I was taking my normal morning walk when something caught my eye and tried to lure me. A hand waving from the side of a building.
Was he calling me?
Sure enough, he was. He wanted me to come over.
Now, this time of day just happens to be my time with God. A time of walk and talk. It’s also a time I am really receptive to being used by him. So, for a split-second, I considered walking down and talking with this fellow.
Maybe I can reach him for Christ.
I took my ear buds off and yelled down the hill, “What do you want?” He motioned for me to come down to him – behind the liquor store.
I considered it, but I didn’t go. I didn’t go because:
He was standing behind a liquor store.
He was a he.
I got the feeling he was up to no good.
And as I walked away, I was in shock: How could I have ever considered doing something so dumb?
Around my house are tons of motels. There are also a lot of drug addicts and prostitutes. I came to realize upon reflection, he was likely a pimp.
Scary, I know.
But what I also realized is that sometimes the enemy can trick us in the name of Jesus. He can pull us into strategies, plans, motions or words we think are God-filled, but are actually traps set to nab us.
The serpent said to Eve, “God knows that your eyes will be opened as soon as you eat it, and you will be like God, knowing both good and evil.” (Gen. 3:5)
The devil appealed to Eve’s senses with something spiritual. He lured her in with a promise of a greater vision of God. He made her believe she was doing something God already knew about. Likely, he made her feel like God was okay with it. He convinced her she’d have greater vision of good and evil.
God would want that, right?
“(Eve) wanted the wisdom it would give her.” (Gen. 3:6)
That doesn’t sound like such a bad cause, does it?
Beware: Just because God is involved doesn’t mean it is a God-cause.
Beware: Just because there is need, doesn’t mean that you’re the one God needs to walk into it.
Beware: Just because you want God’s ways doesn’t mean you go about it on your own.
The enemy will trick us with whatever device he knows will work. Sometimes, it is even things of God.
To fight this:
Act or don’t act.
If you choose not to act, don’t let the enemy trick you with the shame of “not doing”.
Their outfits are adorable. They look confident in how they carry themselves. They seem to have perfect lives. Their understanding of scripture is mind-blowing. And we wonder if God is more pleased with them than He is with… us.
And deep down, we may even envy their notoriety. Don’t we all have a desire to be seen and known.
I’ll be honest… this kind of mindset makes me want to scream. I can’t stand it when I let myself go down this road of thinking. Because I know everyone struggles as they navigate life. No one has it all together…
… regardless of who they are.
Here is the hard, cold truth: No matter how it may look, ministry is hard.
It’s a call to be vulnerable and open with your life—your story. It’s choosing to sit down at your computer or stand in front of an audience and pick the scab off your deepest wounds. It’s a radical act of obedience when we feel lacking and even unqualified. And sometimes it feels like you’re setting yourself up for a big heart thump.
Last year was one of those times.
Within about 3 months…
… I lost a good ministry-minded friend, … an opportunity to work with an amazing group of Jesus-girls exploded, … and I was betrayed at the deepest level by someone in ministry.
That trifecta knocked me down. Hard. And I lost my joy for ministry.
It made me question the calling on my life, wondering if maybe I heard God wrong. I was on the verge of quitting, frustrated because I felt He had abandoned me. It just felt like too much heartache to handle.
But then God. Those three words are so powerful. But then God nudged women to send affirming emails at just the right time. But then God crossed my path with the paths of encouragers at the right moment. But then God spoke the right words into my heart.
And my hopelessness began to lift… my perspective began to shift… and joy began to trickle back in.
Honestly, I am still low on the joy-meter. It’s a process, right? But I know the only One who can restore it is God.
And we’re working on it together.
Friend, where is joy draining from your life?
Where are you struggling to hold on to it?
Maybe it’s in a marriage that feels fragile or because a child is making bad choices. It could be because of your failing health or because your finances are unstable. Are you losing joy because of a strained friendship, a moral failure or a career that seems stuck?
What if we looked at our circumstances a little differently?
Mother Teresa once said, “The best way to show my gratitude to God is to accept everything, even my problems, with joy.” This is meaty. It’s trust on steroids. And it is faith to the core.
But even better…
1 Thessalonians 5:18 tells us… “Be cheerful no matter what; pray all the time; thank God no matter what happens. This is the way God wants you who belong to Christ Jesus to live” (MSG).
God is asking us to engage in uncommon gratitude when life is draining our joy.
