Purposeful Faith

Category - Contentment

Finding true contentment

10 Biblical Ways to Grab Hold of Contentment

Grab hold of contentment

My son loves baking with me. He certainly takes the cake for the best assistant. But, it wasn’t his baking skills that astounded me, it was God’s lesson of contentment really left a taste in my mouth.

My son stirred the entire contents of the pancake batter in his bowl, yet his eyes were transfixed on the paltry 2 teaspoons of milk in his sister’s. He was aggravated, annoyed and discontent. Suddenly, he didn’t like his bowl; he wanted his sister’s.

I felt sad for him, because:
He didn’t realize the value of what he held.
He didn’t realize that I had given him something special.
He didn’t realize his ingredients were vital to breakfast.
Instead, he became so distracted with her plate, he neglected his own.

Didn’t he know that we were about 3-minutes away from eating some light and fluffy delicious pancakes?   He was missing out, missing the point and missing the joy.

His joy was stolen. Envy was eating him up.

How much of our attitude is just like his?  One of discontentment?

How often do we see past our portion – to only see another’s?  How often are our blessings soured by wandering eyes?

What does God think about this?

It gets me thinking – when our eyes wander to another’s portion, we miss the delight of our own.  We miss the joy, the anticipation, the thanksgiving, the appreciation, the purpose, the passion – and the moment.

The whole time, my son had what was better right before him
– but he couldn’t see it.

He was too transfixed with the matter of someone else’s batter.

Like him, are we so worried about “getting” that we miss what God is “giving”?  Let’s change this attitude to start enjoying what the Lord has placed before us.

10 Ways to Grab Hold of Contentment:

10. Believe that the Lord has given us exactly what we need for today.

Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? (Mt. 6:26)

If the Lord wanted us to have more, we would have more. But, we don’t.  Why?  We can’t always know, we can’t always tell and we can’t always understand – but we can understand that the Lord’s ways are not our ways. He knows better than us. Faith is trusting no matter what things look like.

9. Understand our deepest needs are already met.

Much like my son, we don’t realize that we already have the bigger bowl, the better goods and the sizable portion (we have Christ).  However, because we allow envy to creep into our hearts, we become disillusioned by what we see around us – and we miss what the Lord has done in us.

And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus. (Phil 4:19)

8. Realize that underneath the other person’s baked goodies, often lies a chipped, cracked and discolored plate.

While we may say, “wow, what they have looks so good,” we never really know what the other person is dealing with.

Let your eyes look directly forward, and your gaze be straight before you. (Prov. 4:25)

7. Face reality: We can’t have our cake and eat it too.

We ask God for contentment, endurance and patience – while demanding, coveting and envying material goods.  God is not a genie in a bottle and we are not his master. When we trust God as supreme – we appreciate what we have.

One’s pride will bring him low, but he who is lowly in spirit will obtain honor. (Prov. 29: 23)

6. Realize that joy is found when we find contentment.

If my son had worried less about his sister’s bowl and more about his – he could have enjoyed the moment. However, his joy was cut short.  He instead embraced jealousy, anxiety and frustration because he saw what he didn’t have.

Take delight in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart. (Ps. 37:4)

5. Walk by Faith: We never know what God has for us around the corner.

Frankly, we may have less than another today.  But, we have no idea what God has in store for us in tomorrow.  If we are always playing the comparison game  – we will either feel prideful one moment and neglected the next or vice versa.  Why indulge in this constant sin-cycle?  It’s not worth it; it clouds our calling. It throws us off track.

In all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight. (Prov. 3:6)

4. Rest in the knowledge that the Lord will provide.

He will provide for our deepest needs.  We don’t have to look side-to-side any longer because we can look high-and-up to the King that stands ready to bestow all good gifts.

My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever. (Ps. 73:26)

3. Even if we have less, we have a great opportunity to rely on God.

In these moments, we can fully rest in our Lord’s faithful providence. It is here where faith is grown. It is here where real blessings surface.  It’s not material blessings, but immaterial blessings that blow us away with joy, peace and purpose.

I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. (Phil 4:11)

2. Grab hold of God instead of material goods for true significance.

“Not having” gives us the chance to “have” the greater gift – a gift that fills insecurities, quells fears and provides security.  What was once insecure, becomes secure with Christ.

Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” (Jo. 8:12)

1. Praise, honor and thank God for what we have. The more we do, the more we can celebrate – him.

The more we lift God up, the more we realize – one day – we too will be lifted.  The more we glorify God, the less we desire to be glorified by our own might.

And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. (Jo. 14:13)

We find contentment when we realize that the Lord has placed just the right portion in our bowl. But, the key is, we can’t let our eyes drift.  We can’t miss the moment. We can’t miss his work – in us and through us.

Like my son, we have no idea what will come from our share. While he thought his sister’s portion had value, it was his that actually had true meaning. It was his that would make something lasting.  She only held a drop of milk.  His was nourishing, sustaining and valuable.

What has the Lord placed in front of you?  Is your gift eternal? Are you missing its value? Are you thanking God for this gift? 

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Actually Keep your New Year Resolutions

Keep Your New Year Resolutions

Lose weight. Work out. Be patient. Act kind. Grow closer to God. Stop a bad habit. Is it possible to actually keep your New Year resolutions?

We all want to be better, act better and do better – but often our well-intentioned resolutions – end up as New Year illusions, leaving us tied up in confusion.  We wonder where we went wrong? How we dropped the ball?

Many times, it’s easier to altogether avoid New Year claims then to deal with the fear of their pending shame.

But, Christ doesn’t model stagnant living.
And, he certainly doesn’t call us to avoid improving because we fear losing.

So, how can we truly change?

In my mind, I want to change, but my heart fears that I can’t. I fear I’ll drop the ball. I fear that my dreams will become just that – dreams – unattainable distant images. So I raise a wall of indifference out of fear that I’ll let both God and myself down down.

As always, the Lord doesn’t remain silent when truth needs to be grasped. And, in his always-faithful way, he answers saying, “Look! I am placing a foundation stone in Jerusalem, a firm and tested stone. It is a precious cornerstone that is safe to build on. Whoever believes need never be shaken.” (Is. 28:16)

And, it’s just this cornerstone that makes all the difference. It’s this stone that holds it all together.  It’s the foundation.  The stone that prevents everything from falling.

It’s the stone that holds me together. It’s the stone that will be my foundation. It’s the stone that cements all resolutions.  The one that allows the entire structure to stand firm. The one that we can build upon safely. The cornerstone – Christ Jesus.  

What is the foundation of your resolutions?  Is it your own work?  Your own might?  Your own strength?

Or, do you rely on the stone that will never let you be put to shame (1 Peter 2:6)?

The stone that let’s hard work stand.

Because the truth is, without Christ, all resolutions disintegrate.
By ourselves, we will crack, chip and crumble.
In our own strength, we’ll build foundations of quicksand.
Quicksand that will swallow up all our well-intentioned efforts.

For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ. (1 Cor. 3:11)

Many of my own works, desires and New Year pursuits have been built on my own goals, ideas and dreams – rather than the foundation of the Lord. In this, they were almost all destined to fail.

Build your Resolutions Upon a Firm Foundation

This year, my resolutions will be built upon a firm foundation. A foundation that is completely reliant on the chief cornerstone. A foundation of intentions that are derived from him, focused on him and rooted in my trust of him.

Because if they aren’t – all resolutions will quake to the floor – and the only resolution that I will be left with is a resolution to clean up a mess of well-intentioned goals.  

Christ changes it all though. With Christ as a foundation, our buildings are secure, established and indestructible. Yet, without him, our work is in vain.

“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)

  • We can safely build upon the cornerstone, by seeking the will of the cornerstone – Christ Jesus – in our lives.
  • We can safely build upon the cornerstone by submitting ourselves to his work.
  • We can safely build upon the cornerstone by asking for his help daily.
  • We can safely build upon the cornerstone by embracing his grace when we start to slip.

Then, at the end of the day – when we gaze at the Lord’s work, we will marvel at it’s beauty. Rightfully and naturally, all glory and honor will go to him – the master carpenter, who builds in perfection.  

It won’t be vain or about our glory – or our demise – but it will be all about the ultimate builder.  The one who builds beauty, holiness and eternal structures of significance.

