Purposeful Faith

Tag - Joy

Do You Fear What is Ahead?

fear what is

I walked in the door, dropped my bag and called upstairs to my husband, “Want to take a walk?”

Shockingly, he did. He wanted to enjoy the spontaneous burst of warm weather that was gracing our air. We put on our shoes and headed out. I had no idea I was about to be graced with his wisdom too.

We headed down a forest laden trail. It was beautiful.

“Kelly, I wonder what is up there, beyond that bend?”

I already knew, I’d walked the trail time and time again.

He went on, “I think God says, we don’t have to know what is beyond our bends. We don’t have to see what is up ahead. We just have to walk with him in the moment, knowing he is up there already. He is already where we are headed. And, that’s all we need to know. We are free to enjoy the purple flowers, the flying birds and the moving clouds. We can simply trust he has what we are walking into.”

I knew I married this guy for a reason.

I nodded my head in agreement. “Yep,” I said, ” because if we are so caught up with what we can’t see, we’ll miss what we can. Plus, once we get to that bend, we will want to know, yet again, what is beyond the next one. It’s a losing battle.”

Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. Heb. 11:1

The LORD himself goes before you and will be with you…  (Deut. 31:8)

“Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.” (Mt. 6:34)

Often, I am so caught up in what’s coming, I miss the table of beauty God has laid in front of me today. I don’t partake in what is good.  I fear what is bad. I adjust my shirt just right so my stomach bulges don’t stand out too much. I grip onto tight schedules so I have a handy excuse for social situations I am terrified of. I cling on to my kids hand with a death grip, hoping the doesn’t stray to far away from mom if I let go. I rush through breakfast and traffic lights and pajamas trying to my couch and TV.

But, my husband reminds me – I don’t have to hold on to what is up ahead – or fear it – for God is already there. It’s like he rushed ahead and set the table in advance, so when I arrive, the goodness awaits. Sure, sometimes it might look like the table is empty or it’s not as I thought, but as I am present with him, in the moment, he always surfaces some sort of surprise party.  His spiritual blessings all jump out at me and I leap for joy. I realize, “Wow God, what I really wanted is right here.”

And, friend, what you want is right before you. For what is before you, in this moment, is your God. He is with you and will not let you go. Keep walking with him, no matter how good, how bad or how ugly your trail looks. For, you never know, when you might stumble you upon your – surprise party!

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. Is. 41:10

Order Kelly’s powerful book, Fear Fighting: Awakening Courage to Overcome Your Fears, today! Discover how to flee from fear and fly in faith through 4 Days to Fearless Challenge. 

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

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5 Ways to Be Led By Holy Spirit, Not Flesh

holy spirit

Meanie: Dropped the ball and never answered me when I emailed her.
Selfish & silent: Promised me something and then didn’t follow through.
High-priced: Charged me an arm and a leg, ran away and left me standing with a huge bill.
Go-Getter: Hurt me.
Liar: Rejected me with a bold-faced lie I can’t seem to get past.
Forgetter: Didn’t invest in my heart; she dissed it.
Abandoner: Walked away not following through on a promise.
Hater: Ignored me and grabbed hands with the popular folk.
Condemner: Tore my good intentions apart.

The story is titled: They’ll all reject you.

The cast is nefarious.

The plot goes like this: I’m a speck of dust. Everyone knows I am forgettable, invaluable and pretty much unseen within the grand story called their life, their plans and their needs. I’m disposable.

Bah-humbug! 

The enemies appear to be everyone. That’s a problem. That’s a big problem. I recognize it.

Because, in reality, the enemy isn’t these enemies, the enemy is the enemy. He’s thriving when he contriving. He’s jumping for joy, when he’s ruined ours. He’s grinding up love into tiny grounds that spread hate. The longer he let’s them brew the more bitter it tastes. When we drink, and we get poisoned, not with eyes to see God, but with eyes of anger and vile.

What has been brewing in your heart – is it peace and God’s presence or is a list of people who’ve hurt you?

