When I haven’t made time for my husband, I get annoyed at the dishes left on the counter, I internally count the ways he’s forgetting stuff and I launch mean words. Distance creates more distance. It’s as if I see him through different eyes. It’s as if, he, the love of my life, I only kind of know. I rely on him less. I turn inward; I become self-reliant.
It happens just the same with God.
Consider Eve. The serpent came, lured her with something apparently better than intimacy. She bit off a hunk of it, hid, covered in shame and then heard God as a distant voice.
Sin distanced Eve, then Eve distanced herself.
How have you distanced God through guilt and shame laden choices? How are you choosing to distance yourself today?
Are you running, hiding, excusing, blaming, rationalizing, ignoring – the problem? No catastrophe has ever been diverted by ignoring it. But, you can overcome even the worst catastrophes with the help of the Overcomer.
The strategy of overcoming is simple: Come near to God and he will come near to you. Ja. 4:8
God calls us back. Here’s how to draw close again:
Return with confidence. All that exists at the throne of grace is grace; it pours out from him who is grace to us who need grace. We simply turn away from what kept us from God – and find Him.Therefore let us confidently approach the throne of grace to receive mercy and find grace whenever we need help. (Heb. 4:16)2
Remember there is no barrier. While there used to be a high priest who could go near to the “Most Holy Place” one time a year, today, through the hope of Jesus Christ nothing holds us back.You (for the law made nothing perfect), and a better hope is introduced, by which we draw near to God. (Heb. 7:19)
Reflect on the truth: Jesus is for you. The ultimate high priest lives to intercede for you. He is for you and working on your behalf.Therefore He is able to save completely those who come to God through him… he lives to intercede for them. (Heb. 7:25)
Respond with a sincere heart. You can be truthful because God is faithful. You can trust him to take care of you.Since we have confidence to enter the sanctuary by the blood of Jesus…let us draw near with a sincere heart in the assurance that faith brings… (Heb. 10:19-22)
“The Lord is near to all who call upon Him, to all who call upon Him in truth.” (Psalm 145:18)
Pop Quiz: What is a very small thing in size that has a gigantic impact regarding the direction of your life?
Clue: It moves, kind of flippantly, up and down.
Got it yet?
This should help: “Look at the ships also: though they are so large and are driven by strong winds, they are guided by a very small rudder wherever the will of the pilot directs. So also the tongue is a small member, yet it boasts of great things. How great a forest is set ablaze by such a small fire! And the tongue is a fire, a world of unrighteousness. The tongue is set among our members, staining the whole body, setting on fire the entire course of life, and set on fire by hell.” James 3:3-6
It can speak liberty or captivity that sinks a heart.
It can speak faith or fear that you’ll always live in the basement and never get anywhere in life.
It can tell you you’ll be stuck in that dead-end job with a boss you hate or
it can profess glory, glory, glory and holy, holy, holy!
It can rip a person apart and spit them out like day old coffee or
it can savor the goodness of others and remind them of it with an intentional word of kindness.
It can blabber about a person who never should have taken your parking space like that,
a family member who is so wrong, an insensitive and unthoughtful husband,
or it can cut through the tension and speak aloud every virtue of God.
It can send you into high places, with high people to confess high things of importance,
or it can keep stuck in the gutter, speaking a whole litany of unholy words that keep you unhappy.
It can halt its movement and literally change the density of another’s heart,
moving a person from defensive to receptive in an instant.
How do you use your tongue?
I can almost hear you all glaring back at me, saying, “Well, Kelly, how do you use your tongue?”
Not so well, friends. This lesson, and every lesson I write, really, is for me because, much more than dwelling on the immensity of God, I taste and swallow negativity. I constantly internally talk about the ways I’m failing to make good meals, spend enough time with the kids before bedtime and open up the door to my husband when he arrives home with a smile and thoughtful motives, like not bombarding him with the daily happenings at first sight of his brown hair. I, then, throw out words, like daggers, because I feel bad about myself.
