Purposeful Faith

Category - Contentment

Finding true contentment

Getting Fresh Eyes To See

I was the first one up in the morning — and that’s probably the exact reason why it happened like this. . .

While every other light in the place was off, I was outside in the dark navigating my way to a door.  After spending some time in the morning air with just me and God, I needed coffee.  I desperately needed coffee. Black.

Yet, as I walked down the long dark path, I hit something. Ick! Nasty! Grr!  I hit straight into a spider web. All tangled up, I felt shocked. There are hundreds of people who walk this path a day, and yet, I hit the web?!

The first person to walk a new path usually hits the web. 

As quickly as this thought came to mind, it encouraged me. I am the first morning walker. I am walking a new path — both literally and figuratively in my life. More awakened within me.

So often, I think I hit hardship because: 1. I’ve done bad 2. God is trying to teach me a lesson 3. I am off track.

But, what if the snag, the attack, and the icky stuff — isn’t because we’re off-track but because we’re right on track? And because we’re adventuring somewhere new with God?

I was headed just the right direction to that coffee pot. The only thing was: I was traveling an area where people hadn’t recently traveled before.

For some of you, you’re traveling a new path. You are choosing to respond to your husband in a new way. You are aiming to not gossip at work. You are making time to sit down with God. You are making strides in your prayer time. You are understanding things about God like you never have before. I want you to understand — the attack you are experiencing (the distraction, the people coming against, the discouragement, the little snags), are likely not because you are doing things wrong, but mostly because you are doing things right.

Do not be discouraged. Instead, be encouraged. You are on the right track.  Keep going.

You are hitting a web because you are heading the right way. The web is there because you are heading down a much-untravelled path. This terrifies the enemy.

The thought of your progress — terrifies the enemy.
The thought of you loving God more — terrifies the enemy.
The thought of you understanding how much God loves you — terrifies the enemy.
The thought of you breaking through with power — terrifies the enemy.

At this point, be less concerned with what the enemy is doing and be much assured about what God is doing — in and through you. It is good. God has this. He will carry you through. A web may annoy for a moment but quickly cast it off. Dust yourself off, carry on.

You’re right on track!

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Do you Feel Defeated?

A few days ago, I watched an athlete in a TV interview. What struck me was not his confidence, but his lack thereof. He seemed unsure, insecure and hesitant.  This is not common to champions. It seemed odd. Rather than saying something like, “I’m going to go out there and give it my all,” he spoke something like, “well, I am just going out there. . . and. . . we’ll see.”

I was intrigued by his words. I wanted to know how he was going to fare at the big athletic event that was coming up. I was pretty sure, he’d already counted himself out. I  kept my eyes on the event. Sure enough, not much later, he got hurt and was out of the event.

Sadly, it wasn’t his athletic power or prowess that made him lose, but his mindset.

How often are we already defeated, before we even start?

Lately, I’ve been working on a project. If I’m honest with myself, my heart hasn’t been in it. I guess, underneath it all — I don’t want to fail and have bad results. I don’t want it to appear I didn’t do a great job at my work. I don’t want people to think bad things about me. I don’t want to try hard and then lose belief in my self.

“The timing isn’t right.”
“I don’t have the resources like I did last time.”
“I don’t feel good about how it is shaping up.”
“God probably is not calling me to do this.”

What excuses are you making — to not see through something you’ve promised to do?

Often, the Lord positions us to awkwardly trust Him rather than casually continuing our own way. We may see it as a position of: lack. But, God knows, it is a position of: power.

Unless the Lord builds the house, those who build it labor in vain. (Ps. 127:1)

We build. It’s our construct.

He builds. It’s an impenetrable, unwavering, fortress, not easily tumbled down.

Which construct has a firmer foundation?

When God constructs, feelings, end results, people’s opinions, and outcomes don’t matter. When God constructs, we always get built up. It seems he’s coming to fix a window until He says, “Oh no, it goes much deeper than this — I have to get behind your walls.”

This is why sometimes outcomes don’t turn out as we expect. Because our good Father goes behind facades to build a sturdy house, rather than a feeble one. And, it is all for our good. For your good.

What are you building — a house of sticks? Or, one of materials that will last?

As we entrust our heart, our attitude, our will, and emotions to Him, He will build a construct that will not be tossed, thrown out or torn down — and that will endure all the way to and through heaven.

 

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2 Prayers That Changed Everything

I’ll never really know all that God saved my son from, but what I do know is that protection came through one thing: prayer.

