Purposeful Faith

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Learn How to Grow Effectively in Faith

Learn how to grow and be set free to bloom by Katie M. Reid for Kelly Balarie's Purposeful Faith

Post by: Katie M. Reid

Grow in Faith

Spring is just around the corner and I’m so glad. What a thrill it will be to see daffodils peeking their heads through the once barren ground.

As this new season emerges I want to be ready to enter it—ready for what’s coming next—not just Spring but for the plans my Savior has for new life.

But how do we effectively grow in our faith?

When we focus on these four areas, I think we will be in great shape for what’s coming.

G- Grace

R- Rest

O- Outside Help

W- Worship

Step 1: Grace

When we receive God’s grace and extend it to ourselves and others we position ourselves to live unhindered by the weeds of sin that threaten to choke us. The enemy likes to wrap his lies around our roots and stunt our growth with his schemes. Let’s says “no” to the sins that easily entangle and expose the culprit that tries to trip us.

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. –Hebrews 12:1

Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. –Ephesians 6:11

Maybe the weeds that overwhelm are stubborn things like discouragement, doubt or fear?

Maybe the schemes sent to stunt growth are sneaky things like pride, legalism or isolation?

As we sow in grace we lay the ground work for growth.

Rather, you must grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. All glory to him, both now and forever! Amen. –2 Peter 3:18

Step 2: Rest

It might seem counterintuitive to rest, but it is necessary in order to facilitate optimal growth. My tween daughter is growing up and she requires more rest as her limbs are stretching and lengthening, and her emotions are swelling in greater ways than before.

Rest is important to prepare us for what’s coming. If we neglect it I believe we stunt our growth. As we rest we communicate trust in the One who makes each beautiful blossom, in His time.

Let’s bend to God’s ways of doing things.

Step 3: Outside help

Are we depending on the Lord to grow us or mustering up gumption to become something great?

Are we insistent on being a lone bloom or do we gather near to those who have gone before us, to help us blossom more beautifully?

As we allow the Master Gardener to cultivate and others to support, uplift and help us see blind spots, we become more fragrant and strong.

Don’t go it alone. Learn to depend on the One—and the ones He gives you—to help you stay the course and emerge in full bloom with the coming of Spring.

Step 4: Worship

We grow in important ways when we acknowledge where our beauty and strength originate. When we offer ourselves as living sacrifices and lift our limbs in worship to Jesus, we become properly aligned and rightly focused on the Son.

It’s tempting to let ourselves overshadow the true Light. Don’t be tricked into worshiping the creation instead of the Creator (see Romans 1:25). As we allow our roots to go deep—grounded in His Truth—and bend with the wind of His Spirit, we become firmly planted in soil that sustains.

As we worship, even through rainy times, we offer up a fragrant aroma to the One we made us from seed.

Through grace, rest, outside help and worship…we learn how to GROW and are set free to BLOOM.

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Katie M. Reid AuthorKatie M. Reid is a tightly wound woman who fumbles to receive and extend grace in everyday moments. She delights in her hubby, four children (and one on the way) and their life in ministry. Through her writing, singing, speaking and photography she encourages others to find grace in the unraveling of life. Connect with Katie at katiemreid.com.

5 Ways God Cares (More Than You Think)

God Cares

I stared out the window. The outside was about ready to teach my insides a deep lesson.

What caught my eyes were two birds frolicking, jumping and having fun. They didn’t care; they chased, played and enjoyed the beauty of the day. Before not too long, a few friends even joined in. Life seemed to be a blessing not a burden.

I think they had no idea of when the next storm was approaching, but all they same, it didn’t seem to matter.

They didn’t seem worried about what they didn’t have;
they just went about enjoying what they did.

 

What is it you don’t yet have?

What is it that distracts your eyes from beauty?

I know it’s crazy, but wonder if somehow birds have an understanding that we don’t, like:

1. God’s nature is to forever take care of me. It is impossible for him not too.

2. Every season eventually ends and God provides. I will trust that.

3. God is who he is. Just as he makes the sun come up every morning and the moon fall, he will be true to his word.

4. I don’t have to fear I’ll be hungry for my next best thing, God remains my best thing.

5. “This is the day the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it.” (Psalm 118:24)

I want to be like these birds – free to fly high. Soaring. Enjoying. Living.

Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Matthew 6:26

I try to store away so much: 

Stress.
I fill myself with action plans.

Fear.
I load up on maneuvers to self-protect.

Distraction.
I let it divert my mind from what God wants to heal.

Frustration.
I let my storehouse get shaky because God hasn’t yet shown up.

What do you store in your barn?

When we fill our barns to the brink, we always feel about to sink.
But, when we trust that God will provide the next meal, we are ready to fly. 

We break out of molds. We rise up from our nest. We don’t think about the next storm. We approach the edge of our safety and we jump out to dance in the air of providence.

We remember his voice of faithfulness, the “I will take care of you” voice. We hear it rise to its heights.

It sounds like:

1. Behold, I am with you and will keep you wherever you go, and will bring you back to this land. For I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you.” Gen. 28:15

2. Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. Heb. 13:8

3. Cast all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you. 1 Pet. 5:7

4. And Moses said to the people, “Fear not, stand firm, and see the salvation of the Lord, which he will work for you today… (Ex. 14:13)

5. For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. (John 3:16)

God is calling us to delight in the gap between of uncertainty and his next big gift. Will we?

Will we choose to delight in his faithfulness or die in ungratefulness?

I don’t want to settle for second worst when I have second best. What I want to do is run, jump and fly with God to the places he has set to take me. Care to join me?

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Extending The Benefit of Grace

The Benefit of Grace

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Grace makes us see perspectives differently.

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

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

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

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Don’t Let Comparison Steal Your Purpose

comparison steal your purpose

Blog Post by Abby McDonald

The morning was full of potential. I got up on time, didn’t check social media, and made the kids breakfast.

Then, after dropping my son off at the bus stop, I checked my email. And everything went downhill.

The intent of the message was positive. My reaction to it was not.

This successful blogger wanted to let me in on all of the secrets to success. And I’m sure deep down somewhere that I craved this knowledge.

But what I saw? The numbers. How many readers visited her site. How much income she brought in each month. It was though these stats represented some invisible gate-keeper and I was stuck on the outside, pushing a door that wouldn’t budge.

Comparison turns our vision into opposition. It turns our joy into jealousy.

As I sat there that Tuesday morning basking in self-pity, and knew I needed an attitude adjustment. And do you know what’s beautiful about asking God to change your attitude?

He always answers.

Sometimes he asks us to take a good long look at ourselves. Other times he sends a word of encouragement through a friend or family member. But he never fails to deliver.

On this particular weekend in mid-winter, he drew my attention to my kids. Particularly my oldest son.

My firstborn delights in new responsibilities, no matter how small. You can give him the house key to open the side door as you labor up the steps with groceries, and he will skip to complete the task.

But more than that, he does it with love. Which is something I forgot in my moment of temporary insanity and comparison.

As my son grows older, my husband and I increase his jobs around the house. He takes care of the pets and helps clean up around the house, and we reward him for his efforts. But we don’t start him off with a huge list of chores to do. Nor do we trust him things we know are beyond his ability.

If we look at scripture, God follows the same pattern. When we first read of God’s call on David he is out in the middle of a field, tending sheep. When the angel of the Lord appears to Moses, he is tending the flock as well.

The Lord is pleased when we take the same care with the small as we do with the big. As a matter of fact, the Word tells us he “rejoices” in it.

“Do not despise these small beginnings, for the Lord rejoices to see the work begin…” Zechariah 4:10 NLT

Friends, God does not see our work in the same way we do. And aren’t you glad? With each step you take to glorify his name and make him known, he is honored. He rejoices over you.

The absolute best words we could expect to hear from God on the other side of this life are, “Well done, good and faithful servant.”

Not, “Congrats on all the followers you had on Twitter,” or “That was a really solid platform you spent all those years building.”

It’s his platform, not ours. Let’s remember that even in the small, he is always faithful.

Even when we misstep.

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View More: http://kimdeloachphoto.pass.us/allume2015

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.

How to Really Fight Back using the Sword of the Spirit

Sword of the Spirit

What do you do when something terrible, horrible and life-impacting happens –
especially when you are sinking into fear and anxiety?

