Purposeful Faith

Tag - fear

Move From Detrimental Fear to Reverential Awe

detrimental fear

What is most effective thing at stopping someone?

Fear.

It makes you sleepless and hurried and doubting and fretting.
It makes you freeze like a statue of uncertainty in the face of family issues.
It makes you lash out at those you love because of how they’re treating you.
It makes you avoid truth, because you can’t handle facing it.
It makes you not want to leave your house, breaking at the thought of happenstance situations.
It makes you turn from the face of God towards the face of your man-made solutions.
It makes you run ineffective circles to try to calm and fix yourself.
It makes you quiet when you know you should be speaking out.
It makes you grab on to those you love in unhealthy ways.
It makes you a worrier, an anxiety ball and a mangled line of hooks that hurt.
It makes you a spectator and not an promoter of Christ Jesus.
It makes you forget God and remember self.
It makes you takes your “this little light of mine” – and hide it under a bushel.

Have you ever considered?

Perhaps fear is the exact place the enemy wants you to be.

For then, you won’t see God. You will miss him only to see the shape of dark clouds taking form over your head. You’ll see them move, like a harbinger of all you don’t want to happen, they’ll consume your eyes with the possibilities and then divert them from the one moving them all along. Suddenly, you become so fixated on colors of dark and shadows of gray, you become certain you are alone, unprepared and ready to be drenched.

Yet, all this while, what you did not realize, is that the Lord, with his clouds and his movement, was creating a dramatic masterpiece in this sky. Perhaps, he was just showing his ownership of everything below it. Perhaps, he was showing his ability to water the world, not to ruin it. To create new seeds, not to demolish them.

What will we see? How will we see it?

But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favor with God. Lu. 1:30

Truth is – you can’t follow fear – and the Lord – with the same fervency.

You can’t be a shiner and a hider.
A complainer and a worshiper.
A victor and a cowerer.
A force and a fort of self-protection.

You will either be thrilled by God
or thrilled into shock of all that surrounds you.

You will either walk on water, keeping your eyes steadfast,
or you will sink fast into the waters around you.

You will either walk by faith, and not by sight
or your sight will become marred, mangled and, ultimately, blind.

You will either be determined, diligent and dedicated to the race or you will fall on the sidelines.

Small choices make all the difference.

Think Judas. This disciple took his own life.
Think David. He fell right into adultery.
Think of Lot’s wife. She looked back towards sin, and became a pillar of salt.

Fear makes a whole lot of people do a whole lot of things they never wish they did –
but still, they did.

We have a decision to make.

Will we move nowhere in fear, or will we move somewhere – even towards the face of God – in spite of it?

Is this too intense for you? Maybe this is the point, intense is what we need. Intense is what we crave. Intense is what we have to be to fight back intense.

Intense times call for intense measures.

I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth. Rev. 3:15-16

Never let your mind forget: God is not a fan “I fall somewhere in the middle.”

He is a fan of small movement towards something different, of small beginnings, of pivots…and he is a tremendous fan of you …

A big fan.
A huge fan.
A fan that he wants watching his game.
The game of encouragement, hope and life.
The game that will rise you out of your seat and make you chant his name.
That is the game that counts – the one to watch.
The one where its fans get a little roudy – on his behalf.
The one that never ends.
The one that looks bad, but ends well.
If you watch this star, you are sure going to win.
You are sure going to make strides.
You are sure going to do his will.
You are sure going to find hope.
You are sure going to be sure.
You are sure to be equipped.
You are sure to be carried through.
You are sure to get all you need.

“Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews?
We saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.” Mt. 2:2

The star in the East.
​It hits us.
Dropping us first to our knees.
In submission to the magnitude
of the force that is forcing nature to move.
Then it raises us up in worship,
it beckons us to look high,
to notice what is high,
to take notice of our lows,
and to thank God for this glow.
Our hearts are compelled to worship,
and worship him we do,
then our feet move to follow.
They follow to the place,
a place we don’t know,
but he does,
and that is all that matters,
for he is there,
the beating love of Jesus.
And he waits for our will to want him,
to pursue,
to arrive,
to be,
for then we can
breathe it in
and consume every part of goodness.
We can inhale love
and exhale grace.
And when we do,
nothing is ever the same again.

