Purposeful Faith

Category - Contentment

Finding true contentment

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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When God Takes Away

god takes away

Are you in a ‘taking-away’ season?

This season, the enemy attempted to ‘take away’ some much hoped-for stuff from me, for sure. . . It feels like a season of stripping. Hopes of doing big things with people Ioved slowly evaporated from my eyes. Dreams of aligning with certain people to see love come forth in powerful ways got halted. A project I worked so hard on, just went kaputz in the natural.

The enemy takes away, but so does God.

The Lord gives, and the Lord takes away. (Job. 1:21)

We cannot completely blame on the enemy, what praise is due to God.

Are you in a stripping season? One where you feel like you are losing material items, dreams, things, relationships you counted on, more of what you wanted, expectations, your plans?

Listen, I get it. But, what I also get is that when you have nothing left to rely on, you still have everything.

Stripping-seasons remove so much flesh, we’re left blazing Holy Spirit.

We begin to speak things like:

I expect nothing, but trust God for everything.
There is nothing I want, but Him.
There is no other rescuer, than my King.
I have no plan anymore, but His.
Nothing can restrict me when everything has been removed.
Nothing now can lure me, more than ‘My God’.
Nothing controls me, but the Holy Spirit.
Every opportunity is available to me, as I rely on Him, and Him alone.

Stripping-periods are humbling, no doubt, but they’re also giving periods.  When a parent takes something away from a child, they almost undoubtedly do it with the hopes of giving them back something better. Take away the candy — to give better health. Say no to the toy — so they appreciate the plenty they’re about to get on their birthday. Say no to TV — so their mind can grow smarter through play-time learning.

When God says no, He also has a better yes.

The Lord gives, and the Lord takes away. Blessed be the name of the Lord. (Job. 1:21)

Blessed be His name.

I wanted __, He gives character.

I demanded __, He comes back and delivers wisdom.

I thought __, He has increase — given in a way that I carry with humility.

I expected ___, He brings me a strengthening that helps me run my race to the end.

I thought ___, He offers me fresh gratitude.

I believed ___, He gives me eyes to see past the great thing to His greater thing.

Prayer: I resolve, today, to trust you, God. You have the best plan for me, Daddy. I don’t have to see to believe that your end is good for me. I lay down ‘what was’ for ‘what will be’ in accordance with your heart’s desire. You know what you’re doing. My feelings may send me left and right, but your love endures forever. I can rest in that place and you work out good. I love you, God. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

 

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I Can’t Do That

Recently a friend replied to me via voice-memo text about one of her dreams. She said, “I have no idea if I could do something that big. Because of this, I just feel like giving up and not doing that small next-thing to get there.”

I thought about what she said. She saw the end-goal as her breakthrough. But, with love, I challenged her to see her small next-step goal, accomplished, as the real breakthrough. Then, to just keep moving her feet with these “little things”.

I believe it is “faithful movement” God loves to see. Obedience is breakthrough. If we do what He asks, one day He’ll take us “there” — or wherever we’re meant to be.

His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Enter into the joy of your master!’ (Mt. 25:21)

What small thing is God calling you to do? To follow up on? To see through? No matter how minute.

When I was younger, I was never the swim-team champion. Hardly. Nor did I ever given swim lessons to kids, or anyone for that matter, before. But, one day, I just decided I wanted to be a swim instructor. I’d been trained as a lifeguard. Why not, I figured.

So, without any prior instruction on teaching kids, I got out a library book and booked my first lesson with a 5-year old. It wasn’t a couple months later, the kid was swimming.

I didn’t think much about “what I couldn’t do”, I just moved ahead with what I felt “called to do.” Here, God saw it through.

What would you do if your limitations were no limit?

Sometimes, we have to throw our self up in the air, like the toss of a coin, and just trust-God to catch us and see-forth what He is calling us to do. With surrender, we say, “I don’t know how, God, but you do.”

That’s all it takes.

What do you dream of? Why not do one very small thing to that end? Why not invest-in today what you dream-of for tomorrow?

Do with God today the beginnings of a thing, you feel greatly called to unleash tomorrow.

