Purposeful Faith

Just “Lose It” In Front of God

In Front of God

What does your face to the outside world show? Mine is a wide smile, almost busting at the seams with the joy of the Lord that’s ready to flood the floor before you with a floral arrangement of happy, loved and adored.

And, many times I do feel that way.

Yet, other times are
sad times,
dejected times,
anxious times,
frustrated times and
I-don’t-know times.

How about you? What does your inside face look like? What does it really say about you?

Stopping to really think, can mean the difference between
making a lie out of your faith and starting to walk by real faith.

Let me explain.

Our life mantra is usually: Keep the exterior shiny. The paint pretty. The hedges cut. The grass trimmed. The leaves blown. The exterior of the house beautiful.

The ultimate goal is: Make sure you really believe when you drive up to your house, people aren’t falling off their rocker.

Yet, God sees past our outsides, doesn’t he? Even when we try to so carefully hide what is wildly out of control within our own house.

“People look at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.” 1 Sam. 16:7

He sees right in, through the windows, past the locked doors, beyond the fresh coat of smiley paint. He sees the unorganized, chaotic, apprehensive and unsure cabinets of our heart.

And, he still loves. He still wants us. He doesn’t care, laugh and stare. But, he says, “Come, child, draw your heart closer to the center of my love, the hearth of all life change.”

Here, he proves stuff, valuable stuff, needed-to-hear stuff:

He proves he is not a love me, love me not type of God
willing to drop us off in timbucktoo when we don’t know what to do.

He proves he loves the downtrodden and simply draws near to them. He loves truth and every time – no matter how others perceive us – he calls us to it.

He proves that people who share pain, are actually more liked by others. Which is even proven by studies that say, we like those who are like us – not perfect.

Then, as we get real with our own circumstances, pain, fears, dejection – we see what we hold is not some oddity of yuck, but what is common to nearly all men. We see that our pain can be used for other’s gain. We see that our fears are the calling card to let others in to speak reality over our lives.

We hear God almost assuring our status by his very Word over us.

It sounds something like this: “The details of your body, your make-up, your home are not hidden from me. Don’t you know I made you in a secret places? I saw your eyes before you were born, your mind before you knew it and the details of your day before you breathed. (Ps. 139:15-16). I have so much love for you, because I am rich in mercies. Even when you die all the time to your own failings, still, my grace saves you again and then again. Consider it a gift to the one I dearly love (Eph. 2:4-9). Keep your arms open to this gift, so you can unwrap all its beauty. Time and time again it proves the one that I have destined you to be like, my own son, Jesus (Ro. 8:29). You are becoming. It is a valuable process. Don’t detest it, but remember that I have prepared good works in advance for you to walk in (Eph. 2:10). I care about your journey. Don’t let your insides discredit my heart for you. I love you the way I made you – always and forever. No feeling can ever change that.”

Knowing these things, changes so many things.

If God fully loves us, does it matter if man – does or doesn’t?

God’s love sets us free to the snare of man’s opinion in a way where we can actually love man.

Instead of walking into church being Mr. or Ms. Gregarious, after suffering the worst argument ever – we tell the truth.

Instead of informing others to walk with the “joy of the Lord,” after we are walking in the depressions of parenthood, we can instead reach out for help.

Instead of answering with, “I am fabulous,” when health issues are about to plunge a loved one into pain, we can be open in a way where we hear the response, “I understand, that is happening to me too.”

When God knows our inners, he makes us into faith-reliant winners. Not perfectly happy ones, not halo-covered ones, not sparkly and glittery ones, but ones, like Jesus, ones acquainted with suffering. The real deal.

Then, suddenly, we see it isn’t so much about pretty houses, manicured yards, images of glowing Christianity, but it is all about the fire of God inside and the smell of bacon that permeates the mess of chaotic.  And, we look around to say, “God is good – all the time. No matter how, I feel, he IS. And that is enough.”

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When You Think You’re Missing the Party

Blog Post by Abby McDonald

I could not stop looking at the other table.

I tried to focus on my eating my meal and made eye contact with the women around me. We talked about our writing experience, what drew us to the conference and our hometowns. But every few minutes, my eyes would drift back to the table parked directly in front of the stage.

Filled with authors, speakers and book contracts, I was certain this circle was the place to be.

What were they talking about? What was the source of their laughter?

A seat there would make me content, wouldn’t it? My mind filled with images like Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, convinced there was a golden ticket just out of my grasp and I had to get my hands on it. Wonders beyond my wildest imagination waited behind closed doors.

