Purposeful Faith

Tag - Jesus

Why Not Giving Could Hurt You

Not Giving Could Hurt You

I have this one friend – almost everywhere she goes, she gives gifts. Roses to teachers, journals to me, and flowers to so many. She is a gifted in gifts.

She is so impressive!

I am normally the one loaded with 2 kids, a purse loaded with the rock of baby wipes and a to-do list times one thousand. Getting out to buy gifts feels as impossible as moving a herd of animals through the eye of a needle.

Giving is something I always want to do, but it takes a back seat to my life.
It’s something that I love to get, but have a hard time extending.
I know it blesses, but it also heightens my stresses.

Yet, research has proven that giving:
– increases the health of those with chronic illnesses (Stephen Post, Why Good Things Happen to Good People)
– decreases the risk of dying in the elderly after volunteering (Doug Oman, University of California, Berkeley)
– lowers stress and blood pressure.

Clearly giving is a great thing. The more we outpour the more that in pours to us.

A woman came with a special sealed jar. It contained very expensive perfume made out of pure nard. She broke the jar open and poured the perfume on Jesus’ head. Mk. 14:3

This woman outpoured a ton – a year’s worth of salary.  Her deep sacrifice was a true outpouring of her heart. There is no mention of the kids screaming at home, the wipes in her bag or the lists of things she had to do, she just poured out.

When we keep our eyes on Jesus,
suddenly our excuses grow small and our causes grow big.

This woman poured out great love through this great gift,
a great sacrifice for a great God
and a great example for the great, great, great…grandchildren of Jesus today.

What would happen if we poured out like she did?

Might Jesus say to us: She has done a beautiful thing to me… Mark 14:6

Might our name be more greatly etched into the world and eternity?

What she has done will be told anywhere the good news is preached all over the world. It will be told in memory of her.” Mk 14:9

As she stood…weeping, she began to wet his feet with her tears. Then she wiped them with her hair, kissed them and poured perfume on them. Lu. 7:38

When we pour, like this woman and then our hearts melt like wax. The wick of our pride, selfishness and complacency melt down to the ground, leaving us on our knees, where we receive and give our very best.  We take our hair and we wipe the feet of others. We get into the nitty gritty of grime, into the places where it feels uncomfortable, into the places where we prepare others for a new life.

It’s in the offering of our greatest – in the wiping of the dirty – that we get to kiss the feet of the one who walked into desolate dry hearts to make abundant new life.

When we touch these needy, unseen and untouchable places with our greatest gift, love, we find our hearts are restored.

We find it’s so much less about the other and so much more about Jesus reconfiguring our vision.

We find deeper connection with the recipient and with the one who is all sufficient.

My friend’s outpouring of love inspires my heart to see…

Giving is the only gift that hands-back more than we could ever hand-out. It’s one of the only ways to get more than you ever asked for.

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Is Showy Christianity Leading You Astray?

Showy Christianity

Entertain me.
Delight me.
Distract me.

We are on a constant hunt to find pleasure in all we do.

We are seeking a God that is palatable, tasty and pleasurable. We go to big conferences, with big screens and big pastors.  All is good as long as it points to Christ, right?

This makes me wonder.
It makes me wonder whether the fan-fare would be a delight or a fright to Jesus?

We know it is all about his glory for his story.
We know it is all about his name and not our fame.

But, somehow the famous draw us, the powerful captivate us and the big lights lure us.

Is lowly and humble Jesus found against the big lights of Christianity?

Is he found in the lights of the big show or in the shadow of the big Father?

I can’t help but think that when we demand church be an experience, we miss the experience that is Jesus. We miss the stillness of a moment where it is just us and him. We miss the quiet heart that says, I don’t need all that – I just need you. We miss the convictions of the Holy Spirit at work within us, because we are too focused around us and we can’t hear what he is saying to us.

Entertainment becomes an opiate to hide us from reality.
A crutch to keep our anxious minds in motion.
Novocaine to dull our suffering.

But, perhaps suffering is just what God has set forth for us to feel in the moment, because it will move us towards deeper love and faith.