**Without a doubt, I feel led to say — there is at least one of you, I believe, that needs to take this as a message from God and to move out, swiftly and definitively. If you feel God has been knocking at the door of your heart and trying to get you to move — then, move. Don’t delay. See it through. Trust by faith. Faith cannot see, but faith pleases God. Like Moses, Noah and Abraham, relied on it, it sees through great things. It has an assurance about what it cannot see and goes anyway. This is your moment. Step out.

He will not let your foot slip.

 

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The Power of Words

Our words have power.

Perhaps, you hear those words-of-old still reverberating within you. . .

You’re SO __.

You’ll always be ___.

You’ll never ___.

You’re such an ___.

No matter who you were – a child, a dreamer or vulnerable one, negative words like these can hurt us. They don’t always have to be spoken to be damaging, either. A picture or a face can say in a moment what the thousand-word put-down could never say.

Recently, I heard a mom inform a daughter, “You’ll never get that award for good character. You’re mean like me.”

Upon hearing this, my head sank down and my heart nearly cried out. I could almost imagine the girl thinking, “I guess I won’t try next year. My mom knows who I am. I’ll never be good enough for that kind of good award.”

At the same time, how many times have I proclaimed things that bind people?

“You’re like me. . . you’re so. . .”

“You are not clean.”
“You never listen.”

Jesus spoke differently. He spoke “to proclaim good news to the poor. . . to proclaim freedom for the prisoners. . . recovery of sight for the blind. . .(and) to set the oppressed free,. . .”  (Lu. 4:18)

To talk restorative words, like Jesus, I must do 2 things:

ONE: Forgive the people who spoke things over me — and receive God’s truth. 

You always __, you never __, you are so __, you can’t __, or you are a burden-type of statements of old must be recognized. Who said them to you?  Forgive these people. Why? Not because they deserve it, but because Christ didn’t “deserve it”, but still paid the price for you.

Seek the Word, God’s heart and through prayer obtain the actual truth about yourself. For some it may be: I am growing in this area. I am not an idiot or stupid, but wise through Christ generously gives wisdom to all who ask (Ja. 1:5). I am more than a conqueror through Christ Jesus. I am now holy, blameless and pure, because of Jesus.

TWO: Resolve to speak blessings. 

Decide to speak blessings. I realize, not every word can be a blessing, as we have to say things like, “Can you pass the butter?” but if it opposes Jesus’ words to — “set free, build up, send forth or proclaim freedom”, then censor it and don’t speak it. Look for the good. The worthy. Use encouragement. Do this, even with inner-words you speak towards yourself.

Also, be freed friend, there is absolutely no “perfection” in this process. Since I’ve started thinking about what I am speaking about, I have caught myself 50 times being too quick to speak. This is okay. God is faithful. He will teach us. He will free us. He will help us. He will give us eyes to see the good, both within our self and within others.

There’s grace for our going and for our speaking.

Amazingly, the more grace-filled words speak, the more they’ll exist within us. Rather than looking for the bad, we’ll start looking for the good, even within our own lives. As we redirect our words, our mind will hone in on the heartbeat of Christ.  Rather than going down dark and discouraging roads, we’ll hope on paths that speak and promise new life.

We can do this! I believe in you — and most importantly, Christ in you.

 

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What’s in it for me?

We are all busy. Moving. Doing this and that. Answering emails to stay on top of things. Attending to the car that needs an oil change. Driving here and then there. Addressing the infinite immediate needs — but how often do we see beyond all this — to the heart of Jesus?

Recently, I had a project. Much of it was about organizing and recruiting people. In a sense, I had to show people the worth of their involvement in it. Some people said, “Yes, I want to be included.” Others, said, “No.”

But, what I figured was underneath it all, many were asking themselves, “What’s in it for me?”

What do I get?
Will it advance my cause?
How does it work out for me?

That is — until one woman’s reply broke the power of my over-generalizing words, when she wrote, “Yes, and, please let me know how I can help you.”

What?!!! She wants to — help me?  You mean she is not looking at this — from what is in it for her?

