Purposeful Faith

When God Did Not Give Enough (Linkup)

When God didn't give enough

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“I want that one, Mommy! No, that one…”

“Pick the one that you like the best,” I said, laying the two books before him.

“This one!”  He skipped with excitement to the checkout line.

Excitedly, I got into the car, envisioning his joy in the back seat. He got a new book –  action figures and all. I bet he is so happy. I want to glimpse his joy. I want to see his face.. We will play and play and play. Boy, will he be so happy with his mom now!

But, day dreaming was cut short to day screaming, as my 3-year old repeated incessantly, “I don’t want it Mommy.”

He screamed and he screamed because what he got wasn’t enough.
He screamed and screamed because what he left behind was better.
He screamed and screamed because it wasn’t the way he wanted it.

My heart broke. I had wanted to give him something special, enjoyable and exciting. I wanted him to enjoy the moment. I wanted him to delight in it, yet my little son, was anything but delighted. It was no longer about his toy and joy, because now he was completely annoyed.

A seed of discontentment was growing. The more he thought about it, the more angry he grew – with me. The more he thought about his other toy, the more he looked at his and hated it.

While my insides wanted to yell, “Be grateful boy, Momma could have gotten you nothing!,” my outsides knew I’m just the same.

I see it’s shine, then forget it and start to whine.
I hold joy tight until complaints come into sight.
I see another’s toy and lose all my joy.
I look back, and think, I didn’t want it like that.

I wonder why he gave me this – instead of that?
I mutter a thank you, then secretly wonder why it isn’t bigger and better.
I can’t even see what he has given me, because all I can see is what I didn’t get.

I say I want what God’s blessings, but do I really?

It seems I want it on my terms, my way and according to my plan. 
But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. (Mt. 6:33)

I want it in a way that puts me ahead and that makes me important.
But many who are the greatest now will be least important then, and those who seem least important now will be the greatest then.” (Mk. 10:31)

I want all gifts and no patience. All blessings and no pruning. All things and no holds bar.
He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful. (John 15:2)

I want it all now and pout like a baby when I don’t get it.
But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience. (Romans 8:25)

God is better than empty demands for illusions of peace, significance and happiness.

He promises to meet our needs according to his all-knowing power regarding what we need.
And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus. (Phil 4:19)

He is greater than any earthly toy I could covet. Greater than any pile of plastic. Just having and knowing, God, is the ultimate treasure.

It reaps rewards far greater than any empty, breakable, momentary toy I want.  God offers me deep, deep meaning that touches my insides with the deepest healing touch.

Enduring love.
Everlasting peace.
Empowering character.
Extreme perseverance.
Eternal rewards.
Endless faith.

I can only imagine who I would be, where I would be and how empty I would feel if he gave me everything I have demanded of Him. Or, if he gave me what everyone else has in order to quell my discomforts. Or, if he ran to fix every dissatisfaction that resides within.

I may look quite similar to a spoiled toddler and I am not even sure I would like that person too much.

In my pursuit of things, might I lose my pursuit of him?

God is infinitely better. Moments pass, desires wane, but Christ endures. His love never ends. Sure, he loves to give us what we desire for today, but as a Father would, he delights in giving us what we will need for tomorrow.

‘Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I will depart. The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away; may the name of the LORD be praised.’ (Job 1:21)

God desires to meet our deepest hungriest, soul-quenching needs. Certainly, God often gives us things that we want, because he loves us, but his heart beats for what lasts, for what is not plastic – to be burned in the fire – but for what counts. But, for what will give us deep lasting contentment.

“…each man’s work will become evident; for the day will show it because it is to be revealed with fire, and the fire itself will test the quality of each man’s work. If any man’s work which he has built on it remains, he will receive a reward.…” (1 Cor. 3:13-14)

Toys often burn, land in the trash, end up broken in a closet or shoved in a corner. The things of the Lord never burn, never break and always endure. They survive the test of fire.

Let’s take joy in the small gifts of today, because our contentment today may prepare us for the big eternal gifts the Lord is planning tomorrow. Everything we have is a gift, because God loves us. He is using it all for his purposes. We are being transformed – to be a perfect and holy living sacrifice to the Lord. The ultimate gift of beauty for him.

Let’s take our eyes off our deficiencies
and place them on to his all sufficiency.

