Purposeful Faith

Tag - life

Guard your Heart Like America’s Best Soldier

guard your heart

Lately, I have been pondering maybe the most important question of Christian faith:
How do you successfully guard your heart? 

Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it. Prov. 4:23

Above all else = the most important thing.
Everything you do = every single small and solitary thing
Flows from it = it is the blood supply to our spiritual existence

The heart is the command center to your life.

An unguarded heart is a compromised life.

Using this line of reasoning, we can figure: If we are straying from God, we’ve been displaying our heart open for attack.

So how do we truly guard it?

Guard it in a way where bad thoughts bounce off?
Guard it in a way where lockdown is secure?
Guard it in a way where attackers don’t even give it a passing glance?

This is what my heart has been sitting on lately. Wondering. Strategizing. And sure didn’t want a quick-fix answer of “try better”, “work harder” or “just do it”; these are the type of answers that always keep me failing.

So, while I considered not failing, I watched the snow falling on morning news – until one image nearly sent me falling right out of my chair. It was the answer to my wonderings.

21 steps forward.
21 steps back.
Guarding.
Protecting.
The presence of who was.
No sleep.
No rest.
Back.
Forth.
Diligence.
Perseverance.
Dedication.

The sentinel. He moved with purpose as the high winds of cold hit his face. He moved with discipline as snow ravaged around him. He moved with confidence next to the most important cause in his life. He moved to guard the presence of one unknown by so many; just as our Savior was and is today.

He moves, then another one moves, and then another, on 24 hour shifts, but, make no mistake, someone is always moving at The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Arlington Cemetery. It is never left unmanned, untouched and unprotected.

During storms – armed.
When everything seems shut down – manned.
When things are quiet – protected.
When the place gets hectic – watched.
When the face gets frostbitten – defended.

Do we guard our hearts in such a way?

Do we see it of such value that we keep 24-hour vigilance
on what takes aim around it? 

Guns blazing, gloves moistened, to aide in grip,
are we protecting with discipline, dedication and decisiveness?

Back and forth, do we run over our mind to see
if there is any way unpleasing to the Lord?

21 steps forward, 21 steps back,
do we give pause for prayer to ensure we are effective?

The Sentinel does not do an about face when reaching the end of 21 steps, he turns and looks at the tomb.

Do we? Do we turn to look at the tomb consistently and continually throughout our day? The tomb of Jesus that is empty? The one that reminds us of who we are fighting for? The one that tells us to keep on 21-stepping?

When stop to look at Jesus’ tomb,  we see the tomb of emptiness found in anything
and everything else put above him.  

Lives that pace on his goodness, dance with his freedom.
Feet that walk back and forth on righteousness, find life.
Soldiers who see guarding their hearts as paramount, mount up on wings like eagles.
They find hope, flight and new might,
for enemies flee at the sight of real duty.

Guard your heart like nothing else matters.

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I almost died (3 Times): Life and Death Ponderings

Life and Death

I almost died once, actually not even once, three times to be specific. After nearly dying that often, it gets someone thinking…

After having a gas tank nearly explode on you, you inhale and start thinking, life is fragile.

After almost having a tree land directly on you, you look up and start thinking there’s a reason God hasn’t taken you yet.

After doing vehicular twirls on an interstate, you start thinking God has some things prepared by offering another hour on earth.

Not to be deathly morbid,
but aren’t we all just a hair away from dying? 

We are either dead or alive. Can’t be both.

And with all this death talk, it gets me contemplating the difference:

Death is numbing yourself.
It’s blinding self.
Hiding self.
Minimizing self.
Maximizing self.
Rationalizing self.
Guarding self.
Proving self.
Making things all about self.
Overexerting self.
Indulging self.
Starving self.
Admiring self.

For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.  Ro. 6:23

Life and Death

But death never represents real life.

Present life is like:
Stripping ones self,
Or removing the sandpaper edges that rub people raw,
Or the fragmented wood planks that stick out of hardened eyes,
Or softening the 20-inch layers of callous that keep love buried.

