Purposeful Faith

Get off Your Boat

Do you know what a boat is? I sure hope so!

A boat is what you float around in so you don’t get wet. It is what takes you safely from one place to another. It is what feels comfortable. It is the go-to way to get where you want to go when you’re not on land. It is what brings you to where you want to go by your own driving efforts.

It’s an easy way. A man-driven way. Walking on water is a hard way. It requires God.

What would it look like to get out of your boat? To give God a chance to do the miraculous? To answer Jesus’ call to, “Come,” by putting yourself out there in ways that look risky?

“Lord, if it’s you,” Peter replied, “tell me to come to you on the water.”

“Come,” he said.

Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. (Mt. 14:28-29)

Notice, before you can ever walk on water, you have to get out of your boat. You have to get out of your boat, despite the high waves, the strong winds and the boat that’s tossing to-and-fro.

You have to do what Peter did and say, “So what? God is bigger than this stuff around me.”

What is your boat? Is it reactionary tactics that keep your heart safe from people who may hurt you? Is it manipulative words? Is it compulsive tendencies? Is it rote prayers? Is it going to church on Sunday but staying far from God on the weekdays? Is it a heart shut down to your husband?

We all have our boats. Mine is the fear I’ll go the wrong way and somehow not do right by God.

So what? Even if I fear I might not do right by Him, does that mean I stop writing? Or, do I get out of my boat and trust he will, “rescue those who love me and protect those who trust in my name.” (Ps. 91:14) Indeed, I don’t shut down. I hop out da’ boat. I write and trust Him to take care of my soul.

To hop off the boat is powerful. Because it makes us see Jesus right before us. It puts us in a place of reliance, where all our soul needs — is Him. He is our only hope. I believe this type of walk is beautiful to God. It removes the waste on the left and the right and teaches our mind to need Him, Jesus.

How is God calling you, right now, to hop out of your boat and to need Him? Do it. It just might turn into the greatest miracle of your life.

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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How Do You Choose to Live?

to live

Catastrophe hit my family, and while I can’t go into the details here, I can assure you it shredded my heart. It scared me silly and caused me to release tirades on people I love. I am not as good as you think I am. Nor am I as good as I thought I was. I’m a whole lot worse.

Yet, through this there’s a hidden blessing: I see how much I need Jesus. His light. Because apart from Him, my thoughts are dark.

Getting to this thought is freedom.

Jesus came “to give sight to the blind and to show those who think they see that they are blind.” (Jo. 9:39)

Apart from the nature of Jesus (love, kindness, goodness, truth, nobility, purity, loveliness, excellence, wisdom, humility or gratefulness) all I see is darkness. Worthlessness. Vanity. Diversions. Fear. Voids. Schemes. Faking. Swirling tornadoes of emotions that lead to an inward focus, plus a generalized sense God won’t come through.

“The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are healthy, your whole body will be full of light.” Mt. 6:22

The choice is ours. . .

Light or dark?
Dark or light?

Reliant on the Living Water?
Departing from Him?

All Jesus, all the time?
Or me, myself, and I, all the time?

While our world hates calling things one way or another and we tend to desire shades of safety, sometimes one-way-or-the-other choices are exactly what God ordered.

What will you choose to be:
Lukewarm?
Or on fire?

All things hope, all things faith, all the time…not done with perfection, but certainly done from a heart of dedication?

What if we were to choose to see faith, hope and love activated by the grace of God, as we. . .

Pick our kids up from school.
Respond to annoying people.
Grab the bills from the mailbox.
Go to that doctor’s appointment.
Contemplate our yeses and nos.
Let go of our defenses.
Follow God.
Seek His guidance.
Deal with unanswered prayers.
Confront our emotions.
Wake up.
Go to sleep.
Live.

What if we chose to really believe?

“Now faith is the assurance (title deed, confirmation) of things hoped for (divinely guaranteed), and the evidence of things not seen [the conviction of their reality—faith comprehends as fact what cannot be experienced by the physical senses.” Heb. 11:1 AMP

 

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.


Stand Strong During Trials

During Trials

I have very good intentions to meet daily with God. As much as I can, I carve out morning time to spend with him. Most mornings, I put him first when I wake up. Although not lately.

This burdens me. Jesus is seed for my life. I either grow life, or…I don’t.