I visited my son at school during his lunch hour. Something about him seemed off lately. His eyes looked a little sad. His shoulders seemed a little slumped over. His spirit of wanting to play around seemed to be missing. I just wanted to sit with him. We had a great lunch hour. I didn’t pay attention to anyone or anything else, but him.

Yet, the next day when I was praying for my 5-year old, something incredible happened.  My words to God were normal. They sounded something like: “Father, please help my son. Whatever it is that is missing at school, please provide it for him. Wherever he feels sad, comfort him. Whatever it is, I need to do, let me see it. Help me to know what to do. In Jesus’ name. Amen.”

I wrapped up my time of prayer, but immediately something came over me. It was a feeling — or a prompting — that hit me right after I prayed. It seemed God was nudging my heart back to my kid’s school for his lunch hour again.

“But, God, I just went there, yesterday,” I said.

No matter, obedience is obedience. I somewhat hesitantly lifted myself off my bed and hustled out the door.

Once there, at a table full of rambunctious kids, I opened my eyes a bit more, rather than honing in just on my son. Here, I saw things I did not see the previous day. I saw how some kids were making fun of him at the table. How they laughed at him because His face got a little messy. How there was a gang of boys at work. How they were fearless in their pursuit of him even with me by my son’s side. How they whispered with their hand cupped over their mouth. I saw the defeat on my son’s face.

How did I miss this before?

No matter, I thanked God on the drive home from that lunch. I now knew what I needed to do. There were other concerns with the school. We immediately decided to pull him out of the school. But, where would he go now?

Once again, I returned to prayer. My husband and I needed to know what school to send him to as we were new to the area. We prayed. We prayed. We prayed and prayed.

Then, one day, while eating dinner, we saw a young family pass by on a walk outside. We’d wanted to meet them for weeks, so we ditched our meal and ran outside. Once there, shaking hands, we learned that the man before us was the pastor of a school that many people had been telling us about. God brought him right to our door. He explained about the “no bullying” policy at his school.

What we asked for, God answered. Not once, but twice.

“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. (1 Jo. 5:14-15 NLT)

These are not hollow words that we half-way believe, but The Living Word of God. They are true and at work in your life and in mine.

We pray. God hears.

We ask according to His will. We have confidence in it.

We ask like this. We “have” what we asked for.

God, through prayer, takes unseemly scenarios and flips them over. Time and time again. I could tell you countless stories.

What are you facing? What seems impossible? Where do you need wisdom? Ask God, believe He hears you, walk confidently in the prayer you prayed and trust Him to answer. Be open to how He may lead you.

He may speak through a person, a predicament, His Word or some unusual way like He did for me. But, God speaks. He answers. He hears. Your every prayer matters.

Today? My son is thriving at a school full of love and grace. God led Him to just the place He needed to be.

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You’re Loved

Late at night, I inched open the door and looked at my kids. Staring at them, I thought something like this, I’ll love them always, no matter what. Nothing will ever change, I will always love my babies. . . 

But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession. (1 Pet. 2:9)

If God has chosen you; you cannot be ‘unwanted’.
If He declares you royal, He gives you enough worth to receive love, to display love, and to accept love from Him.
If you’re holy,  the mistake from last week cannot mark you ‘a bad Christian’.
If God owns you, a special possession, He doesn’t return you back — like an unwanted good.

You are not who man says you are…nor are you who you ‘feel’ you are…or who you ‘thought you were’. You are who Christ says you are. You are wanted and in His love.  Like a treasure, you sit on His hand. No one can steal treasure from a King’s palace, and certainly not from — His hand.

And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand. (Jo. 10:28)

There you sit. Loved. Wanted. Chosen. Holy. Righteous — because of HIM.

No matter how the wind blows — good day or bad — you remain — loved as a daughter. No matter how the conversation ended — there you are — still His. No matter how much you need mounds and mounds of forgiveness — there He goes again — loving you, dusting you off, helping you up and teaching you how to walk again.

You can walk any distance, but you cannot walk out of His love.

Because of Jesus we are holy. Because of God’s goodness we are kept. Because God so loved the world that He sent His one and only son — we are always wanted. This is love.

This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. (1 Jo. 4:10)

Love is not that we proved our self perfect or pretty or pious one day. But, it is simply because one man proved everything, then defiantly busted out of the grave. With this, we get a new life and a new perspective on life.