We have so much to be thankful for. God loves us so much that he gives in a way that answers the deepest cries of our heart. He knows what we need better than we know ourselves.

Dear friends, God’s not a holy Santa, handing us everything on our wish list. Likewise, he doesn’t drop coal at our door step either when we don’t match up. He is so much better than that.

And, the fact of the matter is, even if we don’t get anything, we still have everything – in Him.

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Let Jesus Embrace Your Sadness

Let Jesus Embrace Your Sadness

There was really no real reason to feel down, it was just a sad day.
I couldn’t blame it on my husband because he was as loving as always,
I couldn’t blame it on my friends, because they did nothing wrong,
I couldn’t blame it on my kids because they were being great.

It was me.

And I didn’t know what to do.

How do I put that smile back on my face?
How do I start feeling like the energetic smiling “cheerleader” that I always am?

We know we shouldn’t feel this way, but we still do.  The longer we sit, the harder it becomes to get up.

Sadness falls like dominos:
We feel bored, which knocks over our plans for the day…
Which knocks over a bad response from a friend…
Which makes us feel more hurt…
Which makes us want to stay in more…

One after another, the dominos of pain fall until all we feel is pain.  
At the end, we are left – fallen.

But, God sees us in this condition, he loves us in this condition and he knows how to nurse it back to good health.

The LORD is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit. (Psalm 34:18)

Our Father comes near to pain.
No matter what we are feeling, he is always willing to start healing.
He is always willing to come close.
Always willing to rescue.
Always willing to see the cry of our heart.

God never leaves us.

He is always waiting to receive us.

The LORD himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged. (Deut. 31:8)

Friend, let me draw you a little closer to tell you God loves an authentic, real and honest heart. He hears these cries; these cries make us seek him.  However, tears of resentment and anger do not help; they block our eyes from beholding – and receiving – the love of Christ.

These two visitors fog the windows of our heart so much that
we miss seeing the love of God pouring down on us.

I crave his love in these moments, don’t you? I want him to reach down to my pits, don’t you?

God holds love out in place of abandonment.
Hope instead of rejection.
Healing for pain.
Grace for disgrace.

Jesus was well acquainted with pain and he never ran – from it.
He ran – to it.
And brought truth – through it. 

The Truth is:

– God has a hope and a future carved out for us.  It is waiting for us.  (Jeremiah 29:11)
– Christ is at work to strengthen us.  (Philippians 4:13)
– Jesus makes us MORE than just an ordinary conqueror.  (Romans 8:37)
– Power, love and a sound mind rule us not fear and timidity. (2 Tim. 1:7)
– We are protected, loved and secure.  (Hebrews 6:19)
– God is an ever-present help in a time of trouble.  (Psalm 46:1)
– God will never abandon us. (Deuteronomy 31:6)
– When we call on God, he hears us. (Matthew 7:7)
– Even when we are faithless, God is faithful. (2 Timothy 2:13)

These words lift us up; they speak life and truth and joy and future into our hearts.

We still may not feel entirely great, but we can trust God that he is entirely faithful.

He will bless us as we pursue Him.

Being close with God is not dependent on feelings; it is dependent on the work of Jesus Christ, which has already been completed.  

He endured, so we could be “secure”.
We are never beaten down for feeling down.
But he desires we draw close to the one who loves us the most.
And not to fall prey, to the one who sees us as prey.

David called, “Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation.  (Psalm 42:5)

He was down, but he also saw a way out – a hope in God.

Hope is always present.
God always hears our call.
Faith never ends.
Love always endures.

But those who trust in the LORD will find new strength. They will soar high on wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not faint. (Isaiah 40:31 NLT)

We don’t faint, because Jesus carries us in our time of need.


Not Gathering Near Others- Will Hurt You

we gather

Why am I always so hesitant to gather?
Why do I always see the distance I have to drive?
The screaming kids I have to transport?
The house I have to clean?
The work I have to prepare?
The things I need to remember?

I’m like the anti-Martha, I don’t want to do anything to get ready because I am already tired. I just want to sit around at Jesus’ feet, but I want to do it alone. I am not sure I am much of a Mary either, because I am pretty sure Mary didn’t plan to close the door on the disciples before they arrived.

Can you even imagine that?
How could I want to shut out modern day disciples of Christ?

