Purposeful Faith

Category - Contentment

Finding true contentment

Beauty in the Cracks of Life

Cracks of Life

Usually, I am prepared for the big breaks. I arm my heart with truth and prayer to beat the all-out smashes of life, but it’s those small cracks, those unexpected issues, that so often send my heart in an emotional tailspin.

Last week, I went on my 10-year anniversary trip. My expectations were higher than the empire state building and all signs were directed to fun.

I drew a line in the bright sandy beach that said “all my eggs are in this vacation basket, nothing can mess with this.”

Vacations are off-limits, aren’t they?

Then, my blog internally crashed.
Email after email couldn’t resolve it.
Four different people couldn’t find a solution.
My husband had various concerns of his own.
The kids were waiting for fun and I felt like there was work to be done.

I knew I had a choice, I could see the big issues in my sight, or I could fight fright to grab hold of God’s might. I chose to fight – to see the great God above me rather than the issues before me.

And, it worked, for, a bit..

…until God whapped me upside my head.

Yes, you heard me right, my friend.

As I entered the pool like the cool, calm and collected “faith in Jesus” girl that I was, I giant bird pounded my head with the speed of a world cup soccer kick.  Apparently this crazy bird thought my bun was nothing less than a tasty soft bun.

Whap! My head seemed to spin with the velocity of all that was coming at me.

And it was in this moment that my hands fell by my side, the tears broke through my face and my heart was cracked wide open. I asked,“Lord, why are you hitting me while I am down? Do you not care about me? What is it that you want to get through my thick skull!?”

Dang. We can fortress ourselves up like Jericho, but still, the cracks find their way, don’t they? They break us down and shatter our worldly and emotional well-being, leaving us saying, “God, how did I end up here? Why did you leave me?”

We amp up our lives with God in the big,
but his volume can seem low in the little. 

Why bother God with something we should be able to handle, right? 

God loses his “needed-status”; he becomes our opponent, rather than our encouragement.

And, this brings me to my patio…(this will all tie together, I promise you).

I first noticed this:

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Abundant dirt in the place where abundant flowers were supposed to reside. So much for nursery promises.

But, then God unveiled this:

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Flowers all throughout the little cracks of my patio.

Flowers, not contained or restrained, potted or predictable, but simply flowers sent on a mission from God.

These flowers helped me see beyond my toddler-like demands of expectation, to see God’s best working ground is in my foundation – in the grime, in the dirt, in the cracks.  

This is the soil where he grows beauty. It’s the soil where things bloom. It’s where the deep roots of faith are sowed.

How often do I take for granted God’s gentle cracks of beauty,
because I am too caught up in the pot that contains no flowers?

How often am I so dead set on my plans,
that I miss God’s desire to spread his seed beyond me?

In the same way, the gospel is bearing fruit and growing throughout the whole world–just as it has been doing among you since the day you heard it and truly understood God’s grace. Col. 1:6

Fertile soil is a powerful breeding ground for the message of Jesus Christ, it says, “Your will be done, Lord, not mine.”

“Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.” Lu. 22:42

Cracks are God’s holy ground.

Our cracks, turn us back to say, “I need you Jesus.” They bring us into his presence. They call us in by name. They set us on our knees. They focus our thoughts on his Word. They humble our hearts into receptivity.

Great seeds of life-growth take root, not always as expected, but in a way where Christ is reflected, where love is invested and so we are redirected.

Ultimately, the cracks launch Christ’s arrows of love straight into the dry-soil of our deep-set emotional issues.

The question is – will we view the small flowers in the cracks as buds of his glory
or will we keep our eyes dead set on what we deserve?

Will we allow attacking birds and cracks in our perfect lives to become messenger’s
of God always-redeeming story – the gospel of Jesus Christ?

Beacons of the great work that God is doing in us.

Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the LORD rises upon you. Is. 60:1

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#RaRalinkup Crew – I have decided to open up guest posting on my blog.

Here is how it will work for now:
guest posts will go live the second Wednesday of: January, March, May, July, September & November.

Please submit your posts by the last day of the previous month (Example: if sending for January, please send to me by Dec. 31) to be considered. Some months, I may choose to do a compilation of various bloggers posts. I may also post this compilation to Crosswalk.com as a “What’s Hot in the Blogosphere World.”

So get on my contact page and send your posts in! I can’t wait to see what you write and to highlight your work on Twitter, Facebook, to readers and to all our #RaRa friends.