For if you live according to the flesh, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. Romans 8:13-14

My flesh wants to teach these people a lesson. My Spirit knows people are hurting, just like me. My Spirit knows, you can’t read the motives on one’s heart. My Spirit knows, people need love, not condemnation.

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.  Gal. 5:22

If I am in the Spirit, I shine Spirit. But, how do I move back to peace-calming Spirit rather than anger-brewing flesh?

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. Romans 15:13

5 Ways to Be Led By the Holy Spirit, Not Your Flesh

  1. Ask God to fill you with all joy and peace.
  2. Ask God to help you trust him more.
  3. Move into a place of continual worship, praise and thanksgiving.
  4. Dwell only on what is good, true and excellent.
  5. Be open to how God is teaching or leading you in a given moment.

As I practice my heart through the continual cycle of this list, I find my heart is no longer being wrung through the ringer. It softens. It sees others pain. It knows, God has a plan, even in my pain.

The Spirit confirms, I am His child and the love he surrounds me with, is more than enough to fill every hole of damage.

Don’t miss taking part in the 4 Days to Fearless Challenge. Or, order my book, Fear Fighting: Awakening Courage to Overcome Your Fears, today!

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

Which Hope Are You Holding Onto?

anchor hope

Post By: Angela Parlin

“We just have to hold onto hope!”

She said it quickly, at the end of our short conversation at the shopping mall. Then she walked out the front door, and I didn’t have a chance to respond.

I immediately wondered, Hope in what though? Isn’t that the real question? What are you putting your hope in?

Which hope are you holding onto?

I’ve been facing that question since summer ended, as a number of changes happened at once in my life. I’m not a big fan of change, and the whole situation rocked me. I often felt discontent and discouraged. I struggled to choose joy.

I know the source of my (capital H) Hope—my true and lasting hope for eternity. But when life throws me for a loop and certain comforts, joys, and securities are removed, I learn I’ve been holding onto those little ideals and hoping in them.

I realize now how much I needed this season of change in my life. It’s never comfortable, and I may always resist change initially. But I’m thankful for it, because it’s teaching me to trust in Jesus as my Hope in every area of life.

Jesus is our Hope for eternity, but He’s also our Hope for today.

Recently I returned to my study through the book of Hebrews, and right where I picked up, the author speaks of hope. He encourages believers that their Hope is certain and unchanging.

We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure. It enters the inner sanctuary behind the curtain, where our forerunner, Jesus, has entered on our behalf. Hebrews 6:19-20a

Our souls need an anchor, in part because of this rapidly changing, dark, and destructive world we live in. But what about our own double-mindedness, our sin, and our shifting thoughts and feelings?

I don’t know about you, but my soul needs an anchor in the sea of my own humanity.

And we have this Hope.

This Hope is an anchor for our souls.

The anchor holds, firm and secure.

We can’t tell the same story about lesser hopes. When we’re holding onto lesser hopes, it’s like tossing our ship’s anchor into shifting sands. It’s basically ridiculous. But we all do it!

We hold out hope for things that will not endure. We hold onto things that will not fulfill.

When these fail us, we best fall back on our real Hope. Because Jesus went before us, we are able to enter into the inner sanctuary. This means we enter the Presence of God, because Jesus made a way for us to have direct access to the Father.

Today, let your Hope {in Jesus} be the firm and secure anchor for your soul.

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

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. Check out the free Writer’s Guide there, and subscribe to the Ladder2Rooftop newsletter.

More Reading:
10 Ways to Shine Christ On Christmas

Being a Perfect Christian

Finding Renewal in Christ

Know What Can Ruin Christmas?

Ruin Christmas

I keep going back to what happened – what was said, how it was said and why the person is wrong.

A label was tossed my way; I was called a name. But, it’s more than just that. The bullets run deep – and are hard to pull out.

Sometimes what’s said or done, is not easily removed.

People yakked and hacked an image.
They understood things wrong.
They dissed, offended or disregarded you.
They were insensitive.

Like, I said, with people, what’s said or done, sometimes, is not easily removed. It sinks deep.