Disciples who are ready to:

Stir up Good Works and to Encourage:
And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near. (Heb. 10:24)

Bring Christ with them:
For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them. (Mt. 18:20)

Light a House on Fire with Wisdom and Joy:
Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. (Col. 3:16)

Teach me Humility:
Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited. (Ro. 12:16)

Build Love, Compassion and Sympathy:
Finally, all of you, be like-minded, be sympathetic, love one another, be compassionate and humble. (1 Pet. 3:8)

Foster Stronger Faith:
So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ. (Ro. 10:17)

The real roots of Christian life are watered when we gather.
They are watered when we look at a brother or sister and say, “I need you…”

Not when we say,
I have figured out the way.
In my home I am going to stay,
so I can stay above the fray.

When we do this, we start to spiritually decay.

Christianity is meant to be an “I need you…” kind of thing. It’s supposed to be an “I-can’t-be-all-God-wants-me-to-be-without-you” kind of thing.

Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it. (1 Cor. 12:27)

If we all make up his body, is there a use for a head, without a neck?  If we don’t have each other, can we, the body, really operate effectively?

Rolling heads really can’t serve God and they surely can’t carry out God’s mission on earth with any power. Rolling heads can’t even speak coherent words because they haven’t been fed by the body.

Faith is really developed as we feed the body and build each part stronger.  Then each part can go and accomplish what it was set forth to do.

As the body meets, Christ meets the body.
As the body gathers, Christ equips it.
As the body prays, Christ is present.
As the body moves, Christ prompts it through his word.

Christ equips his body, because his body is him. He comes to strengthen us, the body carriers, who are all at work building up the body of Christ, attaining the unity of faith and the knowledge of the son of God, until we attain the full measure of Jesus Christ (Eph. 4:12-13).

I want a “full measure of Jesus Christ”, don’t you?

Until then, I am starting to think the secret to unity is found in this verse:

“Be humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.”  (Eph. 4:2-3)

Perhaps, the biggest reason why I may not want to meet is that I fear I won’t bear up under another or I will get annoyed or I will judge. I am afraid. Perhaps, it’s not even about them, but it is about me and my fears.

But, here is the thing, if we are the body of Christ and Christ lives in us, then in a sense, there is nothing for me to fear. Because “there is no fear in love. But perfect love (the perfect love of Christ) drives out fear…” (1 John 4:18)

Gathering as a body, unites the body in love and, through the power of Jesus Christ, fear is cast out.

Who needs to fear
when Christ has already made me entirely secure in his love
and incredibly significant through his promises?

In this, there is no longer fear when others gather near, but only a deep knowledge that Christ is near.

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Today I am joining #LiveFreeThursday and Five Minute Friday.


Where is Your Hope?

Blog Post by Abby McDonald

“What’d you do that for? Because you wanted him to lose?”

My husband recalled the conversation he had with the scout master just minutes earlier as we sat in the fellowship hall, waiting for our son’s turn to race his pinewood derby car. Those words were directed at my husband after he’d explained that we let our six-year-old do the majority of the work.

I was seething. I wanted to march over to the leader and give him a piece of my mind. However, as I watched the joy on my son’s face when his car raced down the track, my anger dissipated.

He saw what so many others in the audience didn’t: the joy in the journey. He followed the rules of the game, and put hard work into making his vehicle just the way he wanted. Now he was reaping the benefits of his dedication.

Win or lose, he was proud of what he’d accomplished. His excitement filled the room.

As we conversed with others at the race, we became aware that several placed their hope simply in winning. It was in the end result. And isn’t that the same pattern so many of us fall into?

We see that goal in our mind’s eye, and we put all of our hope and faith into achieving it. We brush past anyone or anything that gets in our way, seeing obstacles as a nuisance rather than a chance to grow.

We claim our dreams and say God gave them to us, and this much may be true. But God’s timeline is often different than ours. Some growth may be required before we are prepared to handle the spotlight of success.

When we place our hope only in the end result, we face overwhelming disappointment if things don’t go the way we envisioned. Often, we beat ourselves up and call ourselves failures, not realizing God often uses setbacks to mold and develop us just as much as success.

I am reminded of Hebrews chapter 11. Commonly referred to as the “faith chapter,” it lists many heroes of the faith who are set as examples for us to emulate. However, none of these men and women received what was promised to them in their lifetime. If their eyes were simply fixed on the end result, they surely would have been crushed.