This is what I was asked as my hard work disappeared before my very eyes. This is what I was asked as my progress was erased. This is what I asked as I thought about the myriad of things flipping, flopping and dying right my very eyes.

In this reflective moment, in the pause right before the full tsunami of tension hit, I had a choice:
Would I stand in the power of God or would I fall to the power of fear?

Ever stood here?

This moment, it is a critical one. If you leave nothing filling that second, you will inevitably succumb to distrust. If you leave it untended by God, you will certainly feel alone. And if you leave it empty, you no doubt fill it with endless thoughts of preposterous scenarios. But, if fill it with truth and life and warrior words, you will wage war – and win –  against what intended to take you down.

Here is how it works: Read a portion of scripture (we will use Psalm 62), personalize it and speak it aloud. Choose to believe it. Believe it over your body, believe it over every relationship that hurts, believe it over your finances, believe it over your family, believe it over you heart, believe it over your discouragement and believe it over anything that is coming against.

When you let the good yeast of God’s truth, rise above the lies –
you find it squeezes out worry.

Psalm 62

My soul finds rest in you, God;
you are my salvation.
You are my only rock and my salvation;
you are my fortress, I will not be shaken..(Psalm 62:1-2)…

My soul, finds rest in you God;
my hope comes from you.
You are my rock and my salvation;
you are my fortress, I will not be shaken.
All my salvation and my honor depend on you, God;
you are my mighty rock, my refuge.
I trust in you at all times, every single time;
I pour out my heart to you,
God, you are my our refuge.

I am but a breath,
Nothing, only a breath.
I will not put vain hope in stolen goods;
I will not make riches the center of my life
nor will I set my heart on them.

For I know:
“Power belongs to you, God,
and with you, Lord, is unfailing love”;
and, “You reward me
according to what I have done.” (Psalm 62: 5-12)

The more Gods’ Word sits in,
the more thoughts of negativity and disaster are forced to move out.

It simply works like this: You speak it, you believe it and because you believe it, you live it.

The answer to oncoming attacks and injuries is not to wait for the blow to knock you over, it’s to step into it on offense, with the Sword of the Spirit in motion so you can slay what Christ Jesus has already beaten. This doesn’t mean that every single predicament is fixed and tidied up, but what it does mean is every predicament is seen through the power of God’s eyes.

God wants to give us spiritual clarity and he wants to help us fight our battles.

What might God want to slay if you gave his Word a chance to fight on your behalf?

God is your rock, your fortress and your refuge – in him, you cannot be shaken.

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A Change Of Mind

A Change Of Mind

Post by Karina

I’m a worrier.

It’s not something that I’m proud of, but it is very much like second nature. I have always been super independent and that has contributed to me being a worrier. I like things my own way. I like to be able to control everything that is within my power to control. If something is fixable, I fix it. I don’t wait around for someone to offer help, I just handle it. I worry about things past, present and future.

This apparently, goes against the whole being dependent on God lifestyle. He and I are working on that. It’s a slow and steady process. And it’s a process that starts in the mind. That is where all of our motives and actions stem from. My thoughts give way to worry and worry gives way to fear and fear gives way to worry. It is a vicious cycle. And I want out! So, this year, He and I are working on changing my mind.

When I think about how I think, a few questions come up about where the thoughts originate and what direction they are heading. A few verses even stick out to me in those areas.

“Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth.” Colossians 3:2

Where is my affection?

One definition of affection is a feeling of fondness or liking. Heaven and earth are complete opposites. The Bible is very clear that all that happens on earth is counter to what goes on in Heaven. Generally, the person or thing or situation we like is where we spend our energy.

Attention always follows affection. 

Do I like the here and now more that I like eternity? Which do I long for more? I’m sure you’d agree with me that we should long for Heaven more. We will spend more time there than we will here on earth. All that is seen is temporary and fleeting. I want my thoughts to fall in line with the life I will live forever, a life spent with my Creator and Father.

“You will keep him in perfect peace, Whose mind is stayed on You, Because he trusts in You.” Isaiah 26:3

Where am I expecting peace to come from?