Wow. While I’d probably asked a hundred people the same question, only one returned to say — and how can I help you?

It reminded me of this story.

One of them, when he saw he was healed, came back, praising God in a loud voice. He threw himself at Jesus’ feet and thanked him—and he was a Samaritan.

Jesus asked, “Were not all ten cleansed? Where are the other nine? Has no one returned to give praise to God except this foreigner?” Then he said to him, “Rise and go; your faith has made you well.” (Lu. 17:15-19)

10 were healed.
1 came back.

Who are we in this story?

Are we the one who looks to take the good stuff from God — only to go ahead with our own agenda? Or, do we come back and say, “Oh, my God! Thank you so much for what you are giving and doing! You’re amazing.”

Are we the one who says, “This story is all about me.” Or, are we the one who turns to the person next to us and says, “What’s your story and how can I help you today?”

Are we the one who keeps talking without considering the person’s desire to talk or share? Or, do we make room for their voice within the conversation?

Are we the one who sees God answer a prayer, only to consider the 501 other things that should be better by now, God? Or, are we the one who falls down and says, “Thank you, Father, you’re doing it! Thank you. I can’t see the rest, but I trust you!”

I’ve been both at times. When I was like the nine, I felt rushed, anxious and tense. Overwhelmed by the next thing I had to do and accomplish. When I became the 1, I rejoiced in how: Jesus saw me, showed up for me, and how I got to hold His hand in the celebration of His goodness. I somehow grabbed a deeper hold of Jesus.

Friends, often our thanks, when done by faith, makes us well. How do you need to turn back to Jesus today to say, “Thank you”? Maybe it is not only done by word, but through action.

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How to Look to God

After having my baby girl, I  was so excited. I dressed her up in the cutest girlie outfit I had and was prepared — to show her off. Eager and happy, we pranced off to church, my new package in tow. I sat in the row smiling, and waiting for people to come and see her cute little face. That is, until no one came over. No one said anything to me. They didn’t walk over. They didn’t ooh and ahh. They didn’t even give much regard to me as I struggled to carry her little baby car seat out the door with her in it. I felt invisible. Unseen. Rejected.

If your heart feels strongly, like mine, even small hurts – hurt. They make you feel alone.

And if you’re alive, people-hurts are not isolated incidences.

Lately, an incident pricked my heart. It wanted to pull me back into frustration at them. Yet, all I could hear God whisper, was, “Kelly, look at me, not them.”

Look at me:

  • protecting you.
  • guiding you.
  • teaching you.
  • showing you.
  • preparing you.
  • readying you.
  • leading you new places.
  • taking care of you.

Don’t look at them and how you perceive they are:

  • rejecting you
  • denying you
  • abandoning you
  • hurting you

We should all do the same. Look at Him and not “them” (the offenders, the issue, the mean ones, the oppressors, the retaliators, the cause of our pain, the abusers).

Because, when we decide people are:

  • blocking us
  • (eternally) causing harm to us
  • doing things unto us
  • leaving us behind, hurting us, not wanting us, or
  • punishing us. . .

. . . we lose. We lose control over our emotions. We lose attention on God. We lose mindshare that could’ve been directed to prayer, praise, and a greater purpose. We misplace devotion.

This is always our loss, not theirs.

Beyond this, we never know if:

  • they even realize what they were doing.
  • we misunderstood what happened.
  • there were 500 other things at play that we never considered
  • God wanted us to learn more than He wanted us to immediately get our way.
  • God is setting something up – greater than we expect or realize.
  • God wants us to get a view into a part of our heart, we’d otherwise be blind to.

People do not make us, shape us or grow us, Christ does.

He rules. He is always in charge.

With this, we can forgive “them” and look back to Him.

We can ask:

  1. God what are you doing?
  2. What are you teaching me?
  3. Why did this happen and what do you want me to know?

We can learn, grow, understand, forgive, hope again, and be filled with fresh faith. This is our way, always. Don’t give up.

