Purposeful Faith

Tag - God

A Heart of God Over a Heart of Fear

Heart of God

I have been on a wild and crazy hunt to figure out how to get more of God – into me. 

It’s wild because I often live in the wilderness – in the rocky ups and downs of faith. It’s just wild that a great God like him would want to dive into the disobedient heart of a girl like me. My head says yes, but sometimes, my heart says, it’s too off his beaten path.

It’s crazy because, I can’t even conceive how someone so “everywhere” and “always”, so above-it-all and so robe-laden, someone who made everything and with so much to do, could want to reside in measly me? Aren’t there a lot more exciting and missional places that he wants to focus?

But, it’s true.

God practically offers us all of him on a golden platter saying, I give you my heart. Will you take it? He doesn’t offer a part, a sliver, a shard, a splinter; he takes his whole body and throws it on the table for us, for vulture-like beings who did nothing to earn his gift of death.

“Take and eat; this is my body.” Mt. 26:26

He offers, but do I even value his gift?

The truth is the presence of his body, his life and his power is the greatest gift I could ever receive.

But, I must make a choice to eat his spiritual nourishment.

When my stomach turns in knots,
when holes trip me up,
when I shake in the darkness,
I must look up, verses looking around and see the one who is always ready to be found.

He is always ready to lead me in right ways.

His hand leads to truth.
Truth leads to love.
Love leads to fearlessness.
Fearlessness leads to passion and joy.

There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love. 1 Jo. 4:8

I wonder how often I hold back me – from God?

I wonder how much I fear his presence in me
because he seems too great above me?

How often I fear condemnation?
Even though I know his condemnation doesn’t even exist for me (Ro 8:1).

I forget “he who began a good work will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” (Phil. 1:6)

How often do you hold back because you feel unworthy?

Or try to gain worthiness?
Even though it’s impossible to be the weight lifter of his power.

Only one can carry (and carried) that weight.

that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. Eph. 3:16-17

The reality is, we need to the strength of the Spirit
so that we can welcome in the strength of the Savior.

Then, the strength of the Savior more and more pushes out
the strength of the sinner.

It’s like the Spirit does the internal cleaning,
so the temple is clean, prepared and ready to be inhabited.

Jesus silences sins through surrendered faith. The sinner is siphoned away and more and more the new creation takes over. The sinner’s fears are left in the dust; the Spirit and Jesus become the only ones to trust.

I want this to happen more and more for me, don’t you? This happens when we call on the power of the Spirit to expand the territory of the Savior. 

It doesn’t matter where you live – in the wilderness, in trials, in temptation, in sin – confess and call. That’s it.

Then we will find the power of God will move in – to move out – all that keeps us from him.

Did you enjoy “A Heart of God Over A Heart Of Fear?” Get all Purposeful Faith blog posts by email – click here.

Are you a blogger? Be sure to join us for the #RaRalinkup every Tuesday.

Today I am linking with #LiveFreeThursday, #DancewithJesus and #FiveMinuteFriday.

The River of Delights

River of Delights

Post by Angela Parlin

This is my view all week, sunup to sundown.

It’s summer vacation, and our family loves to spend these days at the beach, just a couple hours from home. Our first morning here this year, I opened my Bible to these fitting and beautiful words:

How priceless is your unfailing love, O God!

People take refuge in the shadow of your wings.

They feast on the abundance of your house;

You give them drink from your river of delights.

(Psalm 36)

From this day forward, I think I’ll refer to the Atlantic as–The River of Delights.

Which makes me feel like Anne Shirley, but it’s true. Is there anything so irresistible? Crowds pour onto the sand each day in agreement.

The ocean overwhelms me, with shades of blue as far as the eye can see. Something about standing in front of this vast body of water lulls me home inside. When I’m here, I remember–this power is God, this beauty is His, these constant waves roll in like good gifts He’s always giving.

God serves up drinks, from His river of delights. He lays out a feast, from the abundance of His house.

Other scriptures say:

  • He shows us the path to life.
  • He fills us with joy and eternal pleasures.
  • He blesses us.
  • He fills us with good things.
  • It is good to be near God.

We could fill pages with similar lines from Scripture.

Is this how you see God?

Sometimes I’m oblivious to His delights. I miss this part of Him. Yet joy and abundance and life are part of who He is and what He offers us.

I wonder how we ever walk through days without this consciousness.

Maybe delight is crowded out by a critical spirit or cynicism or complaint. Maybe we’re focused on what we bring to the table instead of who God is. Maybe we fail to understand the whole picture of Him or we simply forget.

