Purposeful Faith

Tag - dreams

Are you Behind Schedule?

Behind Schedule

I am delighted to welcome Marlinda Ireland to Women’s Ministry Monday. Marlinda’s words inspire my heart not to fret the timing but to trust the maker. This is just what I needed to hear. Welcome Marlinda!  

Have you prayed and prayed for open doors of opportunity,
but heaven is silent?

Are you tempted to act on some long-held desire?

Yet, deep down you know that the timing isn’t right. Perhaps God has not yet brought the necessary pieces of your purpose together and you’re feeling, well, stuck!

Now, it feels as if your life is behind schedule.

Let’s face it, waiting for answers from the God can be frustrating and discouraging. If we’re really honest, waiting can even make a strong woman weak. Having patience with God is especially hard in our microwave millennium.  We’re often judged by how quickly we reach the proverbial brass ring.  If you’re not married with two children, making a six-figure income, living in a five-bedroom house and enjoying all the finer things in life by age thirty-five, you’re labeled as someone who’s behind schedule.

In reality, most of us are judging our insides by other people’s outsides.

Pressure to conform to unwritten timelines set by society is intense. However, comparing yourself to others only leads to jealousy, envy, competition and discouragement. I have to admit that this was how I felt, not too long ago.

David and I married while I was still in college. However, because of our financial needs as newlyweds, I was unable to continue my education. So, the dream of being the first in my family to graduate from college was put on hold. Two years later I became pregnant with our first child, our lovely Danielle, and the dream was delayed again. Time passed and we had another beautiful baby girl, Jessica. Then, David transitioned from consulting engineering into full-time Christian ministry. So, I became the proverbial pastor’s wife. That was my title! Poof! Before I knew it, my dream was so behind schedule that catching up seemed impossible!  Please don’t get me wrong. I was grateful for our flourishing family and ministry. But, secretly, other parts of my soul were dying on the vine.

I also felt God calling me to participate in missionary journeys to other countries.  When David was away on such trips, well-meaning friends frequently asked me, “Why don’t you travel, too?” At that time, the question made me feel like I was doing something wrong…that I was not being a strong, assertive woman.  So, in desperation, I cried out for wisdom. One day, God spoke to my heart, “Marlinda, personal goals and ministry opportunities will always be around for you to nurture. However, your children will not.

Boom, it was crystal clear that our children were indeed my number one priority in that season. As David traveled, I was to hold down the fort. God was not releasing me to even leave our children with friends or family.

Still, at that time, I didn’t fully understand the principle of divine delay—how He uses them to prep us for the future. So, it was a struggle to feel content in His timing for my life. Then, just as the girls were finishing up high school and I was about to give up on these desires, opportunities for their fulfillment came into view. I felt moved to apply and was accepted into a graduate program that made allowances for people who had many years of ministry experience and several years of college. They even waived my tuition. Then, invitations to speak in the U.S. and overseas started flowing into my office. God’s blessings and timing were perfect.

The Bible declares“God has made everything beautiful in its time” (Ecclesiastes 3:11, Amplified Bible). Abraham, Sarah, Joseph, Lazarus all experienced divine delays.

Can you trust that God has established
a unique timeline for you, too?

Our lives are similar to fruit bearing trees.

Different kinds of fruit ripen and mature in different seasons.  Similarly, we each have a special timetable wherein we blossom and ripen into the plans of God.  The rate in which this happens is not always determined by our own efforts or schedules—it’s also based on God’s divine timing. So, perhaps, you’re not really behind schedule. Perhaps, you’re in a divine delay!

Whatever the concern, rest assured that God’s in full control!

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About Marlinda

img_0143Marlinda is a wife, a mom, Bible teacher, and a “creative.” She is the co-founder, an associate pastor and the women’s ministry director at Christ Church in Montclair and Rockaway, New Jersey.

Through all of the challenges and joys that go along with her many life-roles, the Father has etched on her soul the meaning of full-blown-surrender. It’s out of this internal imprint that she does life, loves the broken and encourages the chosen.

Lost in The Wilderness

Lost in The Wilderness

Today, it is my joy to welcome Tracey Rogers to Women’s Ministry Monday. Her words both uplift and remind my heart that there is safety in my struggle and hope in my longings. Thank you, Tracey. 

