Purposeful Faith

Finding Lasting Peace: The Secret (That You Probably Are Not Doing)

Find lasting Peace

Wake up.  Drink coffee. Spend 5 minutes with God.  Rush to get ready.   Handle day’s work or home activities.  Drive.  Pay bills.  Have some difficult conversations.  Think about lunch.  Think about life.  Think about money. Dinner.  TV.  Think about health. Think about the future.  Brush teeth.  Think about family.  Think about worries.  Think about fears.  Sleep.  Wake up.  Repeat.

It is no wonder that we don’t feel “lasting peace”.  Life feels like a rat race that never ends.  And, our minds are like a gerbil that goes round and round and round in a wheel that is constantly spinning.

Day after day, we hurry hoping that something changes.  Hoping that maybe we will get enough, buy enough or eat enough, to make ourselves feel enough.  But, no matter how much we consume, life never seems to satisfy. 

Isn’t there more than this frustrating cycle?  Didn’t God intend for us to have lasting peace, more joy and more purpose?

The answer is yes.  He has so much more for us than worried rushed peace-less living.   

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)

If we really want lasting peace, we are wise to think about what we are thinking about. 

Our thought processes determine our feelings and our actions. If we are worrying, fearing and consumed with things of this world, we will feel fearful.  We will lack lasting peace. If we are focused on God’s truth, what is noble, what is right by his eyes, things that are pure and lovely and admirable, we will embrace lasting peace.  We will live lasting peace.

It is no wonder that God tells us how to think and then he follows it up with “…practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.” (Phil. 4:9)

God calls on us to be obedient in our thoughts.  Not perfect, but obedient.  When we focus on what he values, he blesses us with himself and his presence.  We don’t need to reach for some new thing to fill us with peace or contentment. We need only to reach up to him.  God comes as the answer in our quest for lasting peace.  His requirement?  That we trust him at his word.   That we focus our minds. That we think and dwell on things that are uplifting and true.

You will keep in perfect peace him whose mind is steadfast, because he trusts in you. (Isaiah 26:3)

When we obey, we have a chance to witness God’s faithfulness.  He will come and grant us lasting peace in our hearts.   He will make himself at home within our mind because we have prepared it as holy ground for Him to reside.   As a result, we will find a place of safety, a place of refuge, a place of escape – as we sit in his presence.  

He will refresh us in him.   This is true and lasting peace.

God is the ultimate peacemaker.   This is who He is.

When the rat race has you running on empty, welcome him into your mind and let him fill you with his peace – that transcends all understanding.

 


How to Find Peace in the Midst of Unanswered Prayers

I was praying hard. I had others praying hard. I shared. I trusted. I hoped. I dreamed.

So, when I found out that my dreams were not becoming a reality, and that I had been rejected, I felt dejected. God seemed to be opening a door and ushering me through it, but just as quickly as the door opened, he lightly closed it shut right before my eyes.  Staring at the wooden door, my heart sunk a little.  My chest constricted.  Fears welled up inside of me.  I could no longer see what was on the other side. That scared me and made me feel unsure.  I thought, maybe if I take a couple steps back – get a running lead – I can just slam that door down.  I could do it. I could push through. I can make it happen.

Could I?  Should I?

When I took a moment to close my eyes, to stop staring at that door, I got a sense of what was underneath my feelings.  I was embarrassed.  I felt like I had failed.  Others knew of my dream and how much I wanted it. I felt ashamed; “Super Kelly” couldn’t do it.  I felt like they would see that God didn’t pull through for me.  That maybe, I wasn’t good enough.

But as I opened my eyes and focused on that door again, I noticed the wood, the grain, the splinters and most of all I noticed the cross.  I saw Jesus – the ultimate reject.  The ultimate failure in the eyes of some.  He was mocked and scorned.  Jesus, like me, had a partially unanswered prayer.  He said, “Father, if you are willing, please take this cup of suffering away from me. Yet I want your will to be done, not mine.” (Luke 22:42).

Jesus though, despite his pain, was looking for godly gain.  Above his need for immediate deliverance, he embraced perseverance.  He endured humiliation for the plan of his King – a plan to save us.

Jesus didn’t take the opportunity to exert his godly power and take himself down from the cross.  He was faithful.  He trusted.  He waited. He served others on the cross – even in his pain.  He wasn’t knocking down any doors.

He knew the King’s plan and purpose. I can trust this plan too – because it is from him. I don’t need to fear.   He has directed my steps to writing and speaking.  He has given me his words and his inspiration.  He has helped me to encourage others and to change lives.  He has given me excitement and passion.  He has allowed many publishers be receptive to the message that I want to bring to a world of hurting women through a book. Although this one publisher shut the door – for now – this does not negate his plan.