I haven’t done this before, in part, because I don’t want anyone to feel bad if they are not chosen. I can’t choose everyone, but I am entrusting your feelings to God as we go through this process. Please, always know, you are deeply loved and so valued by me.

Submission details.

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Tearing Down Your Tower of Self

Tower of Self

Sometimes I scare myself.

I see that ugly side of me, the side I normally try to hide from the camera.

The Kelly who wants to be someone.
The Kelly who wants adoration, affirmation and appreciation.
The Kelly who needs to be seen and loved.

It normally appears in a crutched moment of inadequacy where I require dose of feel-better medicine to get me feeling good about myself again.

In these moments, I start believing:

Greatness and prominence trump Christ’s gift of significance.
That no one notices humility, but they notice desirability.
That recognition is fuel and that submission is old school.

I am learning I have to keep an eye on the thermometer of my heart, because when the its-about-me heat starts to rise, my heart grows cold, love freezes over and I lose track of the one I love most.

Me. Myself. I.
How am I seen? What will I do?
What will I build? Am I as good?

Come, let us build ourselves a city and a tower with its top in the heavens, and let us make a name for ourselves, lest we be dispersed over the face of the whole earth. Genesis 11:4

To make a name.

Is that what I want?

Because, I full well know, it is only about one name: The name above all names, the alpha and omega, the lion and the lamb, the great I AM, the hope of glory, the Savior of the world, the beginning and the end. It all starts and ends with him.  

At days end, my name will be worth nothing and his will be worth everything.

At days end, accomplishments will fade and all that will remain is love.

At days end, stages vanish.  The great stage of godliness, purity and humility will be all that endures.

Anything done in my name will be a signature destined for a shredder upon my final days, but anything done in his name will last forever.

Unless the LORD builds the house, the builders labor in vain. Unless the LORD watches over the city, the guards stand watch in vain. Ps. 127:1

Without Jesus, my best words are babble. If it’s not spoken in the dialect of love, it’s spoken in the dialect of stupidity.

It’s like speaking worthless syllables of a tribal language to a two-year old – they are destined to be edited, obliterated or forgotten. They just speak confusion.

Therefore its name was called Babel (close to Hebew word confusing), because there the Lord confused the language of all the earth. Gen. 11:9

Am I babbling in futility or am I loving in humility?
Am I striving by my efforts or am I receiving love through his?

Everyone loses when agendas move away from the foundation of Jesus. Love is averted. Unity is destroyed. Life-change is missed. People get hurt.

Heaven is missed.

I don’t wan’t to miss that glimpse, not even one slice of heaven – of goodness. I want the whole pie! I want to be so doused in the sweetness of heaven that I have no teeth left and I don’t even care.

If any man’s work which he has built on it remains, he will receive a reward. If any man’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire. 1 Cor. 3:14-15

May our eyes soak in the height of the mercy showered on us. May we embrace a vagabond hearts to become traveling temples of God. May we not see any service as meaningless, but ask Christ if he agrees with this mentality when we begin to.

With Jesus, no person is too low, no place off-limits, no heights untouchable, but if it is not done with him, it is done for self.

Jesus, let every ounce of us be poured out for every ounce of your blood – your love.

A job well done. May the person end up loving you more.
An amazing ministry time. No pride, just deep praise for the great God at work.
An awesome business opportunity. May more know Christ.
A financial outpouring of blessings. A means to bring an end to someone’s captivity.
An outstanding compliment. A way to point to the glory that is God.

If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing. 1 Cor. 13:3

If we can’t do it in love, we may as well be doing nothing.
Lord, let our love mean something!

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The Electrifying Power of Christ in You

Christ in You

Without Jesus I’d be like a car accident with no repair shop,
a mental-case of self-doubt,
a walking shot of vodka times twenty.

Without Jesus in me,
I would travel from place to place
as a leech seeking my next feel-good prey.

That would be me.

You know what the crazy part is?  I’ve realized it’s ok if I still leech. Jesus doesn’t mind how much I leech on to him. 

I can grasp on, pull out everything that IS him and still get every ounce of what I desperately need. I pull in all of his goodness to breathe out all of it wherever I go.

Jesus practically says leech off of me
and I will give you all-surpassing peace.

You will keep in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in You. Is. 26:3

I never thought it should work that way. But, it does. It really does.

He is the rescuer, the ambulance, the paramedic who now runs to my rescue. Not from the physical issues that most likely would have plagued me, but, to the deep emotional hurts. He doesn’t even bandage them – but simply touches them with his gentle hands to bloom what once was bruised.