Many of us find seeds thrown down, but as shown in Matthew 13, one of these 4 things happens:

1. The birds eat them after they were thrown on the path.

The enemy comes and gets you caught in discouragement, despair or doubt. He steals clarity regarding this word and replaces it with confusion. Nothing takes root.

2. They fall on shallow soil with rock underneath. Plants spring up quickly, then die in the sun because they don’t go deep.

Your heart is not prepared to embrace it and the insecurity and worry underneath prevents it from growing. Trials become issues that cut off the life God wants to grow. Nothing takes deep root, so you fall over when heavy winds come.

3. Thorns choke out the tender growth.
Distractions of the world (phone notifications, schedules, agendas, television, worries and worldly pursuits) crowd out the faith, hope and love God desires to grow within you.

4. They grow deep into fertile soil.

Deep within you, roots grow. They reach not just the surface level of your being, but the inner heart-places of your being. They change you from the inside out with true and lasting transformation.

To let God in you, into the deep, is to have your life deeply changed.

What can you do to cultivate fertile ground? How can you prepare your heart to receive the best of God?

Here are a couple ideas and resources…

1. Seek God with humility: Be prepared to have him point out areas in your life He wants to change.

2. Get a good daily devotional. For example, I am a contributor to the 365-day (in)Courage devotional called, “A Moment to Breathe.” It is a great way to start your day from the place of the heart. Learn more.

3. Look for God. Take notice of themes and of moves of God in your life. He may be calling you to something or re-teaching you something he really wants you to grasp.

4. Yield to His ways. Rather than pushing forward with what seems right (see: #3), go with what God says is right and let him teach you through your discomfort along the way.

Fertile hearts get deep roots that keep standing during the worst of storms. The high winds and trials of life can’t knock them over.

About “A Moment to Breathe”

With 365 readings, from 80 writers (including myself) each day begins with a passage of Scripture, tells a story of everyday faith, and encourages you to take a moment to breathe with a simple but fun way to complete your day. So kick off your shoes and join us for a relaxing but special time, where friends come together and share the real stuff of everyday faith.

Learn more about A Moment to Breathe.

Get all Purposeful Faith blog posts by email – click here.


God Loves You!

God, I can’t even trust myself sometimes, how can you trust me?

I see:
my faults
my forgetfulness
my ability to be deceived in the smallest way
my pride that so often fools me.

“God, do you really love me? How much?”

Do you love me when I forget you? Do you love me when I yell at my kids? Do you love me when I go the wrong way? Accidentally hurt you? God, do you really love me?

As if God answered my very prayers back, these questions came to mind…

Kelly, how could you have experienced so much freedom (release of fear, anxiety, worry), aside from my love?
(What freedom has God brought you within the space of his love?)

Kelly, how could I call you and not want you?
(In what ways has God called you to things, only He could?)

Kelly, how could I not love you after sending my son to suffer and die for you, as He did?
(In what ways does Jesus suffering cast new light on God’s love for you?)

Kelly, how could I abandon myself in you?
(How would God abandon his own Spirit within you? Sounds impossible.)

God loves me. He loves you.

Even when life breaks down…or people do…
Even when fears tumult all around…or uncertainties do…
Even when answers to questions do not abound…and problems still exist…

Still. Even then, His love still works.  It pursues. It remains. It saves. It quiets rambunctious hearts. It sings over us. It moves on our behalf.

“The LORD your God is in your midst…
a mighty one who will save
he will rejoice over you with gladness…
he will quiet you by his love;
he will exult over you with loud singing (Zephaniah 3:17).”

What we have…the lengths, heights and depths of His love, cannot be stolen, removed or relinquished.

“No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life…nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord (Ro. 8:37-39).”

 

You, as a daughter, are in God’s love.
You are secure.

 

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.


Giving Thanks Even When It Hurts

Post by: Micah Maddox

It was a Thanksgiving I’ll never forget. We gathered around a beautiful table and grasped hands for prayer. As I lifted my head and glanced across the table, I locked eyes with my dad, who had just been diagnosed with head and neck cancer. The incision on his neck was still healing and the extensive surgery to his mouth was so extreme it was hard for him to form words.

I tried to hold back the tears, but the sight of suffering was too much. I let the tears flow. We all did. No longer was Thanksgiving about the delicious turkey or pumpkin pie. Dad couldn’t eat any of it.

This Thanksgiving Day was different. It was a day to truly grasp hold of the people around the table and be grateful for their presence. We didn’t rave about the food or brag on the cook. We focused on each other this time.