It doesn’t matter what your history says about you… What appearances made of you… What people think of you… What that person did to you… What you ‘figure’ about you… What condemnation is saying to you… What is happening to you… What you wish was happening to you…

It is finished. Love is here. Love is always. Love helps you to change and grow.

You are: Chosen. Wanted. Holy. Pure in God’s eyes.

Praise be to the unblemished lamb that was slain! He has completely changed everything for you and for me.

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Loving Hard-to-Love People

It is easier to give up than to endure with people. It is easier to walk away than to listen and understand. It is easier to “be right” and to decide them “all wrong” than to hear another perspective.

For years, I decided: 1. People would not understand me. 2. They’d hardly Listen. 3. They’d never change. So, when difficult conversations arose, irritants surfaced, or things got tough to handle — I’d pull-the-carpet out from under all of us. I’d quit the job. I’d run from the relationship. I’d decide the other party wasn’t – godly. I’d figure they didn’t have good intentions. I’d decide they were carrying too much “baggage”.

Areas where God wanted to grow me, I ran from. I started over with other people, rather than going deeper with people I’d already spent years getting to know. My loss.

What relationships have you run from?

In more recent years, my whole paradigm has shifted. Now, I realize:

  1. People are growing just as I am.
  2. When I give leeway, love, and a listening ear, others find radical growth with God.
  3. More than changing them, God is usually up to changing me.
  4. Fighting for “relationship” — and accepting hard truths about yourself — often means gaining a life-long friend or spouse.
  5. There is usually more than meets the eye when it comes to a person’s offensive action.

Seeking to understand before seeking to run away is to uncover a deeper level of intimacy. This doesn’t mean there aren’t cases where it makes sense to put up a boundary, to set some distance or to end a relationship (that is a whole other post, for another day).

(Love). . . always hopes, always perseveres. (1 Cor. 13:7)

Love hopes: It hopes in the good coming for others. It hopes, believing they have good intentions. It hopes for great outcomes during hard-to-have conversations. It hopes in the Lord when the going gets tough. It hopes in miracles that proceed ardent prayer. It hopes to grow personally, more than it wants to fix others relationally.

Love perseveres: It tries again. It goes back to the drawing board to listen. It sees the potential and believes God to show up. It tells the truth, despite how hard it is. It shares the core-issue rather than covering over it and hiding it away. It gives the abundant grace needed, as much as it wants it for itself. It dies to fleshly responses.

“Love never fails.” (1 Cor. 13:8)

Anything done in love, in God’s eyes, cannot fail. With “love,” you have nothing to lose and everything to gain. Love lasts straight through earth into eternity. . . No man can halt, hinder or stop the lasting power of love you unleash.  It is not dependent on them, but always reliant on God. To the complete extolment of God.

Love is never wasted.

 

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Nothing Can Stop the Lord Almighty

I was telling my 5-year old daughter about a Jesus story. He’d been teaching people all day and now the people were hungry. The disciples recognized a problem; there were only 5 loaves and 2 fish.

My daughter looked at me, oddly. . .

“If I was them I’d say, ‘Bring what you have to Jesus!'” She said.

Childlike faith nearly screamed out of her, “Just bring it to Jesus already”, “He’ll do it!”, “He can do anything!”

So, today, let my daughter’s words speak to you afresh: Bring what you have to Jesus!

Even if it looks like not enough. . . Not enough money. Not enough time. Not enough know-how. Not enough answers. Not enough knowledge. Not enough wisdom. Not enough ability to ___. Not enough ability yourself to fix it. Not the right past actions. Whatever.

Just bring it to Jesus; run up to Him and say, “Jesus, this thing I’ve been handling — or mishandling for that matter – feels impossible, ugly, and unfixable. Frankly, it’s an issue I don’t know what to do with. I need you to handle it for me. Give me wisdom and instruction. I ask you for a miracle answer. You can do it!”

“Taking the five loaves and the two fish and looking up to heaven, he gave thanks and broke the loaves…They all ate and were satisfied, and the disciples picked up twelve basketfuls of broken pieces that were left over.”  (Mt. 14:19-20)

All of Jesus can take your “hardly anything”, and multiply it into more-than-enough, with leftovers. Don’t doubt.

Asking is humility. Trust is your answer.

“For every child of God defeats this evil world by trusting Christ to give the victory.” (1 Jo. 5:4 NLT)

Do you trust? If not, today’s your day to start afresh. To defeat the evil rising against you. To stand up against what has pushed you down for far too long.

