Purposeful Faith

Tag - doubt

8 Ways To Prepare to Win Against the Devil

Win Against the Devil

The devil loves us weak.
God loves it when we renew our S.T.R.E.N.G.T.H.

Do you know what this looks like?

“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.” Is. 4:31

Can you imagine not growing weary or faint?  Do you soar?
Or has the devil  kept a toe-hold on your coattails, preventing you from ever flying?

It’s easy to let that happen. To stay down.

Just this morning I was driving and a little bug kept hitting my car. I started to get frustrated, “Why is he tailing me? He’s making a mess of my window,” I thought. What I failed to realize was that only 2 minutes before, I had been worshipping. This little pest stole the moment.

win against the devil

We all have pests chasing us. They try to steal God’s place of glory in our heart. These little nuisances are often what the devil uses to drive our hearts away from God. We usually allow it.

What tends to be hard for us to accept is that straight up bible knowledge won’t always save us. Why? The devil doesn’t care how much scripture you know. He doesn’t even care if you have the whole bible memorized. He doesn’t care if you have a PhD in Christian Apologetics. He’s never worried about the mind, the devil is always worried about the heart.

My warning to the church? Let’s not get so enthralled with our mind, that we lose our heart in the process. Some churches, I believe, are allowing this.

This horrifies me. I don’t want to live my life as a bible-toting mouthpiece, but as a woman wielding Jesus’ power in the world. 

What about you? Might it be time to fortify your heart, the inner place? So the inner radically changes your outer world?

8 Tangible Tips to Renew S.T.R.E.N.G.T.H.
and Win the War against the devil:

war against the devil

1. Scripture list: Hunt the bible and dig out the best verses. Carry these on a sheet with you, post them on your morning mirror or hold them in your wallet. No matter what, rely on these words as if they are your crutches and you have no legs.

2. Train your mind to immediately notice the taunts of doubt, discouragement, devastation and despair. How? Take inventory of your feelings. When you hear those stinkers hit you, refer back to #1.

3. Respond with truth. The devil takes ridiculous statements and massages them to sound plausible in your mind. If you answer back with a hard-lined, get-out-of-here, truth-filled comeback – he will not as easily want to come back.

Example:

Devil: “If you are the Son of God,” he said, “throw yourself down. It is written…” Mt. 4:6
Jesus: ‘It is also written: ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.’ Mt. 4:7

After 3 attempts and 3 successful comebacks, Jesus won his wildnerness encounter with the devil. Keep on fighting the fight and the fight will subside.

Then the devil left him, and angels came and attended him. Mt. 4:11

4. Engage your mind with holy and you will find yourself committed to peace.

“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

5. Need Jesus all the time. All the time. Not a little bit of the time, but every time. Just think, if you are always calling on Jesus, how can the devil be calling you astray? 

“For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost.” Lu. 19:10

This means, call out, when you feel unsure. Call out when you feel heavy. Call out when you feel hungry. Call out when you feel tired. Call out when you need wisdom. Call out when you hit boredom. Call out when life gets futile.

6. Glorify God, out loud. Speak proud. Speak with the full strength of Jesus Christ behind you. Speak like one whose team, every time ends up as overcomer.

It sounds like this:

You reign and rule Jesus. You will win. Every time.
You are holy and mighty to save Christ. You will bring me through.
I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. Period.

7. Thank God. If you are saying thank you, the devil can’t as easily put a bag over your head and plumage your mind with the idea that you are being stolen, ruined and left in some far off land where God can’t see you. Instead, you will rise up in wonder at all the riches God is raining down on you. Thankfulness is like a rainbow on a dark and rainy day. 

8. Hope. Endlessly believe in the power of God.

This is what it sounds like when put in action:

God is greater than my problem.
God will win in the end.
My light and momentary affliction is creating for me an eternal glory that far outweighs the here and now. 2 Cor. 4:17
Jesus stripes healed me once and they will do it again and again. He is healer
It may look like a windstorm today, but God is pushing into me his image and I will stand firm.
The Lord is doing an inner work; it transcends my vision. 
God will always be faithful. I can walk in complete assurance of this. 

war against the devil
Soar.
Grab hope.
Fly high.
Glide.
Find new heights of faithfulness,
God will be your strength.