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3 Encouraging Truths When You Feel Stuck

When you feel stuck

Do you feel stagnant? Like you are trying to accelerate, but your car is going nowhere? There are truths when you feel stuck.  Do you know them?

At times, we all feel stuck. We wonder, “Are we making a difference? Serving a purpose? Changing lives? Impacting the world? Is our life adding up to anything meaningful?”

Like a car spinning its wheels, we feel the same. Round and round we go – going nowhere. Pushing and pushing with all our might – but we stay suck. Pressing and pressing our gas pedals – but our wheels dig in deeper.

It’s aggravating. Frustrating. Demoralizing.

It doesn’t matter if we steer in the right direction, because we aren’t going anywhere. So, we look up to God, and ask, “Why?” We feel like giving up.

I sludged around in the mud for so long. I spent much of my life working in jobs that never satisfied. I often arrived to work with a smile – and left for home with a frown. I felt purposeless. Passionless. And, disappointed in myself.

During this time, I realized:
To live without cause is to feel like a fraud.
To not make a difference is to become indifferent.
To fake like you’re okay is to put on a good play.
To not see results feels like an insult.

I believed – and still believe – this is not how God intends us to live. God desires us to be authentic, patient and enduring.

Yet, so many days, I can return to this place of “stuck”. I may want bigger progress. More lives changed. I may want to do better spiritually. Or to be a better mom. Or to have circumstances improve. I may just want to feel closer to God.

Often, I just feel stuck.

But, God is faithfully teaching me that, many times, he is diligently at work to get me unstuck from life’s muck. Even more, we tend to best receive the Lord’s sermons when we are stuck in muck.

It is here where we can’t move, where we have to wait, where we must be still. And, we hear the Lord in profound ways.

The Lord has 3 critical lessons he wants us to grab hold of, instead of our life’s steering wheel:

1. God has us just where he wants us to be.

He knows where we are. He sees us. He has not forgotten about us. This place of frustration is a place of transformation. It is in this place, where we must stop and wait on him.  It is here where we can find his love, his direction and his guidance.

It’s in these places of “wait” where God’s work really gets started. This muddy ground is his best working ground. It is here, where he molds us – growing us in patience, endurance and perseverance.

Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. (Romans 5:3-4)

2. He is preparing, reforming and transforming us to do his work.

Fear not. Even though we feel stuck, it doesn’t mean our lives have gone amuck. Because it’s here we can choose to trust, grow and sow. As we sow faith, we let go of fear. As we let go of fear (sometimes the fear of mediocrity), true purpose surfaces – it is here we find – our calling.

The bottom line of true calling is pleasing and serving the Lord.
When we let go of fear and indifference – we start making a difference.
We understand that he is at work – in us – instead of us demanding to have him work – through us.

We spin our wheels less and he produces more and more fruit. Fruit that we can go share with others. In this, we find rest, encouragement and renewed passion.

Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me. (John 15:4)

3. God put a calling in our hearts. Listen and follow.

God made us with a purpose and for a purpose. Perhaps we are still in the training stages. An Olympian cannot just walk out on the track and get the gold. Likewise, there are hard training days that accompany our work for the Lord. We have to put the hard work in. Work that is endless, tiring and ongoing.

God is sovereign; he decides the proper time to exalt us. We can wait on him. Even if that time of exaltation is at heavens door, we can still trust in his plan.

Let’s not miss the moment. Because the most important calling for our lives is not the one we dream of – but the one that he has already placed in front of us – for this exact moment. Let’s not miss it.

Let’s call out to the Lord.
He will help us.
His words will guide us in our way.

When we stop focusing on our circumstances and start focusing on him – things start to happen.

I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my loving eye on you. (Ps. 32:8)

We can’t give up our drive; this was placed in us by God. But, we must keep our eyes on the one who provides “the way”. Then, in God’s perfect timing, our wheels will stop spinning – and start moving us to destinations we never dreamed.

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Dreams That Were Never Ours To Begin With

Dreams that were never ours

I am delighted to have this story featured on God Sized Dreams today…

Sometimes we have that one dream. We want it so badly. We want it with all that we are. We can see it. We can feel it. It rules our mind. It drives our behaviors. It consumes our thoughts.

We can only imagine what life will be like when we finally have it. Things will change. Life will matter. Everything will come into perspective.  

