Purposeful Faith

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5 Ways to Bear Amazing Fruit in and through you

Bear Amazing Fruit

I bit into a nectarine. It was straight from the rural farms of deliciousness. As I bit down, sweetness with undertones of sour exploded. Frankly, it tasted like heaven.  I stared, turned it over and over again in my hands and asked, “How could this be? What produces something like this?”

It both looked and tasted like a sunset in my mouth.

Fruit is fruit, but rare is it that it tastes good. Rarely, does it make you want a second and third helping. Rarely, does it leave you holding it, staring it and wondering how something could actually – do that!

Bear Amazing Fruit

“You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit…” Jo. 15:16

If I am supposed to be bearing fruit, does it taste like this?

Like love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control (Gal 5:22-23)?

Or am I producing a watered down and unripened variety? 

People should taste heaven when they encounter me.
They should stand back to consider the power of God – in me – because God stands out – through me.

What I fear, though, is I try to be like everyone else. I fit a mold of Christianity. I hinder God from making me unique. I fear being too great, vocal or in love with Christ. I fear being too much. Do you?

Then, I end up as the ordinary garden variety of grocery chain fruit; I taste average.

Bor-ing… Blah…. Been there done that… It tastes a little lukewarm. Jesus regurgitates those types (Rev. 3:16). I don’t want to be that, I want to be so jaw-dropping, so succulent people  have to step back to consider who could produce this. Imagine that?! Where all people want – is more. More Jesus. More love. More Spirit.

Where they walk on up and say, “Give me some of that!”

I want to hand out “…fruit that will last…” Jo. 15:16
I want to hand out fruit that unites people at a table of love.
I want to hand out fruit with seeds to bear more fruit.

I want people to ask how something like this could happen.

bear amazing fruit

That is what I did. I searched online to see how good fruit is produced. I found practical tips to growing good fruit. But, what grew under each of these practical tips, were God-tips. Tips that would instruct me on how to be flavorful and full of God’s life-changing juice.

Tips to Growing Good Fruit*:

1. Place them in direct sun.
Get in the light of God’s word. Let it grow you.

2. Make sure they have shelter from high winds.
Dwell in safe places: Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.” Ps. 91:1

3. Add compost or manure to the soil.
Pray that your heart is open to change and you’ll have the courage to endure as he does.

4. Give them support, netting or canes.
Lean up against God: “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” Mt. 11:28

5. Cut off the top of the plants.
Let God shape you, even when it hurts: “He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful.” Jo. 15:2

bear amazing fruit

Simply said: Let God water you straight into delicious. Then, the world will take a bite and fight to know how God makes something that good. They will hear, and peace will reign. Your fruit will produce fruit.

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Source: https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/gardening-blog/2010/may/18/growing-tomatoes-tips

5 Ways to Deal with Self-Seekers

self-seekers

She threw out the eloquent answer before I could even breathe a letter. This girl pre-empted my open mouth with just the right juicy tidbit. It moved like a hot juicy bone in front of a dog. Except, this dog was my boss. He bit and savored it all – bite by bite.

I squinted. She knew what she was doing…she was trying to one-up me –  again. She always did. She had a bag full of treats.

She went to the boss’ office first thing in the morning with coffee.
She walked the halls to talk to the “important” people.
She sent emails that carbon copied the whole world and their bosses bosses.
She sat down in the chair right next to me, without even saying hi.
She rose her shoulders and typed away…

You know the type:

One who will do anything to get in with the right people.
One who keeps a count on who matters and who doesn’t.
One who doesn’t like you so much for you, but what you can do.
One who will step on your face to reach a little bit higher…

A Self-seeker.

What do you do with those types?

Jesus encountered them too.

Judas. (Luke 22)
Self-seeker.
Cash was king. Jesus was his disposable means to obtain it.

Pilate. (Luke 23:13-23)
Self-seeker.
He chose popular acclaim, so as not to have to endure public disdain.

The thing about self-seekers is, many times, they think their maneuvers are sly and under the radar, but they aren’t. They are as obvious as day and as dubious as night. They really get to me.

I could go on and on about them…but, some wise person, whose face and name I can’t remember, once told me, “If something really irks you about someone else, it is probably because that something is you.”

Am I a self-seeker?

This thought horrifies me. I can’t be like – them. Can I?

Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? Mt. 7:3

My own critical eye boomerangs.

I say, “It’s them.”
God says, “No, Kelly, it’s you.”

I say, “It’s them.
God says, “No, Kelly, it’s you.”

God, even more says: “It is you, my darling, and I don’t tell you this because I want to punish you, but because I want to redeem you.