I don’t need much else besides him. He is the all-inclusive package to life.

I can seek him until I am blue in the face, and still uncover greater sustenance.

He’s better than the straight shot of alcohol because his intoxication heads directly into my heart.

He works in me, through me and for me.

to whom God willed to make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. Col. 1:27

Now I have hope. What once looked like a world full of hurt, crud yet-to-come and accidents waiting to happen, now looks like a world of hope-at-bay, peace-at-work and joy-yet-to-come.

It’s a mystery, but once you have Jesus in you – it all becomes clear as day.

You don’t have to worry about today, because God holds tomorrow.

You don’t have to fret about lost dreams, because God works beyond our visual screens.

You don’t have to be anxious, because God is working through the piles of trash that seem all around you.

You don’t have to feel alone, because God’s presence is greater than the blue sky that covers.

You simply rest in him, knowing he is working. That is Christ in you.

A person cheating and swindling?  Compassion for their needy heart.
Christ in you.

An obnoxious customer service call? Grace to the one who gets rejected all day long.
Christ in you.

Another call at church to give more money? An outpouring of money to those in need.
Christ in you.

Things you could never comprehend pouring out,
were always poured out by Jesus.
Christ in you.

I am realizing that the only requirement is a desire to keep blockages of his glory far, far away. To keep those things that trip you up distanced. That’s it. It’s not even so much that I have to do the hard labor, Christ in me, handles that for me, I just have to be willing to bring it to him.

To acknowledge it – you know, the opposite of deny it.

Then we can see his radiant glory shining out and when it shines it changes everything you look at.  Christ in us. The power is staggering.

It’s addictive. More of you Jesus, let me leech onto you.

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Today I am joining #LiveFreeThursday, Five Minute Friday and #DanceWithJesus.

When Prayer Gets Hard

When Prayer Gets Hard

Guest post by: Kelly O’Dell Stanley

Praying for YOU is easy.

If you come to me and ask for prayer, these are the words I will have for you:
All things are possible. God is a healer. Hold tight to your faith. Just believe.

I will carry your request to God, believing He can do anything. And that He will.

Absolutely.

It’s easy enough to pray for my friends. I don’t even hesitate.

But for me?

Sometimes the only words that will come are ugly, insidious whispers:

You are not enough.
You don’t deserve what you want.
You haven’t been faithful enough.
You haven’t trusted Him enough.
He’s not going to come through for you, so don’t get your hopes up.

It’s a form of self-flagellation at its worst. Beating myself up and living in the assurance that because of all of my failures, God, too, will fail. Or, at the very least, will fail to act.

It’s a cruel torture that leaves a mark as surely as a whip would do.

A few months ago, I found a lump in my breast. Instead of a regular mammogram, they scheduled me for a high-res, diagnostic ultrasound. I had to wait longer to get in. And I knew, I just knew, that the best thing I could hope for would be an assurance that “it’s probably nothing, but we need to do a biopsy.” I figured I’d have to schedule a procedure or two. And wait. And wait a little more.

Instead of leaning on God, I snapped at my husband. Criticized everything in sight. And tried and tried to pray, but all I could manage was, “Dear Lord,” before I’d stop.

Stumped. Afraid. Before I’d dwell on the fact that Mom died of cancer. That my dad had cancer. That my sister’s best friend died from breast cancer. That one in eight women will get it. And that there’s no reason in the world why that should not be me.

As I sat in that waiting room, with the little pink shirt-gown on, while my technician prepared the machine, I couldn’t focus.

I finally cried.
And I was so afraid.
Too afraid to really pray.

So I tried to block out all of my thoughts with a simple melody. The melody to Hallelujah (You Never Let Go), sung by Jeremy Camp came into my mind, and I thought-sang-prayed, You are with me, Hallelujah. You are with me, Hallelujah…

And I let those words push away my fears.
I let them drown out the what-ifs and oh-nos.

It’s so easy to forget God is with us. That He. Is. Right. There. With. Us.

No matter what we feel. No matter where we go. So I just kept repeating that chorus. Until I believed it.

Felt it. Rested in it.

After the ultrasound, the radiologist assured me that there is nothing there. It’s normal fibrous breast tissue. No cyst, no tumor. Nothing. I’m fine. I could have sighed with relief and moved on, like we often do, forgetting about it now that I’m past the scary part.

But the situation got me thinking.