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When Others Make you Uneasy

Others Make you Uneasy

When I was with her, like a mind-reader, I could sense her emotions.
I could feel her temperatures rising – to the heights of Pluto.
I could sense all was not well with her soul.
Her words were shorter, her breathing tighter and her laughter less.

And all I could think was – what can I do to make her feel better?

Do you ever feel like me? Responsible to make others happy?

It wasn’t that life was crashing in. She was just handling groceries, dishes and daily clean up.

Yet, still, no matter how I talked, or what I did, her feelings didn’t seem to clean up. They didn’t. Despite my underlying words of: “Pull it together, so we can have fun together,” she didn’t budge.

And, then, what I did made it ten times worse, I’ll tell ya’ll, because I literally walked over, picked up her feelings and placed them inside me. I attached them to my heart like a fungus that even armies can’t beat. I wore anxiety just the same as her.

If you can’t beat ’em, join em,
unless you’re trying to minister to ’em,
and then you have probably just wrecked ’em.

Stepping back has given me the chance to see some things:

  1. The wounded can’t easily be rescued by the wounded.
  2. The wounded often need the Master Physician not the master fixer.
  3. The wounded are hurting and sometimes space is the place where their heart finds peace.
  4. If you want to minister and not manipulate, you have to terminate your need to placate.
  5. If you want to stay at peace, you have to let others own their own feelings.

I am not the peace-maker, the joy-jester or the emotion-keeper, I am just as much a sinful soul that could fall down right next to that person if I am not careful.

I could fall down with the thoughts:
I did something wrong.
It is all my fault.
She will not return to happiness today.
I will have a horrible day.
I don’t know what is about to happen.

Knowing this, there is only one place to land oneself in a moment like this –
at the melting-point of God’s Word:

The Lord is on my side; I will not fear. What can man do to me? Ps. 118:6

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

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. Prov. 3:5

There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear… 1 Jo. 4:18

If God is in charge, I don’t have to be.

If I can leave him with my anxieties, I don’t need them.

If I trust him, I can trust he will work out that persons issue.

If I let him work, he will accomplish change in atmospheres better than I ever could.

If I let go of worrying about others, I can find peace.

If I step back, I can see his power at work between the space of me and them.

If I lean on God in the turbulence of fear, I can find strength in the face of hope.

Where might God be calling you to lean in?

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5 Ways Your Faith is Tricking You

Your Faith is Tricking You

There is under-the-table game you cannot see.
Its aim is to trick you, to train you and to teach you in ways other than Christ’s.

You think you are doing good,
because good you try to do,
but the only good you really do is for you. TRICKED.

You are too busy with life,
to find life in the Word. TRICKED.

You let people consume your time,
then you find no time with God. TRICKED.

You believe the more you control your world,
the more your world won’t batter you. TRICKED.

You believe your yesterday is at work to invalidate
the love God is showering on you today. TRICKED.

You believe that you can’t be forgiven,
for forgiveness could never cover the vast sea of your wrongs. TRICKED.

You believe that all joy, riches and happy days should follow Christians. TRICKED.

You seek knowing and loving the blessings over the blesser. TRICKED.

You are so much better than that other sinful man. TRICKED.

You cling, like a mother with a delinquent child, to avoidance and denial rather than crying out to your maker. TRICKED.

When we seek after rainbow, puppy dog and flower Christianity,
we end up loaded with cute things, but far from Jesus.

As a result, our heart holds bitterness and anger at the one who failed us. We see God as a failed Santa, rather than a gracious father. We see God as a punisher rather than a lover. We see God as an acquaintance, rather than a trusted confidante.

There are some hard lines to Christianity – and rather than tiptoe around them as if they don’t exist, sometimes, just sometimes, it is valuable to take a deep and hard look at them to say, “This is what I am called to and, heart, please follow through. God help me.”

5 Ways We Need to Get Real with Faith

– 1. As Jesus called the disciples to leave treasure behind, we must leave behind treasure that stands above the riches we find in Christ.  

“Do not get any gold or silver or copper to take with you in your belts—  no bag for the journey or extra shirt or sandals or a staff, for the worker is worth his keep. Mt. 10:9-10

– 2. Expect to find unexpected persecution.  