My mind was so preoccupied with crazy assumptions that I almost missed the woman sitting across the table from me. It was her first blogging conference. She was quite visibly nervous, no doubt feeling alone in a room full of people who had already made online connections.

She needed encouragement. She needed to know she’d made the right decision by being there.

And in all my selfish absorption with what I thought I was missing, I almost missed a God-given opportunity. In all my distractedness, I almost forgot the reason why I was there.

Giving the women around me my undivided attention, I leaned in, listened, and shared what I’d learned over the past two years. My eyes stopped wandering and I remembered who I was.

We already have a seat at the table of the Most High King. We share a Spirit with the person who was exalted to sit at the right hand of God, and yet we often can’t stop looking around as though we’re missing party.

God invites us to the greatest party on earth. We simply have to accept his invitation.

When we see the beauty and the opportunity of the exact place and time where we are, we discover what it means to truly live. We stop looking at across the street or across the room and know we are right where God wants us to be, for such a time as this.

People often cite the verse, “I can do everything through him who gives me strength” as a powerhouse verse to show God can enable them to accomplish a task beyond their human ability, like scaling a mountain or competing in a triathlon. (Philippians 4:13 NIV) And yes, God can enable us to do each of these things.

But if you look at the context of this verse, Paul is talking about contentment. He is writing to the church of Philippi from prison, and telling them how his walk with Christ enabled him to be joyful no matter what the circumstances.

Friends, true joy and satisfaction don’t come from a physical location or a black and white contract. They come from knowing the One whose love for you was demonstrated in the most humble way possible. He laid down his divinity and took the very nature of a servant.

Let’s lay our false assumptions about what we need at the feet of Jesus today. Let’s remember we’re already children of the Most High King.

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Guest Contributor

Abby McDonald is a writer who can’t contain the lavish love of a God who relentlessly pursues her, even during her darkest times. When she’s not chasing her two little boys around, she loves hiking, photography, and consuming copious amounts of coffee with friends.

Abby would love to connect with you on her blog, Twitter, and Facebook.


Overcome Like Jesus: 7 Ways He Proves You Can

Overcome Like Jesus

Ever looked at your life and wondered how God was going to deal with “all this”?

Sometimes, our lives seem to mangle themselves up into intricate webs of complexity. Each string lays on top of the other in a jumble of difficulty, hardship and ugly.

And, if we don’t actually ask God this, we normally think:

God, can you really work through this?
How can you untie everything wrapping against me?
There are so many moving pieces, so many difficult people and so many heavy problems, do you care?

overcome like Jesus
We look up, and we think, “How am I going to climb this barrier, this ridiculous tower of hardship and this likely-to-fall thing of pain?”

My son, looked up at his playground web in much the same way. It looked impossible for him to climb. He got to the middle of it, looked up and said, “I think I have gone far enough. I am not sure if I can go any higher.”

“‘If you can’?” said Jesus. “Everything is possible for one who believes.” Mk. 9:23

I wonder if Jesus looked at his walk to Calvary Hill in much the same way?

Did he think “This is impossible? This is a mess I can’t get myself out of? Can God really get me through this?”

Somehow, I doubt it.

Jesus believed that the impossible, was the beginning of God’s possible.

He knew that intricacies of life, are the proof point for the immaculacies of God.

He knew that deeply woven, meant deeply scalable by God.

Look at the intricacies Jesus climbed to make it to the pain-ridden and pain-freeing cross.

1. He had to defeat the powers of hell.

And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross. Col. 2:15

2. He had to defeat his mind.

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

3. He had to perfectly time things.

But when the set time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law. Gal. 4:4

You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Ro. 5:6

4. He had to fulfill Old Testament prophecy.

He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth;
like a lamb that is led to the slaughter, and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent,
so he opened not his mouth. Is. 53:7

5. He had to take on the sins, the pain and the agony of the world.

He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world. Jo. 1:22

6. He had to keeping humility, reliance on the plan and people coming at him in line.

Jesus, knowing that they intended to come and make him king by force, withdrew again to a mountain by himself. Jo. 6:15

7. He had to deal with his dearly loved disciples abandoning him at his hour of need.

But this has all taken place that the writings of the prophets might be fulfilled.” Then all the disciples deserted him and fled. Mt. 26:56

But, still, what looked impossible, was possible.
Like the King he was, he did not stop halfway.
He didn’t give up in the garden of agony.
He didn’t stop on the road of tears, pain and mocking.
He didn’t bow down to the taunts and lures of Satan.