It’s not easy.
The problem is, my tongue likes to go. My mouth wants to speak, incessantly. My complaints, grievances and objections are many. It is very hard to shut the trap when it wants to catch something wrong, and, golly day, and fix it with my words.
But, fault-pointing words usually fix nothing. And, all they end up trapping is me – in dejection, demotivation and frustration. Get me out of here – I’m stuck!!!
“Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruits.” Prov. 18:21
By looking deep into this verse, it appears, just as much as my words can get me stuck in a rut – or kill me, they can also lift me out of ruts, and feed me. I like that. I like the idea my words can literally provide me sustenance, food and energy. I like that by changing the course of my words, I can change the course of my life. I can move into into go-mode, into vision and into purpose that surpasses my own thoughts, limitations and plans.
5 Ways to Use Your Tongue to Change the Course of Your Life (for the better):
Constantly speak what is excellent, true, pure, good, right, honorable, admirable, praiseworthy (Phil. 4:8). If it doesn’t fall in one of those categories, carry it on over to the trash can and dispose of it. It should be taken to the dump instead of coming out of your mouth like a stinky mess bound to hurt you and leave you overwhelmingly frustrated that your life doesn’t look better.
Let Praise Be Your Chatter. If you lift God up with your tongue, you’ll lift your mind up too. It is natural. You can’t be acknowledging the magnificence and the righteousness of God and still be stuck in a hole. He grabs you and pulls you up to heavenly perspectives when you do some fine-tuning.
Say thanks. Thank you that you have great plans for me, God. Thank you, husband, you are so thoughtful. Thank you, children, you are listening so well. Thank you, self, you are giving your whole heart to speaking carefully and intentionally. Thank you, world, I have such a great opportunity not to react, but to reach out to you and share Jesus
Speak humility. Best said, this means letting the voice of Jesus go before you. It means letting his heart be your words. It means letting his holy verses take flight so they come shooting out of your mouth before your own perceptions or intentions rule you (I know, not easy!). But, it is possible. We have the mind of Christ, which means, it should change us to speak with the mouth of Christ.
Don’t use it: don’t open your mouth, don’t utter a word, don’t speak a sigh, don’t offer a grunt, don’t release a criticism, don’t give flight to judgement. There are times, when the best speech you can give is silence. The best course of treatment you can give is dead air. Why? Because it is often in the lack of words, that God pours out the abundance of grace that changes a person’s heart from contemptuous to contrite.
This very small part has the ability to lead people to Christ, to change demeanors, to open eyes, to counsel the needy through disasters, to promote love, to inflict compassion and to listen. It’s amazing.
Let’s choose to use it as it was intended to be: a weapon of goodness that cuts through people’s hearts using the sword of the spirit, God’s Word. This is effective speech:
Parlaying his majesty into the day that lays ahead of you.
Speaking his glory into the places where you feel hurt.
Highlighting truth in the midst of emotions that are as wild as a bucking bronco.
Correcting another (or yourself) with the tone of compassion, grace and mercy.
Singing wonder about all that He has created.
Recounting the many times – God’s shown up in your life and how he remains consistent. Reflecting on the limitless nature of His power and being okay with it sitting on you.
Declaring his faithfulness, returning to this truth once again.
Demonstrating his humility, speaking less and listening more.
Let it out. Be not ashamed. Be not restrained. Be forthcoming. Be powerful. Change your life and change theirs.
There was nothing different about the day, in comparison to any other day, but what hovered over me was a generalized feeling of – “Blah!”
I prayed. Blah!
I sought God. Blah!
I worshipped. Still…blah!
No breakthrough. Nothing. Just annoyance that my spirit still felt as stuck as ever.
What is wrong with me? My heart can’t seem to embrace truth, peace, hope – God.
It’s in a moment like this, we go down one of three paths. We:
Get frustrated and angry at ourselves, declaring we are faulted and worthless. We heap guilt upon ourselves.