God knows how much is riding on this. Right? We think so. So, we diligently pray, as any good Christian should do. We ask and we seek to no end. We call up to God and bare our heart. We let him know how much we need this one dream to come through. We tell him exactly how we see it working out.

I have done this so many times. I have dreamed big dreams. I have hoped big hopes. I have wanted things to go a certain way. In fact, I have almost demanded they go a certain way….

Read as the story “Dreams that Were Never Ours to Begin With” continues on God Sized Dreams…

Prepare Your Heart for the Birth of Jesus

Prepare your heart for the birth of baby Jesus

Mary and Joseph knocked on the door to inn, but there was no room.  There was no space.  Every inch of the inn was occupied.

“…She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them.” (Luke 2:7)

As we prepare for Christmas, we are wise to create room for the greatest gift of Christmas to be delivered.  We are wise to make sure we don’t say, “Jesus, I don’t have room for you.”  Because, if we fill our mind, our actions and our hearts with other things, we will have a big sign on our hearts that shines “no vacancy.”

This means, we have to slow down, and clear out some internal junk to make room for Jesus. We must open the doors of our soul and say, “Yes, Lord, we have room.” We must look him in the eyes and say, “Let us roll out the red carpet – the VIP treatment – for you Lord!” We must say, “You are the preferred guest in my heart.”

Making room for Jesus means we:

Pray and ask Jesus to make himself apparent in our hearts.
– Acknowledge to God that we are prone to stray.
Keep our eyes focused on the word of the Lord.
Meditate on the story of Christmas and the gift called Jesus
Repent of any idols we are putting before the Lord.
Let go of worries, anxieties and busyness to find Christ.
Find joy in the grace and glory that Christ brings.

Prepare your heart. Make room for the King.  He is coming.

Don’t let your heart blink with a no vacancy sign. Don’t turn away the greatest gift ever given.  Create room for the arrival of baby Jesus.

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Will They Love My Gift?

By: Katy

“Hey when ya get a chance today, find one of those big empty boxes in the garage and have the kids start getting stuff to give away.”

A text from my hubby on his way to work one morning just before Christmas last year. How sweet. How noble. What a great Dad. None of those, however, crossed my mind. Instead, I kinda went, “Ugggggghhhhhh.”

Doesn’t he know we all still have the flu? Doesn’t he know I have disinfecting to do? Doesn’t he know the kids all have attitudes?

But in the spirit of Christmas I turned off the television, grabbed a box, and sat our little army all in a row.

“It’s time to clean out the toy box.”

They know the drill. We do it bi-annually. Once before birthdays. Once before Christmas. Clear out the clutter before we add more. I know what stays and what goes before we begin. Toys on top we play with on a regular basis. Those stay. Toys on the bottom – those are the forgotten, broken or replaced toys the kids are willing to part with.

Except for last year ….

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Micah Sean, my rough and tough 3rd born with a hard head and a soft heart, sat on the rug with his little legs crossed. One of the first toys out of the box – Dad the Moose. Micah named him. Micah loves his Daddy and loves his moose, so it seemed appropriate.

Dad the Moose sleeps tucked under Micah’s arm. Dad the Moose travels with us wherever we go. Dad the Moose is Micah’s buddy, maybe even his best buddy.

So when I pulled the moose out of the box and said, “Give or keep,” I already knew the answer. “Keep!” Micah yelped and squeezed Dad the Moose close. We continued with several more “keeps.” Then,

“Wait,” Micah said with urgency. “I want to give Dad the Moose.”

And he tossed him into the box. I looked at Micah. Did he really mean it? Does he know what he’s doing? He’ll miss that moose! A few minutes later Micah changed his mind and dug the moose back out of the box. Three times this happened. Moose in. Moose out. Moose in. Moose out.

I watched this little boy struggle. Something inside him said give. Give away your moose. But something inside him also ached. Dad the Moose belonged to Micah. He chose that moose. He named him. He loved him.

And then he did it. Once and for all, he gave his moose away.

“Mom, someone else can have Dad the Moose.”

Elijah, our resident animal lover and stuffed animal collector, warned, “Micah, another boy or girl may not call him Dad.”