I believe with all my heart in the power of prayer (so much so that I wrote a book about it). And if I still have my moments of doubt, if I still think that maybe God will come through for everyone else but not listen to me, then many of you probably feel that way, too.

What if, just for today, we let ourselves pray as though God is everything we want Him to be?

Everything that we think He is or should be?

 What if we prayed full of belief?

What if we stopped torturing ourselves for our failings?

What if God shows up?

What if this is the moment when everything will change?

What if I can summon as much faith for myself as I can summon for you?

What miracles do you suppose we’d see?

                                                                                                                       Let’s find out.

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Kelly O’Dell Stanley is a graphic designer, writer, and author of the new book, Praying Upside
Down, which releases May 1. With more than two decades of experience in advertising, three kids ranging
from 21 to 14, and a husband of 24 years, she’s learned to look at life in unconventional ways—sometimes
even upside down. Full of doubt and full of faith, she constantly seeks new ways to see what’s happening
all around her. Subscribe to her blog (www.prayingupsidedown.com) to download her free ebook, Praying
in Full Color, along with this month’s prayer prompt calendar to jump-start your prayer life.

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Purchase links:
Amazon
Barnes & Noble
*Also available at christianbooks.com, Lifeway, Books-a-Million, Parable, and others

Join Kelly on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.

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Fighting Back Tough Times

Fighting Back Tough Times

So, I wrote a recent blog post, practically entitled, “The Great Purposeful Faith Hack Attack,” only to be faced with its aftermath yet again.  My site has been deeply compromised, injured internally and badly beaten. Poor thing.

But God’s Word hasn’t.

Jesus was badly compromised, injured and beaten, but his words last forever.
His touch, a lifetime.
His promises, forevermore.
His power, ever-flowing.

So, it all doesn’t really matter does it? In so many ways, anything can be stripped down to its core, but what always remains is the name of Jesus.

It is by him, for him and through him that everything is, was and is to come.

That’s it, my friends  – it all comes back to him, doesn’t it?

If only I can remember this day by day…
Children stripped of clothes, paint strewn all over furniture. Jesus.
Open and wounded emotions after an argument. Jesus.
A big denial after I outpour my heart. Jesus.
A moment of “Why did I do that?” Jesus.
Unhinged expectations. Jesus.

Worst case scenarios come true. Jesus.
Family scars. Jesus.

Sometimes it takes being beaten down to see Jesus’ enduring love –

his endurance that relieves our defiance.

Like a kid being chased, God endures after us, not to mock us, not to yell at us, not to show us what we did wrong, not to call us old labeled names, but to pour out pure and unadulterated love.

He chases us down as loved children because he cares. He sees us running around like chicken’s with our heads cut off. He sees our childlike ways, but he still loves us.

So much so, he takes our present condition of childhood and raises us up to a condition called eternally secure.

The more we are acquainted with suffering, the more we acquaint our eyes to see like Jesus.

Suffering tenderizes our heart.
It pulverizes our judgements of others.
It demolishes strongholds of fear.

Now, don’t get me wrong, this doesn’t mean I have been praying for a miracle, because the alternative is tearing down, all that has been built up.

Sure, there is a time and place to be torn down, but, I have this sneaky feeling that if I can just grab hold of the lesson in the wait, I can steer clear of the lesson in the demolition. You know what I mean?

So, instead, I have been trying to take off the 3D glasses of fear:

The ones that seem to think that contentment revolves around joy, peace and comfort.
The ones that make me think I can charge through barriers God has permitted to stand.
The ones that keep me leashed to ideas that no one will like me.

My only thread line of hope is that I can see God’s simple truth and gentle guidance before me.

Gentle guidance. Because opposing God’s direction is tiring. Running against the wind, depletes me and injures my soul. It leaves me worn on the side of the yellow brick road that I thought led to happiness.

Lord, I can’t help but think, if I can only go with your wind, no matter how face-injuring, skin-drying and emotionally-depleting it may feel, that you will gently guide me right to where I need to be.

Sometimes, there is pain in the moment, but we can trust God’s love endures forever. He is much more concerned with His idea of forever, than our idea of a moment.

Crashing sites, lives, jobs and families are all being worked together for good as we trust God. We can trust that.

And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. Romans 8:28

Don’t miss Part I – Protect Your Heart from Hackers

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Just A Work-In-Progress (Linkup)

A Work-In-Progress

Sometimes I think I act like a fake Christian.

I come on this blog and talk the talk, but then at home, I drop the ball.

