Purposeful Faith

Category - Contentment

Finding true contentment

What True Trust Looks Like

I lived with fake trust in God for a long time. During those years, I thought it was real trust. Now I realize it was like dressing up a pig and calling her pretty. I focused on actions so much that I missed the heart of the matter.

I showed myself beautified by giving advice to others.

I dressed up my Christian life by doing bible study dinners.

I put on a thinking hat to prove I was smart on bible knowledge.

I believed if I read 10 minutes of God’s Word before breakfast, all His words would work for me.

I thought myself better by sizing myself up against those who were rude, struggling, arrogant, a know-it-all, or sinning.

“Do not throw your pearls to pigs.” Mt. 7:6

May I remind you? I was the pig.

I knew the Word of God, but missed God’s heart behind it. Ouch! I worked up faith, but faith that was all about me. I loved God, but it was the brute force of Kelly Balarie trying to make it happen. I believed God via my words, but doubted him deep in my heart.

Real love is not determined by what is shown on the outside, but by what compels us on the inside. Love does not originate from our good work, but from Jesus’ perfect work.

This thought and truth freed me. No longer am I looking to prove my worth. I am trusting Jesus’ worth to be my worth. I can breathe again. And beyond this, I can rest again.

I don’t have to force my way, because God’s way rules.
I don’t have to pretend faith, because God gives it.
I don’t have to make you think right of me, because God defends me.

The difference is: I get faith from God. He gives it to me; I don’t work it up.

I never have to prove myself more worthy, because Jesus is worthy. In this gap, I can confront my inadequacies, my vulnerabilities and my inabilities without fear of the unknown or unseen. Why? Because God has me.

He has you too. Naturally, He has you. He has you even when you don’t speak Christianese. He has you when you miss your morning devotional time. He has you when you mistakenly throw out a cuss word. He has you when you don’t know what to do. He has you when you think everything is crumbling. Your work won’t make up for what you owe Him…Jesus already paid for all that.

 

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 Ministry of “Not Today Folks!”

Jesus gave to everyone, always. Right?

Jesus ministered to every man who needed him. Right?

Jesus never stopped giving, ever. Right?

Wrong.

One evening after sunset the people brought Jesus all the sick and demon-possessed. The whole town gathered at the door, and Jesus healed many who had various diseases.  (Mk. 1:32-34)

Notice, Jesus healed “many.” But, as I see it: many is not all.

Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed. Simon and his companions went to look for him, and when they found him, they exclaimed: “Everyone is looking for you!” Jesus replied, “Let us go somewhere else—to the nearby villages—so I can preach there also. That is why I have come.”(Mark 1:35-38)

Notice, while the crowds of people waited… While people were still searching him out… He did what?!!!

He went off.

He turned away from the demands of man to connect to the voice of God. Away from the calls of man, He could once again to hear the call of God. We see Jesus restating his purpose to the disciples when he said, “This is why I have come.”

Jesus let go of a “very good call” (taking care of every person’s waking need), for a better one: going where the Father desired Him to be and following through on his vision/mission as planned.

What might you be doing today that is thwarting God’s mission for tomorrow?

We are wise to look into our life to see:

  1. If our heart to do things is causing us to lose peace.
    Consider: Stepping away and praying.
  2. If we feel upset at others for all we’ve done for them.
    Consider: Stepping away and praying.
  3. If we are so tired, we can hardly love people anymore.
    Consider: Stepping away and praying.
  4. If we feel God has something new for us to do.
    Consider: Stepping away and praying.
  5. If others want us to do something more than we can do.
    Consider: Stepping away and praying.

Prayer re-centers us, not on the plans of man, but on the purpose of God in our lives.

 

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 the Demands of the World

People are fickle. In Jerusalem, Jesus was popular one day. Many days later, similar crowds yelled, “Crucify Him! Crucify Him.”

This is why we don’t live for man, but for God. This is why our worth isn’t dependent on how we’re received, but on how we are freed through Christ. This is why we don’t bend backwards to do what God is not calling us to do.

Yes, we love. We do what God calls us to do…but not to the point of hating ourselves, our answer or the decision that we knew we shouldn’t have made. (but felt obligated to say yes to)

Jesus says “love your neighbor as yourself.” (Mk. 12:31)

We can only give the best of what is in us. There must be love in the water reservoir in order to hand it out to the city.

I considered this recently when I talked to my husband. He said, “We can give money at the start of the year, rather than on a monthly basis because this is what I feel is right for the family…” I can feel at peace about it. I can love myself enough to take care of my family the right way – rather than feeling obligated to give the wrong way.

I also considered this when I got behind on writing blog posts. I can love myself enough to say I need to slow down and be around my family. I can be kind. If you noticed, a bit back, I wrote a little less.