Peace is a tricky thing. We, as humans are so prone to think that people or circumstances will bring us peace. But, they don’t. They can’t. It’s a false peace because when they change undesirably, we are now in a state of unrest. Peace is a person and His name is Jesus. The peace He brings transcends understanding and circumstances. It is unchanging and unwavering. It remains constant no matter what is going on around us because it is grounded in the truth of God’s Word and the truth of the nature of Christ.

“And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.” Romans 12:2

Do I think as the world does or do I think like Christ?

From the moment we accept Christ as our Lord and Savior, we are forever changed. We now have a new nature. The only problem is is that we are still wrapped in flesh, flesh that craves old habits and ways. Then, we are still living among broken and lost people in a broken and lost world. When we understand this, we understand that we have some work to do. We have a role to play. It is our job to renew our minds through delving into the well of God’s promises. The more we become acquainted with Him through His word, the more our thoughts align with His. The more our thoughts align with His, the more our actions catch up with our new way of thinking.

So this year, I’m changing my mind! Are you with me? What area of your thinking do you need renewed?

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BjBC4hzUKarina is a devoted follower of Jesus from New Orleans, Louisiana, but has made her home in Baton Rouge for the past 15 years. She spends much of her time leading worship at church, writing, reading, dancing and mentoring the next generation. She has a huge heart for serving and missions. She is an advocate for the local church especially the one that she attends, Healing Place Church. She also enjoys working out, traveling, photography and going to concerts/conferences.

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

5 Ways The Devil is Scheming To Nab You

Devil

Hey, little child of God, I have something to tell you, so listen up.

Happiness is over there. Do you see it? Go ahead, suck in what it could be. Feel it. Relish in it. Why not? Don’t you deserve it – for all you have suffered? Aren’t you tired of being stuck?

I mean, look at you! You idiot!

You marginal fool, why aren’t you doing anything,
something,
to change everything?

You are stuck in a church that is not ideal.
You are stuck in a house you don’t want to be in.
You are stuck with a family who doesn’t get you.
You are stuck with a job that is horrible.
You are stuck with friends that don’t really care.
You are stuck in a life that constrains.
You are stuck with kids who are unruly and disobedient.
You are stuck with a spouse who irritates.
You are stuck with a body that is ugly.
You are stuck with health issues that you can’t beat.
You are stuck with pressures and problems.
You are stuck being overweight.

Look at you, your life is horrible. I think, I really think, you should have so much more.

Psst…did you know? It doesn’t have to stay this way…you can do things about it. Now listen up before your whole life is ruined, before all the marbles are dumped on your head and before you find yourself in a burnt heap of ashes, here is my charge for you:

1. Take control. What God hasn’t stepped in to do, you can do. Those he hasn’t changed, force them to change. Drive your power in.

2. Seek happy at all costs. If something doesn’t make you happy, flee from it to find frolicking fun elsewhere. You only live once, you don’t want to sit around missing out. Fulfill your desires and feel good.

3. Remind yourself of all you don’t have. 

“You dumb idiot. While everyone else is getting ahead, you are falling backwards. Do something about it. It’s not like you are that good of a Christian anyway; you always mess up. You failure. Give up.”

Speak like this to yourself and you will be bound to get somewhere.

4. If you can’t get what you want, find another way to make yourself feel good.

Drugs, sex, alcohol, shopping, porn, controlling, demoralizing, taunting, instigating, stealing, worry, abusing – it doesn’t really matter – just fill your deep need to numb the real belief you are unloved, uncared for and shipwrecked. The moment of controlled power will feel intoxicating.

5. Put yourself first. You are the only one who can fulfill your deep needs. You have to fight hard to get what you want. Defend yourself, arm yourself, distance yourself and put up an armored stronghold around your body. You are a walking fortress; keep it that way or you will be ruined. Shoot, if necessary.

Other quick tips:

– Keep your eyes on what you see before you; make a snap judgement and abide by feelings.
– Don’t let the word “patience” fool; God really isn’t working for you.
– Don’t serve anything, or anyone, that doesn’t lead to success.
– There’s no one who can come through – like you can.
– You’ll miss out if you don’t grab the world’s cup tightly – and suck it up.
– Put yourself first, no one else will take care of you.
– Get super wise and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.
– Mock those who are poor in spirit, “Weaklings!”
– Doubt “hope” and stick with “despair” and you’ll fill up with indulgences of the world, for sure.
– Embrace shades of grey and blurred lines between good and evil – you can rationalize things that way.

devil

With this, applause to you! Cheers for you! Great glory to your work! Great progress to your name! Great power to your charge! Great impact to your step! You will do it; you will find pleasure in all you ever wanted, in the enticements and in the lure of your eye.

