Purposeful Faith

Tag - Jesus

Women’s Ministry Monday: A Televised Awakening

televised awakening

I am delighted today to welcome Diane Maudsley, both a friend and a passionate women’s ministry director to share her story for Ministry Monday. As you will see, God proves he can reach anyone at anytime. Who are you hoping he reaches?  Don’t lose hope…

When the time is right, God will get the right message in front of their sight.

Diane’s story proves this…

It was Easter Sunday, 27 years ago, when the grace of God visited my small apartment living room as I knelt in front of the television listening to an evangelist teaching about forgiveness.

That day was by far one of the most, if not THE most, impactful days in my spiritual walk with God.

I had grown up learning about God, hearing about His magnificence and power, learning in Church and in Christian schools that He created me and this great world, and I knew all about His Son, Jesus, …but did I, really?

My soul was lost and desperate – it was searching the TV airwaves (there was no internet or iPhone then of course) for a glimmer of hope for my wretched life.

The man on TV called it “Resurrection Sunday”!
He was looking right into the camera (into MY eyes).
He told me Jesus died on the cross to forgive ME of MY sins…!!!

Why had I felt like I have never heard that before?

Why did it feel like I was hearing this for the very first time???

27 years later I can tell you why, spoken best by the words of Paul the apostle: “Surely you have heard about the administration of God’s grace that was given to me for you, that is, the mystery made known to me by revelation…” (Eph. 3:2-3)

I was given a gift, a “revelation,” as I tuned to the right place at the right time for my heart, my soul, and my mind to receive this free gift of grace from heaven!

It was MY day of visitation!

Have you experienced yours?

When you open your heart to welcome God in,
surprisingly you find he walks right in.

Just as the veil or curtain was torn in the temple when Jesus died on the cross, the veil was removed from my eyes so I could see the Lord’s true forgiveness and grace!

Before this moment, while my life’s journey had taken me on many shallow roads of “doing good,” I was not standing on the solid ground of salvation, therefore I strayed from the “path of righteousness,” being easily swayed by temptation.

Do you subtly stray?

Does temptation often call your name?

Does that thought scare you?

Today I am the mother of 3 amazing gifts from God, my daughter who is 23, a son who is 20 and another son, who is 17.

Sure, it is scary, knee-worthy even, but because of my experience with a saving knowledge of God and His Son’s sacrifice on the cross and glorious Resurrection, I can rest assured that God is in control of their lives, just like He is in control of mine. I pray that they will have great testimonies of redemption and grace in their lives as they find Christ and follow Him to their destinies.

Resurrection always waits: “Wake up sleeper, rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.” (Ephesians 5:14)

It calls us to more: “Has the Lord redeemed you? Then speak out! Tell others he has redeemed you from your enemies” (Psalm 107:2)

Will you answer?

When I was set on the path of righteousness my life truly began anew. The road was not easy, but it was alive and hopeful and I declare to you today that I have been redeemed from the enemies of shame, guilt and regret.

Let’s remain awake and alive, shining the light of Christ everywhere we go.

God used a television evangelist that morning in my life. May He awaken the sleepers and use our testimonies to raise up a shining army that brings hope to those dwelling in darkness!

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About Diane Maudsley

Screen Shot 2016-04-03 at 10.23.51 AM
Diane has been Women’s Ministry Director for Hope Church in Wilton, CT for 6 years and loves the women she gets to serve! She thrives on seeing a woman’s faith grow and come alive through the reading and study of God’s Word.
When she isn’t serving at her church, she is  teaching horseback riding to children, most of whom have special needs. She is a PATH certified Therapeutic Riding Instructor since 2011 and loves seeing the children come to life on the back of a horse!

Seizing Resurrection Power

Resurrection Power

What looks without light in your life?

What looks buried over so much that you are convinced is impossible to dig out? 

If you came up with nothing, think deeper. What is it you believe you can’t do?

Remember this thing. 