For fear of Micah’s tender heart breaking any more than it already had I jumped in … “But that’s okay. Because when we give, we also trust, that whoever gets our gift will love it as much as we did.”

I put my hand on Micah’s little leg and through tears I praised him for his selfless act. I told him about the boys and girls who won’t have much on Christmas and how happy they will be to receive this special gift.

Then I watched … as one gift of love spilled over.

“Okay, Mom, I’ll give Louie.”

Louie, Elijah’s stuffed owl. Just a few weeks earlier, Elijah walked all over the store, carefully considering every option before he picked Louie. He chose him. He named him. He loved him.

“I’ll give away pythor too, Mom.” And here came Jonah with his prize python. Jonah didn’t even like his siblings to play with this stuffed animal. Pythor morphed into a jump rope or super hero sling. His scales were blue, Jonah’s favorite color. Jonah chose him. He named him. He loved him.

But Louie and Pythor joined Dad the Moose in the box.

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All of a sudden this box seemed so cold. How could these gifts given from such a tender place land in a torn, dirty, plain, brown box? They mean too much. They don’t belong here …….

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” John 3:16 (KJV)

For God so loved the world, he gave. He gave his Son.

He chose Him. He named Him. He loved Him.

Did He really mean it? Does He know what He’s doing?

God knew some would not call him by his Name. Some would not call him Savior. King. Emmanuel. But still, God gave.

He means too much. He doesn’t belong here. How could His gift land in such a torn, dirty, plain world? 

But Jesus did.

“And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.” John 1:14 (ESV)

Our box filled up pretty quick after that.

Turns out once you give away what you hold dear, everything else is easy to release.

“And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.” Philippians 2:8 (ESV)

God gave it all, because He loves you and me. May that truth grace your heart in a new way today. And by His grace, may this greatest gift of love ever conceived spill out of your life into the hearts that surround you.

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!

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Dear Child of God,

Dear Child of God

To my Dear Child of God,

Please know that you are loved. You are greatly adored. You are special.  You are encouraged.  You are seen.  You are powerful. You have a sound mind. You have a future. You have a hope. You have purpose. You are secure.

Why?

Because of me. Because of your God.  Because of Christ, who accepted every ounce of pain, so that he could grant every ounce of grace. Grace has been lavishly poured all over you. Do you know what this means? You are entirely secure.

I am the definition of love. I take joy in my creation. I give life. I show the way. I  offer you truth.

Know this, dear child, know this:

I won’t leave you, ever.
I won’t abandon you, never.
I won’t forsake you, no way no how.
I will help you, always.
I will lift you up and exalt you at just the right time, just see.
I will hold your hand in hard times, I will.
I will guide you in all of your days, trust me.

Come. Come and receive.

Stop striving and come.

Stop trying and come.

Stop worrying and come.

Dear child of God, I love you. I won’t stop loving you.

Love Always,

Your Lord and Savior, your King of Kings, your All-in-All, your One and Only

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How to Heal a Deep Hurt

How to heal a deep hurt

Have you ever felt like you went too far? That you were too vulnerable with someone? That you were standing right at the brink of feeling out of control? Wondering if you would be pushed over and taken advantage of?

We have all been in these situations.

Often, we share and open up, only to feel sorry we did, only to feel put down or only to feel a recipient of unwanted advice.

I understand.  It can feel easy to want to hide, to cover our heads, to shut down, to close off, to get defensive and to self protect. I do these things all the time because sharing is risky. Being open is threatening. People’s responses are uncertain.  It’s sometimes easier to stay on steady ground.

Standing completely open to another’s reactions, views and perceptions threatens to redefine who we are – or simply hurt us at our very core.  It makes us feel like others hold control.

And, none of us like being acted upon – to feel unsure where things are going. It can feel too much to handle. Overwhelming.  It’s much easier to avoid these situations by maintaining control.

This way, we can avoid doubt, self-reflection and feelings of inadequacy. We can avoid wondering if we will be accepted, judged or criticized.  We can avoid worrying about others worrying about us.  We can avoid worrying about being punished for our beliefs.

At the bottom of it all, we fear others, we fear ourselves and we fear we won’t be loved.  We fear we are not good enough and others will know.