We learned so many difficult lessons that year. We learned to live beyond the normal routines and traditions, and find joy in just being together.

We learned patience and strength as we watched dad struggle to speak and learn to eat again. We learned life is brief and you truly never know when you will sit around the table for the last time. We learned life is worth fighting for, even when it feels like the end is near. We learned to take our time and sit around the table for more than just the food.

Thanksgiving is always a time to remember and be grateful. But it’s taken on a new meaning for us. It’s still about gathering and gratefulness, but it’s more about who is seated around the table.

The seating arrangement changes from year to year, but I’m looking forward to glancing across the table at a cancer-free dad this year. And when I look at him this time, I will thank God for all we’ve been through because it bonds us, binds us, and brings us back to the table, stronger.

We might shed a tear or two, but what I’m looking forward to most is being together.

Who will you share Thanksgiving with this year? Let’s grasp hands and promise to be thankful for those seated at our table, for we never know when it’s our last chance to love, listen, and lean on each other.

Thriving through the hard times isn’t something that comes easy to any of us, but Micah has discovered the key to living a life full of God’s power when our circumstances make us feel power-less. You can find out more about Micah’s new book Anchored In: Experience a Power-Full Life in a Problem-Filled World at micahmaddox.com.

BIO: Micah Maddox is a women’s conference speaker, Bible teacher, writer, blogger, and author of Anchored In: Experience a Power-Full Life in a Problem-Filled World. She is passionate about helping women find purpose, peace, and calm in our chaotic world. As a pastor’s wife and mother of three, she contributes her time to her local church – including serving as a women’s ministry leader.

 

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/micahmaddoxencouragement/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/mrsmicah/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/mrsMicahmaddox/

https://www.amazon.com/dp/1501848674/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_ep_dp_.JN.yb52FVPZT


What if I’m not saved, loved, chosen?

not saved,

Thoughts raced in my head, leaving me rattled.

What if God doesn’t forgive me for all the mistakes I made? What if I only believe I’m freed?

What if I am not good enough for him, when all’s said and done?

What if He doesn’t want me, when he comes back. . . and, I’m the last woman standing as he turns away from me. . . what if?”

Has your mind ever calculated the what ifs of faith? The “What ifs of Faith” say I may not be in God’s love. I might be left behind. I might unlovable. I might never have been included in his saving faith.

Many things can trouble us and make us wonder about our relationship with him. Words of another, your past, your sense of not being good enough, your endless faults, or internal criticism that shouts in your mind, your fears. . .

What, in the rare silence and contemplation of your heart, do you hear?

As I took a walk today, questions stirred. I noted the dark rain clouds, the heaviness of the world and the shifting movement of a life passing me by.

One day Jesus will return. One day he will come for me. It may not be far away. 

I walked, wanting Jesus, needing Him – his truth, his faithfulness.

God, will you show me your glory?

No sooner did I pray that I saw it: a rainbow. A promise so clear, as God’s faithfulness peaked through the heaviness of the dark and despairing clouds covering our pain-ridden world.

God is here.
His promises are true.
Faithful He will be.
What He says will come, will come.
He is who He says He is.
He will come in glory.

And I? I’ll be cloaked in his grace. Covered by it. Dancing in it. Freed by it. Owned by it. Released from every burden that wants to convict or distance me from his love. Jesus did not come to judge the world, but to save it. And I am saved, not by my own actions, but by Him. Released. Taken care of entirely.

What freedom!

Freedom exists behind every dark cloud. Freedom is Jesus. His grace waits to bust you out of the heaviness, regrets or bitterness clenching hold of your spirit. It’s all Jesus.

“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith–and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God.” Eph 2:8-9

Yes and amen.

Prayer:

Jesus, we proclaim you as the Promise Keeper, the Lord, the King of Kings over everything. We declare you to be our Lord. We confess our sins to you today. We turn away from them. We want you above all else, and nothing apart from you. We give you our life, our heart, our song and hopes. We ask, in your complete goodness to have your way in our life.  Thank you that you cleanse us, restore us and renew us right now. We are living testimonies of your goodness. Your grace and peace frees us. We overflow with contentment and joy. We receive all this, and your full inheritance and give it room to live in our lives. We praise you. In Jesus’ Name. Amen

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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Compassion for You

compassionate

Have you ever felt all alone? Like no one understands what you are going through?