(The gates of my heart open…)

I tell you this, Kelly, because when you are so set on looking at them, you miss me and you miss how I call you to love. You get bent out of shape instead of molding to my shape. You get protective instead of proactively offering out my best. You head off the rails of mercy and grace.

Be unconcerned with them.
Be uncontrollably infatuated with me.
What is holy.
Blameless.
Righteous.

Over here!

Do you see me?

Your shape will take shape as you do this.
Even if they diss you, I never will.

Even more, Kelly, the opportunity is never found in what you do; the opportunity is me. Plain and simple – I am the ropes set over that impassable river. I am the rubble changed into a road. I am a flicker of light in your darkness. 

Don’t look left, don’t look right, don’t judge others, don’t fight to be heard, don’t act out to be seen, don’t fear, don’t worry…I AM the I AM.”

And so it is settled.

Starting today, I will:
1. Thank God for them.
2. Ask God for eyes to see from their perspective.
3. Give graciously to them.
4. Keep my focus on the wrongs within my own heart.
5. Pray that God fills both their heart – and mine – with security and assurance in him.

And, finally, I will turn to God and say, “I am sorry.”

Forgive me for the ways I have tried to get ahead.
Forgive me for my judgement of others.
Help me love those who I am prone to pick apart.
Help me sacrifice as you have, with no strings attached.

Amen.

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Does God Really Care about Me?

Does God really care

Normally I think about all that I am not.

I am not as good as the other girls with big, bright and shiny blogs.
I am not going to ever climb out of my own thoughts that hold me back.
I am not able to succeed because (insert some sort of limitation here).
I am not that great of a mom, I get frustrated too easily.
I am not close enough to my extended family.
I am not going to end up in a good place in that unknown future.
I am not going to end up with good results even if I try hard.

Untitled design (99)

Why bother?!

Ever feel that way?

Then, I come up against God speaking these words to Moses: “I AM WHO I AM.” Ex. 3:14

God speaks with power. And, Moses is a man I like. I imagine him trying to do enough and be enough for his people. I imagine him, like me, probably not feeling all that great – and a whole truckload of doubtful that he’ll really succeed.

To stand against the heat of God’s fire like this – these words would shake me to the core. Not only because I hit up against the blazing hot power of God, but also because they mean something – and do something. They purify insecurities.

I AM WHO I AM.

He is who he says he is.
He will be the one he claims to be.
He is who he is.

These words give me confidence. Because often I tend to think, unknowingly, of the “God who is not”.

The god who is not coming through for me.
The god who is not keeping me happy.
The god who is not showing me all the time his ways.

I can try to hide these feelings under the guise of good-girl Christian (which always drops me off at the word – hypocrite), but I get somewhere when I turn to God and ask, “God, am I really good enough for you to take care of – dysfunctional ol’ me?”

He replies, “I AM WHO I AM.”

He is who he says he is.
He will be who he claims to be.
He is who he is.

He is  – is good.
He is – truth.
He is – power.
He is – strength.

Does God really care?

The devil says who I am not, God says who I am.

Flesh says who I can’t be, God says who I will be in him.

Shame says I am bad, God says I am loved.

Lies speak demise, God says, “Rise.”

Will I believe?

God doesn’t waver. He is not a man that he should fall and skin his knee, he is a king. He doesn’t erase the cross of grace, he died on it to secure eternity for us. He doesn’t delete the signature of our name from his hand, he holds it close to his heart that always beats for us. He doesn’t take back is callings for our lives, he predestines them for us.

He sends us out in unerasable truth:

And Moses said to God, Behold, when I come to the Israelites…What shall I say to them?

And God said to Moses, I Am Who I Am and What I Am, and I Will Be What I Will Be; and He said, You shall say this to the Israelites: I Am has sent me to you! Ex.3:13-14

He sends us out in his love, power and armor. It moves us forward.

Every single time he is at work to bless us.
Every single time he is at work to pave a way for us.
Every single time he is at work to make us more holy.
Every single time he is at work to work in us.
Every single time he is at work to draw us closer to power of his love.

Does God really care?

I AM WHO I AM.

He is who he says he is.
He will be who he claims to be.
He is who he is.

Will we believe – He will do what he said he will do?

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3 Reasons Why You Don’t Need to Conform

Blog Post by Abby McDonald

“Why are you trying to mimic his sound? Your tone is so much better than his.”

My band director’s words surprised me. For one, I wasn’t aware I was copying my fellow band member’s sound. And second, I was also amazed our leader could hear me above the other trumpets in our section.

Even though I was blending with pitch around me, he knew my ability. He didn’t want me to imitate, but to shine in my strength.

Sometimes blending is so much easier, isn’t it? Whether it’s in music or everyday life, we often find ourselves in a culture of sameness. We’re bombarded with messages on social media, billboards and ads telling us success looks this way or that way.