We don’t nearly equate these kinds of things with life. Because sometimes life breaks us, shreds us and leaves us in torn strips.

Yet, to be stripped is to become equipped with new life.

Life and Death

As the scales fall, new and supple skin emerges.  It is pure, soft, pliable and empowered with complete nourishment to hike the trail headed to the far sunset of God’s predestined calling.

For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works,
which God prepared in advance for us to do. Eph. 2:10

It is called abundant life.
Not abundant health.
No abundant wealth.
Not abundant shoes.
Not abundant amusement.
Not abundant pleasure.
Not abundant power.
Not abundant smarts.
Not abundant gratification.

Abundant life, means you go through the fire of removing self
to find the Spirit
who remakes you in the wake of big waves,
big prayers
and big callings.

It means you fall away from self to land softly in Christ’s open arms.

It means you retreat from your instant inclinations to find retreat in God’s quiet persuasions.

It means you find acceptance in Christ instead of annoyance at self in the face of big errors.

It means you walk untouchable as you proceed to heaven – as a bride, undefined, reserved, whole, sealed and renewed.

It means you know you have more than enough, even if, by the worlds standards you have hardly enough.

It’s life. It’s vision.  It’s truth.  It’s Hope. It’s discovery and recovery, learning and becoming, traveling and sitting all the same.

It’s more than you ever dreamed of, but all the same, exactly what you never imagined. It is pain, but it is always gain. It is joy, but earned through pain. Real pain. Loud pain. Crying pain. Nailed pain. Tortured pain. Ridiculed pain. Cross-ridden, Christ endured pain that signifies our safe return. A return that proves all will one day be okay, even if the worst does happen.

Because death is really life.

Life and Death

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Snapping Beauty, Crushing Vision and Tiny Stitches

Snapping Beauty

Snapping Beauty

I probably would be the girl that you’d least like to walk behind on a busy street. I might even be the one that you’d silently curse under your breath (although not too loudly or discernibly because you are Christian, after all), but all the same I wouldn’t be surprised if you did. You might even step on my heels a little to give me a quick signal I am being slow, rude and indignant.

Heck, I may even deserve it.

But, would I stop doing it? No way. Would I stop listening to the small voice that speaks about 2 feet below me. I don’t think so.

You see, I think that little voice of immaturity is on to something all the rest of us have been missing. He is on to something that in our pursuit of destination we miss. He is on to the small meaning of life, the beauty in the cracks of a sidewalk and the peculiarities in a bird with a beak of an different variety.

He is mesmerized by creation and affirmed
in God’s determination to show love.

We call it a sidewalk. He calls it a God-walk. 
We call it a place where you move from one place to another. He calls it a place you see one glory to another.
We call it a stroll, he calls it God being on a roll.

Snapping Beauty

“Stop mommy, you gotta see those birds over there. Take a picture!”
“Stop mommy, do you see that little flower sticking out of the wall? Take a picture!”
“Stop mommy, do you see the way the sun is coming out of the clouds? Take a picture!”

Snapping Beauty

Snap that shot mommy and don’t let me ever forget about this little slice of moment where what God showed is greater than the crazy, mundane and forced things in this world.  Capture the moment of greatness that only those who have the small eye seeking beauty can find. Get that and let me hold on to it so I can remember how God wanted me to see him above the scary, freaky and dark things of world.

Snapping Beauty

Snap.
Beauty.

Snap.
Meaning.

Snap.
A moment that will last forever.

Crushing Vision

How often do I look at the world like one waiting to be mesmerized?
How often do you?

I always thought I could see, but now I see, I was always becoming blind.

Maybe it happens to others like me. The ones who pull “drive” out of their back pocket and put on the glasses of determination to try to get themselves somewhere. Ones who believe they’ll end up seeing peace, joy and life from goals, plans and agendas. These types, they run a fast race; they move like a panther in hot pursuit of prey (work, spouses, cleanliness, promotions, money, vacations, internal value (fill in blank), yet tired and panting, huffing and puffing they always land in the same place –  in the alley called dead end, dead life and dead weight.