Decide God has left us and turn away from Him, because, we figure, he turned away from us.
Keep on seeking. Keep on praying. Keep on proclaiming truth. And, persevere.
I’ve traveled all three. Just this week, I’ve spent a lot of time on paths 1 & 2. Here, all I could see were overwhelming signs I was not doing things right for God. My heart is falling off a ravine, my feelings are stuck in thorn bushes, God’s plans for me are somewhere ahead in that vast fog.
Here’s where I end up: I need to work harder, pray better, try more and be a better person to recieve God’s love. I carry the baggage of discouragement and doubt. I sit annoyed and flustered by life.
Have you landed here too? Are you struggling to believe God? To hold close his promises because you can’t seem to get close enough to God?
I want to tell you something that will reassure you: This is likely a spiritual attack.
If you are getting after God, with your whole heart, but distraction, lies or discouragement won’t shake off you, you are likely being hit by the enemy. If you are pursuing clarity, but all you find is confusion, you are likely being hit by the enemy. If you are giving God your whole heart, but still feeling tired, worn and weary, you are likely being hit by the enemy.
The good thing about this is: Victory is as won – as you are you. The one against us, cannot effectively come against the cross. Jesus is, forever and always, high and lifted. There is no undoing his reign. His opportunities, insights and wisdom is already ours.
With this, the enemy’s only strategy is to make us believe he can undo what Jesus did. His only opportunity is a fake. He diverts us left and if we move with him, and take our eyes off truth, we lose God. But, if we stand firm and don’t give in to his fake, we stand firm. We move towards the goal of Christ Jesus.
So, with this, let us stand firm in truth. Let us allow it to sink into our mind, then into our heart and then down to our feet, so that we walk out with such assurance, nothing – no way, no how – can shake us.
Here is our arsenal, our power and our stand – these verses:
Behold, I give you the authority to trample on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall by any means hurt you.” (Luke 10:19)
The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and he helps me. My heart leaps for joy, and with my song I praise him. (Ps. 28:7)
Through You we will push down our enemies; through Your name we will trample those who rise up against us. For I will not trust in my bow, nor shall my sword save me. But You have saved us from our enemies, and have put to shame those who hated us. In God we boast all day long, and praise Your name forever. (Psalm 44:5)
“For the eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to show Himself strong on behalf of those whose heart is loyal to Him. (2 Chronicles 16:9)
… but the people who know their God shall be strong, and carry out great exploits. (Daniel 11:32)
For our gospel did not come to you in word only, but also in power, and in the Holy Spirit … (1 Thessalonians 1:5)
For the kingdom of God is not a matter of talk but of power. (1 Corinthians 4:20)
But the anointing which you have received from Him abides in you … (1 John 2:27)
No weapon formed against you shall prosper, and every tongue which rises against you in judgment you shall condemn. This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord, and their righteousness is from me,” says the Lord. (Isaiah 54:17)
Blessed be the Lord my Rock, who trains my hands for war, and my fingers for battle – my lovingkindness and my fortress, my high tower and my deliverer, my shield and the One in whom I take refuge, who subdues my people under me. (Psalm 144:1)
“For You are my lamp, O Lord; the Lord shall enlighten my darkness. For by You I can run against a troop; by my God I can leap over a wall. As for God, His way is perfect; the word of the Lord is proven; He is a shield to all who trust in Him. (2 Samuel 22:29)
Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called when you made your good confession in the presence of many witnesses. (1 Tim. 6:12)
It is God who arms me with strength and keeps my way secure. Ps. 18:32
For You have girded me with strength for battle; You have subdued under me those who rose up against me. Ps. 18:39
As for me, You uphold me in my integrity, And You set me in Your presence forever. (Ps. 41:12)
The Lord GOD is my strength, And He has made my feet like hinds’ feet, And makes me walk on my high places. (Ha. 3:19)
Behold, God is my helper; The Lord is the sustainer of my soul. Ps. 54:4
I hadn’t thought of it like that. But, perhaps she was right.