I know the feeling. I know what it is to keep things inside because admitting them is hard. I know what it is to feel embarrassment about what’s happening in your mind. I know the hurt that wells up when you’ve tried 100 times to express your heart, but it always gets rejected. I know what it is to feel embarrassed. To keep things in. To stuff problems away. . .

What are you keeping to yourself? How do you feel stuck in your own world? Hungry for someone to deeply understand you?

Yesterday, I read a story I’d read a million and one times in the bible. It was the story where Jesus multiplied seven loaves and a few small fish to feed four thousand. But this time, I saw things, like never before…

1. Jesus said, “they have already been with me three days and have nothing to eat. I do not want to send them away hungry, or they may collapse on the way (Mt. 15:32).”

I noticed: Jesus cares for the hungry. He DOES NOT want us to collapse.

What are you hungry for? What makes you feel like you might collapse?

2. Jesus, as He surveyed the predicament said, I feel sorry for these people. (Mt. 15:32 KJV)” Or, in another translation, he said, “I have compassion for these people (Mt. 14:32 NIV)”

I noticed: Jesus has compassion for hungry people. He feels for their situation. While Jesus could have let these people go home hungry, He, as the bread of life, was true to character — He fed his children. He was moved by compassion.

Likewise, Jesus cares and has compassion for our struggles.

Where do you need to know that God deeply feels for your situation?

3. “The disciples replied, “Where would we get enough food here in the wilderness for such a huge crowd?”

I noticed: The disciples saw the wilderness nature of where they were — the lack, the nothingness and the impossibility of finding sustenance in this place. Jesus saw things differently. He saw the potential of his abundant provision. Jesus can do all things, at all times, with an all-out rescue, at any moment.

Where do you need to know God can create something out of your wilderness?

Did you know? The people “ate as much as they wanted.” They didn’t leave at first sight of no food. They stuck around.

What might it look like for you to stick around Jesus to see what he could do in your life? What would it look like for you to draw near to a compassionate and loving Jesus, who wants to help you? May you know, you are in the hands of a God, who loves you and sees you and all your inner needs.

“The LORD is compassionate and gracious (Ps. 103:8).”

 

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.


Surpise! Today, This Post is Meant for you!

This post is unlike others; it is straight unfiltered scripture. Why am I sending it today, on Saturday? Why am I breaking my pre-scheduled posts with a random post like this? Because I feel deeply, there are a few of you – or maybe your friends in need- who need to read it. His will be done. I am expectant it will speak loudly to at least one of you, today.

Dear God, please highlight the words that need to be highlighted to my brothers and sisters today. Through your words, reach the deep places of their heart. Awaken something in them. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.

Psalm 91

Those who live in the shelter of the Most High
will find rest in the shadow of the Almighty.

2 This I declare about the Lord:
He alone is my refuge, my place of safety;
he is my God, and I trust him.

For he will rescue you from every trap
and protect you from deadly disease.

4 He will cover you with his feathers.
He will shelter you with his wings.
His faithful promises are your armor and protection.

5 Do not be afraid of the terrors of the night,
nor the arrow that flies in the day.

6 Do not dread the disease that stalks in darkness,
nor the disaster that strikes at midday.

Though a thousand fall at your side,
though ten thousand are dying around you,
these evils will not touch you.

Just open your eyes,
and see how the wicked are punished.

If you make the Lord your refuge,
if you make the Most High your shelter,
10 no evil will conquer you;
no plague will come near your home.

11 For he will order his angels
to protect you wherever you go.
12 They will hold you up with their hands
so you won’t even hurt your foot on a stone.
13 You will trample upon lions and cobras;
you will crush fierce lions and serpents under your feet!

14 The Lord says, “I will rescue those who love me.
I will protect those who trust in my name.
15 When they call on me, I will answer;
I will be with them in trouble.
I will rescue and honor them.
16 I will reward them with a long life
and give them my salvation.”

I love you all.

– Kelly

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.


Give yourself a break

a break

Are you as hard on yourself as I am?

So, last night I met with a bunch of women. With one of them . . .let’s just say I was a little overzealous to connect. My mouth got ahead of my mind and I blurted out some totally weird comment. Later, when saying good-bye, I uttered an I-don’t-know-what-to-say-so-I’ll-complain comment.

“Oh, I’ve got to head-out. I’ve got to wake up at 5:30 AM to be with my kids.”

I rolled my eyes.

Why? I have no idea why. I have no idea why I just released a complainy comment in my awkward absence of words. But, I did. It came out of nowhere. Ever done that?