No, God had something much better awaiting them in their eternal destiny. And so do you and I, my friend.

“These were all commended for their faith, yet none of them received what had been promised. God had planned something better for us so that only together with us would they be made perfect.” Hebrews 11:39-40 NIV

Do you know where the Bible says we should place our hope? In Christ alone. Not in measurable results, not in the final destination or end goal, but in Him.

When our hope is put in the only place where it can be securely held, it renews us. We have the strength to move forward.

“But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.” Isaiah 40:31 NIV (emphasis mine)

Having goals is not ungodly. Being competitive and wanting to do your best isn’t negative. But when we place our hope in the outcome alone, we will be continually frustrated.

So keep your eyes fixed on the unseen and put your hope in the only place where it can stand firm: in the arms of Christ your King.

He is preparing a place for you. Do you believe that?

Let us run forward with renewed vigor knowing that our hope will not disappoint.

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, Facebook, and Pinterest.

 


Truly Embracing Grace

Truly Embracing Grace

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Recently, a friend, did something that completely offended me.
Her sin was so apparent.

What offended me even more was how she seemed to embrace it and promote it.

I took it personally. I started critiquing her in my mind, putting her down in my head and getting annoyed with her in my heart.

You can’t do that and call yourself a Christian.
You can’t defend that and feel good about yourself.
You can’t speak this way and lead others down the same wrong roads.

But as the Lord yielded his sword of truth, I realized that I needed to yield to him“For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.” (Mt. 7:2)

How often do I sit on the judgement seat,
when the judgement seat is only reserved for One?

How often do I expect a grace-filled responses,
when I hand out condemning ones?

How often am I the master critiquer
instead of the master unduer of another’s underlying shame?

In a way, we want God’s grace, but we want it all for us.

We want it, but can’t extend it,
we walk by it, but don’t walk others to it.
not when it affects us
not when it hurts
not when others offended
then we have nothing to give.

It’s almost like we are a toddler demanding it all for ourselves. We forgot how to share. We forgot that God didn’t extend grace so we could say, “Mine. Mine. Mine.”

In all things I have shown you that by working hard in this way we must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive. (Acts 20:35)

Aren’t we really the same as the one we blame?

Truth is,
we offended,
we rejected,
we tormented,
we shamed,
we nailed,
every nail
on that cross
but somehow we expect it all in return
for the price paid at the cross
and sometimes we forget others do too, 
don’t we?

We cling to every morsel of his forgiveness and our unmerited worthiness, yet we keep others tied down in the place of unworthy and unforgiven.

We “can’t believe what they did”, but we know “Jesus doesn’t condemn what we did.”

We say,
“Speak meanly  – you better say you are sorry.”
“Hurt me – you will pay”
“Do something wrong – figure it out on your own.”
“Really offend me – you won’t be my friend anymore.”

How often do we think of the act of extending grace verses obtaining it?
How often do we center our heart around giving verses taking?

God’s heart is always found in giving.
Giving a life.
Giving love.
Pouring out grace.

It is here where we find true authentic heart felt love. It is here where lives are changed, where people are moved and where walls come down.

It’s not in the empty demands for love and for change. There, the life of grace loses it’s power.

All this is for your benefit, so that the grace that is reaching more and more people may cause thanksgiving to overflow to the glory of God. (2 Cor. 4:15)

Extending grace, makes the glory of God overflow. I want that to happen, don’t you? I want to celebrate thankfulness with another as we see the power of grace flow through, don’t you?

Are we seeking to be a grace-getter or a grace-giver?
Do we sit on the judgment seat with Jesus or do you aim to sit on the mercy seat with him?

Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. (Luke 6:38)

The more we give, the more we get.

And, I wonder, would we better comprehend the grace of God,
if we weren’t always trying to extend the wrath of God?

Perhaps, then, we would receive it because we believe it.

God is the greatest giver. He stands ready to dump blessing after blessing, mercy after mercy, and love after love in our lap, if we will only let him. The more we measure out – the more he measures in. Let’s give in abundance, from the free-flowing love that is always being poured into us by the sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the cross.

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Today, I’m having Coffee For Your Heart with my friend Holley Gerth and joining Meredith Bernard for Woman to Woman Wednesday.