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The Promise Inside the Sting of Rejection

Blog Post by Abby McDonald

I remember watching my firstborn get his first taste of rejection. He was about two at the time, and he leaned in to give his older female playmate a kiss.

On the mouth.

She looked at him, wide-eyed and a little mortified, and backed away. I couldn’t help but chuckle but my sweet toddler took it in stride. He knew he was cute, and her lack of interest didn’t stifle his confidence.

We kiss in our family. We show unrestrained love. But I know that once we go outside the walls of this home, those unstated rules of conduct change. My two-year-old didn’t know these rules but at that age, who does?

As he’s gotten older, the tide has shifted. Rejection hurts. I remember the first time he cried after a spat with a friend who said, “I’m not your friend anymore.” I’ve seen kids come in and out of his life, sometimes later to return.

He’s usually able to roll with the stings and the snubs, but he’s not bulletproof. And I don’t want him to be. As much as I’d love to see him never cry, get hurt or given a cold shoulder from a friend, I know he has to experience these things to truly live.

A week ago I sat at my computer reading a rejection email from an online publisher and I realized the prick of “no” may change in nature, but the pain doesn’t.

When we see the pictures of the get-together we weren’t invited to plastered on Facebook, we may feel like we’re in our high school skin all over again.

When we extend the invite to the new acquaintance from church and are repeatedly shunned, we may wonder why we even bother.

We may feel like crawling into a hole with our popcorn and Netflix marathons so that we never have to feel the ache of another “no,” another denial, another wave of apathy and disregard.

But can I tell you something? The blessing is worth it. The “yes” is worth it. When you don’t think you can extend yourself one more time, remember this.

 We serve a God who was rejected in the most brutal, public way. He did it for you. For me. He did it so we could experience life and love and yes, pain. He never rejoices in our pain but he knows it’s sometimes necessary for us to grow.

But we can’t live if we’re constantly trying to protect ourselves. We can’t live if we let fear of pain and rejection rule our lives.

For over a year of my life, I stared at what I thought was a closed door. I counted cracks in the ceiling, and our recliner and a good book became my best friends.

I was tired of trying to make friends. I was tired of the blank stares.

Since I didn’t have anyone else to talk to, I talked to God. He hears us, you know. And he’s the always the best person to talk to. The first and the last.

After months of staring at ceiling cracks, I wasn’t sure God heard me. Silly, right? But then, I made a connection. And then another and another.

I discovered community, life and purpose. I discovered friendship, yeses and open hands.

Keeping our hands open isn’t always easy, but it is always worth it. When we make those kindred connections and see those invitations extended, it’s worth the “no’s,” the stings and the heartache.

The next time you’re rejected, remember the promise of the One who was rejected most of all. He will never leave you. He will never forsake you. (Hebrews 13:5). And he’s working and listening, even when we don’t see it.

Keep your hands and your doors open, friends. You never know what God may have for you on the other side.

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View More: http://kimdeloachphoto.pass.us/allume2015Abby McDonald is a writer who can’t contain the lavish love of a God who relentlessly pursues here, 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.

 

Out of Sight and Out of Mind

Out of Sight

I want to extend a warm welcome to Kari Stainback. Her words hit the tender places of not being seen and chosen. I couldn’t be happier to feature her words as part of the Ministry Monday Series. Welcome Kari!

Not long ago at a family gathering, I happened upon an endless version of the game “Peek a Boo” with a toddler.  Over and over and OVER again I put a scarf over her little head and said, “Where did Lucy go?”

Then I’d yank the scarf off to her gleeful shrieks and reply, “There she is!”  The giggles and the fun lasted for longer than I thought possible for a game to continue with a baby.

What made Lucy giggle so profusely as she participated in this game is that she was learning something called “object permanence”.  It is the developmental process that allows children to understand that an object continues to exist when it can’t be seen, touched or heard.  Prior to this stage, in the first few months of a baby’s life, they think when an object is “out of sight”, in their minds, it ceases to exist!  So when Lucy couldn’t see me, she just thought in her tiny toddler mind, “she’s not gone, she’s right there and boy howdy that is hilarious!”