Whether it’s mimicking a flat pitch or jumping on the latest fashion bandwagon, we can’t escape messages about the latest trend. So what do we do? Do we simply give in to the ebb and flow of the culture around us and hope for the best?

For a long time, this is exactly how I lived my life. I was never one to enjoy the spotlight, and having an audience left me searching for the next notes to play.

I thought by hiding behind the loudness of those around me, I was being humble. After all, scripture repeatedly says humility is a strength.

But friends, humility doesn’t mean hiding. Our Creator made us wildly more distinctive than the notes on a scale, and he did so on purpose.

God never intended for us to use humility as an excuse to conform.

He created us to be unique on purpose, for a purpose. We are to be salt and light, and our light is meant to shine from the hilltops, not be shoved under a shade because it doesn’t look the same as others.

So today, I’m giving you three reasons not to conform. I’m giving you permission to shine in your distinct calling and gifts, no matter what they are.

  1. Our uniqueness is a reflection of God. By being ourselves, we are glorifying our Creator. We are putting his work on display for others to see. (1 Pet. 2:9)
  1. Filling our place in his Kingdom brings unity. Somewhere along the way, we’ve bought into the notion that unity means conformity. But it doesn’t. It means using the strengths we’re given to form one complete body, the Church. (1 Cor. 12:4)
  1. The only one who can fulfill your purpose is you. We often fall into the trap of thinking someone else will say it or do it if we don’t. But God’s calling on our lives is not the same as anyone else’s. He created us for such a place and time as this, and his plans for us are part of a grander story. (Eph. 2:10)

Friends, breaking the mold isn’t easy. Often, we will feel awkward and misunderstood when we pursue the path God has laid out for us.

But can I tell you something? It is worth it. When we fall into the unique rhythm God created us to for, there is nothing like it.

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View More: http://kimdeloachphoto.pass.us/allume2015

Abby McDonald is a writer who can’t contain the lavish love of a God who relentlessly pursues her, even during her darkest times. When she’s not chasing her two little boys around, she loves hiking, photography, and consuming copious amounts of coffee with friends.

Abby would love to connect with you on her blog, Twitter, and Facebook.

10 Bible Verses: How Jesus Prayed

How Jesus Prayed

Last night, as I was booting down the day in prayer, I realized something. Something kind of significant. I figured what it said about me just as important as what I actually believed about prayer.

It struck me that while I often pray to stop worrying, I always pray mid-struggle – in the heat of a thought that has run haywire, like a wire with far too much current and no outlet.  Now, I won’t say by that point it is too late, but I just wonder, why do I wait until that point, rather than getting out in front of it defensively?

Why don’t I build an action plan, a game plan and an attack
to beat down worry before it runs wild?

When we fail to prepare with big preemptive prayers, we prepare like paupers. 

But, when we prepare in advance, not fearing to ask for massive deliverance,
God prepares our hearts in the unimaginable.

Why is it we are afraid to ask for the enormous, the unthinkable and the life-changing?

1. We are scared that our big God will only deliver us small answers and thereby disappoint us.
2. We feel guilty for not praying righteous prayers, so we pray empty prayers.
3. We wonder what we will end up believing about God, if we end up seeing him not come through.
4. We figure that we are somehow supposed to conquer, what God stands ready to.

Yet, Jesus, he teaches us to pray unrestrained, unbelievable and uncensored prayers. Let’s take a look.

10 Bible Verses: How Jesus Prayed

1. But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed. Lu. 5:16

Getting alone gives our mind the white space it needs to conceptualize life-transforming spiritual needs.

2. And going a little farther he fell on his face and prayed, saying, My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will. Mt 26:39

Jesus was not afraid to ask for big deliverance. Our big God can handle big prayers. In fact, he loves a heart that believes by faith he can do all things. Just ask it!

3. My Father, if this cannot pass unless I drink it, your will be done. Mt 26:42 

Jesus knew God’s will takes precedence over earthly will. When we pray, we should let our heart convey needs, yet trust that God ultimately knows what we best need.

4. And rising very early in the morning, while it was still dark. Mk. 1:35

Jesus knew that seeing God first in his day, sets the foundation of a day – in God. When we place our morning eyes on God, he gives our eyes sight on great strength in our day.

5. Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name. Mt. 6:9 

Jesus knew who he was talking to, do we? God tells us that the name of the Lord is a strong tower, the righteous can run into it and are safe (Prov 18:10). Do we believe this?

6. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one. Mt. 6:13

Praying to be delivered from what has not already hit, prevents your feet from getting swept out from under. Jesus teaches us to pray preemptively, and for good reason.