I should know, busted my head in that alley.  I told myself I needed to be best in my class (fail.). I told myself I needed to get the best job ever out of college (I went bust at the job after a year). I told myself I needed to press through an abusive situation (nightmares plagued me).

Dead-locked vision left me for dead and on lock down with discouragement.

Tunnel vision drive, driving towards anything but God’s goals leaves you driving into a head-on collision where you feel like you can’t breathe and you are not sure if you can return to normal life.

I thought those who try hard – win big.  Where did I go wrong?

Tiny Stitches

Blind folk start to see again, when they aren’t afraid to see themselves as dirty.

After saying this, (Jesus) spit on the ground, made some mud with the saliva, and put it on the man’s eyes. Jo. 9:6

Untitled design (8)Yet, I don’t think it is only this. It is not just saying, “Hey God, go ahead, put that stinking muck on me. I am okay with it. I am okay with seeing myself as tarnished, hurt, powerless and needing the reality of myself to cleanse me.”

Nope. I think it transcends this.

“Go,” (Jesus) told him, “wash in the Pool of Siloam” (this word means “Sent”). So the man went and washed, and came home seeing. Jo. 9:7

Be willing to wear the grime of your self, your past, your wrongs, and your traumas – and then allow yourself to be sent out. See those things in a way where they earned your masters degree of life learning.

You let the dirt sit afresh on your eyes, you feel the muck and the yuck, and then you let the word “sent” compel your whole being to move to greater insight, vision and power; you move with them and beyond them all at the same time.

Then you start to see. As the grime of what you really are, the disgust of what you have been and the pain of shame wash off, you finally get somewhere.

“I went and washed, and then I could see.” Jo. 9:11

I could see innocence.
I could see through eyes untarnished.
I could see roads untainted.
I could see the slow movement of ordinary things.
I could see worry dissipate and fears calm.
I could see people – pained people.
I could see glory – in sunrises, sunsets, grime and grit.
I could see beauty – in grace extended.
I could see growth – by offering space.
I could see life – budding in the small forging of patience.
I could see flowers – protrude from the cracks of pain.
I could see longing, desire and hope.

Snapping Beauty

It is a picture that even words fall short of explaining. So, you just stop, drop your jaw at what you see, then you look for someone that doesn’t have their head stuck in automated zombie-zone, and together, you snap a picture. Usually with the child, the innocent one who gets the greatness of God. And, then, you go about carrying on in the mayhem called planet earth until God staggers yet again with all he has stored up in the unseen places of the world.

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It Will Surely Come

It will surely come

Post by Karina

“And the Lord answered me:

“Write the vision;
    make it plain on tablets,
    so he may run who reads it.
 For still the vision awaits its appointed time;
    it hastens to the end—it will not lie.
If it seems slow, wait for it;
    it will surely come; it will not delay.” Habakkuk 2:2-3

These are the words of God. I read them and I know they weren’t just for Habakkuk. They are for me. And they are for you. At the dawn of a new year, we are filled times of reflection. We look back, sometimes with a sense of accomplishment or delight. But often, with a sense of regret…regret for what we did or didn’t do.

On the other side of looking back, we look forward. We look forward not knowing what lies ahead. The future entails so much mystery. We can prepare and plan all we want but, we cannot control what is to come. We never could.

Mystery is okay. It can be a good place to be. I have found that it is in the mystery where God reveals HimselfHe does His best work there because it is there where we learn to completely depend on Him.

All of us have dreams. God has dreams for us. Along with those dreams, God has a strategy for how He desires it to come to fruition. We want the dream to happen now. We are such a people conditioned to expect a suddenly. Now, God is well able to bring about a suddenly but, He is much more concerned about the process. He is not so much concerned with the outcome as He is with who we are becoming. The Father is looking to develop patience in us a character within us that can sustain the calling He has for us.

Write down the vision.

What are the dreams of your heart? What are the longings of your soul? Write them down. Pray over them. Call them forth.

It will not lie.