He climbed. He scaled. To ascended on high. To reach the fullness of God’s heights.

How do you need to keep moving as Jesus did?

Remember, what your eyes see – is not what God sees. What he sees is greatness, holiness, sanctification and peace in process. What he sees is his good ending from the painfully woven beginning. He sees his plan and he knows it is good.

Faith is what you cannot see.
Belief is feet that keep moving when things keep getting harder.
Hope is God’s imminent rescue for those lives that trust him.

Trust him.
Keep climbing.
Don’t give up.
Don’t back down.
There is a plan.
He will bring you to his heights.
Press on.

My son focused. He kept moving. With the son against him, as he always is, he kept climbing and forging. And guess what happened? He didn’t fall, waver or give up halfway, but he made it to the top.

overcome like Jesus

Joy flooded him, smiles returned and a little “happy dance” in the sky occurred. He pulled through with God’s help.

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5 Ways to Beat Defeating Thoughts

Defeating Thoughts

Trends.

What is trending in your life?

Where is the tide of your emotions moving?

Where is that one current that you can’t seem to get past?

For me, it has been thinking that I am not good enough. It has been thinking that I stand on the brink of “mistake” that will send me careening to quick destruction in no time. It has been listening to destructive criticism that simply wants to wash me up shore, breathless, nearly lifeless and without a rescuer.

If I am not a better mother, this kid won’t end up liking me much.
If I can’t stop being quick to speak, I am never going to make strides.
If I don’t live pleasing people, I will never be happy.
If I fall to mean speaking, I am a shame-wrecked failure.
If I live for selfishness, I am a faith-wrecked failure.

Do you know what is trending? It is easy to let our thoughts move like passing clouds, without giving them a second chance. But, stop, today. Think, today. Don’t just move with the wind of your life. Lean in to what your thoughts are working within, so that you can work out what God wants to push out.

What voice inside your mind speaks judgement over enlightenment?
Disappointment over God’s appointment?
Punishment over realignment?

Our voices inside shape our voices outside.

Defeating Thoughts

“You’re not a good mom” produces a snappy chide spoken to the kid asking for water.
“You speak in all the wrong way,” produces a defensive comeback.
“You deserve punishment,” produces guilt that makes me want to hide.
“You will never make others happy,” produces a why-bother attitude that no one wants to be around.
“I will always be selfish and I can’t stop sinning,” produces defeat that turns around to wave hello to more sin.

Our voices inside shape our voices outside (I am saying this twice for a reason).

They have the power to flip relationships 
inside, outside and upside-down – for either good or for bad.

What thought has been plaguing you? Stop. Seek. Look. Press in. Think.
Passing glances produce lasting problems.

God doesn’t leave us on the side of the road, an anxious hitchhiker, with no one around to bring us to his destination of promise, fulfillment, enjoyment, safe pastures and comfort. He doesn’t ride by, wave at us, and scream “Don’t be anxious about anything – continue on and good luck!”

God tells us instead to:

1. Rejoice. Find worship – and you will find worry is no longer convicts you as an guilty bystander. (Phil 4:6)

2. Pray. Pray the name of God, pray the hope of glory, pray against evil temptation (to think negatively), seek wisdom and pray, “Help me!” (Phil 4:6)

3. Ask. God tells us to pray and then he tells us to ask (Phil 4:6). Point is: Keep on praying, asking, pleading and then go about believing. Repeat.

4. Give thanks (Phil 4:6). If you are saying thank you, you can’t be saying, “I hate my life.”

5. Focus on what deserves focusing: what is true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent or praiseworthy, not once but continually – and then continually focus there again. (Phil. 4:8)

When we get stuck in the place of worship,
we find ourself stuck on the mind and the heart of God.

It is no wonder that God explicitly tells us in his ever-redeeming and reconstructing Word that for one who keeps with this momentary, hourly or daily process that the peace of God will show up, literally transcending understanding to guard their hearts in Christ Jesus (Phil 4:7).

When we submit to God’s ways, he shields ours.

What do you need to submit? Rejoice, pray, ask, thank, and make your mind-prose “praiseworthy”. 

This means asking yourself:

Is saying “I am a bad mom”, is that a “praiseworthy” thought bringing glory to God?”
Is saying, “Things will never improve”, is that a “praiseworthy” thought bringing glory to God?
Is saying, “I will never stop sinning,” is that a “praiseworthy” thought bringing glory to God?
Is saying, “I deserve punishment,” is this a “praiseworthy” thought bringing glory to God?