7. I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children. Yes, Father, for this was your good pleasure. Mt. 11:25-26

Jesus praised God for what man could easily find fault with. Praise God for the things you can’t understand. When we know that a good God is over our bad problems, we find calm waters.

8. But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers. Lu. 22:32

Jesus knew the value in praying on behalf of faith. May we ask for more faith, so we can walk into the unseen with power, authority and courage, just like Jesus.

9. I am praying for them. I am not praying for the world but for those whom you have given me, for they are yours. Holy Father, keep them in your name, which you have given me, that they may be one, even as we are one. Jo. 17:9

Jesus prayed for his beloved children. Let’s pray that our heart, and the heart of all God’s children, will endure, stay pure and persevere together until the end, for this is God’s will for us.

10. Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” And they divided up his clothes by casting lots. Lu. 23:34

Jesus forgave when he could have cursed the world for his breath labored pain and agony. He didn’t. Let’s forgive those who cause us pain and agony, for what we will find is that forgiveness is what ends up causing us far less pain in the long run.

Prayer.

It is our power.
It is our strength.
It is our direct connection to the greatest ruler of this earth.
It is our cosmic shift from selfish plans to God’s plans.
It is our ability to be an influencer, a pleader and a worker in a kingdom that counts.
It is our ticket to our greatest needs being met in awe inspiring ways.
It is our hope that confirms to our heart we have a hope.
It is our peace that the creator is still creating. 
It is our power found in uplifted hands and in the quietness of a solitary room.
It is our ability to call the Great Physician to a family member in need.
It is our emergency exit door for what the devil has already cooked up to destroy us.
It is our greatest weapon in a world that is building bigger and bigger weapons.
It is our lifeline when we feel we have lost all life.

It was one of Jesus’ greatest tools,
shouldn’t it be ours too?

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7 Encouraging Words from The Blogosphere

Encouraging Words

7 Bloggers. 7 Heart-Inspiring Mini-Posts. 7 New Bloggers to Check Out.

Join me today as I welcome mini-guest posts on my blog. We can’t read everything online, so I hope to provide a quick rundown of some great words being written. Check them out!

1. Valerie Murray

My mommy! My daddy! Does your child ever possessively announce that you are “his/her” mommy/daddy? Isn’t it because of who you are to them and how you love and take care of them?

When I remember that I am loved by God and my family because of who I am to them, I tend to worry less about my reflection and focus more on my character.

God thinks you’re beautiful because he created you!

God formed man from the dust and personally breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul. Genesis 2:7

He created you in his image. True beauty comes in the pursuit to reflect the image of Christ in our lives.

And clothe yourself with the new nature, which was created according to God’s image in righteousness and true holiness. Ephesians 4:24

Read More…

2. Lisa Murray
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I was simply stunned from my less-than-gracious tumble, humbled by the gaze of concerned onlookers, and grateful that my husband saw me and picked me up, lovingly lifting me to my feet again.

Isn’t this what God does for us?
Isn’t He the one who sees us in our distress and lovingly picks us up?
Isn’t He that present with us in our lives?

I am reminded of David in Psalm 145:14 (NIV), when he says, The LORD upholds all who fall and lifts up all who are bowed down.

How great is the love of God that doesn’t leave us in such a pitiful state lying on the ground.  He holds up all who fall – ALL.  That means ME!  That means YOU!

What moves me more than anything is to realize that in order for Him to pick us up, He had to be there, right there, watching all along.  He saw.  He sees.  He knows. Read More…

3. Samantha Citty
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This kind of guilt was not from God.

Here was the problem: I was looking for answers at all the wrong places.  I was turning to blogs and social media instead of the One who comforts us in our time of need.  The opinions and words of other people became more important than the Word of God.  I didn’t realize that “the fear of man is a snare, but the one who trusts in the Lord is protected (Proverbs 29:25).

So I read the entire Bible cover to cover and noticed one of several themes about God.  He doesn’t leave or forsake us (1 Chronicles 20:20, Deuteronomy 31:6, Joshua 1:5).  He’s not looking down from heaven judging whether or not we’re “good Christians”.  Because without Christ, we aren’t good.  Only He is good.

Not everyone will agree with our choices.  For a while, I took these opinions more seriously than what God thought of His own children.  Since He gives good things to those who ask Him (Matthew 7:11), I can trust He has good intentions for me and my family.  His blessings are beyond the guilt and shame we put ourselves through.  Read More…

4. Lori Schumaker
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That day, as I experienced the betrayal, I felt my thoughts pulling me into the downward cycle of self-blame, unworthiness, and bitterness.

I wanted to hide away, hardening my heart to relationship. I craved a sense of safety, and the enemy beckoned for me to hide my goodness from the world. He beckoned me to hide my light.