God is a God of His Word. He is not a man that He should lie. His promises stand true throughout eternity. He is a God of purpose and of order. That holds true whether or not we can see the work of His hands.

Wait for it.

This whole timing thing is tricky! There is my timing and there is God’s timing. As much as I want it to be true, my timing is rarely His timing. You and I have to be okay with that. He really does know best. He knows the end from the beginning. We have to trust that. We have to trust His timing. Ours dreams will come at the right time under the right circumstances.

God’s new mercies are here and waiting for us to take hold of them.

The Lord will never place a dream in our hearts that He doesn’t intend to bring to life. He wants us to simply trust Him and partner with Heaven to walk in the fullness of our callings.

Be brave my sister.

Hold onto your God-Sized Dream.

Trust in His perfect timing.

Destiny is calling your name.

What is the vision that you are believing God for?

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BjBC4hzUKarina is a devoted follower of Jesus from New Orleans, Louisiana, but has made her home in Baton Rouge for the past 15 years. She spends much of her time leading worship at church, writing, reading, dancing and mentoring the next generation. She has a huge heart for serving and missions. She is an advocate for the local church especially the one that she attends, Healing Place Church. She also enjoys working out, traveling, photography and going to concerts/conferences.

Karina believes that every woman has a God-sized dream on the inside of them and it is up to an encouraging community to help nurture that dream. Her goal in writing is to see women get a revelation of God’s Word and discover how to apply it to their lives in order to walk in freedom and live the life that God intended. But the most important thing to her is to live out the call of Isaiah 26:8…For His Name and His Renown are the desire of our souls! You can connect with her at “For His Name and His Renown.”

Chasing God

Chasing God

Frustrated, I pumped harder, as if each New Year push on the elliptical would propel me into progress, as if it would really get me somewhere. The only thing it seemed to propel me into, however, was pressure. Pressure from words like: Must. Move. Forward. Must. Make. Difference. Must. Do. Well.

Sure, I wanted to do things for God,
but somehow I lost God in the process.

It seemed God took off in the dense woods that laid in the window before me. I pumped faster, but man-made machines and ambitious routines, never have effectively lassoed God’s heart. I stayed lost.

Where did you go, God?

I didn’t know.

Chasing God

Sometimes it appears God leaves those who miss his perfectly placed bread crumbs – those who start looking left and right, only to unknowingly trample on his love lying on the center of the path. Those who get diverted by moving wind, shadows, scary branches, prickly vines and oncoming clouds.

It appears the more lost we get, the more lost we become.

What do you do when your steps have landed you into the density of
vanity, superficiality and absurdity,
therefore making drivability back to your great God nearly impossible?

This is what I considered as I huffed and puffed.

God, I need you.
God, please help me.
Lord, there is none like you.
I have brought myself far, by looking at far off things,
far off people
and far of progress that you did not yet claim for me.
Reset my eyes, my mind, my being.
Like a magnet that cannot be deterred from you.
Like a body double that lives inside you.
Like a duplicate of your being.
Like a child on a parental leash.
Clone my desires to be of your genetic makeup.
For I know you use those who serve low, that reach deep and lay down to lift another higher.
I know that you delight in the adult who picks the unconnected, unwanted and unmerited kid’s table – and then serves them.

I know it is not progress you care about but the process of sitting at your feet,
where we hold your feet like jewels,
and then cleanse them with unrestrained
I-will-do-anything-for-you, I-have-no-place-to-be – adoration.

For then, we go out in the world and clean the wretched filth off those we detest and despise –
except for one thing, we start not to detest and despise them so much anymore,
for it is in pure that pure is forged.
Lord, it is your purity we are after. 
White as snow.
Innocent as a dove.
Undefiled as a baby’s first breath.
Unrestrained by the contamination of the world.
Moving as holy.
Being in you.

Not “outwardly appear righteous to men, but inside [being] full of hypocrisy and lawlessness” (Matthew 23:27), no God, not like that. Instead, may I be outwardly appearing available, lowly and humble AND inside full of giving, loving, gentleness, kindness, patience, authenticity, defenselessness and purity.