I raise my hands to pray, only to turn and go the opposite way.

I say in Jesus’ name, and seconds later, wonder if my name still counts in his book.

I love other people, until it gets inconvenient.

These actions make me feel like an inadequate daughter, a lazy child and a no-good-worthy christian. They make me wonder if Jesus could really love a girl like this?

A girl who is so often just a Christian poser.

While I know Jesus extends me grace (which I gladly receive – in abundance), I still wonder – what rules – the flesh or the Spirit? 

I say, “your will be done,” and then say “I don’t know when He will show up.”
I utter, “you have this God,” only to start to worry.
I seek his face, only to come face to face with the fact that he may not be happy with me.

I have looked at God in all the wrong way, because he is not:
a “convenient” Sovereign god.
a “genie-in-a-bottle” god.
a “call-in-case-of-emergency” god. 
a “I-see-you-from-afar” god.
or a “I’ll-only-love-you-if-your-good” god.

The truth is, the real truth, the I-have-to-cling-to-it truth is: he is the “I-will-always-be-with-you, the I-will never-leave-you, the you-can’t-do-anything-to-make-me-stop-loving-you GOD.

He is the God who doesn’t see me through the face of my mistakes,
but by through the power of his sacrifice.

It’s as if he simply sees through my inadequacies,
straight into the reflection of his heart.

He fully loves. He doesn’t love when all goes well as I am so prone to do – and so prone to expect him to do – but he loves infinitely, incredibly and unduly.

God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ… Eph. 2:4-5

I am not alive to me. I am dead to me. I am alive to Christ.

In this, he doesn’t call me to be put together, he calls me to be broken apart so that he can do his part. His part is creating me into his work of art.

Today, we walk with a work-in-progress sign on, but tomorrow we won’t need a sign. In heaven, all signs will point to the Father, Son and the Holy Spirit – the complete fulfillment of all meaning. Here, God will be faithful to unveil, us, his greatest completed works of art in his perfect glory.

We won’t have to worry about imperfections, inadequacies or incapabilities, because we will be simply in awe of who he made us to be.

God created the earth and that is astounding.  Can you even imagine how astounding we will look as God completes his final strokes? A painting is never completely understood until the very end. It will all become clear.

God is the definition of artistry. We never think of him that way, do we?

All of today, are the small workings of his beauty. Rest, my fellow work-in-progress sign carrier, we will one day be completed.

For by one sacrifice he has made perfect forever those who are being made holy. Hebrews 10:14

A HUGE PRAISE:

We just fixed the hacking issue this morning!
Comments have been down for the past week,
but please feel free to comment away!!!
God is good!

 

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Living Without Fear

Purposeful Faith has been delighted to have Katy McCown join us as a guest contributor. Her insights have compelled our heart to love God more and more. We wish her only the best as she follows God in the next chapter of her life. Katie, thank you for being you. You glorify God in a powerful way!

Post by Katy McCown

In Proverbs 31 God introduces us to this woman,

“She is clothed with strength and dignity,
    and she laughs without fear of the future.” Proverbs 31:25 (NLT)

And the hearts of all God’s girls say, Yes, please!

But deep down we wonder, Is this really attainable? Does her newspaper tell the same stories mine tells? No way she considers college costs and laughs.

Before we talk about the laugh we long for, let’s assess our current condition.

How does your sentence end?

She ________ ?

To help you fill in the blank, consider how you might respond in this moment:

You expect your husband (or friend, sister, mom, etc.) to meet you for dinner. You wait 30 minutes and he’s a no-show. What thoughts race through your head while you wait?

  1. He’s hurt. Your heart beats faster and your palms begin to sweat. What route did he take to get here? You check your phone for a missed call from a number you don’t know and consider grabbing your keys to bolt for the car and re-trace the path he would have driven to the restaurant.
  2. He doesn’t care. While you wait you replay all the ways you don’t measure up. Your head drops and a tear may even cloud your eye as you pick yourself apart and tear yourself to shreds. No wonder he’s not here.
  3. He’s not worth it. Your fingers drum the table as your blood pressure rises. You run through the long list of demands still on your plate. How dare he waste my time.

If number one is your instinctive response, your blank may be filled with words like: She worries. She fears. She panics.

If you identify with number two, maybe these words strike a chord: She compares. She doubts.

If option three nails you on the head, then maybe you describe yourself as: She erupts. She controls.

