Purposeful Faith

Tag - fear

Take Off from “Blah” to Blazing New Heights

Blazing New Heights

I know, I know, this is going to sound weird. I am infatuated with the whole idea of airplane take-offs. Always have been.

I feel the rumblings of something new, the speed towards adventure and the call towards something greater.

I love it.

New places.
New people.
New encounters.
New opportunities.
New feelings.

Usually, as the plane rises, I know I am about ready to head to somewhere better.  The stress is off; I have no control over the speed, the timing and the path – it is all in the captain’s hands. It is a trusting kind of thing; I know he will do his job.

I wonder though, why day-by-day I don’t rise with this same sort of
eager expectation towards life?

What really makes it any different?

I could wake excited.
Knowing God will send me.

I could look expectantly.
Believing God will lead me.

I could anticipate.
Seeing life from the heights new opportunities.

I could be willing.
Letting in feelings of purpose and passion, all the while – nodding yes.

All vision of my end destination belongs to him. All the controls are in his hands.

Why not let go?

We need no plans, except to be with him. He steers, we fly. He leads, we end up at the good works he has already designed for us.

If we have expectancy,
we won’t be prone to live complacency.

We see new journeys.
New heights.
New views.
New callings.
New pressures that he alone manages.

And right in the center of it all is our chosen seat. The one that allows us to enjoy the heights of his glory, the sprawling colors of his ownership and the gentle covering of his clouds.

So we go. We let go. We move. We explore. We adventure.

Tomorrow, let the morning alarm goes off. But, take a new look at your new day. Let expectations rise and – fly.

Will you join us?
Sure, there may be turbulence,
but rest assured there will be magnificence too.

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You No Longer Have to Force Happy

force happy

I ran into a friend today.

She said to me, “If you see my face and I look not as happy, just know it is because some things are hurting right now.”

I loved her honesty. I think she felt like she owed me something though; I think she felt like she had to prove that she, as a Christian, was okay to feel down. It kind of bothered me.

Jesus didn’t say, “Happy face required” to follow me.”

He didn’t say, “Pull yourself together and say what I want to hear.”

He didn’t say, “If you are having a hard time, you can’t be near me.”

He didn’t say, “Isolate yourself in a little bubble of protection if you feed sad.”

On the contrary he said, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” Mt. 11:28

Notice, he doesn’t say: I will give you giggles, a smile and a facade that looks all squeeky clean.

Here is what I have to say to you, brothers and sisters today, who are struggling:

  1. It is okay to feel down, Jesus can handle it.
  2. It is okay to wonder the whens, whys and hows – and to bring them to the Lord.
  3. It is okay to tell us you are struggling, we often are too.
  4. It is okay to say you need time away to pray; God will show up.
  5. Greater is God than your greatest weakness.
  6. God is mighty to save you from anything and everything.
  7. Deep learning is in the deep reflection found through pain.
  8. Trials that peel away self, so we find self looking a whole lot more like Christ.
  9. Jesus suffered. He gets you and your pain.
  10. There is no kind of bad attitude that will push God away from you.

Keep going.

Keep loving.

Keep surrendering.

He has you.

Keep abiding.

Keep asking.

Keep listening.

He will not abandon you.

Keep pressing on.

Keep moving your feet.

Keep trusting by faith. 

He sees you.

Days will pass, emotions will ride out – and before you know it – you  will be in a new season.

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5 Experiential Invitations to Go Deeper With God

Go Deeper
God. If you look for him, you’ll find him. If you keep looking for him, you will find him some more. If you don’t stop looking, he’ll invite you in deeper and deeper, fuller and fuller and farther and farther.
He invites you.
Do you notice the welcome?
It is a white owl taking flight into the darkness,
a place where you are not sure what will happen.
Are you willing to go?
We don’t have to know where we’re going, just that Christ is taking us.
deeper
Another invitation.
He stands by the water,
arms open,
ready to hug you,
ready to feel your complete innocence, purity and beauty.
Will you allow him to hold you this way?
Will you accept it as true?  