I should get it. I am owed it. I’ve missed out, been singled out, treated poorly. Suddenly, she confirmed my worst fears.
I’ve been taken advantage of.
In a split second, her statement touched an open nerve, exposing all I-don’t-have, but should. The words grabbed me hook line and sinker. They make me want to get mad, to fight. Maybe, with some effort to get what I really deserve; I’ll feel 100% happy.
What do you feel you deserve? What have you been passive-aggressively implying you’re owed?
I suppose, under the cover of my steel lid, I’ve been slowly simmering with the idea I deserve respect, answers, and kindness from people. I deserve them to pull through for me. I deserve their help.
Yet (and this is the part that really gets to me – and hard to embrace), Jesus didn’t demand much. Jesus wasn’t known for saying he deserved things – even though he deserved everything. Actually, rather than taking what he deserved, he gave to the world what they didn’t deserve – his very own body.
He got broken for me, when he could’ve stayed enthroned, without me.
If Jesus is my role model…
If I really follow him…
I deserve nothing… but, through Christ, gain everything… the ability to love… to receive grace and to delight in the journey of being with God... …it is more than enough.
It really is. It truly is.
I lose peace when I start to think otherwise. I lose freedom too.
I can do nothing on my own…I seek not my own will but the will of him who sent me. Jo. 5:30
It’s a war of the world for the heart. There’s a tug one direction saying: fight for yourself. Then, there’s the Spirit’s tug the opposite direction saying: Die to yourself and live with me. And, there’s God’s truth saying: While you are silent, I’m fighting for you. (Ex. 14:14)
What if we gave up all our ways – to seek God’s? What might happen? I wonder what might happen to the world if – instead of fighting, we started loving? Call me simplistic or idealistic, but somehow, I not only think this is what God calls us to do, but he, in the process, sets us free to do.
The power isn’t in getting, but in giving.
Hatred stirs up strife, but love covers all transgressions. Prov. 10:12
Love never fails… 1 Cor. 14:7
Quick-fire Prayer: May I have eyes from above to shed love. May I not seek to gain the world, but extend a hand to it. May I fight not for my ways, but give up all my ways, in order to find Jesus.
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“I just want you to be able to earn a good living.”
“Don’t you want me to be happy?”
“What is happiness, Kelly?”
All I wanted to do, as I sat there and stared at the college buildings before me, was declare my major Psychology. Dad didn’t agree. He wanted to make sure I was provided for, secure and set on a good track for the rest of my life.
“Kelly, I think business, law or medicine makes the most sense for you.”
The plan was changing before my eyes. I’d no longer change the lives of the brokenhearted, heal their pain and comfort them in their time of need – I’d work on a profit and loss sheets. My shoulders slumped, because, in motion, was a huge change of plans.
Four years later, I graduated from business school.
A change of plans can feel heartbreaking. Frustrating. And, sometimes, heart-damaging.
It can leave you asking God:
Why did you leave me behind? Didn’t you know I wanted this? How could you do this to me?
What change of plans has left you hands-on-hips frustrated?
In a place you don’t want to be? Rejected?
They seem to pop up all the time. Sometimes I expect them to come. Sadly, I feel my excitement is about to be stomped out and I go into life fearing. You too?
With this, I figured, it’d be interesting to discover the biblical-why to changed plans.
Here are 4 reasons why plans change:
Satan thwarted the plan. Sometimes, where you’re going is so opposed, you can’t move forward. I don’t confess to know why God permits it, but what I do know is we serve a good God, who takes bad situations and makes them work to our favor. In that we can trust.
For we wanted to come to you–certainly I, Paul, did, again and again–but Satan blocked our way. 1 Thess. 2:18
God wants to bless you with spiritual riches. I am sure to Simon, carrying the cross was the last thing he expected to do. In the moment, he probably hated carrying that grueling load. Looking back, however, it was probably the greatest honor of his life. He got to be there – with Jesus and for Jesus – in his time of need.