I am face-to-face with impossible these days. What I want to do, I have tried to do, yet no matter what, I just can’t seem to do it. To make matters worse, the problem sources within me. If it was others – their circumstances, problems or things – those wouldn’t be so offensive, you know, you can more easily brush those off, but what is internal it feels eternal sometimes.

Sure, I said I have forgiven, but truly forgiving is hard when someone keeps on offending.  It is hard when you feel abandoned and ignored. It is hard when those feelings rise to the surface and make you remember stuff.

So I go deep…

I cover my irritation in the darkness, but there it sits.
The pain was a time ago, but irritation sits heavy.
The relationship waits, and I lay immobile to feelings.
The rock lays over me, and I am closed up into myself.
I am tightly wrapped, in my own thoughts about how things should go.
I can’t breathe, I feel upset at myself for not being able to move on.

I feel like I am stuck in a hole. A deep, unscalable, deathly, waterless hole.

But, here is the kicker – so is Jesus.
And, here is the double kicker – he rose from it and will raise you up too! 

In the tomb, where you feel dead,
Christ is ready to rise up in you – to make you alive.

In the tomb where all things seem lost, 
Christ already won that battle.

It is called resurrection power!

“But they found the stone rolled away from the tomb…and did not find the body.” (Luke 24:2-3)
Resurrection power!

“He saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy.” (Titus 3:5) Resurrection power!

“He is not here, He is risen.” (Mark 16:6)
Resurrection power!

What looks dead, comes alive.
What seems impossible, becomes possible.
What seems unbearable, becomes bearable.
What seems hopeless, finds hopefulness.

What is it for you that looks dead, dank and dying before you?

Jesus is raising it up to new life. By his stripes you are healed and by his resurrection a new answer to your situation is being revealed.

Jesus both tells and asks you something. Something pointed, like he did to Martha not so long ago, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?” (John 11:25-26)

Do you believe this?

See your situation and believe this verse over it. Grab it like a lifeline. Call it yours.

As you do, he will lift you up out of the pit. You simply: 1.)hand it over to him 2.) let his resurrecting forgiveness wash over it and 3.) feel the promises clean your shame-soaked body.

Here’s what happens – He saturates it with so much light, it nearly blinds you to what was of old. Then, as he raises you to new heights, you move from trauma to transformation (and it doesn’t even feel that hard). Why? Because the power of resurrection sinks right into you…

…if only you believe.

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Waking to the Personal Power of the Cross

Power of the cross

Easter popped up on us this year. I am not prepared. I am not ready.

But, was anyone ready for what was to come? Where the disciples? Was Mary, mother of Christ, ready?

I am sure, none of Christ loved ones were ready to see the son of God, the lamb, the truth, the light, the way, all hope, bread of life and shepherd go.

What did they feel? Was it fear? They did not know what his road held. Sometimes we don’t know what our road holds…

Like them, we want to hold on to Jesus, his all things good- for he is our everything. We want to say, “Jesus stay near, – and let evil stay far. Let us be with you. Give us good, good things!”

We know that he is “called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace (Isaiah 9:6) and we want the fullness of it.

May we know the joy of Jesus, but may we also know his pain. For it is the pain that proves he knows our pain. It is his pain that proves we will one day arrive at gain. And it is through his pain that the whole world, for those who believe are delivered from shame.

May we see, and rely on Christ through:

The mockery: When they had crucified him, they divided up his clothes by casting lots. Mt. 27:35

The pain: The soldiers twisted together a crown of thorns and put it on his head. They clothed him in a purple robe. John 19:2

The cost: But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Romans 5:8

We will be mocked. We will have pain. There is a cost.

Have we considered this?

Because of the cross, we no longer have to fear what comes to injure us, because Jesus lives in us. If he is in us, his power to overcome is extended to everything we face. Imagine that.