That means we thank God no matter what happens. It means we don’t focus on what’s lost, but instead focus on what’s left… and to be grateful for it.
It means we praise Him in the storm.
We don’t have to thank God for allowing cancer or death or pain in our life. I’m not sure we could ever genuinely find gratitude in that. Instead, we show gratitude because we know God is bigger than what we are facing, and that He is intricately involved in the details.
And that choice—choosing praise over hopelessness—is what takes us from common to uncommon.
Friends, praise will always usher in joy when we’re struggling to find it. It’s a negativity-buster and gratitude-generator at the same time. And it will keep us tethered to hope… no matter what comes our way.
Let’s be joy-carriers and show the next generation how it’s done so they can harness its power in their own lives.
I know you can do this.
Because of Jesus, you have everything it takes to #beUncommon. Now choose it.
About Carey Scott
Carey Scott is an author and speaker, honest about her walk with the Lord… stumbles, fumbles and all. Her NEWLY RELEASED BOOK, Uncommon, a battle cry for women to step out of the ordinary and live with purpose and passion. Carey also wrote Untangled, a book about the insecurities we face as women and how to live in freedom. She lives in Northern Colorado with her family. Learn more at CareyScott.org. You can also connect with her on Facebook.
If you saw me in the heat of the moment, you’d no doubt say, “She isn’t a good Christian. She made a mess of everything and she’s no good. Rotten.”
Sitting here, I’m inclined to agree.
I made a horrible mistake. I didn’t have wrong intentions, but I certainly used the wrong actions. I pointed fingers at people. I unleashed venom on people. I put an electric current on everyone and everything. Left people fried.
And now I hate myself for it. Sitting here. I really do.
I said my, “I’m sorries.” But it doesn’t take away the fact that I was a bad representative for Jesus. It doesn’t take away the fact that some weaknesses get the better of me. It doesn’t take away the fact that people are still suffering. It doesn’t take away the fact that I feel horrible.
Maybe today, you are considering unsubscribing from my blog. I wouldn’t blame you. Maybe you thought I was a better Christian. I guess I thought so too… I suppose I would have relied on God a little more.
These and a hundred more thoughts consumed me as I pressed my head against the steering wheel today, and cried.
Oh, the regret!
Until, something shifted… I imagined Jesus. There. Weak, on a cross, arms wide open, crying out, “Father, forgive (her), for (she) knows not what (she) does.” (Lu. 23:34)
Forgive Kelly, she realizes not how she speaks before she thinks.
Forgive Kelly, she knows not how her mind gets ahead of things.
Forgive ___, she makes mistakes non-stop.
Forgive ___, she tells little white lies.
Forgive ___, she is desperately afraid.
Forgive ___, she is just looking for attention.
Forgive (insert your name), she is …..
What do you hold against yourself?
Jesus died saying, “Forgive them,” and he wrapped things up by saying, “It is finished.”
And, so it is.
Because it is finished, I can be finished with what I did. Because it is finished, you can be finished with your bad deeds too.
Whether they are from today or 500 todays ago, Jesus already declared your worst deeds are done. Let them die.
When Jesus looks at us now, I see him lifting us. I see him beholding his righteousness in us. I see him declaring his holiness in us. I see him noticing his blood that marks us blameless. I imagine him holding us before the world to say, “This is my daughter, with whom I am well pleased.”
This is who we are in his eyes. His view is all that matters.
Anything left after asking forgiveness of others and God is just shame.
Because in Christ, we are loved even when we feel unlovable. We are remarkable, even when we feel marked with sin. We are whole because Jesus gave up every bit of his body. This cannot be undone. It is the permanent power meant for all believers.
Your shame is finished. Right now, let it poof away. Jesus annihilated it at the cross.
Maybe you are there too. Maybe there are miles of distance between you and your once beloved Father, God. Maybe you are irritated, although you likely don’t admit it. Maybe you feel God has let you down. Maybe you are counting up all the ways others have failed, hurt, and insulted you.
Maybe you can’t see straight because you want to let the world, have it!
We’ve all been there. Or at least I have. I remember, I felt God let me down so badly I’d go to church, pretend I was voicing the worship songs, count the lights and draw doodles on my notepad rather than giving the pastor one second of my listening ear.
It seems what others do to us, we displace onto God.
Which is why there is only one way out of this mess: forgiveness.
Yes, it is that word. The one we cringe at. Because we hate to do it. We hate, hate, hate to let go of the injury that was SO WRONG, SO UNDUE, SO MEAN, SO RUDE, SO INFURIATING…SO, SO, SO!