Nothing can stop the Lord Almighty. May we agree and trust in Him today.

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Do you Feel Alone and Stuck?

Some of you may feel God has you in a time-out.

While everyone is running ahead, there you sit.
While people know where they’re going, you’re twiddling your thumbs.
While they’re getting together, you’re by yourself.

Lately, I can’t describe it, but God seems to be time-outting me. I hear about things happening that I am not included in. I dream of having certain doors open; they haven’t. I pray and doors get shut, not opened. Here I sit — with God.  Old stuff has lost flavor.

What’s your plan for me, God?

Sitting with God is not a bad place to be, but at times it feels lonely. You can feel deserted, even though you know you’re not. Even though you know you’re in a ‘set-apart’ season with God. This doesn’t mean there isn’t struggle.

Do you feel by yourself? Lonely? Uncertain of where you are going? Undoubtedly, in a time-out season?

Where old things no longer taste as good? Are you completely unsure of what is happening?

At times in our lives, God develops in us, new taste. Why? To prepare us for a new thing. This is not bad. Sometimes, you have to step back from the old to receive the new. How can you enter a new place, when you won’t leave the old?

To prepare us, we get placed next to God for a time, in what looks like a desert. All we get thirsty for there — is Him. This is preparation-day, not a doomsday.

Apart from man never means apart from God.  It means getting an elevated taste of God’s greater thing so all you want is that.

Then, what you had, even if it was ‘okay’ has no flavor. It is about coming into — His new.

With this, ‘set apart’ is not bad.

Moses entered into wilderness slavery.
Jesus was set-apart in the wilderness for 40 days.
Paul was blind for 3 days.

All this preceded their breakthrough and breakout. God cares less about the external happenings and more about internal remolding. New tastes. For it is here we learn to maintain and sustain His greater glory. To seek first the Kingdom of God. . .

Don’t lose hope. God knows what He is doing. He has a plan. It doesn’t have to always ‘feel good’ to ‘be right’.  It doesn’t always have to look ‘showy’ to be blessed. It doesn’t have to be known to be miraculous.

So, be encouraged, my friend, you’re not outside of God’s plan, if you’re set apart, your smack-dab in the center of it and He knows what He is doing. Gain faith in this place. He IS doing it!

He is a voice shouting in the wilderness, ‘Prepare the way for the LORD’s coming! Clear the road for him!’” (Mark 1:3)

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I am Not Pretty Enough

When I get dressed in the morning, I usually put workout clothes on, for two reasons:

– I figure, if I’m wearing them, I’ll be continually reminded as to why.
– They’re easy and expandable.

A few days ago, as I walked out of my closet, my 5-year-old daughter looked at me and proclaimed, “You’re not wearing that, are you?! You look askusting!”

Was she right? Do I really look “askusting”? I kind of felt that way, I guess. The reality was — I hadn’t gotten as much time to take walks now that the kids were home from school.

Then, at dinner last night, all of a sudden she came over and rubbed my belly.

“You’ve got a baby in there. . .  See?” She pointed down at my belly.

I looked down and saw the baby bump, with no baby inside.

I look horrible these days. I see the growing lines. I can’t hide the hips. I feel the way “the dryer is shrinking my jeans.” Even my 5-year old can see it.

After these innocent comments, I kept on looking at myself. Do you do the same? What do you see when you look at yourself? The lines? The hips? The nose? The too big ___? The hatred towards ___?

It’s easy for me to tell you, “No. You’re beautiful”. Yet, it’s hard to receive when it’s yourself, isn’t it?

But, I don’t think it really matters what we tell each other — or how much we try to affirm each other. TV tells us how we should be. People, like my daughter, stay stuff. The scale speaks. The advertisements remind us we are not enough. One thousand voices overcome one.

But, all the voices can never overcome the One voice that matters most. If we can choose to hear Him above all else, we will find freedom. If we can see our self through His eyes, before resorting to our own critical eye, we’ll find life.

God sees differently:

God puts our inner heart far above our outer beauty.
“For the Lord does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” (1 Sam. 16:7)

Jesus came not to judge us, but to save us from (self-)condemnation.
God sent his Son into the world not to judge the world, but to save the world through him. (Jo. 3:17)

We are growing more and more into the beauty of Christ.
Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. (2 Cor. 4:16)

While the world gives matter to looks, God sees in us: the righteousness of Christ, His holiness, children of God, a new creation, daughters, a holy priesthood, saints, chosen people.

