Purposeful Faith

Tag - expectations

Why Our Attempts to Create Our Own Personal Jesus Will Fail Every Time

Blog Post by Abby McDonald

I used to approach friendship with a long list of expectations. Things I thought a friend should do. A space I thought my friend should fill.

Instead of extending grace, I was disappointed when friends didn’t follow through with what they said they’d do. I didn’t care whether they had kids and or whether the unexpected happened.

All I saw was my set of rules.

“A true friend wouldn’t do that.”

“If she was your friend, she would keep her word.”

What’s even sadder is I approached my relationship with God the same way. Instead of coming to the throne of grace wanting to know him, I came with my expectations.

But my expectations weren’t based on promises in his Word. They were based on my notions of what he should be and what he should do for me.

“If he is God, he will answer this prayer.”

“He didn’t answer this prayer, so he must not care about me.”

All this time I walked around feeling lonely and defeated, God still loved me. He still heard my prayers and you know what? He still answered them.

He just didn’t answer them in the way I wanted or expected. During a season, I didn’t see his hand at all because I was so razor focused on certain details of my life.

When we try to create our own personal Jesus, we will fail every time. Because God is not a god of our creation. He is infinite, going far beyond our limited minds.

But what’s amazing is we can have a relationship with him. When we want more of him, he meets us where we are. He gives us his Word as a living tool to guide us and show us his heart. Take the story about Mary and Martha, for example.

Most of us know this story, and Martha often gets a bad rap. This pains me, because what Martha did wasn’t wrong. Serving God and wanting help was not the issue.

The problem was instead of expecting Jesus to be God, Martha expected Jesus to do what she wanted. She came with her expectations and preconceived ideas of what a Messiah who cared would do. When he didn’t meet her expectations, she was disappointed.

Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone?

Luke 10:40 ESV

In other words, “Lord if you cared you would not let her leave me here.”

And Jesus corrects her not out of condemnation, but out of love. He says Mary chose what was more important. Mary chose knowing him.

Friends, we will always have expectations. It’s how our brains are wired and God knows this.

But freedom comes when we’re willing to hold loosely to our expectations and come to him in surrender. When we say, “God, I may not understand what you’re doing but I trust that you love me anyway.”

When we let go of our notions of who we think God should be, we can know him for who he truly is.

He is faithful to give us glimpses of his character and love. He shows us his ways and his plans and gives us hope.

Let’s lay our aside our expectations today and come to him with open hands.

Let’s have faith in what we don’t see, and bring glory to the One who sees us.

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Abby McDonald is the mom of three, a wife and writer whose hope is show readers their identity is found in Christ alone, not the noise of the world. When she’s not chasing their two boys or cuddling their newest sweet girl, you can find her drinking copious amounts of coffee while writing about her adventures on her blog. Abby would love to connect with you on her blog and her growing Facebook community.

When Life Goes Not Good, Not Good at all!

Not Good at all

I love Annie’s all-chocolate graham cracker bunnies and only the all-chocolate graham cracker bunnies.

At this point, you are probably asking 2 questions:

  1. Why is she telling us this?  I promise there will be a good point.
  2. Why is she eating something so childish as that? Because I try to pretend my kids love them.

So, sometimes, with these all-chocolate graham bunnies, they run out of stock (probably because they are so amazing). Then I have to settle for the mixed bag – with vanilla and chocolate chips. I try to pick out my favorites. But, my all-time fave bunnies, well, they don’t taste the same- the other flavors rub off on them.

Almost every time, after I do that, I vow not to buy that mixed bag again. But, yesterday, I did. My sugar craving won over bad memories.

When I sat down with the bag at home, I considered…

What if I saw things differently?

What if rather than expecting that these bunnies taste exactly as planned,
I expect a different plan,

but not an all-together bad plan?

What if rather than pushing my demands,
I open myself up to delight in these bunnies as they are – in a new way?

I can accept:

They won’t be as flavorful as before, but different.
They won’t crunch exactly the same, but different.
They won’t be my all-chocolate bunnies; but different.

I crunched, munched and considered them a whole bunch…and by golly, I liked them. I really liked them. I do like green egg and ham, or rather the vanilla-coated chocolate bunnies in my hand.

If I failed to consider them from a new angle,
I would have failed to grasp the joy present in the moment.

How might you need to see things from a new angle?

What might God be prompting you to let go of – so you can grab hold of – a new view?