A certain man from Cyrene, Simon, the father of Alexander and Rufus, was passing by on his way in from the country, and they forced him to carry the cross” (Mark 15:21).
God is moving us back to his will. We might think our way is the best way, but no matter how odd, difficult or unusual, God’s will always is what is best for us.
Matthew 16:21-23 21 From that time on Jesus began to explain to his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things…and be killed and on the third day…Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. “Never, Lord!” he said. “This shall never happen to you!” Jesus turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the concerns of God, but merely human concerns.”
In their hearts humans plan their course, but the LORD establishes their steps.
The Holy Spirit is directing you according to the will of God. God knows where he needs his foot soldiers. He knows where to send his paramedics. He sees the field of war from the air. He is moving with a clear mission.
Paul and his companions traveled throughout the region of Phrygia and Galatia, having been kept by the Holy Spirit from preaching the word in the province of Asia. Acts 16:6
Change of plans are not outside God’s plan. Make no mistake, our changes of plans are under the authority of the One who controls all plans. Where you are today, is not an accident or an impediment to how God wants to use you, grow you or send you out. It is not a red light to your dreams or a path that cannot be met in full come the future. It is not a lost opportunity, but one that can be made up in a split-second, a million times better than you ever imagined.
Don’t lose hope. God is God for a reason. We are under his reign because his reign is best. We can rest, heart calm, in this fact.
Just look at me today, I am a blogger, encouraging people like me – ones who at times feel brokenhearted, discouraged or downcast – people who need a helping hand. Isn’t it interesting how God brought me back around to what he created me to do? As I figure it, my role is even more valuable than a counselor, for I point people to the only Counselor who truly heals – Jesus. He had a plan.
I hung this up in my house. It represented Fall and a call to believe God. I liked it.
Until the door got shut too hard. Belief fell.
Doors get shut, faith falls. Ever noticed? Opportunities dissolve – it appears God won’t solve anything. People hurt – it feels God doesn’t care. Sicknesses, emotions and accidents happen – all of a sudden, you can’t figure out what happened to God and you’ve gotta do things on your own.
The door that slammed into you broke God’s goodness.
Has this happened to you?
Maybe it is hard to see, feel or walk by the great things God has planned for you?
To walk, by faith, is to walk by God’s sight, in his full might.
To walk, not by faith, is to walk with no might, relying on your demise in sight.
When we walk aimlessly between these two, we walk crippled. We blindly stumble over Jesus’ victory – we fall into victimhood. We lay there looking around and all of a sudden the clear paths God set before us – the words of encouragement, the praise or the worship we wanted to sing – rings hallow. Then, we get angry at God.
I’ve been fighting to keep my heart above ground.
I want to keep that cross of belief hung high, even when the assaults of the world feel like low blows. And, I’ve been assaulted alright. People I trusted, didn’t come through for me. The hope I had, now appears unpromising. My health, is on round 3 of colds. My mind has been fighting and fighting and fighting. That cross, has fallen, friends, it has fallen.
But, I am picking it back up. Like Jesus did.He never let it stay on the ground…
I am putting it back upon my shoulders and looking ahead to the prize that awaits at the end of faithful days.
Will you pick it back up again?
Don’t let it sit there, on the ground. Doors don’t define you, Jesus does. Pick up the cross of faith and carry on, even if every step feels like you are going to fall, be laughed at or injured. Keep going. Hold on to the vision of hope, the belief that God is working out goodness and the knowledge he is helping you.
Don’t let shame hold you back again, either. You doubted for a moment. So what? That was then, this is now. God shuts the door on all revenge, anger and retribution when you ask for forgiveness.
Rush over to the cross, see new faith and hang it high again. Let his love rush in.