His living and active Word and His stunning creation repeatedly remind us. We feast on the abundance of His house; we drink from His river of delights. But who?

Who enjoys this abundance? People who take refuge in the shadow of His wings.

When I think of taking refuge in God, I assume there’s danger–some kind of storm. A cancer scare, a searing loss, a terrifying fall or some other difficult trial. Many verses speak of taking refuge in God as our shelter from danger or sickness or troubles.

But I find an interesting connection between taking refuge in the shadow of His wings—and joy + delight + abundance.

What does it mean to take refuge under His wings? Some versions call this hiding ourselves in Him or putting our trust in Him. It also means we find JOY in Him. We seek Him above all else, and we see all these earthly pleasures as gifts He sets before us.

Every sunrise, every sunset. Every ocean. Every mountaintop experience. Every encounter with people we love. Every delicious meal. Every ordinary day. Every vacation or adventure.

It all comes from the abundance of His house, another satisfying drink from His river of delights.

In sickness and in health, through storms or sunny days, may we revel in His gifts, with hearts turned toward God.

May we live, deeply grateful as we hide in Him, taking refuge in the shadow of His wings.

For with you is the fountain of life ~ in your light we see light. Psalm 36:9

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

Angela Parlin

Angela Parlin is a wife and mom to 3 rowdy boys and 1 sweet girl. In addition to spending time with friends and family, she loves to read and write, spend days at the beach, watch romantic comedies, and organize closets. But most of all, she loves Jesus and writes to call attention to the beauty of life in Christ, even when that life collaborates with chaos. Join her at www.angelaparlin.com, So Much Beauty In All This Chaos.

Linking with 3D Lessons and Faith Barista.

When Prayer Gets Hard

When Prayer Gets Hard

Guest post by: Kelly O’Dell Stanley

Praying for YOU is easy.

If you come to me and ask for prayer, these are the words I will have for you:
All things are possible. God is a healer. Hold tight to your faith. Just believe.

I will carry your request to God, believing He can do anything. And that He will.

Absolutely.

It’s easy enough to pray for my friends. I don’t even hesitate.

But for me?

Sometimes the only words that will come are ugly, insidious whispers:

You are not enough.
You don’t deserve what you want.
You haven’t been faithful enough.
You haven’t trusted Him enough.
He’s not going to come through for you, so don’t get your hopes up.

It’s a form of self-flagellation at its worst. Beating myself up and living in the assurance that because of all of my failures, God, too, will fail. Or, at the very least, will fail to act.

It’s a cruel torture that leaves a mark as surely as a whip would do.

A few months ago, I found a lump in my breast. Instead of a regular mammogram, they scheduled me for a high-res, diagnostic ultrasound. I had to wait longer to get in. And I knew, I just knew, that the best thing I could hope for would be an assurance that “it’s probably nothing, but we need to do a biopsy.” I figured I’d have to schedule a procedure or two. And wait. And wait a little more.

Instead of leaning on God, I snapped at my husband. Criticized everything in sight. And tried and tried to pray, but all I could manage was, “Dear Lord,” before I’d stop.

Stumped. Afraid. Before I’d dwell on the fact that Mom died of cancer. That my dad had cancer. That my sister’s best friend died from breast cancer. That one in eight women will get it. And that there’s no reason in the world why that should not be me.

As I sat in that waiting room, with the little pink shirt-gown on, while my technician prepared the machine, I couldn’t focus.

I finally cried.
And I was so afraid.
Too afraid to really pray.

So I tried to block out all of my thoughts with a simple melody. The melody to Hallelujah (You Never Let Go), sung by Jeremy Camp came into my mind, and I thought-sang-prayed, You are with me, Hallelujah. You are with me, Hallelujah…

And I let those words push away my fears.
I let them drown out the what-ifs and oh-nos.

It’s so easy to forget God is with us. That He. Is. Right. There. With. Us.

No matter what we feel. No matter where we go. So I just kept repeating that chorus. Until I believed it.

Felt it. Rested in it.

After the ultrasound, the radiologist assured me that there is nothing there. It’s normal fibrous breast tissue. No cyst, no tumor. Nothing. I’m fine. I could have sighed with relief and moved on, like we often do, forgetting about it now that I’m past the scary part.

But the situation got me thinking.

I believe with all my heart in the power of prayer (so much so that I wrote a book about it). And if I still have my moments of doubt, if I still think that maybe God will come through for everyone else but not listen to me, then many of you probably feel that way, too.