Times change. People move on. Days look different. Life evolves, turns and seasons change. And what I find can be the hardest thing to contend with are good times, gone. Good memories, lost. Good laughs, evaporated.

What is it you are still grasping for – that is long gone?

Might you consider a new angle?

Perhaps what is good is gone, because what is great – is coming.

Have you considered that?

See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?
I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland. Is. 43:19

When we look at a job as dead-end, we miss the little path God has jutting out to a new opportunity. When we see a marriage as failed, we miss the rail that leans us onto God’s great love. When we see finances as doomed, we miss the door God wants to open to save us. When we see our anxiety as endless, we miss the small prompting of new life God calls us to. When we see life only as overwhelming, we miss the wind of God directing us where to go.

What are you missing?

Maybe something has taken new form because God wants your heart to take new form.

We are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit. 2 Cor. 3:18

Next time something seems lost, paused or different than expected, ask yourself these three things:

  1. Might God be doing “a new thing”?
  2. Am I open armed or closed armed to his movement?
  3. Will I believe that God is moving me from glory to glory,
    or will I walk against his wind, trying to step back into an old story?

Friends, I know it is hard. I hate it too. I stomp my feet, I chide change and I turn my back on things outside of comfortable. But, I am going to assure you – and me – we are not sitting with a mixed bag of blah. What we are sitting with is a bag of blessings. God is moving us into spiritual progress, greater spiritual blessings. There is fullness God so desires we enjoy.

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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.

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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Missing Your Real Calling

Missing Your Real Calling

Day in and day out, I write on this blog.

Monday comes. I write.
Tuesday. I write.
Wednesday. I write.
You get the point…

When God goes about calling,
one is wise to go about doing the following.

We all know that, right?

Three things normally happens when one listens to God:
1. They learn things shocking about themselves or become shockingly healed.
2. They get a chance to break their selfish bones and regrow more humble.
3. They find themselves falling in love – more and more with Christ.

So, what confounds me is – if there are so many wins about serving God,
why do I sometimes feel I am running a losing game?

One where I get dry-heaving on a track that never ends
and all the same never gets me past my personal victory line?

It sometimes feels like an endless cycle of wanting – more?
Is this how God intended it to be?

When I began writing, each morning, I prayed. I asked God to give me the right word for the right person at the right time. It need not reach millions, just one. I sought his heart over mattered. I worked accordingly.

I listened. I expected. I believed.

Yet as time went on…

Little voices started to out-speak God. Other megaphones got louder, and his soft whisper got muted. Other’s progress got apparent and mine looked lousy. Other holes of insignificance and insecurity developed within me, and I demanded writing fill them.

I rushed. I hurried. I doubted.

I planned and agenda’d. I saw futures, perhaps, he didn’t. I told people to get close to God, when I myself, was existing not as close to God.

I sounded a little like this:  I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.” (Luke 18:12)

Recognize the voice? It is called: Pharisee.

Pharisee = One who talks God but walks far from God.
Pharisee = One who tells others, but can’t hear himself.
Pharisee = One consumed with facades and not the face of his heart.
Pharisee = One driven by power, not powerlessness before the Powerful One.
Pharisee = One who resembles purity on the outside, but looks like dead and flaky sin on the inside.

Do you look something like a Pharisee?

In work? At home? With kids?

With your husband? In life?

In a way we all do.
Little tip: Admission and confession is the first way to stop Pharisee in its tracks.

Jesus had these kinds of words for Pharisee-types: You Pharisees and teachers of the Law of Moses are in for trouble! You’re nothing but show-offs. You lock people out of the kingdom of heaven. You won’t go in yourselves, and you keep others from going in. (Mt. 23:13-14)

Wow! Them are hefty words! Certainly, Jesus won’t shut out believers, but we can certainly shut the door right on his face!

Clearly, Christ warns – he doesn’t endorse this kind of behavior. It never does, nor never will, get his stamp of approval, his blessing nor his push behind it.

And, if it doesn’t have Jesus, I don’t want it, do you?

Really, receive this word for a moment – If it doesn’t have Jesus, I don’t want it.

Do you believe that? Live that way?

Jesus stands at the door and knocks (Rev. 3:2). Will we open it and welcome him in?  Not voices, not pressures, not demands, not schedules, not editors, not pride, not progress-climbing, not  one-upping, not social climbing, not ambition – but Jesus? Love.