So, anyway, here I come, prancing on up to Christmas – a time of joy, a time of Jesus, with a hundred and one holes through my heart – and increasing pain lodged between me and a manger.

I am not sure what to do.

Because, this I know, if I want to meet holy, I can’t walk around hostile. In order to be super-close with Jesus, I can’t be loaded-up with sin. This idea is Christianity 101, but it takes a masters degree to apply.

Waving goodbye to your right to be angry, is like letting go of a bad habit – you love. Everything in you knows you’ll be better off without it, but not walking up to that wine bottle and taking a glass, or three, after a hard day, is hard. Like unforgiveness, it beckons you to hold on.

In some ways, your noble actions have warranted it, you figure. You’ve earned it. Other people have entitled you to carry around that glass, even if it makes you cranky, tired or on edge. Even if it hurts.

Yet, here’s the quandary: God says I should be able to approach him with “freedom and confidence” (Eph. 3:12). I can’t when I carry around this cup of self-righteousness. It spills over onto my eyesight and then I can’t see God. I get all clouded with shame, guilt and discontent.

So there they stand – ones who’ve offended me, tremendously.
There Jesus stands – the One who befriended me, groundlessly.

I wonder if Jesus thought about me before he entered the world?

Maybe he thought: “Hmmm…there she stands; I see all Kelly’s offenses. In fact, I can line them up and they’d reach around the world. Join them together, they’d actually wrap it 3 times. How can I go down there, to that place of vile, and forgive her? How can I leave the heights of glory, a throne of brilliance, and all the angelic hosts of heaven – for her likes?

I would have thought that way, if I was him. I would have thought, “Keep me up here at the banquet, but don’t send me down there into the stink and dirt of a manger – coupled with difficult people. Don’t put me there for that bad girl, Kelly. Not worth it.”

But, He didn’t. And this is the part I can’t contend with: Jesus didn’t abandon me because I abandoned him.

How can I abandon others, when Jesus didn’t abandon me? What right do I have to pick up a right that he laid down? To stand when he laid down?

He teaches me to lay it all down for others so that I can pick up that baby, Jesus Christ, and hold him close this Christmas.

I don’t do it for them, I do it because I love him. I want him. I can’t do life without him. I do it because he’s forgiven them too. He’s set the standard. He shows me the way. And, if I want the way to lead up to his throne, I can’t have mean people blocking my path to him.

So, there they stand. I look at them and, in them, I see me. I see me, because we are all in Christ. I see me, because just as they are covered, so am I. And, what I also accept, beyond the peace that comes with forgiving them, is God’s peace that comes with him forgiving me. For what I’ve held inside, me – the contempt – is covered. And, like a magic trick, but better,  with God’s grace it goes – Poof!  It’s gone.

And, all that’s left is Jesus. A man, whose small act of entering a large world, changes it all. Whose humility, radically rewires our vision. Whose love, makes our mouth go agape. Whose forgiveness, goes against all odds, yet changes them all the same.

The one “who is, and who was, and who is to come” (Rev. 1:8), remains. He always does. And, what we’ve done is cleared a way for us to bow low, so we can cry, “Holy, Holy, Holy.” So we can get eye-level with a baby, who redeems it all.

Will you let in the baby this Christmas? Who do you need to forgive?

Continue Fighting Fear!
Join me on the 4 Days to Fearless Challenge.

Prayer:

God, we come to you as we are. We come to you with our frustration, anger and irritation. We come to you with our pain and our opinions. We bring to you our perceptions, right or wrong. We hand over to you, what you don’t invite us to carry any longer. God, will you take care of all this? Will do you do justice on our behalf? Will you mend our hearts on our behalf? Will you soften our rough edges and take from us what you know is not healthy for us to carry? We turn it over, God. Today, through the name of Jesus Christ, we release it. We know what you have, in return, is peace and joy that is far better than self-righteousness and pride. Lord, now that we are clean, we ask you to bring us close to your heart. We ask you to walk us up and into your love. We ask you to teach us and grow us as you see fit. We trust you God. Above all, we trust you. In Jesus’ name, we pray, Amen.