It is often by faith, we receive the fullness of his love.

going deeper
It arrives again.
You may not see it.
You may not notice it.
It sits right outside your window.
The colors are brilliant, the majesty spreads across the sky;
it reminds all of the orchestrator and creator of things big and small.
Will you take a second to look or will you continue to be rushed and busy with other things?
By keeping an eye on the one above our trial, we remember how all things work out under his might.
going deeper
He calls.  
Will you open your heart?
It’s another invitation.
Daddy waits…
Hoping beloved breaks out to run to him.
Seeing a grand return and his glorious rescue.
He doesn’t need strong; he loves weary; he can handle it.
Do you see him waiting to rescue and love you every minute?
 
In every weary and heart-wrecking task, God waits to rescue you time and time again. Will we accept his invitation?
Go deeper
He knocks,
in a way where it nags your soul.
You know you should, but can you? Can you open up?
Surely, it is an invitation, but will you permit it to be so?
For it hurts far more than it feels good to do.
Still, daddy, he is pushing you just a little to step out.
Will you listen or ignore?
Will you forgive or forget and pretend it never happened – like you always do?
He wants to do it for you. He wants to finally unclutter your heart of it’s bitterness to make room for his fullness.
We think our unforgiveness is right, but only one is right and that is Jesus and he says to forgive.
going deeper
The invitations they never end for those with eyes to see and those with ears to hear.
It is a symphony of sympathy that plays the most desired harmony of humanity.
Yet, if you are busy, you’ll drive right past it.
If you are worried, your mind will not have space to receive it.
If you are distracted, you will blab on your phone, rather than hear his whisper.
It is an invitation for those who want more.
Who call out more.
Who long more.
Who ask more.
Who need more.
Who desire more.
You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. Jer. 29:13

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What You Don’t Know Can Hurt You

Can Hurt You

It was a dream, but it was also the truth: If I am not careful, some thing is going to ruin me. If I don’t keep my eyes open and my arms wrapped around Jesus, I will most certainly diverge – and the results won’t be pretty.

You see, I have these underlying things that pop out of me, things like: I want to be wanted, I need to be seen, I desire to be liked, I hope to be valued.  Intrinsically, they are not bad, but without God as the fueler – they’re horrible.

What is prone to lead you astray?

That “something”, if you’re not careful,
is bound to become your one thing.

Don’t think it can’t, won’t or will never happen to you…that in itself is called pride and pride every time goes before a fall, friend (Prov. 16:18).

What is it for you?

Imagine this for a moment. Christ, of all people, he chooses you! He singles you out as one of the 12 disciples. You preach, teach, heal and exorcise demons. You walk behind the miracle maker. You see his deeds. You know his words. You watch the lame walk, the mute speak and the blind look. He calls you by name. He likely touches you. He deems you special. Wouldn’t it be amazing?!

How would you feel? How might adoration bubble over? 

(Following would be so easy; you would never leave his side, right?! That would be impossible. Impossible to turn away from him, wouldn’t it?! Uhh...Hardly!)

So, there you are, this chosen little loved one. And there you stand, looking at the King of Kings, the Lord of Lords. You see his value, but there’s another dang voice calling. It speaks things like riches, mightiness, love, value, adoration, power, earthly weight, beauty, and influence – and how you should acquire them. It calls you…to figure things out.

When you spend so much time listening to the wrong voice, you kind of negate its harm. 

It gets slippery here.

You have to be careful, for you may end up getting what you long for –
but Jesus may end up – long gone. 

There you stand and walk. You kiss Jesus with your lips – but betray him in your heart (Luke 22:48). 

Don’t think you are above the betraying act of Judas. If the the very people who walked behind Jesus, could walk away, so could you.