A few moments ago, the phone rang. It wanted my attention. But to give attention to whoever that person was would steal my attention from you. I love myself enough to keep the peace of where I am, rather than being rushed to the next thing.

When we rightly take care of “us,” we can rightly take care of “them.”

In what ways have you gotten this backwards? In what ways have you tried to take care of them, so you could feel good about you?

This kind of sacrifice tends not to breed sacrificial love, but resentment and bitterness. Only when the well of our heart fills with God-given rest, hope and love does our well never run dry.

 

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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The Practical Side of Confidence

I remember sitting on the beach, watching a man who owned the water. Unlike the lady I watched five minutes before, he ran up to the gigantic waves and dove straight into them. He didn’t inch forward with trepidation. He didn’t put his arms out to balance. He didn’t look back to his wife beach-bumming-it on the sand. He owned that water. He went in, looking far stronger than the waves. I couldn’t help but think his water-approach said much about our spiritual life approach.

When we walk out on the world with the confidence of God, we aren’t easily knocked over.

To say, “My heart is confident in you, O God” (Ps. 57:7) is the equivalent of saying, “I can run up to that 6-foot wave and dive right into the middle of it and be fine.” Why? Because God is greater than any force that wants to pummel me. Nothing can eat me alive.

To say, “This I know: God is on my side” (Ps. 57:9) is to silence opposition in just eight words. Distraction and irritations lose their effect. If God is for me, who or what can be against me?

To say, “God will fulfill his purpose for me.” (Ps 57:2) is to dismantle doubt. God will do what He purposes to do.

To say, “All the Lord’s promises prove true” is to walk fortified with the solid rock of Christ in you. All that God says is real and God really is good.

How will you approach the waves of your life? Ready to be tossed around or ready to thrust right through them?

“How blessed is the one who trusts in the LORD.” Ps. 40:4

 

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Winter Means Waiting

Post by: Christine Hoover

In winter, I spend an inordinate amount of time holed up in my home under a blanket, guzzling hot coffee, and longing for spring’s arrival. It’s not my favorite season, but favorite or not, winter is important. Despite what we see with our eyes, the earth in winter is busy creating life. We only know this is so because spring eventually comes, and then we marvel at what that life looks like.

Is it possible that God designed winter and the earthly cycle of life, death, and renewal in order to speak a deeper truth? I believe, because the Bible says it’s so, that everything in creation is designed speech about its Creator. Just as we find him on warm summer days, standing in the sand, listening to the waves crash against the shore, we find him in the stillness of winter.

Winter, however, often speaks of a barrenness we don’t want to hear about.

Annie Dillard writes, “All that summer conceals, winter reveals.” And so we need a life with winters, because we need our hearts revealed. Winter comes to strip us bare of our delusions, to make us face reality: we have imperfections that we can’t perfect. We are helpless to find a formula to reason or act our way out of our helplessness. We are human, and we, in our barrenness, must be acted upon if we’re to experience eternal life, joy, and the supernatural.

Winter then, after stripping us bare, points us to the invisible motion as if in invitation to these very things: life is happening. God is at work, acting upon us.

The harshness of our waiting winter tells us that this world has nothing for us and that we have nothing for ourselves. We have this hope–one, and only one–that there is life waiting for us beyond death.

Although we are not yet in that world, we have reasons for our hope: the words of God. With words, he formed the earth and its seasons and cycles. With words, he continues creating. We can trust his words. In our winter, we must draw ourselves under the warm blanket of God’s promises, a sure comfort in the darkest of hours.

This is what God did with the prophet Jeremiah:

“And the word of the Lord came to me, saying, ‘Jeremiah, what do you see? And I said, ‘I see an almond branch.’ Then the Lord said to me, ‘You have seen well, for I am watching over my word to perform it.'” (1:11)

In Jerusalem, the almond tree, the first to bud in the spring, was said to “watch for spring.” God used the almond branch to comfort Jeremiah in his lamentable circumstances. The almond branch was a reminder that God is always in process of keeping his promises, that he is, at this very moment, hurtling all of us toward eternal spring. He pointed to the almond branch—the coming of spring—and told Jeremiah to watch and wait.

We too watch and wait, not in fear of this winter in which we live, nor in fear of our own spiritual poverty or even final death. We watch and wait, comforted, because all of this God is right now working for our true life, when winter will forever turn to spring.

Christine Hoover is a Bible teacher and the author of several books, including Messy Beautiful Friendship. Her latest book, Searching For Spring: How God Makes All Things Beautiful in Time, frames the life of faith according to the seasons and according to Ecclesiastes 3:11: “God has made everything beautiful in its time.” Searching for spring is really a search for God’s redemptive work, where suffering and death become fruitful life. Christine invites readers like you, who may be weary and withering, to join her on a treasure hunt for beauty in both familiar and unexpected places.