I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live,
but Christ lives in me;
and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God,
who loved me and gave Himself up for me.
Gal. 2:20

So, today, no matter where our hearts have been this week, or this season, let’s bow down, lay low, praise Jesus and thank him for the sweat, the tears and the willpower to stick it through. Let’s look at his crown-laden, bloodied face – and see his victory just moments away. Let’s see our pain too, and our victory awaiting, because the truth is – through Jesus – we are now truly alive!

For I determined to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ,
and Him crucified.
1 Corinthians 2:2

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The Way to Handle Life

pray handle life

Years ago, I took one of those 20-question quizzes, which used to populate our email inboxes. Before Facebook took over, we replied to all and read our friends’ answers one by one as they replied to ours. Remember that?

This quiz included questions about your favorite fruit, your most embarrassing moment, and how many days a week you cry. Random.

Guess what I learned?

Most people don’t shed tears every day.

Or at least that group of my friends didn’t. After I sent out my answers, some of them wondered if I was depressed. But I didn’t have anything to hide—I’ve just always been an easy cry.

I’ve been studying the book of Hebrews, where we see Jesus as superior to angels and prophets and the law that came through Moses. He’s our High Priest who gives us continual access to God’s Presence.

But we also see Jesus living out of his humanity, displaying strong emotion.

We see Him crying and praying fervently about what was to come.

We see Him struggle and still obey God, even through suffering.

We see Him fully dependent on God His Father day after day.

During the days of Jesus’ life on earth, He offered up prayers and petitions with fervent cries and tears to the One who could save Him from death, and He was heard because of His reverent submission. Hebrews 5:7

It’s the emotion here that stops me—fervent cries and tears to the One who could save Him.

This points to His time in the Garden of Gethsemane, when Jesus asked His Abba, Father to take this cup from Him. He was asking God to not let Him die in such agony–with the sins of the world heaped upon Him.

He didn’t want His Father to turn away from Him.

And He was heard because of His reverent submission. This last part of the verse is important.

Jesus asked for a different way, but He submitted to the Father’s will.

Yet not what I will, but what you will. Mark 14:36b

Is this the attitude you carry into your prayers?

It’s often not where my heart is, when I come to God with a need. I’m thinking, MY will, Lord, just say yes! I’m assuming I can see far enough ahead to know my way will work out best. I’m sure I know what I need.

But often, God shows me that what I need more than anything is to walk with Him and depend on Him.

What I need most is to lay my requests at His feet and say, Not what I will, but what you will.

Jesus endured His life on earth with regular time away from everyone else, praying to His Father–even though there were endless people to help and things to do.

Our lives, also, are meant to be handled with prayer.

May we follow Christ’s example to actively trust in God and depend on our Father through prayer. May we pray as an offering, sometimes including tears. Every day if needed.

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Angela Parlin is Dan’s 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 each week at www.angelaparlin.com, So Much Beauty in All This Chaos.

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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Learning to Tango with a Trustworthy Partner

Trust is Required in order to be Led by Katie M. Reid for Kelly Balarie's Purposeful Faith

Post by: Katie M. Reid

I love to dance with my husband. It doesn’t happen as often as I’d like, but I treasure the times it does. We’re invited to an April wedding, so I’m counting on a dance or two then.

Back in college Adam and I used to swing dance. I had trouble letting him lead me. I was tense and tried to control the moves—that doesn’t work when you aren’t supposed to be taking the lead.

Someone had to follow. It didn’t mean I was less talented or capable, it just meant that in order for our dance to be effective, I needed to learn to be led so that our moves would be in harmony instead of working against each other.

A New Direction

As most of you know I am pregnant. We were planning on adopting again but God had another plan. This miracle answered many prayers I had for my heart returning home.

But here’s the thing God has been showing me recently, I can’t keep trying to do all the things I am currently doing and add another child to the mix.

He isn’t asking me to stop dancing but He’s asking me to follow His lead as He spins me around—turning me a different way than I expected.

I can fight this new direction, and most likely end up tripping and looking foolish, or I can lean in to His trustworthy arms and see where He leads.