And, sometimes these fears feel justified.  We remember what happened the last time we were in a position like this, we remember the result and we remember our feelings. It was hard. Painful. Damaging. So, when we come against it again, we stand afraid – ready to fight – or take flight.  Either way, we know we aren’t going to be treated the same way as last time.

What are we to do? How are we to be honest, transparent and vulnerable with others when we constantly feel in fear? How can we move towards relationship without feeling like we need to move away?

God has been stirring up these questions in my heart lately.  I know he wants me to see beyond fear, but often I wonder how.   I am coming to the realization that I will never feel completely fearless with others; I will never feel completely safe based on who I am. It is impossible. We are all fallen.

And, I will never be completely good enough by my own merit, so if that is my goal – it is unattainable.

Only One makes us good enough, only One can be our refuge in a time of trouble, only One can be our rock when our ground is sinking and only One can be our hope when life is hopeless.

I know these things. I do. But, talk is cheap and the heart is what counts.

I don’t want to be a talking testimony; I want to be a walking testimony.

God sees my desire. He is opening my eyes. Gently, He is revealing truth – to change my perspective and to make me effective.

He captured my eye with just a couple words in His Word that made all the difference in my world.

The Lord said to me, “You are sealed.”

(He) set his seal of ownership on us, and put his Spirit in our hearts as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come. (2 Cor. 1:22)

On face value, this may not appear the answer to all fear.  But, these words have a powerful ripple effect that extends to the deepest levels of our hearts.

Why?  Because being sealed means that we are enveloped in love. Like a letter wrapped in a sealed envelope, we are entirely covered above and below – wrapped by the ownership and power of the Holy Spirit.  It covers us.  Nothing can penetrate the seal or the mark of the Spirit.

Because we are in Him, our ultimate security is secure. We are sealed. Shut. Marked. Owned. Sent. Made right. 

And you also were included in Christ when you heard the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation. When you believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit… (Eph. 1:13)

The King’s seal is on our hearts.

If he took the time to seal us, won’t he protect us? Guard us? Ensure we are ok? Help us forgive? Encourage us to speak his truth with love?

Afterall, we are his letter and words to all nations.

In this, we don’t have to live scared. If God stands with us, who in the world can ever stand against us (Ro. 8:31).  At our deepest levels we are secure.

People can say or do what they are going to do, but it doesn’t matter, because the seal of the Spirit keeps us safe. Nothing can change that seal.  The Spirit forever marks us.

And, when we have been marked, we have been marked as belonging to the Lord.  We are united. One. He will help us. He will not abandon us. He knows us. He approves of us because of Him.  We are protected.

But whoever is united with the Lord is one with him in spirit. (1 Cor. 6:17)

How could God destroy his very self?

Even if, in the moment, we are threatened – or at worst – taken advantage of, God always has the advantage. He always has a plan.  He knows a way. He has a vision.

Do we trust Him?

We need not fear being hunted, threatened or hurt because – in the end – God will always be victorious.  In fact, he already is. He has already won the battle. It is finished. Because of this, the battles of present day can lose their sting, because Jesus endured the ultimate sting.

Jesus said, “It is finished.” With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit. (Jo. 19:30)

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Softening the sharps and tuning up normal

softening up sharps

Post by: Christy Mobley

Proverbs 15:1  A soft word turns away wrath but harsh words stir up anger. (NIV)

I scurried into the store and  made a bee line for the customer service counter. It was the holiday season and I was in a hurry to find a specific gift.

There was one other lady standing beside the counter and several  customer service clerks meandering behind it. When I got to the counter one of the clerks immediately approached me and asked me if she could help. I no sooner got  the words, “I wonder if you could tell me where…,” out of my mouth before the woman standing beside me erupted into a soprano sounding hysteria. With sharp staccato inflections, she belted, “Is there something wrong with you? Can’t you see I’ve been waiting and you’re breaking in line? And… you’re taking my help!”

I felt the blood rush to my face and the hair on the back of my neck stand up as I glanced around and saw there was no line and plenty of help available. I have to admit my first reaction was to blast her right back with a big fat piece of my mind. But Someone bigger than me got the better of me. I almost couldn’t believe myself, when I turned to the clerk and asked softly, “Has anyone helped this woman? If not, will you help her?”