I got lost in the wilderness.

I hadn’t planned to even go out there, but there I was right in the middle of unfamiliar territory. I did, however, know what was on the other side. THAT I knew, so I was confident on how to maneuver myself through the uncomfortable deserted land.

But I got lost.

No, not literally. The deepest I have been in any kind of wilderness is a color-coded, well-worn hike through many Tennessee State Parks; hardly a place for loss.

No, my wilderness was God’s doing. Leading me out of my comfort and leading me into a place of uncertainty and trial and pressure and temptation.

The wilderness is not an unusual place for God’s people.

He often leads them into the wilderness. 

Moses was called by God from the burning bush while Moses was in the wilderness.

Elijah receives encouragement from God while spending 40 days in the wilderness.

The children of Israel spent 40 years in the wilderness
unlearning the pagan influence from Egypt and becoming a people of God.

They found their identity in the wilderness. 

Even Jesus, Himself spent 40 days in the wilderness being tempted before beginning His earthly ministry.

David, too has a season in the wilderness. 

David was anointed king of Israel as a young man, and through a series of God-ordained coincidences he found himself in service of the present king of Israel, Saul. I imagine David saw the path to kingship. He imagined that he would learn from Saul; be mentored by this present king so he could one day step into the role that was destined for him. Although David knew the way the story would end, with him being king, I think the process ended up being very different than he expected. Saul began to see David as a threat and David was forced to run for his life. Where did he run?

To the wilderness. 

The wilderness is a place ripe for God to shape and grow David into the king He called him to be.

1 Samuel 21-31 record David’s time in the wilderness. I don’t think this turned out to be the way he expected God to grow him into a king, but that is exactly what God did. In the wilderness, David went from shepherd to leader. 

David learned how to handle opposition.
David was met with challenges, yet followed God.
The wilderness was where David found shelter in caves, yet knew the shadow of God’s wings.
It was where David found rest beside still waters and found his soul restored.
And David, had tests and temptations, but resisted them and proved worthy of the call.

The wilderness isn’t just for God’s people in the Bible. He is still calling His own into the wilderness today, and that is where I found myself.

But I carved the path. Wondering, how can I get out. How will God actually work things out?

Real surrender is not the act of acknowledging hard times,
but of letting God walk you through them, altogether.

What path do you follow? Is it providing refuge?

Be gracious to me, O God, be gracious to me, 

For my soul takes refuge in You;

And in the shadow of Your wings I will take refuge

Until destruction passes by.

I will cry to God Most High, 

To God who accomplishes all things for me.

He will send from heaven and save me;

He reproaches him who tramples upon me.     Selah.

God will send forth His lovingkindness and His truth.” Ps. 57:1-3

And so I remained in the wilderness, but no longer felt lost. I found comfort and I think that is exactly what He had in mind.

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About Tracey Rogers

View More: http://keonik.pass.us/traceyrogersTracey Rogers is a gifted Bible teacher who brings passion and enthusiasm to the life-giving Word of God. Tracey speaks with authority and authenticity leaving her listeners wanting to spend more time with God in His Word and inspiring them to live lives that shine His light. Tracey has also taken her revealing teaching lessons and unique insights and put them in her new book, Life Lessons from the Book of Job.

She lives in Franklin, Tennessee with her husband of almost 19 years, Kevin, along with their children Preston, 15; John John, 13; and Josie, 10.  In addition to serving on the adult groups staff at Church of the City, she has been incorporating her love of scripture by teaching Christ-centered yoga for 4 1/2 years.

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Palaces that Prepare Us

Prepare Us

I am delighted to welcome Sheree DeCouto from Fellowship Bible Church in Roswell, GA to Women’s Ministry Monday. Sheree’s words encourage my heart – even our best dreams, can still be difficult.

Thank you, Sheree.

Post by: Sheree DeCouto

Is it just me, or have you ever wondered what happened after Cinderella and Prince Charming rode off into the sunset? As a little girl I bought the “happily ever after” ending hook line and sinker; as a grown woman I’ve learned that palace life doesn’t always turn out to be what I expected.