But, the reality is, that person, who injured us doesn’t continue to lose, when we hold on to bitterness, we do. That person who was horrible doesn’t get their due from our resentment, we do. We don’t hurt them. We are the ones who stay hurt. We are the ones who live the offense over and over. We are the ones who stay in pain.
Unforgiveness is the enemy’s trick. He steals, kills, and destroys the freedom waiting on the other side of our anger. He keeps us wrapped up in the agony of the unjust, the immoral and the inept. He keeps our mind off Jesus.
Indeed, he’s cunning. But, God is greater. And, so is forgiveness. It breaks every shackle. It tears off every band-aid. It restores peace. It renews joy. It returns us to high standing with God, where we feel okay with talking to him.
Forgiveness is our way home. Do you need to come home? To a God who wants to comfort you in your time of need.
Dear God, I am angry at ____ because they ____. I know that as I let them go, you will handle them. I hand them to you today, Lord. I forgive them in your name. I ask you to bless them and to keep them. I ask you to heal whatever was hurt within me as a result of them. Repair me. Repair them. Be near to me. Thank you, my God. Amen.
I’m not sure if any of you are like me. I have seasons where I am thinking all of the deep thoughts. I’m not sure what it has been about this summer, but my thoughts have weighed heavy on me. Since the Spring, I have felt a bit tormented in my thought life. It has come in waves and at times has overtaken me.
I have never really been one to deal with a scattered and heavy thought life, but here we are. I can’t help but think that the enemy can sense that the Lord has something of significance awaiting me.
I am also not one to look at the world around me and be so discouraged and yet, here I am. It seems as though there is attack and opposition and hate and oppression at every turn. The enemy is working overtime to destroy us.
I don’t know about you, but I never want to give him the satisfaction of knowing that he beat me. As far as I know, our God calls us overcomers. He says that we are more than conquerors. He calls us to continue to fight the good fight and hold on to hope. Hope’s name is Jesus.
What does it look like to be an overcomer and to have hope when all appears hopeless?
We stand on the promises of God.
“…so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it.” Isaiah 55:11
God’s Word is the ONLY the thing that has stood the test of time. Leaders and kingdoms have risen and fallen. Buildings and monuments have been built and have toppled to the ground. Religions have arrived and faded away. But, the everlasting God has never changed or left or lost His power. He is the same God who was before the foundations of the world. He is the same God that will reign for eternity when the world has burned away. This very God spoke and creation came to be. His word is a firm foundation. It doesn’t waver or fail. It is alive and active. It goes forth and accomplishes what He set out for it to accomplish. It does not return void. His Word instructs us to live by faith and not by sight. That requires us to hope despite what we can see.
We surround ourselves with truth tellers and encouragers.
“Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.” Ephesians 4:15-17
The world and all of its voices are unstable to say the least. Fair weather is the name of the game. One moment the crowd is for something and in the very next breath, they are against it. It’s honestly quite exhausting. I am ridiculously blessed to be surrounded by a strong community that is rooted in God’s Word. They have convictions and are not prone to compromise. They speak truth with all authority and call me up higher in my thinking and my doing. When I am hopeless, they have hope for me. They speak hope into my spirit. They remind me that my hope is in Christ and not in my circumstances.
We proclaim the grace of God boldly.
“And they have conquered him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, for they loved not their lives even unto death.” Revelation 12:11
The blood of Jesus and the Word of God are meant for salvation and changing lives. His Word is meant to bring hope to a hurting and hopeless world. And we were meant to conquer…to conquer the enemy, our flesh, fear. We were designed to be ambassadors and witnesses across the earth. But, how will the world around us ever come to know the hope we have in Christ? We must shed our fear and doubt and proclaim boldly His love, grace, mercy and forgiveness for His creation. We must declare that He is trustworthy and that He is the bringer of hope and the lifter of our heads.
“In hope he believed against hope, that he should become the father of many nations, as he had been told, “So shall your offspring be.” Romans 4:18
Abraham was the king of hope. He followed an unseen God to an unknown land. He believed the promises of this unseen God decades before the promises was fulfilled.
Oh, that we would be a people of God…
Who hope when our flesh is weak.
Who hope when others tell us to give up.
Who hope when the enemy is waging war.
Who courageously hope against all hope.
If you are in a hopeless situation, I’d love to pray for you!