Love in. Love poured out.
Humility restored. Humility abounding.
Grace upon grace. Grace upon grace dispersed.
Open arms. Grabbing the likes of our poor soul – others who need help.

Jesus always brings wins (see number 1-3 above for reminder), when we abide in him, with him and through him in every moment of our limited moments that make up this thing called – life.

Let’s not outpace the champion, for I fear, at some point, we might look back and see we ran the race as – the loser.

We don’t want this. We want to live in Christ’s victory. We want to go – with Him, because he is the way. The only way. The winning way. Every. Single. Time. Let’s hold on to that.

God, I am sorry. Please help me. Help me and then help me some more. You are all I need. Amen.  

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Breaking Normal to Find Phenomenal

Breaking Normal

The coach stopped me in my tracks with this soccer drill. It was meant for toddlers, but it was sent by God for me. It burst my bubble of known, it tossed out the waste of old and it rolled in eye-opening insight that would redecorate my heart with truth.

Who knew soccer was so good for mental health?!

4 cones.
One square.
No space.
3 Kids.

“Go!”

My son tried to move, no dice (or rather, no goal!). He tried to inch forward, but couldn’t gain traction. He tried to kick, but his ball bounced off his companions’. He tried to run, but, the two collided like blind bulls. Boing!!!

Yet, amidst the mayhem and the maniacal movements of the inept, the coach broke through “crazy” with two words, “Break Out!”

And so they did.  Kids, ran left, right and nearly out of sight! Like bees set free they could chart a destination on a course that was possible, feasible and liberating all at the same.  If I could have I would have cheered this moment, saying, “Go, free ones, go. Now you can fly!”

The coach would too and, together, we would breathe a sigh of relief.

What small confines are you stuck in –
trying to plow your way through?

What is not giving you an iota of movement,
yet still, you fight for tooth and nail?

When we are so pressed against everything, we can’t enter the huge field of opportunity the Lord has set before us. We see the Promised Land, but our eyes keep us kicking around in the small perimeter of everyone else’s movements.

They are set on our competition.
They become obsessed with personal performance.
They see each kick like an eternal report card of worth.
Moves become belabored and burdensome.
Irritation mounts.
Aggravation scores.
We lose!

God becomes distant.

“He’s out in left-field somewhere!”

Break Out! 

When we get hyper-focused on numbers, feedback, criticisms, critiques, God says, “Break out!”
When we start looking at everyone else’s progress, toys and accomplishments, God says, “Break out!”
When we start fearing our ability to succeed, God says, “Break out!”
When we start feeling our chest constrict into the fist of anxiety, God says, “Break out!”
When we start to be man’s responses, God says, “Break out!”
When we are obeying strategies and growth plans first and foremost, God says, “Break out!”
When we are sure we will surely be marginal at best, God says, “Break out!”
When we start making the past the predictor of our future, God says, “Break out!”
When we see the bad surrounding, the pressing in indwelling, God says, “Break out!”
When we doubt calling, God says, “Break out!”
When we wonder if we are any good, God says, “Break out!”
When we box ourself into sameness, God says, “Break out!”
When we look at boundaries and limitations, God says, “Break out!”

Get out of the box, push over the boundary and fly to the place where God is.

If you’re goal is to be with him, it is a goal that can’t be blocked.

It’s a goal that wins the game every time – heck, it wins the World Cup, for that matter!

Run into the freedom of open air.
Bask in the place of his prompting.
Skip to the place of true calling.
Jump to the heights of unrestrained love.
Fall into the depths of incalculable peace.
Sit in the field of rest.
Move to the new places, no one has transversed.
Win there! That is where you win!

We find our little slice of heaven on earth, carved out for us in the here and now,
in the freedom found, not in doing what the world and demands and people tell us,
but found in the unusual, uncharted and unknown callings of him.

No one ever got anywhere by kicking around in the complacent and crazy confines of controlled chaos. Just ponder. Many of the “Great Remarkables” became remarkable because they stopped caring if the world called them remarkable and they just followed God.

Simple. He is speaking. Are we listening?

Look at the woman at the well. She became well because she broke free from confines at the well – so her mouth could not confine her truth of liberation.

“Come, see a man who told me everything I ever did. Could this be the Messiah?” Jo. 4:30

She had to break out of world-made form though. Do you see this power yet?

