Purposeful Faith

Category - Contentment

Finding true contentment

What is in a Name?

a name

Names. What is in a name?

I didn’t used to think a name amounted to much. Until years later…

Now, you all might see me as a fighter kind of girl. If you’re read this blog long enough, you know I wrote a book called, “Fear Fighting.” But, what you may not know is I am also writing a book called, “Battle Ready.” You’ll meet it come July.

The point is not me; it is my name. My name means “warrior”. Kelly is warrior. I never knew that. I never knew I was a warrior, until God called me to write these books.

Before this point I would have laughed at this idea. But, now. Now I say,  “Wow, God, I really am who you say I am. You knew day #1 who I would be, even though I never believed in who you made me to be.”

He is amazing.

Even though I used to call myself other names, like… “You stupid!,” “You idiot!”, “You worthless piece of…”

Still, God never had names like those for me.

What names do you give yourself? What name might God give you?

Did you know, even if your name has no obvious meaning…God gives you names: daughter, loved, friend, royal priest, light of the world? These are your names, even if you can’t believe them now, Christ’s fulfillment is written over each and every name, just like I learned mine was.

I pray you come to see…

Sometimes, I doubt my name. I am all…I am not a warrior today. But, do you know what is best of all? Jesus always is Jesus. Father always is Father. Daddy is always still there.

Knowing the firm names of God supersedes the names of doubt we call ourselves.

This is why, this Christmas, I delight in the names included in the Christmas book, “The Unwrapping of the Names of Jesus” by Asheritah CiuCiu.

Jesus is:

King of Kings (the height above any height moving on our behalf)
Light of the World (the light that casts out all darkness, always and forever)
Lion of Judah (the roar that makes every knee bow)
Alpha and Omega (the start of everything and the end that has no end)
Prince of Peace (the only answer to peace and the fulfillment of it in our lives)
Bread of Life (the only truth we eat to feel full)
Lamb of God (the lamb slain so that we don’t have to be when we feel self-doubt and shame)

Jesus’s name is the height of all names. It gives cause to my name, even when I doubt myself. This does not matter, because God remains the same, consistent and power-full.

This Christmas Season, what if you were to usher in, not just the baby, but the power of Jesus’ name with a humble in-awe view of the saving light it casts on you?

How might, through Christ, you begin to see yourself differently?

Learn more about Asheritah’s new book, Unwrapping the Names of Jesus: An Advent Devotional.

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

3 Faith Halters that Make Faith Falter

Faith. We want her to be alive and well. We want her to thrive so we see the miraculous, the amazing and God’s handiwork all over our lives. We want relationships changed due to faith. Hardships pacified, due to faith. Loneliness gone, due to faith. A marriage healed, due to faith. A deep authentic closeness to God, due to faith.

In God’s economy, faith finances the spiritual great. Yet, doubt robs our spiritual banks.

I should know; I just emerged out of a horrible season of doubt. While shame tells me to hide this fact and feign godliness to you, authenticity tells me, “Everyone has moments of doubt, fear and uncertainty. Freedom is fighting the urge to hide.”

So friends, today I tell you that as much as I wanted to believe God was near me, I kept on believing He was far and He didn’t much care for me. Thank God, I’ve stepped up and out of that pit.

So today, from a place of retrospect, I look back to discover the faith-halters that make intimacy with God falter.

What are they? How can I avoid them in the future? What do we need to be aware of?

3 Faith Halters that Make Faith Falter

1. Demanding Understanding.

When we demand to figure out godliness completely, we can figure ourselves right out of it. I wanted to have every I dotted and every T crossed, so much so that I was cross-eyed with frustration because I couldn’t figure God out. Guess what? God isn’t meant to be figured out by human understanding.

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways…” Is. 55:8-9

Beware of: Trying to understand what, by faith, God simply says – is.

2. Keeping track of the attack more than God’s love.

I kept saying, “I am being attacked, I am being attacked…” When we count up attacks more than we count all the ways God loves us, we lose footing. It’s the prodigal daddy running out to fetch us more than the snake ready to bite us that leads us back home.

“Because your love is better than life, my lips will glorify you.” Ps. 63:6

Beware of: Giving the enemy more credence than God’s saving power.

3. Constant Self-Critique

The more I counted my failings, the more I was sure I was failing. The more I was sure I was failing, the more I was sure I was still falling. The more I was sure I was falling, the more far away God felt.

“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith–and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God…” Eph. 2:8

Beware of: Counting up all you’ve done wrong rather than resting under the cross, signifying all Jesus did right.