In that moment it was tempting. Hiding the good in me away forever in order to protect it from all future attacks, seemed my safest act.

But I’d walked that road before and recognized the lie. In Matthew 5:17 we read, “In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.”  Truth declares hiding as contrary to His desires for us. If I choose to live contrary to the way in which God has called me, I will only feel a greater sense of unworthiness and bitterness in my soul.
Read More…

5. Sarah Travis
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I see others around me succeeding at running. I feel left out when I can’t track my Couch-to-5k journey along with friends or take part in Tough Mudder!

“But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 3:13b-14 NIV

We all have to keep moving forward with our eyes focused on the Lord and not what others around us are doing. You see friends, if I run it sets me back rather than moving me forward. I can experience pain that can prevent me from even power-walking. When we strive to be like others, and become bitter because we are not able to be like them, we are keeping ourselves from what we have been created to do.

Ephesians 2:10 says I was “…created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us {me} to do.”  The Lord prepared my assignments before I was even born! I don’t want to miss what He has created me to do because I am too busy looking at the assignments my friends have been given.
Read More…

6. Jenny Shinsky
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I ran under the goal post and past the scoreboard before a friend caught up with me. “You ran the wrong way,” she said. “You just scored for the other team.”

I wore blinders that day. Once the ball was in my possession, I became focused on one thing –  to get a touchdown and win the respect of my classmates.

All those the father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me, I will never drive away. John 6:37

God created us with a need to be loved and accepted. When we expect others to fulfill that need, we set ourselves up to be emotionally hurt. God never meant it to be that way. No one can completely fill our need to be loved and accepted.

Only God can do that. He wants to fill that need.
Read More…

7. Carolyn Newell
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She stood there humiliated and ashamed as her accusers publicly condemned her before Jesus. After catching her in the act of adultery, the men were eager to cast stones at her, but the stones were already being hurled. Stones in the form of words. Adulterer. Tramp. Worthless. Had she heard these words before? Perhaps they had been the labels her conscience had given her.

Jesus stooped down and began writing with His finger on the ground. Nobody knows the words that Jesus wrote that day. What if He replaced the insults of her accusers with the words of a loving Savior? Words like blessed, chosen, and holy. He replaced the labels of the men with labels of blameless, loved, and predestined. He could have identified her as an adopted daughter, accepted in the beloved. Redeemed and forgiven heir. Sealed with the Holy Spirit.

And Jesus said to her, “Neither do I condemn you; go and sin no more.” John 8:11b (NKJV)
Read More…

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6 Ways to Talk Like Jesus, Not Yourself

Talk Like Jesus

Like an inspector, I spot the clues that lead to wrong. I can see the details of the injury and I must find out who did it. I must know the who’s, what, why’s and when’s. If I know, it will add up to a greater picture to create a greater plan.  Then, I can really put my thinking cap on, add up the details and get busy with repairing what went wrong.

Ever been there?

Ever nodded your head yes to your inner inspector
believing your top cap holds all the rights to another’s wrongs?

Ever become the investigator,
the mediator
(and eventually the intimidator),

rather than the relater to pain?

Jesus models an image of perfect communication; while he never came across as a Mr. Fix it, fixing was naturally accomplished.

6 Ways to Effectively Communicate like Jesus:

1. Know who you are talking to, what they need and how to listen.

He did not need any testimony about mankind, for he knew what was in each person. Jo. 2:25
Know what is inside, outside, around and under a person, so you can see how to sit with, not preach to, a heart in need.

2. Understand that you could stand where that person stands.

For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are–yet he did not sin. Heb 4:15
There, but for the grace of God, go I.

3. Let the Spirit be the orchestrator of your words. Speak from God’s righteousness, verses your Godly righteousness.

My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power, so that your faith might not rest on human wisdom, but on God’s power. 1 Cor. 2:4-6
When leader, the confirmer and the sealer of Christ’s work, the Spirit, guides your words, your words become meaningful.

4. Believe in your words and your words will become believable.

When Jesus had finished saying these things, the crowds were amazed at his teaching, because he taught as one who had authority, and not as their teachers of the law. (Matthew 7:28-29).
All the authority of Jesus Christ has been handed you to you for present day purposes – act like it.

5. Encourage others in life application of their faith – so they figure it out, without you figuring it out.

One day Jesus said to his disciples, “Let us go over to the other side of the lake.” So they got into a boat and set out. Lu. 8:32
You might be sending someone into a monsoon, but soon they’ll likely find God.

6. Ask questions and then ask more(from the depths of love). Questions lead people to their own answers.

Where is your faith?” Luke 8:25
When a person comes up with their own answer, they come up with their own plan of action, which will always work one hundred times better than ours. 