It’s not the big lights we need to keep our eyes off of ourselves, but simply the light of Christ to shines truth into the hidden places of our aching hearts.

That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong. (2 Cor. 12:10)

But, for us entertainment seekers, silence, quietness and stillness of mind scares us. It’s uncomfortable.

Instead, we become so focused on what others are saying and doing, that we often miss what God wants us to say or do for another. We expect the producers to make the show good enough for us to consume and when we don’t we leave disappointed.

But, did Jesus seek to put on a show to make Christianity glow?

He didn’t seek big followers in order to make new followers.

“When a Samaritan woman came to draw water, Jesus said to her, ‘Will you give me a drink?'” (His disciples had gone into the town to buy food.) (John 4:17)

This woman went alone. She went with her thoughts. She went with a simple bucket, most likely. But, what she got was an encounter with Jesus. Jesus, who stepped away from the other disciples, away from the crowds to meet a woman in a simple way, through simple words, that would simply change her heart forever.

Jesus’ approach was simple.

He simply approached man with straightforward truth to let the power of the living Word transform dying hearts.

Jesus knew the Word of the Lord is more than sufficient – and more than capable – to accomplish all it is set forth to accomplish.

He withdrew from the crowds for quiet prayer with his Father. He calls us to do the same – to talk without noise, without pretense and without the show being our idol.

Praise the Lord! Praise God in his sanctuary; praise him in his mighty heavens! Praise him for his mighty deeds; praise him according to his excellent greatness! (Ps. 150:1-2)

Our call is to praise the Lord, to seek his soul, to seek his face.

Perhaps it doesn’t come down to what others do, or what people offer us, or who says what or how many people are at whatever event or the amount of lights, but it comes down to how we enter into church and how we approach the Father.

It comes down to who and what we follow.
It comes down to what we expect, to what we demand and what we seek.

It comes down to: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ (Mt. 22:37) and ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ (Mt. 22:39)

 

It comes down to – it’s all about Him.

 

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Living From A New Identity

By: Angela Parlin

As a preschooler, I learned I had a sin problem and needed Jesus to save me from it. When I asked Him to be my rescue, I became dead to sin and alive to God. I learned the old had gone, and the new had come. But I was also encouraged to put off sin and put on Christ.

Just one little problem. How exactly do you put Christ on? That was a hard idea to wrap my head around.

Then I grew up a bit and realized–I really don’t feel so dead to sin.

So I managed my sin by trying to hide it, trying to look the way I was supposed to, or pretending it wasn’t there. Back then, there was a Sin Rating System floating around, and for the most part, my sins stayed off the really naughty list.

To be honest, sin didn’t grieve me. I didn’t think holiness was possible, for me or anyone else. And so I occasionally asked God to forgive me of “all my sins”–without owning any of them.

When I grew closer to the Lord as an adult, I started to care more about holiness. I didn’t want sin to control me, to be my master, in any way. I wanted to live in victory, and began striving for it. But that didn’t work out so well.

Victory over sin begins with belief. Not only belief in Jesus as the Resurrection and the Life. But also belief in our new identity in Christ.

Romans 6 says,

Count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus.

To count yourself means to accept it as true, believe it, and act as if it were true.

Once we call out to Jesus for salvation, we are IN Christ. We identify with Him. This is our position—our status before God: dead to sin.

We have been baptized with Christ. We have died with Christ and been raised with Him to a new way of life. Sin no longer controls us. It has no power over us.

Now we can LIVE FROM a place of victory, instead of trying to attain victory.  

But our position often does not match our practice. The Bible says we have been made new (positionally), but we are being made new (practically). For the rest of our lives, the way we live should grow closer and closer to our position IN Christ.

I struggled to believe my position, my new identity in Christ, because I knew what was in me. I lived out of that reality, which I could see and measure—more than I lived by faith out of my position in Christ.

Even as new creations, sin deceives us. We get entangled in it sometimes. We forget who we are, and we need to remember our identity in Christ.

IN Christ, we are dead to sin and ALIVE to God.

We are new, but we are also in the process of being made new.

So put on Christ and learn to see yourself this way. Offer yourself to God day after day, and He will enable you to live the life you were meant for.

 

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.

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

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