Object permanence is very important because it gives us the ability to understand that objects that we may have never seen in our lives actually exist.  For example, I’ve never been to France nor seen the Eiffel Tower, but I know that it exists even though I’ve never physically seen it.  Throughout our childhoods as we become adults, object permanence moves from the physical to the abstract as we gain more experience with the world around us.  And, by God’s grace, it lays the foundation in our brains to develop faith in the triune God.  We can know, by faith, the One who we have not seen physically, but we can be sure He is with us.  In Christ, He is our ultimate permanent object.

Some of my favorite verses that teach us this truth are:

“My presence will go with you and I will give you rest.”  (Exodus 33:14)

“Just as I as I was with Moses, so I will be with you.” (Joshua 1:5)

“Where can I go from Your Spirit?  Or where can I feel from Your presence?
If I ascend to heaven, You are there; If I make my bed in Sheol, behold, You are there.” (Psalm 139:8-9)

“…I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:20b)

“I will never leave you nor forsake you.” (Hebrews 13:5b)

Sometimes, I don’t feel God is near.  Perhaps, you, like I, tend to think, “Does God really care? Does He know I’m feeling alone and forgotten?”  

For years, I thought I experienced loneliness because of my singleness.

I find, loneliness tempts us to find comfort by escaping through activity, or shutting down or drowning our sorrows in food or drink, or my personal favorite: cruising the mall on Saturday nights.  It’s easy to give in to despair and resentment, to stop reading the Bible or praying. I keep learning, none of these leads us to lasting peace.  What does lead to peace is something Amy Carmichael wrote about in her poem, “For In Acceptance Lieth Peace”.

Our loneliness may not go away,
but it can be accepted as God’s will for today and that turns it into something beautiful. 

Recently I had an ugly bout with loneliness, all of my familiar temptations to doubt and escape swirled around me.  I did not feel God’s presence.  All I felt was the dread that the loneliness had returned and that it would only get worse in the days ahead.

I found His presence.

I opened my Bible and read it, listening for the Word He had for me.  It came!  I prayed and thanked the Lord for being the One who would never leave me or forsake me.  He gave me peace. The very next day God sent me a surprise of His love in the mail, something only He could do in His perfect timing.  It was a quarterly magazine from the seminary from which I graduated.  On the back was a graphic of a tree, rooted in Christ Jesus, with its branches filled with names of single men and women who have furthered God’s Kingdom throughout church history.

To my utter amazement, in the far right branch I saw my name.  Underneath the graphic was written the verse, “Whoever does God’s will is my brother and sister and mother.” (Mark 3:35).  

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About Kari

CounselingandCare (1)Kari Stainback is Director of Women’s Ministries at Park Cities Presbyterian Church in Dallas, TX.  She coordinates women’s Bible studies, discipleship and special events.  Kari is a Licensed Professional Counselor and does pastoral counseling for women in the church.  She is also a board certified supervisor of counselors.

Kari joined the staff of PCPC in the fall of 1999.  She has been in her present position for 15 years.

Does God Really Care about Me?

Does God really care

Normally I think about all that I am not.

I am not as good as the other girls with big, bright and shiny blogs.
I am not going to ever climb out of my own thoughts that hold me back.
I am not able to succeed because (insert some sort of limitation here).
I am not that great of a mom, I get frustrated too easily.
I am not close enough to my extended family.
I am not going to end up in a good place in that unknown future.
I am not going to end up with good results even if I try hard.

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Why bother?!

Ever feel that way?

Then, I come up against God speaking these words to Moses: “I AM WHO I AM.” Ex. 3:14

God speaks with power. And, Moses is a man I like. I imagine him trying to do enough and be enough for his people. I imagine him, like me, probably not feeling all that great – and a whole truckload of doubtful that he’ll really succeed.

To stand against the heat of God’s fire like this – these words would shake me to the core. Not only because I hit up against the blazing hot power of God, but also because they mean something – and do something. They purify insecurities.

I AM WHO I AM.

He is who he says he is.
He will be the one he claims to be.
He is who he is.