When You Feel Unlovable (Linkup)

When You Feel Unlovable

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Every time my son does something bad, he looks up at me with fear-filled eyes and asks, “Do you still love me?” He asks it over and over again – as if every bit of who he is depends the response.

In those little fear-filled, tear-filled eyes, I know he’s asking:

Am I am enough?

Do you still want me? Care about me?

Have I pushed you over the edge? Over the point of no return?

In his pleading, he’s asking if everything has changed.
Wondering if he has finally crossed the threshold of abandonment.
Pondering if he is worthy of my love. My care. My heart.
Deciding if he is good enough as he is.

He is begging to be accepted.

And, how often am I am just like my little son?

How often do I look up at God with pleading puppy dog eyes and ask, “God, do you still love me?”

It’s on days when I mess up. When I fall down. When I scrape a knee. It’s on these days where I wonder if God still sees me, still loves me and still wants me.

It’s on these days where I feel unworthy, unlovable and undeserving. It’s on these days where I think God is disappointed.

Because, really, who wants to be around someone who is always offending? Always a mess up? A consistent failure?

People tend to run from these type of people.

I understand my son – and his questions.
We can’t get things right.
We drop the ball.

But, is God really a “Love me, love me not” type of God?  And, can he really ever stop loving us?

Because it is by grace that we have been saved. It’s through faith and not by our own works. It is a gift. An undeserved, non-reciprocal and free gift. (Eph. 2:8).

So if it really is a gift – from him –
then why am I always trying to wrap up my own gifts – for him?

Why am I so often the powered gifter, instead of the humbled receiver?

In this, I miss the gift. I miss the heart. I miss the grace. I miss his power.

I miss the point – and, as a result, I feel distanced from God. Apart from his love. Deprived of his grace. I look up at him and plead, because I know I am not good enough and never can be.

I have made it all about me.

If I do well, like a balloon, I inflate with pride. If I don’t, I deflate with self-condemnation.  Either way, I stand ready to lose all my air, all my reliance on him and all my ability to fly to new heights. It’s a no win. And, perhaps this is why God did not base faith on works.

Yes, God calls us to love him and obey him. But, even more, he calls us to live covered by his blood and by his free gift of grace. Because, it’s here that we can truly love God and love others.

The wages of our sin is death; but the wages of his death is freedom.

Freedom in a love that is permanent.
Freedom in a death that secures.
Freedom in a life that makes us worthy.

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

So, the next time I look up to God, ready to ask, do you still love me, I will remember:
Christ’s love never ends.
His love never failed – or will fail.
His love makes me worthy.
His grace makes me whole.
The Spirit comforts me.
Not based on my output, but based on his indwelling.
I am secure.
Safe.
Worthy.
Significant.
Clean.
Renewed.
Saved.
Free.

It’s all given to me, by the one who can never stop loving me. He gives it to you too. Like a locket that holds an image of a loved one, will you choose to receive – and lock his image? Will you choose to remember that this necklace is engraved around your heart? Locked in your soul? It’s love is always held within.  Will you choose remember this image of unchanging love, unmerited grace and unbelievable power?

No matter how you may feel, Christ is right there, with you in your moment, loving your soul beyond any embrace you could ever fathom.

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Do I Need to Forgive?

Do I need to forgive?

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I wasn’t aware I had unforgiveness in my heart.

But, I wondered, “Do I need to forgive?”

So, I sat before the Lord and asked the Spirit to reveal to me if there was anyone I needed to forgive. Someone did come to mind. Someone rather unexpected.

This person had hurt me again and again.
They had stepped on my toes.
They had left me annoyed.
They had let me down.

I had forgiven them in the past, but new offenses had taken the place of their forgiven place.

I thought, in my mind I thought, “This person – again? How many times do I have to go back to this person?”

Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother when he sins against me? Up to seven times? “Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.” (Mt. 18:21-22)

Jesus doesn’t call us to forgive and be done. He knew that one who is forgiven once, likely needs to be forgiven and forgiven again and again. He doesn’t call to a blanket statement forgiveness system, but a system of ever-flowing, ever-aware and ever-outpouring forgiveness.

How many times does Jesus forgive me?

He calls us to seek out the unknown pits of resentment  we hide- in us –
to uncover the known depth of love that he stands ready to outstretch – through us.

A moment of prayer highlighted my black tar within. I never would have realized it if I hadn’t asked. I had forgiven this person so many times, I thought they were covered. I thought I had forgiven.