If not, get yourself back to step 1. Pray for sanctification of all things entering in your mind.
Because, what you let in, will work into every crevice of your day.

We look at a glass of water you see, and we say, “Ehh…what we can’t see won’t hurt us. What is small, shouldn’t make a difference.” But, what we miss is the fact that there is clear poison dropped in that glass. If you knew that, would you drink it?

No. And so it goes with our thoughts.

Small poison = big negative results.
Small poison = a heavy and hardened heart.
Small poison = an angry, bitter, victimized or jealous spirit.

But, Jesus. Did you hear that? But Jesus. Even if we have been guzzling poison, he rushes in with the antidote. 

Jesus said, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. Mt. 9:12

With no slaps, whacks or breaking of our backs, he heals up what we let in, so that we can move out through his faith and through real transformation, sanctification and reformation of our mind. 

Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Ro. 12:2

For me? I will remember, my family and friends and my God – they love me. I am secure in Jesus’ love. I am a sinner sinning, being rescued by a Savior saving. My God is good. This is praiseworthy!

When we think like this, we live no longer as a hitchhiker seeking our next best ride to some unknown land, but we watch on as God escorts us to transformation. A place where green pastures of peace and resulting fruit are plentiful.

Breathe deep. What could be better than that?

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How Judging Can Bring Worship

Bring Worship

He was spinning slowly with a gigantic smile.
He was raising his fists, tightly pressed towards his stomach with pointing motions to the sky.
He was leaning in and jumping up.
Smiling.
Moving.
Doing all kinds of crazy stuff.

“Why does he have to distract so many?
Is he making a show for himself or a show of God’s honor?
Is this kind of worship worthwhile?”

Completely distracted from God, my eyes were wallpapered. But, the more I looked, the more his background shined, just like the raindrop tattoo below his left eye. The more I looked, the more hardship, gangs, and possibly prison sentences were likely. The more I looked, the more I saw the real joy of absolute freedom, applicable grace and abundant peace written on his face of admiration and adoration.

I saw all of this. And then I saw him start to spin circles, eyes wide open, with me standing right behind him. The smile wouldn’t stop.

Circles?
Eye contact?
Awkward. Odd.

You couldn’t miss this one, so I didn’t. I watched even more.

And what I eventually noticed was this: for this man, it didn’t seem to be about showing off, or grabbing attention, but simply about celebrating his now set-free love with his full being, his entire body and all his emotions because one, far greater than himself, saved him. He appeared to be almost in the very throne room of Christ, simply enjoying the lavish love of his Savior.

Perhaps, he relished in the love that was always so hard to obtain? Moved into the acceptance that might have always turned the other direction? Basked in light that eluded him, crying “Amazing Grace” from a heart that lived anything but amazing – and probably agonizing in comparison?

Perhaps this man really got the point of worship.

Worship is the satiating wellspring of what never had a chance to spring up before Christ.

It is the power of a Savior to save you again in your moment of need.

It is celebrating the light of day,
despite the dark of night you lived because of your crime-laden past.

Does my heart move in tandem with Jesus’ in reckless, all-out, arms-open, heart-heeded abandon?

I don’t have to spin wild circles and make hand-gestures like a catcher, but the point is, would I or could I? In an outpouring of thanks, in the name of Jesus, could I pour out my heart through worship without worrying and fearing that I was embarrassing myself?

Would I go to those lengths to show him outlandish love?

  • To offer an outpouring of my best self and my highest worth, just as the woman washed Jesus’ feet in undressed affection: A woman came to him with an alabaster jar of very expensive perfume, which she poured on his head as he was reclining at the table. Mt. 26:7

Others probably thought she was crazy.

  • Judas, the one who eventually walked right up to betrayal, shook hands with it and fell to its power, had this to say about the moment: “Why wasn’t this perfume sold and the money given to the poor? It was worth a year’s wages.” Jo. 12:5

Why does this worship-dancer have to be so crazy?
Why does he have to draw attention?
Why does he have to make a show?

Maybe the issue is not him – but me. I think I am far to comfortable with being comfortable. I am far too complacent in my complacent worship. I am far too judgy with Christian judgements.

Is this attitude bringing me closer to God’s heart?

Or is it simply pushing me out of God’s ring, to stand on the sidelines with a pointed finger?