Whether it be a relationship, job or ministry… our happily ever after scenarios often lets us down.

I’ll never forget the day I landed my first full-time job in women’s ministry. I thought I had arrived. For years I had dreamed of what it would be like to work for God. My head was full of all the wonderful things I was going to do for God now that He had brought me to my palace, so to speak. Finally, someone had recognized the call of God on my life and given me a chance to make my dreams of becoming a published author and sought-after speaker come true.

Needless to say, palace life has been harder than I expected.

Lately, I’ve been studying the ultimate dreamer Joseph, and I’ve wondered if he too might have grappled to reconcile his expectations with his reality. Obviously, he must have been disappointed when his brothers sold him as a slave. But, I wonder what he thought when he was purchased by Potiphar, who was Pharaoh’s captain of the guard, and put in charge of his entire household. It was a lofty position for sure. Could he have thought, Someone has finally recognized my potential; I’m finally at a place where my dreams could come true?

If you know Joseph’s story then you know Potiphar’s palace was only another step in his journey. It was a place where he gained valuable leadership experience learned the importance of integrity. When I consider his time at Photiphar’s palace as simply a step toward God’s ultimate calling on his life I am encouraged re-think my own palace experience.

All of us yearn for the happy ending but few of us experience joy during in the journey toward it. I’ve found hope by remembering these three truths:

1.     It’s not our final destination: All of life is preparing us for the ultimate happy ending when we meet Jesus face to face.

2.     Tests are part of it: Make no mistake. . . our dream job, dream marriage, and dream life will be full of  challenges to test us. (Thankfully they are all open book tests; the Bible gives us the answers we need!)

3.     Our reaction in the gap between expectation and reality determines our level of joy. We choose our response when life doesn’t turn out the way we expected. Joseph’s life story gives us an excellent example of how to move past our past and toward the ultimate call of God on our lives. In the end Joseph considered God’s will more valuable than his own desire for success.

What palace is God using to prepare you? Are you passing the tests, or has your chosen response kept you from enjoying the journey? If I’m honest, I have to admit that the gap between my expectation and my reality caught me off guard. I haven’t passed all of the tests. But today I’m determined to consider God’s will more valuable than my own desire for success. I choose joy in the midst of my circumstances and I thank God that He is still preparing me for the ultimate happy ending.

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About Sheree

Sheree(3)-0051Sheree serves on staff as the Women’s Ministry Director at Fellowship Bible Church in Roswell, Georgia. She is a Bible teacher, speaker, spiritual coach for leaders, event coordinator, writer, and mentor–and that’s just what she does for her day job! She is also a wife, the mother of three sons, and a mother-in-law to her first daughter-in-love. Her passion is to bring the “real” factor to everything she does. Whether she’s speaking to a large audience, writing, or mentoring, her goal is to be transparent about the struggles she faces so that others feel free to do the same.

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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A Titus 2 Wake Up

Wake Up

It is with great excitement that I welcome Debbie Hopper to Ministry Monday! Debbie brings heart, wisdom and passion. Her experience shines. Even more, I found her words to be a soothing lesson for a worrier like me. I hope you enjoy this post as much as I did! 

It was the first week of January 2016 and my goal setting was in full swing.  But as I looked ahead to the next six months, there was a date looming on the horizon that stopped me in my tracks :  my 60th birthday.

It just didn’t seem possible…
Children growing up?  Yes! 
Daughters getting married? Yes!  
Becoming a grandmother? Yes!  
Caring for aging parents?  Yes!  

But turning 60 and getting the infamous AARP card?  I had only blurred images associated with this decade and they were scaring the daylights out of me:

·       My Dad died at 63 after spending his last 8 years in a wheelchair

·       My Mother did a few adventurous things after he died, but her health declined by 70

·       Most women ahead of me on this journey seemed to be slowing down or checking out

The Lord needed to give me a fresh download, a picture of what He saw for my sixties, to give me a new vision and a renewed spirit about embracing this milestone.

And of course, He answered.

