Purposeful Faith

When You Don’t Know What to Do

I can’t.

How many times have we thought this?

I don’t know what to do. I don’t know how to proceed. What does this person need to hear in order to start acting differently?

There’s validity to our questions. In reality, our wisdom leads to dead ends. Over-strategizing doesn’t work. When we control others, we grip a slippery wall, powerless.

The flesh is death.
The Spirit is life.

“The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace.” Ro. 8:6

One disappoints.
The other points us to Christ as we await his best thing.

One musters up faith through actions and reactions.
The other leans on God through heart connection.

One is reactive to insults.
The other is reflective and submitted to truth.

“In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans.” Ro. 8:26

The Spirit in us gives life to us. He not only cares our your problems, but groans on our behalf, the exact words we cannot muster.

Do you feel unaccounted for? Do you feel left behind? Do you not know what direction to head? Fear not, whatever you don’t know, God does. His plan is not to hide the plan, but to reveal it.

“No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no heart has imagined, what God has prepared for those who love Him. But God has revealed it to us by the SpiritThe Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God.” (1 Cor. 2:9-10)

There is goodness prepared for you. There is an uncovering of your way being revealed by the Spirit. Therefore, wait, with faith. Trust, with hope. Be governed by the Spirit. He is always your best way.

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Don’t Be Vulnerable to The Enemy

When the screams come out of the garage, I don’t know what to do.

Should I yell for the kids to be quiet so they don’t disturb the neighbors? Should I run with Superwoman speed to swoop them up in case they injured themselves? Or do I just assume they are playing because they’ve “cried wolf” 100 times now?

I hurriedly walk…and when I get there, I nearly scream too.

A– rat. Yes, a big, hairy and nasty rat was half in the house and half out, with its body wedged between the siding of my house and my garage door frame. Panic crawled my body like a cockroach in the night.

How did this happen? 

If I’d clogged up that open hole, that intruder wouldn’t have gotten in. 

As soon as I thought this, something occurred to me. The same is true in my spiritual life: if I close up the holes of vulnerability in my soul, the enemy intruder can’t easily get in.

What holes do you leave open for attack?

Anger at a sister who offended you three weeks ago when she said your house was dirty?

Unforgiveness toward your husband because he always makes the same mistakes?

Bitterness toward your mom because she forgot your birthday again last year?

Revenge toward your boss because she demeaned you at that meeting?

Jealousy because the woman has far more confidence and comes off “strong?”

Comparison because everyone else has better Facebook vacations than you?

Open holes lead to nasty intruders. I can attest, they start small (think: Raid) and they grow BIG (think: son pulling a big ugly rat out of a hole). Either way, what goes unattended becomes infested with decay in your relationship with God.

Clear out fear and worry of all kinds. Put your foot down and proclaim: Jesus is Provider, Peace and Protection against all of my fears.

Refuse to let holes stay open. Because, in places that are absent of God, we quickly grow absent of peace, joy, life, hope and everything we ever wanted in life.

God has something better for us than what the enemy intends to bring. My friends, let’s acknowlede our holes today and patch those things right up under the covering of Jesus’ love and forgiveness that, right now, is extended to us.

Prayer: Father God, we thank you that you quietly and softly convict us so that you can continue to help us walk to the best things in life. We submit to you these holes that need patching. We ask you and welcome you to address them. We need help. We need you. We need a new way to move forward when confronted with this issue. Will you show us a new way to react to these things, instead? As we hand you our holes, in repentance, will you fill them with wisdom to direct us on our new path? In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

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At Least I am Not Like Her

For weeks, months even, I observed this gal on social media. Because she regularly posted, I could easily keep track of her. As I saw it, every picture was a sob story about her life. Every post seemed to be a call to the world saying, “See me! See me! Pay attention to what I am doing!” She prickled my nerves.

“At least I’m not like her,” I thought.

I thought this way for a very long time. Until. Until I discovered the reality. Reality is not social media. Reality is the voice behind it. And when I heard her voice on the telephone, I discovered the true pain of her recent struggles. I saw her heart to come to the aide of others and saw the true line of Jesus’ love running right through her.

I thought wrong.

