Purposeful Faith

Tag - love

How to Run Hard for the Lord

How to run hard for the Lord

God doesn’t answer based on what we want, he answers based on what we need.

We may think we need peace and he says no, you need trials. We may think we need joy – he says perseverance.  We may think blessings – he says endurance.  We may think money – he says contentment.  We may think appreciation – he says love.

I was on the hunt for “encouragement”…

After my “big rejection”, an amazing friend who is wise beyond her years, strong in the Lord and faithful to his call, sent me this verse:

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us.”  Hebrews 12:1

I think she wanted to encourage me in my race, to help me with endurance, but what God revealed was something far deeper and even more convicting.  Let me explain…

I love a good race.  I love competing and I love pushing through my personal barriers physically and mentally. I get the idea of running a race for the Lord.  Why?

I feel ready to give it all. I feel ready to explode off the starting line and to push no matter what my body feels.  I want to arrive at the gate of heaven and fall in front of my King with a fast beating heart, with sweat on my brow. I want to fall before him out of breath, knowing I gave it all.  I don’t want to have an ounce of push left.

I want this so badly.  But still, I get caught looking at the sidelines. I look at the crowds of people telling me to follow them, I look at my own inadequacies and I pump my arms with pride.

God knows this.  He sees this. And, as any fine coach would do – to make me the best runner for his kingdom – he trains me. He pushes me.  He sends me through hard training days; days with some pain – some trials. These trials serve to mold me into a champion runner for his kingdom.  They strip me of my own ways and the world’s ways – to make me more like him, the ultimate champion.

Even so, sometimes I wonder, despite all this, why I still slow down?

And, this was why Hebrews 12:1 was so powerful.  It was this part…“Let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up.”  

God bugged me with this verse to see that: I can’t run loaded with weight.  I have a part in this race.

Sin weight slows me down.  It trips me up.  It keeps me from Him.

And, when sin is strapped on, its burden is heavy.  It’s consuming. It stops us in our tracks. It distracts us and trips us up.  We can try to pretend it is not there, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t.  

God is faithful to keep bugging us to address it.  When we do, we grow.  If we don’t, we fall.

I may have been trying to run a “victory”, but sometimes a “failure or a disappointment” ends up being the greatest “victory”. Why? Because as we fail, we can see our own faults and we hear him whispering, “Confess.”

I didn’t want trials.  I didn’t want pain.  I didn’t want rejection.  I didn’t want humiliation.

God said, “It’s not about you. Confess.”

I confess Lord, I have sinned.  I want all of you.  I can’t mentally pursue the race you have set before me when my mind is weighed down by my own desires and my own sin.

It is easy to want joy, peace, contentment and blessings.  It is easy to want encouragement and motivation, but God is operating from the throne of all knowledge, all power and all sovereignty.  In his seat, he sees yesterday, today and tomorrow.  He knows precisely what we need to finish our race. He knows precisely what will hold us back from finishing.

He wants us to be champions. He wants us to run with speed and power and strength.
He wants us to finish strong and joyful. 

We are more than just conquerors in Christ Jesus.

What baggage holds you back?  What do you need to confess?  What trials might God be using to train you?

When we confess, God has a greater gift in store.  The gift of speed and endurance that helps us run our race unencumbered.  

You are Likely Making These 3 Prideful Mistakes.

The 3 Mistakes:

1.  We run to be first.  While Jesus sits and says “be last”.

Sitting down, Jesus called the Twelve and said, “Anyone who wants to be first must be the very last, and the servant of all.” Mark 9:35

When we join Jesus, and sit down by his side, we tend to rely on him.  He is faithful to take care of us as we listen, relax and trust him.  When we just enjoy his presence, he equips us with all we need to serve others.  What an honor.

2.  We show off who we are, so we appear the star.

In the same way, you who are younger, submit yourselves to your elders. All of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because, “God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble.” 1 Peter 5:5  

“Pride” has it all together, needs no one and appears perfect.  “Humble” comes open to receive, ready to listen and eager to change. Is it any wonder that God shows favor to the humble?