Can anything ever separate us from Christ’s love? Does it mean he no longer loves us if we have trouble or calamity, or are persecuted, or hungry, or destitute, or in danger, or threatened with death? (Ro. 8:35)
Nothing. No discouragement, despair, demotivation, denial, depression, dejection, darkness or defiance can keep you from his love.
No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us. (Ro. 8:36)
The victor is risen.
The fight is won.
Our destiny is secure.
No trip, trial or trap will stop it.
We keep our eyes set on destination.
Carry that cross on.
And believe by faith,
in the greatness God has in store for you.
KNOW and speak within yourself: “Nothing can ever separate (me) from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons,[neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate (me) from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate (me) from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Ro. 8:38-39)
Together, we walk – united. Christ as the anchor to the faith upon which we stand. In him, there is no trial or tribulation that can knock us to the floor.
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Do you hate yourself when you yell – again?
Do you want to flick your wrist when you eat those brownies you should’ve dumped a week ago?
Do you call yourself an idiot for forgetting that appointment?
Do you believe you’ll never get better, live better or act better?
Freedom can feel far. Hope can feel lost. Deliverance can taste like an extra-large pizza, when you are one who berates yourself in your head.
Half my life, I’ve looked at my mistakes and asked, “Kelly, why are you so stupid?”
I say something dumb. “Kelly, why are you so stupid?”
I bump someone’s bumper with my bumper, “Kelly, why are you so stupid?”
I miss an opportunity, “Kelly, why are you so stupid?”
No wonder, one of my big fears is of being stupid. I’ve been speaking that fear into my heart for a long, long time.
What have you been speaking into your heart? Does it look – and hit – hard, like a hammer to the head or does it look and feel soft – like grace?
If you’re a heavy self-hitter, like me, listen up, because this is important: You no longer have to be hard on yourself, because the world was already hard on Jesus.
Let it really sink in. It hit him hard – and he took it.
Have you considered the weight of that? You don’t have to beat yourself up because, Jesus, the bodyguard of all bodyguards, took all your hits. He got hit so hard his flesh broke wide open.
So, while you sit and stare at your injuries, thinking, “They’ll never heal,” God says, “If I conquered the cross, surely I can conquer what plagues your heart today.”
Your brokenness is of no magnitude
that the maker of heaven and earth can’t fix it.
When you whisper, “Please God, help me, help me, help me. God, I can’t. God…God…God…”
God hears and nearly whispers, “Jesus”.
Because if you see this man on the cross,
if you see the fullness of his gift,
if you see the King,
nearly riding to death on a donkey,
in this place of poverty and powerlessness,
if you just see him,
you’ll see how he hung –
arms wide open,
the weak, wounded and restless one.
You’ll see mercy,
You’ll see his heart
to save –
both for today and yesterday.
When we see, Jesus, the man who won our freedom,
we really begin to trust his life can save us.
He didn’t died for us yesterday,
only to give a half-hoot about us today.
When Jesus spread his arms on the cross, he welcomed our pain. He welcomed the addicts, the rapists, the depressives, the adulterers, the anxiety-prone, the controllers, the abusers, the abused and the proud. He basically says, “See me, I am reaching out to hug you, to embrace you – to receive the worst of you. Don’t forget what I’ve done. Let yourself be saved from your plague.“
With this idea friends, knowing his heart, I want to be saved afresh. There is an area so wounded in me, I keep on trying to layer dirt over it. I keep trying to wrestle it down in my own mind. I keep wanting to tell it to go hide out in Timbuktu. It never does. It tapes itself to me. It labels me.
Well, today friends, today…today, I say, Jesus, you are my only way. I am willing to travel through the hurt to find your help. I am willing to get honest with you, so I can get healed by you. I am willing to give it a shot, knowing that you surpass my slip ups.
“Live as people who are free, not using your freedom as a cover-up for evil, but living as servants of God.” (1 Pet. 2:16)
Hurt one, are you ready to live free? What’s holding you back?