“Call out to me and I will answer you,
and will tell you great and hidden things
that you have not known.”  
Jeremiah 33:3

First, He very sweetly (but firmly) reminded me of all the great and marvelous things He had done in my life over the past 59 years.  Times He rescued me, protected me, redeemed me and poured favor over me when I didn’t deserve it.  The thought that kept coming to me was:

You gave me my first breath and will take away my last.  Who am I to question any breath in between?

Next, He led me to dig deep and study what it really means to be a Titus 2 Woman.  Whenever younger women had referred to me as their Titus 2 in the past, I would just shrug or smile and accept it as a compliment.  But study it?

The LORD was giving it to me as marching orders:

1.     Tell everyone to follow God’s Word

2.     Teach older women:

  •  To be holy in their behavior
  • Not speaking against others (gossip)
  • Not addicted to wine/drink/food
  • Teaching what is good

3.     Teach younger women:

  • Love their husbands
  • Love their children
  • To be self-controlled, wise and pure
  • To be a model of good works at home
  • To be kind, show integrity and dignity
  • To yield to their husbands

4.     Always use the Gospel as the source for godliness

The limitations we seWake Upe, are often doors God knocks open through Godly instruction.

Where do you need to see past
limitations, restrictions, age or beauty?

For the first time, 60 held the promise of fulfilling work as I pursued that inseparable link between faith and practice, belief and behavior.   There was a renewed excitement in my spirit. He had not only answered me, but offered purpose and meaning to the days and years ahead.

I felt new wind behind me. In fact, I began planning a harbor cruise with the Daughters.  For it seemed worthy of celebrating all He has done. I was ready to sail into sixty with new hope.

Are you dreading a date on the calendar or waiting anxiously for a new day? Wherever you are, Sisters, let’s embrace the days with His goals instead of our go-to worries.

And, maybe, if you are fortunate, like me, you may even end up with a Senior Discount or something…

Debbie Hopper bio

debphotoDebbie felt called into the ministry at age 16, and spent the early part of her life serving the body and working in the corporate world until her God appointment into full-time ministry 8 years ago.  As a Minister and Director of Women’s Ministry at Seacoast Church in Mt. Pleasant, SC, Debbie has the honor of serving under the leadership of Pastor Greg Surratt, the ARC network founder.

Married for 22 years to an amazing man of God who is a Project Engineer by day and a Leader of Men by night, they have 3 Daughters, 2 Son-in-loves and 9 Grands.

To recharge from long days of ministry, Debbie enjoys Date Nights with The Hubby, long chats with The Daughters at Starbucks, reading, gardening, archery and photography.  You can connect with her on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram: debhopper

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.

Broken Perfectionism

Broken Perfectionism

I could not be happier to have Angela Craig joining us today for Ministry Monday. Angela is on fire for the Lord; her passion exudes from her (and I have only talked to her online, so this says so much!). She is a gift sent by God to this world and I am excited to honor her here today. Welcome Angela!

“A dangerous leader is one that has great familiarity with their skills and gifts
but cursory knowledge of their inner brokenness.”
– Dan White, Jr.

I will admit it. I want everyone to like me. The two things I have struggled with most of my life are people-pleasing and perfectionism. In the past, if someone didn’t like me or critiqued my work, I would spend an unhealthy and disproportionate amount of time lamenting on where I went wrong. Then I would make a plan to fix it. The problem was, no matter how hard I tried, I still disappointed people and made mistakes.

It could be because I am human. As far as I know, human beings can strive for excellence but they can never be perfect. Having the hope of perfectionism is like having a boat with a hole in it and thinking you can stay afloat if you can just keep the water out of the bottom. Eventually, you will take on more water than you can bail out and get tired of trying to fulfill other people’s expectations. This leads to burnout or drowning. Neither, a good option.

But what if I was perfect? Would everyone like me then?

Actually, the answer is no.

Listen for a moment to this story of Jesus. On Palm Sunday, Jesus made his triumphal entrance into Jerusalem on a humble donkey. The people were so enamored by Jesus they lined the street with their cloaks and palm leaves in honor of who they believed to be the next royal King from the line of David. Jesus could do no wrong. Five days later, that same King hung on a splintered wooden cross with a crown of thorns on his innocent head – naked, accused, mocked, beaten, hated, and judged – but still perfect.