Perhaps the things I want to judge are the things God is using to give me a nudge.

Perhaps the people that I look to mock,
are those that should make me take stock over my spiritual walk.

Perhaps what I resist, is exactly where God wants me to persist.

You see, this man taught me a lesson.  By taking a short second-break from analyzing and critiquing, I could see the heart of God revealing and beating.

I remembered how much Jesus loves outlandish outpourings
of everything on to him.

But, how often are we too far consumed with the action’s of others, that the lessons of God fall on a path of concrete and grow no roots?

This man, he taught me how to give it all over. He taught me how to smile the words, “Worthy is the lamb,” and to mean it from every cell of one’s soul. He taught me, that the best gifts are the ones that are offered to God through a heart that is only outpouring for him. He taught me, don’t judge the ones who are different, because their “different” may be what brings us into “oneness” with God. He taught me to accept what is outside of my God-parameters. He taught me to be a little bit more open to other’s interpretive movements of surrendered love.

He taught me that my judgements are cause for greater worship,
because they are already forgiven.

So, as they ushered him out of the church aisle, and escorted him out of the church, I said, “Thank you God for this man, you see, what was lost, is now found for him – and he knows it. But, more importantly, he is not afraid to show it. Help me to be like him – not just to know, but to celebrate every cell of goodness stored up in the gift of you.  Help me to love you freely and fanatically today.”

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When You Hit A Wall and Love Breaks

Love Breaks

He built a tower. 

The effort that he put into it was great.
The focus he had was serious.
The progress he made was tremendous.
The magnetic blocks were stacked high into a sculpture of uniqueness, creativity and awe.
Then, he placed the last block on the top, and a section of it crashed to the ground.

My son, lost of all joy, looked at his partially destroyed tower, angry, frustrated, and dejected. He leaned back, lifted his hand up and destroyed the entire creation.

How often are we just like my son?

How often does a portion of our well-constructed earthly tower fall, only leaving us ready to lean back and swipe away the idea that God really cares?

We construct our family.
Add in the focus of good words.
Build into saving our finances.
Add the block of doing things right for God.
Stack on prayer.
We love what we have, the way we had it and how it was – and then, it comes down.

A portion of our tower, crumbles.

Why do you allow this God?

Whey do you let the good fall?

Didn’t you see how hard I was trying for you?

Don’t you get how much this meant to me?

Yet, what if we look at what stands against us differently. What if, rather than if a wall of unscalability comes before us or a falling wall of unpredictability, we still see a land of opportunity?

What if we realized, the things that are falling, are just the preparation for our great calling?

Think about Joshua, so many years ago.

The Israelites finally pushed through wandering and doubting
to make it to the so-called “Promised Land.”

They spent 40-years pushing on to make it to this place of “milk and honey.”

They built a mission that was ready to celebrate the victory,
to see the beauty and to bask in what they had.

They were probably so excited, eager and hungry to see the fruits of their labor.
I bet they imagined greatness.

But, guess what they were confronted with upon arrival?
Just guess?

A big ole’ ugly and tall wall!

A wall that was the barrier to their progress of family.
A wall that would hold them back from living well financially.
A wall that would not allow the sick to get help.
A wall that would seem to keep relationships stuck, people frustrated and temperatures high in their hearts.

A wall that could almost make them want to turn back around, say “What is the use?” and return to slavery.

God, though, he doesn’t leave us useless standing hopeless
before barriers and broken dreams. 

God is ready to offer a plan, so those who will seek it.
He is ready to offer instruction to those, who read his instructions.

He is ready to offer a fix, to those who leave the fixing to him.

God to Joshua: “I have delivered Jericho into your hands, along with its king and its fighting men. March around the city once with all the armed men. Do this for six days. Have seven priests carry trumpets of rams’ horns in front of the ark. On the seventh day, march around the city seven times, with the priests blowing the trumpets. When you hear them sound a long blast on the trumpets, have the whole army give a loud shout; then the wall of the city will collapse and the army will go up, everyone straight in.” Josh. 6:2-5

God claims the victory. The walls fall.

He handles the situations that look like hopeless situations to make them hopeful.

We may look like marching idiots in the process of his whispered plan,
and we may feel like we are simply standing in front of defeat,
but if we follow through, whether on earth or in heaven, God will win our behalf.

By faith the walls of Jericho fell, after the army had marched around them for seven days. Heb. 11:30

Let us not look at gigantic barricades or the fallen towers of our life in defeat, for what God is building will be reconstructed a million times better than what our small hands could do on our own. 