Learning to follow does not come naturally to this first-born leader. I like to be in charge. It feels scary and off balance to bend to the leadership of another. It is challenging for me to trust another’s lead because I don’t know where it will take me. And oh how I like to be in the know!

Just the other day a conference host asked me to submit a proposal to teach a workshop at writing conference this fall. I had been waiting for an invitation like this! I was honored, yet I knew I needed to pray about it and talk it over with hubby.

I soon realized that our baby will only be four months old when this conference takes place.

I had a choice.

I could fight the way the Lord is writing my story with this new life or I could yield to His direction and trust that He will provide another opportunity to teach when my daughter is older.

By His grace I chose the latter. And I feel great peace and relief.

The Loving Lead

Are you fighting His lead in your life?
Are you pulling against His leadership instead of learning to move in harmony with His Spirit?
Have you handed over your right to control to the Only One who is truly in control?

Learn to be led so that your moves will be in harmony instead of working against each other.

He is a loving leader. And He is a fabulous dance partner.

Sometimes He takes us to places that we weren’t expecting. He spins us around and takes us to another spot on the dance floor than what we are used to.

Will we lean in close to His heart and feel His arms holding us near?
Will we let ourselves dip into His strength and bow to His Majesty?

Put on those dancing shoes, sister. There is a stirring tango that calls your name. It’s the dance of your life with Your Loving Savior.

Webster defines the tango as, “a ballroom dance of Latin-American origin in 2⁄4 time with a basic pattern of step-step-step-step-close and characterized by long pauses…”

May the steps we take each day lead us closer to Jesus. Even when there are long pauses of waiting or rerouting on this journey may we remain near to the One who doesn’t leave—even when He is quiet.

May we stay close even when He takes us in a different direction that anticipated.

Follow Jesus’ lead. It won’t always be easy or graceful, but I know it will be beautiful.

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Katie M. Reid Author

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

 

5 Transformational Tips: Make God’s Word Come Alive

Come Alive

Another day.
Another bible reading.

Skimming. I’ve read it before.
Half listening. I know what to expect.
Not discovering. I know the punchline.

Does the bible ever fall flat because you have flattened out
and read its pages so many times?

 

Does your mind have a hard time idling on God’s Word,
because the world speeds too fast around it?

 

I can’t seem to keep my heart in the place where the heart of God is – and that is the problem.

This problem, if not addressed, will, before long – stamp and deliver my heart to destinations I never intended to arrive at.  Frustrationville or Aggravationmount or some place like that. It could just as easily bring me to Jealoustown or Pridebury. Either way, they are places that reek of self and shame and guilt. Their roads are rocky and tumultuous. Every time, they leave me with a stomach turning knots over itself.

I’d rather not.

So, how do you dive into God’s Word, like a fresh glass of lemonade on a hot day? How do you dive into it, knowing that you have had it one hundred and one times, but still, wanting and needing it? Craving and desiring it? Thirsting and salivating over it?

5 ways to make the Word of God come alive:

1. Let your senses sense what the sentiment was.

Imagine being the lead role in the story. See yourself there. Sense your sin and the idea that you or your family has done something terribly wrong. Feel the judgement of the Pharisees upon you. Wonder if God really can and will heal you. Let your heart beat.

After saying this, he spit on the ground, made some mud with the saliva, and put it on the man’s eyes. “Go,” he told him, “wash in the Pool of Siloam”. Jo. 9:6

2. Take your part in the redemption story.

Hear the words of Jesus leave his mouth. Feel the mud in your hand. Experience vision. Look amazed at what surrounds you. Set your eyes on Jesus.

Then, see yourself run to the masses to share the glory of the only one who could heal in this way. Take a snapshot of the story with your senses. Know that while this was his story, it is also your story.

He replied, “Whether he is a sinner or not, I don’t know. One thing I do know. I was blind but now I see!” Jo. 9:25

3.  Ask yourself, “What about this experience is calling me to think, do or say differently?”

When you take a moment to think of all God has done, you can’t help but think of all he wants to do. His will makes your will jump up and down just at the thought of serving him.