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

More Reading:

1 Clear Way to Victory When in a Losing Battle
Embarrassing Bravery and Insane Courage
When Sharing Makes You Embarrassed

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How Many Christians Live Grace All Wrong

Grace All Wrong

“Always be humble and gentle. Be patient with each other, making allowance for each other’s faults because of your love.” Ephesians 4:2 (NLT)

Easy, right? Hardly.  This is just about one of the hardest callings.

Imagine:

You toss potato salad at my face? I smile and speak in an angelic tone to soothe you.

You throw me under the bus with my boss and steal my promotion? I make allowance for your mistake and let go.

You con me out of all my money? I humbly confront you with words of kindness.

How is this possible?

Not by my own strength, I’ll tell you. My own strength would have you pressed up against the wall with a lesson stuffed down your throat. It is not easy to respond with humility, gentleness, patience and allowance for mistakes.

In fact, it’s pretty much impossible.

All our righteous acts are like filthy rags… (Is. 64:6)

It’s impossible by our own strength because we are weak. We either muster up humble-arrogance, which looks a whole lot like pious Christianity, or brute force, which ruins relationships.  Either way, the result is not from God and it’s quite ugly.

…For it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose. Phil. 2:3

God works in us and God wills us to act out his good purpose. God moves then we move forward in love.

Yet, I often live backwards-grace. This is where I muster up good within myself and force it on the world. It usually ends up looking a whole lot like manipulation rather than ministry. Yuck.

Backwards-grace is fruitless. It leaves Christians dejected, demoralized and discouraged. It flat-out doesn’t work. What does work is getting with Savior. Seeking his heart. Letting him mend yours. Allowing him to grow you. Returning again to the wealth of his truth. Letting his grace cover your failings. And then, from the place of heart-change, allowing that very shift, within you, to work kindness, patience and humility into the world.

If you let God into your heart, you’ll find he changes it.

Create in me a clean heart, O God, And renew a steadfast spirit within me. Ps. 51:10

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Have You Lost Peace?

Lost Peace

I am delighted to have Susan Pettrey from Brooklyn Tabernacle join us. Susan is a tremendous force for the Lord. She is used in ways, I know, she can’t even begin to imagine. She has impacted my life through prayer. It is a pure delight to welcome Susan today for Women’s Ministry Monday.

It was another night of going through the normal bedtime routine I have with my 6-year old son, Levi. Something was wrong.  It had been for days.  He was unusually hyper, unfocused and distant from me. I knew why.

We had recently moved to a new neighborhood, and within the past month, Levi had to adjust to a new home, school, peer group and, even, a new nanny.  It was a lot.  It would be for any child, but Levi is adopted and, as I’ve learned, adopted children intensely crave security.

I can only imagine what goes on in his little mind as he tries to process the implications of his adoption and life, but it was no mystery that all of the recent changes were creating extreme anxiety in his heart.

As Levi jumped up and down on his bed, I decided that a reprimand was not what was needed at that moment.  Levi needed to be ministered to.  I asked him what was bothering him only to be given his typical response of “nothing”.

The more I probed the more Levi tried to change the subject until, finally, I said, “Honey, it’s very clear right now that you don’t have peace in your heart.”

With that, Levi got quiet and waited for me to continue telling him what he couldn’t find the words to express himself.  I did my best to validate his feelings. Then, I encouraged him with words of hope.

I told him that I knew God had led us to this new home and, so, we could trust He had a plan. It would be for all of our good.

He laid his little head on my chest. I could feel his body slowly begin to relax.  It was as though my confidence…or peace about Levi’s life and future was transferring into his own heart.

We prayed together. I kissed him goodnight with an assurance that his anxiety had subsided.  I was grateful for that moment and thanked God for it without realizing the deeper truth He was going to teach me.

When I opened my Bible the next day, this is what I read- “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” John 14:27

As I pondered the verse, God showed me my exchange with Levi was just a dim reflection of what He desires to have with me.

So often, when life has been difficult and seemingly out of control, I’ve prayed for more peace.  As if the process involved God giving me the power to muster up my own peace in the midst of my troubles.  But, now, what Jesus was saying became so alive to me as I remembered my experience the night before.

