Purposeful Faith

Category - purpose

When You Feel Too Small to Make a Difference

Blog Post by Abby McDonald

Several months ago, my husband and firstborn were almost hit by a car.

They walked toward our vehicle after a baseball game, and a woman backing up didn’t see them. My husband picked up our son, moving him out of the car’s path, and braced himself for impact.

Thankfully, the woman saw them at the last second. She jumped out of her car, hysterical and apologizing. My husband remained calm and told her they were okay, not wanting to add to her already panicked state.

They drove away from that night safe, but my son was never the same.

“Dadda, that car was going to hit you,” he said.

“Yes. It was. And whose job is it to protect you?”

“Yours,” he said, reflecting on what happened.

He’d heard it over and over. But that evening in early spring, he saw it. The words became real to him. And he knew his dad wasn’t tossing out some clichéd phrase or trying to soothe his fears with empty promises.

He meant it. He took ownership of those words in a moment where his life was at stake.

When we see love in action, it changes us.

It propels us. We see glimpses of a Creator who displayed the ultimate act of love in his death. But often, we get distracted. I’ll be the first to admit I’m guilty.

We live in a world where we are bombarded with countless alerts, news feeds and opinions. When someone expresses her deepest grief, we can respond without even typing words. A simple click-hold and we can choose from a range of five emotions. What more do we need right?

Every time I open my laptop, I am reminded how much apathy consumes our world. When I dwell on it, my mind goes to a dark place.

But do you know what God whispers to me when I’m sitting in the quiet? When I don’t feel big enough to make a difference or loud enough to be heard, he whispers two short words.

Show up.

When your friend receives the diagnosis and you don’t know what to say, show up.

When you don’t see your widowed, disabled neighbor for days, show up.

When your son breaks down in tears at the bus stop, show up.

I know the power of showing up because I’ve been on the receiving end of it. A few months before our first son arrived, a new acquaintance gave me her phone number and told me to call if I needed anything. I was in a new town, over two thousand miles from family, and I only knew a few people. But after giving birth I went through a dark season. I struggled to make it to bedtime.

In the midst of depression, lack of sleep and long days in an empty house, I forgot the promise of friendship.

I didn’t think to call because I was simply trying to survive.

Until she showed up. Uninvited, at my front door, with treats in hand and her kids on each side of her. I was in my PJs and it was after noon, but she didn’t care. What she cared about was me.

Like my son who saw his dad become a superhero, I saw love in action that day. I saw a person who wasn’t throwing out empty words, but was willing to be a friend. Even when it was uncomfortable. Even when it felt as though I didn’t have anything to offer.

I want to be that person. I want to be the one who sticks around even when everyone else leaves. I want to put skin in the game and love like I mean it. Will you join me?

When we do, lives are changed.

When we take off the blinders of the everyday and see what’s in the peripheral, love becomes real.

 

“But thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumph in Christ, and manifests through us the sweet aroma of the knowledge of Him in every place. For we are a fragrance of Christ to God…” 2 Corinthians 2:14-15

 

Abby McDonald is the mom of three, a wife and writer whose hope is show readers their identity is found in Christ alone, not the noise of the world. When she’s not chasing their two boys or cuddling their newest sweet girl, you can find her drinking copious amounts of coffee while writing about her adventures on her blog. Abby would love to connect with you on her blog and her growing Facebook community.

Want a Prayer to be Answered?

Prayer to be Answered

I know many of you are like me, we want our prayers answered.  So how do we pray with confident assurance that God will hear and answer our prayers?

“This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. And if we know that he hears us—whatever we ask—we know that we have what we asked of him,” says 1 John 5:14-15.

What a powerful promise! God says he will give us “anything” we ask for according to His will. Isn’t that amazing? It doesn’t say that he might answer the prayer, or that sometimes He’ll say “no.” He says “we have what we have asked of him.” That’s 100 percent of the time! Granted it might not be in our timing, but it’s always in God’s perfect timing. The answer is, “Yes.”

But there is one caveat: We must ask according to God’s will.

Ah…now that’s the tricky part. How can we possibly know God’s will? The only way to truly know God’s will is to pray the Scriptures. As it says in 2 Timothy 3:16, All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness.”

When I (Sally) was a young mom and a new believer in Christ, I had never actually prayed out loud. So when I stepped into my first Moms in Prayer meeting, I listened. Just listened. For six weeks I prayed along in my heart, but didn’t say a word. I loved hearing the other women’s Holy Spirit-directed prayers for my children. Yet I was too afraid to pray out loud. After about six weeks, I was brave enough to pray the Scripture for my child out loud. The Holy Spirit gave me the courage to speak out His Word, to pray His truth for my son. What an amazing experience, praying for my son, hearing other moms pray for my son. This was my new top priority for my kids.

God’s answers poured out like a flood that first year; our group witnessed dramatic miracles. God healed children of major illnesses. We saw changes in kids’ attitudes and behaviors. We prayed that every child would hear the good news—and He brought a Good News Club to our campus. And several teachers at our elementary school accepted Christ as Savior!

Eventually, I was leading my own Moms in Prayer group. We’d pray for our public school teachers adapting verse Acts 26:18: “May [teacher’s name] open his/her eyes and turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, so that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in Christ.”

One day a mom came into the group upset about a certain teacher. I said, “That’s the teacher we’re going to pray for today!” And every week we prayed for her. As we prayed week after week for this teacher, God grew our love for her. Soon, she came to know the Lord, and my two youngest got to be in her class. I felt so privileged to be able to talk with her about the Lord and about prayer. It was amazing to watch and see her grow in Christ. But that wasn’t the only teacher that became a Christian on that public school campus. Eleven other teachers came to Christ as we prayed Acts 26:18 over them!

Want to see God at work? Pray the Scriptures over the people in your life. How do you know if God is going to answer your prayer? If you pray according to His will. And His will is the mighty Word of God, which never comes back void. It always fulfills His purpose and His plan.

 “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord. “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.

As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish,  so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater, so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.” Isaiah 55:8-11

My prayer for each one of you, is that you will “approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”  Hebrews 4:16.  And every day has a time of need.

Related Resources:
Want to learn how to remain unshaken in our crazy world? Sally Burke, the president of Moms in Prayer International, and Cyndie Claypool de Neve explain how in their new book, Unshaken. Want to go deeper? Experience what it really means to be unshaken through the innovative companion study guide.

Enjoy the peace and power of praying with other women for your children. Visit www.MomsInPrayer.org to learn more.

 

 

 

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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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
Follow on Twitter

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.
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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.
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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.
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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)
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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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