Maybe you’re like me (and Goldilocks) and you’ve tested all three seats, but still haven’t found the one that’s just right. The bad news is that leaves us all scared, sad or sorta mean. But there is good news!

In her book Living So That, Wendy Blight writes,

“Emotionally, our faith is often muddled by fear, hesitancy, and doubt. But our feelings become irrelevant when Jesus is the object of our faith – when He alone is the One in whom we trust.”

Our faith hangs not on the future, but on the One who holds the future.

The woman God paints in Proverbs 31 fears nothing – not because of earthly security or stable emotions, but because of the position and condition of her heart.

She laughs, because she trusts.

“My friends, we are not those who give up hope and so are lost; but we are of the company who live by faith and so are saved.” Hebrews 10:39 (The Voice)

A few days ago all the stars aligned and every, single, one of my six children.

Fell asleep at the exact, same, time during the afternoon.

I tip-toed to my room as fast as tip-toes can carry a tired mama and nestled into the pillows with a smile from one ear to the other. Thank you, God, for the blessing of these few minutes. Thank you, God, for rest. Thank you, God, for

Bzzz … Bzzz … Bzzzzzzzzzz!

Get out! I screamed to the fly as I fanned my hand in circles. I tried to sink back into my tranquil state but to no avail.

Someone left the door open and let a pest in the house.

Bzzz … Bzzz … Bzzzzzzzzzz!

Strategy #1: Ignore it. 

Failed. How does one tiny fly know just where to buzz to drive a person millions of times bigger than him CRAZY.

Strategy #2: Avoid it. 

Success! Or so I thought. With the help of some spare pillows, I erected a teepee-type structure around my head. And it worked. No more fly. No more buzzing. Back to sweet dreams and silence.

The only problem … I painted myself into a corner. Even the slightest shift of an arm would bring the teepee tumbling down.

Instead of freeing myself from the problem, I trapped myself with a faulty solution.

Is there a pest wreaking havoc in your heart? In your haste to handle the problem, have you set up walls that prevent growth instead of providing protection?

If we want to laugh without fear of the future it’s time to clean house … or heart. Drive out the pests that torment & trap.

If you’ve ever tried to get a fly to do anything you know the dilemma. It reminds me of Shakespeare, “And though she be but little, she is fierce.

The pests in our hearts put up a fierce fight. Sometimes they outwit. Sometimes they hide or blend into the surroundings. Sometimes they outlast us.

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

The pest in your heart has a name. The devil pursues you. He waits for the crack in the door. He invades and attacks with relentless force. Something tells me you know this already.

Defeating the devil requires you to do more than ignore or avoid.

“Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life.” Proverbs 4:23

To actively keep my heart, I employ 3 Strategies:

  1. Be Alert! Identify the poison Satan feeds your heart and slam on the brakes (1 Peter 5:8).
  2. Replace lies with Truth! Make every thought obedient to God’s Word (2 Corinthians 10:5).
  3. Choose Faith! Show your belief by what you do (Jame 2:18-24).

So, how would the lady who laughs at the future approach the problem at the restaurant? I bet she prays. She tells God her fears, doubts or anger and begs for His truth to take over. She re-directs her toxic path to one focused on His Words and filled with His promises. And as she chooses to believe Him, she laughs.

“Instead, let the Spirit renew your thoughts and attitudes. Put on your new nature, created to be like God—truly righteous and holy.” Ephesians 4:23-24 (NLT)

She laughs without fear of the future. Is this attainable?

I have to believe it is and, more than that, anything less is a life not suited for the daughter of the King.

Special thanks to Meagan at Ancient Verse for donating the artwork in the photo at the top of this post.

Katy

I left my job as a television news reporter to join my husband, Luke, on our adventure in the National Football League. 10 years, 12 moves, 6 kids, 5 teams, and 4 states later, it's safe to say the road has been anything but predictable. Our dreams today don't look quite like they did ten years ago, but I've learned along the way dreams do come true ... even if you're not a Disney World. I blog about a football wife's life at www.katymccown.com and I'd love for you to visit me!

I left my job as a television news reporter to join my husband, Luke, on our adventure in the National Football League. 10 years, 12 moves, 6 kids, 5 teams, and 4 states later, it’s safe to say the road has been anything but predictable. Our dreams today don’t look quite like they did ten years ago, but I’ve learned along the way dreams do come true … even if you’re not a Disney World. I blog about a football wife’s life at www.katymccown.com and I’d love for you to visit me!