About Karina Allen
Karina is a devoted follower of Jesus from New Orleans, Louisiana, but has made her home in Baton Rouge for the past 15 years. She spends much of her time leading worship at church, writing, reading, dancing and mentoring the next generation. She has a huge heart for serving and missions. She is an advocate for the local church especially the one that she attends, Healing Place Church. She also enjoys working out, traveling, photography and going to concerts/conferences.
Karina believes that every woman has a God-sized dream on the inside of them and it is up to an encouraging community to help nurture that dream. Her goal in writing is to see women get a revelation of God’s Word and discover how to apply it to their lives in order to walk in freedom and live the life that God intended. But the most important thing to her is to live out the call of Isaiah 26:8…For His Name and His Renown are the desire of our souls! You can connect with her at “For His Name and His Renown.”
Getting rid of my furniture, indeed, was hard. As each person came to pick up their new goods, a little part of me went out the door with the cushions, the tables, and the lamps…. It’s just stuff, Kelly!
But, it was my stuff!
So, trying to make the best of a hard situation, we turned on music. My three-year-old daughter jumped around and my son ran all over the room. We sang words about God’s faithfulness, goodness, and promises. But, I never expected what happened next…
Son took all his money, contained in a large Ziploc bag. The pennies, quarters, and dimes he’d been saving for weeks. The money he’d earned through lemonade stands, house chores and online book sales. The pile he’d been guarding like a military soldier. He dug deep into the bag and – fistful by fistful – he threw it in the air so it landed before the throne of God.
“More. I’ll give God, more,” He’d say, returning to the bag, until it was all gone.
Why? He said, “I felt God wanted me to give this money to him.”
My son gave his treasure. He said: It’s all God’s.
What I have: is all God’s.
What you have: is all God’s.
How do we use God’s money to bless Him?
After our worship session was done, I asked my son if he wanted to give that money to our church. He said, “No mom, I still want to get a drone.”
And, while, for a moment, I was unsure about his reply, the more I thought about it, the more I realized, God doesn’t guilt us into giving.
I mentioned to my son he might want to: think about sharing it, let a friend borrow or ask God how he can use it in a way that serves his purpose.
How might God be calling you to honor him with your resources – your time, your passions, your money, your heart, your life, or your living room furniture? How might it look to adorn his throne with what you’ve been given?
It’s all His. It’s all entrusted to you. It’s all waiting to be used for his glory, with no guilt attached.
“So, what is your life worth, anyway? Doesn’t look like much…”
Yes, that is what the person said to me. And, yes, it took everything in me, not to hit back with…
Well, hotshot, what’s your life worth?
Because, how do you reply after a question like this?
I didn’t answer. Instead, I sat there dumbfounded with a pocket knife hanging out my side. Like a victim. Bloody. All I could do was stare at it. Then, it hurt more.
And, while I knew, these words were insult-fueled, they were all I could think of…
Am I a waste? Am I no good? Does God think I am a failure?
Insults become attached to us – and come alive in us.
I wonder, has someone insulted you? Maybe they’re insulting you today? Maybe they won’t shut up in your mind.
Insults often hit like this:
“You’re sin caused this to happen.” “You are no good.” “You are ugly.” “You are selfish.” “You are rude.” “You don’t ever ____.” “You are worthless.”
(Add your own)
You know the words, but how do you know how to protect yourself? This is what has eluded me for decades.
Let me tell you about that, but before I do, let me tell you about my daughter.
She has this saying. It is one she speaks if she really doesn’t like, want, or consider something good to hear. When something comes at her like this, she pushes her hands towards you as if she’s handing back what she doesn’t want.
Then, she sings, “Take it, take it, I don’t want to bake it.”
She doesn’t receive it. She hands it back. And, so should we…
If words spoken, are only meant for insult, not to build, grow or transform…if they are only meant to hurt…we should do what my daughter does… push with our hands and mind and say, “Take it, take it, I don’t want to bake it.”
We don’t have to bake in our heart ungodly words deep in our soul. We don’t have to receive kill-words. We don’t have to permit someone’s injury to become ours.
Because then we get hurt and hurt others a similar way.
Instead, we can repent (if necessary) and not accept mean and hurtful words. Take it, take it, we don’t want to bake it!
“Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths.” (Eph. 4:29)
I’ve been watching the show, The Partner. In this show, Marcus Lemonis, puts many to the test but is selecting one right-hand-man or woman to be his partner. He puts each person through the wringer: he tests their knowledge of financial statements, has them run their own businesses, and places them in high-tension sales situations.