You will be hated by everyone because of me, but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved.” Mt. 10:22

– 3. If you can’t stand or speak in the face of pain, the Spirit will give you the words.

At that time you will be given what to say,  for it will not be you speaking, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you.” Mt. 10:19-20

– 4. People will hate you.

You will be hated by everyone because of me, but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved.” Mt. 10:22

– 5. Standing firm in faith, means standing in joy in heaven. 

“Whoever acknowledges me before others, I will also acknowledge before my Father in heaven. But whoever disowns me before others, I will disown before my Father in heaven.” Mt. 10:33

Dying to self, means coming alive to Christ.

“To live is Christ and to die is gain.” Phil. 1:21

When we keep our eyes, not on the sleight of hand, but on the hand of God – we see that we can endure to the end with his help. We see that there are tricks, traps and talks set to deter us. We see we must “be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves,” (Mt. 10:16) so that we can be sure that no one deceives us. (Mt. 24:4)

We get real about faith and we are equipped to really stand to the end.

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5 Ways You (Inadvertently) Fight Off God

Fight Off God

I don’t know about you, but if someone was to ask me, I would say, “Yes, I want more of God.”

In fact, I would probably even go on to tell them, “I want God’s everything. I want to be so close to him. I want to draw near.”

And this is the truth. But, in a way, it is also a lie. Because I notice I play other tricks with God – tricks where I motion one hand, saying, “Come close”, all the while holding one arm out saying, “Stay back.”

It’s like my inside is at war with my outside, which truly I guess it is – and this is the point.

For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever you want. Gal. 5:17

Do you call for God to come near, all the while fearing that he may?

When we step back to see the war for what it really is, we see it. This tug of war is truly our greatest fight, our ultimate conflict and the most important war of our lives.

Will we fight to win or lay back and prepare to lose?

5 Ways We Get in a Tug-of-War Against God

1. The Spirit tugs: stay close to God.
The flesh tugs: you can’t trust him.

Come near to God and he will come near to you. Ja. 4:8

2. The Spirit tugs: Believe He can heal, help and harness what is coming against you.
The flesh tugs: God wouldn’t do something that amazing for me.

Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us. . . Eph. 3:20

3. The Spirit tugs: Open your real heart, so God can do real work in you.
The flesh tugs: Run from vulnerability, God will hate you.

I think of God, and I moan, overwhelmed with longing for his help. Ps. 77:3

4. The Spirit tugs: Listen to my small voice – and obey – and you will find your way.
The flesh tugs: That is too hard, too inconvenient and too uncomfortable.

He replied, “Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and obey it.” Lu. 11:28

5. The Spirit tugs: God’s change is the beginning of your hope.
The flesh tugs: Run from change, it will change everything good about your life.

There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. 1 Jo. 4:18

When we let God in, he changes everything within.

When we lay down walls, he plows through with a mission of love.
When we break what keeps us stuck, we trample over the past with a vengeance. 
When we let him in – to see through his eyes – we start to see compassion and faith anew.
When we unarm, he arms us in indwelling truth.
When we seek his face, we are staggered by it.
When we come undone, he undoes the pain we have walked in for so long.
When we let him plow the fields of ruin, we find new buds of life forming.
When we back into his loving arms, we crash into hope – straight up hope.
When we realize we can’t do it without him, we start to see that we can do it.
When we bare the ugly, he makes it beautiful.

When we live intimate with God, we start to imitate God.

From the ends of the earth, I cry to you for help when my heart is overwhelmed.  Psalm 61:2

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How to Fight to Win

Fight to Win

It is that thing that pretty much all of us hate.

It’s what we would rather run from than run straight into.

It’s what makes us speak accusations
instead of affirmations.

It’s what drives us bat crazy,
feeling like we are chasing a shifting shadows of ever changing goals and needs.

It’s what sends us to mindsets of sin rather than pastures of holiness.

It is called conflict.

It is that thing that we don’t know why, we as Christians have to deal with – yet, we do. Somehow and sometimes, we just hit it. And as ugly as it is, we often stand, right in the midst of it, wondering how something so icky, so yucky and so unsavory, could exist in one who is trying to pursue God so wholly? 

How a God seeker could turn into more of a raging lunatic than a calming saint?