A friend came to my house. To every question I asked her she replied with a one word Humph-like answer. She wasn’t a very good friend. She must be angry at me.

At least I’m not like her.

Only later, when I asked how I could pray for her did she share, “Please pray for my marriage.”

I thought wrong, again.

“The Pharisee stood by himself and prayed: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other people—robbers, evildoers, adulterers—or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.’” Lu. 18:11

Oh really, Mr. Pharisee? You are not like them? Certainly, you “must be” a whole bunch more godly, more wise, more thoughtful, more successful, more holy…but, there is only one issue: You carry around brick-heavy weights of pride.

Yes, pride. It is the thing that makes you judge others without knowing the full story. It is the thing that makes you see one side but not the other. It is the thing that makes you consider others’ sin at a moments notice, while missing your own.

“I tell you that this (tax collector) man, rather than the (Pharisee), went home justified before God. For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.” Lu. 18:14

Today, my aim is new: I will not judge what I don’t know. I can never know the inner story behind a person’s outer persona. The pain that resides inside usually works its way out. My job is not to pin it to the wall in condemnation. My job is to love until its appearance smoothes under the love of Christ.

I can do this with myself, and with others.

 

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The Difference Between Fear and Pain

POST BY: Maria Fulough

What is the difference between fear and pain anyway?

Often times they feel the same, and once the fear train leaves the station of our minds it surely feels like a painful tortuous journey.

Fear even affects us physically.  Our heart rates rise, we get less patient, more stressed, more reactionary.  All sounds like pain to me.  But sit with me a minute while I explain to why this makes me so angry at fear.

Recently I was sitting in an ER room.  Doubled over in pain and bleeding. Over and over I got the same question, “How many pregnancies have you had?”

I gulped.

I could hardly answer the question.

7.

7 pregnancies.

They nod, “Mm Hm, and how many children?”

I have 4 living children.

More gulps.

This my friends, this is pain.  This is life hit at you and one way or another you can do nothing about it.  Completely out of control are so many things and when they come sometimes there is nothing to do but cry, and hurt, and allow God’s mercies to provide.

Exactly!  You say, this is exactly why we fear!  We fear because we know times like this are coming and we dread it and we hate it and know nothing else to do but to fear it.

With all the tenderness, love, and compassion this heart of mine can muster I say No!  This, my friends, is exactly why we don’t fear.  Painless and joy free moments are too precious.  The seasons between the hurt must be coveted, enjoyed, savored, and stored up.  Fear fabricates our own pain and wastes away the happy moments that we have.

Fear takes and steals and lies until we look back and see that those days we were in were good days.  This makes me hate fear the most.

I wonder friend, where are you with fear?  I once lived in a way where I coddled my fears.  I held them tight, allowed them in, and never told them to leave.  I thought that fear was not optional.  Turns out it is, turns out fear is very optional.

Read with me John 14:27:

“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you.  I do not give to you as the world gives.  Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.”

Did you catch what Jesus said?  That small little word “let” changes everything for us.  Jesus says clearly do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.

Jesus was about to go to the cross, the very next day the disciples would watch their Teacher be murdered.  Most of them would end up dying for their faith in Christ and becoming martyrs.  Sounds like to me they had much they could fear!

So then I have to come to the end of reason and ask myself the question: which do I really trust more the facts of the circumstances or the supernatural promise of peace from the lips of my Savior?

Arm in arm my friends we can make a stand against fear in our lives.  We can admit to ourselves the difference between fear and real pain and we can choose a life waged war against the self-fabricated pain of fear.

Friends, may you be encouraged, you have the power of the living God already in you and it wants to give you the strength and the courage to not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.

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At the age of 35, Maria Furlough’s feeling insecure about what everyone else thinks is finally busted. All the worrying, the insecurity, inconfidence, fear, and the tiny lies that once consumed her – those things are gone. And it feels good.  Once upon a time she was a woman who sat fearful, crippled by insecurities and only tiptoeing into the call that God had upon her life. Then Gideon came, and God used that little baby to change her from the inside out.

She has been writing and teaching Bible studies for 14 years and currently writes on the blog True Worth at www.mytrueworth.org.