These words give me confidence. Because often I tend to think, unknowingly, of the “God who is not”.

The god who is not coming through for me.
The god who is not keeping me happy.
The god who is not showing me all the time his ways.

I can try to hide these feelings under the guise of good-girl Christian (which always drops me off at the word – hypocrite), but I get somewhere when I turn to God and ask, “God, am I really good enough for you to take care of – dysfunctional ol’ me?”

He replies, “I AM WHO I AM.”

He is who he says he is.
He will be who he claims to be.
He is who he is.

He is  – is good.
He is – truth.
He is – power.
He is – strength.

Does God really care?

The devil says who I am not, God says who I am.

Flesh says who I can’t be, God says who I will be in him.

Shame says I am bad, God says I am loved.

Lies speak demise, God says, “Rise.”

Will I believe?

God doesn’t waver. He is not a man that he should fall and skin his knee, he is a king. He doesn’t erase the cross of grace, he died on it to secure eternity for us. He doesn’t delete the signature of our name from his hand, he holds it close to his heart that always beats for us. He doesn’t take back is callings for our lives, he predestines them for us.

He sends us out in unerasable truth:

And Moses said to God, Behold, when I come to the Israelites…What shall I say to them?

And God said to Moses, I Am Who I Am and What I Am, and I Will Be What I Will Be; and He said, You shall say this to the Israelites: I Am has sent me to you! Ex.3:13-14

He sends us out in his love, power and armor. It moves us forward.

Every single time he is at work to bless us.
Every single time he is at work to pave a way for us.
Every single time he is at work to make us more holy.
Every single time he is at work to work in us.
Every single time he is at work to draw us closer to power of his love.

Does God really care?

I AM WHO I AM.

He is who he says he is.
He will be who he claims to be.
He is who he is.

Will we believe – He will do what he said he will do?

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10 Lessons: Don’t let Worry Steal Your Joy (One Day Longer)

I spun like a crazed woman on a treadmill, except for the fact that I was actually on an elliptical. My arms moved as if they were ready to punch the world right out of my way. My eyes focused as if I was really going to finally get myself somewhere. My legs moved trying to knee pressing issues right out of the way.

I was the wild gym-goer –
the girl trying to force herself to new ground –
ground that was unattainable to get to.

I kept spinning. Spinning worries. Spinning problems. Spinning up things that could go wrong. Building a whole lot of motion that was moving me nowhere.

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Motion.

In my mind’s dictionary, it means: 
1. Trying to force yourself to go, make progress or get ahead.

In the dictionary of classical mechanics (which, I know by heart – joke!), it means:
      1. A body either is at rest or moves with constant velocity, until and unless an outer force is applied to it.

An outer force? There was no outer force around me, just an inner force, an inner force of doubt driving my pursuits.

I didn’t trust “Outer Force” would work on my timeline, or according to my demands or with my outcome. God may have some answer like, “Kelly, wait.” Or, “Kelly, my will is being done.”

I get frustrated with those kinds of answers. I get internally irate and put an arm up – choosing worry over wonder.
Do you?

Pumping. Sweating. Pressing in – to my more. I considered God.

And, as if the clouds parted and my mind hit some new parallel of peace, it landed – softly.

Worry Steal Your Joy

I watched him through the giant window. Chilling. Eating. Laughing, almost, at me. He came to teach me something.

10 Lessons Taught by A Bird:

1. Don’t ever forget this verse when you start to worry: Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? (Mt. 6:26)

2. God doesn’t look at his answers for us as limited, but unlimited. Just as the birds pluck for ample food on the ground, so does God have ample food for me.

3. Life is not feast or famine; it is a continual feast I have to choose to believe in. The birds don’t walk heads down, they walk heads high, knowing God is right about ready to deliver them to their next feed.

4. It doesn’t matter what everyone else has.

Worry Steal Your Joy

God has intentionally mined the ground with “glorious riches in Christ Jesus” meant just for me. (Phil 4:19)

5. There is no need to bump up against other people who don’t do what they should. God has them on their own path for food and joy.

6. There is an invitation by God to frolic and fancy life. In between his great providence, there is a game of “chase” going. We can join in like a little baby bird, who knows life is short and troubles pass.