“He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.” Ps. 147:3
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:
Why is she telling us this? I promise there will be a good point.
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:
Might God be doing “a new thing”?
Am I open armed or closed armed to his movement?
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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I’m in denial that it’s August already. I’m thankful we live in a tourist state (Michigan) and don’t start school until after Labor Day. Many of my southern friends are sending their kiddos off to school this month.
Our summer has been a whirlwind and I desperately want it to slow down. I had plans to savor, linger, and slow down—but it feels like I’m trying to swim upstream in a river of gooey molasses.
After deliberations with my sister-in-law, I reinstated allowance in our home. The offspring now receive $3 a week—hey, Hubby and I used to receive 50 cents a week, so it’s an upgrade.
I instructed the children that they should save up for something special and not just fill our home with dollar store treasures (a.k.a. cheap junk). They had their eyes set on larger items until the cash started burning a hole in their pockets. They begged me to stop by the store in the midst of a million-things-to-do kind of day. They would not relent even though I tried to explain how much there was to do.
Much to their dismay we ran out of time and I ran out of energy—lugging the handful of kids around town.
So, I said that we would go the next day. I said it matter-of-fact, with every intent of it happening.
And then it didn’t.
I was achy from trying to do too much, the baby needed to eat, the toddler wouldn’t sleep, I couldn’t nap, and so on.
We ran out of time and steam.
I think there was steam coming out of the kids’ ears as I delivered the world-crushing news that we didn’t have time, again, to stop at the store.
They stomped, they screamed, and they called me a liar (more than once).
While their behavior was less-than-stellar, I felt guilty. I hadn’t mean to lie. It wasn’t my intent to not take them. Life happened and plans changed and flexibility and empathy were needed but not offered.
Mom, you always lie.
You say we’re going to do something and we don’t do it!
You are a liar.
I was mad about the unfair accusations but also convicted that often times I unintentionally don’t keep my word. I wanted to remedy the situation so I apologized for what I could.
Kids, I’m really sorry it didn’t work out to take you to the store. I did say that we were going to go, but I should have said something like, ‘We will try our best to go. Or we will most likely go. Or we’ll see if it works out.’ Will you forgive me?
I want my kids to trust me. I need to more careful when I hand out promises. I want them to believe my words.
It’s no fun to feel like a “liar, liar, pants of fire”.
I pleased to say the next day we went to the store, even though it still wasn’t convenient and we didn’t have very much time—but I kept my word and peace was restored.
Here are 3 ways to pursue peace instead of burning down walls of trust:
Be realistic with what you can offer. Many times you might want to help others but when the time comes to make good on your promise, you are unable to fulfill it. It’s hard to know what life will look like months from now. Be careful that you are not ensnaring yourself with your words. Don’t use this as an excuse to be non-committal but ask God to help you be realistic with what you have time for in this present season. It’s easier to be able to help out when the times comes vs. letting someone down because you can’t make good on what you offered a long time ago.
Don’t burn bridges. You want people to be able to trust you. Even if you’ve done something wrong unintentionally, go to the person and apologize for the way that you’ve let them down. Clear the air of offense and be willing to lay down the need to be right for the sake of the relationship (yeah, this one is really hard, but worth it). I’m not talking about issues of sin here, but letting go of the need to be top dog or have the upper hand. Try a little love and logic, like I do with our tween, I love you too much to argue.
Protect the margins on your calendar. Has your summer been like ours? Many of our commitments were unavoidable, but we need to do a better job of protecting margins. When schedules are busting at the seams, frustration seeps out and peace is compromised. Take a look at the rest of the month. Are there any obligations or activities that can be eliminated or delegated? Make some room to breathe and protect your white space. Some seasons require more commitments than others, but make sure your norm isn’t like a hamster in a wheel—spinning round and round but going nowhere in particular. As we rest we communicate trust that God knew what He was doing when he instituted Sabbath.