How this very growth of mold could threaten to swallow God’s very light shining on it?

But, yet, if we stop and think, sometimes our heart actually lands at the truth, doesn’t it?

God’s light is still shining – even when our heart isn’t.

There is no amount of disgrace, shame and darkness that can remove the ray of light shining on you. Like the rays that follow your tin can of transport, so does God go. Like the light that reflect off the tiny pieces of dirt on the side of the road, so does God go. Like the moon that shines even in the darkness, so does God go.  You can’t stop the places his light shine.

God’s light shines hope into every endless pit of death and decay –
it can’t help but make things grow.

The glow of repair is always available – and the glow is a He and he waits for our call, so that he can run to our rescue, operating tools and all, to reshape us into glory, faster than one can mutter “Thank you.”

God didn’t save his glow for the perfect, he shines it on the sinners.

The only hindrance for us receiving it, is us believing dirty rotten scoundrels can really handle it without ruining everything.

It is moving in, rather than running away.
It is waiting, rather than hiding.
It is believing grace rather than fear.
It is relaxing into his work, rather than resisting it.

Conflict is the great body shop of God’s repair,
for it is here that he points out the greatest defects of our hearts.

The amazing part is – when those who are defected,
continually run to him who is resurrected,
we can’t help but find ourselves more and more perfected. 

So, be not discouraged, he is helping us.
Be not dismayed, he is with us in the heat of the moment, despite the coldness of our heart.
Be not disgraced, he calls us to see, not our bad moves, but his great ones.
Be not downright angry, he leads us to listen, so then we can understand.
Be not debased, he calls us to set our ways down, so we can come alive to his.
Be not defeated, he calls us to victory in Christ, so then we may be free.
Be not dejected, he calls us to new ways of thinking, so we don’t live furious.
Be not defamed, you are always loved in his eyes.
Be not defensive, his correction spoken might be your ticket to fullness.
Be not down and out, you are permanently Christ’s new creation.
Be not disqualified, nothing can remove you from the hand of God.
Be not denied, Christ already died to fully accept you.

The key is to pray so we don’t fall prey, but so we find God’s way. His way is the greatest cease and desist order to the devil and the most potent concoction of peace there is.

Suddenly, what we find is – it’s not so much about winning, but much more about letting Christ win our hearts over in love – so everything flows according to HIS plan.

Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Col. 3:12

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The Myth Of Control

I am more than delighted to welcome a true woman of the Lord, Karina, to the Purposeful Faith blog. From the minute I met her, I could see love, joy and passion written all over her. Karina is an example of transparency and authentic pursuit of God. I couldn’t be more happy to have her on Purposeful Faith as a regular contributor. I hope you enjoy her heart as much as I do.

Post by Karina

I have this struggle. I’m sure I am probably the only person who struggles with this issue. I kind of, sort of, maybe, like to be in control. Just a little bit. When a say a little, I mean a lot!

The last 6 months or so have been a bit paradoxical in nature. What I mean is that many amazing things have happened to me! I went out of town several times, have had a few exciting writing opportunities, connected with dear friends and met some new ones! During those exact same months, I have been searching for a roommate. I’m 35 and single and living alone is ridiculously expensive. I normally have a sense from God in which direction to go in when making decisions, but this time around, I had no direction.

I, under no circumstances, like the way that feels! I did my part. I exhausted every avenue to find a roommate and searched high and low for other housing. Nothing made sense. Countless options came and went. No other housing option fit my budget. Again, still no direction. My sweet friend Holly prayed for me one night a couple of months ago after small group. She told me the Lord wanted me to know that this situation was not my fault. I hadn’t done anything wrong. That filled me with such peace and yet still, there was no direction.

Over the past few weeks, the Lord has been so faithful to remind me of the truths that I so easily forget.

For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord.
For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.
Isaiah 55:8-9

God is God. I am not. He is omniscient.

He know all things…the past, the present and the future. His timing and mine are rarely the same thing. After all, He is the one who created time itself. I can effortlessly believe the lie that what I see is all there is or that my time line is perfect. That is NEVER the case. There is a great deal happening in the supernatural that I cannot see and may never see. I am learning to embrace the mystery in knowing God and trusting His ways and His heart especially when I can’t see Him at work.