7. What looks like a dark, vast covering of trees before you, is really just a call to adventure. It is the place you fly into knowing that God is going to take you on a ride that will thrill you. You just have to grab onto his carpet and let him lead.

8. Be present and be calm. Birds don’t have one dang concern about pending storms or world issues. I don’t see them building bunkers or walking around with defensive artillery. It seems they let go of threats that surround them – and let God ground them.

9. To see God everywhere is to see peace, joy and answers abound. Birds keep looking. They move their head left and right like little pendulums. Somehow, I guess, they are soaking things in.

Worry Steal Your Joy

10. We see life through the vantage point of me, myself and I, yet God’s view is sky-high – like a bird sees. There are things up there we can’t see. Probably, things that would blow our mind – disappointments that were used by God to create divine appointments, things like that. It’s a symphony of eternity; it reverberates beyond us.

These birds. They speak to me – almost – singing, “You gotta trust the bird’s eye view to get through.”

My velocity and intensity settle. My arms feel like they can finally be – at rest. I look and soak it all in.

Worry Steal Your Joy

God has this.

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Extending The Benefit of Grace

The Benefit of Grace

I’ve noticed, I am the type that reacts:
A person says something slightly offensive. I take it personally.
My friend makes a comment on how I can improve. I feel thrown off.
My husband gives a suggestion. I get sensitive.

I have noticed this internally too:
I mess up. I get angry at myself–even after I have confessed it.
I get far from God. I burden myself with things I must do to get closer.
I get distracted from people and life. I feel that coming back around to them will be hard.

It all comes down to doubt, doesn’t it? Doubt that God is good enough to handle my baseline fears. Doubt that God will come through when I can’t. Doubt that I really can be better than I am today, right?

Doubt is the undercurrent that drags us away from God.
Doubt is the driver of most dumb moves.
Doubt is the deliverer of the desperate to dealings with the devil.

I know this sounds extreme, but it is true. Push Jesus 5 steps away from your heart and that is a 5-step opportunity for the opponent to rush in to make you question everything.

We tend to believe in this thing called,
“the benefit of the doubt,”

but I think what we really need to believe in is
“the benefit of grace.”

That person cuts you off on the road. “She must be having a hard day. God bless her as she drives home.” 
Benefit of Grace!

That supposed friend ignores you at church. “Perhaps she has her own fears. Maybe I can send her an email and check in.”
Benefit of Grace!

That kid again doesn’t listen. “Hmm…it is not that they don’t respect me, but it’s that they want to have a little say. Let me remind them of God’s love and his never ending source of power in them a little later.”
Benefit of Grace!

That man wants to be a show off and be prideful again. “Maybe he so fears loss of control, he has to overcompensate by having all control. Affirm him.”
Benefit of Grace!

I did that thing I didn’t want to do. Now, I can’t ever let it go. “Jesus already let it go on the cross. He keeps no record of wrongs. He waits for you.”
Benefit of Grace!

I am far from God. It is all my fault. I have no idea what to do. “Jesus knows this too; he is not angry with me. He waits and hopes that I can draw near and find his love.”
Benefit of Grace!

Finding the benefit of grace, means we finding a wellspring of peace. Discouragement gets covered by the sacrifice of Living Water and we wade in the encouragement that this hope brings. 

Grace makes us see perspectives differently.

With grace, we notice:
God works far better than we ever could.
The small thing he’s doing, rather than what we’re ruining.
We build into relationships, rather than destroy them.
Our hope for the hopeless situation – and a will to continue on.

We notice that mistakes, errors and offenses aren’t beacons of our future,
but undercover blessings helping us to forge trust that lasts.

Stepping back means we get to see God’s restoration step in, both in our lives and in the life of another.

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Shame Tells Bigger Lies (You Likely are Believing)

shame tells lies

I can’t believe I am saying this. With this admission, it seems like stadiums of people might stand up and boo me. It feels like there should be a grand coronation with a broken crown, for me, the mom who stinks the most. And here is why (and boy, do I hate to admit this): I hate playing with my kids.

There you have it.