Rather than relying on our inspector and fixer habits, we can rely on the Savior’s and healer’s habits. In the end, our mouths will speak not answers and solutions, but a glorious “Amen”, “God is working” and “Yes, yes yes!”

Yes to a calm heart that understands the Master is the master over all problems.

Yes to a deeper faith that trusts God’s needed working space between the major problem and a hurting person.

Yes to insightful prayer that go to the altar, before going to the table of action plans, contracts and how-to’s.

Yes to expectancy at how God may show up to Shalom, or welcome, one into his family, his truth and his love.

Yes to truth, wild truth, spoken with wild belief that seems to test the yes intention of our own heart to all Godly intentions.

What happens is glorious and marvelous – we see the Lord at work. We see his ways prevail in another’s heart a million times better than our policies, procedures and programs could have ever reigned.

We see his glory fall – and one who sees glory – sees God.

And, what we find, oftentimes, is the other one with stronger faith in the end – is us.

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Linking with #LiveFreeThursday, #FiveMinuteFriday and #DanceWithJesus.

When Prayer Gets Hard

When Prayer Gets Hard

Guest post by: Kelly O’Dell Stanley

Praying for YOU is easy.

If you come to me and ask for prayer, these are the words I will have for you:
All things are possible. God is a healer. Hold tight to your faith. Just believe.

I will carry your request to God, believing He can do anything. And that He will.

Absolutely.

It’s easy enough to pray for my friends. I don’t even hesitate.

But for me?

Sometimes the only words that will come are ugly, insidious whispers:

You are not enough.
You don’t deserve what you want.
You haven’t been faithful enough.
You haven’t trusted Him enough.
He’s not going to come through for you, so don’t get your hopes up.

It’s a form of self-flagellation at its worst. Beating myself up and living in the assurance that because of all of my failures, God, too, will fail. Or, at the very least, will fail to act.

It’s a cruel torture that leaves a mark as surely as a whip would do.

A few months ago, I found a lump in my breast. Instead of a regular mammogram, they scheduled me for a high-res, diagnostic ultrasound. I had to wait longer to get in. And I knew, I just knew, that the best thing I could hope for would be an assurance that “it’s probably nothing, but we need to do a biopsy.” I figured I’d have to schedule a procedure or two. And wait. And wait a little more.

Instead of leaning on God, I snapped at my husband. Criticized everything in sight. And tried and tried to pray, but all I could manage was, “Dear Lord,” before I’d stop.

Stumped. Afraid. Before I’d dwell on the fact that Mom died of cancer. That my dad had cancer. That my sister’s best friend died from breast cancer. That one in eight women will get it. And that there’s no reason in the world why that should not be me.

As I sat in that waiting room, with the little pink shirt-gown on, while my technician prepared the machine, I couldn’t focus.

I finally cried.
And I was so afraid.
Too afraid to really pray.

So I tried to block out all of my thoughts with a simple melody. The melody to Hallelujah (You Never Let Go), sung by Jeremy Camp came into my mind, and I thought-sang-prayed, You are with me, Hallelujah. You are with me, Hallelujah…

And I let those words push away my fears.
I let them drown out the what-ifs and oh-nos.

It’s so easy to forget God is with us. That He. Is. Right. There. With. Us.

No matter what we feel. No matter where we go. So I just kept repeating that chorus. Until I believed it.

Felt it. Rested in it.

After the ultrasound, the radiologist assured me that there is nothing there. It’s normal fibrous breast tissue. No cyst, no tumor. Nothing. I’m fine. I could have sighed with relief and moved on, like we often do, forgetting about it now that I’m past the scary part.

But the situation got me thinking.

I believe with all my heart in the power of prayer (so much so that I wrote a book about it). And if I still have my moments of doubt, if I still think that maybe God will come through for everyone else but not listen to me, then many of you probably feel that way, too.

What if, just for today, we let ourselves pray as though God is everything we want Him to be?

Everything that we think He is or should be?

 What if we prayed full of belief?

What if we stopped torturing ourselves for our failings?

What if God shows up?

What if this is the moment when everything will change?

What if I can summon as much faith for myself as I can summon for you?

What miracles do you suppose we’d see?

                                                                                                                       Let’s find out.

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Kelly O’Dell Stanley is a graphic designer, writer, and author of the new book, Praying Upside
Down, which releases May 1. With more than two decades of experience in advertising, three kids ranging
from 21 to 14, and a husband of 24 years, she’s learned to look at life in unconventional ways—sometimes
even upside down. Full of doubt and full of faith, she constantly seeks new ways to see what’s happening
all around her. Subscribe to her blog (www.prayingupsidedown.com) to download her free ebook, Praying
in Full Color, along with this month’s prayer prompt calendar to jump-start your prayer life.