And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good,
for those who are called according to his purpose.
Romans 8:28

The never changing truth is that God loves me deeply and He loves you deeply. What He does or doesn’t do, what He says or doesn’t say is always for our good. That is what He does and who He is as our Heavenly Father. He doesn’t send pain or suffering or doubt or confusion. Every good and perfect gift comes from Him. When our circumstances are not good and perfect, it breaks His heart. And His desire is to come in and bring healing, purpose and restoration to our lives. I am learning to let Him do just that.

Are you? Is there an area of your life where you have been believing the myth that you are in control?

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Karina 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.”

I Lied To You. Getting Serious About Sin.

Serious About Sin

I lied to you all.

Last week, I said I wouldn’t look…I made a pledge, a promise and an oath that I was going to breakaway from a specific sin – and move to breakthrough. Remember? I made a commitment to each of you. I said, I wasn’t going to look at my blog numbers. I said, I would avoid them, so as not to set my heart on them. That is all fine and dandy, except for one thing – I didn’t.

I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. Ro. 7:15

Because I hate what I do, I tend to:

1. Blame – “Every time I opened my page to post the numbers were right there on the right hand side and I couldn’t help but take a gander.”
2. Excuse – “It’s no big deal I looked, more than once.”
3. Deny – “Friends, I have been doing great. No issues over here.”
4. Give up – “Ahh..oh well God, guess this one isn’t going to work.”
5. Get guilty – “I can’t believe I couldn’t follow through on this one small thing.”

And yes, absolutely, my friends, there is a grace for a poor soul like me, for a woman who falls down far more often than she stands up. Thank you Jesus for that! But we don’t just chalk up an image of amazing grace and turn our backs, we chalk repentance on the dashboard of our will so we don’t slam into that dang dashboard yet again, bruising and battering our face.

Where do you find your face ends up
bruised and battered from a repeated sin?

Are you walking in spirit and truth,
or are you walking in flesh and failure?

My friends, don’t be like I am, often afraid to consider #1-5 above (and therefore landing in #3). There is no condemnation. There is no shame. That was simply ruled out when Christ ruled on the cross. But, what is not ruled out is the fact that Jesus is not okay with grey areas of sin. 

Be angry, and yet, do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and do not give the devil an opportunity. (Eph. 4:27)

Sin is serious; Jesus said if our hand causes us to sin we gotta get the machete and cut that thing off (well, not literally, but you get the idea). (Mt. 5:30) His point is this process may hurt. It may hurt our insides to change, it may hurt as others deny or reject us and it may hurt normalcy. Jesus never said it wouldn’t hurt, but he boldly said we must get proactive to cut it off.

Failure to do so, is like putting a kid in a candy shop and telling him that he can smell but not bite. It is not happening, fellow sinners! That kid is going to jump in to devour disobedience faster than a gooey gummy bear can slide down his small throat.

What sin we sit around looking at, we will eventually grab, unwrap, salivate over and then eat – hook line full of guilt, sinking us to shame.

You can’t hang around lurking sin and think it won’t attack you. It will.

But, it’s likelihood of entry is far lower if you have set
the alarm system of wisdom to protect you.

Wisdom is foresight that considers what is about to trip.
Wisdom is the intellect that looks at weaknesses, so it can stand strong.
Wisdom is the smarts that stockpiles truth so, when evil arrives, it is prepared.
Wisdom is the brain that sets boundaries and lines around what is most sacred.
Wisdom is the fortitude that seeks to pressure wash it’s temple through prayer.
Wisdom is the mindset that gets active about what it has set its mind on.
Wisdom is the one that knows small things will become big sins in not too long.
Wisdom is the verses that are written all over (whatever) to keep steadfast.
Wisdom is the friend that is a phone call away to help one stay strong.
Wisdom is the stillness established in a day to keep going the right way.
Wisdom is the reliance on the Word that keeps one focused like a champion ping pong player.
Wisdom is the will to have no other will than the will of God.

Wisdom is one who makes a change before sin makes a fool out of them.

It is one who knows that change without pre-set barriers, or safeguards,
is like a bird without wings.

A bird that simply can’t fly towards real spiritual growth.

What boundary do you need to define
so that you don’t end up defined by failure?