Protect Your Heart from Hackers

Protect Your Heart

My blog was hit by a brute force hacker who brutely forced fear straight into my heart.

They attempted to hack and whack the message of God.
To halt the images leading the way to the way, the truth and the life.
To hammer my functionality.
To halt images portraying the way, the truth and life.

I panicked. I emailed help like a mad woman. I fretted and feared.

But, nothing can stop the truth of God.

We may fall, sites may fall, finances may fall, buildings may fall, jobs may fall, kids may fall, feelings may fall, but nothing can make our all-powerful Jesus fall from the right hand of God.

Nothing can make us fall from grace. Nothing can make us fall from our eternal standing with Christ Jesus.

We are not falling victims of senseless attacks, but rising sinners headed to heaven.

God has secured our future no matter what attacks come our way.

With God, we rise above attacks.

What the enemy uses to take us down, God uses to raise us up,
to a greater enlightenment,
to a deeper truth,
to a more powerful resolve to push through obstacles.

Nothing can take Jesus down, because he has already risen up!

The devil might attempt to bring us to our knees, but God uses to reinforce our faith to a greater degree.

You intended to harm me, but God intended it all for good. He brought me to this position so I could save the lives of many people. (Gen. 50:20)

Lately, I have been getting vulnerable – real vulnerable. This attack has showed me that the more we become vulnerable, the more we lay ourselves wide open to attack.

But, God never promised we wouldn’t be persecuted, he promised us we would have eternal rewards when we are.

We are open and ready to receive from God. We raise our arms in surrender, we lift up our heads, we close our eyes, but this is also the perfect position for the enemy to come right in to shove us over. We aren’t looking at him, afterall. It’s hard to see the onslaught coming.

Can you remember a time where you were going head-on right into the heart of Jesus with complete abandon, only to feel the weight of the world come crashing down?

Can you remember feelings of doubt, discouragement and despair throwing you off track?

Vulnerability and surrendered hearts are open to a brute force attack, if we don’t add safety guards.

For my site, it is extra walls of security and additional plug-ins. We need to plug-in too. We need to plug-in to the armor of God “so that (we) can take your stand against the devil’s schemes.” Eph. 6:11

This means we add a little extra security to our holy temples.

We dress up a bit.
We wear our accessories daily.
We protect our open hearts.

We put on:

1. The “belt of truth buckled around (our) waist.” Eph. 6:14

Just as a belt is the center point of our body, so is the Word of God the center point of our lives.  All truth flows and knowledge flows from God’s Word that brings life.

2. The “with the breastplate of righteousness in place” Eph. 6:15

No matter how open your heart is to God, when we act in righteous ways, we wear an armor that protects us from getting hurt. It makes all darts against us bounce off.

3. “Feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace.” Eph. 6:16

If we are ready and willing, we can’t be stopped. There is resolution in the face of trials. Put on readiness so you may grow and go according to Christ’s purpose.

4. “The shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one.” Eph. 6:17

When we believe in what we cannot see, the troubles we can see don’t deter us in the moment – we walk with a higher mission.

5. “The helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.” Eph. 6:17

We can cover our head with the protective helmet of eternal salvation. Our mind can rest secure under it because we have eternal standing that can never be removed.

We wear our armor, but we live/worship/surrender as “wise as a serpent and as innocent as a dove”. Mt. 10:16

This means we worship with hands raised and one eye open.
We share discerning if we may be throwing our valuable pearls to the swine. Mt. 7:6
We pray, knowing that is not by our might, but by God’s that we are protected. Eph. 6:18
Because, otherwise, we are just as vulnerable to an attack as we are to God.

Otherwise, we walk with our heads in the clouds, ready to be hacked right back down to earth.

Let’s get up, wise up and start plugging in to God’s protective armor. We are fighting a greater battle.

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Is Showy Christianity Leading You Astray?

Showy Christianity

Entertain me.
Delight me.
Distract me.

We are on a constant hunt to find pleasure in all we do.

We are seeking a God that is palatable, tasty and pleasurable. We go to big conferences, with big screens and big pastors.  All is good as long as it points to Christ, right?

This makes me wonder.
It makes me wonder whether the fan-fare would be a delight or a fright to Jesus?

We know it is all about his glory for his story.
We know it is all about his name and not our fame.

But, somehow the famous draw us, the powerful captivate us and the big lights lure us.

Is lowly and humble Jesus found against the big lights of Christianity?

Is he found in the lights of the big show or in the shadow of the big Father?