Where is God calling you to keep the faith? March on, dear friend.

For he is building something the best way, not our way.
He is building character that lasts, not falls.
He is creating spirits that can go the length, and not tumble at every tumbling.
He is giving wisdom that lasts beyond our confronted problem, not evaporating.
He is working progress into the areas of our defeat, so that he is the victor, not us.

And then, joy is ours, because what we see at the end, much like my son, is that what was rebuilt with God’s help, is the best thing we really could have asked for. My son? He jumped up and down. He cheered. He loved his new creation. He celebrated, much like the Israelites probably did when they had their breakthrough.

God has good stored up for you.

Until then, let’s just believe – and keep marching wildly on.

***Don’t miss my post today on Sacred Ground Sticky Floors! This is a site, I just love! Today I talk about the one thing I wish people would stop saying to me. It really gets to me. I hope you enjoy it.

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Some Things Are Meant For Unfolding

Unfolding God's Word light

Post By: Angela Parlin

We’ve been working on folding shirts a new way, in my two younger kids’ rooms, because the old way, Mom’s way, was not working.

Our new fold is really a cross between rolling and folding. Instead of stacking shirts flat, we place them in their drawers almost upright. The kids are able to see which shirt they’re pulling out before they move anything around, and so the rest of the drawer stays neat. I like neat. 🙂

Our littlest is five, a great age for being a helper. This new fold is something he does well, and he’s excited because he does it all by himself. He often says, “You HAVE TO come see this, Mom! My shirts are so good!”

I gasp and tell him, “I’ve never seen anything so neat (especially in this room)!” And he nods his head, proudly.

We get a little excited around here about new systems for keeping things neat and tidy and well-managed. But there are some things which were never meant to be kept in a drawer, out of the way, folded up tight, and managed.

Psalm 119:30 says, The unfolding of Your words gives light; it gives understanding to the simple.

I wonder, what is this unfolding, and how often do we approach God’s Word this way?

Do you come to this ancient book, ready to unfold the words and let them unfold upon you?

Do you sit long enough to allow layer upon layer to open before your eyes,
lighting the path of your life? Lighting the way to life?

I love to study God’s Word, yet I’m convicted. Sometimes I allow myself to get swept up in the busyness of life, much of that busyness my own making. Then I approach God’s Word as a super-quick fill-up. I know I need it to get through the days, but I don’t always spend the time.

I don’t always approach the Word the way I’d approach a person I love.

I come rushed, asking for what I need, and please, God, drop it on me fast, because I also need to be out the door in a minute.

I hope you don’t hear any condemnation here. I believe God honors any minute we give Him, just as He honors the hours. But sometimes I see a pattern in me, and I wonder if you see the same.

Sometimes I forget this book is a treasure waiting to be unfolded, waiting to give us light.

His Word is alive and divides me in two. It lifts my eyes beyond everything I can see. It lifts my eyes to heaven. It grows my love for Jesus, for others, and even my love for me–as His work of art, His chosen, His beloved, His sister.

Do you unfold His words, and let them unfold upon you?

To unfold means to open. That’s a pretty straightforward starting place. We open His Word and let His words enter into our hearts.

To unfold is also to reveal, which is something the Lord does for us. He unfolds His words upon us, reminding us of truth or revealing truth in a new way.

Finally, to unfold is to interpret or expound, which takes time and the effort to dig in.

God’s Word is a treasure, and any effort we spend unfolding it, manifests in our lives as light and understanding and wisdom.

Lord, Your Word is perfect, and it refreshes our souls. Your Word is trustworthy, making us wise. Your Word is right, giving joy to our hearts. Your Word is radiant, giving light to our eyes. Your Word is righteous and pure. It is firm and endures forever. Your words are more precious than gold. Help us to treasure them, to treasure You. In the Name of Jesus, Amen. {adapted from Psalm 19}

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Angela Parlin

 

 

 

 

 

 

Angela Parlin is Dan’s wife and “Mom” to 3 rowdy boys and 1 sweet girl. In addition to spending time with friends and family, she loves to read and write, spend days at the beach, watch romantic comedies, and organize closets. But most of all, she loves Jesus and writes to call attention to the beauty of life in Christ, even when that life collaborates with chaos. Join her at www.angelaparlin.com, Eyes on Jesus.  