Beyond these faith-halters, there is one sure-fire faith-exalter. Do you know it? God’s Word. It is always steady, always working, always waiting, always truthful, always healing, always loving, and always our answer.

“Faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word about Christ.” Ro. 10:17

Prayer: God, pour out the grace I need to stay strong in you. I pray that I am so spiritually guarded, I remain earthly effective. I ask that you equip me with every good thing I need to stay close to you. Do not remove your hand of protection from me and keep me under the cover of your love. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.

 

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

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

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

Dealing with Old Memories

I flew down the hill, free. My bike moved without any exertion. This was supposed to be the fun part. The easy part. The fast-paced glide. But it wasn’t.

My mind flashed back to years ago. The time I got nervous. The time the handlebars shook electricity into my numb hands. The time my mind got scared to death that my bike would flip over on one of the potholes. The time my middle loosened like a noodle in anticipation of what would certainly befall me…

And then, so long ago, I fell.

Anticipating my fall, I practically welcomed it. Anticipating demise, we often, subconsciously, do the exact same.

It’s coming. I’m ru….ined!

Tense, scared and precautious, we prepare to fall. Freaked out, we ready our mind for the worst. Even years later, memories haunt us, repeating the same powerful and engrained lies.

Just consider me. As flew downhill, gone was my moment of enjoyment. Active in my mind was a moment of torment.

The pain of yesterday undoubtedly tries to come to steal the joy of today. Often in a form of a memory seared in our insides. Reminding us of what can never be.

What pain of yesterday steals your joy of today? Your hope? Your peace with God?

In what ways does it hold you back? Torment you? Hurt relationships?

“Come, follow me,” Jesus said. (Mt. 4:19)

How can we follow Jesus when we’re too busy looking back? How can we see where Jesus wants us to step, who he wants us to reach, and what paths he wants us to walk when we are busy filling our mind with the past? When we’re busy asking ourselves why that person did that, where we went wrong, how we could have done better?

“Come, follow me.”

Give up your sore neck that’s always looking back and choose today to look ahead. This doesn’t mean those old memories won’t come, but it does mean you don’t have to indulge your time with them. You don’t have to become consumed with them.

Follow Jesus. A simple gospel: walk how He walks, think how He thinks, love how He loves.

Don’t look back. Jesus covers all that. Just follow Him.

Prayer:

“Do not remember the former things, nor consider the things of old. Behold, I will do a new thing….” Is. 43:18-21

God, we don’t want to be so consumed with old things that we can’t see your new thing. Renew our minds, in you. Renew our strength, in you. Renew our life, in you. Help us to let go of the old, so we can walk into your new. We need you. We hunger for your help. In Jesus’ Name we pray. Amen.

 

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

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

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

The Gifts We Overlook

I scroll through my phone and stare at another Christmas party post.

Smiling faces beam back at me as I rock my sleeping babe and wish mine was wedged between them. Praying she won’t wake, I dance to my daughter’s crib and put her down as softly as possible.

Immediately, she cries. Breathing deep, I stand there a moment with a small glimmer of hope that she’ll calm.

She doesn’t.

This was my life a year ago. It was my first holiday season with a baby girl I desired for years. I remember fighting tears and thinking about the irony of it all. I’d waited months for this time and now all I wanted was sleep. I’d felt her kick in my belly and longed to see her face, and then wondered how such a tiny thing could scream with such force.

Before leaving the hospital, the nurse told us not to bring her into crowds for a month.

Continue over to Abby McDonald’s place and join us for the #RaRaLinkup!

How to Effectively Fight Fearful Thoughts

Have you ever been there? Believing in your heart that God cares for you, but still experiencing those moments when your mind runs amuck with stressful thoughts and scenes that play out in your mind prompting fear.

Try as you might, you can’t stop the rat wheel of fearful thoughts from spinning in your mind. You know the command to “fear not,” but how?

1) Recognize where the fear originates.

“For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” (Ephesians 6:12-13).

So we must put on the armor of God, the tools in your tool belt if you will, to fight against the real enemy.

2) Be alert.

“Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour.” (1 Peter 5:8)

3) Our enemy attacks us in our thoughts, so we must take our thoughts captive.

“We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” (2 Corinthians 10:5)

But practically speaking, how do we do that?

First spend time learning what His word says, and meditating upon it.

4) Stand on key scripture and the promises in His word that refute the lies of the enemy.

Write Scripture on notes and place them where you will see them: the bathroom mirror, dashboard, etc. and when you see them, read them aloud because, “Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God” (Romans 10:17).