To know my purpose is a blessing that is unique, special and sometimes unusual.  He chose me.  That cannot be taken away.

I must remember there is a plan greater than mine, for a purpose bigger than mine, at a time better than mine.  Our ways are not his ways.

“My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts,” says the LORD. “And my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine. Isaiah 55:8 

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

Instead of knocking down doors, what am I to do?  Pursue, follow through, and renew my strength in the Lord.  Faithfully move forward with the other publisher. Build a platform as they want me to do.  Speak truth to my soul when I start to feel less than.  Know that God is in charge. Understand that he knows what he is doing.

I won’t take my eyes off of that shut door that stands like the cross. It represents all Christ did for me. It stands as an example of how much he loves me.  It stands to give me purpose and significance. It stands to bring a message of love to others.  It stands to change the world. Jesus didn’t go to these lengths – on that cross – to steal my joy, my dreams and His plan from me.  And, he won’t steal yours either.   

When we have unanswered prayers, we can choose to trust the one who is sovereign over all or we can choose to live defeated and discouraged. I know which way I will go.  How about you?


You are Likely Making These 3 Prideful Mistakes.

The 3 Mistakes:

1.  We run to be first.  While Jesus sits and says “be last”.

Sitting down, Jesus called the Twelve and said, “Anyone who wants to be first must be the very last, and the servant of all.” Mark 9:35

When we join Jesus, and sit down by his side, we tend to rely on him.  He is faithful to take care of us as we listen, relax and trust him.  When we just enjoy his presence, he equips us with all we need to serve others.  What an honor.

2.  We show off who we are, so we appear the star.

In the same way, you who are younger, submit yourselves to your elders. All of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because, “God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble.” 1 Peter 5:5  

“Pride” has it all together, needs no one and appears perfect.  “Humble” comes open to receive, ready to listen and eager to change. Is it any wonder that God shows favor to the humble?

3.  We fear the world, our finances, our husband, our wife, our health, our kids, our work.  We fear everything, but the Lord.

Fear of the LORD is the foundation of true knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and discipline. Proverbs 1:7

Fear of the Lord means that we know who is sovereign.  We know who rules. We know who reigns – and we relinquish our reigns as we trust that he will provide.

When we trust in our own work and our own efforts we are left empty, lonely and tired.  Let’s turn towards the King and confess our hearts.  Let’s approach our friends and family with authentic hearts.  Let’s seek to lift the Lord on high rather than our own accomplishments.

When we stop making prideful mistakes, a true sense of self God awakes.


Out of Hiding & Free of Fear

It is time to step out.  To come out of hiding.  To let your true colors shine.  To be who God made you to be.   It is time to be fearless.  To be courageous.  To be passionate.  It’s time to take a risk – to move from your calm safe grounds to unsteady risky rocky terrain.   Terrain where you feel vulnerable – where you know, by yourself, can’t stand on your own.   Why?

Because too much is on the line not to.  And, the idea of not taking that adventurous step means living in mediocrity.  It’s so worth it.

I spent a good amount of time in hiding.  Sure, I went to church, I was in small groups, I had Christian friends, but I stayed on safe ground.  Grounds where no one really questioned me. Grounds where I rode in a perfect straight line, rarely branching off the beaten path.  I kept on this straight and narrow for fear of getting hurt.  When a conversation veered into sticky areas or when I felt too vulnerable, the warning light would go off in my mind, “do not venture there, you may get someone upset.    Don’t speak too passionately; you don’t want to be “that” person. Don’t seem too knowledgeable, others will feel less than.  Don’t bring up topics that could make them feel uncomfortable. Don’t run the risk of angering that person, it’s better to just let them continue feeling miserable as they go the wrong way.”

“Hide who you are because you don’t want to be judged, hurt or rejected.”

I did this all the time.  But I came to realize something life changing.  In my attempt to set others free of their bad feelings, I only succeeded in trapping myself.  I locked away the person God created Kelly to be.

When I lived in that closet, I missed the opportunity to love deeply.  I missed the opportunity to speak the absolute truth in love.  I missed the opportunity to walk in faith, as I felt afraid. I missed the opportunity to rely on Christ when others may have felt irritated at me.  I missed the chance to encourage others.  I was too worried about preserving myself.