Jesus knows that people hurters (like you and me) are likely to hurt again and he calls us to forgive them again. Why? Because we are called to something greater – agape love. Not love that says, “I love this day, I love your hair, I love that shirt. I love this place.” Not a shallow, convenient or useful love, instead we are called to the hard depths of real love. We are called to a love like Christ loved.

To love with a love that says, “Despite what you did to me (Example: nailing me to a cross):

I see who God made you to be.
I offer unconditional benevolence towards you.
Nothing can hold me back from offering deep goodness to you.
Christ shows me how to turn the other cheek.
Nothing can conquer the deep heart I have for you.

“…The greatest of these is love.” (1 Cor. 13:13)

“As the Father loved me, so have I loved you, now remain in my love.” (John 15:9)

Does a bag of unforgiveness weigh you down? Have you been carrying around load of unneeded junk?

I noticed, the only back unforgiveness was breaking was mine.

It didn’t cause pain to the person that hurt me.
It didn’t teach them a lesson.
It didn’t make them change.
But, my shoulders slumped, my heart felt a little more heavy and my walk with God was burdened.

Yet, as I sought God; he revealed to me new view that changed my perception on forgiveness.

“Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord,” (Acts 3:19)

“Truly I tell you, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven. (Mt 18:18)

When we forgive and we remove junk out of our purse,
the Lord doesn’t leave us with an empty hole.

He doesn’t leave that space unoccupied.

When we forgive the Lord comes back in to fill us up again.

You see, forgiveness is an exchange of our weighted junk for his refreshment.

Refreshment that offers wave after wave of grace, mountain after mountain of joy, an eternal hope of glory, solid-rock security, never ending significance and a waterfall of constant renewal.

Will we accept all that he has for us?
Will we reach out and grab it?
Becuase he holds this refreshment out to us.
The question is – will we seek to forgive?

Let’s ask God who to forgive.

Then he will remove the weight of unforgiveness that ties us down to resentment, so we can run our race unencumbered.

As we humble ourselves in love, God fills our bag. He fills it so high it brims with his goodness. 

We let go of the stronghold we have on the straps, we realize we are strongly held by him. He removes the weight of our straps and lightens our load in his love – to love.

The power of forgiveness is immense. Love transforms, lightens and lifts. Don’t miss the chance to ask God who you need to forgive today. He will pack your bag so full, you will finally see that what he offers is far greater than that ugly bag of junk you have carried around so long.

“…Therefore I tell you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven—for she loved much. But he who is forgiven little, loves little.” And he said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.” Luke 7:47-48 


Do You Have Eyes to See?

Do you have eyes to see?

I remember when I was young, I went to the PGA US Open when it was held near my town.

Amidst the thousands of people,
amidst my sister who turned into a lunatic,
amidst people pushing and shoving,
I remember tottering on my tippy toes just to see.

I just wanted to see the world famous Tiger Woods.

I knew that I wouldn’t really get a hello from him or a handshake – there were too many people and he was too famous. I was too average and he was too important.

But I just wanted to grab a look.

Wasn’t it similar for Zacchaeus?

And he was seeking to see who Jesus was, but on account of the crowd he could not, because he was small in stature. So he ran on ahead and climbed up into a sycamore tree to see him, for he was about to pass that way. (Luke 19:3-4)

He just wanted to see.
He knew he was small.
He knew he was guilty.
He knew he was unworthy.
But, he just wanted to see the man who had power.

He wanted to cast his eyes on the one who could entirely change the game. So much so, that little Zacchaeus went to new heights – in a tree- to see new depths – in the an unforseen King.

Jesus rewarded this “go-to-any-lengths-mentality.”
Jesus rewarded this heart that wants to view his glory.
Jesus rewarded this will to see from a new view.

Jesus rewards a simple desire to see.

Jesus responds in such a different way than any earthly celebrity would.

He is less concerned about his destination (Lu. 19:1), and more concerned about salvation.

He halts all his plans, just to to see one man everyone probably hates – and he turns it into a opportunity to heal.

Can you imagine for a moment how it is being in a crowd of people? Jesus would not be able to see ahead or behind him, but Jesus knew the only way he needed to be looking – was up.