The (once blind) man answered, “Now that is remarkable! You don’t know where he comes from, yet he opened my eyes. We know that God does not listen to sinners. He listens to the godly person who does his will.”  Jo. 9: 30-31

4.  Believe: He loves you, just as much as he loved them.

Just because you feel less than, doesn’t mean that God sees you that way. Believing that you are worthy of his gifts, love and encouragement, will allow your heart to receive them. Rather than keeping up defenses to his Word, you will lay them down and He will enter in.

The Once- Blind Man: “Nobody has ever heard of opening the eyes of a man born blind.” Jo. 9:32

5. Avoid boxing God in (and you might just find your way out of your box).

When you believe in you heart, what Jesus did through Scriptures, you’ll find in your mind you can conceive the great things he wants to do through your life.

It sounds simple, but simple belief is so often what it comes down to.

Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father. Jo. 14:12

When you approach God’s Word in this way, you realize you hold living water that is not bitter, old or common. Instead, you taste the fruit of what God has done and is about to do. It fills, it satiates and it refreshes. Like lemonade on a parched day – it’s a drink you can’t wait to indulge in, lap up and embrace word by word. It is peace and replenishment all in one.

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Whose Reflection Do You See?

reflection

Post by: Christy Mobley

A few weeks ago, after a long morning at the hospital with my mom and sister, I came home to take a shower, wash my hair and get my second wind.

As I picked up the blow dryer I stared into the mirror. For one split second the reflection I saw was that of my mother. It was weird. I squeezed my eyes shut and opened them again and then shook the event off as simple exhaustion. Turning back to the mirror I pulled up a strand of hair  and proceeded to go off on a ridiculous tirade about frizz and gray and such. And that’s when it me.

Oh my gosh, I look like my mother and sound like my sister!

I. AM. THEM.

Freaky!

Was I caught up in some twisted episode of the Twilight Zone?

Click here to read more and to #RaRalinkup on Christy’s blog…

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Falling In & Out of Prayer

prayer

Post By: Angela Parlin

It doesn’t sound super spiritual, but you guys–prayer is hard.

Stillness is hard. Hard stops in a busy life are hard.

Do you agree? Tell me it isn’t just me.

In early January, I thought I had picked a word for the year. But instead, God led me to focus on prayer, and not to only toss Him my cares and needs.

I needed to grow in prayer as worship. To take my sin seriously and regularly confess it. To sit in the silence and listen for His whispers.

So I set out to spend time away from the world each day in prayer, to learn to pray without multitasking.

My heart says of you, “Seek his face!” Your face, LORD, I will seek. Psalm 27:8, NIV

Sometimes, my prayer life was amazing. I was learning so much about God. But the truth? It wasn’t all glitter and rainbows, and I didn’t always show up.

Sometimes I really struggled to sit still before the Lord.

When I got caught up in so much busyness, concentrated prayer was the first thing I let go of. I put it off for later, and another day went by.

At the same time, I enjoyed mountaintop views this year, and they were unbelievable. But there were also valleys.

The mountaintop often didn’t appear when I was on my best behavior. It didn’t show up when I was the most faithful, or the most consistent.

Instead, I’d come to this place with hard corners in my heart, with a terrible attitude, having been away from Him for days. Even my kids could tell the difference. I’d be having one of those weeks when I didn’t like myself very much.

Having fallen out of prayer, I’d fall on my knees again.

And just when I knew I was a mess and didn’t deserve it, I’d see that view again. He’d bring me around to the mountaintop. He’d fill me with His grace and lift me up.

Then I’d walk around the house, humming “Love Lifted Me.” Knowing Love lifts us once for eternal salvation and continues to lift us every time we fall, whether in ways that measure large or small.

Sometimes in this world, we’re sinking in sins and distractions. Love is always near to lift us, when we come back to Him.