In a different way, God, also, is looking for just the right person…
…will He find you?
For the eyes of the Lord range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him. (2 Chron. 16:9)
Just as Marcus noticed how his contestants endured under fire, God notices as well. Not with the goal of eliminating us, but much with the same goal – of promoting us.
Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much. (Lu. 16:10)
Have you considered, the tests God is permitting are because he knows you’ll prove yourself strong, steadfast and worthy to move to greater things? Have you considered – he believes in you? Have you realized – he desires to move you into great and glorious things for his making?
At the end of the show, The Partner, there was 2 woman left: one was a Harvard genius the other was humble and willing to learn.
Marcus chose the second. I believe God often does too.
Where is your heart? Are you willing to learn? Or, are you set in your ways?
Notice: In 2 Chronicles 16:9, God didn’t say his eyes roam the earth for the best person, the wisest or the most qualified, he said he roams the earth to strengthen hearts “fully committed” to him.
To have a heart “fully” committed is to:
Ask God to search your heart.
Be willing to see what needs change.
To be humble enough to consider doing things differently.
To be open to God’s leading as he helps you do things differently.
To recycle, over and over again, items 1-4 above.
I believe, for this person: new doors are opened, their life is changed, and God’s hand blesses them in tremendous ways. Today, check your heart.
A few years ago, I thought I wanted a big house. I wanted massive square feet. I wanted a big yard, a long driveway and grass to plant flowers. I wanted it all. At least I thought. Until, I realized what I didn’t want: I didn’t want house problems, like leaks. I didn’t want snow plowing, every winter. I didn’t want, lawn mowing bills every week. I didn’t want house cleaning all the time. I didn’t want furniture bills up to my neck. I didn’t want housework without kid playtime. I didn’t want to live far away from friends. And, I didn’t want to feel like I was drowning under house chores.
That year, we sold the house – at a huge loss.
In retrospect, I realize, after selling the house, I stood at a decision point…
I could either wallow in my misery, thinking, I always lose money. I wasted so much cash on furniture I didn’t need. I cannot figure things out. I’ll always be lost. I’ll forever feel I don’t belong.
Or, I could recognize the issue, bring it to God, reframe my situation, and think differently. Like this:
Money comes and goes, but God’s care and providence for me endure forever.
Worth is what I invest in heaven, not what I see here.
My value is not my home, but God’s vast love for me.
What issue do you face? What seems to impossible to fix? How might you reframe it?
Begin by infusing into your problem what you’re thankful for. Then, move to praising your God for who he is thru your problem. End by requesting from God for eyes to see your problem afresh.
And always remember: There is no victory Christ can’t bring.
Yesterday, was the “day of all days” for my little 3-year old, turning 4. Her birthday! The girl wasn’t asking for much…no toys, no gifts…she only wanted one thing: to be like mommy. And, she only had one request: to get her nails painted. So, although I figured she was way too young for this, I scuttled her off in the car, expectant of what God would do for her – only later, becoming completely surprised about what he did – for me.
At the nail store, little sweetheart was mesmerized by all the rainbow colors, the nail tools and her mom – she kept smiling, giving me the thumbs up and delighting in how all the “big” people in the salon were saying hi to her.
All was happy. But, then they moved her chair – and rather than her being right next to me, she was across the store.
All I could think was:
I’m missing her moment! I’ve got to see my daughter! Can I smile at her from here?
Leaning my head to the left and right, trying to view her through a slat, aiming to give her my best look, I suddenly was struck…
God looks at me the same way: he wants to see me, delight with me and enjoy my moments.
Just as I want to bless my daughter, God wants to bless me too.
Just as I want to delight in her special moments, God wants to delight with me.
Just as I am thrilled to see her joy, God is thrilled over my joy as well.
“If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!” (Mt. 7:7)
Later, after we got home and she showed off her nails to her brother and daddy, I thought about the little gift, the one wrapped all up in the top of the: a new dress. Specifically the one I told her in the store was, “too expensive.”
I bought it for her. And all my mind kept returning to was the moment she opened it: her face, her delight, her life, her thrill.
God sees us too, as we open his best gifts: our face, our delight, our life, our thrill.
There is no shame in enjoying his good things. Our good, good daddy delights in the giving and he loves our receiving his very best.
“Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from (our) Father…” (Ja. 1:17)