Well, these little mishaps didn’t end at that get-together. I got in the car and felt all guilty about me. I questioned what kind of Christian I am. I wondered why I can’t do things right. I kept wondering if the women thought less of me or if I seemed odd.

Do you ever question yourself? Constantly?

Jesus doesn’t do this to us. This is not his voice. He doesn’t tail us like we do. He doesn’t chase us at our heels saying, “Why did you do that? You really messed up this time. You really don’t know how to be like me, do you?”

Jesus doesn’t do this. We do.

What if we were to give ourselves a break? Like Paul does when he addresses the early believers and says, “Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.”

What if we were to say to ourselves, in the heat of our self-hating moments, “Grace and peace to me, right now, from God my Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.”

And then, we let it in. What hooks might come out of our skin? What new places might our heart move to? What truth may we begin to swim in because we give our mind free reign to consider something other than self-condemnation?

It’s okay to be hungry for grace. Horribly. Desperately. Ravagely hungry for it.

Jesus knew we needed it. It’s why he died on the cross. Because we’ll never be perfect. We’ll never be spot-on. We’ll never be without fault.

We need him and we need grace. What if you gave yourself a break today and received his peace and grace so much that it set your mind free to receive Him?

 

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.

 


Exchanging Labels and Lies for His Truth

Blog Post by Abby McDonald

I went to the N.A. meeting with one goal. To get in and get out. The last thing I expected was for someone to give me a new label. I had too many of those already.

Sure, I wanted to support my loved one. I wanted him to get healthy, find release and healing. But I hoped by staying quiet and not making direct eye contact with the group leader, I could make my exit as soon as the meeting was over.

My strategy didn’t exactly work out as planned. The leader saw me right away, as it’s hard not to notice someone new when you’re sitting in a huge circle.

Once he learned who I was, he asked a series of questions. I didn’t know where he was leading and tried to be as vague as possible with my answers. Later, I learned he was trying to see if I met all the criteria for a term commonly used to describe the loved ones of addicts: codependent.

To be honest, I wasn’t sure what the word meant. I had an idea, but I was nineteen years old at the time. Things like this didn’t enter my vocabulary. So, like any good college student, I did some research.

Codependency: (n) a type of dysfunctional helping relationship where one person supports or enables another person’s drug addiction, alcoholism, gambling addiction, poor mental health, immaturity, irresponsibility, or under-achievement.

I wasn’t willing to admit it out loud, but I knew I was a classic case. And without even realizing it, I took this label and added it to the list of other ones I allowed to define me through my college and early work years. Codependent, quiet one, underachiever, shy girl.

What’s ironic is that I hated stereotypes. When others tossed them around, I tried my best to avoid them.

“You can’t put me in a box,” I thought to myself.

What I didn’t see is that even though I wasn’t saying them aloud, I was listening. I was allowing these titles to limit me and hold me back.

When I had the opportunity to read my poetry aloud at the coffee shop, I quietly declined. When my professor told me I should enter a writing piece into the tribune, I let fear hold me back.

Staying in the shadows felt safe.

But by never venturing out and taking risks, I slowly lost little pieces of myself. I watched opportunities pass by and wondered why it was so hard for me to step out and be brave.

Years later, after graduating and acquiring my first couple of post-college jobs, I sat in a sanctuary trembling as the labels I’d adopted fell, one by one. I had new ones, and they weren’t names the world could give or take away.

Chosen. Worthy. Daughter. Beloved.

It took me years of searching and asking questions. Lord knows, I can be pretty hard-headed at times. But what I finally saw is that if I let the world define me with a finite label, I would never know who I was as an eternal being.

The world gives us labels based on appearance, but Jesus gives us names that stick.

Once we realize this, we can walk in freedom because we know that when he calls us to do something, it is his name we represent. Not our own.

So if he if he calls us to speak or share or move, what do we have to lose? Nothing but chains, dear daughters. Nothing but chains.

“My beloved spoke and said to me, “Arise, my darling, my beautiful one, come with me.” Song of Solomon 2:10 ESV

 

Abby McDonald is the mom of three, a wife and writer whose hope is show readers their identity is found in Christ alone, not the noise of the world. When she’s not chasing their two boys or cuddling their newest sweet girl, you can find her drinking copious amounts of coffee while writing about her adventures on her blog. Abby would love to connect with you on her blog and her growing Facebook community.


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