Just as Levi received my peace as his own,
so Jesus wants to give us HIS peace.

When we were saved, God’s Spirit took residence in us.  Our old man was put to death and, now, it is no longer we who live but Christ who lives through us.  How often I forget the benefits that come with this great truth.  I don’t have to be a better “Susan” anymore.  All I need to do is look to my Savior who longs to give me everything He is.  Not only does Jesus want to fill me with things like His love, His strength, and His wisdom, but He desires to fill me with HIS very own peace too!

Not a peace that is manufactured by me or dependent on imperfect people or an unstable world. It’s a divine peace rooted in the one, true God who has all authority over heaven and earth.

It’s a supernatural peace that can never be moved or shaken by the circumstances of life. It’s a peace that comes from the One who knows how the story really ends.

Whatever the challenges we might be facing at this moment, Jesus invites us to lay our head on His chest and receive His peace today.

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

Susan Pettrey’s Bio

img_8712_2Susan Pettrey is the second daughter of Jim and Carol Cymbala, who pastor the Brooklyn Tabernacle in Brooklyn, NY.  Susan grew up witnessing great moves of God and His power to change the most hopeless of lives.  As an adult, Susan has been all over the spectrum of ministry at the Brooklyn Tabernacle.  She has served as a worship leader and soloist in the choir.  She is the director of the women’s ministry, as well as, the BT Drama Company, where she writes and produces full-length plays that are used to minister to the church and evangelize her city.  Her greatest priority, however, is her wonderful husband, Brian, and four amazing children, Luke (19), Claire (16) and Levi (6) and Charlotte (1)

What is Your Go?

Your Go

I would like to welcome Suzanne Stelling to Purposeful Faith for Women’s Ministry Monday. Find your go, friends! I love this message…

Post by: Suzanne Stelling

Lately, I’ve been reading books rapid-fire: 1,000 Wells; Wine to Water; Interrupted; and The Insanity of God. I’m uncomfortable in my comfortable Christianity. I look around my city and see that all is not well: there is racial tension, economic segregation, spiritual lack — and in the midst of all that, I’m “fine.” Have I been duped by what Jesus calls “the deceitfulness of wealth” (Mark 4:19)? Am I loving my neighbor as myself (Mark 12:31)? I found some answers and motivation when I read those books and paired them with this scripture about Ananias.

Our story with Ananias begins with a simple disciple who knows and recognizes God’s voice. During a conversation, God gives Ananias a vision and specific instruction about visiting Saul.

The Lord told him, “Go to the house of Judas on Straight Street and ask for a man from Tarsus named Saul, for he is praying. In a vision he has seen a man named Ananias come and place his hands on him to restore his sight.” Acts. 9:11

What a picture: Him, the simple one, with spiritual sight and vision (Ananias) heals him who is powerful, murderous and spiritually blind (Saul). With God, the simple man with Godly sight brings great transformation through God’s might.

“Something like scales fell from Saul’s eyes…” Acts 9:18

God knows where we stand. He knows where we are. He is better than Siri, GPS, Bing, and Google Maps – combined! He tells Ananias exactly where to go. Just as Saul was easily located, so are we – by God! He has the vision for where he wants us to take us and the lives he plans to change.

Are you listening for God’s direction?

Leading?

And scriptures that invoke action?

Ananias heard them. His life was interrupted so he could restore sight to an unsafe terrorist. And, look what happened! He radically changed Saul’s life and trajectory. Through the power of God at work in him, Ananias got the chance to bring one of our all-time greatest followers of Jesus – to faith.

Where is God telling you to GO on His behalf?

 What directions is He giving you today? 

Could it be that your GO is to go help downtown, go home to your family or to go spend an hour alone with Him? Perhaps, it is to go be gentle with that mean woman at work? To go buy some groceries for a friend in need? To go text that friend who’s going through a divorce, go sit with that lady in the hospital, go into that meeting with some fresh ideas for the CEO, go work at that orphanage in Haiti, go create some microfinance jobs for women in Ethiopia, go design a building or close a deal in a way that honors Him?