All the disciples, people who had a first-hand account of his majesty, abandoned Jesus: “This very night you will all fall away on account of me.” (Matthew 26:31)

Peter does it three times even after pledging allegiance to his King: “Even if all fall away on account of you, I never will.” (Matthew 26:33)

If you walk oblivious to your leanings and lures, you’ll walk right into them. It happens all the time – feet are swept up and face implants down. Oww!

I think I could easily end up as a Judas. If I go about my business without giving a second thought to my mind, I’ll be kissing all sorts of things. I can’t allow this to happen, can you?

Jesus, though, he has this way or reaching out to his loved ones who are loving him. He reminds me that his touch is all I need. His forgiveness is always active. His presence is always tangible. His help is always 2-steps ahead and his gift of freedom is always waiting to work. He reminds me that I am his and he is mine and that he will help me endure this thing called faith.

He reminds me that: Perfect love casts out fear. Not once. Not twice, but every single time and that when I start stretching my neck to see other things, his love will gently massage it back to peace and calm – if I only come – to him.

The simple truth is…when you cuddle into Jesus’ deep seat of love, you can’t so easily get up and head other places.

Prayer:

Jesus, I love you. I want to never depart from you. May all my needs, always be met in you. Keep my devotion devoted no matter what. May your love and forgiveness never leave room for despair. May the things I want to kiss, never kill me.  Jesus, I love you. Amen.

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The Deep Key of Faith (You’re Prone to Forget)

Key of Faith

Listen, This is the News that Breaks Every Minute!
This is a Christian’s Always-Headline News!

Do you know it?

Have you not heard?

There is a King of Glory coming for you. He is coming to love you. To find you. To bring you home.

Have you not heard?

You will not know the hour (Mt. 24:36), but you will know the time, because you will see eyes like flames arrive, the white horses of victory drive in and the sword yielded over the nations. You will know because you see white: white robes, purity and holy arrive with power and might (Rev. 19:12-16)

Have you not heard?

The seemingly silent of God will be silent no more as lightning, rumblings, peals of thunder, an earthquake, and heavy hail pour down like a stadium full of the Lion’s booming return. (Rev. 11:19)

Have you not heard?

In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed. (1 Cor. 15:52)

And in a split-second, according to the timing of Jesus, for believers, everything changes. Lives are restored. Pain is wiped away. Time never ends. Days continue in feast. Lives bask in presence. King rules with no obstruction. We are raised to the vision of all we ever dreamed of.

This is not light, fine and dandy, Christianity; this is the deep of our faith. 

Things happen to those who know where they are bound to go:

1. Those who keep their eyes pasted on eternity, find they aren’t as easily torn from what’s right. They wake up with a purpose and then live by it. They see the wrongs, and decide to do right, for they know at the end of their fight, they will see his might.

2. Those with forever perspectives, find a forge-through attitudes no matter the barrier. It’s not so much about what they can do, but all about what God will do as they bow down to him. It is about becoming less, because they trust in the more.

3. Those with the seal of God (Eph. 1:13), know they will be signed, sealed and delivered into God’s arms forever. When you are sealed with the Spirit, there is no killing the Spirit. Soul is restored with the Spirit of God and one day body and mind are too.

Having an eternal view means running victorious marathons
verses short sprints of inspiration
followed by deep fits of frustration.

How do you live?

Do you live by the sound of immediate demands 
or by the trumpet sound that will resound on the day of Christ’s return?

 Glory and strength to Christ, who loves us,
    who blood-washed our sins from our lives,
Who made us a Kingdom, Priests for his Father,
    forever—and yes, he’s on his way!
Riding the clouds, he’ll be seen by every eye,
    those who mocked and killed him will see him,
People from all nations and all times
    will tear their clothes in lament.
    Oh, Yes.

(Rev. 1:7 MSG)

He is coming. Do you know him? Love him?

Like a groom at the end of the aisle, he is ready to see the brilliance, the beauty and his beloved, the one he loves. That is you. That is me.