What if, just for today, we let ourselves pray as though God is everything we want Him to be?

Everything that we think He is or should be?

 What if we prayed full of belief?

What if we stopped torturing ourselves for our failings?

What if God shows up?

What if this is the moment when everything will change?

What if I can summon as much faith for myself as I can summon for you?

What miracles do you suppose we’d see?

                                                                                                                       Let’s find out.

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

Screen Shot 2015-05-07 at 11.02.22 AM

Kelly O’Dell Stanley is a graphic designer, writer, and author of the new book, Praying Upside
Down, which releases May 1. With more than two decades of experience in advertising, three kids ranging
from 21 to 14, and a husband of 24 years, she’s learned to look at life in unconventional ways—sometimes
even upside down. Full of doubt and full of faith, she constantly seeks new ways to see what’s happening
all around her. Subscribe to her blog (www.prayingupsidedown.com) to download her free ebook, Praying
in Full Color, along with this month’s prayer prompt calendar to jump-start your prayer life.

Screen Shot 2015-05-07 at 11.02.46 AM

Purchase links:
Amazon
Barnes & Noble
*Also available at christianbooks.com, Lifeway, Books-a-Million, Parable, and others

Join Kelly on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.

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

 

Mercy Inspires Worship

In View of God's Mercy

Post By: Angela Parlin

Everyone worship the Lord.

Ascribe Him the glory due Him. Proclaim His majesty.

Be in awe before such power.

Come worship wonderful Yahweh, in all His holy beauty.

Give Him the honor due His name!

(Excerpts from Psalm 29, NIV & Passion Translation)

One of my highlights this year has been sitting with the Lord alone most days, praying without multitasking. In this time, I worship and adore God, confess my sins, thank Him for an incredible amount of blessings, and pour out my cares before Him, asking for His help.

I had no idea worship would become the part of my prayers I long for most.

I didn’t realize I would set out to give the Lord the honor due His name–yet I would receive so much blessing.

It’s not that I failed to worship the Lord before. It’s just that I didn’t take regular time away from other people–and other tasks–in order to worship Him alone. To worship without multitasking.

But what is worship, really? Worship is often more than sitting with God alone, in prayer and song.

Look up the definition of worship, and you’ll find a number of ideas. Some think worship is a service you attend, a feeling you have toward a deity, or homage paid to God or another sacred object.

Oxford Dictionary defines worship as “the feeling or expression of reverence and adoration for a deity.”

Paul, the apostle, offers another definition of worship in Romans 12:1-2,

Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God–this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind… (NIV)

True worship begins with a view of God’s mercy.

We have done nothing to deserve His kindness, yet He heaps it upon us.

His mercy includes His unending love for us, even while we were yet sinners, His grace and forgiveness, eternal life by faith, our reconciliation to God, the gift of the Holy Spirit, newness of life, peace, joy, hope, freedom, and even more than all of this.

Just try to remember God’s mercies toward you, without being moved to worship. It’s impossible!

So we worship God, by focusing on His mercies, by preaching the gospel to ourselves again and again, because we so easily forget who God is, the depths of His love for us, and all we have IN Him.

Paul urges us further, to offer our bodies, our whole selves, to God. This is our action step.

We present–or give over to God’s control–our bodies, including our heart and thoughts and attitudes. We do not follow the pattern of the world any longer, because as we offer ourselves to God, He cleans and changes and renews us. 

This practice of viewing God’s mercies, of simply remembering who God is and telling Him, has surprised me this year. The more I worship God, the more I adore Him in my heart.

My whole life falls into clarity when I adore God and remember who He is, and who I am in light of Him.

My cares and concerns don’t disappear–but they fade behind the majesty of God.

So everyone, let’s worship the Lord. Let’s remember who He is, in all His holy beauty, and give Him the honor due His name.

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

Angela Parlin

 Angela Parlin is a wife and mom to 3 rowdy boys and 1 sweet girl. In addition to spending time with friends and family, she loves to read and write, spend days at the beach, watch romantic comedies, and organize closets. But most of all, she loves Jesus and writes to call attention to the beauty of life in Christ, even when that life collaborates with chaos. Join her at www.angelaparlin.com, So Much Beauty In All This Chaos.

 

The Gift of God-With-Us

Post by: Angela Parlin

For a couple months, we’ve looked forward to hosting two sisters, who are orphans, in our home this Christmas. We selected clothes for them to wear, rearranged bedrooms, stocked up on groceries, and scheduled outings. We shopped for Christmas gifts, wrapped them all in red and black glittery paper, and hid them in a closet.