Jesus doesn’t stand there, pointing His finger and saying, You know better. You should be more consistent. You should be more… He doesn’t call us those names that float around our heads.

Jesus stays near. His arms are open wide. Whether it’s been a week or 20 years, His desire is that we seek Him. That we come and talk with Him.

He didn’t come to rescue us because we’d be star performers or at least consistent.
He didn’t save us because we earned it.
He saved us because He is Love and He longs to lift us.

And He’s already everything we’re not.

Jesus is an unending welcome-back, a Love who lifts us up again.

May we settle in before the Lord this year. May we worship Him and know Him more and let His kindness to change the course of our days.

My heart has heard you say, “Come and talk with me.” And my heart responds, “LORD, I am coming.” Psalm 27:8, NLT

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Angela Parlin

Angela Parlin is Dan’s 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 each week at www.angelaparlin.com, So Much Beauty in All This Chaos.

10 Ways to Shine Christ On Christmas

Shine Christ on Christmas

Christmas.
People are laughing and hugging as they reunite.
Talking about the year past.
Unwrapping their anticipated gifts.
Listening to a story repeated for the one-millionth time.
Eating dried out turkey.
Drinking egg nog or sparkling apple cider.
Singing it’s a Holly Jolly Christmas…
while, inside, feeling anything but jolly.

Sure, they may be singing “Joy to the World,” but their true emotions are joyless.
They may give you the highlight reel of the year past, but they leave out the drama.
They may be busy with buying, cooking and wrapping, while having a world of marriage, finances or health crashing down.
They may be proclaiming “Happy Holidays,” only to be deeply grieving those they love.

“The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel”–which means, “God with us.” Mt. 1:23

God with us in the thick of pain.
God with us in the thin of finances.
God with us when we feel happy – or sad.
God with us despite how much others are.

Will our hurting family members get a chance to know “God with us”?  How he draws near to the down, dejected and devastated?

Or will they believe that facades of merry and bright are the only outfits allowed?

For others to know “God with us,” they have to see “God in us.”  

They have to see how “God in us” has worked life – through us.

This means taking a risk. It means we have to move our usual conversations past ugly Christmas sweater styles, present ratings and the words “Pass the gravy.”

Are you willing to step outside of comfortable to bow down, worship and treasure the small baby – in both word and in action – this Christmas?

Will you make known the cries that moved from a manger to a cross to change everything? 

On coming to the house, they (the 3 wise men) saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped Him. Then they opened their treasures and presented Him with gifts of gold and of incense and of myrrh.  Mt. 2:11

Lighting up Christmas, is not about lighting up a tree. It is about lighting up our loved ones with the treasure we have in Jesus Christ. It is about lighting what truly matters.

I (Jesus) in them and You in Me, that they may be perfected in unity, so that the world may know that You sent Me, and loved them, even as You have loved Me. Jo. 17:23

When we light Jesus, we light love. What shines is the one thing that matters most, the one thing that people need and the one thing ready to light the world.

So how do we shine Christ on Christmas?

1.  We make his purpose higher than our cause of opening gifts.
2. We are more concerned with sharing Jesus than sharing mashed potatoes.
3. We go to vulnerable places, so hurt ones know it is okay to go there too.
4. We seek to touch a person’s real need, not just their need to be entertained.
5. We seek the quiet of the Lord, so that we can enter into the mayhem of family – with peace.
6. We sit and listen, verses boast, toast and gloat over things in our own lives.
7. We look to serve and honor others above ourself.
8. We pray to discern who the Lord might direct us to.
9. We discuss the Christmas story.
10. We speak about the Savior who saves.

BONUS: We take a risk, even when the risk makes us think others won’t like us.

And those around us will get a chance to know the God who goes with us – Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace (Is. 9:6).

Shine Christ on Christmas

And, the small beginnings of Jesus’ new beginnings will shine. They will shine all-consuming love that touches our houses and hearts with true and long-lasting “merry and bright”.

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