Listen and discern His GO for your life.

It may be very different from someone else’s, but it’s still your GO. And when you GO, pay attention: He is working out transformation for the good of His Kingdom and His people, and you get to be part of it. Amazing!

Although my husband and I did not have a vision, we do have marching orders to GO. We are hopping in a moving truck this October to relocate to an area of greater racial, social, and economic diversity. My spiritual and physical eyes are open, waiting and watching to witness the transformation He will bring. He will get all the honor!

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

About Suzanne Stelling

screen-shot-2016-09-16-at-10-18-54-pmTo keep up with Suzanne follow her at suzannestelling.tumblr.com or @suzannestelling. For studies by Suzanne, go to http://cspc.net/sos

When You’re Self-Critical and Feel Unhealable

Self-Critical

Do you hate yourself when you yell – again?
Do you want to flick your wrist when you eat those brownies you should’ve dumped a week ago?
Do you call yourself an idiot for forgetting that appointment?
Do you believe you’ll never get better, live better or act better?

Freedom can feel far.
Hope can feel lost.
Deliverance can taste like an extra-large pizza,
when you are one who berates yourself in your head.

Half my life, I’ve looked at my mistakes and asked, “Kelly, why are you so stupid?”
I say something dumb. “Kelly, why are you so stupid?”
I bump someone’s bumper with my bumper, “Kelly, why are you so stupid?”
I miss an opportunity, “Kelly, why are you so stupid?”

No wonder, one of my big fears is of being stupid. I’ve been speaking that fear into my heart for a long, long time.

What have you been speaking into your heart? Does it look – and hit – hard, like a hammer to the head or does it look and feel soft – like grace?

If you’re a heavy self-hitter, like me, listen up, because this is important: You no longer have to be hard on yourself, because the world was already hard on Jesus.

Let it really sink in. It hit him hard – and he took it.

Have you considered the weight of that? You don’t have to beat yourself up because, Jesus, the bodyguard of all bodyguards, took all your hits. He got hit so hard his flesh broke wide open.

So, while you sit and stare at your injuries, thinking, “They’ll never heal,” God says, “If I conquered the cross, surely I can conquer what plagues your heart today.”

Your brokenness is of no magnitude
that the maker of heaven and earth can’t fix it.

When you whisper, “Please God, help me, help me, help me. God, I can’t. God…God…God…”

God hears and nearly whispers, “Jesus”.

Because if you see this man on the cross,
if you see the fullness of his gift,
if you see the King,
nearly riding to death on a donkey,
in this place of poverty and powerlessness,
if you just see him,
you’ll see how he hung –
arms wide open,
for you,
the weak, wounded and restless one.

You’ll see mercy,
care
and foreknowledge,
pour out.

You’ll see his heart
to save –
both for today and yesterday.

When we see, Jesus, the man who won our freedom,
we really begin to trust his life can  save us.

He didn’t died for us yesterday,
only to give a half-hoot about us today.

When Jesus spread his arms on the cross, he welcomed our pain. He welcomed the addicts, the rapists, the depressives, the adulterers, the anxiety-prone, the controllers, the abusers, the abused and the proud. He basically says, “See me, I am reaching out to hug you, to embrace you – to receive the worst of you. Don’t forget what I’ve done. Let yourself be saved from your plague.

With this idea friends, knowing his heart, I want to be saved afresh. There is an area so wounded in me, I keep on trying to layer dirt over it. I keep trying to wrestle it down in my own mind. I keep wanting to tell it to go hide out in Timbuktu. It never does. It tapes itself to me. It labels me.

Well, today friends, today…today, I say, Jesus, you are my only way. I am willing to travel through the hurt to find your help. I am willing to get honest with you, so I can get healed by you. I am willing to give it a shot, knowing that you surpass my slip ups.

“Live as people who are free, not using your freedom as a cover-up for evil, but living as servants of God.” (1 Pet. 2:16)

Hurt one, are you ready to live free? What’s holding you back?