May we live in eager anticipation of his return, not seeing the world as a here and now deal, but seeing the world through the deep of eternal eyes that know what the things we are pressing into are things that are bound to last.

Truly I tell you, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven. (Mt. 18:18)

May it all be so, may it all be just as God has proclaimed it to be – now and forever.

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Extending The Benefit of Grace

The Benefit of Grace

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Grace makes us see perspectives differently.

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

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

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

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Shame Tells Bigger Lies (You Likely are Believing)

shame tells lies

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

There you have it.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Then, I started to think:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Standing firm in Faith Over Fear

Standing Firm

Occasionally, you know you met someone with a heart of gold – this is how I feel about Gwen Smith. Her all-in pursuit of Jesus, her authentic spirit and her ability to instantly connect, as both a teacher and a girlfriend, is a gift that is so unique to her. I have gotten a chance to deep dive into her new book, “I Want It All” and her words have helped me grab hold of the fullness of God’s extraordinary that he has uniquely carved out for me. Thanks Gwen.

I am delighted to welcome Gwen Smith to Purposeful Faith. I hope you will too. 

Post by: Gwen Smith

The book of Esther shows us what our lives can look like when we trust in the sovereignty of God and expect Him to be powerful in the midst of desperate circumstances that could cause us to cower in fear. God positioned this young Hebrew girl to be queen of Persia so that she could rise up in His strength and courage when her people, the Jews, faced imminent death. She fasted and humbled herself before the Lord through prayer. And though it was risky to the point of death, she went to the king and courageously spoke up on behalf of the Jews. The result? God used Esther to save her people from genocide.

I want to be brave like that. I want to live with so much God courage that I don’t go soft when life gets hard. So I take note of what Esther did. She didn’t cave in to fear; instead, she fixed her focus on God and His power to save her and His people. She fasted and prayed and asked for Him to intervene.

Like Queen Esther, we can live with great expectations of God because He loves to do amazing things through average people— people with worries and warts and weaknesses, like you and me. If we want it all, we need to be women who stand firm when our emotions threaten to overwhelm us and courageously believe God for big things.

So… how CAN we stand firm in faith like Esther
did when our knees knock?

The first step to standing firm in faith is to know Him.

Generally speaking, I don’t trust someone I don’t know. Plain and simple. I’m guessing you don’t either.

God spoke to the prophet Jeremiah about the importance of our knowing Him:

Thus says the LORD: “Let not the wise man boast in his wisdom, let not the mighty man boast in his might, let not the rich man boast in his riches, but let him who boasts boast in this, that he under- stands and knows me, that I am the LORD who practices steadfast love, justice, and righteousness in the earth. For in these things I delight, declares the LORD.” (Jer. 9:23–24 ESV)

The apostle Peter also wrote about the importance of knowing God. At the beginning of his first letter, he stated that the grace, peace, and power we need are connected to our knowledge of Christ:

Grace and peace be yours in abundance through the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord. His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. (2 Pet. 1:2–3)

How can you know God? Read your Bible, study His character, and remember the ways He has delivered in the past. Such things are Faith 101. When you are overwhelmed by life, don’t shy away from God. Don’t isolate: investigate. Look to Him. Explore His goodness.

I learned recently about the familiar “trust God” verses in Proverbs 3. You know them. “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths” (vv. 5–6 ESV).

The second part never made sense to me. I wondered, Why would my acknowledging God motivate Him to make my paths straight? In the New Testament, even the demons acknowledged that Jesus was the Son of God, so why would my acknowledging Him make my paths straight?

I looked up the root word and found a gold mine. The Hebrew word for “acknowledge” is yada’,1 the primitive root of which means “to know.” It means “to understand, to grasp or ascertain; especially to be familiar or acquainted with.” So, “in all of your ways acknowledge him” really means this: in all of your ways yada’ Him; in all of your ways know Him and seek to understand Him; be familiar with Him; be acquainted with Him, and He will make your paths straight.