You know, we have one life.  One chance to pour out love.  One chance to give all we have.    To be all in, no holds bar.  To share grace.  To encourage in truth.  To live without fear.  To give with faith. To help those in need.  This is our chance.  This is your chance.

I don’t know about you, but I am sick of living trapped, beholden to this world. I know at the end of the day, when all is said and done, I will never ever regret living all out – full of love – for God.  Do I do this perfectly?  By no means, but that is the point.  That is why I need Christ.  And when I rely on him, I find peace.   I find safety despite an unsafe rocky terrain.

At the days end, when I come out of the ultimate closet, that is this world. I hope to stand in front of God with full confidence that I shared his love, peace, and joy with all of my heart to people who hurt so deeply.    I want to stand knowing that I spoke his wisdom – according to his timing – no matter the risk.

This authentic living is adventurous living.  We can’t do it on your own.  But, as we rely on him, we will find we are truly free.

“Instead, we will speak the truth in love, growing in every way more and more like Christ…” (Ephesians 4:15)

“There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.”  (1 John 4:18)

“But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere.”  (James 3:17)

God’s truth is what healed me.  If it was hidden, I never would have been touched.  I never would have grown.   So why do we think we need to hide truth?   Rather than hide, we need to lay down our pride.  It is not about me and preserving my image- it is about people who are hurting and need to hear truth spoken in love.  Take it or leave it.  This is Kelly as God designed me.

When we are who God created us to be, we finally find true freedom. 

“So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed. (John 8:36)”


Rules are His Tools

“Mikey, don’t stand on Maddie’s stroller.  Mikey, step down.  Michael, now!”  He looks at me and steps up higher and higher, until he starts to lose balance.  When I see the stroller tip backward and Mikey slam on to the ground, my heart drops.  If only he listened.

His sad eyes look up at me. Through the tears he asks, “Mommy, why?  Why did I fall? Why did you let me Mommy?”

I want to grab him and yell, “Because I told you to get down.  Why didn’t YOU listen to me?”  But instead I say, “I am sorry you fell.  I love you, little Mikey.  It is important to listen to mommy.  I am watching out for you when I tell you things. I want you to be safe.”  I give him a hug.

How often are we like Mikey?  How often do we push the boundaries just a little bit more?  We think, I can get away with this – I’ll be ok.  We want to do things our way.  We fool ourselves.   We think God isn’t watching.  We think he won’t punish us.  We think we can work our way around consequences with a little smart thinking.  We think that grace will just entirely cover us, so we are okay.  But, even though by grace we are secure in heaven and with God, consequences to our actions do arrive.  When they do, like Mikey, we often look up at God and say, “Why God?  Why did this happen? Why did you allow it?”

In many ways, we never grow up.  We are on the verge of tipping over our own life strollers because, in the moment, it feels worth it.  We step up, just a little higher, right to the very edge.  Why?  Because, many times, we view God’s commands as restrictions – rules – set in place to hold us back from fun, pleasure or relief.  These “rules” rain on our parade. We step up a little higher on our strollers; we take the risk.  Let’s see what happens!

Then, we down we fall.  We fall flat on our face and we feel hurt.  Like Mikey, we tend to miss the point of parental guidance entirely.

God lovingly, laid down directions for our lives to keep us in areas of safety.  He doesn’t want us to drive into places of fear, pain, and consequence.  He gives us a roadmap, so we can drive with an idea of where we are headed.  With this, we know exactly how to get there and what is involved.  He informs us of the places we shouldn’t venture.  Why?  Because we may get hurt, we may encounter bad people or we may get stuck.   We may even miss our destination entirely if we go our own way.  His directions are not given to demand his way, like an authoritarian dad.  His directions keep us from pain, shame, guilt and regret.  Even more, they are to offer us joy, fulfillment and purpose as we trust him.

He offers us the route to help us in our commute because he loves us.  If only we would actually see it this way.  We see his commands as rules, he sees them as tools.  Tools to help us, to guide us and to keep us in places of contentment, peace and purpose.

When we drive within the lines of the boundaries he has set, we will find safety.  We will live lives that are focused and purposeful.  As a result, we will effectively love God and love others more because we are not walking around as hurt vessels.  We are walking as loved children who are protected and secure in the path that God has set before us.

Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right.  “Honor your father and mother” (this is the first commandment with a promise),  “that it may go well with you and that you may live long in the land.”  (Ephesians 6:1-3)

But the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing. (James 1:25)

God has perfect directions, or laws, for our lives.   Let’s keep our strollers upright as we walk hand in hand with God towards the destinations he has set before us.