“He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.” Ps. 147:3

Related Reading:

10 Reasons to Stop Being Hard on Yourself

When Forgiving Yourself is Hard (Linkup)

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When People Complicate Things

People Complicate Things

I thought about bringing them in. But, if I do everything will get turned upside down. There will be questions, problems, ideas and suggestions about how I should do things. There will be recommendations for how the games should be played and different ideas on how the event should look. There will be deep discussions on outfits. Whether to serve mushrooms or asparagus. There will be rabbit trails I am too busy to commit to – and honestly could care less about.

I want to move alone. I want to lead the charge.  Is there anything wrong with that?

People = Problems

I like:

Kelly = Leader
People = Quiet doers

Hate me if you will, but I am being completely honest. Sometimes I can’t handle people. I’ve always had an issue with them. They get loud. They get opinionated. They get political. They get whiny. They get long-winded (you open your mouth to speak only to have the words stolen from you). They get advice-oriented, especially when you already have a good plan in motion. They diss your ideas. They judge all the time…! They get critical. They hurt you.

Sometimes it feels better to shove people
down a rabbit hole and cover the top,
then let them give voice to things that might hurt you.

Ever noticed?

I throw them a carrot every now and then if they’ve been good. If they’ve been obedient and rule-sensitive down there.

But, if they’ve been a vwery bad rabbit, I tend to:

– Ignore them.
– Try to advise, derail or shush them.
– Avoid them
– Squeeze them out.
– Talk about them behind their back or in my head.
– Get filled up with so much steam, I exhale scolding words.

I punish those disobedient rascals. Mostly, I punish them because I am afraid of them.

Oh, boy…it’s true.

I am afraid they’ll: look better than me, come up with better ideas than me, steal my show, be liked more by other people, grace the world better than me, make me realize the ugly parts of myself.

Can’t have Kelly feeling uncomfortable! No way, friends. That is the first rule of avoidance. 

Better to diss than be dissed, right? Better to be the first one to walk out on that boyfriend, than to have him dump you. Better to let your eyes roam the room with your eyes, than to have others do it to you. Better to step away than have to deal with your friend liking the other girl more. Better to disassociate than associate with potential pain.

Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Phil. 2:3

There’s that…

It looks the opposite of my approach. It’s one of those verses you recite because it sounds so beautiful. It sounds so Jesus. It sounds like, “Yes! I am great and humble and self-sacrificing and writing for Jesus (or fill in whatever holy excuse you use to not really love).

Self-protection is not holy affection, friends.

It’s a sack of nasty pride.

Am I being too hard on you – and on me?

Maybe. We’ve been hurt. It’s been painful. People have played – not nice. I know, I really know. It stinks.

Let’s throw a pout-party and squeeze our face muscles real tight and remember their icky-ness. Let’s.

Then, let’s toss them to the wind. Let’s let them fly away from us, because those past pains are holding us up from receiving present love. We are missing moments. We are losing joy. We are hiding away and into ourselves. We are losing the depths the real warmth that comes from letting someone really knowing you.

Our pride party is pointless.

Our joy is incomplete.

Our glass isn’t half empty, it is depleted.

He who is faithful to love operates in the gaps of people’s messes. If we are looking for pariahs of perfection, they don’t exist, but He does. He will layer in love, where they have left holes. Friends, it is not a person we are looking to fill us, it is God. We find him in the holes of man, for that’s where he leaves us – holy.

Prayer for Recovery of Relationships:
Dear Lord, today, I confess, I get scared. I get scared that someone will hurt me the same way as yesterday. It feels like a very real, present and oncoming threat. Help me trust you. Help me leave my heart in your hands, knowing that your wrapping of it is a covering that no man can penetrate. Help me believe that you are good, even when man is messed up. Help me know that my identity is in you and it is not indicative of man’s opinion. Lead me in your grace, mercy and fearlessness. Amen.

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Related Reading:

When People Are Disgusting

Broken Perfectionism

Are you Afraid to be Happy?

Afraid to be Happy

Happiness.