For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal. (2 Cor. 4:17-18)

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Don’t Bemoan the Process of Growth

I know you all know me as the girl who wrote the book, Fear Fighting: Awakening Courage to Overcome Your Fears. With this, almost undoubtedly, I should have this ‘fear-thing’ wrapped-up and conquered by now, right? I should be the one who’s figured out “fear” and who comes to you with remedies and bullet points galore. A whole arsenal of things to make you radically and instantly courageous.

Truth is: I do have the ability to come to you with some of those things, but I am also still very much a work-in-progress.

Aren’t we all?

Friends, growth is a process. Sometimes it is slow — and, on the amazing occasion, it is radically fast. Either way, just because you see you still need to grow — or because you need God’s grace, doesn’t mean you are failing.

The breakthrough of yesterday is often proceeded by God removing another layer.  Or bringing you to a deeper level, in Him. It may happen days, months, or years later. This “situation” doesn’t mean you are doing a “bad job”. It just means God is at work.

You are growing, grace upon grace.

“For from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace.” (Jo. 1:16)

Lately, I’ve had some freak-out moments, like:

  • What if I don’t do what God wants me to do in life and I somehow “miss it”?
  • What if God doesn’t keep me safe?
  • What I am not good enough for you, God?

Grace comes to questions or doubts like these without condemnation, but with truth:

“But the Lord is faithful, and he will strengthen you and protect you from the evil one.” (2 Thess. 3:3)

“For it is God who works in you to will and to act on behalf of His good pleasure.” (Phil. 2:13)

“My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand.” (Jo. 10:29)

Grace always speaks a better word. There is no shame in the process of growing — or in hearing, understanding, and in doing something new. These all point to increased faith. These are all part of the story of an activated, heartfelt believer.

God does the good work; we show up and submit to it. God saves; we look up and trust. God has the best plan; we come into alignment with it. We are in-process, but we are in good hands. These hands form and fashion like Jesus, more and more.

“So all of us who have had that veil removed can see and reflect the glory of the Lord. And the Lord—who is the Spirit—makes us more and more like him as we are changed into his glorious image.” (2 Cor. 3:18)

Be encouraged.

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Is Your Heart Soft or Hard?

Have you ever been shocked when reading God’s Word?

Boy, was I when I read what Paul wrote to Timothy. . .

“Cling to your faith in Christ, and keep your conscience clear. For some people have deliberately violated their consciences; as a result, their faith has been shipwrecked. Hymenaeus and Alexander are two examples. I threw them out and handed them over to Satan so they might learn not to blaspheme God.”
(1 Tim. 1:18-19)

What has your conscience been trying to tell you? What is God calling out for you to pay attention to?

For the longest time, when my husband saw an opportunity for improvement in my life, and he would tell me about it, I would react defensively.

For example, he’d say, “You can take care of yourself, Kelly and not always say ‘yes’ to the kids.” I’d answer, “I do take care of myself! Don’t say that!”

My heart was hardened. And, it became a habit. The more he shared, the more I resented it — and Him. I began to tune him out.

Likewise, the reality is — the harder our hearts become, the harder it is to: hear God, to understand Him, to go where He is directing us, or to get answers to our “what should we do?” questions. . .

I love how my NLT bible commentary puts it, writing, “Treasure your faith in Christ more than anything else and do what you know is right. Every time you deliberately ignore your conscience you are hardening your heart. Over a period of time, your capacity to tell right from wrong will diminish.”

When we diminish our conscience, we diminish our ability to hear and understand God’s direction and leading.

The capacity to let go of what is wrong is vital so that God can lead us to what is right. Just think, what parent can bring their kid to a playground of joy, when they are clinging to their bedpost saying, “No. I am fine where I am. I don’t want what you have for me.”?

Today, what would it look like for you to lay down your defenses, strategies, excuses, burdens, excuses, rationalizations and fears? What would it look like for you to see the hard to see spots, the ‘it-feels-like-too-much’ realities or the ‘things-need-to-change’ opportunities to find new life? To really consider the words someone has been trying to get you to hear?

It may feel awkward to let go of your flesh, but it’s here where you get powerfully led by His Spirit.

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