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Purchase links:
Amazon
Barnes & Noble
*Also available at christianbooks.com, Lifeway, Books-a-Million, Parable, and others

Join Kelly on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.

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Are You Starstruck Or Awestruck?

Jesus Is the Way by Katie M. Reid for Purposeful Faith

Let’s give a grand welcome to Katie Reid, a brand new Purposeful Faith regular contributor. Her words speak with power to needy, achieving and controlled hearts and have been like soothing oil on the rough parts of my striving. I am looking forward to being blessed by her words – and I hope you are too. Welcome Katie!

Post by: Katie M. Reid

Somewhere along the way you took a detour. You started following the shiny stars overhead and you forgot that you were supposed to be following the Son’s lead.

Now you are disoriented and trying to find your way back to where you started. But you are far from the trail-head and so you must stop, rest, and ask Him to illuminate the next step out of this tangled mess at your feet.

You got tripped up as you rounded the bend and now you need some time to regroup.

The Shadows threaten to trip your forward motion but, sojourner, remember Truth—remember from whence you came. Call to mind the One who commissioned you to venture into the woods in the first place.

You wander in circles looking for the light. You chase your tail only to find you are dizzy and tired; depleted and going nowhere fast—wearing a trail into the ground that leads right back to you.

You feel alone in the dark, unsure of where your feet will end up.

The stars glimmer above and you wonder why you aren’t up there with them, doing important, beautiful work. You long to shine as they do.

You forgot, He has already given you His Light inside to carry; you, His light-bearer.

You look up, starstruck, blinded by the glorious display that you see. But, look beyond that. Keep your gaze fixed, higher, and see where the Glory really lies. He is beyond…and before and within.

May you be awestruck by the Majesty found in the One who breathes out stars. You see the stars shimmering but you fail to see the refining process that took place—through trials, time and testing—to get them to this place of radiance.

You try to hurry and scurry your way through the hard but it has dulled your light dear one.

Just sit down for a moment Child. You cover the most ground as you remain upon this Rock—steadfast is He who invites you to follow.

The way out of here looks different than the course you would have taken, but through the twists and turns, the low valleys and steep mountains paths, you’ll discover that this walk with Him is the very thing you need to make it. And darling, the view is breathtaking.

Jeremiah 6:16 “Stand at the crossroads and look; ask for the ancient paths, ask where the good way is, and walk in it, and you will find rest for your souls.

Your candle is dim, but it’s not out yet
You need His grace, to cover your debt
You think you have peace, but you need His release
If only you’d turn and face Him now
Embrace Him now, He’s here now…

You matter so much, more than you know, but something’s gotta give here or you won’t make it out alive.

And then you remember. Someone’s gotta give—to get you out of this mess.

This is brought to mind, just in time…He is the One who already gave so you could find the way out of the darkness.

Jesus is the way.

And He sits next to you—your heart stilled—as He whispers this love song in the midst of the forest.

Child, be awestruck by the depth of Love hung upon the cedars.
You are Found. Seen. Known.

As you release your grip on this quest for significance You will find that I already conquered; My hands pierced through.

I took on the darkness found within and around as My blood was poured out
on hardened ground.

Don’t despair Child, My Love makes you Significant. You are valued, not forgotten.

The time has come, to stand up now. I have walked this way before, I know it best.
Let Me lead as we take the next step, together.

Going Deeper:
1. Have you become distracted or discouraged on your journey?
2. Is it time to rest and take off the things that are hindering your walk?
3. How does His Presence and Word bring you comfort and renewed hope as you follow His path for you?

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Katie M. Reid Headshot

Katie M. Reid is a Tightly Wound Woman, and recovering perfectionist, who fumbles to receive and extend grace in  the everyday moments of life. She delights in her hubby and four children and their life in ministry. Some of Katie’s favorite things are writing, singing, speaking and photography. She is a contributing writer for God-sized Dreams and enjoys helping others take the next step in their relationship with Jesus and their God-given purpose. Katie would love to connect with you over on her blog, echoesofmyheart.com.

 Linking up with Suzie Eller’s #LiveFreeThursday!

Deeply Root Yourself in God’s Love

Deeply Rooted in God's love

CLICK HERE  TO LISTEN

“Love.” What happens when underneath it all – we don’t feel God’s love in our deepest being? When we know Jesus, but we have a hard time believing he loves us?  Perhaps, the world has jaded us, people have hurt us or we have done the unthinkable.

We think God’s love is nice, but we know it as “distant”.