Someone bigger than me got the better of me.

Just as the key verse from Proverbs states,  the soft words I spoke turned away this woman’s wrath.

What made her act that way?  I suppose it could have been the holiday rush, too much to do on her to-do-list, or she might have gotten up on the wrong side of the bed, but maybe, just maybe, what I witnessed was her normal.

I say that because thirty years ago she, might have been me. Because on many a day that was my normal.

I grew up in a family of yellers. Yelling doesn’t have to mean being loud. Yelling can refer to the tone of your voice as well.   Quick and sharp can sound harsh and brash.  I didn’t  necessarily like some of the tones played out  in my childhood but it was my normal. And you don’t change normal.

But God does.

In my early twenties, it was no coincidence that I married a peacemaker, my polar opposite, a man who could charm the skin off a snake.  Needless to say,  my often sharp and abrupt approach was a shock to his system. He would say to me, “Christy, the way in which you deliver a message is just as important as the message you deliver.”

The way in which you deliver a message is just as important as the message you deliver.

Those words gradually went from my head to my heart. While raising our two boys, and watching them grow, I was growing too  – spiritually. My deepest desire was for my boys to grow up to be godly men with gentle spirits. But whatever children see their parents do in moderation they will do in excess. It was then the Holy Spirit convicted my heart that if I was to be a brighter light I needed to have a softer voice.

Whatever we do in moderation our children will do in excess.

I needed to soften my sharp words and tune up my normal. To make this change I had to do 3 things, admit, commit, and submit.

1. Admit, I was a yeller. I had to admit my approach was often wrong.

2. Commit it to prayer. I couldn’t do this on my own, I needed to ask God for help.

3. Submit to accountability. Finally I had to have a few somebody’s to hold me to it. My boys were more than willing to oblige in that department.

Thanks be to God, He is still at work in me everyday changing me to be more like Him.

Today, I hope all my words will carry the sweet harmony of Jesus, whether it’s to family, friends, the bag boy at the grocery, the girl at the drive-through window,  or a hysterical woman in a department store.

What about you?  At the end of the day, don’t you want to be someone’s melody rather than their malady?

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Post by: Christy Mobley

5 Tips to Survive (& Thrive) amidst Thanksgiving Chaos

Thanksgiving Chaos

We are all gathered around the table. I can’t keep my eyes off the pumpkin pie, the mashed potatoes, and the creamed corn. I want to devour it all. My mouth is watering. As familiar family faces fade into the background, I develop a personal action plan of what I’ll eat, how fast I’ll eat it and when to fill up my plate again.

I hear distant sounds, words and discussions, but I am mezmerized by utter gratefulness as I take it all in – the pure beauty of the Thanksgiving spread set so perfectly on the table. Surely, God knew what he was doing when he gave us food; it truly embodies one of the greatest things we have to be grateful for.

But, as I smile, as I look, as I sit, deafening sounds quickly pull me out of my delightful daydream, and throw me back into reality. A storm is brewing. Someone is annoyed. Agitated. Frustrated.

It could be one of many things – someone got ticked off, another couldn’t get drinks fast enough, a rude piercing reply was launched or a digging question was fired over the table. Truly, it could be anything.

Who knows the exact reason why? But, all that mattered to me is that my moment was lost. My joy was stolen. Agitation filled me. Disappointment gripped me. Despite my best efforts to make this Thanksgiving great, someone messed it up. Again.

Why can’t we give thanks in peace? Why can’t we all get along? Why does it feel that we have to endure Thanksgiving rather than enjoy it?

This is should be a time of thankfulness – of gladness – not a time of madness. Not a time to push buttons. Not a time to get flustered.

Somehow we idealize Thanksgiving and Christmas. We turn them into perfect little gems of days that should only deliver sparkle, joy and peace. We think that, because we control the preparations, the decorations and conversations, everyone should meet our expectations. We hold on to these expectations with such strength that they crush under the pressure. And, this is when the true Thanksgiving weight hits us. We feel bloated with disappointment.

I guess I have come to realize that the bounty is not all about me. If we are going to truly be thankful for the bounty of the Lord, we have to be thankful for who the Lord has created. He created us all with strengths and weaknesses. It can be so hard to do. It can be so overwhelming when a storm blows in, threatening the day, but – if we trust the Lord – we can trust him to work things out.

