our face and we feel hurt.  Like Mikey, we tend to miss the point of parental guidance entirely.

God lovingly, laid down directions for our lives to keep us in areas of safety.  He doesn’t want us to drive into places of fear, pain, and consequence.  He gives us a roadmap, so we can drive with an idea of where we are headed.  With this, we know exactly how to get there and what is involved.  He informs us of the places we shouldn’t venture.  Why?  Because we may get hurt, we may encounter bad people or we may get stuck.   We may even miss our destination entirely if we go our own way.  His directions are not given to demand his way, like an authoritarian dad.  His directions keep us from pain, shame, guilt and regret.  Even more, they are to offer us joy, fulfillment and purpose as we trust him.

He offers us the route to help us in our commute because he loves us.  If only we would actually see it this way.  We see his commands as rules, he sees them as tools.  Tools to help us, to guide us and to keep us in places of contentment, peace and purpose.

When we drive within the lines of the boundaries he has set, we will find safety.  We will live lives that are focused and purposeful.  As a result, we will effectively love God and love others more because we are not walking around as hurt vessels.  We are walking as loved children who are protected and secure in the path that God has set before us.

Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right.  “Honor your father and mother” (this is the first commandment with a promise),  “that it may go well with you and that you may live long in the land.”  (Ephesians 6:1-3)

But the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing. (James 1:25)

God has perfect directions, or laws, for our lives.   Let’s keep our strollers upright as we walk hand in hand with God towards the destinations he has set before us.

 

 

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