My pumping continued on the elliptical, but in that moment, I let my shoulders soften. I let my arms rest a little, for each movement was starting to feel owned, controlled and in place by one above my own motions.

And everyone who has this hope fixed on Him purifies himself, just as He is pure. 1 Jo. 3:3

When we fix our eyes on the purity of Jesus,
purity gets fixed within ourself.

Strong beautiful fog in the forest

My eyes gazed ahead, into the unknown density of forest, but now, just a little more, knew where I was driving towards – purity. This meant, I would keep watch for the breadcrumbs, follow his trail and get low so he could be high.

And then the amazing happened!

As fast as a flash of lightening, God seemed to flash purity, as if to show I was on the right path.  Even though my eyes couldn’t believe it, even though I was surrounded by a hundred moving pieces of steel gym equipment, even though the forest ahead looked dark and daunting, still…a dog, burst onto the scene. White. Snow White. Pure. Free. Playful. Beckoning. Moving. Inviting. Gesturing. Delighting. Knowing his way. Sure of his being. Calling me to follow.

Chasing God

I nodded inside and said, “Lord, more than anything, I want to follow.” And I decided, to push into him.

Prayer for Purity:

Lord, make me pure. Make my insides so sincere that even the smallest fragment of defect cannot exist. Make me so clean that even the smallest particle of dirt would be out of place. Make me so brilliant that only you have a home in the temple of sacred. Make my heart go after not things of high, but places of low. May I drive hard after the uncared for people and places, rather than the lofty spaces and places. May I see the one who feels unseen. May I love the one who the world does not love. May I pursue the heart that is rendered yours. May I be the girl who you know will answer. May I strike a chord in the center of love. May I find a way when all ways seem lost. May I give a hand to the person in need. May I give myself when I have nothing left. And may I find you when I find myself in distress. May you search me out as one belonging to you. May you lend me your kingdom, knowing I’ll do good by you. May I keep it well. May I see your life. And, always, everyday, may I be content – in you, the owner of eternal life. Amen.

A song: To bring you back to “chasing God”, titled  “Running in Circles.”

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6 Verses About Second Chances

Second Chance

Lately, I have been speaking one word over my family “Presence.”

I have been telling myself:
“Don’t let your mind wander.”
“Stay active and involved.”
“Pour out love.”
“Give space for calm.”
“Cease worry.”
“Give your best.”

My intentions are good, but the outcomes have been lousy. Days go haywire, accidents happen, kids scream, family irritates, pressures arise, crises happen, distractions lure, people call, I divert my attention, I get frustrated, I speak in a mean kind of way, I demand action, I get terribly afraid, I push people away and then I feel horrible.

I walk out of the day head down.
Face dejected.
Self-doubt metastasizing.
Abilities deteriorating.
1,205,200 fails plus 1.
Jail cell number: 201 please.
I won’t come out until I act better.
I won’t return until I figure things out.

Each fail is another stripe added to my uniform of transgression. It is another weight that both declares who I am and what I cannot seem to do. It is another lash I add onto my back.

Have you ever done the same?

Have you ever confined yourself to a cell God never put you in?

Those who lean in to growth, often fall down into defeat.
Those who try, and try and try again are clay ducks for the devil. “Bang! Gotta stop her!”
Those who do bad, usually feel that they deserve punishment.
Those who walk into new, usually hit the barrier of old habits so they can climb over to freedom.

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

I am not alone.
If Paul didn’t get his lousy behavior, I guess it gives me some permission not to get mine.
I guess it gives me some permission to say, “Agh! I hate that I do this. God help.”

And God does, he helps with 6 truths like these:

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 1 Jo. 1:9

But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Ro. 5:8

If I confess, God suppresses my offense.

I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world. Jo. 16:33

But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus… Eph. 2:4-6

While it appears worldly transgressions stand over us,
we sit on – and over them – with Christ in the heavenlies.