Buy her book, Breaking The Fear Cycle on Amazon.


All to the Glory to God

All to the Glory of God! I got over an eating disorder from college that could have killed me.

All to the Glory of God! I also beat depression.

All to the Glory of God! I don’t have Multiple Sclerosis like all the doctors once thought.

All to the Glory of God! I am a mom who is growing and learning leaps and bounds.

All to the Glory of God! My child doesn’t have Cystic Fibrosis like that test thought.

All to the Glory of God! I am a writer, even though I wrote letters backwards and couldn’t read as a child.

All to the Glory of God! I am far less fearful than I was and increasingly more faithful.

All to the Glory of God! I moved to a new place and made a whole bunch of new friends.

All to the Glory of God! Fill in your blank.

All to the Glory of God! Do it again.

All to the Glory of God! Keep doing it. 

All to the Glory of God! More. 

All to the Glory of God! Don’t stop.

Jesus said to her, “Did I not say to you that if you believe, you will see the glory of God?” (Jo. 11:40, emphasis added)

To remember where glory showed up is to remind your heart:

1. I saw
2. I will see.
3. It is all because of God.

It is to give God due victory.

Let it sink into your heart: What I saw, God can/will do again.

 

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Growing Love

love

I love that I love each of you.

I also love that as I love you, I get a chance to learn who you really are. You send me emails and thank yous and little stories of the giant hurdles you’ve made in life. And yes, even though you call them small, God and I know they’re giant.

You all are great. You make me smile. You make me shed tears. You make me pray. And while I can’t always respond to every email via the computer I always try to respond with God. I ask him for the best for you, for your situations and for your heart. I ask him to show his lavish love in your life.

You are amazing. You gift me a lot more than I gift you. Daily, so many of you give to my heart. Quietly, I know others inwardly offer up thanks. Readily, I know there are prayers going out for the wider community of gals who read these words.

To know we are fighting together, battling through our hang-ups, and sticking to the King of Kings on this road is beyond helpful to my heart.

We rage on – in love.

I once thought this blog was about me “getting my healing.” Now I know it is about all of us “becoming healed” and supporting each other along the way. Thank you for helping me realize I need you just as much as I need God.

You are often a vessel for His voice. A voice of encouragement that pops up via email at just the right time. A prayer note that I needed. A living testimony of what you are reading.

All glory to God! He is working right here. We read and write only holy ground, together. And I love it! I cherish it. I rejoice in the fullness of what He has prepared for such a time as this.

While social media rages with hate, anger and dissension, we pull together in love. We smile and keep on with Jesus. We do our part to do our best to change our little slice of the world one small act of love at a time.

I am grateful for you. I want you all to know that. God has given me so much in this community of lovers. I praise Him for you today.

My prayer for you: Sweet Jesus, thank you for the reader of this post today. Thank you that you see her heart. Thank you that she pursues, loves and follows you. I ask you to open every door unto her, so that she can meet and know you with immense passion. I ask that there would never be a question in her mind as to how much you love her. I ask that there would never be a question in her mind about how immensely loved she is. I ask for an increase of your heart on this very blog that reaches hearts day-in and day-out. I ask for your activating faith to pour out on every reader in profound ways in the coming days. I ask for your will to be done in all ways. We thank you Jesus. Amen.

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The Dance of Abiding

Post By: Sarah Beth Marr

Recently I was feeling the weight of life. The pressure. The stress. The tangled thoughts inside. The busyness. The expectations. In an effort to disperse the weight off my chest and into God’s hands, I knew a walk always would brighten my heart. So tennis shoes on, hair in a messy bun, and doggie on his leash, we hit the pavement.

We stopped by a friend’s house to feed their pets while they were out of town. The beauty of their back porch seemed to beckon me. Even though time was pressing and I needed to get back to, well, life, I opened the gate and stepped onto the porch.

I sat in the garden chair and allowed the beauty of the porch to minister to my tired soul. And in that moment, I knew that God was right there with me, inviting me to slow my pace. Sitting there, I suddenly knew why my soul was so tired.

I was caught up in striving instead of abiding, performing instead of being, trying hard instead of staying right in step with Christ in me, allowing Him to do all the things…through me.