Give me games, give me coloring, give me a purpose, but give me a room and a little one dreaming of pretend games – and I am lost.

I know, I hate me too; I see the other moms.

I am not like them: the ones who get on the floor for hours, aching back and all, the ones who are 110% in at the park and the ones who crafting all day long.

These women, they make me look bad; they point out the truth: I am not enough.

Are you hearing the voice of not enough too?
Not enough at work? Not enough with your family?
Not enough with your friends? Not enough of anything?

I could see “not enough” every time I looked into that innocent face. I could see it in his eyes – I was letting him down. Every look at him seemed to speak, Kelly:

You are a failure mom.
Your kids won’t love you.
You are not enough.
You will always stink.

If we aren’t careful, our failure will attempt to define our future.

This thought made me sit upright at the prospect of something deeper a nugget: If our thoughts are trying to kill relationship, rather than build relationship, they probably are not from God.  This truth hit me like a lightbulb.

Then, I started to think:

Evil wants to make our perceived failure into our destined future. 
It wants to hand us an eternal label that says, “Unstable and liable to fail.”
It wants to rip apart our families with the lie, that things can’t change.

It is at work to tell us, “You stink and can’t ever be better.”

This message always leads us to do one of three things:

1. Give up because we know how worthless we are.

2. Get mad at others because we feel angry that they are making us be this way.

3. Overdo it by being too involved, controlling or overbearing.

That evening, I decided to take a step back from my truth, the truth I didn’t like to play. I looked at it for what it is: I don’t like pretend, I do like the zoo. I don’t like pretend, I do like cooking. I don’t like pretend, but I do do fun things.

The fact that I don’t like pretend does not equal the fact that my son doesn’t love me. LIE!
It does not equal the fact that I am bad mom. LIE!
It does not equal a standing of doomed mother. LIE!

Relieving myself of the pressure, left me room to consider. It left room for me to love myself and him without getting burned. Stepping back leaves room for God to starve the bad and to feed in the good.

Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. Jo. 15:13

Jesus laid down his life for me. I have a little one that I can lay my life down for too.

I can sometimes do what I don’t like, I can play pretend, because I love him. I love him so much. I love with big and bold and wide open love. And, with Christ, we can do things we don’t like, even if we fail, even if we end up eventually yelling, “Get in the car. We are making an emergency trip to the library.” Even then, we are okay.

The love of Christ leave us, always, more than okay; it can’t go anywhere on the children of God. It always sees, always cares and always endures.

Shame has no place in the center of love.
Shame can’t exist in the presence of patience.
Shame can’t grow amidst self-forgiveness.

And, so we look at ourselves and say, “If Christ can love me like this, I guess I can love me too.” For, how can we really love, if we don’t have a base of love to work from?

‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.” Mark 12:31

If I find his love in me, Christ’s love will work through me.

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When God is Punishing You

God is Punishing

You kind of figure, because of you,
because of all your bad actions,
he’s going to open the heavens,
rain down lightening like pocket knives
​and  land one straight on your head.

Maybe it is already happening. All is plummeting and God is: hitting you with health issues, cutting into finances, shredding a marriage, stabbing emotional well-being, hurting your kids, slicing out pain at work and dicing up trials for your course du jour.

And, it has to be you, right? All you have done, you deserve it. All you keep doing, it makes sense. All of your past, you get it. You are a degenerate in so many ways.

You may not hear his words from his mouth, but you certainly hear them in your head:

 “Get your bad self to your room. Don’t return until you act better.”
“Get yourself together.”
“What is wrong with you?”
“You can’t do anything right.”

Exasperated, you wait to hear from him, expecting a whole lotta words on how you are a royal mess-up and a giant loser. You expect to hear a list of practial law and rules and insights and plans that you need to stick to.

Instead, a whole different picture rises – a picture that puts God’s truth first.

It is painted.  Not in muted shades of pained grey, but with the spectrum of new life. It beckons you to step in and to feel the warmth, to participate in growth and to enjoy the ride, so you listen and hear things like: 

1. You see all you do wrong, I see so much that you do right.

2. You’re my first love. I don’t want to hurt you, I want to prosper, grow and see my glory shine through you.

3. You see your mistakes, I see how your mistakes are the starting of new.

4. You get discouraged and defeated by relational hiccups, but I see the pauses as space for me to work.

5. You’re the child I created, I love you exactly the way you are – strengths with weaknesses, weaknesses with strengths.