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How to Actually Love Well

Love. It is our highest and hardest calling.

Usually, as I lay my head down at night, it is love that I regret not having been full of. It is love that I desire more of. It is love that I desire to learn from God.

Jesus laid down His life.

Jesus gave up His life.

Jesus offered His life as a ransom for millions.

Love gives up what it has. Love counts no cost to putting others first. Love sees not its own way, but God’s.

So often, I lack it. I see my goals. I see my plans. I see prayer for myself, but not others. I see my dreams that I want accomplished. I see impatience bust out when the seams of my life are pulled. I see my world and my problems. Sometimes, it is hard to see love.

So where do I start? To be like Jesus, where do I start?

I used to think it started with me trying, working and striving harder.

“I really need to…”

“I’ve got to…”

“I have to…,” I’d say.

I still say those things sometimes. But, when I do, I forget it is God who works in me to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose. (Phil. 2:13)

In the presence of my working harder, it is far harder to remember who I am in Christ.

“Yet now he has reconciled (me) to himself through the death of Christ in his physical body. As a result, he has brought (me) into his own presence, and you are holy and blameless as you stand before him without a single fault.” 1 Col. 1:22

When we remove shame, regret and self-hatred we can love far more easily. Without these self-focused love killers we find life as we realize Christ sees us not as we were, but as He is, with his image reflecting from us.  This is the power of love.

Christ’s death and sacrifice, when we accept it, actively works through me so I can actively love others.

 

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.

What we Fail to See

There’s this small activity I’d love you to join me in doing. I believe it will bring a huge smile to your face and your heart. Will you indulge me for a moment?

Heart-Warming Activity:

  1. Think all the way back to the moment right before you were saved. Was it 10 years ago or 10 minutes ago?
  2. Think of that old you visiting the new you today? What would she notice about you? About your life, attitudes, and perspective? About what God has done? What he has given you?
  3. Note how far you’ve come. How faithful God is. All the small things you take for granted.

We usually can’t see what’s behind us. This means while we’ve run 10,000 miles, we usually keep our eyes stuck on the ten feet we’ve got to go, rather than the 9,990 miles we’ve come. We forget to celebrate the goodness, the providence and the wonderfulness of God.

I believe the Lord delights when we stop our race for just a moment, set down our plans and celebrate what He’s done. He’s done a lot, hasn’t He? In so many ways, He’s filled our cups, hasn’t He? Beyond measure, He’s done a good work, hasn’t He?

He’s carried us far.
He’s changed our minds.
He’s reshaped our worlds.
He’s increased joy.
He’s given us wisdom.
He’s gotten us out of trouble.
Take note of all that God has done.

“Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!” Phil. 4:4

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She did — What?!!

She dresses inappropriately. Seriously, you don’t wear those kind of clothes to church, nor do you move like that. 

Every time I saw her, she seemed to raise the annoyance meter in my chest. Worse than that, she was distracting. I couldn’t take my eyes off her odd display during worship.

No one should act in a way that pulls your attention off of God, especially at church. 

If I could have complained to a friend, I would have. She wasn’t honoring God. Plus, everywhere I went, she was pulling my eyes away from God with her inappropriate behavior. I explained to my husband that I didn’t like her.

And then it struck me: “Who’s the sinner here?”

She is worshipping; I am the one ready to gossip. She has eyes on God; I am the one distracted because I only see her. She is being herself; I am judging and whispering mean things about her to my husband after church.

I knew my heart was in the wrong place. I was acting like a Judas. One who said to the extravagant outpouring of Mary’s perfume on Jesus, “Why wasn’t this perfume sold? Why wasn’t the money given to poor people? It was worth a year’s pay.” (Jo. 12:5)

My heart sank. I knew, “I must get to the heart of her story, rather judge her outward appearance.”

So I did. And as I spent time with her, I uncovered her story. I learned of her hard-knock-life background, her years of tears, her hiding of her true self, and the shame that came with all her pain. Now, in Christ, she doesn’t hold back that she is a hundred percent free. She explained how she’s now an extravagant lover of Jesus’s heart.

Am I? Am I a lover or a scoffer?

Jesus replied to the naysayers of Mary’s generous outpouring. “Leave her alone, she has done a beautiful thing to me.” (Mk. 14:6)

I want to do a beautiful thing to Jesus. Don’t you? Perhaps it begins at the place of letting go of others, so we can let ourselves go in new, surrendered ways to Christ.*

*I recently read the book, Unseen, by Sara Hagerty. So much in the book resonated with my heart, but especially her story of judging a person for their love of Christ. She told of Mary and the extravagant outpouring. This similar story was largely inspired by her story and her beautiful words about Mary. I highly recommend Sara’s book. If you are in an unseen place or a place of searching out God, her words will bring life and light to your soul.