Ah! Clarity!

The key to a straight path, the key to trusting God when doubt shoves me off balance is way less about my circumstances and way more about my God.

When we’re intimately familiar with God, when we don’t just know about Him but really know Him, the most crooked roads we travel are made straight. Not because life is easy. Sifting through emotions like anger, depression, hopelessness, insecurity, and so on is hard stuff! But because when we know God, we know all of this as well:

His STRENGTH that is accessible in our weakness

His COMFORT that meets us as we mourn

His MERCY that withholds the punishment our depravity readily deserves

His PEACE that defies our unrest

His JOY that kisses the cheeks of our sorrow

His COURAGE that makes our weary hearts brave and casts away fears

His REDEMPTION that reworks our brokenness into beauty

His LOVE that binds us to eternity and delights over us with singing

Even when the one-two punches come and feelings are frazzled, I can confidently trust God by faith. Not because I understand all the circumstances, or even like them, but because I know Him. And because I know Him, I can trust that He will provide all I need to process pains, heal from wounds, and move forward in strength, grace, and peace.

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Gwen Smith, author of I Want It All: Exchanging Your Average Life for Deeper Faith, Greater Power, and More Impact, (March 1, 2016, David C Cook) unapologetically urges her readers to want more. “You and I were born for greatness,” Smith writes. “Not for the world’s greatness, but for eternal greatness: to know God and showcase God.”

Standing firm

Smith is quick to say that she is not saying more is better. More may include setbacks, more may include being misunderstood and discouraged, and more may include suffering. But more also means knowing God more deeply, even in the midst of pain. The deepest question behind this search for more from God is this: Do I trust Jesus? Smith helps readers explore this question in light of disappointment and unmet expectations in life.

Pre-order today: I Want It All: Exchanging Your Average Life for Deeper Faith, Greater Power, and More Impact; it is 40% OFF… plus, Amazon is offering a $5 coupon (found under Special Offers section)! This means, you get a book that retails at $16.99 for only $5.11.

More on I Want It All:

About Gwen:

Screen Shot 2016-02-15 at 6.47.00 PMGwen Smith is an author and volleyball enthusiast who lives in sunny North Carolina and has been married to her college honey, Brad, for 23 years. They are tired parents to three tall, competitive-sport-playing teens who keep them on their toes and on their knees. Her online friends meet at GwenSmith.net to connect and be encouraged, and her goal is to help women think big thoughts about God and be inspired to live out the grace and truth of Jesus. Gwen’s new book, I Want It All, (David C. Cook) released on March 1, 2016. She speaks, leads worship, and eats potato chips at women’s events everywhere, and she is a cofounder of the conference and devotional ministry Girlfriends in God.

CHANCE TO WIN: Bloggers & readers, Gwen will be selecting one of you at random to win her books and music. Support Gwen today:

    1. Join her Thunderclap!
    2. Share this post.
    3. Tweet the below tweets or Facebook updates about “I Want It All”!

Tweet: I want to live with so much God courage that I don’t go soft when life gets hard. @GwenSmithMusic #iwantitall http://ctt.ec/ezUl_+

Tweet: We can live w/ great expectations of God bc He loves to do amazing things thru average people @GwenSmithMusic http://ctt.ec/Yg3cU+

Tweet: “The key to trusting God when doubt shoves me off balance is way less about my circumstances & way more about my God.” @GwenSmithMusic

Facebook: “If we want it all, we need to be women who stand firm when our emotions threaten to overwhelm us and courageously believe God for big things.” @GwenSmithMusic #iwantitall

Facebook: “The key to trusting God when doubt shoves me off balance is way less about my circumstances and way more about my God.” @GwenSmithMusic #iwantitall http://amzn.to/1Tk179P

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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.”