He never had the need for speed, but instead had a deep desire to fill an aching need. He stopped, he saw and then he went the extra distance and met the man in the most intimate of places – his home.

Jesus saw the one who truly needed eyes to see.
He put his plans on pause, for a greater cause.
He saw the need of the moment, rather than the plan of the hour.

He saw what no one else wanted to see – “the sinner”. (Lu. 19:7)

Zacchaeus had eyes to see.
Jesus had eyes to see.

Do we?

Do we seek to see Jesus from new perspectives?
Do we give all our heart to find him?
Do we risk climbing difficult trees to seek him?

And, what do we see in the midst of the hustle and bustle?
What do we see in the spaces between our to-do list action items?
What do we see in the faces of those we love?

Because, when we stop to see, what we often end up with is a great visit
by the great Comforter –
who never ceases to leave us unchanged.  

He knows our needs and ministers to our hearts.

Zacchaeus, hurry and come down, for I must stay at your house today. (Lu. 19:5)

I want Jesus to visit me in my house, don’t you?

Because a visit from Jesus, changes our hearts, our minds and our lives as nothing else can.

And Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, since he also is a son of Abraham. 10 For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.” (Lu. 19:9)

What does Jesus stand ready to give you when you only seek to see?

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I am happy to be joining Five Minute Friday today.


Surviving the Worst Storms of Life

Surviving the Worst Storms of Life

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God leads.
I follow.

God sets a destination before me.
I trust in him to bring me there.

God goes silent.
I start to panic.

I question his plan,
doubt his cause,
and fear his promptings.

I wonder, where did my Lord go?

Have you ever been in these shoes?
Sure of where you are going – only to question, shortly thereafter, if God has fallen asleep on you?

You are not alone.

Jesus’ closest friends felt exactly how you felt.

You see they had a destination. Jesus said to the disciples, after a time of deep and meaningful life instruction, “Let us go across to the other side (of the sea).” (Mk. 4:35)

They knew where they were headed; they had a destination and Jesus was going to take them there.

But plans were changed as a storm threatened their boat.
Despite their effort to move, to go and to make progress something stood against.
It not only seemed their journey a lost cause, but they probably felt that way too.

How often are we like the disciples?

We scream out in our storms, “Save us, Lord; we are perishing.” (Mt. 8:25)
“Where are you Lord? I am drowning here.”
“Lord, didn’t you tell me – to go?”

And, sometimes he answers.
And, other times – it seems – he doesn’t.

When he doesn’t, we wonder:

1. What did I do wrong?
2. How did I go wrong?
3. What is Jesus doing wrong?

We almost want to grab him and say, ‘Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?’  (Mk. 4:38)

We are here Lord, we are in this rocky, turbulent boat called life, Lord!  Do you see us? Do you care? Where are you? How come you are not directing us to our destination like you planned?

We try to shake him.
We try to wake him.
We know we only need his touch – because it will do so much.

So, we bawl and we call.
And, he sees our squall.
Not to let us fall. He comes to our rescue as our all-in-all.

But, only then do his words brush up against our heart saying, “Dear one, why are you so afraid? Have you still no faith?” (Mk. 4:40). Or, “You of little faith, why are you so afraid?’ (Mt. 8:26)

And, in this moment, we realize, he was with us the whole time.
We already had the touch that we desired so much.
But, we missed his saving power.
We lost sight of him.

What if we actually believed -through the storm, rather than fearing – in the storm? 
What sort of miracle would Jesus do? 
What would we behold?

A deep sense that “we missed it” floods over us.

Because, while we thought he was sleeping and dreaming of things other than us, he was always planning to bring us through – according to his ways.

He was always in our turbulent boat, right there next to us.

We saw the storm raging, and felt alone, but he was right there – in the midst of it – not leaving our side.

While we feared waters would cover us and we would never reach the promised land, the Lord always had a hand of protection over us – even though we couldn’t see it.

Jesus calls us to grab hold of faith in storms that appear to prevent us from charting the course he set before us.

Faith that he won’t leave us.
That he is with us.
That he can be silent and working at the same time.
That he has a plan despite the circumstances around us.
That he is greater than our best efforts to calm any storm.
That prayer and joy and an eager expectancy of his rescue is the only way to go.
That he is greater than the nature of the world that surrounds us.