She had to trample form that told her Jews don’t talk with Samaritans.
She had to push through the fact that talking women should have husbands present.
She had to push away the fact that rabbis shouldn’t speak to sluts.

She had to break out!

To step out of the box of confines to be unconfined.

What is God ready to break out on your behalf as you break out?

God isn’t found in the small boxes of safe, of expected, of normal, of man and of “steps for success”, he is found in the wild land of adventure, pursuit and nonconformity in him, by faith and through Christ.

Break out! Today, see what holds you in and push past it in the name of Jesus. Zig and zag his way. Run arms open. Sprint into his fields of purpose.

Don’t just read this and move on, but listen and press in. Promise me that. If you don’t think this is for you, think again, it is, especially for you. What is he calling you to?

My break out: I will not intentionally look at post or visitor statistics. My words are an incense being released solely on behalf of his beauty – from my heart to his, uncensored, untouched and unchangeable by man. And so they will be. And so I will go into the field of his providence, trusting.

What is yours?

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When You Hit A Wall and Love Breaks

Love Breaks

He built a tower. 

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

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

How often are we just like my son?

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

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

A portion of our tower, crumbles.

Why do you allow this God?

Whey do you let the good fall?

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

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

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

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

Think about Joshua, so many years ago.

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

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

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

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

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

A big ole’ ugly and tall wall!

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

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

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

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

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

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

God claims the victory. The walls fall.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

God has good stored up for you.

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

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

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Putting God Above the Need to Please

Need to Please

Blog Post by Abby McDonald

I’ll never forget the sound. It was hundreds of pounds of files and metal crashing down on my three-year-old son but to me it sounded like one thing: disaster.

The impact was followed by the shrill scream of my child. In complete panic I ran from my parents’ kitchen to see him lying there with the filing cabinet on top of him.

With strength I didn’t know I possessed, I lifted the weight from him, consoled him and examined his body. As I wrapped my arms around him my mind repeated the question, “How did this happen?”

Later, when my family discussed the mishap, my husband explained how our son didn’t need to be able to move the entire cabinet on his own. He simply had to put it off balance. Once several drawers came out, it only took a small push to send it toppling over.

So often in life, I am like my son. The drawers are projects, service opportunities and responsibilities, and often I have several pulled out at the same time. My balance gets awry and I need to lighten the load, but instead I take on more.

I put the desire to please others above the gentle nudges from God to rest.

The longer I ignore his promptings the more irritable I become, until I am a frazzled mom and wife with little left to offer anyone other than scraps of time. Like the crashing filing cabinet, I lose all sense of stability. Instead of being intentional with my priorities, I am a mess.

 In Romans, Paul tells us, “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is- his good, pleasing and perfect will.” Romans 12:2 NIV

When I listen to the world instead of that still, small voice, I take on more assignments than I can handle. His love cannot pour out of me because I am a depleted vessel.

God wants to transform our minds so we can discern what he has for us rather than heeding to every tug of those around us. He desires the best for our lives, and is glorified when we use the gifts and abilities he’s given us. Often, this means declining requests for our time so we can spend it where the he wants us to be.

To this people pleaser, the hardest word to tell others is “no.” But often this is the exact word God is asking me to say.

After watching my son over the next day, we were confident he was alright. I uttered praises for God’s protection in a moment which could have been devastating.

The beautiful truth is that those moments when life is reeling and we lose our balance, God can still redeem our time. When we listen to his voice instead of the world’s, he can turn our mistakes into testimonies of his grace.

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*Photo Credit

Guest Contributor

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

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

Dreaming of Being Used By God

used by God

Here I am Lord.
Will you use me?

I am trying Lord.
Will you help me?

I am hoping Lord.
Will you come through for me?

I am dreaming Lord.
Will you send me?

It is easy to look at our dreams and think they are the answer to our joy.
It is easy to look at another and think they have all we dreamed of – and more.
It is easy to face our rejections and to let them destroy us.

In many ways, we have set up our structures of hope and we have decided how they should be built. We know who needs to be involved, how we will put them together, what will make up the parts to success, but do we miss out in this process of self-promoting and self-reliance?

Does God have more hidden behind that structure
we have erected in our mind that we can’t see?

Might it be waiting, unseen,
because our mind is sprinting in another direction?