I can’t help but think that when we demand church be an experience, we miss the experience that is Jesus. We miss the stillness of a moment where it is just us and him. We miss the quiet heart that says, I don’t need all that – I just need you. We miss the convictions of the Holy Spirit at work within us, because we are too focused around us and we can’t hear what he is saying to us.

Entertainment becomes an opiate to hide us from reality.
A crutch to keep our anxious minds in motion.
Novocaine to dull our suffering.

But, perhaps suffering is just what God has set forth for us to feel in the moment, because it will move us towards deeper love and faith.

It’s not the big lights we need to keep our eyes off of ourselves, but simply the light of Christ to shines truth into the hidden places of our aching hearts.

That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong. (2 Cor. 12:10)

But, for us entertainment seekers, silence, quietness and stillness of mind scares us. It’s uncomfortable.

Instead, we become so focused on what others are saying and doing, that we often miss what God wants us to say or do for another. We expect the producers to make the show good enough for us to consume and when we don’t we leave disappointed.

But, did Jesus seek to put on a show to make Christianity glow?

He didn’t seek big followers in order to make new followers.

“When a Samaritan woman came to draw water, Jesus said to her, ‘Will you give me a drink?'” (His disciples had gone into the town to buy food.) (John 4:17)

This woman went alone. She went with her thoughts. She went with a simple bucket, most likely. But, what she got was an encounter with Jesus. Jesus, who stepped away from the other disciples, away from the crowds to meet a woman in a simple way, through simple words, that would simply change her heart forever.

Jesus’ approach was simple.

He simply approached man with straightforward truth to let the power of the living Word transform dying hearts.

Jesus knew the Word of the Lord is more than sufficient – and more than capable – to accomplish all it is set forth to accomplish.

He withdrew from the crowds for quiet prayer with his Father. He calls us to do the same – to talk without noise, without pretense and without the show being our idol.

Praise the Lord! Praise God in his sanctuary; praise him in his mighty heavens! Praise him for his mighty deeds; praise him according to his excellent greatness! (Ps. 150:1-2)

Our call is to praise the Lord, to seek his soul, to seek his face.

Perhaps it doesn’t come down to what others do, or what people offer us, or who says what or how many people are at whatever event or the amount of lights, but it comes down to how we enter into church and how we approach the Father.

It comes down to who and what we follow.
It comes down to what we expect, to what we demand and what we seek.

It comes down to: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ (Mt. 22:37) and ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ (Mt. 22:39)

 

It comes down to – it’s all about Him.

 

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Are you a Speaker of Fear? (Linkup)

Are you a Speaker of Fear?

Fear says,

“I don’t want you to do that. You better not go there.”
“I walked down a path and I saw the bad things that resulted.”
“You may get hurt.”
“I will have to carry your load.”

When we speak fear, we speak death into another person’s joy.
We speak the emotions of worst case scenarios into what could be another’s best.
We rain on another’s parade.

I don’t want to be that kind of person.

The kind of person that sees a child with a new balloon – and who then sucks the life right out of it.

I can try to justify it in love:
I don’t want them to be hurt.
I am saving us future pain.
They should know the truth.

But speaking fear is just criticism wrapped with a thin bow of “care”.  The “care” bow doesn’t last, but often it’s the underlying words of fear that endure.

Are you raining on a parade?

Are you letting fear dictate your words to another?
To a spouse?
A child?
A friend?

I am guilty. I look at my 3-year old son, carrying big bucket of water and a huge smile, only to say, “Don’t spill that. I really don’t want to clean that up.”

While I know this is a small example, and it won’t ruin his life forever, it still conveys the point. What if, instead, I was to say, “Wow! That looks like fun. You are up to something cool. I want to be a part of that! Let’s take it outside.”

Instead of stealing joy, I am building into it.

I know, so often, I run so fast to fear…

Fear that ruins.
Fear that cripples.
Fear that overshadows emotions.

Fear stands for:

Fun
Ends
And you’re left…
Rejected

What’s the other alternative? Love.

Love stands for:

Letting
Obstacles
Vanish and
Enduring Faith Win

Love doesn’t see issues, but sees hope.

Love doesn’t see threats, but sees opportunity.

Love doesn’t see differences, but common pain.

Love doesn’t see the words “you can’t”, but encourages through the words “you can.”

​Love doesn’t see the potential downfall, but a chance for greater faith to be forged.

Love doesn’t run to save, but trusts Jesus to.

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