It’s been great fun, preparing for Christmas and getting ready to welcome these little ones into our family for a month.

But then, this week happened, the last week before they arrive. You wouldn’t believe how many things went wrong. (As in, not according to plan.) My stomach feels knotted up. I’ve had to remind myself to breathe. I’m having a really hard time slowing down, especially enough to pray.

We’ve known all along that this could be an amazing month–or it could be a very difficult month. But it’s like this news just now caught up to my insides, for the first time. All the concerns, what ifs, and fears floated to the surface.

I want to look forward with faith, to anticipate great things from God. I don’t want to feel so incapable, or worry about details. I don’t want to give fear some big, shouty platform in my life.

But I don’t feel I have much control over my anxiety right now. So last night, I put myself to bed early. But first, I read a chapter of Luke, where an angel tells Mary she’ll give birth to Immanuel (God With Us). And then I fell asleep thinking about something he told her:

The Lord is with you.

We need that reminder, don’t we? Because sometimes, we know it in our heads, but we live as if we’ve completely forgotten.

Today, I’m still fighting anxiety, so I looked up some places where the Bible repeats this truth, The Lord is with you.

I read about Jacob, who dreamed of a stairway between heaven and earth, where the Lord stood and clearly said to him, I am with you. He woke up and realized, The Lord is in this place, and I did not know it. (Genesis 28)

I can relate. Can you? I have not felt the Lord with me this week. I’ve fixed my eyes on my concerns and to-do lists, more than I’ve fixed my eyes on Jesus. But the Lord is in this place, in this week, even when I don’t feel that way.

I read about Moses, when he considered himself unqualified to lead the Israelites out of Egypt. God said, I will be with you (Exodus 3), and then showed Himself to Moses in so many visible and miraculous ways.

I found numerous reminders of God’s nearness in the Psalms. The Lord is near to His children; The Lord is close to the brokenhearted. (34) God is an ever-present help in trouble. (46) The Lord is near to all who call on Him. (145)

I read parts of Isaiah, where the prophet shares these words from the Lord—So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. (Isaiah 41)

I read about when Jesus arrived in this world, as God-With-Us in the flesh. And then before He left again, He told His followers–Surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age. (Matthew 28)

I could keep going, keep on finding this truth repeated.

The Word of God offers us this beautiful gift—The Lord is with you. It’s a truth we need to remember, and a truth we need to act on.

Whatever your struggle this Christmas, whatever your anxiety, whatever your pain, whatever difficulties you face, please remember this, friend–the Lord is with you. So take your concerns to Him!

God’s Word promises:

  • He will give you rest.
  • He will fill you with peace.
  • He will help you.
  • He will strengthen you.
  • He will give you what you need.
  • He will uphold you.

May we remember, the Lord is with us. Let’s unwrap the gift of God-With-Us this Christmas.

~Angela Parlin

ang3

Angela Parlin is a wife and mom to 3 rowdy boys and 1 sweet girl. In addition to spending time with friends and family, she loves to read and write, spend days at the beach, watch romantic comedies, and organize closets. But most of all, she loves Jesus and writes to call attention to the beauty of life in Christ, even when that life collaborates with chaos. Join her at www.angelaparlin.com, So Much Beauty In All This Chaos. 

From Complaints to Thanks

Post By: Angela Parlin

I stood beside their beds in the dark, praying for each of my 3 little ones while they slept. Every night on my way to bed, I whispered thanks to God for the gift of being their Mommy. But often tears fell, because I knew the truth of that day. And the one before.

I was discontent with that season of my life, and I had become an under-the-breath complainer.

I didn’t always like that this was what God had called me to do. Because it looked like endless wiping. Wiping counters, spills, bottoms, floors, always wiping.

With a preschooler, a toddler, and a baby, my days looked like finding messes by the handfuls, like potty training and nursing and living chronically behind in housework. It was harder than I’d expected. I loved my babies so much, and yet I wished away the hard parts of those days.

One day, after lunch, I stepped in a huge blob of strawberry jam on the kitchen floor. When I grabbed for a dishrag to wipe it up, I ran my arm through more jam on the edge of the counter. I looked up to see this little trail of jam, smudged across the kitchen cabinets, and started to cry.

I felt mad about the mess, about the way I couldn’t stay on top of 6 sticky little hands, mad at my kitchen, mad at jelly, just mad.