We look beautiful in His eyes.

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Enjoying the Process

Do we yell at our kids because they’re learning?

For instance, when a son arrives home from school, do we come down on him because he had go to school? Do we say, “You should already know this stuff.”

Or, when a kid says, “Why is the world not flat?”, do we berate them for not knowing.

Or, when they make a mistake, like blurting out a comment, do we hold it against them for a lifetime?

No. We know children:

  • are learning.
  • are growing.
  • need grace.

“…For the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these (children).” Mt. 19:21

Likewise,we are children.

We:

  • are learning.
  • are growing.
  • need grace.

I don’t think God disdains the process of growing and learning as much as we do. He knows we are “becoming” like Christ.

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

This means we don’t already know everything. We will make mistakes. We take off one layer of the onion of __, only to 6 months experience a deeper layer God wants to remove. We find a more complete understanding of God’s Word that sets us free one year, and then it happens to a greater degree 2 years later.

God isn’t angry at us that we had things to learn. That we aren’t perfect. Or, that “only now, are we just getting it”. Or that “we’re so slow.” On the contrary, His process is our progress.

We are becoming, transforming and becoming liberated into the image of Christ. May we not despise the process. May we not run from the crafting work of the Master Creator. May we not think it is because we are ‘bad’ or not good enough. May we not disdain the fact that, like a child, we need Him. That He is helping us understand.

Going to school with God doesn’t mean that you are failing, it means He is growing you, renewing you and readying you for all that He has ahead.

Like a child, be okay with being in school.

“Blessed are those who find wisdom, those who gain understanding. . .” (Prov. 3:13)

 

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God Will Not Abandon You

There are times in our life when it feels no one understands. In these places, we may communicate our heart along with every word from Alpha to Omega in conversation, and still be met with blank eyes. Alternately, we may try a new action and see it through, yet still find the person responds – “not as expected”. Or, we may open up and convey our insides only to feel utterly rejected because the “listener” changes the subject or looks the other way.

There are times in life when our insides are almost 100% certain we are: alone.  Are you there today?

Do you feel abandoned by those who are supposed to love you? Broken because you are trying your hardest and it still is not working out?

Don’t lose hope.  I believe, in certain seasons of life, there are things in our heart — only God understands.

“Lord, you have seen what is in my heart. You know all about me.  You know when I sit down and when I get up. You know what I’m thinking even though you are far away.  You know when I go out to work and when I come back home. You know exactly how I live.  Lord, even before I speak a word, you know all about it.” (Psalm 139:1-4)

Even when they want to, man can’t fully discern from the outside what God sees in our insides. The motives, intentions, will, spirit, history, thought processes and motivations to man — are hidden, but to God — are seen.  Only God has X-Ray vision.

Why is it this way?  This makes us run to Him. Call on Him.  Accept His consolation.  Over time, we build an inside-joke like relationship with the King of Kings. “Only He understands… Only God knows… Only He saves me…”

This doesn’t mean we write people off, expect them to never understand or decide not to share our heart. It means we stop hitting our head against the wall, trying to get everyone to understand every detail of our “backstory”.  Instead, we trust God is rewriting a better story. We call out to Him and permit Him to hear our pain. We wait by faith, not by sight.

The endless explaining of “all our reasons” and “why we did what we did” discussions take a backseat to God’s words. We may even find that He wants us to recognize that we are entering a new season. Here, we may need to make some personal changes or set some new boundaries.

This most easily happens when we become less focused on “changing-them” and more intentionally focused on “changing-me”.

Or we can decide to NOT do this.

The hard truth is: We either partner with God as He takes us where He is going or we fight Him tooth and nail and we go our own way.  Woe be it to the child who engages in hand-to-hand combat against the Lord Almighty.

In some ways, I think I’ve done this lately because I don’t want things to change. But the kind-of funny reality is they’re changing anyway. Whether I like it or not. God always wins.

His plans are good too. It’s usually in retrospect we come to this.

Either way, wisdom is — at some point before “retrospect”  — stopping to throw your hands up and refuse to do what you’ve been doing.  Why? Because carnal breakthrough aside from Jesus is insanity.

Real change is saying: “I don’t know how Jesus, but give me the grace anyway to do what it is your heart most wants.”

Then, by faith, you lean into Him and agree to take a new path. Even if it is completely uncharted territory.

“You are all around me. You are behind me and in front of me. You hold me in your power.” (Ps. 139:5)

 

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