Gyms, Playgrounds & Pushing Into Jesus

Pushing Into Jesus

Gyms

Something inside me was brewing. I could hear the voices. I could sense the excitement. It was all around me. I wanted to jump in, I wanted to participate; but, all I could do was stand and stare. Like a frozen spectator, the reflection of the gym class mirror gripped me. Giggles. Smiles. Connections.

Loneliness. Wishes. Sadness.

The were living everything I wanted, the everything I was somehow was not a part of. I was the lone wolf.

Untitled design (10)

I stood smack dab in the middle of the class, but knew I much more belonged on planet Jupiter.

Every inch of me felt vulnerable, “Will they notice that no one is talking with me?”
Every ounce felt embarrassed, “Why don’t I have a friend here too?”
Every bit of me wondered, “Do I look okay?”

Everything in me, made me feel like I was reliving yesterday…

Playgrounds

Playgrounds are places where kids play, except for when you are me. Then they are places where you sit out. They are places where you are left behind. They are places where you watch from the safety of a curb, from a position of arms crossed or from a nurses office for safe keeping, because what you know is: on these grounds everything you believe about yourself is being determined. 

Things like:

1. I must not be likable.
2. I have some weird gene that excludes me.
3. I think differently.

I reached out my hand to be friends with one of the girls. I tried; I tried so hard to extend myself beyond myself. I looked in her eyes – and she looked back too.  There was hope!

Then, her friend walked by, reached out for her arm and said, “Don’t be friends with her.”

pushing into Jesus

Said and done – from that point on everyone acted cold. Standing on that field, playing whatever sports game we where playing, a little piece of determination and a little piece of resolution was lost. I kicked softly and felt horribly. And walked home solemnly figuring there was something wrong with me.

I wonder if Jesus ever felt like me?

A moral, good and righteous odd-ball-out kind of kid?
Without sin, yet having to dwell in sin (Heb. 4:15)?
Immersed in a world of pain, when he was used to the wealth of paradise?
Hated by those he loved and shamed by those he came to save?
Might those he loved felt awkward and restrained near him in sight of his greatness, his perfection?

And what about when Jesus was about to head to the cross? No one could understand his grief. No one could fathom the far depths of his love. No one could walk in the shoes that would cleanse the whole world with righteousness. No one could understand what it feels like to be “forsaken” (Mt. 27:46).

Surely, I am not nearly like Jesus, but I think Jesus might have felt a little like me – alone. Not understood. Weary.

Pushing Into Jesus

When I step back from all this – to look at Jesus and myself, I start to see something emerge.

What strikes me is: How often am I like those who stood around Jesus – just a little scared of him?

How often do I believe Jesus looks at me and says,
“Her, no…. you don’t want to be friends with her”
and then he grabs all his love and walks out the door?

When we feel like Jesus is ready to abandon us,
we become hyper-aware that the world will too.

Deflect his love and you will deflect all love.
Intersect with Jesus’ love and you’ll be resurrected by it.

Do you ever feel unable to receive the fullness of God’s love?

5 Ways to Tell if You are a Love-Deflecter:

1. You feel guilty beyond guilty when you make a mistake. You can’t get over it.
2. You sometimes fall trapped to believing: God is too big and too mighty to hear your small prayers – or answer them.
3. When you close your eyes and imagine meeting Jesus in heaven, you see him squinty eyed as he greets you.
4. You figure a way out of trials, verses letting God’s love hold you through them.
5. The past makes you think he runs from your past too.

There is no ounce of shame, that disqualifies you from the power of his name.
There is no ounce of shame, that disqualifies me from the power of his name.
Say it aloud if you need to.

Jesus knows our pain and loves us the same.
pushing into Jesus

He felt pain and won the game.
He knows our cries – and cries with us.
He bring us to the sinking point of love,
found at the foot of the cross.
Where the past has bounds,
but the future is boundless,
where pain exists,
but where love swallows its power.
Where life is made new again,
and past handicaps become moot.
Where the compassion goes on and on and on,
and where small kids are made whole again.

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