 


10 Ways to Know: Are You Listening to God or the Devil?

Listening to God

I go about my day, but sometimes my day goes about wrecking me. It goes about making me overwhelmed in a moment of frustration, angry at others, beaten by circumstances, discouraged by my actions and frustrated that I am not more of a “halo” Christian.

Ever felt this way?

When I come to think about it, I think it has much to do with what I am thinking about.

Because what we think, we live.

Are you listening to the conviction of the Spirit
or the condemnation of the devil?

10 Ways to Know:

1. The Spirit infuses love, the devil accuses with shame.
The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. Ro. 8:16 

2. God draws us near, the devil pushes us lonely into fear.
“I sought the Lord, and he answered me; he delivered me from all my fears”  Psalm 34:4

3. The Spirit hands out an invitation, the devil speaks accusations. The Spirit invites us to life-change and liberation while the devil invites us to death.
Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. 2 Cor. 3:1

4. The Spirit makes us new, the devil makes us dwell in the old. The Spirit works in the now, the devil reinforces yesterday.
He has made us competent as ministers of a new covenant–not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life. 2 Cor. 3:6

5. The Spirit speaks correction, the devil speaks destruction.
The Spirit reinforces the Word of Life, while the devil rips it apart, reworks it and denies it to suit his needs to destroy us.
When he comes, he will prove the world to be in the wrong about sin and righteousness and judgment. Jo. 16:8

6. The Spirit reveals, the devil steals.
These things God has revealed to us through the Spirit. For the Spirit searches everything, even the depths of God. 1 Cor. 2:10

7. The devil pushes legalistic law, the Spirit pushes life-giving liberation.
If the devil can make you work hard to be loved, he will. The Spirit is always at work to confirm your position as child.
The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.” Ro. 8:15

8. The devil sends us on a parade of feelings, the Spirit sends us into a journey through God’s Word. 
Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. Eph. 6:17

9. The devil reminds us how bad we were, the Spirit reminds us of how secure and significant we will be as we turn back to God. 
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

10. The Spirit brings self-denial, the devil encourages self-will, self-promotion and selfishness.
I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. Gal. 2:20

The Spirit is a force of freedom, a revealer of God’s wisdom and an offerer of love, the devil comes simply to steal, kill and destroy. May we walk bad voices right out the door, so the peace of God may walk in. Then, our temples will shine Christ far and wide.

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5 Things That Self-Destruct Faith (Which You’re Probably Doing)

Self-Destruct Faith

Faith.

It is the best thing we have and, yet the hardest thing to walk by.
It is the gift of moving beyond our self, and all the same, the gift of seeing into our self.
It is the know-how that we don’t know-how.
It is the reasoning, others call mis-reasoned.
It is the bootcamp for endurance and perseverance.
It is the beginning of progress and the end of self-loathing.
It is both our movement and the mercy of Jesus co-mingling.
It is the knowledge that what we can’t do, we always can do – through Christ.
It is a step towards the unknown, where we trust the known is holding us.
It is the access point to amazing.
It is the hope of all glory laid down on earth.

It is our calling, the thing that I love and the thing I so often hate. It stretches me. It pushes me. It calls me to the cliff, in a way, it wraps it’s hands around me and shoves me over m cliff of safety. It makes my heart pump. It gets me sweaty. But, all the same, it works every time, when I let it.

So why don’t I let it work?

I just went to Allume, a bloggers conference. It was destined to be a glorious time! A time God had cut out for me to love others, to offer prayer and to walk with him. Yet, at the very beginning of the event, faith started to walk out and doubts started to walk in. All I seemed to be  left with was a slip and slide experience of doubts ready to splash away all my dreams of excitement.  Whoosh! Away she goes.

So, what is one to do when we see ourselves slipping away from God? When we find the trigger point to our doubting point has been pulled? We have to find out what compelled us to pull the trigger in the first place.

5 Ways We Self-Destruct Daily Faith

  1. Forgetting Grace

    When we walk hitting our self with the force of all we can never do right, we walk with an internal wrecking ball that stands to tear down the joy we have in the Lord.  Forgetting grace means, building a monument to shame that you can’t stop looking at.

    TRUTH: Because of the LORD’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. La. 3:22

  2. Being Someone Else

    The second we walk in someone else’s skin is the second our own skin ends up crawling in discouragement and doubt. We can’t expect to feel full when we are emptying all that God created us to be on to the floor to be trampled upon.