I removed my statistics plug-in on my blog. The only way to not look at what you shouldn’t look at, whether alcohol, porn, or online shopping, is to simply cut it off, cut the cord, cut the plug-in or cut whatever – so you don’t get cut. And that is what I decided to do.

You can’t sin if you don’t leave yourself any room to.

Since getting proactive, I haven’t seemingly deactivated my faith by my failure. So, I guess we can consider this a win for Jesus and move on.

What does God want you to move on to as you let go of what holds you back? Consider #1-5 and take flight to new heights of spiritual growth.

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3 Updates for Bloggers.

  1. Thursday, I am announcing a new Purposeful Faith Contributor. Stay tuned here and on Facebook.
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Breaking Normal to Find Phenomenal

Breaking Normal

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

Who knew soccer was so good for mental health?!

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

“Go!”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

God becomes distant.

“He’s out in left-field somewhere!”

Break Out! 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Simple. He is speaking. Are we listening?

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

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

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

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

She had to break out!

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

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

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

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

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

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

What is yours?

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Our 5 Go-To Defensive Stances Against God

Defensive Stances

I just go along my merry day, skipping and jumping and hiking through life, until. . . BANG! I hit a roadblock, a stumbling point or a detour to everything that I had thought, planned and willed.

This just happened to me recently. My husband and I were convinced of what our family needed to do. We investigated, we prayed, we hoped, we looked, but no matter how hard we pushed, God wasn’t opening up a single door for us to move through.

We were stuck, children, without a way.
Isolated, kept in a barren land.
Roaming, unsure of our next step.

It’s normally just about this point when things get ugly.

When we start whispering things under our breath, when we get that under-the-skin-feeling of annoyance, when our good god and his powers seem to have taken the next flight to Siberia.

Ever felt this way?

There are five defenses that push a child of God away,
faster than you can say, “orphan”,  they are:

1. Believing God doesn’t care about your meaningless situation and that the grand scheme of the world takes precedence.

Cast all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you. 1 Peter 5:7

Notice that God does not say, “Only cast God-worthy anxiety on me,” instead he says cast all anxiety on me.

2. Telling yourself, “Pull it together and act better.”

Trust in him at all times, you people; pour out your hearts to him, for God is our refuge. Ps. 62:8

Let your heart’s pain pour out at the foot of the cross so that his love can co-mingle and release you from their overwhelming power.

3. Uncertainty that God will really answer you. This means you pray a little, worry much and then give up.

Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. Mt. 7:7

God hears and he delights in giving his children good gifts. He hears every prayer.

4. Walking distracted rather than engaged.

I will meditate on your precepts and fix my eyes on your ways. Ps. 119:15

If you are thinking about world things, you will be ruled by it’s ways, not God’s all rescuing truths.

5. Wrapping your arms around worries and your detailed plans that go with them.

Delight yourself in the LORD; And He will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the LORD, Trust also in Him, and He will do it. Ps. 37:4-5

Delight beats up worry then walks you over to your deepest desires.

Will we fortify our lives with man-made defenses
or will we fortify our lives with God’s truth
and move arms open into his great purposes,
believing he is commanding the war?

It is a choice. But, the direction we choose, determines the fullness of our calmness, satisfaction, peace and wellbeing.

The truth is God doesn’t hate us and berate us. He doesn’t restrict us, to inhibit us. He doesn’t withhold pleasure to displeasure us. He guides us to revive us, to indwell us and to compel us.  He brings us from the barrenness of apprehensive and ineffective, to plains of impressive and courageous.

As we learn to take down our defenses, we end up remaining where God is. We dwell in his camp, which means we dwell in a place of complete love.

Here, he calls us to more. He beckons us to greater. He pulls us to insight. And relieves us in truth. He approves of our heart to know him. He delights in our will to rethink things. He enjoys our journey of discovery. He receives our heart to move differently. He answers our call to change. He throws out the crutches of condemnation and removes the splinters of failure. He stands arms wide open, ready to receive our changed heart. He longs that we fear not, and we don’t, instead we draw near.

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How Judging Can Bring Worship

Bring Worship

He was spinning slowly with a gigantic smile.
He was raising his fists, tightly pressed towards his stomach with pointing motions to the sky.
He was leaning in and jumping up.
Smiling.
Moving.
Doing all kinds of crazy stuff.