If you are plagued with fear, start with:

“For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.” (2 Timothy 1:7KJV)

 “When I am afraid, I put my trust in you.” (Psalm 56:3 NIV)

“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.” (Joshua 1:9 NIV)

5) Pray Scripture back to God. One of the most beneficial prayers you can pray is one that incorporates His word. So will My word be which goes forth from My mouth; It will not return to Me empty, Without accomplishing what I desire, And without succeeding in the matter for which I sent it. (Isaiah 55:11).

6) Recognize those fearful thoughts are not your thoughts but come to you from the enemy. Our emotions are the outward manifestations of the thoughts we believe. So when we feel anxious, it’s because we’ve been believing thoughts that make us feel anxious. So instead of acting on our feelings, speak out against the thoughts that agree with those feelings. Refute them and speak back to them.

For example, if you start feeling anxious, say something out loud like, “No! I will not be afraid! I have not been given a spirit of fear, but of power, love and a sound mind. God says to cast all my cares on Him because HE cares for me. Instead of being afraid, I will put my trust in God.” If you do this enough, your feelings will begin to line up with what you are speaking.

Try this instead and let me know how much better you feel because I guarantee you will!

Because of Him, Hope Prevails!

Dr. Michelle Bengtson (PhD, Nova Southeastern University) is an international speaker, and the author of best-selling “Hope Prevails: Insights From a Doctor’s Personal Journey Through Depression” and the newly released companion “Hope Prevails Bible Study.”  She has been a neuropsychologist for more than twenty years. She is in private practice in Southlake, Texas where she evaluates, diagnoses, and treats children and adults with a variety of medical and mental health disorders. She knows pain and despair firsthand and combines her professional expertise and personal experience with her faith to address issues surrounding medical and mental disorders, both for those who suffer and for those who care for them. She offers sound practical tools, affirms worth, and encourages faith. Dr. Bengtson offers hope as a key to unlock joy and relief—even in the middle of the storm. She and her husband of 30 years have two teenage sons, and reside in the Dallas/Ft. Worth area. She blogs regularly on her own site: http://www.DrMichelleBengtson.com

Following Through on Hard Decisions

I faced a hard decision. Maybe you’re up against one today. Maybe your trying to decide whether to confess that spending spree to your husband. Or whether to talk to your son about his recent behavior. Or whether to admit you really were wrong and shouldn’t have acted that way.

We all stand up against hard decisions.  Brick walls threatening to topple us, tugging and  harassing us. Words that need spoken nipping at our heels, until we address them.

My particular decision was no fun. I believed God wanted it, but did I? My flesh didn’t. I know that. My flesh felt like taking the easy road of no issues, keeping everyone happy and not rocking the boat.

My flesh stalled making the decision for weeks, rationalizing every reason why I couldn’t do it. But one day, I felt God tug on my heart, “Today is the day, Kelly.”

Essentially, I responded back, “But no one will understand, God.”

“Kelly, since when do people need to understand?”

“”For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the LORD.” Isaiah 55:8

“Am I now trying to win the approval of human beings, or of God? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ.” Gal. 1:10

Did people understand when Noah built an ark? No.
Did they understand when Jesus said He would have to go to the cross and die? No.
How about when Jesus confounded the wise and astounded the religious? No.
Did they understand why God or the angels didn’t save Jesus from that cross? No.

Often, when we move on God’s “right,” people won’t understand. They may even say it’s wrong. Inevitably, at times, we’ll be misunderstood. And even talked about. The thought is painful right?

But Jesus never came to earth to guarantee man’s acceptance. He didn’t come to earth so we’d be fully loved, known, understood and adored by all. He came to earth so we could be accepted into Christ’s family. This is enough.

It’s the reason we can walk by faith, not sight of everything that looks confusing, doubt-filled, rocky, questionable, or uncertain. It’s the reason we’re okay after everything is said and done.

If we act on truth from the place of love, with a heart to love, inspired by Him who is love, in God’s eyes we can’t go wrong. Even if the whole world tells us we’re wrong. Why? Because God sees our heart and He says, “Love never fails.” 1 Cor. 13:8

 

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

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

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

Change Everything: Get Low

“There it is, mommy.”

“Where?”

“There.”

I saw nothing. I bent down to see from his angle. I bent low to see life from the angle of a child. The lower I bent, the more I could see – up.

From this view, I saw it. . . a rainbow.

“There’s not just one, mommy.”