You know you want it.
So, step in, grab it and bite –
it is the best apple you will ever eat,
even it it makes your blood run cold,
even if 10 minutes after you feel nauseated,
even if the shame adds thirty layers of chains to your hide,
even if you trap yourself into a box you can’t seem to claw your chained way out of,
at least you will have joy for a moment, ecstasy for a minute and rule for an hour.

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I (Jesus) have come that they may have life, and have it to the full. Jo. 10:10

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When God is Punishing You

God is Punishing

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

God calls you in.
Deeper.

God calls you out.
To head towards grace.

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

For to know him,
is to know love.

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

God’s Invitation: Do 2016 With Me

God's Invitation

I love you.
This year belongs to me –
as do you.
So know, I have both; in all ways.

There is no way you can be left behind,
I “go before you and will be with you”. (Deut. 31:8)
I “see all your work and your love;
not one labored breath goes unnoticed.” (Heb. 6:10)

Dead-gaze on me, be entranced and shadow my ways,
then your confidence will come easily, your burden will feel light and your heart will get sure:
Sure that you “will see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living.” (Ps. 27:13)

Child, please, wear the world like perfume, on one moment – and off the next,
not penetrating your deep, not altering your mind, and having no significant hold on you.
Violence: Let the pain hit, then let it waft into my being.
Opinions: Listen and let them rise.
Fear of man: Get a whiff and then let them go.
Goods: Say nice that you have them, then breathe deep – my love.
Then, I will permeate your insides with my infallible grace. 
Your mold will more easily fit mine and your mind will mock mine. (Ro. 12:2)

Don’t let enemy forces fool you into thinking my love can be thwarted.
Don’t let them plunder your joy, peace and patience by demanding an already established timing.
It may look like you are being besieged, but I am the one who controls the word “proceed.”
It may look like I want to hurt you, but every time I am helping you to grow, glisten and glean truth.
Pain is temporary, but my care, compassion and consolation withstand.
Hardship doesn’t mean I love you less or that I hold you less – it means the world will hold a little less of you when all is said and done.
What comes against also has the capacity to push me into you with the same force.
Let it be so; let me rule.

So, child, watch carefully that you don’t plan against me, but plan with me.
You may set out a course, but, know, I am determining each movement. (Prov. 16:9)
There is no wisdom, no insight, no plan that can succeed against the me. (Acts 5:39)
My ways are the ways that lead to the places you want to go; let’s go together.
Let’s move holding hands, rather than me pulling you through the mud –
we will both be happier, move easier and enjoy the journey.
You will delight in my love rather than resist it.
You will find I have so much good laid out for you – even in a world of set land mines.

Distraction abounds around you.
But so do I.
Keep your eyes set on what matters, what will fill you, what will change you.
I am always there, make a choice to see me above the diversions.
See the birds chirping, the sunset and my habitat of love, before you reach to answer that text.
Enjoy your children laughing, before you throw your face in front of a screen.
Welcome your spouses inviting words, before you think of your next scheduled activity.
Here my ready-to-lift voice above the talking fear-puppets of the world.
My love rises above world issues; it contains the only answer to genuine peace.

Love people like they are me,
but don’t let them rule you like you are Judas.
Money, people, things, toys, voices, actions, words,
they will try to gain a hold in your life,
they will try to rule you by opinion, feelings or  control,
but just let me hold you, as you love,
wave to them as they pass you by,
and you will be okay, we will hold firm together.
When you realize you can’t control another’s peace, you start to find yours.
When you step back from looking at others progress, you make yours.
No weapon forged against you shall prosper. (Is. 54:17)
When you realize this, you make instruments of love,
and you start singing new songs that make people break down and cry.
Your love begins to dance.