Jesus didn’t fall asleep on the cross. He knew where he was going.
He never lost his touch.
He is always touching.
He has already conquered all storms, all sin and all sadness.
He knows our destination and his destination for us. Nothing will come against.
Jesus always saves.

I wonder if the disciples wondered if Jesus had fallen asleep – and forgotten them – for 3 days after his death?

Or, did they remember this little boat in a big sea, that tossed like leaf in a windstorm, that threatened their destination and that made them fear?  Did they remember that Jesus was always near? That despite how things seemed, the Lord has a greater dream for them.

I wonder.

Perhaps, when the Lord greeted them this time, in heaven, he looked at them and said, “You of great faith, oh, how you have pleased me!”

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I am delighted to be joining Suzie Eller for #LiveFreeThursday!


Let Go and Let God

Let Go and Let God

I needed this time; I needed a way to release the little kinks from my aching back, a time to find refreshment and a time to let go.

So when my husband gave me the opportunity to get a massage, I jumped at the idea. I saw it as the opportune time to just “be” – to let go.

Although, as I lay on that table, I couldn’t quite accomplish the “let go” part. I couldn’t relax.  It was almost like I felt afraid to let myself be at the will of someone else.

Even the masseuse could tell.

She looked at me and said, “Kelly, if you want me to really work, then you’ve got to let go so I can release the tension and the pain. Trust me to do my work. You will be better off in the long run if you relax and trust me.  When you do, I can get into the deep issues and handle the stress.”

Wow.  This really got me to thinking.

There is power in the ability to let go.

If I can just breathe, exhale and let myself rest as she does her work, the result will be amazing.

Isn’t this true with God too?  

If we can just let go of our ways, our tension, our plans, won’t he be faithful to work out all the kinks?  

Won’t he leave us better off than we ever could have imagined?

Won’t he find a way to release our life stresses better than we ever could
– as we trust him with all things, in all ways?

But, why is control so hard to let go?  

Why is it so hard to be completely open and malleable to another’s work?

Why?

Because “Control” lures us in, and says:

With me, you have charge over your life.  No one can hold you back. You reign.
With me, you have the advantage, so that others don’t take advantage of you.
With me, you don’t have to worry about the unknown, because you can fight to make it known.
With me, you can make others do what you need them to do.
With me, you are working towards something, not wasting time waiting.
With me, you have a well-known friend -we have always walked together.

With control, we want all that God has to offer us, but we demand it by our own merits.
With control, we feel we deserve control.
With control, we miss God’s voice.

Oh, how control lies to us. We exchange God’s ultimate control with self-seeking control in our lives.  Our controlling ways are a counterfeit for God’s charge.

A counterfeit that is not from God…

The Devil loves life-sucking counterfeit replacements for God’s life giving solutions. We don’t want to be tricked.  We don’t want to give the devil a foothold. (Eph. 4:27)

The Counterfeit for God’s Sovereign Control:

– Tells us we can rule on high, instead of God.
– Continually makes us work to achieve good things.
– Fosters pride.
– Makes us fearful of the unknown.
– Consumes us with our work.
– Encourages us to rule over people, instead of being under the rule of our master.
– Discourages and demotivates us when things don’t go our way.
– Builds feelings of anger and bitterness in those we try to control.
– Fosters a distrust of God, as we never get a chance to see Gods’ work when we control.

Does this sound like God at work?  Does this sound like healing, rebuilding and restorative work?

I don’t want this.  I don’t want to lay it all out on the table and not be able to let go of things. I don’t want to hold on to life with a death grip.  I don’t want to miss God’s healing power in my life, in my circumstances and in my trials because I am so tightly spun that I can’t see his hand.

What a waste.

I know God has so much more in store for me – and he has so much more in store for you.  He wants us to lay down at the foot of the cross and to trust him.  He wants us to breathe in grace and to exhale peace.  He wants us to let him work, to let him knead the deep aches, hurts and tensions. He wants to work those out.

Oh how badly he wants to repair us.  He wants to heal us.  Will we let him?

We have to be open, willing and ready vessels.

Because when we stop working, stop controlling and start letting go – we find Him.

When we stop achieving and start receiving, we find life.

Cast your burden on the LORD, and he will sustain you; he will never permit the righteous to be moved. (Psalm 55:22)

When we surrender our ways, when we lay it all down before him, he will be faithful to restore us.

I am ready to let go and let God. Are you?

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