    TRUTH: For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart. 1 Sam. 16:7

  3. Looking at Other’s Best Pictures

    When we take those horrid both-eyes-closed-with-a-double-chin pictures and compare them against others glamour shots, it is no wonder we feel like God couldn’t love us.

    TRUTH: (Nothing) will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. Ro. 8:39

  4. Thinking There Really is No Plan

    When we think he’s not sending us anywhere, we start sitting nowhere. We will fall back on the couch – stagnant, scared, indignant and like repellant to change. Loaded schedules, relaxation, timidity and entertainment become the pursuit of our life.

    TRUTH: So, because you are lukewarm–neither hot nor cold–I am about to spit you out of my mouth. Rev. 3:16 (to be considered in light of John 3:16)

  5. Not Keeping an Always-Eye Out for God

    When we go through the day living by our minds rulings, we consistently miss who is ruling. It is the fastest way to move away from God, fast.

    TRUTH: In their hearts humans plan their course, but the LORD establishes their steps. Prov. 16:9

God has great stored for you. Will you open it? Will you walk to it?

For me, at Allume, my soul got right with faith on day 1, so that on days 2, 3 and 4, God could walk through. And he did. I praise Him for this return, because if I didn’t there is no doubt I would have wandered like a lost little red riding hood.

What I came to see was the faith-eating wolves where really sheep that God wants to use to bless me far beyond my greatest pre-conceived dreams. Taking a stand in faith, is always the best stand one can take.

Where will you stand – lost? Or found in God’s great plan?

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6 Ways to Transformed (When It Seems Impossible)

Ways to Transformed

Moments. It is all we have. A sliver of opportunity. A second of time, a blink of hope, added one upon another. How do we make the most of them? How do we stop ourselves from tripping up even before we take our first step?

These are the type of questions I am trying to ask myself. Because the truth is, far too often, I am the one left standing, looking back, asking, “Why did I fall face first into a pile of “didn’t do right” dung, now covered and smelling like the rot of the earth? How did I allow myself to end up here? And why do I feel so bad?”

What if, rather than living a life in remorseful retrospect,
we lived a life of relaxed in our retraining and reforming –
as we are made into a new image?

Would things look different? Amazing, even?

Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Ro. 12:2

If we actively relax into transformation,
rather than subconsciously running against it,
perhaps we might find our self – right in the middle of it.

This means instead of chiding, we get to abiding.
Instead of the fear of pain, we draw near to pain.
Instead of thinking God hates us, we remember he loves us.
To get the power of transformation in motion.

Don’t get up and run at the sound of “transformation.”  Because, if you are anything like me, the sound of that word may make you want to jump up with all your might to take flight, saying,

“Transformation?
That’s gibberish for the “good folk”.
Not for a sin dweller and rebeller like me.
That was meant for apostles or disciples or saints,
not for one who feels like she may faint.”

But, what if…
What if the method wasn’t as wild and wooly as the result?

What if the answer was simply:

  1. To think about what you are thinking about.
  2. To dwell on what your heart dwells on.
  3. To see where these mind patterns have taken you.
  4. To pray about that.
  5. And then to listen.
  6. Not just to listen as you always have, but listen to really hear. To listen like a mom listens for the cry of a baby.

Then, perhaps, God will redirect every mind-path and membrane
to his transformative unfolding.

I am just saying. It is worth a chance, isn’t it?

We take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ? 2 Cor. 10:5

Might you even see that your fortune cookie is bad,
because the message that you write to yourself is – bad?

When our power is derived from thoughts that are powerless, our drive dies out en route. But, when our power is sourced from the Word of God, it lives and churns and burns the midnight oil of our mind into magnificence, into the sacred and into the holy. Then it works: It liberates. It testifies. It magnifies. It propels and compels. It leads and bleeds love.

Even while our world circles on a grey scale, God’s never has. His light is the way, the truth and the life.

Where do you the thoughts of your life exist –
in the dark and grey or in the white and light?

God offers clarity like: “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about such things.” Phil. 4:8

The more we think of God, the more we get consumed with God.
The more he lights us the more we shine.

But everything exposed by the light becomes visible—and everything that is illuminated becomes a light. Eph. 5:13

Our job is easy, we simply let him light up our thoughts. We lay them down at the feet of Jesus so that the beams, the rays, the glory, the all-consuming brightness can swallow them whole and we keep our eyes dwelling on his majesty. Light makes the dark bright, it can’t help it – it consumes the unknown fears lurking behind what you cannot see.

Will you allow it to work for you?

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