But you, O Lord, are a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness. Ps. 86:15

“Who is a God like you, pardoning iniquity and passing over transgression for the remnant of his inheritance? He does not retain his anger forever, because he delights in steadfast love.” Mi. 7:18

There is not a thing that can make God change a thing about his character.

He is who he is and who he is – slow to anger, abounding in love, faithful, steadfast, delighting in giving.

Even when we say: For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. Ro. 7:15

Then, the neurons connect, the forces of truth collide and we realize something very powerful:
Paul didn’t hate himself – he hated what he did.

Paul might have hated the act –
but didn’t let that become a chance to react in complete defeat.

He didn’t allow his injury to become his identity. Christ’s blood was his permanent marking.
He didn’t erase who God said he was. He acknowledged who he is prone to be – and do – without him.
He didn’t throw down his uniform and give up his life – he made his jail cell an open door for the gospel to flow.
He didn’t cast himself into punishment for his past transgressions, he claimed his grace and freedom in Christ.

Isn’t God calling us to the same?

When we know who and whose we are, we live in a way where we nod at failure and move on to progress.  We say, “I am not perfect, but I am growing. I am thinking about things that count, that are good, that are noble and trustworthy and valuable and right – and you know what, that is worth something.”

Then we pray: God, I can’t do anything without you. I can’t find the first door to progress without your wind of help behind me. Come to my rescue. Lead me on. As if I am a blind baby, come, pick me up and take me to where you want me to go. Keep my self far and keep selflessness close, for then I know I will find my way. Thank you that you can’t give up on me. Thank you that you will never abandon me to my self-confined chamber of torture – the one where I am mark myself convicted by my own mind. You are rescuer, redeemer and restorer. You are the remaker of old things and you do not despise new beginnings. I thank you. I serve you. May I forgive others as you forgive me. Amen.

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God’s Invitation: Do 2016 With Me

God's Invitation

I love you.
This year belongs to me –
as do you.
So know, I have both; in all ways.

There is no way you can be left behind,
I “go before you and will be with you”. (Deut. 31:8)
I “see all your work and your love;
not one labored breath goes unnoticed.” (Heb. 6:10)

Dead-gaze on me, be entranced and shadow my ways,
then your confidence will come easily, your burden will feel light and your heart will get sure:
Sure that you “will see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living.” (Ps. 27:13)

Child, please, wear the world like perfume, on one moment – and off the next,
not penetrating your deep, not altering your mind, and having no significant hold on you.
Violence: Let the pain hit, then let it waft into my being.
Opinions: Listen and let them rise.
Fear of man: Get a whiff and then let them go.
Goods: Say nice that you have them, then breathe deep – my love.
Then, I will permeate your insides with my infallible grace. 
Your mold will more easily fit mine and your mind will mock mine. (Ro. 12:2)

Don’t let enemy forces fool you into thinking my love can be thwarted.
Don’t let them plunder your joy, peace and patience by demanding an already established timing.
It may look like you are being besieged, but I am the one who controls the word “proceed.”
It may look like I want to hurt you, but every time I am helping you to grow, glisten and glean truth.
Pain is temporary, but my care, compassion and consolation withstand.
Hardship doesn’t mean I love you less or that I hold you less – it means the world will hold a little less of you when all is said and done.
What comes against also has the capacity to push me into you with the same force.
Let it be so; let me rule.

So, child, watch carefully that you don’t plan against me, but plan with me.
You may set out a course, but, know, I am determining each movement. (Prov. 16:9)
There is no wisdom, no insight, no plan that can succeed against the me. (Acts 5:39)
My ways are the ways that lead to the places you want to go; let’s go together.
Let’s move holding hands, rather than me pulling you through the mud –
we will both be happier, move easier and enjoy the journey.
You will delight in my love rather than resist it.
You will find I have so much good laid out for you – even in a world of set land mines.

Distraction abounds around you.
But so do I.
Keep your eyes set on what matters, what will fill you, what will change you.
I am always there, make a choice to see me above the diversions.
See the birds chirping, the sunset and my habitat of love, before you reach to answer that text.
Enjoy your children laughing, before you throw your face in front of a screen.
Welcome your spouses inviting words, before you think of your next scheduled activity.
Here my ready-to-lift voice above the talking fear-puppets of the world.
My love rises above world issues; it contains the only answer to genuine peace.