“Why does he have to distract so many?
Is he making a show for himself or a show of God’s honor?
Is this kind of worship worthwhile?”

Completely distracted from God, my eyes were wallpapered. But, the more I looked, the more his background shined, just like the raindrop tattoo below his left eye. The more I looked, the more hardship, gangs, and possibly prison sentences were likely. The more I looked, the more I saw the real joy of absolute freedom, applicable grace and abundant peace written on his face of admiration and adoration.

I saw all of this. And then I saw him start to spin circles, eyes wide open, with me standing right behind him. The smile wouldn’t stop.

Circles?
Eye contact?
Awkward. Odd.

You couldn’t miss this one, so I didn’t. I watched even more.

And what I eventually noticed was this: for this man, it didn’t seem to be about showing off, or grabbing attention, but simply about celebrating his now set-free love with his full being, his entire body and all his emotions because one, far greater than himself, saved him. He appeared to be almost in the very throne room of Christ, simply enjoying the lavish love of his Savior.

Perhaps, he relished in the love that was always so hard to obtain? Moved into the acceptance that might have always turned the other direction? Basked in light that eluded him, crying “Amazing Grace” from a heart that lived anything but amazing – and probably agonizing in comparison?

Perhaps this man really got the point of worship.

Worship is the satiating wellspring of what never had a chance to spring up before Christ.

It is the power of a Savior to save you again in your moment of need.

It is celebrating the light of day,
despite the dark of night you lived because of your crime-laden past.

Does my heart move in tandem with Jesus’ in reckless, all-out, arms-open, heart-heeded abandon?

I don’t have to spin wild circles and make hand-gestures like a catcher, but the point is, would I or could I? In an outpouring of thanks, in the name of Jesus, could I pour out my heart through worship without worrying and fearing that I was embarrassing myself?

Would I go to those lengths to show him outlandish love?

  • To offer an outpouring of my best self and my highest worth, just as the woman washed Jesus’ feet in undressed affection: A woman came to him with an alabaster jar of very expensive perfume, which she poured on his head as he was reclining at the table. Mt. 26:7

Others probably thought she was crazy.

  • Judas, the one who eventually walked right up to betrayal, shook hands with it and fell to its power, had this to say about the moment: “Why wasn’t this perfume sold and the money given to the poor? It was worth a year’s wages.” Jo. 12:5

Why does this worship-dancer have to be so crazy?
Why does he have to draw attention?
Why does he have to make a show?

Maybe the issue is not him – but me. I think I am far to comfortable with being comfortable. I am far too complacent in my complacent worship. I am far too judgy with Christian judgements.

Is this attitude bringing me closer to God’s heart?

Or is it simply pushing me out of God’s ring, to stand on the sidelines with a pointed finger?

Perhaps the things I want to judge are the things God is using to give me a nudge.

Perhaps the people that I look to mock,
are those that should make me take stock over my spiritual walk.

Perhaps what I resist, is exactly where God wants me to persist.

You see, this man taught me a lesson.  By taking a short second-break from analyzing and critiquing, I could see the heart of God revealing and beating.

I remembered how much Jesus loves outlandish outpourings
of everything on to him.

But, how often are we too far consumed with the action’s of others, that the lessons of God fall on a path of concrete and grow no roots?

This man, he taught me how to give it all over. He taught me how to smile the words, “Worthy is the lamb,” and to mean it from every cell of one’s soul. He taught me, that the best gifts are the ones that are offered to God through a heart that is only outpouring for him. He taught me, don’t judge the ones who are different, because their “different” may be what brings us into “oneness” with God. He taught me to accept what is outside of my God-parameters. He taught me to be a little bit more open to other’s interpretive movements of surrendered love.

He taught me that my judgements are cause for greater worship,
because they are already forgiven.

So, as they ushered him out of the church aisle, and escorted him out of the church, I said, “Thank you God for this man, you see, what was lost, is now found for him – and he knows it. But, more importantly, he is not afraid to show it. Help me to be like him – not just to know, but to celebrate every cell of goodness stored up in the gift of you.  Help me to love you freely and fanatically today.”

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