 

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When You Feel Defenseless

I ignored my son’s complaints. Entirely. That is, until I joined him for lunch. It was at that point the three bullies attacked me. They came up and said, “Your son made a mess of himself at lunch yesterday.” The leader of the pack looked back at the other two with a grin on his face, while they all laughed and nearly pointed at us. A handful of minutes later, they approached and did it again.

Ouch! Pained, I realized that despite his complaints, I had not been a good defender of my son’s heart. Even more pained, I thought back to the million times when kids treated me the same way. I always hoped someone would come rescue me.

I wasn’t that person for my son, but God can be. God is always our rescuer.

Are you looking for a rescuer today?

This morning, I asked my little son for a number…just a simple random number to tend to his heart. I wanted to read to him out of the Psalms, with the hope that love would love him. What God delivered through the simple numbers 1 & 8 was soul recovering for that little boy’s small heart. I am pulling out bits and chunks and believing God will bless you the same today.

May God rescues your heart in unforeseen ways. May the Kings’ words of defense rise off the screen of your computer and take new life in your heart. And may you know you are more protected than any earthly person could ever keep you safe. 

This is for you:

I love you, Lord;
you are my strength.
 The Lord is my rock, my fortress, and my savior;
my God is my rock, in whom I find protection.
He is my shield, the power that saves me,
and my place of safety.
 I called on the Lord, who is worthy of praise,

and he saved me from my enemies. (Ps. 18:1-3)

But in my distress I cried out to the Lord;
yes, I prayed to my God for help.
He heard me from his sanctuary;

my cry to him reached his ears. (Ps. 18:6)

He reached down from heaven and rescued me;
he drew me out of deep waters.
He rescued me from my powerful enemies,
from those who hated me and were too strong for me.
They attacked me at a moment when I was in distress,
but the Lord supported me.
He led me to a place of safety;
he rescued me because he delights in me.
The Lord rewarded me for doing right;
he restored me because of my innocence.
For I have kept the ways of the Lord;
I have not turned from my God to follow evil.
I have followed all his regulations;
I have never abandoned his decrees.
I am blameless before God;
I have kept myself from sin.
The Lord rewarded me for doing right.

He has seen my innocence. (Ps. 18:16-24)

To the faithful you show yourself faithful;
to those with integrity you show integrity.
To the pure you show yourself pure,
but to the crooked you show yourself shrewd.
You rescue the humble,
but you humiliate the proud.
You light a lamp for me.
The Lord, my God, lights up my darkness.
In your strength I can crush an army;

with my God I can scale any wall. (Ps. 18:25-29)

God arms me with strength,
and he makes my way perfect.
He makes me as surefooted as a deer,
enabling me to stand on mountain heights.
He trains my hands for battle;
he strengthens my arm to draw a bronze bow.
You have given me your shield of victory.
Your right hand supports me;
your help has made me great.

You have made a wide path for my feet

to keep them from slipping. (Ps. 18:32-36)

You have armed me with strength for the battle; (Ps. 18:39)

The Lord lives! Praise to my Rock!
May the God of my salvation be exalted!
He is the God who pays back those who harm me;
he subdues the nations under me
and rescues me from my enemies.
You hold me safe beyond the reach of my enemies;

you save me from violent opponents. (Ps. 18:46-48)

My friends, God cares for us, even when the world lets us down.

 

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What Faith Does

Look back and think of some miracles God has done in your life.

My miracle: He completely healed me from an eating disorder.

My miracle: He brought money into my mailbox on the very day I believed, many years ago when I couldn’t pay rent.

Your miracle: ____

Your miracle: ____

These past miraculous mile-markers serve as huge celebrations. Essentially, we said to God at that time, “Father, I want to ____. I need to ___. Only you can ___.” Then, Jesus did.

Times like this are recounted again and again in scripture. For example, a blind man said to Jesus, “I want to see!” (Lu. 18:41)

Jesus replied: “Receive your sight! Your faith has healed you.” (Lu. 18:42)

It was this man’s faith that healed him. Faith permitted him to receive his healing versus doubting it and blocking it. He opened up his arms to a new idea, versus crossing them. Doing this was powerful, because look what happens. . .

We are told, “Instantly the man could see, and he followed Jesus, praising God. And all who saw it praised God, too.” (Lu.18:4e)

Notice the progression at work here…
Our faith leads to our receiving: This becomes our seeing.
Seeing leads to following Jesus.
Receiving and seeing creates a life of praising.
Our praising makes others start praising.

Where might your small mustard-seed-size faith start a wildfire of praise in this world? Don’t discount a small beginning of faith; God does not despise it. Instead, remember the wonders of old and recount the faithfulness of yesteryear. Re-establish that your God is able. And believe. Get ready to receive God’s new thing.

 

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.