We know love in our mind, but don’t feel it in our heart.
We know love accepts us, but still, our past defines us.
We know love is the answer to freedom, but the chains remain.

What happens here?
How do we move from knowing in our minds – to believing in our hearts?
From knowing about love – to knowing love?

Sometimes, I feel like I live partially loved by God.
Like a daughter who is visited by her step dad a couple times a week.
Like a girl who is not always seen.
Like one who needs constant affirmation.
Like one who wonders if she is forgotten.
Like one who needs to earn approval.
Like one who feels unworthy.
Like one who is forgotten.
Like one who doubts.
Like one who falters.

Is this a picture of a loved daughter of the most high King?

Can I truly love others – and God, when I haven’t embraced depths of his love?
His unceasing, unbelievable and unending love?

Perhaps my earthly experiences have shaped my capacity to perceive God’s love.
Can I only know love to the depths that I have been loved?

In my search to answer these questions, God is teaching me that to walk in love is to walk by faith.

Because none of us have been loved the way he loves.
None of us can understand the depths of his actions for us.
None of us can perceive the immensity of his presence before us.
None of us can comprehend the lengths he goes to fight for us.

His love is unbelievable in a sense.

Because of this,
we have allowed our perceptions and our tribulations
to create realities of God’s love for us.

Yet, his power extends beyond these created idols of love.

Like the many miracles of Jesus; true power is found by faith.

Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see. (Heb. 11:1)

Faith is where the love of Christ is found. It is found when we receive what he gives, even though the gift is so immense we can hardly receive it – or believe it.

He gives:

– His own son – for us. He gave the ultimate (Jo. 3:16)
– His life for us – for people who can’t stop sinning. (Ro. 5:8)
– A life that is alive with Christ. He goes with us. (Eph. 2:4-5)
– A saved life. His presence. His rejoicing spirit. A presence that quiets our active soul. (Zeph. 3:17)
– Steadfast, never-ending love and faithfulness. (Psalm 86:15)
– Mercy & graciousness. (Psalm 86:15)
– His own Spirit – a constant companion and help – to live within us. (2 Tim. 1:7)
– A position as a child of God (1 John 3:1)
– An owned status, which nothing – no way, no how – can ever separate his love from us. (Ro. 8:31-39, Ps. 24:1)
– A secure position which – no one, no way – can pluck away. (Jo. 10:28)
– No condemnation even though we deserve it all. (Ro. 8:1)
– Gifts that he delights in giving because we are his children. (Gal 3:26)
– An acceptance and approval of who we are. (Ro. 14:18)
– A powerful care about our daily doings. (Ps. 139:2)
– An ever-flowing rhythm of grace that can never be obstructed. (Jo. 1:16)
– An eternal home that has been prepared just for us. (Jo. 14:2)
– An earthly plan and purpose for our lives. (Prov. 16:9)
– A promise to make us more and more like him. (2 Cor. 3:18)
– A nearness, a shelter and a hope that is beyond compare. (Ps. 46:1-6)
– An advocate who fights on our behalf. (1 Jo. 2:1)
– One who is ALWAYS for us. (Ro. 8:31)
– One whose compassions never fail. (Lam. 3:22)

God is so good that, in a small way, it doesn’t really matter how much we grasp his love because his love will still remain for us. His love is so unconditional that it is not contingent on understanding. He loves us despite us.

Freedom is found in this place. Because, even when our world, our past and our choices have proven that we are unworthy of love, we still remain, as believers, in Him. Then, in faith – we can step out to grab the power of God’s love. This is the way.

We can grab hold of love by faith by:

1. Praying. Lord, let us be deeply rooted in you.
2. Seeking. Lord, let your words of truth shoot as arrows of love to our deepest needs.
3. Meditating. Lord, let us see your love pour over us as we close our eyes.
4. Receiving. Lord, let creation testify to the power of your love.
5. Communing. Lord, let us relish in the daily gifts you pour out on us.
6. Abiding. Lord, let us remain in you – and you in us. Help us to see this give and take.

I am done living fatherless from the most high king, distanced from the one who cares for me the most and duped into believing I am alone. I am done with the fear.

Because isn’t fear just a deep knowledge that no one is near?

But, God is. He was. And, he always will be. The Alpha and Omega never changes.

He is even when I don’t think he is. This is the ultimate love. His love is so all consuming that my eyes cannot begin to absorb his immensity. His love is so great that I can’t even fathom it. I can’t even take it.

I will set my mind, by faith, on the power of his love and trust that it will accomplish all it is set forth to do.

The LORD will fulfill his purpose for me; your steadfast love, O LORD, endures forever. Do not forsake the work of your hands. (Ps. 138:8)

My life is secure, never to be forgotten, in the palm of his love.

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