As the story ends, we see it was obedience, not perfection that changed the world forever.Broken Perfectionism

As leaders, it is easy for our interactions with others to become performance driven. We can become actors on a ministry stage. Our actions being guided and directed by audience approval and recognition. If left unattended, the approval and recognition of others will eventually affirm or challenge our identity and self-worth, leaving God’s opinion back-stage.

We must maintain the ability to embrace our gifts, God’s words, and our brokenness at the same time. For me, a broken perfectionism has been the path to being a healthier leader.

You are unique and distinctive. Your leadership matters. Live fearlessly for Jesus today, my friends, and be encouraged by these last scriptures and a quote from Brennan Manning. I will be here cheering you on!

Brennan Manning wrote: “God loves you without condition or reservation and loves you this moment as you are not as you should be!
Real freedom is the freedom from the opinion of others. Above all, freedom from your opinion about yourself.”

“Man looks on the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart” (I Samuel 16:7 NIV).

“Am I now trying to win the approval of human beings, or of God? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ” (Galatians 1:10 NIV).

“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God” (Ephesians 2:8 NIV).

About Angela Craig

image001 (1)Angela’s 10 years of international speaking experience covers leadership and women’s conferences, non-profit events, and on-line leadership training. Angela is the Director of the women’s department at the Northwest Ministry Network where she has the honor to lead a team who is responsible for the development and empowerment of female leaders in over 320 churches. Angela is an ordained minister and a certified coach with Gallup Strengthsfinder, SLTA 360, and AGC. A life-long learner, Angela has a Ministry Leadership degree from Northwest University and a Master of Arts in Organizational Leadership from Gonzaga. Angela is honored to teach as an adjunct professor at her alma mater, Northwest University. Angela is also the founder of the GIVE GOOD Awards Foundation, an organization that recognizes inspirational people and promotes volunteerism.

Devoted to helping others reach their fullest potential in life and leadership, Angela has authored two books, The Story of Leah: When life is not what you expected it to be and Pivot Leadership: Small Steps – Big Change . You can read her weekly blog encouragements and leadership tips on angelalcraig.com and  on hervoiceblog.us, a blog specifically designed for women in leadership.

7 Actions that Stifle Unstoppable Faith

Unstoppable Faith

I remember as a girl, I always wanted to see over the counter. I was convinced that at the bank, there was some magical land of lollipops and rainbows beyond the reach of the counter that extended above my head. I wasn’t privy to that party.

There is something about growing – about knowing that you are heading you’re supposed to be going. About letting life’s happenings naturally becoming learnings. About seeing progress. About getting a view.

I feel that way with God too. I want to grow so high with God, I get a view of all his glorious riches, right beyond the barrier of my mind, will and ways. I want to get to where he is.

unstoppable faith

All this makes me reflect:

Am I stagnating or progressing with God?

Am I growing or regressing?

What about you?

Anyone who isn’t with me opposes me, and anyone who isn’t working with me is actually working against me. Mt. 12:30

Often, I am not working with God. I am working with myself, for myself and by myself. It’s called Kelly Utopia where everything is structured, finite and detailed. God gets in at prayer times and at extreme moments of need. Beyond that, he mostly finds himself stuck beyond the glass barriers of my bubble. I hang the sign, “Keep out God. Only Kelly’s Plans Allowed.”

I want to grow contagious and unstoppable faith. Perhaps, this means it is time I consider what is hindering it…

unstoppable faith

7 Actions that Stifle Unstoppable Faith

1. An oblivious heart – If you think you’ve got it all together, guess what?! You don’t.
Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. Ps. 139:23

2. A stubborn will – If you never confess, you will someday attest that your life feels in the boondocks and God’s gone left you.
Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent, and do the works you did at first. Rev. 2:5

3.  Over-working – If you get so busy doing, that you forget to see how God is loving, you will find yourself panting and out of breath with no energy left to go anywhere.
For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith–and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God… (Eph. 2:8)

4. Self-thoughts – If you are thinking of self, you can’t be thinking of God. If you are in your ways, you can’t be in his. But, if you communing with God, you are comingling with grace. This is where growth happens. It is also called prayer.
Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. James 4:8