Discouragement will knock on your door,
let that salesman of sleazy goods pass by ungreeted.
You won’t be rude, you’ll be as shrewd as a snake
and I like that kind of thing… (Mt 10:16)
because my encouragement exists all around you.
Hear the knock, say they “There it is”,
but don’t pull open that door,
and, together, we’ll make it out okay.
That sleezeball has never been known to bring an ounce of anything that is from me,
why mess with that?

Jealousy, lust, comparison and pride –
they are like gangrene; they hinder my healing, helping and calming work in you,
don’t let them steal your view of what I am at work to do.
They love to come in, take over and make healthy ones fall.
Don’t think you are above their grasp,
for they sneak in…
when that one person does just a little better than you,
your eye strays just a tad too far,
you look at her appearance and mark yours bad.
you pat yourself on the back and vow to keep letting your awesomeness shine.
Set up your fence this year, so that you and I can play, laugh and move within safe confines,
we don’t need predators hanging around with us.

Let not money be your guide, dear child.
Sure, on earth it rules,
but in my vast kingdom,
that transcends the farthest known galaxy of human comprehension,
I do.
Lift me higher and you will see how high I extend.
Let me rule and you will start to see how much I rule.
Take a chance of faith and I will see your faith…
and then I’ll answer by faith,
to give you more and more faith.
You’ll come out the other side saying, “Wow, look at me now!”

And until we meet at the banqueting table, dear one,
be not afraid, I can’t stop thinking of you,
Come, be with me, and I won’t lead you wrong.

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The Hidden Good in the Bad

Good in the Bad

I tried my best. I put my whole heart into it.
I sought God and followed him.
I didn’t give up despite the big barriers.
I kept my focus and kept going…
Only to hit hard times.

Ever noticed, how when you give your all,
all of a sudden, you somehow start to believe – 
God should give his all too?

Silently, longingly and righteously you start to say things like:
“I did my part. Now, you better do yours.”
“You helped me through. Now bring me all the way.”
“You are giving me this? I have done good by you.”

Somehow, I believe my following, trusting and abiding with him DESERVES some sort of sundae with a cherry on top (don’t miss the hot fudge, God) – from him. That is the sticking point. 

God’s blessings are not dictated by our demands.
God’s blessings are always good, but not always easy.
God’s blessings are given and not demanded.
God’s blessings are unearned and, often, unexpected.

Perhaps, God doesn’t always payback hard work,
because he wants to payout the better gift.

Think of Mary.

Just a young girl, did she ever expect an angel to visit her from high? Likely not. Blessing.
Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favor with God.  Jesus. Lu. 1:30

Might she have thought having a baby, unwedded, was more of a curse than a blessing? Perhaps, but again it was a blessing.
You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus. Lu. 1:31

Might she have been let down by the fact that ultimately Jesus was less great and more humble? He was a King nailed up against a cross. Still – a blessing.
He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High…his kingdom will never end. Lu. 1:32

What we see as unusual, unwanted and often unwarranted –
are often unknown blessings in the process of being baked to done.

Done to the point where:

  1. Things spiritual are cemented forever. Jesus reigns over earthly forever.
  2. Wars are won as people are pressed against difficult. Jesus proclaims it is finished – man will be saved from themselves.
  3. Things of darkness are trampled on. Jesus put everything underneath his feet; he stands above it all.
  4. Lives are saved. The Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many. Mt. 20:28
  5. God is glorified. Jesus cried out in a loud voice, Father, into my hands I commend my spirit. Mt. 23:46
  6. You are changed. Whoever says he abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which he walked. 1 Jo. 2:6

Blessings can look like nails. They can also feel like crosses being carried. Yet, at the end of the day, what springs forth from the winter of cold agony is the warmth of new Spring – overflowing with Christ’s majesty and strength.

The LORD reigns, He is clothed with majesty; The LORD has clothed and girded Himself with strength; Indeed, the world is firmly established, it will not be moved. Ps. 93:1

The cross was an unusual, often unwanted and unwarranted (for a perfect lamb), but it was a blessing that would change the tides of the earth forever. 

As Mary’s love was being nailed to the cross, as he cried out as and as she likely wondered why it all had to lead to this – she was being blessed.

What seems to be nailing you? Might it actually be blessing you?

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