The whisper of the Spirit brought this verse to mind:

“He is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in season, and its leaf does not wither. In all that he does, he prospers.” Psalm 1:3

I craved that tree-like stability in my heart, and I knew that Christ was inviting me to allow Him to steady me.

Christ invites us to a slower pace and into His lighter rhythms of grace where we can find a rooted-ness to our life.

You don’t have to try harder. You can come honest before God and tell Him what’s going on in your heart, and then, you can trust Him to help you learn the dance of abiding in Him. Abiding in Him is not a formula of steps, but a posture of the heart. It’s staying in this present moment with God instead of striving and worrying about future moments. Abiding in Him is the most restful and sturdy place for our hearts.

As you abide in Him, He will steady you. He will make you strong and steady just like that tree. You will flourish, grow, blossom, and thrive as you trust His life inside you.

 

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When You’re Afraid to Take that Step of Faith

“Don’t look down, Mom!”

Immediately, I wish my son hadn’t said that. I can’t help myself. My eyes drift to the expanse below and my feet wobble. What was I thinking when I agreed to do this?

I try to regain my composure and remember my harness. The 4-story high ropes course stretches out before me, and I know there is only one way out: through it.

If you fall, the harness will catch you.

I tell myself this repeatedly as I inch across a rickety bridge that seems a mile long. My son moves to the other side with ease, turning around at the end to cheer me forward.

“You’ve got this! Keep going!”

When I get close enough to the next platform, I take a giant step to the safety of a solid surface. I stop and breath deeply, thankful for a minute to relax my legs. As I survey the rest of the course, I take a mental note of how much further we have to go before we can make the trek back down to the bottom. My mouth is dry and I can hear my stomach starting to rumble.

When my husband suggested I embark on this adventure with my boys, my first instinct was to say no. First, I am not a fan of heights. And second, our one-year-old daughter was the perfect excuse for me to stay on the ground.

But then I felt a little nudge.

Say yes.

My parents were with us, and they were more than happy to watch their granddaughter. So I went. With harness tightened securely around me, I made my way to the top. And with my nine-year-old as my cheerleader, I kept going even when my balance was awkward and my footing unsure.

Even though I was afraid, I moved forward. Even though my stamina was tested, my resolved to finish was greater. And you know what? I will never forget those minutes spent amongst the trees with my family.

When my feet were firmly planted back on the ground, I realized God was teaching me a valuable lesson. Without my even realizing it, he painting a picture.

You see, lately God’s been asking me to be brave. He’s asking me to step out of my comfort zone and do things I wouldn’t normally do. Speak more. Lead more. Trust him more. And my first instinct, like it was with my husband, is to say no.

God, I’m not qualified.

God, you have the wrong person.

God, I have no experience in this area.

But he keeps gently nudging me forward, waiting for me to take the leap. Desiring obedience, even when I stubbornly keep my feet planted in one place.

After making a lot of excuses, I said yes to one step. And then another. With each one, he shows me his presence never leaves. Even when my feet falter, he’s there.

Having a forward-moving faith doesn’t mean we’ll never fall. It means we trust a God who never fails.

So when we slip, he’s the harness that catches us and keeps us from hitting the ground. When our balance sways, he’s the secure grip that steadies us and enables us keep going.

“It is God who arms me with strength
and keeps my way secure.
He makes my feet like the feet of a deer;
He causes me to stand on the heights.”

2 Samuel 22:33-34

Friends, we serve a God who wants us to live life to the fullest. He wants our faith to move us to new heights so he can show us the depth and width of his love. A love that surpasses all understanding. A love that will change others’ hearts, minds, and lives. But we have to be willing. We have to get off the ground.

When we do, the view is spectacular. When we do, our image of God expands with each shaky step.

 

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When You’re Afraid to Take That Step of Faith

Blog post by: Abby McDonald

“Don’t look down, Mom!”

Immediately, I wish my son hadn’t said that. I can’t help myself. My eyes drift to the expanse below and my feet wobble. What was I thinking when I agreed to do this?

I try to regain my composure and remember my harness. The 4-story high ropes course stretches out before me, and I know there was only one way out: through it.