Love people like they are me,
but don’t let them rule you like you are Judas.
Money, people, things, toys, voices, actions, words,
they will try to gain a hold in your life,
they will try to rule you by opinion, feelings or  control,
but just let me hold you, as you love,
wave to them as they pass you by,
and you will be okay, we will hold firm together.
When you realize you can’t control another’s peace, you start to find yours.
When you step back from looking at others progress, you make yours.
No weapon forged against you shall prosper. (Is. 54:17)
When you realize this, you make instruments of love,
and you start singing new songs that make people break down and cry.
Your love begins to dance.

Discouragement will knock on your door,
let that salesman of sleazy goods pass by ungreeted.
You won’t be rude, you’ll be as shrewd as a snake
and I like that kind of thing… (Mt 10:16)
because my encouragement exists all around you.
Hear the knock, say they “There it is”,
but don’t pull open that door,
and, together, we’ll make it out okay.
That sleezeball has never been known to bring an ounce of anything that is from me,
why mess with that?

Jealousy, lust, comparison and pride –
they are like gangrene; they hinder my healing, helping and calming work in you,
don’t let them steal your view of what I am at work to do.
They love to come in, take over and make healthy ones fall.
Don’t think you are above their grasp,
for they sneak in…
when that one person does just a little better than you,
your eye strays just a tad too far,
you look at her appearance and mark yours bad.
you pat yourself on the back and vow to keep letting your awesomeness shine.
Set up your fence this year, so that you and I can play, laugh and move within safe confines,
we don’t need predators hanging around with us.

Let not money be your guide, dear child.
Sure, on earth it rules,
but in my vast kingdom,
that transcends the farthest known galaxy of human comprehension,
I do.
Lift me higher and you will see how high I extend.
Let me rule and you will start to see how much I rule.
Take a chance of faith and I will see your faith…
and then I’ll answer by faith,
to give you more and more faith.
You’ll come out the other side saying, “Wow, look at me now!”

And until we meet at the banqueting table, dear one,
be not afraid, I can’t stop thinking of you,
Come, be with me, and I won’t lead you wrong.

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20 Bible Verses to Help in Goal-Keeping

Goal-Keeping

Setting goals can be hard. Pick one too difficult and you have to contend with the fact you didn’t do it. Pick one too easy and you will be asking why you didn’t pick a real goal. Either way, you want to look back and know that you did great, gave it all and made a real and impactful life change.

How do you go about setting and keeping goals?
How do you pick things that God cares about?
And, what does God have to say about goals to begin with?

These are all questions that I ponder. I want to do what matters to him. I want to change the areas he wants changed. I want to know where I can love more and serve more and not pick some superfluous bag of new law that makes me more stressed and anxious and sinful than I was before.

If I am honest with you all, I don’t really know what new goal to pick. I figure the best way to get clarity is to get under the Lord’s authority and to see what he lays on my heart. I’ll seek his word, then seek his heart in prayer and he will be faithful to speak what he wants changed, not what man wants changed, my ambitions want changed or what vanity wants changed.

“Delight yourself in the LORD; and He will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the LORD, trust also in Him, and He will do it. He will bring forth your righteousness as the light…” Ps. 37:4-6

20 Bible Verses To Think on When Setting Goals

“I can do all this through him who gives me strength.” Philippians 4:13

“Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart. ” Psalm 37:4

“But the plans of the Lord stand firm forever, the purposes of his heart through all generations.” Psalm 33:11

“It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in humans.” Psalm 118:8

“In their hearts humans plan their course, but the Lord establishes their steps.” Proverbs 16:9

“I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” Phil. 3:14

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.” Proverbs 3:6

“All who are prudent act with knowledge, but fools expose their folly.” Proverbs 13:16

“Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and he will establish your plans.” Proverbs 16:3