I didn’t think he was right. I know what I saw. But I hunched over, lower and lower.

And there, from his 3-foot something vantage point, looking up, I could see clear as a rainy day. A double-rainbow.

But I had to bend low. I had to bend to the vantage point of a child to make sense of the brilliance he was seeing emerge out of darkness.

Perhaps you do too.

“Therefore, whoever takes the lowly position of this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.” Mt. 18:4

What does it look like to take a lowly position?

It looks like:

1. Knowing you don’t know it all.

2. A willingness to bend toward faith in the midst of a storm.

3. A desire to do things differently than you always have.

4. A sense that God has something He wants you to see.

5. An understanding there’s more to life than meets the eye.

6. A discovery of what God can do when you let go of your presumptions.

7. An awareness that your vision could be flawed.

8. An eagerness to see what you never have before.

“How does it happen, mommy?”

“Only Google knows,” I told him.

Only a minute later we discovered rain has the power to project light various ways, producing a double rainbow.

It made me think: Rainy days seen through the lowly eyes of a child see the miraculous.

What might God want to recreate out of your rain, if you only saw it differently? Bend low. What do you see? Stay there. What does God want you to do?

 

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

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

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

When You’ve Got Something to Prove

What happened is, they never really thought that much of me.

It started early. Everyone doubted me. They didn’t really think I could.

Could what? It didn’t matter. It just mattered a whole lot what they thought. And what they didn’t I could as it pertained to my appearance, success, future and abilities.

I remember in high school, I got some votes for, “The Best Girl, All Around.” Because I happened to be helping count the votes, I considered the ramifications of cheating just a little… and writing my name on a couple extra vote slips. I wanted to win. I wanted that endorsement.

I didn’t do it. Thank God, I didn’t.

But the fact still remains that I wanted to. I wanted validation. Because somehow their votes of confidence were also mine. If they didn’t believe, how could I? How could I really believe I was good? How could I even try when no one ever thought much of me to begin with, or told me how to succeed, or gave me instructions on how to improve everything?

Today, at my son’s soccer game, I reflected back to decades ago when I was the 4-foot goalie. If someone scored on me, shame crawled my skin. It was as if I exposed my lack and everyone could see my nakedness.

“She won’t amount to much…”
“She can’t really…”
“What a waste…”

What have you heard? What have others made you believe about yourself?

There is this thing in the writing world. You are supposed to get endorsements for a book. It feels like accumulating votes.

“Kelly is the best girl, all around…”
“Kelly is wanted…”
“Kelly is worth it…”
“I believe in her, so you should too…”

But Jesus. Jesus didn’t care about votes of high and lofty words. He calls me to something different. To act a different way. He calls me to an attitude adjustment.

“Whoever wants to be a leader among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first among you must become your slave. For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve others and to give his life as a ransom for many.” Mt. 20:26-28

The last go first with Jesus.
The servants are honored in spiritual realms.
The humble inherit the kingdom.
The pure in heart see God.
The low are high in God’s eyes.
The unseen are always seen from the Lord’s view.
The heart is paramount in all ways, at all times.
The neglected are tended to forevermore.

I don’t need to be seen by man. I just need to cultivate a pure heart and permit it to be seen to God. I don’t need accolades or people behind me. I just need God there, supporting me. I don’t need applause. I just need to know the heavens have my back. I don’t need more worth from votes, reviews or cheering crowds. I just need God’s love that fills my every hole of despair.

What about you? What do you need?

 

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

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

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

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Do You Feel You Can’t Make a Difference?

Guest Post by: Rosa Hopkins

One bright Sunday morning, the pastor in our little old country church boldly proclaimed that we must each have a ministry. When I heard those words, I slumped down in my hardwood pew wrought so long ago from knotted oak. At that time, I was sick and mostly bedridden. I rarely left the house. I didn’t believe I could make a difference.

Fast forward a few years, and I recovered enough to spend several hours per week volunteering my time at a local Christian preschool. I wiped noses, zipped up coats, tied shoelaces, washed hands, and helped my young scholars scrawl the sideways, squiggly letters of their names.

Songs were a big part of our routine, and for months we rehearsed the words and hand motions to whimsical melodies about the resurrection, Jesus, and the Easter holiday. We prepared for the big event where parents and grandparents would come and snap photos and scoop these little ones into their arms, beaming with adoration.

For Lilly, that moment wouldn’t come.

Her mother had to work, and no relatives would be there. As a child, I remember gearing up to sing my heart out and scanning the crowd with no one familiar in sight. I saw Lilly searching, looking and growing more anxious as the seconds felt like an eternity.