So the next time $3 is burning a hole in my kids’ pockets, I don’t want to find my own pants on fire because I’m acting like a liar.
Let’s pursue peace with God and family by being true to the Word and keeping our word.
Let’s choose to apologize when we’ve lied and seek to make amends for the sake of our relationship with the Lord and others.
Let’s stop stuffing schedules to the brim and ask God to help us create margin so we can enjoy Him and be recharged.
Psalm 34:14 “Turn from evil and do good, seek peace and pursue it.”
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Katie M. Reid is a tightly wound woman, of the recovering perfectionist variety, who fumbles to receive and extend grace in everyday moments. She delights in her hubby, five children, and their life in ministry. Through her writing, singing, speaking and photography Katie encourages others to find grace in the unraveling of life.
I was spending time with God. All was good in the land of faith and love until some little neuron fired off and decided it was high time I look beyond my online devotional.
“Kelly, did any babysitters apply to your job listing?” I asked myself.
I clicked away. No one applied, I clicked back. My devotional time continued…God loves me, he wants me, he rejoices over me…Should I research search engine optimization for my blog?”
Your distraction is why you only feel a fraction close to God.
Convicted, I clicked back. Yet, again I started reading my First 15 devotional, “You are not a failure in his eyes. He is wholeheartedly glad you are his. He longs to fill you with the knowledge of his gladness today. He longs to give you a revelation of how deeply in love with you he is. The Creator and Sustainer of all rejoices over you as his creation. You are not a mistake. You were made intentionally because your God longed to have relationship with you. I should write a blog post in response to this before I entirely forget what I want to say.”
Distracted, again, I closed the half-read devotional, click some clicks and start producing.
When we pull away from God, we never give His life a chance to soak into ours.
God must wonder where we go when we do this. We stand with him face-to-face, only to become like those people, the ones who look left and right trying to search for something or someone better. There’s nothing better.
Faith-Restorer #1: Say, “I am sorry God. I am sorry I get distracted.”
This morning, when my daughter woke, the first things she did was run into my arms. All she wanted was to nestle in. There was no other question, motive or move. It was me, only me. It was her, only her, knowing she was cared for.
When we get quiet to hear from God, his whispers recharge us.
When we get deep with God, he deeply moves us.
When we set down our plans, he speaks his.
When we rest with no other motives, he directs ours.
Being with God is pushing aside commotion,
to sit in compassion.
Eyes set, mind steadied and ready to receive, I returned to the devotional.
“God doesn’t see me as a failure.” He forgives me. “He is wholeheartedly glad I am his.” He wants me every moment. “He longs to fill me with gladness.” His ongoing growth far exceeds my momentary progress. “I am not a mistake.” I don’t have to live my life proving and posturing to make myself believe it.
When I sit still with God, He fills.
When I let go of my to-do’s, he pursues.
When I get quiet, fear is quieted.
Faith Restorer #2: Sit in the center of God’s truth and you’ll be held strong in it.
I wiggle back in my seat, to get more, to dive deeper. God speaks:
“…He will quiet you by his love…” (Zeph. 3:17)
What is an ADD spirit – is quieted by God’s love. This love calms energized nerves, spare-thoughts and unruly temperments – to smooth waters of peace.
Love is the hunt we are always chasing, and yet,
it waits, patiently, for our return.
Faith Restorer #3: Let in God’s love, versus running from it.
Fall face first into it, knowing it will catch you in grace, restore you in peace and strengthen you in the mighty hands of an Almighty God.
Faith Restorer #4: Respond to God’s transformation.
Christ’s love often gives us first-sight of liberty. This can feel overwhelming, strong or scary. But, what gives comfort is knowing that the work is not yours, it’s God’s. What he calls you to, he will equip you through. What he has for you, is good for you. What he began, he will complete.
You need not fear it and rush away.
You need not worry you will fail and give up your fight.
You need not wonder about others.
“The Lord your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing.” Zephaniah 3:17
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