6. You don’t have to have it all figured out in the today, because I have it all figured out in the tomorrow.

7. Your repentance is the start of my next best thing. You turn away and then you see me.

8. Other people acting badly, is the best chance to show holy.

9.  When you turn towards me, in turn you see my kindness.

10. When you say you’re sorry (and mean it), I say, “I forgive you” (and mean it).

Staring at the image, your mind dwells on the new story:

“God’s face looks a whole lot different than mine. His love is ten times more infusive than mine. His ways are galaxies more compassionate than mine. His grace is tanks more abundant than mine.

While I look at the immediate, he sees the long-term. While I get defeated in battle, he cheers the victory over the course of the war. While I get angry, he knows that anger does not produce righteousness (Ja. 1:20)”

The LORD is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and rich in love. Ps. 145:8

The LORD is slow to anger, abounding in love and forgiving sin and rebellion. Nu. 14:8

You, Lord, are forgiving and good, abounding in love to all who call to you. Ps. 86:5

Good and upright is the LORD; therefore he instructs sinners in his ways. Ps. 25:8

But with you there is forgiveness, so that we can, with reverence, serve you. Ps. 130:4

Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. 1 Jo. 4:8

God calls you in.
Deeper.

God calls you out.
To head towards grace.

God dares you to hear him.
To listen to his true sounds.

For to know him,
is to know love.

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Regular Contributor, Katie Reid, is delighted to have a memoir piece published in Tales of Our Lives: Reflection Pond by Matilda Butler. The book launches today on Amazon for only 99 cents! Don’t miss it.

I Doubt, Now What?

I doubt

It creeps. It crawls. It slithers. We move fast, running with a paper towel to try to kill that blasted thing before it shows it’s disgusting face. We. Must. Kill. The. Yuck. We can’t see that. We can’t admit that. Don’t let anyone know that exists…

It would change the face of everything.
It would risk who we are.
It might make us reconsider things.
It might make others declare us un-Christian.
It might make God angry.

Just the other day, feeling overwhelmed by the this’ and thats of our great joyride called life, I stood in the center of it all, dropped my arms and practically screamed, “God, can you really help me get out of this mess? Do you really help?”

I have probably said it a hundred ways, on other days –
sounding something like this: 

God if you are so good, why haven’t you saved me yet?
Jesus, if you are all love, why did that happen?
What if my beliefs are all wrong and I chose the wrong way?
Why would you let the innocent get hurt?
Do you really want me?
I can’t be good enough (which truly is saying Jesus isn’t good enough).
Does prayer really change anything?

Even writing these things evokes feelings of shame. Shame that I would much rather gather between my fingers, pinch and let the insides squirm out. Shame that I want to hide for fear of a quick rebuke, but hiding never went unseen in the garden and it doesn’t on earth either.

So it makes me consider, what if speaking doubts
is the best way to speak in new faith? 

What if talking with God about the unknown
is the best way to make him more known?

I think about one man. His name was John. He baptized. But, before he did that, he went to the wilderness and started to preach and to call people to repentance. People came. They came from Jerusalem and Judea and the whole region of Jordan (Mt. 3:5-6). They confessed and were changed.

This man. He was on fire for the Lord. This man. He was preparing the way for Christ.

This man. Not too long after, doubted.

When John, who was in prison, heard about the deeds of the Messiah, he sent his disciples to ask him, “Are you the one who is to come, or should we expect someone else?” Jo. 11:2

Sometimes our prisons of despair make us feel certain
God doesn’t care.

Sometimes when we get all alone, our loneliness makes us believe God left us too.

Sometimes, when doubt kicks in, we have to kick out our fears to Jesus’ feet
and let him stomp them out.

That is what John did. He sent his disciples to Jesus with his question.

Jesus replied, “Go back and report to John what you hear and see: The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is proclaimed to the poor. Blessed is anyone who does not stumble on account of me.” Jo. 11:4

When we remember what God has done, we start to realize how much more he can do.