One large tear pooled on her lower eyelid before spilling down her cheek, as she realized nobody was coming. The dam burst forth as that single tear escaped her baby blue eyes, and she began sobbing with abandon.

It was time to take her place with the other students, but with no one to sing for, she dissolved at my feet, unable to go on. Feeling every bit of that same devastation, I took her hand and resolved that we would do this together and that she would not be alone.

Amid flashing cameras, bustling chatter, bright lights, and childish banter, the pounding of my heart was louder than it all. I held that little hand and bid us both to be strong. And she sang, her tiny hand tightly gripping my three fingers.

I realized then that I had made a difference.

And you can do the same.

You are equipped with gifts and talents, and you can invest your treasures into the lives of others. Making a difference happens when we make a commitment to show up. We can do this by writing cards, posting words of encouragement on Facebook, composing blog posts, volunteering with V.B.S., the nursery, or in senior centers, youth groups, or by simply speaking grace into someone’s day with a phone call.

Making a difference is vital, as we point others to Christ and reflect His glory. We are the city on the hill. Together, we can do this thing better.

“For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” Eph 2:10

Bio:

Rosa Hopkins is a writer of words, a singer of songs, and a dreamer of dreams. Her radio program, Mountain Heartbeat, airs on WEMM 107.9 in Huntington, WV, and her work has been featured in the Huffington Post and in print newspapers. She is also a recording artist, and her songs have been played on radio stations across the country. She lives in the woods of Appalachia with her husband, miracle baby, Jack Russell, and a shapeless hound named Lou.

She blogs at  www.gutsychristianity.com  and her facebook page is www.facebook.com/rosahopkinswriting.

A Radical Call To Take a Stand Today

Do you know what it is to stand up for your faith?

It’s like standing up for the kid getting taken advantage of on the playground, except the kid is you.
It’s like standing up in the court of law to speak justice, because you know it’s what needs to be done.
It’s like standing up at a sports game and cheering wildly because you have love for a team.
It’s like standing up full of sin, like the woman who committed adultery, and allowing Jesus to forgive you.
It’s like standing up against all the chatter of opposition to telling it to shut up and sit down.
It’s like standing up and putting your hands on your hips and saying, “That’s not what God says, so no way.”
It’s like standing up and speaking out God’s truths over the ample lies that surround you on the daily basis.
It’s like standing up and fighting, through prayer, for a sister going through a killer-of-a-hard time.
It’s like standing up and saying, “No, I will not lay down.”
It’s standing on the solid rock of Christ.
It’s knowing that that very rock is unmovable, unbreakable and unwavering.

It’s deciding in your heart that since Jesus was strong enough to bust out of the grave, He will be able to take you right out of your dark circumstances to move you into His light. This is standing strong.

Where do you need to stand strong?

Certainly, there is a time for mourning, crying and wrestling. There is a time. But then comes a day to say, “It is my day to bust out of this tomb of self-pity and dejection and to move into God’s light. It is time for me to stand up and say no more. No more will I be tossed like a boat of doubt, or on the waves of nauseousness or by the words of mankind. No more will I listen to the opinions of old replay or the questions of the enemy circulate. No more.  Today is my standing up day. May standing up and moving out day.”

In what way do you need to stand?

“He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures.” 1 Cor. 15:4

Jesus had every right to count man’s offenses, bad words, religious spirits, hurting words, whips and mockings. He could have dwelt in that tomb of despair for a long, long time. He could have said, “Forget them, they did me wrong.” He could have let death come over us. But Jesus didn’t.

He stood up to the power of hell taking aim to bring the kingdom of God down. He stood. He stood up to take his seat at the right hand of God.

“When the Lord Jesus finished speaking to them, he was taken up into heaven. He sat down at the right hand of God.” Mark 16:19

God calls us to stand today. He calls us, today, to rise into his heavenly perspective. One that does not count the offenses of man, the injuries of yesterday, the tears we can’t move past, the people we can’t reckon with, the memories we can’t distance, the worries we can’t alleviate… certainly, all that is there. God knows it. We know it.

There it is. We’ve seen it. We’ve seen it every day, for a long, long time. But what if we chose to stand up and walk past it?

The choice is ours.

We can either give in to the weights of the world, or we can rise up and give it to the God who holds the weight of the world in His hands?

We can trust the resurrection life, Jesus.  He is resurrection. In all ways. All the time. With all power.

Take a stand.

 

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

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

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