 

 


When Love is Blocked

Have you ever tried to reach out to someone but failed? Have you ever tried to help someone, but felt unappreciated? Have you ever tried to do something for God, but it didn’t work?

If so, I totally understand. Many years ago, God brought a young lady into my life, at what seemed the perfect time. During her regular visits to help with my son, I could clearly see she struggled with various life issues. I could clearly see her pain. I could clearly see she had major insecurities. And I could clearly see that I was the one to help her with this. I thought, “God has a plan for me to work on this one”.

Boy was I dead wrong.

I tried and I tried – and I tried some more – to pull her out of her shell. I tried to pour out words of encouragement. I tried to smile all the time. I tried to help her whenever she needed it. I tried to be flexible with work hours. I tried to tell her about God’s love. I tried to be super careful with feedback. I tried to take an interest in her life. I tried to ask her one hundred questions. I tried to offer food. I tried to offer help. I tried to make jokes.

What didn’t I try? I tried it all.

What did I get back? Nothing. Silence. In fact, what I got back seemed to be irritation and annoyance.

I felt so discouraged. I felt devalued. I felt frustrated. I felt angry, both at her and at God. Didn’t God see how much I was doing? Didn’t God know how bad she needed help? Didn’t she see how hard I was trying to be there for her?

This mission was a big FAIL. It failed because I totally missed the point. I am embarrassed to say that I was pursuing another’s heart with completely the wrong motive. It wanted to fix her. This motive left a mess in its wake.

When I felt my love was blocked, I tried a little harder. I gave a little more. I pushed it on her because I didn’t want to be rejected. I was seeking value based on her response. My heart may have been looking to love her at first, but after a couple of rejections set in, I was looking for even more love, admiration and appreciation. This was about “My Mission” not “God’s Mission” and therein lies the problem. The result? I felt rejected and she felt smothered. Not only was she trying to do her job, but she was also trying to satisfy me. We were both frustrated.

When we look to others to fill us and to approve us, we miss God’s plan. We miss his work and his miracle. When we work by our  might it turns into a fight. When we work by his might, it is a delight.

So what are we to do?

We are to pray, to listen and to obey – in his timing.  We are to trust him. We are to do what he calls us to do, not what we feel we need to do in order to garner a “feel good” response. We are to do our part, independent of other’s reactions. Then, the Lord will  approve us as we move forward in his calling.  Our love is not reliant on others.   It is reliant on God’s love for us.   This means, we don’t need to over work or over try. He will give us just the right direction. Our works are for him – and by him.

When we listen, hear and love as he loves, not as we love, we are in his will. He blesses this reliance  with our hearts great desire – acceptance, love and purpose.

Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take. (Proverbs 3:6)

But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. (Matthew 6:33)

Wait for the LORD; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the LORD! (Psalm 27:14)

When we wait, God makes our love great.


Wanting More: Do you Have Big Eyes?

My daughter Maddie, who is turning 1 tomorrow (Happy Birthday Maddie!), loves to eat. It is amazing; she can out-eat my 3 year old. It doesn’t matter what I put in front of her she will devour it. Many times, I can hardly keep up with her. She is an eating machine; I can’t cut fast enough.

Strawberries are just one of her favorites. When strawberries make their way to our table, her little eyes light up. Just a few days ago, I sat her down and she spotted them. Eagerly, she made little yelping sounds to get my attention. So, I cut a little piece off of one and brought it to the table. I held it in just the perfect position, so she could enjoy the little bite that I had prepared. The only thing was she wasn’t looking at the piece right next to her mouth; she was looking at my other hand, right down by my side – the hand that held the big piece of strawberry. She was so focused on the big one, she didn’t even see what I had prepared for her. It was even difficult for me to grab her attention; she was so focused.  She wanted more.

Little Maddie was so consumed with what she thought she needed, that she missed the joy of what was already prepared and waiting for her. So often, we are just like little Maddie. Whether we like strawberries or not, we miss what the Lord has right in front of us, because we think we need something bigger. We want bigger purpose. We want bigger relationships. We want bigger ministry. We want bigger security.  We want more.

The Lord has a strawberry right next to our mouth, ready for our enjoyment, but we look past it, wanting more. We lack contentment and joy. We think we are in an empty dry land, but we really don’t see the gift he has sitting right before us.

Let’s learn a lesson from Maddie and see what the Lord has before us. Let’s not let our eyes get bigger than our stomachs. The Lord knows what we need. He has big things in store for us when we trust him, his timing and his ways (Jeremiah 29:11). Do you trust him?

“Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” (Hebrews 13:5)

 


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