God calls us to enjoy this day, rather than endure it. He calls us to leave perfect in the kitchen, and embrace imperfect at the table, so that expectations don’t leave us hiding in the bathroom with tears.

5 Tips to Survive Thanksgiving Chaos:

1. Seek to embrace verses erase the person in need.

Jesus ran to the people in need. His heart was inclined to those in pain. He didn’t demand what he needed, but he gave what others did.

But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (Romans 5:8)

We are all chief sinners. But, in so many ways, we stand as chief judge. God is faithful to forgive us. With this, on Thanksgiving Day, let’s choose to sit at the foot of the cross. Let’s sit as saved sinners, basking in the glory of Him who is high and lifted up.

When we sit in this position, suddenly, we sit with more compassion for the meaningless jabs, frustrating arguments and aggravating words. We sit knowing that we are the same. We sit grateful for the one who paid it all. Who loved despite our actions.

Then, we find we have greater compassion and a heart to love.

2. Be truly thankful – for both the yummy and the yucky of life.

I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. (Phil. 4:12)

True thankfulness sees both abundance and scarcity and gives thanks. Why? Because both are from the Lord. Both have a purpose. Both are meant to refine.

We can rest in the truth that God has good plans (Ps. 40:5). We can rest in knowing his ways are greater than ours (Is. 55:8-9). We can rest because the Lord promises to work for our good through trials (Ro. 5:4). We will be refined, refreshed and renewed.

When we feel Thanksgiving Day is only giving us yucky food, we can choose to see the great silverware, the great centerpiece and the great God who is at the center of it all.

3. A storm may brew, but know God will bring you through.

For I am the LORD your God who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you. (Is. 41:13)

When we are weak, the power of Christ sits upon us. In the stormy moments, we can run into his arms, feel his embrace and let him recharge us with his love. It can be hard to remember in the moment, but God stands ready to help us. It’s ok to feel weak, but it’s not ok to feel ruined when God stands ready to help.

Call out to God. He is famous for rescuing and helping in a time of trouble.

4. Know you stand secure, no matter what others do.

For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers. neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Ro. 8:38-39).

People can do what they are going to do. But, none of this impacts our standing with Christ. We are in Him. We are secure. We are loved. We are a new creation. If we stand in Christ, we can’t stand outside of him.

We can hold to this truth, when the Thanksgiving feast looks like it may topple. No matter what others do, think or say, they are not the essence of who we are. Christ is. We are part of his family. We are his beloved children.

5. Find a heart of thanks for the burnt food of Thanksgiving.

True gratefulness is not just being thankful for all the delicious pickings, but also for the burnt food. If we have food – or family to complain about – we are already blessed. We are blessed with the perfect, but also with the imperfect. Why? Because through the imperfect, we see our need for a Savior. Through our failings, our trials and our frustrations, we find hope in One who is greater than these things.

He makes imperfect burnt food taste delicious when we see it for what it is – an undeserved gift.

That’s why I take pleasure in my weaknesses, and in the insults, hardships, persecutions, and troubles that I suffer for Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong. (2 Cor. 12:10)

Bonus Tip (consider it your Thanksgiving second helping): Realize it is impossible to control others.

We can’t control things. We can only control ourself. And, no one can take our spirit of thanks away, without us allowing them to do it. No one can steal our heart – unless we allow them to.

The fact of the matter is that when we stop looking for everyone to be perfect, we can start enjoying them for who they truly are. When our standards aren’t higher than the Thanksgiving Day roof, we can see people’s hearts, history and pains. And, we sometimes, can even empathize and minister to them.

Thanksgiving is a special day, a needed day. A day to see all that we have – burnt food and all. If expectations consume us, we may find all we have consumed is an inability to be happy, a heart of discontent and a spirit of bitterness.

The truth is that people will disappoint – and we will disappoint people. No one is perfect – except One. But, the ultimate truth is that God’s grace never ends. It nourishes us when Thanksgiving leaves us hungry for more love.

Let’s lay this truth on the table so we can pass, dish and eat up all the goodness of grace – in our own hearts and towards the hearts of others.