3.  We fear the world, our finances, our husband, our wife, our health, our kids, our work.  We fear everything, but the Lord.

Fear of the LORD is the foundation of true knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and discipline. Proverbs 1:7

Fear of the Lord means that we know who is sovereign.  We know who rules. We know who reigns – and we relinquish our reigns as we trust that he will provide.

When we trust in our own work and our own efforts we are left empty, lonely and tired.  Let’s turn towards the King and confess our hearts.  Let’s approach our friends and family with authentic hearts.  Let’s seek to lift the Lord on high rather than our own accomplishments.

When we stop making prideful mistakes, a true sense of self God awakes.

Out of Hiding & Free of Fear

It is time to step out.  To come out of hiding.  To let your true colors shine.  To be who God made you to be.   It is time to be fearless.  To be courageous.  To be passionate.  It’s time to take a risk – to move from your calm safe grounds to unsteady risky rocky terrain.   Terrain where you feel vulnerable – where you know, by yourself, can’t stand on your own.   Why?

Because too much is on the line not to.  And, the idea of not taking that adventurous step means living in mediocrity.  It’s so worth it.

I spent a good amount of time in hiding.  Sure, I went to church, I was in small groups, I had Christian friends, but I stayed on safe ground.  Grounds where no one really questioned me. Grounds where I rode in a perfect straight line, rarely branching off the beaten path.  I kept on this straight and narrow for fear of getting hurt.  When a conversation veered into sticky areas or when I felt too vulnerable, the warning light would go off in my mind, “do not venture there, you may get someone upset.    Don’t speak too passionately; you don’t want to be “that” person. Don’t seem too knowledgeable, others will feel less than.  Don’t bring up topics that could make them feel uncomfortable. Don’t run the risk of angering that person, it’s better to just let them continue feeling miserable as they go the wrong way.”

“Hide who you are because you don’t want to be judged, hurt or rejected.”

I did this all the time.  But I came to realize something life changing.  In my attempt to set others free of their bad feelings, I only succeeded in trapping myself.  I locked away the person God created Kelly to be.

When I lived in that closet, I missed the opportunity to love deeply.  I missed the opportunity to speak the absolute truth in love.  I missed the opportunity to walk in faith, as I felt afraid. I missed the opportunity to rely on Christ when others may have felt irritated at me.  I missed the chance to encourage others.  I was too worried about preserving myself.

You know, we have one life.  One chance to pour out love.  One chance to give all we have.    To be all in, no holds bar.  To share grace.  To encourage in truth.  To live without fear.  To give with faith. To help those in need.  This is our chance.  This is your chance.

I don’t know about you, but I am sick of living trapped, beholden to this world. I know at the end of the day, when all is said and done, I will never ever regret living all out – full of love – for God.  Do I do this perfectly?  By no means, but that is the point.  That is why I need Christ.  And when I rely on him, I find peace.   I find safety despite an unsafe rocky terrain.

At the days end, when I come out of the ultimate closet, that is this world. I hope to stand in front of God with full confidence that I shared his love, peace, and joy with all of my heart to people who hurt so deeply.    I want to stand knowing that I spoke his wisdom – according to his timing – no matter the risk.

This authentic living is adventurous living.  We can’t do it on your own.  But, as we rely on him, we will find we are truly free.

“Instead, we will speak the truth in love, growing in every way more and more like Christ…” (Ephesians 4:15)

“There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.”  (1 John 4:18)

“But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere.”  (James 3:17)

God’s truth is what healed me.  If it was hidden, I never would have been touched.  I never would have grown.   So why do we think we need to hide truth?   Rather than hide, we need to lay down our pride.  It is not about me and preserving my image- it is about people who are hurting and need to hear truth spoken in love.  Take it or leave it.  This is Kelly as God designed me.

When we are who God created us to be, we finally find true freedom. 

“So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed. (John 8:36)”

When Love is Blocked

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

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

Boy was I dead wrong.

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

What didn’t I try? I tried it all.

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

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

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

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

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

So what are we to do?

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

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

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

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

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

When we wait, God makes our love great.