5. Knowing what is wrong and doing it anyway – Enough said.
Whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin. Ja. 4:17

6. Succumbing to lies – If you let in anything but truth, you will live by lies. Who have you been listening to?
You were running well. Who hindered you from obeying the truth? Gal. 5:7

7. Getting proud – You can’t let in, him whom you don’t think you need.
When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom. Prov. 11:2

Now, after looking at this list, if you are anything like me, your first inclination, might be to stare in the mirror and give yourself a quick backslap for messing up so much. For doing 6 out of the above seven things. For falling so short.

unstoppable faith

Shoulders slumped, you might feel that daddy doesn’t really want you anymore. This brings us back to #6, because that is a lie. God loves us. God wants us. It is for this reason he gives us these truths, these guideposts that lead us to the right way. He wants us on his trail – with him – holding his hand. He wants us in step with him. He wants connection like we do. He wants our great faith to bring us somewhere great. He is for us (Ro. 8:31).

With this, I want to let go – to God, what I have done wrong and start afresh. Do you?  For God says, our sins are lost, not to ever again be found. Pardoned, for, us, those he has saved. (Jer. 50:20)

This feels like a fresh breath of air delivered like a shot to my lungs.

unstoppable faith

And, just knowing this – it also feels like growth. It feels a lot like peering over the counter right into God’s face.

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How God Will Make Your Impossible – Possible

Impossible

When there is nothing left to do in a day, and my mind has nowhere left to go, right or wrong, Facebook and I get friendly. It’s the mindless scroll that numbs a mind. It’s the old faces that remind me of days yesterday. It’s a knowledge that somehow everyone is okay. It is just seeing and being. Yet, this time, God wasn’t content to let me sit. He wanted to show me some little things; little things ready to teach me big things.

First, an old friend caught my attention…

Screen Shot 2016-04-29 at 4.53.39 AM

My beautiful friend‘s husband made her a special contraption for “little arm” so she could blow dry her hair without issue. Hmmm…powerful. Her husband helped her to do what was difficult for her to do.

God, let me see what you want me to see…

My thumb got arthritical again. I scrolled, then I hit this video (Life).

It was daddy, super-daddy, I’ll call him – he made a super-duper, over-the-hips harness holder for his son, who I am sure, beyond a shadow of a doubt, had never walked a day in hisScreen Shot 2016-04-29 at 5.12.59 AM life. The pure joy written all over his face made that clear. He was all things laughs, exuberance and pleasure. It was his moment on daddy’s toes. Not black and white, but shades of alive.

I want my moment on daddy’s toes.

Where he rescues me. Where he helps me to move in ways I never considered. Where he blesses me beyond measure. This is life. This is what pixels and images of years passing all add up to.

That boy’s face explained it – it is the elation that you are loved.

God, teach me, right here and now, teach me…

In his unfathomable love, God does not see our lackings, but he sees the makings of incredible about to explode.

We don’t have to see it – to believe it.
He’s a good, good, daddy.

Where we feel incapable, he is capable.
Where we feel down, he is ready to lift.
Where we say, I can’t, he says, “You will – just wait.”

We just believe and then we, fly into his purposes…

Will I give him a chance? Will you?

What if my friend didn’t accept the gift or the gesture? What if that boy pushed away the over-the-hip harness holder? What would have happened?

How often do you – or do I – miss the insane workings of God because we get prideful and believe we can do it on our own?

God, don’t let us miss it anymore.

I am faulted. I need you.
I feel incapable. Show me.
I am handicapped in so many regards. Reconstruct me.

I want to fly.

I believe.

I believe in God’s power to love me like family. I believe in his power to make a miracle out of my control issues. I believe in his power to banish shame. I believe in his artistic genius to make a gizmo so wild it will soar me right up to – alive.

It will save me, right as I wait on daddy’s toes. And like that boy, I Screen Shot 2016-04-29 at 5.05.53 AMwill dance. I will smile, laugh, giggle and wonder –  attached to daddy – loaded up with all the gadgets of his goodness.

I will. You will.

Where do you feel broken? Faulted? Injured? Less than?