It’s the thing every Christian wants but is afraid to admit.
It’s the thing we chase, yet hardly find.
It’s the thing we’re ashamed to claim as our deep longing.

As a child, my school was an extension of church. It’s where I tested out happy. Joyfully, I laughed, talked and told stories. I was loud, excited and eager. I was – alive, even, until I learned I wasn’t acceptable. Until, the teacher pulled me by the arm, kneeled me before a statue and told me I was wrong – sinfully wrong for it. My hard knees on a hard floor proved happy doesn’t work so well.

Happy bubbles get burst easily.

Another time, an opportunity of a lifetime showed up on my doorstep. I screamed in my house, I jumped up and down, twirled the twirl and danced the jig. Yes! Yes! Double Yes! This was what I had been waiting for.

I ran to tell a most trusted friend. I smiled, blabbed and anticipated the moment we would scream in unison. What I got was – dead air. Then, came the dry words of, “Oh, that’s good. Now, what were we talking about before?!”

Unhappy can’t easily get comfortable with happy. They repel each other, quite often.

Better not to be happy, right?

After hearing a whole lot of sermons like this:
1. You just gotta carry your cross in this world.
2. A horrific thing happened? Oh, that’s God’s will.
3.) We are only living for eternity

you start believing this world actually is the hell you fear.

Somewhere, along the lines we ended up with a theology of agony,
not Christianity. 

I rebuke that line of thinking. Jesus didn’t come to break us down. He didn’t come to ruin us. And, he certainly didn’t come to make us slaves. While we are assured we will hit pain and suffering (2 Tim. 3:12), God’s forever-assignment for us is not a downcast spirit, dejection and demoralization.

So you are no longer a slave, but God’s child;
and since you are his child, God has made you also an heir. Gal. 4:7

We don’t have to live like morose monks – when people, problems or pricks hit us –
because we are loved children, with a good Father.

What good parent wants their kid to continually suffer?
What good parent holds back the greatest joys of childhood?
What good parent doesn’t band-aid up a cut and send the kid back to the playground?
What good parent doesn’t leave their child with the best things they ever owned?

I want to thank Jennifer Duke’s Lee and her book The Happiness Dare.
She pointed out: “The greatest source of happiness is Christ in me.”

Yes! Say AMEN with me, now!

Christ in me is the power of joy – flowing out from me. 

Christ in you is the power of joy – flowing out from you. 

Jennifer adeptly helps me realize by accessing who God made me to be, I can launch – happy and free.

Do you know what makes you happy?

Did you know you have a happiness style (Take the Happiness Quiz)? You may be a: Doer (a little like me), Experiencer (a lot like me), Relater (a lot like me), a Giver (not like me) or a Thinker (a lot me).

Okay, ya’ll, you busted me, I’m a whole bunch of ’em.

It’s okay though, because I want to embrace them – all 3 of them. Somehow, I figure, God loves nothing more than when we step into the full beauty of who he created us to be. It’s like we zip off the world and we step out radiant. We are His masterpiece, after all.

Might it be time we agreed with God? We can be happy with who we are, without shame.

I love how Jennifer puts it, “God delights in your delight. He takes pleasure in your pleasure.  But, it doesn’t end with our pleasure alone. Oh no. You see, this is all for his pleasure. This is all about God.”

Happiness transcends me. When we are fully who we were made to be – we light up the world.

Rather than grunting in pain to a world about how hard it is to be a Christian, we light it up with smiles, songs and dances that glorify God!

“Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works,
and glorify your Father who is in heaven. Mt. 5:16

People who know God “ought to be the happiest people in all the wide world! – A.W. Tozer 

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The Happiness Dare:
Pursuing Your Heart’s Deepest, Holiest, and Most Vulnerable Desire

Jennifer Dukes Lee has good news for anyone who’s ever secretly, longingly (even guiltily) dreamed of being happier: It’s okay to want to be happy. God cares about your happiness; He created it as a sweet spot, a gift, and something you can faithfully, freely pursue. And He’s daring you to trust Him enough to discover it.

Learn more about The Happiness Dare by Jennifer Dukes Lee.