And then, I noticed a verse I had taped onto the fridge, written in beautiful calligraphy:

Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. 1 Thessalonians 5:18, NIV

The phrase, “this is God’s will for you” wouldn’t leave me alone.

His will for me then included days full of messes, all waiting for me to clean them up.

His will included a jelly-coated kitchen some days, and jelly-filled hands to clean.

His will included loving and serving three little people, much of which would be done from the ground, on bended knees.

His will for me also included giving thanks, even in never-ending, sticky-mess moments.

It’s easy to thank God when life feels good, when the house is tidy and the days go as planned. But thank God in the middle of the mess? I didn’t even know how. I hated messes.

I decided right then, to try, even though I didn’t really feel it. So I thanked God for the day He made, for the home we lived in, for three little people with small, sticky hands.

The more I thanked God, for both big and small things, the less I complained. And the more I enjoyed being a Mom.

I have to admit, I sometimes fall back into a spirit of complaint. But whenever I realize this and confess it to God, He is faithful to change my spirit, from being full of complaints to repeatedly giving thanks.

When we practice giving thanks in all kinds of circumstances, He fills our hearts with peace and makes us light with joy.

Do you need to confess a complaining spirit today? Will you begin to make a habit of thanking God in every situation?

Thank you Lord, for changes in perspective, for the ability to offer You thanks, even in jelly-smeared kitchens.

I would love for you to connect with me at my blog, So Much Beauty In All This Chaos.

~Angela

Don’t miss any updates on Purposeful Faith! Click Here to receive blog posts to your email inbox.  Sign up today to be entered into a sweepstakes to win an Amazon Gift Card.

ang3

When Love is Blocked

Have you ever tried to reach out to someone but failed? Have you ever tried to help someone, but felt unappreciated? Have you ever tried to do something for God, but it didn’t work?

If so, I totally understand. Many years ago, God brought a young lady into my life, at what seemed the perfect time. During her regular visits to help with my son, I could clearly see she struggled with various life issues. I could clearly see her pain. I could clearly see she had major insecurities. And I could clearly see that I was the one to help her with this. I thought, “God has a plan for me to work on this one”.

Boy was I dead wrong.

I tried and I tried – and I tried some more – to pull her out of her shell. I tried to pour out words of encouragement. I tried to smile all the time. I tried to help her whenever she needed it. I tried to be flexible with work hours. I tried to tell her about God’s love. I tried to be super careful with feedback. I tried to take an interest in her life. I tried to ask her one hundred questions. I tried to offer food. I tried to offer help. I tried to make jokes.

What didn’t I try? I tried it all.

What did I get back? Nothing. Silence. In fact, what I got back seemed to be irritation and annoyance.

I felt so discouraged. I felt devalued. I felt frustrated. I felt angry, both at her and at God. Didn’t God see how much I was doing? Didn’t God know how bad she needed help? Didn’t she see how hard I was trying to be there for her?

This mission was a big FAIL. It failed because I totally missed the point. I am embarrassed to say that I was pursuing another’s heart with completely the wrong motive. It wanted to fix her. This motive left a mess in its wake.

When I felt my love was blocked, I tried a little harder. I gave a little more. I pushed it on her because I didn’t want to be rejected. I was seeking value based on her response. My heart may have been looking to love her at first, but after a couple of rejections set in, I was looking for even more love, admiration and appreciation. This was about “My Mission” not “God’s Mission” and therein lies the problem. The result? I felt rejected and she felt smothered. Not only was she trying to do her job, but she was also trying to satisfy me. We were both frustrated.

When we look to others to fill us and to approve us, we miss God’s plan. We miss his work and his miracle. When we work by our  might it turns into a fight. When we work by his might, it is a delight.

So what are we to do?

We are to pray, to listen and to obey – in his timing.  We are to trust him. We are to do what he calls us to do, not what we feel we need to do in order to garner a “feel good” response. We are to do our part, independent of other’s reactions. Then, the Lord will  approve us as we move forward in his calling.  Our love is not reliant on others.   It is reliant on God’s love for us.   This means, we don’t need to over work or over try. He will give us just the right direction. Our works are for him – and by him.

When we listen, hear and love as he loves, not as we love, we are in his will. He blesses this reliance  with our hearts great desire – acceptance, love and purpose.

Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take. (Proverbs 3:6)

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

Wait for the LORD; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the LORD! (Psalm 27:14)

When we wait, God makes our love great.