Know this: Daddy is building a doohicky. Accept it. Put it on. Believe in it. Trust it to work. Smile. Let go. Feel his love. It is the answer.

God, indeed, takes our limitations and makes them into proclamations of his goodness…when we let him.

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Living Beyond Comparison

Living Beyond Comparison

I am delighted to have the fabulous Kristine Brown join us today as she shares about comparison. This can be sure-fire way to lose perspective and her blog reminds me to keep the focus of my eyes narrow and the intentions of my heart clean. Thank you Kristine – and welcome today! I hope you are blessed.

Guest Post by: Kristine Brown

She lived in the shadow of someone else. Someone pretty important, as a matter of fact. Day in and day out she watched this graceful lady. From where she stood, it looked as if this other woman had God’s hand of blessing on her all the time. Of course, it was hard to see clearly when walking behind her at a distance.

She couldn’t get used to her new life in the shadows. And on top of that, she endured ridicule. If only I had a friend, she thought. She struggled to see beyond her bitter circumstances.

Her name was Hagar.

Hagar found herself in a new role as servant and handmaid to Sarah. Conflict started early in their relationship. And as the family dynamic changed, tension grew between the two women.

Sarah sat in a place of honor as Abraham’s wife. Abraham had heard a solid promise from God that he would be the father of a great nation. God also assured him this promise would begin with a son from Sarah. But Hagar’s position as the mother to Abraham’s first-born only increased the difficulties between Sarah and her servant.

Soon that son arrived. Sarah gave birth to Isaac. And with this new addition to the family, the comparison voice grew louder and louder. Hagar felt unnoticed and unimportant compared to Sarah. Without realizing it, she allowed comparison to lead her away from the God who saw her.

Our situations may be different, but Hagar and I have a lot in common. We both let the destructive voice of comparison whisper into our hearts.

I too have felt the compulsion to compare myself to another woman. I’ve listened to the lies comparison tells me – lies that sound something like this…

She is more talented than me.

She is more capable than me.

She is noticed more than me.

Maybe you’ve heard them too.

If so, then you understand how devastating this voice can be. You know the doubt it causes. And maybe – like me – you’re ready to silence it once and for all.

“I cry out to God Most High, to God who fulfills his purpose for me.” Psalm 57:2 ESV

The comparison battle once affected every area of my life.

My parenting. My role as a wife. My work. My ministry.

I couldn’t see the beauty of God’s plan. Comparison distracted me from the path He created just for me.When I realized how much I’d let its condemning words alter my thoughts, I resolved to find a solution. I went straight to God’s Word, and my discovery began in Hagar’s story…

When Hagar had enough of the hurt, she called out to the God of Abraham and Sarah. That day she learned a vital truth.

God desired to be the friend Hagar so desperately wanted. He was not only the God of Abraham and Sarah. He was her God too, and He made her a steadfast promise just like he did for Abraham – a promise she could count on.

Tweet: Relying on God’s promise is my first step in conquering comparison. – #OverItBook

“The angel added, ‘I will increase your descendants so much that they will be too numerous to count.’” Genesis 16:10 NIV

God had a plan for Hagar. By listening to His voice instead of the destructive words of comparison, she took a bold step. She believed the promise.

Sometimes that first step is all we need to get back on the right path. The question is:

Am I ready to take that bold step? Am I willing to rely on God’s promise and let go of comparison?

My answer is a resounding yes. Will you join me? I’d love to share with you more about Hagar and two other remarkable women in Scripture. Through their stories we can uncover the secret to overcoming comparison.

And when we do, we will also discover God’s plan for us is more than we could ever imagine possible.

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Over It SPINE (1)The Over It book is available on Amazon in paperback or e-book.  To purchase your copy, click here. ***Proceeds from the sale of each book will benefit the More Than Yourself, Inc. scholarship program.

Author Bio 1Kristine Brown is a writer, dramatist, and teacher. She helps women and teen girls navigate the ups and downs of real life. Kristine devotes her time to family, freelance writing, and her non-profit ministry, More Than Yourself, Inc. You can read more about her book at www.morethanyourself.com/over-it. Connect with Kristine on Twitter, Pinterest, and Facebook.