If you fall, the harness will catch you.

I tell myself this repeatedly as I inch across a rickety bridge that seems a mile long. My son moves to the other side with ease, turning around at the end to cheer me forward.

“You’ve got this! Keep going!”

When I get close enough to the next platform, I take a giant step to the safety of a solid surface. I stop and breath deeply, thankful for a minute to relax my legs. As I survey the rest of the course, I take a mental note of how much further we have to go before we can make the trek back down to the bottom. My mouth is dry and I can hear my stomach starting to rumble.

When my husband suggested I embark on this adventure with my boys, my first instinct was to say no. First, I am not a fan of heights. And second, our one-year-old daughter was the perfect excuse for me to stay on the ground.

But then I felt a little nudge.

Say yes.

My parents were with us, and they were more than happy to watch their granddaughter. So I went. With harness tightened securely around me, I made my way to the top. And with my nine-year-old as my cheerleader, I kept going even when my balance was awkward and my footing unsure.

Even though I was afraid, I moved forward.

Even though my stamina was tested, my resolved to finish was greater. And you know what? I will never forget those minutes spent amongst the trees with my family.

When my feet were firmly planted back on the ground, I realized God was teaching me a valuable lesson. Without my even realizing it, he painting a picture.

You see, lately God’s been asking me to be brave. He’s asking me to step out of my comfort zone and do things I wouldn’t normally do. Speak more. Lead more. Trust him more. And my first instinct, like it was with my husband, is to say no.

God, I’m not qualified.

God, you have the wrong person.

God, I have no experience in this area.

But he keeps gently nudging me forward, waiting for me to take the leap. Desiring obedience, even when I stubbornly keep my feet planted in one place.

After making a lot of excuses, I said yes to one step. And then another. With each one, he shows me his presence never leaves. Even when my feet falter, he’s there.

Having a forward-moving faith doesn’t mean we’ll never fall. It means we trust a God who never fails.

So when we slip, he’s the harness that catches us and keeps us from hitting the ground. When our balance sways, he’s the secure grip that steadies us and enables us keep going.

“It is God who arms me with strength

and keeps my way secure.

He makes my feet like the feet of a deer;

He causes me to stand on the heights.”

 2 Samuel 22:33-34

Friends, we serve a God who wants us to live life to the fullest.

He wants our faith to move us to new heights so he can show us the depth and width of his love. A love that surpasses all understanding. A love that will change others’ hearts, minds, and lives. But we have to be willing. We have to get off the ground.

When we do, the view is spectacular. When we do, our image of God expands with each shaky step.

 

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.

 


How do you handle confrontation?

Is that knotted feeling of annoyance building in your stomach? Are you avoiding a person because they keep doing that thing? Do you know what’s right, but are afraid to share what’s wrong?

I like avoidance. I can pretend all is good, until it isn’t. Until I get to the point where I’m about to explode. Here, at 500 degree temperatures, I find it’s nearly impossible to present, “Love is patient. Love is kind.”

Poor sight says, “Protect yourself.”

Good foresight says, “Address frustration.”

Godly insight says, “God, how?”

I used to just go up to people and unload. I lost friends. I also used to hide my annoyance in fear, until one day I’d stop returning the friend’s calls. Both strategies are losing strategies. You end up down a friend and/or walking around with a lead-heavy heart.

If you find you continually lose due to a strategy, the strategy must change. That’s what I discovered as it pertained to my approach. So when a friend recently offended me and I wanted to unload on her, wisdom spoke, “Talk to your husband about it first, give yourself some time to process it, and talk to God about it.”

The more I did, the more I realized: No two people are alike and neither are two situations. God has specific plans for each predicament, but what He always wants to prevail is love.

“And do everything with love.” 1 Cor. 16:4

How can love prevail in your relationship?

Often it is less about talking and more about praying. If we prayed far more about what we blabbed about, we might arrive at a wonderful outcome. This is what I’ve been pondering. And it’s much of what God called me to do with my friend. Rather than do nothing, I can pray continually. I have a feeling huge change is coming and it starts not with my feet approaching her, but with my knees planted down on the ground.

What might your approach be? Consider asking God about it.

 

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