“Unless the Lord builds the house, the builders labor in vain.” Ps. 127:1

“But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be the glory both now and to the day of eternity. Amen.” 2 Pet. 3:18

“Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.” Proverbs 19:21

 “The plans of the diligent lead to profit as surely as haste leads to poverty.” Proverbs 21:5

“Where there is no vision, the people are unrestrained, But happy is he who keeps the law.” Proverbs 29:18

“Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Won’t you first sit down and estimate the cost to see if you have enough money to complete it?” Luke 14:28

“Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.” Romans 12:2

“Do not work for food that spoils, but for food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you. For on him God the Father has placed his seal of approval.” John 6:27

“So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded.  You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised.” Hebrews 10:35-36

“But as for you, be strong and do not give up, for your work will be rewarded.” 2 Chronicles 15:7

“May he give you the desire of your heart and make all your plans succeed.” Psalm 20:4

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Be the Light By Showing Up (Link-up)

A season of lit trees and celebration was closing and I heard excited talk about picking your “one word” for the New Year. Piqued by curiosity, I researched and loved the idea of such specific focus instead of forgotten resolutions, unrealistic expectations and lists.

It seemed doable. Everyone was jumping in. So I followed suit and picked a word God had laid on my heart for months: see.

I thought about the ways I would explore the opposition between the seen and unseen in scripture and committed to searching for God’s light in the everyday. Driven by a desire to reawaken the wonder and the awe of his creation, I took time to notice things I’d often overlooked.

The crisp skyline of winter against the white, barren landscape. A solitary tulip peeking out from the frozen ground during the first glimpses of spring.

It was beautiful. I saw God’s grace in new, unexpected ways. But then another winter swept in and God seemed to hide himself behind a veil.

Clamoring for the peace of his presence, I prayed he would reveal himself.

Where are you, God? Show me your glory. Let me know you are here.

I perused the internet and found stories of terror and finger pointing. Then other news much closer to home hit.

Will you continue reading with us? Today the #RaRaLinkup is being hosted over at Abby McDonald’s place. Click this link to join us…

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From Commander To Surrenderer

Surrenderer

You can do it.
Make it happen.
You’re the boss.
Lead the way.
Get ‘er done.

Life makes us more into commanders than surrenderers doesn’t it?

I have been thinking about this lately, because, sure, I pray to God, I ask him for help, I follow his lead, I read his Word and I go to church. But, how much of my life do I manage, manipulate and mangle rather than letting him mend, mold and make me holy?

In many ways, I step up to God to say,
“You are my helper. Assistant. But, you are hardly my rescuer.”

Which translates to:
I’ll call on you in prayer God; you better pull though when I ask.
I have the day-to-day interactions covered, you handle the miracles.
I can figure my way out of the small; I will circle back on the big.
I am the boss of my office; I will call you, the assistant, if I get overwhelmed.
I will buzz you in if there are some things I really don’t want to do.

Let us examine our ways and test them,
and let us return to the LORD. La. 3:40

I am a large part pride and, I entirely hate to say this, a small portion trust.
I often think I can help myself better than God can help me.
I run over God with the tread my dirt-laden wheels that head to reeking lands.
My direction and intentions leave me with a flat tire and no way out.

Be not far from me, for trouble is near; For there is none to help (including Kelly Balarie or [insert your name here]. Ps. 22:11

Trouble is always near. So is the devil; he prowls around like a roaring lion seeking someone to devour. 1 Pet. 5:8

God waits.
He sees our trouble.
He is acquainted with our adversary.
He knows our door out.
He knows his door in.
He calls us to it.
He pleads for us.
He advocates for us.
He waits.

Will we call back to him?

Like a child with a breakage, knowing daddy will run to rescue?

Like a mother of a terminal one, knowing her great physician will save?

Like a distressed homeless one, knowing the benefactor has good?

Cast your cares on the LORD and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous be shaken. Ps. 55:2

He will handle our all as we hand over our all.
He loves our all, we need not be afraid of his all.
He brings us to his all as we seek his all.

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