When we see all that he has fulfilled, we begin to believe he will fill in our gaps.

Jesus doesn’t tell us to go around squashing and squishing every question, fear or uncertainty that arises. He doesn’t chide John for his question and send him off without any care. Jesus tells us to come to him, to dive into his Word and to taste and see that the Lord is good.

Taste and see that the LORD is good; blessed is the one who takes refuge in him. Ps. 34:8

When we feel blocked in by the bars of life, we can reach out to receive the Word of life, in order to be refreshed by the Spirit who provides life.

Then, with new strength and new hope, we can call out and say something like: “I believe; help my unbelief!” Mark 9:24

And God does, because he is. And our heart becomes stronger; it beats louder, gets more oxygen and pumps more blood and we know that we did the right thing by being honest for he honestly changed our doubts into belief. We become confident he answers prayer.

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The Myth Of Control

I am more than delighted to welcome a true woman of the Lord, Karina, to the Purposeful Faith blog. From the minute I met her, I could see love, joy and passion written all over her. Karina is an example of transparency and authentic pursuit of God. I couldn’t be more happy to have her on Purposeful Faith as a regular contributor. I hope you enjoy her heart as much as I do.

Post by Karina

I have this struggle. I’m sure I am probably the only person who struggles with this issue. I kind of, sort of, maybe, like to be in control. Just a little bit. When a say a little, I mean a lot!

The last 6 months or so have been a bit paradoxical in nature. What I mean is that many amazing things have happened to me! I went out of town several times, have had a few exciting writing opportunities, connected with dear friends and met some new ones! During those exact same months, I have been searching for a roommate. I’m 35 and single and living alone is ridiculously expensive. I normally have a sense from God in which direction to go in when making decisions, but this time around, I had no direction.

I, under no circumstances, like the way that feels! I did my part. I exhausted every avenue to find a roommate and searched high and low for other housing. Nothing made sense. Countless options came and went. No other housing option fit my budget. Again, still no direction. My sweet friend Holly prayed for me one night a couple of months ago after small group. She told me the Lord wanted me to know that this situation was not my fault. I hadn’t done anything wrong. That filled me with such peace and yet still, there was no direction.

Over the past few weeks, the Lord has been so faithful to remind me of the truths that I so easily forget.

For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord.
For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.
Isaiah 55:8-9

God is God. I am not. He is omniscient.

He know all things…the past, the present and the future. His timing and mine are rarely the same thing. After all, He is the one who created time itself. I can effortlessly believe the lie that what I see is all there is or that my time line is perfect. That is NEVER the case. There is a great deal happening in the supernatural that I cannot see and may never see. I am learning to embrace the mystery in knowing God and trusting His ways and His heart especially when I can’t see Him at work.

And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good,
for those who are called according to his purpose.
Romans 8:28

The never changing truth is that God loves me deeply and He loves you deeply. What He does or doesn’t do, what He says or doesn’t say is always for our good. That is what He does and who He is as our Heavenly Father. He doesn’t send pain or suffering or doubt or confusion. Every good and perfect gift comes from Him. When our circumstances are not good and perfect, it breaks His heart. And His desire is to come in and bring healing, purpose and restoration to our lives. I am learning to let Him do just that.

Are you? Is there an area of your life where you have been believing the myth that you are in control?

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Karina is a devoted follower of Jesus from New Orleans, Louisiana, but has made her home in Baton Rouge for the past 15 years. She spends much of her time leading worship at church, writing, reading, dancing and mentoring the next generation. She has a huge heart for serving and missions. She is an advocate for the local church especially the one that she attends, Healing Place Church. She also enjoys working out, traveling, photography and going to concerts/conferences.

Karina believes that every woman has a God-sized dream on the inside of them and it is up to an encouraging community to help nurture that dream. Her goal in writing is to see women get a revelation of God’s Word and discover how to apply it to their lives in order to walk in freedom and live the life that God intended. But the most important thing to her is to live out the call of Isaiah 26:8…For His Name and His Renown are the desire of our souls! You can connect with her at “For His Name and His Renown.”