I know, for me, I miss out when:

  • I start becoming so focused on my blue prints that
    I miss the blessing God has sheltered in the “now”.
  • I see that girl and decide my structure looks like a shack in a third world country.
  • Questions become probing inquiries to steal my goods.
  • A request becomes an opportunity for another to use me.
  • My accomplishments become the savior of my insecurities.

This is exactly why God speaks this verse: Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others. Phil. 2:3-4

God is so smart; sometimes he has to protect me from me.

God seems to know that the greatest gift is not found in me, but it is found in the outpouring of love found in him.

It’s almost like God says,
“Hey, you’re blocking the view of what I really have for you –
the needy hearts in front of you.”

“You will miss them with your eyes focused on your own plans,
your own ways and your own dreams.
If it is my dream, I will make it for you.
You need not stress, but until then, don’t run after ambition,
run after a heart to love.
I fill in all the gaps.”

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

I am going to listen to the truth of these words. Will you?

There are so many around. So many who need us.

They hurt and wait for someone to see that tear in their eye.
They hurt and hope for an arm to go around their shoulder.
They hurt and dream of a helping hand.
They hurt and they wait for our love.
They hurt and God wants us to meet them.

Much in the same way we hurt – they are hurting too.

What we will see is that, often, we end up needing them more than they ever needed us. God ends up using them to shape us and form us and make us into the vehicle that brings our dreams to life. 

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Are you a She Speaks Attendee?
Get armored up with 3 more powerful posts to encourage you:

1. When the Recognition Doesn’t Come by Abby McDonald
2. When You’re Cheering on the Sidelines by Katie Reid
3. Where Are My Blessings God? by Kelly Balarie

 

When the Recognition Doesn’t Come

Blog Post by Abby McDonald

I waited a week for acknowledgement that the gift was received. A book I carefully picked out for this season of his life when he was groping for meaning and purpose.

I opted for the express shipping so it would be there in time for his birthday. My anticipation of his reaction mounted.

But the gratitude never came. There was no text, no thank you. I went online to make sure the package was delivered and saw it had.

It was as though the attempt to reach out never happened.

Self-defeat and pity consumed me. Why did I bother? Why did I make an effort when time and time again it wasn’t reciprocated?

An old wound was irritated. I knew I needed to address the source of pain, but I waited.

When a similar situation happened weeks later, I could no longer ignore the ache. I longed for recognition of the love I was pouring into those around me. I watched as others received pats on the back and validation.

In quiet moments between the fluster of a home with two young boys, I searched for peace. I asked the Creator to show me his heart.

Here’s the thing about asking the Father to reveal himself to you: He always delivers. It may not be on our timeline or in the way we prefer, but his response is as sure as the dew after a slow rain.

In another room I could hear my three-year-old begging for praise from big brother. He’d just put together the choo-choo and to him, it was a lifetime achievement worthy of celebration.

The desire to be seen was as deep and innate in him as breathing.

I flipped through my Bible trying to grasp the life behind the words on the page, but the syllables fell flat. Turning pages aimlessly, I landed in John.

Jesus was talking with the Jews, who were persecuting him because he equated himself with the Father. They wanted witnesses who could testify to the truth.

But the Father is the only witness Jesus needs.

“I am the one who testifies for myself; my other witness is the Father, who sent me.” John 8:18 NIV

Even though the Jews didn’t see Jesus’ heart and eternal worth, the Father did. And he sees mine too. But often, my actions say my identity in Him isn’t enough.

I run after accolades and gold stars, but the only credit I need is from my Creator. He approved me, sealed me and delivered me.

I crave the spotlight and the center stage, but on God’s stage we are all equals.

If I walk in step with the Spirit, his witness is sufficient. Everything I have is a gift from Him, and I am simply pouring it into others so that they may experience the life he gives.

Friends, there is nothing wrong with recognition and encouragement. In fact, scripture tells us to encourage each other and build each other up. (1 Thessalonians 5:11)

But this type of acknowledgment is conditional and fleeting, while God’s adoration is unconditional and eternal.

Whose favor am I seeking most?

Months after my seemingly forgotten gift, I was visiting family. My loved one brought the book out and told me how much it meant to him. As he opened it to talk about a particular passage, I saw pages filled with marks from his highlighter and thoughts written in the margins.

Despite my flawed impression, he saw my heart.

And your Father in Heaven sees yours too.

Get all Purposeful Faith blog posts via email – click here.

*Photo Credit

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

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

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